Cotopaxi Fuego LT Down Jacket ReviewJuly 24, 2018
- Shell fabric
- Sleeve length
Cotopaxi packed 950-fill power, water-resistant goose down in the Fuego LT (lightweight) jacket, and combined it with strips of Polartec’s Alpha Direct synthetic insulation along each side, from elbow to waist, to offer breathability where body heat concentrates. The two make for a portable, mid-layer-ready piece ideal for shoulder seasons and an extra boost of winter warmth. The Polartec is exposed along the interior.
The exterior is giant-ripstop nylon at 20-denier, and coated with a DWR finish. It’s light but has an odd feel, and it’s “loud” during activity. The lining is mini-ripstop, also 20-denier.
The Fuego LT, like most in this category, isn’t designed to sustain warmth in prolonged wet conditions. It does, however, offer adequate protection while transitioning into a more suitable layer, and shook off flurries without noticeable drops in comfort. The thick, stand-up collar is a nice touch and wraps the neck snugly. The thin exterior outside of the Polartec may contribute to a lower weight, but cold penetrated it enough to notice.
The Fuego LT uses the same plastic drawcord fastener as the Black Diamond First Light Hoody. It’s a userful, practical device for ensuring the hem stays true when taught, but the primary tester found that jacket’s somewhat slim fit made this feature redundant when it came to preventing cold air from entering from below. The short sleeves, in a medium on a 5’9’’ tester, exposed at least two inches of the wrist.
The 950-fill power down is an impressive feature to be found in a three-season jacket. We found it impressively warm during a winter outdoor concert when breezes kicked-up, and a toasty center piece under a hardshell while lapping Truckee’s Sugar Bowl Resort. The Polartec panels allow moisture to escape from the core, provided the wearer makes a smart base-layer choice, because there’s little room between the two given the coat’s fit. The elastic cuffs aren’t as grippy as others in the test, and the short sleeves were a detriment when it came to preventing the intake of cold. There’s a windflap behind the center zip, and the handwarmer pockets are nicely concealed behind an overlap of insulation and enhanced with a soft polyester lining.
In summary, it’s a very warm coat for its price range, but its fit demands a smart choice in baselayer, and the thin exterior above the Polartec isn’t the category’s best option for blocking wind.
The Fuego LT is a slim fit, and a little uncomfortable through the upper arms. The sleeves also ran short in a medium on our primary tester, at 5’9’’ & 170 lbs. Those comfort issues are augmented by anything above a medium-weight baselayer. In town and casual use cases, the jacket fit fine, good for staying warm during winter errands, shoveling, and in cold, spring dog walks. It’s not cumbersome or overly puffy, and the bold color scheme, a Cotopaxi calling card, helps the Fuego LT stand out as an urbanist’s insulator
The dual drawcord hem adjustments are effective (but not particularly necessary), using the same attachment methodology as the First Light Hoody. The handwarmer pockets are slightly small for mittens, while the interior pockets are large and firm enough to not let their contents bounce around. The left side interior pocket conceals a zippered pocket for storing the branded stuff sack, and it’s ideal for protecting a smartphone. Our testers found the plastic center zip felt cheap, and a possible visual design flaw for an otherwise sharp looking jacket.
Guide, writer, Truckee local, pub trivia host, and inventor of TripTarp®, Craig Rowe is the Gear Institute's chief stove and insulated jacket tester.