The Sitka Kelvin Down Ultra Lite Jacket
by Matt Wymer, Rokslide Prostaff
Three to four months ago I was given the opportunity to test a prototype jacket from Sitka featuring a new technology from Primaloft, the PrimaLoft Gold Insulation. PrimaLoft Gold is a Down Blend, that boasts it has harnessed the benefits of both down and synthetic insulation. Its light, warm, water resistant, breathes well, and is less bulky than traditional down. The prototype jacket was the new Sitka Kelvin Down Ultra Lite Jacket (KDUL) and utilizes the Primaloft Gold. It will be available June 2015 and retails for $289.
As an ounce-counting sheep hunter I jumped at the chance to test the prototype. I wanted to compare two jackets, as close in specifications as possible, yet with different insulating fills. With this in mind, I picked up a Feathered Friends Daybreak Jacket (FF). Both jackets contain lightweight insulators; the Daybreak featuring a traditional down fill vs. the KDUL’s PrimaLoft Gold.
The author tested the Feathered Friends Daybreak Jacket tested against the new Sitka Kelvin Ultra Light Jacket shown in lead photo
It was an odd winter in Anchorage this year so I did not get a chance to test them in the sub-zero temperatures I expected to. However, as an August sheep hunter I will rarely hunt in weather colder than the 20s, so the testing aligned with the colder end of the spectrum for real world applications. I wore both jackets as daily jackets off and on for about a month. I combined with this multiple day hikes and finalized with a day of glassing Dall Sheep on a cold windy ridge above Anchorage, alternating jackets with my wife.
To keep this review simple I will state that both jackets kept me equally warm. So what, you may say? Well, one is almost weatherproof and will maintain loft when damp or wet, and one will not. Both jackets are around the ~10oz range, both are good lightweight insulators, and both are from companies who solidly back their products. If you hunt in dry terrain, pick the one you find the cheapest and power on. However, if you have ever spent four days socked in with 10′ of visibility and pouring rain, you might want to celebrate PrimaLoft’s Gold Down Blend and get yourself a Kelvin Down Ultra Lite Jacket.
With that said, let me highlight a few differentiators in the jackets. Sitka’s KDUL features a generous chest pocket, with mesh hand pockets (these hand pockets were missing from my prototype). It does not have a drawstring waist. The Daybreak has two zippered hand pockets, no chest pockets, and has a drawstring for the waist.
The KDUL features a fill weight of 3oz and the Daybreak is 2.8oz. Despite that, the Sitka KDUL is a noticeably slimmer jacket, while the FF Daybreak was “puffier”. The KDUL appears to be designed as component of your layering system, and fits much better under a shell. It was very hard to determine which jacket was warmer, but if I was forced to pick one it would be with caveats. Under a shell the slight edge would go to the Daybreak, without a shell the KDUL, as it seemed to shed wind better. However, the slimmer fill of the KDUL made it more comfortable under my shell.
One final thing to note is that KDUL felt like it breathed better. I walked a lot miles in these jackets and the KDUL just seemed to breathe better. With that said, it was simple enough to mitigate on the FF Daybreak by unzipping it a bit. I also felt better about having moisture move from my body, and through the KDUL, than I would through a pure down product.
I have no complaints against the FF Daybreak. It’s a solid, light weight option. However, the versatility and weather protection offered by the KDUL is hard to ignore. My two favorite synthetic “puffys” are the First Lite Uncompaghre and the now discontinued Sitka Kelvin Lite. I differentiate my use of these jackets based on how light I am trying go. How the KDUL differs is that it provides me the same features my Kelvin Lite jacket did, yet saves me ~6-7ozs!
I can’t wait to complete my testing of the KDUL jacket during 2015’s sheep hunt. My hunting buddy is anxiously awaiting the release, and if we can put it all together, this August there will be two Sitka Kelvin Down Ultra Light equipped hunters sitting on a windy ridge glassing rams.
Sitka recently dove deep into their journey of product development. If new technology excites you as much as it does me, check out the link below:
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