The new Lofttek Adventure Jacket is a versatile option, and represents a new opportunity for the camping brand.
As an outdoor enthusiast, you can never own too many jackets. That's especially true if you live in a northern clime like I do here in Michigan.
Recently I was given the chance to test out a pre-production version of the Outdoor Vitals' new Lofttek Adventure Jacket.
Considering the fact temperatures had just dipped in the 20s and 30s that week here in Michigan, it was the perfect time for a jacket test.
A new venture for a camping gear company
You may or may not be familiar with Outdoor Vitals. Up until now they have primarily sold camping gear; they make things like tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, and hammocks. But now they are making the jump into outdoor apparel.
That camping background was immediately apparent the minute I opened the box. The Lofttek Adventure Jacket is not your typical bulky jacket. I almost thought it was a spring jacket because I was shocked at how light it was.
It weighs in at a grand total of less than 12 ounces. If you're familiar with the new versions of sleeping bags using down or synthetic down, you know how well lightweight can still translate to warm. It actually makes a lot of sense to incorporate some of those technologies in a jacket, and I was eager to give it a try.
Outdoor Vitals has made this jacket using a new type of advanced synthetic down called Lofttek Insulation. The idea is to have a jacket with the lightweight and warmth ratios of down, but that also dries quickly and stays warm even in wet conditions because the down is synthetic.
We love the dual-pronged approach to the design. It makes perfect sense because one just never knows what nature is going to throw at you when you're out and about on any number of outdoor adventures. Having a jacket that works no matter the weather conditions is one less thing to worry about.
Taking some more queues from sleeping bags, the Lofttek jacket also uses a baffle design to keep the down separated. It appears to be a sewn or stitch-through baffle design. This is often thought of as the less-effective baffle design in the hardcore camping world, but I never felt any cold air during any of my tests. The outside is a 20 D nylon rip stop fabric, while the inside is a 10 D nylon rip stop. It doesn't immediately appear warm, but looks can be deceiving.
The whole jacket has a water resistant coating, and though I didn't encounter any rain during my tests, I did what any reviewer would do: I stuck one side of the jacket under the shower faucet. The coating helped water roll right off, and when I put it on, I couldn't really tell which side was wet. Within an hour or two it was completely dry.
One thing I should mention is this jacket was designed with a slimmer athletic fit to it, which means if you're carrying a bit of a spare tire, you might find the fit of the jacket a little tight. It all depends on how loose or tight of a fit you want when you order. Clearly I need to lose some more pounds, but the fit wasn't so bad that the jacket didn't feel comfortable.
The ends of the sleeves feature thumbholes to help keep the sleeves extended and trap in warmth. The nice thing about this is the ends of the sleeves have such a slim profile that you can easily wear a pair of gloves with your thumbs in the thumbholes. It's a small feature, but it means no more cold air between your gloves and sleeves.
There are also cord locks to cinch the bottom of the coat around your waist. The adjustable hood allows you to wear the neck in a higher position without actually wearing the hood, which is a nice feature.
There are vents in the under arm that zip open for more air circulation. It's great for strenuous activities like hiking or jogging. The idea is to allow heat to escape. If you wear a short sleeve shirt under the coat, you will be able to feel the zippers of the vents on your skin. It didn't really bother me all that much, but if you're really sensitive to the cold, you might not appreciate feeling a cold zipper. The obvious answer is to simply wear a long sleeve shirt underneath.
Easily the coolest feature of this versatile jacket is its packability; it can fold up into its own pocket. You simply pull out one of the pockets and stuff the whole jacket into itself. Once it is in, zip it closed and the whole jacket is stored in a compact package.
A stuffed pocket then doubles as a pillow when folded up. It wouldn't be my first choice of pillow, but it's more than comfortable enough to use in a pinch. I'm more excited about the storage possibilities this feature presents. When warm weather arrives you can just throw the whole thing in a drawer or container, freeing up valuable closet space. Plus, it won't take up a lot of room in a backcountry camping pack.
But it will be even better for air travel where space is always at a premium. I'll probably pack along this jacket on a trip to Scotland I have planned next year. I have plans to visit the high northern clime Shetland Islands where the average temperature hovers around 56° in August when I'll be visiting. Less space in my bag for a heavy coat means more room for souvenirs on the flight home.
You could even pack one in a vehicle for emergencies or a bug out bag if you're into prepping. There's a lot of possibilities that come up with a jacket that is this easy and compact to store.
Testing in the field
Of course, the most important aspect of any jacket is simply the question of 'Is it warm?' The answer for the Lofttek Adventure Jacket is a definite yes. Outdoor Vitals haven't given this jacket a temperature rating, but they say it should keep an adult male warm down to 20 degrees. I should note temperatures have fluctuated from the mid-20s to the high-30s since I got it.
My first use of the jacket was pretty unconventional compared to how most people will use it. I used it as a layer during Michigan's firearms deer season under my regular hunting jacket. I used it as a layer and then skipped it the following night, and there was a notable difference in how cold I was without it.
I used the jacket a few times to shovel some early winter snow and it made for a pretty comfortable experience. Michigan's weather is pretty wild. As quickly as the snow appeared, it disappeared. So one afternoon I was shoveling snow, the next I was raking leaves at my grandmother's house in 30 degree temperatures. I usually wore just the Lofttek and a T-shirt without any additional layers underneath. I was quite comfortable the whole time I was working and never once felt cold or over-heated.
It really is hard to believe a jacket this light could keep me warm in what essentially were late winter conditions here in Michigan.
One thing I noticed is that all my other jackets seem to be either too heavy or just not warm enough for hiking in colder temperatures. I've yet to find a jacket that meets in the middle. I feel like the Lofttek jacket will finally hit just the right sweet spot in that regard.
The Lofttek Adventure Jacket starts at $109, which is pretty darn affordable compared to similar stuff on the market. You can get one by backing Outdoor Vitals' project on Kickstarter. It's a campaign that started with a $20,000 goal, and it's pretty safe to say they exceeded all expectations. The campaign has grown to over $600,000 pledged since October! Keep in mind the one I tested is a pre-production model. There may very well be some small changes and improvements before final production.
Overall I'm pretty impressed with this jacket. I'm looking forward to using it in more of my outdoor adventures in the coming weeks and months during Michigan's long winter.