Down Jackets Group Test

© UKC Gear

In this group review we test out a range of down jackets. Our review brief was to test 'standard mid-weight down jackets that are suitable for a range of uses for the British climber'.

In other words, what we wanted was a do-everything jacket - you know, the kind of down jacket that virtually every UK climber needs, one that keeps you warm in between routes on a cold day of cragging, one you can wear down the pub or out walking the dog, one that can cope with a bit of Scottish winter and what about that trip ice-fall climbing too?

The perfect down jacket. We've been looking for it ...but does it exist?

Rab - Infinity Endurance Jacket £285

Best in Test Highly Recommended Large

Rab Infinity Endurance Jacket  © UKC Gear

As you would expect from Rab, the Infinity Endurance jacket is a bomber and well thought out bit of kit. It's exactly what we were looking for in a 'mid weight, do everything' kind of way, and it really did everything well. A superb down jacket this one.

Hood: The hood is a really good fit without a helmet and it will go over a helmet but is a little tight (see photos below).

Zips: All the zips worked well without any snagging. They are about medium size and have a good grab toggle for gloves. There's a nice zip garage at top, which keeps the zip off your chin. The main zip isn't two-way though - it's just a single zip. There's a small basic internal baffle that worked fine and didn't get caught up in the zip itself.

Pockets: The jacket has 1 small zipped internal pocket and two medium-sized zipped hand pockets on the outside as well as one medium-sized zipped chest pocket. All were accessible with gloves on. All in all, pretty good on the pocket front, but we like a big internal pouch for shoving gloves etc in.

Weight: 560g - Size large. This is mid range for the jackets in this review.

The Infinity Endurance on a cold belay in Scottish winter.  © UKC Gear
The Infinity Endurance on a cold belay in Scottish winter.

Manouverability: There was a slight lift of the jacket when raising the arms above the head, but very good manouverability and fit in general for climbing for a down jacket. We were impressed with the cut and shape of this jacket.

Cuffs: The Infinity Endurance had basic elastic cuffs that are big enough to go over a glove. On the base of the jacket are two independent draw cords that worked well and were easy to get to.

Thickness: We've judged this simply on 'how they feel'. Obviously this is hard to describe, but hopefully our 'thin, medium and thick' descriptions will give potential shoppers an idea of what to expect. In the case of the Infinity Endurance we think it's 'medium to thick'. A great all round size for everything from gritstone belaying to Alpine bivouacs.

Warmth: Very warm for the weight. A great piece, feels snug.

Fill Power: 850 of hydrophobic down.

Overall Feel: The jacket feels lightweight, enhanced by the super light Pertex Endurance outer, but is a fantastic feeling garment. Perhaps not the most robust but a brilliant, well put together balance between toughness and weight-saving, that is extremely warm for its weight. It was certainly one of our favourite all around jackets in this test.

More info: Rab Website

Berghaus - Ilam Jacket £260

Best in Test Highly Recommended Large

Berghaus Ilam Jacket  © UKC Gear

Hood: Basic zip up hood that did fit over a helmet (just) and had a great fit without a helmet. But the hood doesn't have any pull cords. We used it by putting it under our helmet and that worked really well, but this is obviously more of a faff if you get too hot and want to take the hood off.

Zips: A small YKK zip, a little bit fiddly to use in gloves. It worked fine if used carefully and if quickly pulled up there was an occasional small snag, but nothing major.

Pockets: Two zipped external pockets of a good size that easily accepted a gloved hand. 1 internal chest pocket with a zip of a medium size. No internal stash pockets unfortunately.

Berghaus Ilam Jacket  © UKC Gear
Berghaus Ilam Jacket
© UKC Gear

Weight: 311g Size Medium

Manouverability: Really good manouverability all round, this felt really comfortable and easy to move in.

Cuffs: Simple elasticated cuff that wasn't quite big enough to allow the jacket to be put on over large gloves. It did fit well on the wrist when no gloves were worn.

