Winter has arrived at long last, bringing cold temperatures and plenty of snow and ice along with it. But, as any good outdoor enthusiast will tell you, the right clothing will allow you to play outside all year long, no matter the conditions. In the winter, that means layering up to stay warm and comfortable, and one of the key elements of any good layering system is a down jacket. The traditional puffy plays the crucial role of providing insulation when the mercury starts to drop, helping us to stay ouside longer, making this type a jacket a must-have in anyone’s arsenal.
Recently, we’ve had the chance to test out the Cho Oyu jacket from Dynafit, and came away quite impressed with its performance in variety of conditions. Designed for use by skiers and snowboarders on the slopes, this is a jacket that other winter athletes will appreciate as well. It’s athletic cut allows for unfettered movement, while still hugging the body nicely. This makes it a good choice whether your shredding the hill or setting off on a long snowshoeing excursion.
Packed with 750-fill hydrophobic down from DownTek, the jacket offers all of the performance you would expect from a puffy, without the traditional weakness that come with down. In the past, when ever down would get wet it would lose its lofting properties and clump up or even freeze inside the jacket. This generally made the jacket all but useless, as its ability to insulate disappears. But with water-resistant down this is no longer a problem whatsoever. Over the past few years, hydrophobic down has pretty much become the standard, adding very little cost but increasing performance greatly. Quite frankly, at this point it is surprising when a puffy jacket doesn’t use this type of insulation, and you shouldn’t buy one that isn’t incorporating it.
The jacket’s outer shell consists of a Pertex Quantum fabric with a DWR finish, which further aids in protecting from the elements. While not fully waterproof, the Cho Oyu is certainly moisture resistant, with fabrics that perform well in just about anything short of a deluge. Those same materials are also very durable, shrugging off wear and tear with ease. After wearing the jacket almost daily for several weeks, it still looks brand new, despite being tested in a wide variety of environments.
Other nice features of the Cho Oyu include an adjustable hem that not only helps to dial in the perfect fit, but is also handy for keeping both snow and cold winds from reaching the interior of the jacket. Dynafit has thoughtfully incorporated reflective elements into the design to make the wearer more visible in low light conditions, and a snug, helmet-compatible hood will be much appreciated on those cold days on the slopes too. The jacket also comes equipped with multiple pockets, including one on the chest and an internal pocket that doubles as a stuff sack for easy packing. A dual-zipper system helps with venting and temperature control as well, making it easier to stay comfortable when things get more active.
Warm and snug, the Cho Oyu has become my go-to jacket when heading out in cold weather. I’ve worn it for everything from day hikes, to running errands around town, to excursions, to the dog park, and it has proven to be an excellent option for just about every activity. The level of warmth it provides is impressive to say the least, and yet it still manages to remain breathable enough to keep you from overheating too. That’s an important characteristic of any good insulating layer, and this jacket handles those duties exceptionally well.
After using the jacket extensively over the past month or so, I truly have very little to complain about. The one nuisance I encounter on occasion is that it takes a bit of effort to get it to zip shut thanks to the dual-zipper system. Most of the time this can be attributed more to operator error than an actual design flaw however, and I’ve learned how to make it work properly when I’ve encountered this minor issue. Once the jacket is zipped up though, I find myself encased in a warm cloud that has kept me completely comfortable in temperatures well below freezing, sometimes for hours at a time.
The Cho Oyu is a high performance jacket, and its quality shows through in all of the materials and methods used to make it, right down to the fine stitching and easy-pull zippers. But, it also comes at a price. The MSRP for this jacket is $319.95, which puts it out of reach for the casual outdoor enthusiast. That said however, if you value high performance from your outdoor apparel, this is a jacket you’ll appreciate greatly. It is an outstanding piece of gear that is impressive on a number of levels, which makes the price justifiable in my opinion. Of all the down jackets that I’ve ever worn, this is certainly near the very top of the list in terms of ones that I would recommend. For those who take their winter play seriously, it is an excellent choice that you won’t regret.
Note: The Cho Oyu is also available in a woman’s version as well.