Cumulus Primelite Pullover Initial Impressions (6.5oz anorak w/ 3oz 900fp down)
Dec 10, 2021 at 1:28 pm #3734430
I search “Cumulus” on here and basically NOTHING came up! They are a UL Polish brand that is flying way under the radar on this forum. I’d like to change that!
Their full jacket lineup: https://cumulus.equipment/us_en/clothing/men.html
(They also have quiltss, womens clothing, and other stuff too)
TLDR; This jacket is THE top contender for Warmth per $, Warmth per weight, and overall value. It has a very athletic (V) cut by american standard featuring roomy shoulders and a slim torso. If you need a puffy and arent considering Cumulus jackets, you’re doing yourself a disservice!
Full review –
I move hot, usually only wearing a base layer and wind shirt when needed, but my time in southern California has melted away my icy midwestern shell and I now get cold very quickly when at rest. This has led me to try out a bunch of different high end UL down jackets including the Montbell Alpine light, Plasma 1k parka, P1k jacket, MH GW hoody, MH GW vest, Decathalon Trek 100, and probably a couple others im forgetting about or just tried on at camp.
I ended up selling most of the jackets due to lack of warmth or poor fit and was looking for my next jacket on the ultimate Reddit Down Jacket Comparison sheet, the GREATEST sheet comparing jackets. Ever. The full spreadsheet and discussion can be found here https://www.reddit.com/r/Ultralight/comments/fgwmle/down_jacket_indicator_v20/
I landed on the Cumulus Primelite Pullover for a few reasons –
1. Excellent warmth/price ratio (3rd best)
2. Excellent warmth/weight ratio (8th best)
3. Affordable ($200 shipped to the US and only took 7 days)
4. More warmth than a GW or P1k jacket, both of which were inadequate
5. Athletic cut, even athletic cut American brands like Arcteryx still do not have enough V shape to them and I often have to accept tight shoulder or a baggy stomach area, both of which I hate.
The Primelite is really firing on all cylinders here and is aaaaaaalmost a perfect piece to me. Total weight for a Large is 6.5oz. The fabric is 7d Pertex Quantum. Its very soft and not crinkly at all (montbell 7d is somewhat crinkly). It has 3oz (85g) of 850 (euro spec) goose down, which is equivalent to 900 US fill power rating giving it a theoretical down volume of 2700cuin (I may refer to total down volume as “warmth” going forward). Compare that to the GW or P1k jacket and you can see it is much warmer than either just based on fill volume. Its probably warmer than the Montbell Ex Light Anorak as well, as the Primelite has the same fill with no hood and less stitch through baffles (and over an oz lighter too, but weight probably a wash considering you;d need a down balaclava to make up for the the hood on the MB). I dislike the tiny baffles on the GW and the unnecessary zig zag pattern on the P1k. The poor baffling definitely leads to cold spots and reduced warmth on top of already marginal fill weights of these competitiors. The Primelite baffles are a good size IMO. Big enough that you get significantly more loft than a GW, but I have seen no evidence of down shifting. So basically you get 2700 warmth with an excellent baffle pattern for $200 TYD. That’s a damn good ratio.
Warmth to weight is also top notch – the Primelite is the 8th highest W/W ratio that is only superseded by custom UL jackets made by Goosefeet, Timmermade, or Nunutak. All of those are significantly more expensive and non-stock items. Primelite was in stock and to my door in 7 days to So Cal from Poland via DHL. Pretty impressive for $20 global shipping.
Here’s the #1 reason I chose this jacket to try next – it has the 3rd best Warmth/$ ratio on the list and is only superseded by the Decathalon Trek and REI 650 sweater. Those are both low end, barely UL items, but offer incredible W/$ due to their bargain prices (about $80 and 100 respectively). The Primelite is THE best W/$ for a true UL jacket. $200 is entirely reasonable for premium materials like 7d pertex and 900fp down.
