This jacket, with the obvious horizontal baffles, uses a sewn-through construction.
Comfort & Coziness
This jacket is comfortable, with a large enough hood to accommodate a winter hat or helmet. It has soft and fleecy hand pockets but lacks a soft fleece chin-guard to comfort your face when the hood is worn up.
Compactness & Weight
According to our scale, the size medium Timaru weighs 12.8, which is in the middle of the weight spectrum. The lightest jackets are around 6-10 ounces with the heaviest between 24-25 ounces. It should be noted that most other jackets we weighed were a size small, and we feel that a size medium in some of the other models, such as the OR Aria would actually weigh more than the Timaru.
One detail worth noting is that the down used in this jacket is duck down rather than goose down, which is less-expensive and generally thought to be lower quality. However, if the duck down is collected from a similarly mature bird as goose down, the quality and fill power can be the same.
Hi-Tec claims that the Color-Tec dye actually improves the loft of the 700 fill down by about 5%. It does this by adding a thickness to the filaments of the down, similar to what happens when you dye hair. The company's tests have been variable, but showed that dyed down that Hi-Tec rates as 700 fill actually can provide a loft between 720-780.
In our general user tests we found this jacket to indeed be very lofty and provide adequate warmth for a jacket of similar weight and quality, though we did not cut out the down to perform technical loft tests.
We tested this jacket over the course of several months on many camping and climbing trips and day-in and day-out wearing. Though we love the style and concept of this jacket, the construction lacks durability for long-term wear. After about a month of average use, the zipper seams on both pockets began to tear out of the jacket, which is a noticeable lack of durability in comparison to other jackets in this review.
In terms of the durability of the dyed down itself, after approximately 6 months of wear the shell was understandably dirty and the down was packed down from body oils and sweat. We washed the jacket using Gear Aid Revivex Down Cleaner to see how resilient the dyed down was after washing, and if the dye would run or comprise the durability of the down itself. Untreated down can come back to near original loft after proper washing and we wanted to see if the dyed down, with its claims of improved loft, held up to regular care and maintenance.
The dye is locked into the down and did not run or bleed at all. The loft came back even better than before washing, returning to a cushy puffiness, showing that it has similar resiliency to non-treated down.
Style & Construction
As with all the lightweight down jackets in this review, the Timaru has sewn-through construction.
The most noticeable and unique aspect of the Timaru is the transparent shell material (silicone treated ripstop) and the Color-Tec dyed down underneath. Being able to see the colored feathers through the fabric makes for a unique, beautiful color and an intriguing style. Our tester received compliments every time she wore this jacket. It comes in four solid colors and 2 multi-colored options. We love the look of this jacket and gave it a high score for style.
Not to be confused with hydrophobic down treatments like the one used on the L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down Jacket - Women's and the Brooks Range Mohave Down Jacket the dyed down in the Timaru is primarily for aesthetic reasons. The shell material repels water slightly, so the down does not absorb water too quickly.
For $190, the Timaru is average in price for similarly weighted down jackets, which is admirable for a new technology to not charge extra. Though it lacks some of the comfort features that other jackets have such as a fleecy chin guard or a stuff sack, it has a distinct look and style that is worth paying for if you want a jacket to be used for technical applications as well as an all-around winter coat.
There are no men's versions of this jacket at this time, but there are several different color options, including ones with multi-colored down.
Often when outdoor companies release a new technology, they start with just a men's version of the new item, and if it is successful, women's versions are released in subsequent years. Luckily for us ladies, Hi-Tec took the reverse approach with their dyed down technology, and this year (2012) the only jackets released are women's models.