GoLite Cumulus Jacket REVIEW

A comfortable and lofty 14-ounce jacket with some nice features, but missing ultralight appeal.

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by Don Wilson | 2005-12-21 00:00:00-07

GoLite Cumulus Jacket REVIEW

Introduction

The GoLite Cumulus Down Jacket weighs 14.1 ounces in a size L, has loft competitive with the best jackets on the market, and a few nice features for additional comfort; fuzzy hand warmer pockets and a warm, 2-inch high down filled collar. Other features include an elastic hem and cuffs, zippers on the pockets, and a full zipper in front.

What's Good

  • Good loft and warmth
  • DWR treated shell fabric
  • Long sleeves help keep wrists and hands warm
  • Warm, down filled collar
  • Comfortable, zippered hand warmer pockets

What's Not So Good

  • At 14 ounces, a bit heavier than some of the competition
  • Pockets are a little small

Specifications

Model Year

2005

Style

Full zipper jacket

Weight

Size men's L tested. 14.1 oz (400 g) measured weight, manufacturer's specification 14 oz (397 g)

Shell Fabric

15d micropolyester shell with DWR finish

Loft*

3.6 in (9.1 cm) double layer, measured

Fill

800 fill power goose down

Features

Single-quilt construction, full zipper, zippered hand warmer pockets, elastic cuffs, elastic hem, 2 in (5 cm) down filled collar

MSRP

$200

* Loft is a weighted average of maximum, double-layer torso and sleeve lofts. Torso loft is double weighted.

Performance

The GoLite Cumulus Down Jacket has easily handled the testing I have done this fall in the Arizona mountains. At temperatures down into the 30s, it was cozy in camp, and very warm as part of my sleep system, even with a wimpy sleeping bag that by itself was not comfortable below 50 degrees. With 3.6 inches of double layer loft, the Cumulus can comfortably be used at temperatures well below freezing - either as part of a sleep system, or layered with other clothing during the day. I found the relatively high (2 inches plus), well insulated collar to be a good addition to the warmth of the jacket, but with plenty of room to avoid feeling choked.

A couple of features on the Cumulus caught my attention; the elastic hem and the lined, hand warmer pockets. I was concerned that the elastic in the hem would be too constricting, providing less control than a drawcord hem. The hem was comfortable, but it did interfere with other layers; forcing other layers to be shorter than the Cumulus or to be tucked inside the jacket. One benefit of the elastic hem is that the jacket is less likely to ride up on you - the hem helps to keep the jacket in place if you lift your arms or otherwise move around. I am a fan of pockets on down jackets. Even though they add a bit of weight, I find the comfort and convenience of pockets well worth it in cold camps. The pockets on the Cumulus are very functional - insulated, lined with a thin but warm fleece and zippered to keep out the snow when necessary. I use them constantly, but would prefer pockets a little bit larger so they can be used more easily with lightweight gloves.

The shell fabric is 15 denier micro polyester with a DWR treatment. I had no problems with down leakage during the course of my testing. I encountered only light rains, which the DWR finish easily repelled. The full length front zipper is backed by a 1-inch down filled draft tube with a grosgrain stiffener to reduce zipper snags. I had no problems with the zipper, or with the draft flap during my testing. Although the shell fabric is light, it stood up well to off trail hiking. I took the Cumulus on a long, off-trail, early morning bushwhack up a streambed choked with willow and sycamore branches. The shell had no problems with snags even when I boldly pushed into thickets with the intention of stressing the fabric.

GoLite Cumulus Down Jacket REVIEW
The GoLite Cumulus Down jacket has a warm collar and pockets to complement the 3.6 inches of double layer loft.

The size large test sample Cumulus weighs 14.1 ounces, just above the manufacturer's specification of 14 ounces. This is a couple of ounces heavier than the leading competition, but the Cumulus does offer a few features not seen on those lighter jackets, such as zippered, lined pockets and an elastic hem. If you are looking for those features and are willing to trade a couple of ounces, the Cumulus may be a good choice. It is a well made and reasonably durable jacket and at $200 it is priced fairly.

What's Unique

Good combination of loft and features for a 14 ounce down jacket.

Recommendations for Improvement

Of course I would like to see the Cumulus come in a little lighter and still keep its best features. Of the features on the Cumulus, I might give up the zippers on the pockets, and reduce the weight of the elastic hem - this might save an ounce or so - with only limited reduction in functionality.


Citation

"GoLite Cumulus Jacket REVIEW," by Don Wilson. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/golite_cumulus_jacket_review.html, 2005-12-21 00:00:00-07.

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