I’ve recently purchased what is possibly the best jacket I’ve owned to date, from KUIU. The name of this jacket is the Super Down Hooded Jacket.
The Super Down range of clothing is ground breaking technology in the clothing industry, with it’s advances in waterproofing of the down. For MANY years, the textile industry has put immense effort into developing a material that is as lightweight and that has the same or improved insulation properties as down, but this has not yet happened – down still has the best insulating property we know that is lightweight and relatively affordable.
I purchased the KUIU Spindrift last year and have hunted very successfully with the jacket and was very impressed with it, which is why I was so chuffed when the Super Down came along as my expectations for KUIU gear was already high and I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t let down!
The properties that make this such a good jacket:
- Water Resistant Down
- Well Built
I’m going to elaborate a bit on the points mentioned above…
Water Resistant Down
The water resistant properties of Toray’s Quixdown which is treated with their Industry Leading Kudos DWR treatment that is used in KUIU’s Super Down range make this jacket ideal in the extreme conditions that you would find yourself as a serious mountain, adventure hunter. I use a down sleeping bag, but keep it in two dry bags to make REALLY sure that it doesn’t get wet. Getting your gear wet is the single biggest risk that you take when you use down and KUIU have identified Quixdown as the solution to that problem. Quixdown allows you to maintain warmth, even when it’s wet, which could mean the difference between life and death, if you find yourself in extreme weather conditions up in backcountry Colorado, USA or hunting in the mountains in Canterbury, New Zealand.
Here’s a YouTube video where Jason (founder of KUIU) demonstrates the water resistant properties of Toray’s Quixdown:
As mentioned above, down is still one of the best weight to warmth ratio insulations available. I have made extensive use of KUIU’s Spindrift jacket on a Water Buffalo hunt in Australia, Chital Deer hunt in Australia and Elk hunt in Colorado, USA, which weighs 368 grams (13 ounces), whereas the Super Down Hooded Jacket weighs ONLY 283 grams (10 ounces) – bear in mind that the Super Down has the hood as well. It might not seem like much at the face of it, but when it comes to mountain hunting, every ounce of weight makes a difference.
Here’s the Super Down Hooded Jacket compressed into it’s pocket, next to the KUIU’s Spindrift jacket.
Not only is the weight of the Super Down nice because it makes it easier to pack, but I believe that it improves your performance in terms of the fact that it doesn’t restrict your movement. It’s almost so light that you don’t even notice that it’s on. This for me is a major bonus. You have a very warm, well insulated jacket that is very light and doesn’t affect your movement. There’s nothing worse than hunting and your performance being affected by the clothes you wear or the gear you use. That being said, I’m not saying that you can justifiably blame your gear for lack of success all the time, what I’m saying is that KUIU have thought this jacket out so well that there is no evidence, that I notice, that it would ever contribute to affecting my performance by weighing me down or restricting movement due to the weight of the jacket.
By now you’ve got the picture that down holds excellent insulation properties. Obviously, you wouldn’t wear this jacket as the outer shell in extreme weather (rain, strong wind, snow) and I believe that Jason did not intend for the Super Down, with it’s “water resistant” properties, to be the outer shell to be used in extreme weather conditions. It is made as an insulating layer to go under an outer shell in extreme conditions and make no mistake, it is warm and serves it’s purpose very well as an insulating layer. This being said, I would happily wear the Super Down in cold, clear weather. For example, when I hunt Red and Fallow deer this year in Australia, if the weather is cold, but clear, I’ll happily wear the Super Down as my outer layer because it’s so light and warm and I don’t need to keep rain/wind off. My preference, since I started using the Spindrift and now that I use the Super Down, is to use it as the outer shell where the weather permits over using the Guide DCS Jacket as my outer shell in clear, cold weather.
One of the things I like about KUIU is their quality. You KNOW that you are paying for TOP quality products. When you’ve used KUIU, in my opinion, there is no question that there has been any skimping on the quality of the raw materials.
The Super Down is well thought through and well designed. I’m sure you know how horrible it is when you try something on in a shop and the sleeves are slightly too long or the hood is just too small to fit over your head properly, etc.. You don’t have that with KUIU. The hood is deep enough to cover your head properly, but is not too big that it drowns you. It has a velcro strap on the back of the hood that allows you to adjust how deep it is. The sleeves are tight, so they don’t affect movement and catch things, but are not restricting. They also have a flexible material at the end that allows you to stretch it over your hands, watch, etc.. easily (see photo below). There is no insulation on the inside (part that makes contact with your abdomen) of the pockets so you’re not carry “unnecessary” weight around and also any items you put in your pockets will receive your body heat, which in extremely cold weather this is a good thing for electrical items.
As part of the Well Built section I feel I must mention the price of this jacket. The Super Down, at the time of this writing, was priced at £166 ($249), which is about what your would expect to pay for a jacket of this material and with this sort of technology. I did some looking around and although they are not hunting brands, I found a North Face, priced at £180 ($270), and a RAB, priced at £160 ($245), down jacket of a similar design and nature as this Super Down and actually both priced very similarly to the Super Down. The technology will be along similar lines to that of this Super Down, although I must admit I did not spend as much time researching how good their waterproof treatment of down is. This is after all a review of the KUIU Super Down.
Here is a shot of the inside lining of the pocket (the part that will made contact with your body), showing that it’s just one layer:
Obviously, you’ve noticed that I purchased the Verde camo pattern as soon as it became available. I quite like this pattern. This is the first KUIU item I’ve purchased in Verde and certainly won’t be the last. I love the Vias camo and probably prefer it, purely from an aesthetics point of view. I think the two different camo patterns will marry well in different terrains/scenarios.
Overall, this is an outstanding jacket for any type of hunting and I think Jason and the rest of his KUIU team have done themselves proud on this. I also think Toray have done something really great in their technologies!