Salomon Minim Down Sweater Review

This is one of the more impressive jackets in our ultralight down jacket roundup, but it has a few shortcomings and uncertainties.

Overall Rating: Above Average

This jacket would earn our Recommended rating based on its cutting edge shell fabric, lightweight feature set, and warmth. However, the hand pockets are small, water penetrates the quilted seams, the fill weight is uncertain, and it’s not a good value. If I could assign an Above Average Plus rating, that would be about right, for now.

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by Will Rietveld |

Introduction

Salomon Minim Down Sweater Review - 1
New for fall 2010, the Salomon Minim Down Sweater is puffy and warm, has a lightweight feature set, and weighs a measured 12.9 ounces (366 g) for size large.

This separate review provides additional descriptive and performance information on the Salomon Minim Down Sweater. Read our article Ultralight Three-Season Down Jackets State of the Market Report 2010 for a state of the market analysis and comparative specifications and performance for a range of ultralight down jackets.

Salomon is expanding their Minim line of lightweight outdoor clothing with the introduction of the Minim Down Sweater in fall 2010. This is a multi-purpose three-season down jacket designed to be as versatile as possible. How suitable is it for backpacking?

Description

The new Minim Down Sweater features the new 0.8 oz/yd2 (27 g/m2) Pertex Quantum which is 20% lighter than the “old” Quantum, with the same tear strength and a slightly softer hand. According to Salomon, the jacket is insulated with 8.3 ounces (235 g) of 800 fill-power down. That’s a little hard to believe, but it’s the number they provided after much searching around. The puffiest jackets in our state-of-the-market roundup contain only 4.5 to 5.2 ounces (128-146 g) of down fill, so Salomon’s fill weight spec doesn’t compute.

The hangtag on the jacket explains that the down fill is Eldeven duck down. I Googled it and found out it comes from a company called Pyrenex in southwest France that has been producing down for bedding and insulated apparel since 1859. Eldeven down (90/10 down + feathers) is apparently their highest grade. This is the first time I have run across 800 fill-power duck down.

The type and amount of fill notwithstanding, this jacket is indeed well insulated. Its measured single-layer loft is 1.1 inches (2.8 cm), which is one of the highest in the group of multi-purpose three-season down jackets evaluated in part 3 of our state-of-the-market report cited below.

Salomon Minim Down Sweater Review - 2
Front and rear views of the Salomon Minim Down Sweater.

Salomon Minim Down Sweater Review - 3
The Minim Down Sweater has three pockets, two small unzippered unlined hand pockets (left), and one larger zippered chest pocket (right) that serves as a stuff sack for the jacket. There are no inside pockets.

Performance

Salomon Minim Down Sweater Review - 4
I received the Minim Down Sweater in early spring and got to use it on two high altitude snowshoe hikes and a walk in the rain before I had to return the sample to the manufacturer.

Sizing on the Minim Down Sweater runs small, so you may need to size up for a proper fit or room for layering. The sample I tested is a size large, and it barely fit me (6 ft/1.83 m tall, 167 lb/76 kg, 39 in/99 cm chest). The fit is okay, but if it were any smaller I would need to size up. It’s roomy enough to fit over a thick baselayer, but not a sweater or another jacket. A Salomon representative verified that the “Salomon fit” runs on the smaller side.

Features are minimal, lightweight, and adequate. The hand pockets are small, not fleece-lined, and do not have any elastic binding or zipper to hold contents inside. The pocket lining tends to pull out, especially if my hands are wet. The zippered chest pocket is quite large inside.

In our comparative jacket warmth tests (see cited article below), the Minim Down Sweater comes out on the warmer end of the group of multi-purpose down jackets we tested. The jacket is indeed puffy and warm and definitely has a good bit of down fill, but perhaps not 8.3 ounces (235 g) as claimed.

Salomon Minim Down Sweater Review - 5
On a walk during a spring shower, I found the jacket to be very water-resistant (left). However, in my one-hour indoor “puddle test” (right) quite a bit of water soaked through the jacket’s seams. It appears that the shell fabric resists water very well, but the seams are not tight enough to prevent water from penetrating.

