The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

KUHL Spyfire Hoody - Women's Review

This is a very stylish jacket that will go from crag to cafe with ease; it's decent overall, but it is not the best for lightweight mountain activities.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $279 List
Pros:  Stylish, warm, durable
Cons:  Heavier for the warmth, less mountain-ready features and adjustments
Manufacturer:   KÜHL
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 20, 2018
  • Share this article:
49
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#13 of 14
  • Warmth - 30% 5
  • Weight - 20% 4
  • Compressibility - 20% 5
  • Features - 15% 4
  • Durability - 10% 8
  • Water Resistance - 5% 4

Our Verdict

The Spyfire down jacket from Kuhl is a huge hit. Don't let its seemingly lower score fool you; this is an excellent down jacket for casual use. This review has turned increasingly competitive this year, so the Spyfire fell a bit behind the curve. It is not the best jacket for your backpacking or climbing adventures, but it will certainly fill that role in a pinch. This makes it less versatile, but no less well made and appealing as an everyday down jacket. The Spyfire is very stylish with thoughtful and fun accents. It also has most of the technical features we need in a down jacket, except for the cinching hem at the bottom—a critical omission which limits this jacket to less technical adventures. The jacket features high quality 800 fill down and durable 20 denier nylon. It is a bit heavier due to stylish features, like cool zipper pulls, and a variety of materials that make it feel cozier and sharp looking. This jacket quickly became our go-to for cool fall days in the Pacific Northwest. It earned many compliments, was easy to dress up, and kept up with the quickly changing and temperamental weather.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award   
Price $279 List$309 List$209.97 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$244.98 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$214.97 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
100
0
49
100
0
74
100
0
72
100
0
71
100
0
69
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Stylish, warm, durableVery warm for the weight, highly compressible, durable, versatile, comfortableIncredibly light, compact, warm for its size and weight, packs into its own pocketLightweight, well placed synthetic insulation, versatileVersatile, comfortable, warm for the weight
Cons Heavier for the warmth, less mountain-ready features and adjustmentsLess stylish, harder to layer underneath a hardshell jacketNo way to cinch the hood, lighter materials are more fragileLess durable than some models, expensiveLess water resistant, difficult to stuff into stow pocket
Bottom Line This is a very stylish jacket that will go from crag to cafe with ease; it's decent overall, but it is not the best for lightweight mountain activities.The Eos quickly rose to the top of this review for its incredible warmth-to-weight and remarkable comfort.The Ghost Whisperer is as light as a ghost, or so we assume, and boasts incredible warmth for the weight.This is an outstanding down jacket for layering in cold conditions, well suited to activities that require adept moisture management.The L3 is a versatile and well designed lightweight down jacket for a variety of adventures.
Rating Categories KUHL Spyfire Hoody - Women's Feathered Friends Eos - Wome... Ghost Whisperer Down Hooded Cerium LT Hoody Summit L3 Hoody
Warmth (30%)
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
8
Weight (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
6
Compressibility (20%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
Features (15%)
10
0
4
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
6
Durability (10%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
7
Water Resistance (5%)
10
0
4
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
5
Specs KUHL Spyfire Hoody... Feathered Friends... Ghost Whisperer... Cerium LT Hoody Summit L3 Hoody
Down Fill 800 fill goose down 900+ fill goose down 800 fill power Q.Shield down, Responsible Down Standard certified 850 fill down 800-fill goose down
Main Fabric Microtex 20D nylon Pertex Quantum Whisperer 7D x 10D Nylon Ripstop Arato 10D nylon 10D x 10D 25 g/m² 100% nylon
Measured Weight (oz) 14 9.5 6.5 9.5 11
Pockets 4 2 2 3 2
Hood Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Stowing option No Stuff sack Packs into right hand pocket Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The KUHL Spyfire is an excellent down jacket despite its lower overall score. It is not very well rounded, performing best as an active urban layer.

Performance Comparison


The Spyfire is stylish  comfortable  and holds up for light outdoor use.
The Spyfire is stylish, comfortable, and holds up for light outdoor use.

Warmth


The Spyfire is not a very warm jacket, and it does not have the same athletic cut as otherwise similar jackets like the Ghost Whisperer or the Rab Microlight Alpine, so it doesn't function as a midlayer insulating jacket either. This is a standalone down jacket, more city savvy than warm, and best suited to cool climates where you can often dash in to a coffee shop if the weather turns grim, or you're otherwise not committed to long stints in the cold.

The Spyfire  left  is not the warmest jacket  so better suited to milder climates.
The Spyfire, left, is not the warmest jacket, so better suited to milder climates.

Weight


The Spyfire also falls a bit short of average in the Weight metric. It is heavier due to some of the fashion features like the fun zipper pulls. Again, this does not make it a bad jacket! It's quite awesome, actually. But it is not suited to fast and light adventures in the mountains.

We do appreciate that KUHL still uses high quality 800 fill down; it makes the jacket feel light on your shoulders even if it is out-competed for the lightest weight overall. Also, the slightly more durable 20 denier nylon is an excellent feature for a jacket that you want to hold up and look good for a few seasons around town. A more well-made jacket often looks more stylish and holds that look longer.