Thickness: A thin jacket that is probably more suited to being a midlayer in very cold conditions.

Warmth: For its incredibly light weight this was a warm jacket, but not as warm as the heavier, more shell oriented jackets in the review.

Berghaus Ilam Jacket  © UKC Gear
Berghaus Ilam Jacket
© UKC Gear

Fill Power: Hydrophobic down of a 850 fill power.

Overall Feel: An exceptionally light weight and technical garment that can be used as an outer layer but perhaps is best suited as an ultra warm and technical midlayer.

More info: Berghaus Website

Marmot Mountain Down Jacket £250

Marmot Mountain jacket  © UKC Gear

Before going into any other detail it is worth mentioning that this is the only jacket in the test that has a waterproof outer fabric. Whilst this feature wasn't requested for this review, Marmot opted to include the Mountain Down Jacket. It did give us an opportunity to test a waterproof down jacket against non waterproof jackets, which was informative.

Hood: The Mountain Down Jacket has a hood that fit well without a helmet and did go over a helmet (just). The drawstrings worked fine, and the design of the hood was very comfortable and moved with the head. It was a little pushed for space when fitted over a helmet, but still functional.

Zips: The jacket has chunky fat YKK zips that work well even with gloves and seemed tough and high quality.

Marmot Mountain Down Jacket  © UKC Gear
Marmot Mountain Down Jacket
© UKC Gear

Pockets: A big thumbs up here for the two big external zip pockets, the big internal mesh pouch and the useful internal zip pocket. Great stuff. Worth mentioning is the internal snow skirt, for those keen on snowsports. That and the waterproof outer make this a nice ski piece for freezing days.

Weight: 1142g size Large. This is the heaviest jacket in the test due to the waterproof outer fabric.

Manouverability: Movement was great, the jacket is a roomy fit, but not overly bulky, and gave good overhead movement and rotation. We really liked the fit.

Cuffs: Elasticated stretch cuffs are finished off with a Velcro tab that was big enough to be effective without being too huge - the system worked well with gloves on and slipped easily over gloves if needed.

Thickness: The jacket felt medium to thick when on - but the waterproof fabric made it feel extra 'tough'.

Warmth: Medium. Despite the heavy weight, this wasn't one of the warmest jackets in the review, and we ranked it as 'medium'. Of course it isn't cold, but some of the weight is used on the shell of the jacket. We wouldn't use this for Himalayan climbing even though it is a similar weight to some full-on winter pieces.

Marmot Mountain Down Jacket  © UKC Gear
Marmot Mountain Down Jacket
© UKC Gear

Fill Power: 650+ of non-hydrophobic down.

Overall Feel: The feel of this piece was great, really great - almost posh! The membrane fabric outer really gives the jacket a bombproof feel, and keeps the rain out really well. Although the seams aren't taped, so this isn't a 100% waterproof jacket, the fabric is 100% waterproof and it shows when the rain hits. For a cold weather cragging jacket in the UK that might see the odd shower but also you want to wear down the pub, then this exceptionally hard-wearing piece (it just feels bombproof) would be a good bet. We were surprised by how much we liked the waterproof outer and the price was also good at £250. Not one for fast and light Alpinism though, not quite warm enough for the weight.

More info: Marmot Website

Mountain Hardwear Nilas £400

Mountain Hardwear Nilas  © Mountain Hardwear

Hood: The striking orange Mountain Hardwear Nilas jacket had a good hood that fit very well, and adjusted nicely. It does also fit over a helmet but movement is restricted.

Zips: A plastic waterproof style YKK zip - it was ok to use but stiff.

Pockets: With two medium size external zip pockets and two medium size mesh inner pouches we felt the pocket system could be improved by a small chest zip pocket (internal or external) for keys and other items like that. The existing external pockets were a little small for large gloved hands.

Weight: 615g - this we classed as a mid-weight piece in this review and for how warm it was, this is a good weight.

