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KUHL Spyfire Hoody - Women's Review

A strongly flared-out casual jacket for moderate winters with features that are more fashionable than functional
kuhl spyfire hoody for women down jacket review
Credit: Kuhl
Price:  $289 List
Manufacturer:   KÜHL
By Maggie Nichols ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 6, 2023
52
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 12
  • Warmth - 30% 5.0
  • Comfort - 25% 6.5
  • Portability - 20% 4.0
  • Weather Resistance - 15% 4.0
  • Breathability - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Kuhl Spyfire falls somewhere in between a fashionable down jacket and a feature-filled techy layer, offering a little of each. It has the most exaggerated waist of any model we tested, which many of our testers liked the look of, but it lacks a cinch along the bottom hem for windy day protection. Breathable armpit gussets facilitate movement and ventilation, and the front torso baffles have an additional layer of fabric to block the wind. At the same time, the hood toggles are made of metal and very heavy, and the Spyfire doesn't pack into its pocket, nor does it include a stuff sack. It's a unique model that's better suited to casual pursuits, but it has just enough features that it's not a bad choice for more intense activities.
REASONS TO BUY
Covered front baffles are warmer
Hood brim
Armpit vents
Sleeve pocket
REASONS TO AVOID
No hem cinch
Metal hood toggles are very heavy
Reflective strips are inside pockets
Hood leaves gaps
Doesn't pack into its own pocket
Editor's Note: On February 6, 2023, we updated this review with new test findings and updated photos.

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Pros Covered front baffles are warmer, hood brim, armpit vents, sleeve pocketVery warm, poofy and light, comfortable fit, mobility features, excellent adjustabilityLightweight, well-placed synthetic insulation, warm hood, easy to layer, great features and adjustabilityDurable, weather resistant, athletic cut, good movement, versatileUncomplicated and effective design, thickly filled and puffy, layers well over thick fleece
Cons No hem cinch, metal hood toggles are very heavy, reflective strips are inside pockets, hood leaves gaps, doesn't pack into its own pocketMay be too warm for mild climates, hood volume adjustment is velcro rather than toggleCould be warmer, exterior material is relatively thinNarrower baffles compress down, slightly lower quality (recycled) 700 fill downNo hood option, hip length lacks coverage, lower quality down, loses feathers readily, when packed has no carabiner loop
Bottom Line A strongly flared-out casual jacket for moderate winters with features that are more fashionable than functionalAn impressively warm jacket that offers a highly mobile fit, great adjustability, and cloud-like comfortAn incredibly well-made and versatile down jacket, light enough for layering or useful alone in milder, less rugged conditionsA durable, versatile, and very comfortable jacket that can handle many activities, from mountain to townA pretty decent puffy jacket on a budget, though not without its flaws
Rating Categories KUHL Spyfire Hoody... Rab Neutrino Pro -... Arc'teryx Cerium Hoody Rab Microlight Alpine REI Co-op 650 2.0
Warmth (30%)
5.0
9.5
7.5
7.0
4.5
Comfort (25%)
6.5
9.0
7.0
7.0
4.5
Portability (20%)
4.0
6.5
8.0
6.0
7.0
Weather Resistance (15%)
4.0
6.0
8.5
6.5
4.5
Breathability (10%)
7.0
5.0
5.5
6.0
5.0
Specs KUHL Spyfire Hoody... Rab Neutrino Pro -... Arc'teryx Cerium Hoody Rab Microlight Alpine REI Co-op 650 2.0
Down Fill 800 fill goose down; Responsible Down Standard certified 800FP European Goose Down, hydrophobic Nikwax 850 fill European white goose down; Responsible Down Standard certified Recycled 700 fill power down 650 fill goose down; Responsible Down Standard certified
Outer Fabric Microtex 20D (100% nylon), Microtex water resistant finish 20D recycled Pertex Quantum Pro, ripstop Arato 15D ripstop nylon, recycled with DWR treatment Recycled 30D nylon Pertex Quantum ripstop, DWR finish Recycled nylon taffeta, DWR finish
Weight, size small (ounces) 14.0 oz 18.5 oz 9.8 oz 13.5 oz 9.9 oz
Hem Type Drop hem (large) Drop hem (large) Drop hem (small) Drop hem (large) Drop hem (small); hip length
Fit "Women's" Regular Trim / fitted Active Standard
Pockets 4; 2 zippered hand, 1 internal zippered chest, 1 zippered sleeve 3; 2 zippered hand, 1 internal zippered chest 3; 2 zippered hand, 1 internal zippered chest 3; 2 zippered hand, 1 external zippered chest 4; 2 zippered hand, 2 internal slip
Hood Yes Yes Yes (hoodless option available) Yes No
Cuff Construction Elastic Elastic and velcro Elastic Elastic (overhanging baffle) Elastic
Adjustment Points Dual hood bungees; single back-of-hood bungee Dual hem bungees, dual hood bungees, velcro back-of-hood, velcro cuffs Dual hem bungees, elastic-rimmed hood, single back-of-hood bungee Dual hem bungees, dual hood bungees Dual hem bungees
Stow Option No Stuff sack included (drawstring) + carabiner loop Stuff sack included (drawstring); optional attachment inside chest pocket + carabiner loop Stuff sack included (drawstring) + carabiner loop Packs into hand pocket
Other Notable Features Covered baffles on front, shoulders, and tops of sleeves, reinforced external shoulder material, strechy uninsulated armpit vents, reflective internal pocket trim, reinforced projecting hood brim Helmet-compatible hood, 2-way zipper, wire-stiffened projected hood brim, twisted sleeve baffles for greater mobility, felt chin guard, large velcro loop at nape of neck Helmet-compatible hood, synthetic insulation in "areas where moisture may buildup" Felt chin guard, wire-stiffened projected hood brim N/A

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Kuhl Spyfire is a midweight puffy with RDS (Responsible Down Standard) certified 800 fill down and a 20D Microtex nylon exterior. It has a tapered waist and wider hips than most, with an exaggerated drop hem. It weighs 14.0 ounces and does not pack into its own pocket or have an included stuff sack.

