Kuiu Teton Insulated Jacket: Performance Test
I was a hesitant in purchasing the Kuiu Teton Insulated Jacket because in the back of my mind, I thought it would lack in performance since it wasn't their premium line. Looking back, this was nothing but a mind trick I was playing on myself but I really didn't want to pay more money for a jacket than what I had to and since I didn't own a synthetic insulated layer yet, I ultimately decided it would be a good idea to give the Teton line a try because well, why not? A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to pack it in with me for an overnight trip to see how it would do when compared to my trusty down jacket from Sierra Designs. I was pleasantly surprised.
I don't like reviewing a product in depth without having spent quality time with it in the field, so don't expect this review to include anything such as durability and whatever else may come along with having owned something for a long time. The reason I'm writing this is becauseI feel like my experience with the jacket on that trip is worth mentioning. By the end of the summer or hunting season, I hope to have put the jacket through it's paces and at that point, I'll write a more complete review.
Consider this my first impression of the jacket and we will leave it at that. As usual, I'll break it down into a few highlights.
Because the jacket is synthetic and not down, it struggles with being packable. With a down jacket, you simply just stuff it where ever you please and hardly notice it's there. Not so much with the Teton Insulated Jacket. It rolls up well enough, but it doesn't compress into a ball of nothing like down normally would. You have to think about where it's going to go when you're packing for the day but if you have the space to spare, it's no big deal. Just keep this detail in mind if you're a backcountry hunter who is space conscious.
There's nothing better than hiking all day, getting to your camp site, and pulling out your warming layer when the temps start to drop. On this outing, we camped above the tree line where we were exposed to the elements which this time around was only wind. Once we arrived at camp, the wind was blowing pretty good which made the sweat on my back feel pretty darn cold so I took the opportunity to bust out my Teton jacket. Instantly the wind was being cut and I began to warm up nicely. My concern with any jacket is how it does in the wind and I have to say that the Teton Insulated Jacket did a fine job of performing not only as an insulation piece, but as a soft shell type jacket as well. Of course it's not as durable as a soft shell would be, but the way it performed made me think that I might not need any other jacket to put on over this piece when hunting season comes around.
Once the sun went down, the wind really started to kick up big time. Take a look at my post on the Seek Outside Redcliff and you'll learn about how bad it was that night. The temps started to drop and with the wind kicking up, I was prepared for the jacket to show some sign of heat loss, but it never happened. In fact, I really didn't notice any difference between how the Teton jacket performed and how my down jacket would have felt in the same conditions. At no point did I think "oh man, I wish I were wearing down!" The jacket performed so well in the wind that it wasn't until the following morning when I went to pack it that I even thought about it not being down. Not bad, right? If you're on the fence about this jacket, have no fear. It's a great piece to have and at a great price.
The feel of the Teton Insulated Jacket is great. It's very soft to the touch which means it makes practically no noise when you're moving around in it. Usually with insulation layers, you run the risk of the "swish, swish" noise depending on the material it's made out of. With the Kuiu Teton Insulated Jacket, you simply don't have that problem.
My only complaint with Kuiu in general, is that they don't make items for those of us who aren't huge. I'm 5'8" and 155lbs so I tend to need a small for pretty much everything, especially because I like my gear to have an athletic fit. If I were an inch taller, with wider shoulders, and a slightly bigger chest, the jacket would fit perfect. It's not that it fits poorly, it's just that I'm not a Medium, and the smallest Kuiu makes is a Medium so I'm left with a bit of bagginess. For the sake of those of us who didn't drink enough milk growing up, make a SMALL!
I like this piece and I'm very glad I purchased it. I live in the PNW so it's nice to have the option of a synthetic warming layer on me for when it's really coming down. The only thing I don't like about synthetic is how much room it takes up, but that's to be expected. For the price of the Teton Insulated Jacket, you really can't go wrong. If you're on the fence because it's not Kuiu's premium line, don't sweat it. It's better to have this piece at a fair price than not have it at all.