Jacket hood vs. no hood + balaclava

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    Meir Gottlieb


    I am considering options for a down jacket to use in conjunction with an Arc X or similar bag. The new Shaha from Nunatak ( comes with or without a hood. The hood adds 1oz to the jacket. Is that ounce better spent on the hood or on a balaclava? If spent on a hood, the jacket would have to be worn in the bag instead of draped over the body. Does getting a jacket without a full zip (a pullover) limit the possibility of draping the jacket instead of wearing it?

    Richard Nelridge
    BPL Member


    Locale: Eastern Pennsylvania

    Hi Meir,

    If I were you, I would consider getting a down jacket without a permanently attached hood. Rather, I would get a removable down hood or balaclava. If you got a fleece type balaclava, it could be used in conjunction with the down hood (more to protect the face rather than the top of the head). A separate/removable down hood or balaclava will be more flexible but weigh more than an ounce (must not be much fill in that hood and or weight to the 2 layers of fabric).

    If I ordered a Nunatak jacket, I would ask Tom about a separate/removable down hood or down balaclava. Tom has made hoods or balaclavas for others including I believe Alan Dixon and Ryan Jordan. Without question, a down hood or balaclava with about 1 or 2 oz of down will be warmer than a fleece type material balaclava.

    If you were to get a pullover instead of a full length zipper, you can only drape it over you with 2 layers of down. If you use a full length zipper jacket you can drape it over you with either one or 2 down layers (thus greater flexibility in temperature regulation).

    From my perspective, with such a warm layer I would opt for the full length zipper, though it is slightly heavier, it is more flexible and can be better vented if need be.

    I am sure that Nunatak makes very fine products, but they are also a bit pricey.

    I would also seriously look at the Feathered Friends Vireo Sleeping Bag and jackets at Their prices are more reasonable and you have a greater choice of materials and colors and I believe down and amount of available down overfill. If you get a down jacket at the same time as a Vireo sleeping bag(designed to take a jacket as part of the layering system inside the bag), Feathered Friends gives a 15% discount on both the Vireo and the down jacket (the discount more than paid for the hood that I had made at the same time). When I had my system made I had a hood made with snaps on the hood, Vireo sleeping bag, and the down jacket. That way I can use the hood separately or attached to either the sleeping bag or the jacket.

    If you go with the Nunatak system, maybe Tom can prepare something so that the hood or balaclava can be used as I described for my Feathered Friends System.

    Rich Nelridge

    Charles Maguire


    Locale: Virginia

    My two cents….

    I have the Arc-Alpinist, which I had several more ounces of down put in the bag to use in temps colder than 20* rating. I also had 1 baffle taken out since I am short.

    I use this with the bacalava from Nunatak. The bavalava I think is 3 ounces. At temp’s above low 20*’s I just drap it over my head. Chinching it tight above 20* gets too hot, that’s how good this thing is. Even in recent 15* weather, I snapped it but didn’t chich it tight. The great benefit with Bacalava is that you can just use it standing around camp, or skiing because it is incredible warm.

    I also like the idea of full zippered jackets because you can adjust to more temp. variations than 1/2 zip or pullover. The little added weight in my mind is worth the added functionality.


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