Almost every outdoor brand has made or is making the move towards water-repellent down in one form or another. L.L.Bean has teamed up with down supplier Down Decor to use their water-resistant DownTek treated down in a line of ultralight down jackets and coats. I have been wearing the Ultralight 850 Down Jacket non-stop this winter for everything from cold rainy walks with Lola to ice climbing in Montana and Colorado.
The Ultralight 850 Down Jacket is the lightest and warmest down jacket in the L.L.Bean collection. The outer shell of the jacket is made from a water and tear resistant ripstop nylon, while the inside is stuffed with 850-fill water-resistant DownTek treated down.
DownTek down repels water while maintaining its loft and insulation value, even in the wettest of conditions. A micro-thin nano polymer is applied to the down, creating a water repellent, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial insulation that actually floats on water. I have had some DownTek sitting in a jar of water on my desk since last summer and it is just now starting to clump.
During the heavy rains we had in San Francisco throughout December, I wore the down jacket for walks with Lola and it not only stayed drier than a normal down jacket, but dried faster when it wet out a bit in an absolute downpour. DownTek claims that the treated down absorbs 1/3 the moisture of regular down and will take 2/3 less the amount of time to dry.
I really like to use my Ultralight 850 Down Jacket as a multi-pitch ice climbing belay jacket since it weighs only about a pound and can stuff into its own pocket (you can use this zippered pouch as a security pocket at other times), enabling me to just clip it to my harness. It is very comforting to know that if the climb is wet or if it is snowy, I am still going to get warmth out of the down jacket. An internal stretch mesh pocket is great for storing an extra pair of gloves, while the hand warmer pockets and collar are fleeced lined for extra coziness.
The women's jacket features a nice fitted profile yet still offers plenty of room for layering. Your normal sizing will allow you to easily fit a baselayer and midlayer underneath. I am even able to fit my Ultralight 850 Down Jacket over my outer softshell when climbing.
The L.L.Bean Ultralight 850 Down Jacket retails for $179 and is available now.