Mountain Hardwear Nilas   © UKC Gear
Mountain Hardwear Nilas
© UKC Gear

Manouverability: The cut was reasonable, but we did have some riding up with over the head movement. The shape of the body itself was well cut, and the hood was well designed for a non-helmeted head.

Cuffs: The Nilas jacket had simple elasticated external cuffs with thumb-loops on an internal cuff gaiter - This system was great with bare hands and just goes over gloves but not over big gloves.

Thickness: We thought the jacket felt medium to thick, it certainly felt like you had a good battle shield on when wearing it.

Warmth: Pretty damn warm! This is where the Mountain Hardwear Nilas shines. It is, for its weight, exceptionally warm. The lack of pockets and other features and the simple design keep the weight down, and the high quality down keeps the warmth up. Fast and light Alpinism? Well it was designed by Ueli Steck...

Fill Power: 850 fill power hydrophobic down. The hydrophobic treatment is Mountain Hardwear's own 'Q Shield'.

Overall Feel: The shell seems a little shiny, which is either good or bad depending on your style, but the jacket overall feels very well made and feels like a piece that you would be happy to take into cold weather in winter. One for the snow lovers out there who want to move quickly without much weight. It was quite pricey at £400, so you'll also be keeping the weight down by emptying your wallet.

More info: Mountain Hardwear Website

Montane Polestar £180

Best in Test Good Value Large

Montane Pole Star Jacket  © UKC Gear

Hood: The Montane Pole Star features a massive hood that fits over a helmet with ease, but also works perfectly without. It has a press-stud and velcro face covering section, this is a serious winter head guard! The hood is removable.

Zips: They were really easy to use, the easiest on test, super chunky and solid. Think army tank not Lamborghini.

Pockets: Three external zip pockets of a good size, well positioned and easy to use. One internal zip pocket a bit on the small side. A mesh internal pouch would be a nice addition.

Weight: 772g - This pushes the jacket up to the heavier end of mid range. There are a couple of jackets over 1kg in this review but they are the exception not the norm. It certainly feels like a beefy jacket and this is backed up by the weight.

Montane Pole Star  © UKC Gear
Montane Pole Star
© UKC Gear

Manouverability: Good range of motion, and a good fit. This may be a big jacket but you won't feel like a sumo wrestler.

Cuffs: Elasticated cuffs of a tough nature and good size that close with velcro tabs and easily fit over gloves - nice.

Thickness: We've classified this one as 'very thick'. It feels like a proper fatty, and is aimed more at winter than spring/autumn cragging.

Warmth: Very warm. It's thick, it's well made and it has good down, and all of this shows through - making this a toasty jacket suitable for Alpine winter.

Fill Power: 750

Overall Feel: The Montane Polestar feels very nice and comfortable, with a soft fabric feeling to it - it doesn't have that shiny 'crinkly' feel that a lot of modern down jackets seem to be going for, this does mean slight 'old school' styling, but we liked it, and the feel was very high quality, well made and bombproof. Perhaps it favours function over fashion with the big press-stud hood etc really being useful in snowy horrible weather. Going to the North Pole? This one would be a good bet! The price is very competitive too - £180.

More info: UKC Product News Item

Mammut Broad Peak Hoody £210

Mammut Broad Peak Hoody  © Mammut

Hood: The light weight and small nature of this jacket is reflected straight away in the hood. It fits perfectly on a head, so is great for normal use, but the front zip doesn't zip fully up with the hood over a helmet, in fact we found the best way to wear this hood was under a helmet as you would with other mid layer pieces such as hooded fleeces.

Zips: The zips were small to medium size, easy to use, non-waterproof style, no snagging at all, and could be used with gloves on. Nice neat zips.

Pockets: Three external zip pockets of a medium size, we liked the chest pocket - always a good feature for phones etc especially as there is nothing on the inside. We'd prefer a simple mesh pouch or similar.

