When I received my new Nangpala Hooded Down Jacket, I was surprised by how small it was. I brought the jacket on a nine-day backpacking trip during cold, rainy Adirondack fall weather and was greatly impressed by the jacket’s warmth to size ratio. Weighing only 14.1 ounces, the Nangpala is filled with PrimaLoft Gold 750 insulation, a blend of 70 percent 750 fill-power (read: very high quality) water-repellent goose down and 30 percent fine, hydrophobic PrimaLoft fibers. The result is a lightweight, warm, jacket that performs extremely well when wet.
According to Sherpa, the blend “absorbs water ten times slower than 100 percent down, dries four times faster than 100 percent down, and has the ability to retain 95 percent of its warmth even when wet”. My experience backpacking with the jacket seemed to substantiate those impressive claims.
I tend to hike warm, so while on the trail I wore my BloqUV 24/7 shirt as a base-layer, occasionally with a rain jacket if the weather was particularly harsh. Every time I stopped for a break the Nangpala was my go-to layer that I would toss on to retain heat. The temperature was typically in the 30s or 40s during the day and usually I could wear just my base-layer and the jacket for 20-30 minutes without feeling cold. The jacket’s adjustable hood was is a particularly great feature that helps to retain a lot of body heat. On most fall backpacking and hiking trips I tend to use a neck warmer, but the hood rendered the one that I brought unnecessary.
The jacket’s outer fabric has a durable water-repellent (DWR) finish that I found to work well against the rain and drizzle. I still took care to wear a rain jacket whenever it was pouring out, but even so, the jacket was exposed to a lot of water but never seemed to feel wet or lose warmth. I would wear it during my hiking breaks, often without a rain jacket, afterwards stuffing it inside a garbage bag in my backpack, and then using the jacket again in camp with my dry clothes, without ever feeling like it was too wet to wear.
The Nangpala’s shell blocks moderate wind, but for stronger winds it is necessary to wear another shell layer, such as a rain jacket. The jacket is adjustable with drawstrings at its base to maintain heat. I found myself wishing that the body of the Nangpala was an inch or two longer when I was hunched over my camp stove. Sherpa claims in its product description that the polyester shell fabric prevents feathers from escaping, but I did notice that with use there was some mild loss of the insulation blend.
I was also impressed by the jacket’s durability. My dog loved the smell of the jacket when it first came out of the box, and within 10 minutes of my trying it on, he had already jumped up on me, running his sharp claws along the jacket. When I took it off and inspected it a few minutes later, there was no visible damage. The jacket has a rip-stop shell that is very effective, not just against dog claws, but also against the wear that the jacket was subjected to during my trip. After a week and a half in the woods, it still looks brand new.
There are some nice, little features that make the jacket a particularly good piece of gear. One is that the pockets are lined on one side with a comfortable, slightly fuzzy material. The jacket also makes a fantastic backpacking pillow when stuffed into the hood and secured with the hood adjuster. Well secured, it can retain its shape throughout a long night.
For more information on Sherpa and the Nangpala Jacket visit: http://www.sherpaadventuregear.com.