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

How We Tested Down Jacket for Women

By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor
Thursday December 20, 2018

Our reviewers carried these jackets to the summits of alpine peaks and to the depths of cold desert canyons to evaluate each jacket on our extensive set of evaluation criteria. We wore them under shells and over thick base layers, at belay stations, and around camp. We crammed them into our packs and wore them under backpack straps. We clipped them to harnesses and jammed them in crack climbs. We took them all the way to Antarctica to test them in the biting wind while hiking and living on the ice. We researched and verified the specs and details of these jackets, and compared these notes with our findings in the field.

Overwhelmed with puffies during one of our comparative tests.
Overwhelmed with puffies during one of our comparative tests.

We exposed these jackets to cold drips on ice climbs in Montana, and inclement weather in the Pacific Northwest.

We extracted a small sample of DownTek treated hydrophobic down from one of our test jackets. We evaluated the look and feel of the treated down and sprayed it with water to see what happened. This is before.
We extracted a small sample of DownTek treated hydrophobic down from one of our test jackets. We evaluated the look and feel of the treated down and sprayed it with water to see what happened. This is before.

And we extracted a tiny sample of hydrophobic down from one of our test jackets to examine the look and feel of the down. The down looked no different to the naked eye. Then we sprayed a mist onto the sample and watched water bead up on the surface of the fibers instead of soaking in immediately.

A sample of DownTek treated hydrophobic down after being sprayed with water. Notice how the water is beading up on the down rather than soaking into the fibers.
A sample of DownTek treated hydrophobic down after being sprayed with water. Notice how the water is beading up on the down rather than soaking into the fibers.

More long-term testing is required before we can develop an informed opinion of this new technology. Our opinion as of now is that the coating does help a little, but that down will still eventually get wet. We are unsure about the long-term durability of down with this type of treatment.