Mammut Broad Peak Hoody  © UKC Gear
Mammut Broad Peak Hoody
© UKC Gear

Weight: 492g Size Large. The Mammut Broad Peak Hoody was the second lightest jacket on test, just behind the Bergahus Ilam. Its light weight was backed by a thin design, kind of between mid layer and outer shell. It just squeezed into the parameters for this comparison review - good for someone looking for a lighter thinner piece.

Manouverability: The range of motion was good even though this is quite a close-fitting piece. Its slim profile and good movement made this one of the best jackets on test for actually climbing in. Nice one Mammut.

Cuffs: A simple elasticated cuff to save weight, but does the job fine and is wide enough to go over medium gloves. Again, functional and weight saving.

Thickness: We've opted to call this one 'thin'. In fact it feels slightly thinner than the Bergahus Ilam, the other 'thin' jacket in the review. Can easily be worn as a mid-layer piece. It does feel as though you have a down jacket on, but we wouldn't want this as a go to piece for our long belay sessions in mid winter. It does fold down in to its own pocket, again adding that mid-layer feel, meaning you can carry it on your harness on multipitch routes - a neat feature.

Warmth: Medium. The good construction quality and 750 fill power down do mean that this jacket will keep you warm, but it is much thinner and lighter than most other pieces in the review.

Fill Power: 750+

Overall Feel: Very good quality but thin, so best suited to midlayer use. In our opinion it had a very nice colour and styling and looked great down the pub. Definitely worth a look if you want a cross-over mid/outer piece.

More info: Mammut Website

Mountain Equipment Vega Jacket £280

Best in Test Large

Mountain Equipment Vega Jacket  © UKC Gear
We've given the superb Vega Jacket from Mountain Equipment our 'Best in Test' Award. This is based on our initial brief of an all round down jacket for the British climber. We felt that it was a very close run thing between the Rab jacket, the Sherpa jacket and the Mountain Equipment Vega, with the Vega just pipping the other two to the post, and all three being top notch garments.

Hood: The well desinged and easily adjustable hood goes over a helmet and zips up with no worries, but fits well without too. It offers a good range of motion with or without the helmet and feels comfortable. Great stuff.

Zips: The Vega sports nice, big, easy to use YKK zips, no snags at all and works well with gloves on. It may seem like a small thing, but these were some of the easiest to operate zips in the test, and that is very important when you are tired, it's cold and you're getting covered in snow. Big thumbs up from us.

Mountain Equipment Vega Jacket  © UKC Gear
Mountain Equipment Vega Jacket
© UKC Gear

Pockets: We would have liked one more small zipped chest pocket but the one medium internal zip mesh pouch was ok, and the two external large zip pockets were well positioned and big enough to be easily accessed.

Weight: 651g Size Large. This is mid range for this review, and we were massively impressed with the warmth and loft of this jacket at this weight. It was a real beauty.

Manouverability: Very good range of movement in this jacket, despite the obvious bulk of a down jacket we could climb in this when required, and arms above head, and other climbing motions were all covered by the design. Spot on.

Cuffs: A very neat design, simple, did the job, tough elastic with velcro, similar to other jackets but this one just worked perfectly. We appreciated the big velcro pads, they were simple to grab with gloves on, but also neat enough and they actually stuck well meaning the cuffs never opened up unintentionally. It was easy to get a gloved hand in and out when required.

Thickness: We've gone for 'medium' in terms of how thick and bulky the jacket felt. This was a good compromise between feeling protected and cocooned in your warm bubble, but also being able to move about.

Warmth: High. Yes HIGH. Very warm for its pack size and weight. Nice one Mountain Equipment, we feel that this jacket balances warmth and weight really well.

Fill Power: 750

Overall Feel: The Vega Jacket from Mountain Equipment felt very high quality, it was really well put together. Our team liked the styling, it looks nice with good colours. We also noticed that it relofts superbly well and rapidly after packing.

The 'Best in Test' winner for all around performance. Not the lightest, not the warmest, but covering all bases.

