The GoLite Inferno Down Parka is insulated with 800 fill power down and weighs 24.6 ounces (size Large).
GoLite calls it a hooded down jacket, but it's a down parka by my definition - it has an attached insulated hood, and the body is long enough to cover the bum. A jacket normally comes to the waist. Semantics aside, the Inferno is an ultra-warm down parka, intended for serious winter cold. It's the right class of warmth for those of us who love to get out in winter cold, and even (gasp!) snow camp in mid-winter, but it's simply too heavy and too warm for three-season backpacking.
The backside (left) of the GoLite Inferno Down Parka, showing its insulated hood and puffy down chambers. The hood (right) has a drawcord around the brim and three adjustors (1 rear, 2 front) to provide good face protection.
The Inferno is insulated with 800 fill down with sewn-through construction in a horizontal six-inch quilted pattern to hold the down in place. I measured its double layer loft at four inches across the body and sleeves.
It has a relaxed fit, with enough room inside to wear it over a heavy base layer and lightweight insulated jacket to provide even more warmth. The hood is roomy enough to wear over a climbing helmet and has three adjustors to close it in around the face. Sleeves are extra long and have Velcro adjustors on the cuffs.
The inside (left) has one mesh drop pocket and one zippered security pocket. The outside (right) has two zippered fleece-lined handwarmer pockets.
Sleeves on the Inferno are plenty long to overlap the hands, and the Velcro adjustor on the cuffs is easy to grasp with gloves on.
I wore the Inferno parka while igloo camping in February, tent camping on consolidated snow in March and April, and finished my testing while backcountry skiing in November.
Just for fun, I slept in the GoLite Inferno inside a 25 F sleeping bag and a bivy under the stars at 11,600 feet in April. I also wore down pants and down booties. I stayed toasty warm on a 15 F night.
For snow camping, I prefer a down parka that has a lot of water resistance so I can wear it when it's snowing lightly and not get wet. Of course I want it to be lightweight, but not so fragile that I have to constantly protect it from being snagged or punctured. Finally, I want lots of pockets so I can stash anything I want to keep warm and handy.
The Inferno's two outside zippered fleece-lined pockets are definitely useful for warming hands and holding snacks, but they are barely large enough to hold winter gloves or a hat. That's not necessarily bad, because I prefer to stash those items inside the jacket in drop pockets. Unfortunately, the Inferno has only one medium-sized drop pocket. I wish it had two big ones; they add very little weight to the garment and are extremely useful for stashing and drying gloves and socks, keeping a water flask from freezing, or warming a fuel canister. The inside security pocket is a good place to store valuables, sunglasses, etc.
For pure warmth, I found the Inferno to be sufficient for my winter camping needs. The combination of 800 fill down and sewn-through construction provides a good balance of warmth and value. The 800 fill down provides plenty of loft and warmth for its weight, much more than the 650 fill down in many jackets, but doesn't run up the cost like premium 850+ fill power down and baffled construction. In really cold temperatures, it's easy to don a lightweight insulated jacket under the Inferno for extra warmth and to eliminate cold spots.
Note that the Inferno's shell and lining is 22 x 30 denier recycled polyester. It's nice that it's recycled, but what about durability? Nylon is considered to be stronger and more abrasion resistant than a polyester fabric of equal weight. According to GoLite, the polyester fabric used in the Inferno weighs about 10-15% more than a 15 denier nylon and is equal in durability. That said, the Inferno needs to be treated the same as any other low denier fabric. Polyester is also more hydrophobic than nylon, so it is less likely to absorb water and more likely to retain its breathability. I liked the Inferno's polyester shell; it has a very soft hand, feels warm to the touch (nylon feels cold), and is adequately durable with reasonable care. It did not snag easily like other lightweight shell fabrics I have tested. The Velcro cuffs on the sleeves do not damage the shell fabric, which is another problem I have encountered on other jackets.
When wearing the Inferno during a light or heavy snowfall in cold weather, the snow slides off without wetting the jacket. Wet snow sticks more and wets through at the seams, but the Inferno is too warm a jacket to wear at those temperatures (around freezing) anyway. In those conditions it's better to wear a waterproof-breathable shell jacket over a thin insulating jacket.
Overall, I am very pleased with the materials, design, and performance of the GoLite Hooded Inferno Jacket. It's an excellent balance of light weight, warmth, wind/water resistance, durability, and value. Its attached hood and longer body and sleeve lengths allow a clothing system capable of providing lots of warmth in serious winter cold. The Inferno is a great choice for winter snow camping or any activity in really cold temperatures.
I looked for comparable products, and found that the Inferno seems to occupy a class of its own. Many similar jackets, for example the Outdoor Research Megaplume Down Jacket (33 ounces, US$325), have 650 fill power down compared to the GoLite Inferno's 800 fill. High-end down parkas like the Nunatak Torre Parka (28 ounces, US$619) have 850+ down fill and baffled construction, but they have a big price tag too. Overall, the Hooded Inferno Jacket from GoLite meets the needs of the serious winter adventurer who wants lightweight performance gear without breaking the bank.
|2008 Hooded Inferno Jacket|
|800 fill power down|
|Outer shell is a 100% recycled combination of 22d base yarns and 30d ripstop polyester yarns with DWR, lining is the same fabric without DWR|
|Attached insulated hood with three adjustors, fleece chin-guard, full front zipper, insulated draft collar behind the zipper, two outside zippered fleece-lined hand pockets, one inside mesh drop pocket, inside zippered security pocket, hem drawcord with two adjustors|
|measured weight men's L 24.6 oz (697 g), manufacturer specification 25 oz (709 g)|