Athleta Downkind Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Downkind from Athleta is designed for use around town. It is stylish but limited in utility.
The Downkind is not a warm down jacket, and it provided the least warmth of those tested in this review. Not only is this a lower loft jacket, but it also does not seal up against the elements due to a front button closure that allows drafts through the gaps. The fit is also looser and there is no way to cinch the bottom hem or a collar to zip up to cozy up inside of the jacket. This is a very stylish jacket, however, with careful attention to aesthetics, so if your winter is in a milder climate, this could be just right to layer on over a sweater on those cooler coastal days.
The Downkind jacket crushes the competition in this category, but with a significant caveat. It does not have a hood, limiting its warmth, though it's warm enough if you plan to layer. It has minimal features (two small pockets, buttons instead of a zipper), but uses high-quality fabrics and down—just not much of any of it.
To be clear, we do not know exactly what materials are in this jacket. The information is not on their website, and when we emailed Athleta, they said they do not have this information. We took this as further confirmation that the Downkind is not an outdoor-leaning down jacket and rather a city-savvy stylish down jacket. Going off our experience, we would say the materials feel like they are relatively high-quality, and certainly decent enough for use around town or on quick adventures.
The Downkind packs easily into its own hand pocket. This is a feature we are most enthusiastic about in more technical down jackets for climbing use. Having a jacket that stuffs into its own pocket with a clippable loop allows you to carry the layer with you while climbing—this is a major plus. But the Downkind is not for climbing, and while it stuffs into its own hand pocket, it does not have a clippable loop. We wondered, is this feature an antiquated vestige of another evolutionary stage in down jacket design? What purpose does it now serve? Well, it serves to compress the puff into a manageable pouch, making the jacket easier to transport.
Packed into its pocket, it can be tossed into your travel or commute bag more easily, and it won't expand its puffiness around all your belongings like an inflatable octopus, making it impossible to access anything else in your bag. Anachronism? Nope. Still a useful feature.
The Downkind is a simple jacket. It has no hood, a simple button closure, and two hand pockets. The thinner baffles are elegant but less warm than wider baffles, and the button closure has an elegant band of fabric. The spare features and simple design of this jacket ensure its elegance but do not make it a highly functional down jacket for rugged outdoor use. This is an excellent around-town jacket for those who love the lightweight feel of down jackets (and who live in milder climates).
We do not know what the Downkind is made of, despite emailing the company to ask. As referenced above, they did not have that information, which might be a first in the history of this review. We did not have our first choice for rugged outdoor.
The Downkind sheds water well enough to handle a few raindrops as you hustle from work to the bus stop or coffee shop. We assume it has some sort of water repellent finish, but since the specifications are not available, we are not totally sure what it is made of. This jacket, like all down garments, is not meant to be a waterproof layer. Since down loses its insulating properties if it gets wet, most down jackets have a water repellent finish, but if it's raining, be sure to put a rain jacket on over the top.
The Downkind is not expensive when compared to others in this review, however, we would not say that makes it a good value. The utility is restricted to non-technical and non-outdoors use (around town, mostly), and the features make it minimally versatile. If you like a stylish, loose-fitting down jacket for your city adventures, and this one fits well and is flattering, you'll dig it.
The Athleta Downkind is a stylish, lightweight jacket for milder climates and around town use. If you like the wider, looser fit and subtle aesthetics, you'll love this jacket. It is not very warm, however, and the buttons ensure that even if you button up, you'll still get cold drafts through the front of the jacket. If you value a stylish, compact jacket for a mild winter around town, this just might be for you.
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