The new Outdoor Research Floodlight jacket just might be my current favorite piece of winter attire.
The down-filled jacket has a rating of 800+ fill power (goose down) is also fully waterproof. That makes it akin to one of the Holy Grails for outdoors people… a down puffy that won’t get wet.
Of course, I wasn’t one to take that promise too seriously without giving it a fair trial. The trial came on a mild day earlier this month when I spent 90 minutes chopping the ice on my driveway in a drenching rain. The only moisture I felt was from the sweat I was working up. The jacket is indeed completely waterproof. And oh my, was it warm. Unless I was just strolling or walking to or from the car, it’s doubtful I’d wear this coat when it’s over 0 C (32º F).
The Floodlight is so well designed, in fact, I’m struggling to find something to criticize. Anything I can think of is relatively minor, such as the lack of a double zipper. The fit, which is listed as being “trim”, is also a big winner in my book. If this is a trim fit, I want to see more of it. The jacket fits me nicely at an XXL, although the sleeves are a trifle long. There are adjustable exterior wrist straps with velcro, which is more than acceptable.The exterior pockets are extra-long and deep, with long zippers to match. Again, if I had to be picky, I’d note that if the pocket zippers are left unzipped, they have a bit of a tendency to rub and catch a little on the sleeves as I walk. However, it doesn’t always happen, and the quick fix is to zip the pockets up.
The hood is a nice size, with adjustments for both snugging it around your face and adjusting its depth. The unique feature is the short wire embedded in the front of the hood to customize the fit. Well done, Outdoor Research.
Just before sitting down to write this review, I was out snowshoeing in the jacket for a couple of kilometres in approximately -10 C (14º F) temperatures, in a heavy snow and a bit of a wind. I wore only a base layer underneath it, and I still found it a little too warm once I began to loosen up.
The wind didn’t penetrate the coat, and neither did the snow. It was completely dry as soon as I brushed it off, a rarity in a humid Great Lakes winter.
The Floodlight has some serious warmth without any bulk whatsoever. You might not even know this coat is a down coat since it doesn’t look puffy at all. Stylistically, the coat is very aesthetically pleasing as well, especially in a basic black.
I don’t think I could come up with another lightweight jacket I’ve tried with this kind of performance. The closest thing I could think of is a Canada Goose Hybridge Hoody jacket with a mixture of down insulation and softshell. The waterproofing on the Floodlight, though, gives it a clear advantage.
In the end, all I can say is if you try this jacket, you’re going to like it.