More info: Mountain Equipment Website

Black Diamond Cold Forge Parka £299

Black Diamond Cold Forge Parka  © UKC Gear
This jacket uses a mixture of 70% goose down insulation and 30% Primaloft insulation. There are plenty of other hybrid insulation jackets on the market, but for this review we were intending to stick with just down to keep it simple. However this was the piece that Black Diamond thought best fitted our brief for the average UK climber, so we've given it a blast.

Hood: The Cold Forge Parka had a really well designed hood with a great over helmet fit. It ranks as one of the best hoods but not huge.

Zips: A chunky zip, but we found it a bit tricky to get started with gloves on. Worked fine without gloves.

Pockets: We liked the pockets on the Cold Forge Parka, the two big internal pouches were awesome - great for stuffing things in and the three external zip pockets had small sized openings (bigger hand openings next time please) but were well positioned and we appreciated the chest pocket. We still say that a good down jacket should have a zip chest pocket either internal or external, as there is always something that gets shoved in there, from your phone to the car keys or whatever.

Black Diamond Cold Forge Parka  © UKC Gear
Black Diamond Cold Forge Parka
© UKC Gear

Weight: At 654g (size large) this is Black Diamond's heaviest belay jacket and their warmest. It's still mid range for this review, and we think anything coming in under 700g is light enough for carrying etc to be considered a do everything down jacket.

Manouverability: The jacket was quite close fitting and gave reasonable range of motion, but not the best freedom of movement in the test. It did however seem very trim and non-bulky, a bit of a trade-off there.

Cuffs: Interestingly these were a unique design in this test and made from a simple but very wide elastic, and they worked well over gloves. Simple and effective but didn't look 'well polished' in comparison to some of the other jackets on test.

Thickness: We've gone for a 'medium' thickness, with a trim cut.

Warmth: Again we've gone for 'medium'. The Cold Forge Parka is certainly warm enough for UK winter belaying, and is a robust jacket, but not the warmest on test.

Fill Power: The jacket has a Primaloft and Down Mixture.

Overall Feel: The jacket is very slim fitting, feels nice with good colours and a high quality finish mostly, but the cuffs did stand out a little. The mixture of insulation is undoubtedly a good feature in some cases, giving extra loft and warmth when a little damp but at the expense of overall warmth and loft when dry. As this test is aimed more at 100% down jackets we can't say whether this BD hybrid was better or worse than other brands' hybrid versions, but comparing it against 100% down we could see that it isn't quite as warm for the weight, but does give a bit more flexibility for when things get wet.

More info: Black Diamond Website

Arc'teryx Cerium SV Hoody £260

Arc'teryx Cerium SV Hoody  © UKC Gear

Hood: One of the simpler hoods on test, this did fit over a helmet and did fit well without a helmet despite initial reservations. The simple piping trim around the front and the stripped back design obviously saves weight and actually when out on the hill, the hood still perfomed well. Just goes to show you can't tell until you get it out there.

Zips: The Cerium had medium sized zips, they were neat but actually a little bit fiddly with gloves on, and the bottom of the zip gets hidden if the elastic cords round the waist are pulled tight - making it hard to get the zip together.

Arc'teryx Cerium SV Jacket  © UKC Gear
Arc'teryx Cerium SV Jacket
© UKC Gear

Pockets: The Arc'teryx Cerium has two external medium sized pockets with a good sized entrance and well positioned on the jacket. There is one internal pocket - medium sized and zipped. A big mesh internal pouch would have been good, but isn't there unfortunately.

Weight: 484g size large, this is at the lower end of the medium spectrum in this review, and you can tell that Arc'teryx have stripped back the features to save weight on this jacket with the medium zips, sleek hood and cuff design and lack of mesh internal pouch. Good for those needing to save weight, not so good if you want to put a pair of mitts in your inside pocket.

Manouverability: A trim fitting, well cut jacket with very good range of movement - they have got that just spot on - nice one Arc'teryx.

