In recent years, insulated down coats a.k.a "puffy jackets" have gained popularity in cycling, and in bikepacking in particular. The combination of warmth, packability and versatility has made puffy jackets a popular choice for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds, and I, for one, won't go on a bikepacking trip or longer adventure ride without one!
Lightweight yet high-performing, down jackets have been a longtime staple in the mountaineering and hiking world, and the bike industry has started producing its own puffers —with cycling specific features— as well. My two current favorites — Rapha's Explorer Down Jacket and Specialized Packable Down Jacket— are in heavy rotation on and off the bike, are they're now on sale for Cyber Week.
Rapha Explore Down Jacket
I wore this jacket daily during the five-day Yomp Rally adventure this spring. I slept in it, cooked my camp meals in it, and wore it on the bike for the chilly morning starts and when the route disappeared into the wet mountain fog. In addition to bikepacking, I wear it on bike commutes, dog walks and all-day adventures.
What I like:
- The jacket features a responsibly sourced fill of 90% goose down and 10% goose feathers
- Down received a water-repellent treatment
- Weighs just 261 grams, stuff sack included
- Woven nylon outer fabric has held up well thus far - no rips and no feathers peaking out yet!
- Roomy hood that can be rolled up into the collar or detached altogether
- Two-way zipper
- Roomy pockets
- Elasticated openings at the hood and cuffs as well as an elasticated waistband
- Roomy fit
- Packs up reasonable compact into the supplied stuff sack
- Versatility: I can wear this jacket on the bike as well as around town or for a variety of outdoor activities
Specialized Packable Down Jacket
Headed to the trailhead, taking in the sunset, getting ready to descent or filtering water. When the temperatures drop and you're out on your bike all day, having this extra layer on hand can be a godsend.
Part of Specialized's ADV collection, this down jacket is super light (just a touch over 200 grams), highly packable and features an on-bike fit, which means that when in the riding position, nothing fits too loose or too tight. With that said, I've found that the fit is perfectly suited for everyday wear as well — I wear this jacket around town more than I do on the bike.
What I like:
- The fill is a combination of ALLIED Feather, down and PrimaLoft® Bio™
- While it doesn't quite fit in my jersey pocket, when in its stuff sack, it will fit in your water bottle cage
- Weighs just 207 grams (women's medium + stuff sack)
- Two-way zipper
- A more fitted fit than other down jackets
- A large hood that fits over your helmet
Versatility: I can wear this jacket on the bike as well as around town or for a variety of outdoor activities
Why consider a puffy jacket that's cycling specific?
- Warmth-to-Weight Ratio: Down- or PrimaLoft- insulated jackets offer exceptional warmth relative to their weight. In cold conditions these jackets offer a lot of warmth without the heft of other materials.
- Packability: Between a nylon shell and down insulation, the puffy jackets are highly compressible. These jackets usually come with a small stuff sack to help pack the jacket down to a small package that fits inside a bike bag or hydration pack.
- Quick Warmth: When you stop for a break or have arrived at your campsite for the night, puffy jackets provide warmth quickly.
- Versatility: Unlike a spandex kit, a puffy jacket with its looser fit can be worn in a variety of different settings and for a host of different activities.
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