Comparisons

Our article Ultralight Three-Season Down Jackets State of the Market Report 2010 provides complete specifications and ratings for the Salomon Minim Down Sweater in comparison to a range of other lightweight down jackets. The jackets most similar to this one are the PHD Minimus Down Jacket, Westcomb Chilko Down Sweater, and the MontBell Alpine Light Down Jacket.

Assessment

This jacket is more difficult to assess because it’s unclear what the fill weight actually is. The number provided to us (8.3 oz/235 g) simply does not compute. Also our calculation of the jacket’s fill weight:jacket weight ratio is uncertain, partly because of the uncertain fill weight and partly because of Salomon’s high claimed weight (14.1 oz/400 g) for the jacket. The ratio based on Salomon’s claimed fill weight and the actual jacket weight (12.9 oz/366 g) is 64, which would put it higher than the Nunatak Skaha. Fat chance! However, it is certainly possible that the actual fill weight is somewhere in the 4 to 4.5 ounce (113-128 g) range, which would still be impressive.

The sample jacket I tested is only one of two in existence, so it’s likely some details could change in the final version.

Overall, the Minim Down Sweater is one of the nicer jackets in the group in terms of light weight, warmth, and lightweight features, but it’s also one of the more expensive jackets. The Western Mountaineering Flight Jacket and Feathered Friends Hyperion cost about the same as the Minim Down Sweater. Given that choice, I would choose one of the former, as both weigh less than the Minim.

Specifications and Features

Manufacturer Salomon Sports (http://www.salomon.com/us/)
Year/Model Fall 2010 Minim Down Sweater
Style Hoodless jacket with full front zipper
Fabrics Shell and lining are 0.8 oz/yd2 (27 g/m2) Pertex Quantum ripstop nylon with DWR
Insulation 800 fill power duck down, 8.3 oz (235 g) specified
Construction Sewn through with 3-inch (7.6 cm) horizontal quilting, raglan sleeves
Loft Measured two-layer loft is 2.2 inches (5.6 cm), single-layer loft is 1.1 inch (2.8 cm)
Features Down-filled stand up collar; full height reversed #3 YKK zipper with one slider, storm flap under zipper and chin guard; two unzippered side pockets (not fleece-lined); zippered chest pocket; elastic cuffs; drawcord hem with one adjustor
Weight Size Large tested
Measured Weight: 12.9 oz (366 g)
Manufacturer Specified Average Weight: 14.1 oz (400 g)
MSRP US$240
Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and the author/BPL has returned this product to the manufacturer upon completion of the review. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to review this product to the manufacturer under the terms of this agreement.

Citation

"Salomon Minim Down Sweater Review," by Will Rietveld. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/salomon_minim_down_sweater_review.html, 2010-07-13 00:00:00-06.

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Salomon Minim Down Sweater Review
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Salomon Minim Down Sweater Review on 07/13/2010 13:22:11 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Salomon Minim Down Sweater Review

Marco A. Sánchez
(marcoasn) - M

Locale: The fabulous Pyrenees
"New" vs "Old" Quantum on 07/14/2010 01:58:05 MDT Print View

How windproof and heat retentive is the new Quantum compared to the old one? Being a lighter version it will be less windproof. In addition, I suppose the air escapes more quickly, so you need more insulation (weight) for a given temperature rating.

Do you think that the new fabric offers real weight savings?

Martin RJ Carpenter
(MartinCarpenter) - F
Coated fabrics on 07/14/2010 04:56:34 MDT Print View

Depends I think :) If you're counting something to be worn in winds and stuff, then actually there has to be a strong argument for using very light coated fabrics.

Totally windproof and rather more water resistant of course. Only ~40g extra on a PHD jacket from MX to Drishell so the weight difference isn't extreme and you even get some static warmth while you're at it.

+2 degrees on the EN values for RABs sleeping bags for endurance vs quantum for instance. Suspect also a non trivial portion of why the anti freeze tested quite so warm in the recent group test.

Of course thats a fixed amount of extra warmth so sometimes the very lightest fabric lets you add enough extra down to be worth using. Or you'll be mostly sleeping in it/wearing a windshirt over the top etc etc.