Arc'teryx Cerium SV Jacket  © UKC Gear
Arc'teryx Cerium SV Jacket
© UKC Gear

Cuffs: The very simple elastic cuffs match the style of the hood and do pull over gloves but we did find that pulling the jacket on whilst wearing gloves does pull the liner fabric out through the wrist area a bit, not a big deal, you can jiggle the cuff and get it all sorted again, but a minor niggle.

Thickness: We felt that the Cerium was a 'thin to medium' thickness. It was a good thickness for actually being able to move in, not too bulky, but just a bit above what might be used as a thick mid-layer - this is definitely a jacket.

Warmth: We've gone for 'medium'. Of a similar warmth to the several other jackets in the test such as the Black Diamond Cold Forge Parka, the Arc'teryx Cerium is again certainly warm enough for UK winter belaying, but manages this level of warmth at a very low weight.

Fill Power: 850. Very high quality down from Arc'teryx.

Overall Feel: Basic styling and features, keeping the weight down, but really nice overall feel. The Arc'teryx quality can be seen in this light weight and warm jacket. Not one for those who want more features and pockets.

More info: Arc'teryx Website

Millet Trilogy Down Jacket £295

Millet Trilogy Down We've got to kick this off by saying that this jacket is WELL FAT. It's the warmest on test. It's also by far the heaviest (with the exception of the waterproof Marmot Mountain Down Jacket). It's not quite in the range of a do everything down jacket for the UK based climber, but this is what Millet thought was best fit out of their range, so we've tested it.

Hood: The Trilogy Down Jacket from Millet has an absolutely massive hood - great for winter, really good drawcords on the face, meaning you can really cinch it up when the weather gets ming. It fits with or without a helmet, in fact it would probably fit over two helmets if it had to!

Zips: As with everythjing else on this jacket, the zips are bombproof, and as it is a total winter piece they are dead easy to use in gloves - nice one Millet.

Pockets: There are three external pockets with zips, both the hand pockets are pretty big and easy to access. There is one large internal pocket with a zip. We thought there could have been an additional mesh pouch, shame to miss that off a winter piece.

Millet Trilogy Down  © UKC Gear
Millet Trilogy Down
© UKC Gear

Weight: 1018g - it sits squarely at the top end of the weight spectrum for this review. It's really the next category up in terms of weight and thickness and warmth. It actually feels pretty hefty when packed in a rucksack and does weigh more than twice what some of the lighter pieces come in at.

Manouverability: We were impressed by the range of motion given by this jacket considering it is really a big, fat piece. The arms moved well, the head turned well in the hood and it was well cut. There is only so much climbing you can do in a jacket of this fatness though, but for the size we were impressed.

Cuffs: A fat elasticated cuff with velcro closure - dead easy to use, and fitted over gloves with ease, but as per the Arc'teryx jacket when shoving a gloved hand through the cuff the liner material did roll out a little. A minor niggle.

Thickness: The Millet Trilogy Down Jacket is really thick - feels weighty! You can tell that when you put this bad boy on you have put on a true mountain battle suit. Suited for really low temperatures.

Warmth: Really, really warm. Have we mentioned how warm it is? It's tricky to compare to the other jackets in the review as it is just basically a category up in terms of heftiness, but let's just reiterate - it's warm.

Fill Power: 700 Hydrophobic Down.

Overall Feel: It feels like a very warm and ultra high quality jacket - it even has a little pocket to tuck labels away on the inside, a slightly superflouous if nice feature. Certainly the best on test for hard core winter Alpinism, but perhaps overkill for general UK use unless you really have an issue with the cold. Overall a really good jacket, colour-wise it is certainly eyecatching with bright blue externals and bright green internals!

More info: Millet Website

Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Parka £290

Patagonia Fitz Roy Parka

Hood: The Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Parka features a spacious hood with a nice baffled rim that works well with or without a helmet. It gave an almost Eskimo-like seal around the face and head, and felt very comfortable and stable on the head. Something that you can retreat in to when the weather gets bad.