Performance Comparison


kuhl spyfire hoody for women down jacket review - the spyfire offers a more fashion-forward look, with enough features...
The Spyfire offers a more fashion-forward look, with enough features to keep it functional and protective.
Credit: Maggie Nichols


Warmth


The Spyfire comes with good-quality 800 fill goose down. It's on the thin side among jackets we tested but still offers decent warmth. An extra layer of fabric covers the front baffles on the outside to help prevent the wind from cutting through the seams. Dual hood bungees, a volume adjustment bungee on the back, and a small brim make this hood protective and warm. The Spyfire is thin enough to add a shell over the top, which comes in handy in inclement weather, as the jacket itself has no cinch around the hem to keep cold air from rushing up and chilling your core.

kuhl spyfire hoody for women down jacket review - the spyfire's hood has an extended brim for added protection.
The Spyfire's hood has an extended brim for added protection.
Credit: Maggie Nichols


Comfort


Kuhl makes this jacket with a "women's fit", which translates to a highly tapered waist and wider hips. If you're someone with a curvy build, the Spyfire may be just the right fit for your sense of fashion. A large hem helps to keep your bum warm, even though you can't tighten the jacket around your core at all. Small armpit gussets add some mobility to our range of motion, and elastic cuffs help stop the long sleeves from falling over our hands while we walk. In addition to the typical 3 pockets found on most down jackets (2 hand pockets and 1 chest pocket), the Spyfire has a small zippered pocket on the upper portion of the left sleeve. While Kuhl emphasizes reflective trim as a part of this jacket, it's worth noting that all the reflective bits are inside the pockets, meaning you have to leave them unzipped and unhindered by your chilly hands for the reflective stripes to show. The metal toggles on the hood give it a decidedly fashionable appearance. In practice, they work well enough but can be a bit awkward as they are heavy, floppy, and require two hands to adjust.

kuhl spyfire hoody for women down jacket review - the reflective strips on the spyfire are on the inside of the pockets.
The reflective strips on the Spyfire are on the inside of the pockets.
Credit: Maggie Nichols


Portability


The size Small Spyfire weighs 14 ounces, which is on the heavy side of jackets we tested, despite being one of the thinner models. It clearly isn't designed with portability in mind, as it's covered with heavy toggles and thick materials better suited to hanging in your closet than being packed in your backpack. It also doesn't stuff into any of its pockets, nor does it come with a stuff sack, as so many others in our lineup do.

kuhl spyfire hoody for women down jacket review - the spyfire has covered front baffles that help block wind from...
The Spyfire has covered front baffles that help block wind from coming through the baffle seams.
Credit: Maggie Nichols


Weather Resistance


The Spyfire isn't our favorite jacket to brave windy days. The adjustable hood helps, but the cinching system bunches the sides of the hood, leaving large channels through the folds of the fabric for air to rush in. The cuffs are a bit loose for good hand protection as well. Yet the most challenging aspect of wearing the Spyfire on a windy day is the bottom hem that cannot adjust. We appreciate that the front baffles have an added layer to block the wind, but it turns into a moot point when all that cold air just flies up the front of this bell-bottomed jacket. Treated with Microtex, the 20D nylon exterior of the Spyfire does a decent job of beading water in light precipitation. The shoulders have a slightly different material that doesn't repel water for nearly as long — a big bummer for anyone actually caught out in inclement weather.

kuhl spyfire hoody for women down jacket review - the microtex coating on the spyfire does a solid job repelling light...
The Microtex coating on the Spyfire does a solid job repelling light precipitation.
Credit: Maggie Nichols


Breathability


Wearing the Spyfire is a tad on the plasticky-feeling side of things, but not horribly so. It's a pretty thin jacket, and the open bottom (depending on how it fits you) facilitates airflow. It's one of the few coats we tested that has any sort of venting features. The armpit gussets are a stretchy fabric without insulation that help both with movement and with dumping excess heat.

kuhl spyfire hoody for women down jacket review - the spyfire has small breathable patches in the armpits for easier...
The Spyfire has small breathable patches in the armpits for easier ventilation.
Credit: Maggie Nichols


Should You Buy the Kuhl Spyfire?


The Spyfire is a decidedly untechnical down jacket. It has a certain style that most of the rest of our lineup lack, making it a better choice for those who don't want their winter to be unfashionable. It's a better fit for wider-hipped and curvier ladies and is well-suited to moderating body temperature in mild to moderate climates. If you like the look and the flared hips of the Spyfire, it's a decent jacket that's enjoyable to wear around town.

kuhl spyfire hoody for women down jacket review - the metal toggles on the spyfire hood aren't doing it any favors...
The metal toggles on the Spyfire hood aren't doing it any favors when it comes to weight, but we like how they look.
Credit: Maggie Nichols


What Other Down Jackets Should You Consider?


If you like this price point but want a jacket with a little better functionality and protection, check out the comfortable and affordable Rab Microlight Alpine. For anyone who finds themselves wanting a little more wind protection from their jacket and perhaps some added warmth for everyday pursuits, the Rab Neutrino Pro and Feathered Friends Eos are warm jackets we adore. But if you like the fit and fashion of this casual jacket, the mild-weather Spyfire is a decent choice.

kuhl spyfire hoody for women down jacket review - for a down jacket with a little more style, the spyfire delivers.
For a down jacket with a little more style, the Spyfire delivers.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Maggie Nichols
 
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