KUHL Spyfire Hoody - Women's Review
Cons: Heavier for the warmth, less mountain-ready features and adjustments
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The KUHL Spyfire is an excellent down jacket. Don't let its seemingly lower score fool you; this is an excellent down jacket. Our review has turned increasingly competitive, and it just fell a bit behind the curve. It has most of the technical features we'd want, except for the cinching hem at the bottom, which is a critical omission that limits this jacket to less technical adventures. It features high quality 800 fill down and durable 20 denier nylon, and has stylish features, like cool zipper pulls, and a variety of materials that make it feel cozy.
The Spyfire is not a very warm jacket, and it does not have the same athletic cut as otherwise similar jackets, which means 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.
Due to some of the fashion features, like fun zipper pulls, the Spyfire is heavier than some of the more minimally focused jackets. While it isn't our first choice for light and fast adventures in the mountains, it's awesome.
We do appreciate that KUHL uses high-quality 800 fill down; it makes the jacket feel light on your shoulders. The durable 20 denier nylon is an excellent addition that adds to the durability and will look great for many seasons to come. 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.
This jacket uses highly compressible 800 fill down.. KUHL also used more durable 20D nylon and softshell materials in the back and armpits, which allows for improved range of movement. However, all of this adds up to a less compressible jacket overall. There isn't a stow pocket or stuff sack to put the jacket into, which limits its versatility for technical climbing adventures.
KUHL put careful thought into the features they built into this jacket. While it isn't the first jacket we'd wear for rugged outdoor use, it's 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 love the Spyfire's hood. It has a soft visor that keeps light rain and snow off your face, and two adjustable toggles to achieve a good fit. You can even wear the hood over a climbing helmet.
We love pockets, and this jacket has lots of them. Especially chest pockets. You'll find an excellent internal chest pocket, which is a good spot for essential papers or credit cards, as they're safely stashed away. This also provides resilience against light rail or pickpockets. The Spyfire has the two standard hand pockets, but it also has an external zippered pocket on the left arm, which is ideal 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.
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. The Spyfire was tidy and neat during the whole testing period, whereas last year, there were a few issues with loose threads and fabric, which made it look a little sloppy after a short amount of time.
The Spyfire performed decently in the light rain around Seattle and the Pacific Northwest. The softshell shoulders with durable water repellent (DWR) finish allowed us to brush off the water before 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. We still recommend having a good rain or hardshell jacket for those seriously rainy days, as repeatedly getting a down jacket wet can 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.
The Spyfire is a great deal. It looks sleek, is durable and warm, and is 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.
The Kuhl Spyfire is an excellent down jacket for rugged urban environments. It's stylish and durable, but a little heavier and bulkier than a true ultralight backpacker would like. It's well made and looks good despite regular, daily use.
— Lyra Pierotti