Zips: The jacket had an easy to use high quality zip, that was chunky and didn't snag at all, and came in a funky contrast colour.

Pockets: We loved the absolutely massive internal mesh pouch, really great for shoving in everything from a warm 1 litre Nalgene bottle through to maps, mitts or anythign else you wanted. The 3 external pockets were all big with zips and easy access, being well positioned on the jacket.

Weight: 575g in size large, giving it mid range. It felt like 'a lot of jacket' for this weight, well done to Patagonia for packing this much punch!

Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Parka  © UKC Gear
Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Parka
© UKC Gear

Manouverability: The range of motion and manouverability were extremely good in the Fitz Roy Down Parka. Even though it is quite a beefy jacket we felt that when push came to shove you could climb in it, be that warming up on some easy boulder problems or doing a few pitches in the Alps in the dark.

Cuffs: We didn't like the strange small elasticated cuff, that is kind of hidden. It did go over gloves well, but seemed like a possible wear point in the long term to us. So far so good in one winter test though.

Thickness: We opted for this one being 'medium' - and it was thick enough to be a real jacket, but not in the league of the Millet offering for example. A good all around thickness.

Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Parka  © UKC Gear
Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Parka
© UKC Gear

Warmth: This was the most impressive part of the Patagonia Fitz Roy, the warmth. For the weight of 575g we voted this jacket 'damn warm'.

Fill Power: 800

Overall Feel: A very high quality jacket, with a shiny material that looks quite distictive, we did get the feeling that the material might not be that hard wearing. The jacket relofted exceptionally well after packing.

More info: Patagonia Website

Sherpa Adventure Gear Rongbuk Jacket £240

Best in Test Highly Recommended Large

Sherpa Rongbuk Jacket  © Sherpa
Along with the Rab and the Mountain Equipment, this Sherpa Adventure Gear Rongbuk Jacket makes it into our top three all around down jackets for the UK climber. It's not too thick, not too thin, not too heavy, not too light (got to be durable!) and has enough pockets to accommodate your mitts or your rock boots or whatever you want to keep warm. The Rongbuk did all that, and did it well, and we thought it was the best looking jacket in the test too.

Hood: The Rongbuk Jacket from Sherpa has a very spacious hood, it works really well with a helmet and pull-cords down to fit your head if worn without a helmet. Brilliant.

Zips: Medium sized zip, seemed good quality but was just a little bit fiddly at the bottom with gloves on but runs fine once on - a very minor niggle.

Pockets: Oh yes! Four external zip pockets, we like a chest pocket we do, the two hard warmer pockets are massive and the two chest pockets are a good ample size. Internally there are two large flap pockets - they don't have a zip or an elasticated top, they are very basic, but you can shove your stuff in them, which is what counts. They did have a bit of an odd double entry at the top, no worries, just worth noting.

Weight: 573g Again a mid range weight, for a top of the range jacket - excellent stuff. With the large hood and the ample pocket space, we really thought this one was going to tip the UKC kitchen scales a bit more than it did, but no you just get a lot of well designed and great looking jacket for not a lot of grams.

Sherpa Adventure Gear Rongbuk Jacket  © UKC Gear
Sherpa Adventure Gear Rongbuk Jacket
© UKC Gear

Manouverability: Good range of movement - all around this felt like a great jacket to wear; climbing (within reason, it is a down jacket!), belaying etc the jacket manouvered really well.

Cuffs: Some weight-saving simple elasticated cuffs, no nonsense, but a good design that worked well and importantly goes over gloves without a problem.

Thickness: It's a perfect 'medium' - bulk/weight to manouverability is pretty much perfect in this jacket. We really liked what Sherpa have done.

Warmth: Again, a great 'medium' - warm enough for the UK, not overkill, very warm for the weight.

Fill Power: 750

Sherpa Adventure Gear Rongbuk Jacket  © UKC Gear
Sherpa Adventure Gear Rongbuk Jacket
© UKC Gear

Overall Feel: We really liked the overall feel of this one, and the face fabric seemed really hard wearing, which gave us confidence in the long term nature of the jacket. And on top of all that it looks really nice. A good option for any UK climber.

