Fall is officially upon us. The temperature is beginning to drop quickly in our neck of the woods, and if it hasn’t near your home waters yet, we’re willing to bet it won’t me long.
For many anglers, the cool temps of fall and winter bring some of the most enjoyable days on the water. However, as the mercury drops, staying comfortable is important.. After all, being wet and cold can sour even the most epic day of fishing.
In anticipation of the frigid days to come, we recently picked up the DOWNStream Jacket from Simms. In fact, it made your humble editor the envy of his peers when we received our first icy frost during the third week of August this year at Alaska West (we were surprised too), and we think its a must have for anyone planning on fishing in the coldest conditions this year.
Not Your Average Down Jacket
We love puffy-style jackets. From their packability, to their freedom of movement, to their warmth to weight ratio, we find them to be of the most versatile layers out there. However, when it comes to warmth, its hard to beat the natural loftiness (and thus high insulation) properties of down. The problem? Unlike popular synthetic insulation materials (like PrimaLoft), natural down feathers quickly lose their heat-trapping properties when wet. The solution? Water-repellant down feathers, of course!
Simms’ DOWNStream jacket utilizes 750-fill equivalent water repellent down feathers that has become incredibly popular in the outdoor industry, particularly amongst sleeping bag manufacturers. Natural, high quality, down feathers are selected and sprayed with a water-repellent finish (much like the DWR finish on most outerwear), producing a feather that is more resistant to moisture, while still retaining the warmth value of natural down.
However, water repellant down has been available for several years now, and while far more resistant than natural untreated down feathers, any manufacturer would admit that under prolonged exposure to rain, even water-resistant down can still lose its loft (hence, water-resistant). Still, not ideal under the worst conditions.
That’s why Simms decided to blend their water-resistant down feathers with heavy PrimaLoft Gold synthetic insulation in their DOWNStream Jacket to help maintain loft and warmth even when soaking wet. Pretty clever. But that’s not all.. Simms also removed the down and replaced it entirely with PrimaLoft in the areas most prone to moisture, namely the hood and sleeves. Brilliant. Couple that with a durable, water-resistant, and wind proof outer, and we’d go so far as to say its one of the smartest down puffy’s we’ve ever worn.
One thing we really appreciated about the DOWNStream jacket is that despite its design as a bulky, high loft, jacket for the coldest conditions, we didn’t feel restricted in the slightest while rowing, casting, etc. – Not always the case with jackets of similar warmth ratings.
We also found the hood design to be more comfortable than anticipated as well, allowing for good movement of the head even when cinched tight, while also allowing a good deal of peripheral vision when adjusted appropriately (a pet-peeve of ours with other bulky jackets).
It’s worth noting that the general fit of the DOWNStream Jacket is probably best defined as a ‘traditional fit’ most similar to what you might expect from your typical winter jacket. It’s not designed to fit close to the body like some ‘mid-weight’ puffy-style jackets, rather to allow some room to layer underneath instead.
In other words, we found it to be slightly roomier than other Simms pieces of the same size we’ve worn, and would expect others might find the same (we recommend trying on at your local fly shop), although a adjustable drawstring waist does a good job to accommodate slimmer body types.
This jacket is warm. Borderline hot. Is it the jacket to take the chill out of those cool, foggy, summer mornings at the boat launch? Maybe. But probably not. Think frozen guides, frosty anchor lines, and freezing rain.. That’s where we think the DOWNStream Jacket shines.
We think the DOWNStream Jacket is a great option for anyone looking to get after it in the coldest conditions this year – Think late season trout, winter steelhead, mid-winter midge hatches, etc. We really dig it, and think you will too..
Available in two different colors, black and loden, the DOWNStream Jacket retails for $349.95, and is also available in a non-hooded model for $249.95. For more information, check it out on Simms’ website here, or visit your nearest Simms dealer.