The adjustable toggles on the hood are also metal, adding weight, and the zipper has an extra long pull tab with a decorative metal logo piece. If you want a jacket better suited to the mountain environment, check out two of our favorites, the Feathered Friends Eos or the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer.

Compressibility


This jacket uses highly compressible 800 fill down, which is awesome and makes this jacket feel light on your shoulders. KUHL also used more durable 20D nylon and soft shell materials in the back and armpits which allow for improved range of movement. All of this adds up to a less compressible jacket overall. And there is no stow pocket or stuff sack to put the jacket into, also emphasizing that this jacket is not intended to accompany you on your technical climbing adventures.

Kuhl didn't waste time trying to make us think this is a lightweight backcountry savvy jacket; they stayed true to what is a more casual use down jacket. Therefore  there's no need for a stowable pocket or stuff sack. That said  it was relatively compressible due to high quality 800 fill down.
Kuhl didn't waste time trying to make us think this is a lightweight backcountry savvy jacket; they stayed true to what is a more casual use down jacket. Therefore, there's no need for a stowable pocket or stuff sack. That said, it was relatively compressible due to high quality 800 fill down.

For a stylish and highly compressible down jacket that flows seamlessly from town to your most aggressive climbing adventures (in milder climates), check out the Arc'teryx Cerium LT. We also love the very compressible Ghost Whisperer. But for more warmth, check out what 900+ fill power down is like in the Feathered Friends Eos.

Features


KUHL put some careful thought into the features they included in this jacket. Overall, those features told us that this is not a jacket optimized for rugged outdoor use, but is an excellent lifestyle jacket for those who spend a lot of time walking, hiking, and commuting, and thus are outside a lot, but not scratching around on rocks or ice or backpacking where every ounce of weight in your pack matters.

We loved this hood. The brim is firm yet supple and the cinching toggles look great.
We loved this hood. The brim is firm yet supple and the cinching toggles look great.

The hood was a feature we loved on this jacket. It has a soft visor that keeps light rain and snow off your face, and two adjustable toggles to get a good fit. You can even wear the hood over a climbing helmet.

Have we mentioned we love chest pockets?
Have we mentioned we love chest pockets?

The jacket also has lots of pockets. We love pockets. Especially chest pockets. This one has an internal chest pocket, making it a good spot for essential papers or credit cards because it is safely stashed inside the jacket, offered resilence against light rain and pickpockets. The Spyfire has the two standard hand pockets, but it also has an external zippered pocket on the left arm, great for light, small, or flat objects. Skiers might like this for their electronic RFID ski passes.

This jacket does not have an adjustable drawcord at the bottom hem, which is a pretty big bummer; this dramatically reduces its "mountain-readiness" because you cannot cinch the bottom tighter to seal out cold drafts. This also makes it harder to adjust the fit to a range of body types. We liked the features on the Spyfire, but if they're a bit too much for your taste, you might appreciate the streamlined, thoughtful design of the Arc'teryx Cerium LT or the Rab Microlight.

The lack of a drawcord at the hem to cinch is tight was a real bummer. If this doesn't fit you perfectly in the hips  you might get some cold drafts.
The lack of a drawcord at the hem to cinch is tight was a real bummer. If this doesn't fit you perfectly in the hips, you might get some cold drafts.

Durability


The Spyfire has a lot of features designed to improve its durability, from softshell shoulders to an extra 20D nylon ripstop top sheet covering the front baffles. We appreciated these details; however, because this jacket is best suited for urban wear, we felt these extra durability features may have been a mismatch for this jacket.

This year the durability seems improved over last year—the jacket looked tidy and neat during the whole testing period whereas last year there were some issues with loose threads and fabric making it look a little sloppy after a short amount of time.

We liked the stylish baffle design on the Spyfire.
We liked the stylish baffle design on the Spyfire.

An excellent, durable jacket you might also like is the Rab Microlight Alpine.

Water Resistance


The Spyfire performed decently in the light rain around Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. The soft shell shoulders with durable water repellent (DWR) finish allowed us to brush off the water when we raced indoors. The hood also added to our comfort in precipitation—we could nestle inside this jacket and race indoors through the occasional downpour, and a light shake would be all we needed to get dry again. But we still recommend having a good rain or hard shell jacket for those seriously rainy days, as repeatedly getting a down jacket wet will reduce its life in the long term. The Spyfire is popular in the notoriously rainy Pacific Northwest and sheds enough water to perform well around town. If this is your top consideration, check out The North Face Aconcagua or either of the Arc'teryx jackets, the Cerium SV or LT.

Best Applications


The Spyfire is an excellent urban jacket for the active person who also wants to have a lightweight jacket to take on the occasional hike. It looks very stylish and holds up to some inclement weather, providing warmth and reasonable protection from rain and snow.

Value


At $229, the Spyfire is a great deal. It looks cool, it is durable, and it is warm and light enough for various adventures. It's not the most mountain-ready jacket in this review, but it will hold up for many types of adventures, making it a good value, in our opinion.

Conclusion


The Kuhl Spyfire is an excellent down jacket for rugged urban environments. It is stylish and durable, but a little heavier and bulkier than the true ultralight backpacker would like. It is well made, holds up and looks good despite regular, daily use.

The Spyfire is a favorite among many of our testers for its sleek look and comfort.
The Spyfire is a favorite among many of our testers for its sleek look and comfort.


Lyra Pierotti