More info: Sherpa Adventure Gear Website

Overall Summary Table


Price Weight Hydrophobic Fill Power Rating Summary

Rab - Infinity Endurance Jacket

£285 560g (L) Yes 850

Really, really good jacket - hits all the spots. Almost perfect!

Berghaus - Ilam Jacket

£260 311g (M) Yes 850

It gets 4.5 stars and is an ace jacket. Bit on the thin side for this review, but wow - what a mid-layer/top layer piece.

Marmot Mountain Down Jacket

£250 1142g (L) No (but waterproof fabric) 650+

This is the choice if you want to go a bit more 'urban' or just have a cragging jacket. Too heavy for mig mountain stuff.

Mountain Hardwear Nilas

£400 615g (M) Yes (Q Shield) 850

A really good jacket, which we would have scored higher but the we felt was a bit pricey.

Montane Polestar

£180 772g (L) No 750

Damn good and well priced jacket. Not quite as swish as some of the others, but does the job!

Mammut Broad Peak Hoody

£210 492g (L) No 750+

Too thin for this exact review perhaps, but if you are wanting something on the light side this is a good jacket with good manouverability.

Mountain Equipment Vega Jacket

£280 651g (L) No 750

What can we say - Best in Test. We liked all aspects of this one. Nice one ME!

Black Diamond Cold Forge Parka

£299 654g (L) Yes (And Primaloft/Down Mix) N/A

Nice jacket with a slim fit. Worked well and has a bombproof construction. We are really looking forward to where BD go with clothing - excellent stuff.

Arc'teryx Cerium SV Hoody

£260 484g (L) No (Synthetic/Down mix) 850

In terms of warmth to weight, this one might just be the winner, we liked the jacket, and it perfomred well, but just didn't quite have the edge on some of the other pieces.

Millet Trilogy Down Jacket

£295 1018g (L) Yes 700

A BIG warm jacket. Perhaps a bit overkill for the UK, but WHAM this will keep you warm in the Alpine winter. Really well made too.

Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Parka

£290 575g (L) No 800

A sexy looking piece from Patagonia, great hood and nice lofting. Will it last - it has done so far, but time will tell.

Sherpa Adventure Gear Rongbuk Jacket

£240 573g No 750

One of the top 3 jackets on test for value and all-round performance. Good work Sherpa!

16 Oct, 2015
I know you cant review everything, but surprised you missed off PHD. UK manufactured (All of it) and IMHO still the best there is in down kit.
16 Oct, 2015
every uk climber 'needs'..................really Nice to have, I'd agree, but let's face it if all my clothing got burnt to a crisp in a house fire, the last thing given the uk climate, on the replacement list would be the down jacket.
16 Oct, 2015
PHD don't advertise; TBF, if UKC were to do a feature on PHD gear, the paying advertisers might get a bit twitchy. Such is the price of free-to-use resources.
16 Oct, 2015
Why exactly? Not saying it isn't but what makes PHD better than all the other good down gear out there? And do you know why they use removable hoods so much? I've found removable hoods to be a fundamentally bad design on jacket for serious climbing (although I've never tried a PHD jacket).
17 Oct, 2015
Don't really agree re the infinity Endurance. I have had one for 2 years and I much preferred my previous Neutrino endurance. Infinity endurance I would classify more as a lightweight specialist jacket than an all round jacket. It simply isn't robust enough for day-to-day use over a long period of time full. The elasticated cuffs and hood are also annoying compared to the Neutrino as the hood in particular tends to blow off in high winds, and ghe gaps mean that despite higher quality down, it isnt as warm. These are all aimed at extreme weight saving rather than practicality. I used to think the Neutrino was pretty perfect and only changed model when it died as i got the infinity half price, so to be fair I am a tough judge, but I just don't think it should sit in this review category.
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