Next, I despise the boxy cut around the stomach that 99% of jackets have. I have an athletic V shaped body and very few garments have adequate shoulder size without an equally large gut. Not this one! Its cut for a true athletic body type! Finally! Even Arcteryx does not fit me as well (and this is ½ the cost of a Cerium LT). I am 6’1 185lb with a 41.5” circumference below my armpits. Normally I need a Large jacket to have adequate shoulder girth, but my lower torso is a solid Medium. I got the Large size and it fits me like a freaking glove. There is no constriction in the shoulders or back even when I reach both arms forward, but at the same time the torso is trim and there is very little excess fabric flopping about. I don’t like to wear a lot of layers and most commonly see myself wearing this over a 150 merino base layer and either a Peloton 97 or 90gsm alpha fleece (nitro). With thin-ish base layers like these the fit is absolutely perfect. No extra fabric but no tightness in the shoulders or back. If you wanted the ability to layer more under it or have any fat whatsoever, I would size up. This is made with a true European (tight) fit which I love. The only other item that fits me this well is the Medium MH GW vest. The vest looks like it was tailored for me, but I can only get away with a medium because of the lack of sleeves. I was trying to convince myself to sell the vest but decided to keep it as a warmth booster for cold conditions.
This jacket overcomes my 3 most hated attributes of the GW hoody and P1k Jacket. 1. Its warm. 1600-2000 fill volume is inadequate for my California puss. 2700 is toasty. Too warm above the low 50’s, but I’ll take a jacket that’s too warm over too cold any day – especially when the warmer option is lighter and cheaper! 2. It has elastic at both cuffs and the lower hem. The P1k has no waist cinch at all, so all your heat escapes! 3. Both the GW and P1K jacket also have a boxy cut which leads to billowing. The Primelite has a good combo of elastic sealed hems and a trim cut making it very warm.
Its 96% perfect, but I have 2 minor complaints about this piece – 1. I really miss the full zip. My Plasma 1k parka has ~3500 warmth, but I can comfortably wear it close to 60* fully unzipped. The Primelight ½ zip and elastic hem offers much less heat dumping ability. This is not a major issue as its pretty easy to cool down, but a full zip would make this a better, more flexible piece of gear for only a few grams more. 2. No hand pockets. I know no pockets are standard on this class of UL pullover/sweater/anorak, but hand pockets are very nice to have for stashing stuff in as you walk around camp as much as warming up. I do however think No pockets are better than pockets with no zipper like on the Japanese MB P1k jacket. I could feel cold air circulate into the P1k pockets making an already inadequate jacket more-so! (I was rather disappointed with the Hoodless P1k in many regards. That jacket is a pale shell of the P1k Parka which is my favorite jacket ever. They really should not share a similar name…)
On that note, I think my Plasma 1k hooded parka is still my favorite overall jacket. Its stupid light and warm, with a full feature set (hood adjustment, pockets, adjustable waist cinch, full zip). I have the Plasma Parka in size Japanese XL, which is boxy enough in the torso that it fits perfectly over my GW vest for real cold temps. I tried the Primelite under the P1k parka and I think the down in the arms is getting slightly compressed, but the torso is still fully lofted. It definitely gave a big warmth boost on an already warm jacket.
The crazy part about the P1k/GW/PL combo is the P1k/GW combo weighs 14oz total and has ~5000cuin fill, while the P1k/PL combo comes in at 15.5oz and 6200 cuin fill! That is on par with a true UL winter parka like the MB Mirage! (but the combo is still 2x sewn thru jackets vs the box baffle on the MB Alpine or Mirage. But I imagine a dual layer sew-thru doesn’t really have noticeable cold spots)
I have not tested this jackets lower limit yet – I’ll get out for a snowy camp over winter in the Los Padres national forest and see how low I can take it.
So there’s way more than you wanted to know about Cumulus. They have many other jacket options too. I am so satisfied with the Price:Performance:Weight:Feature ratio of this garment I intend to try other Cumulus products in the near future. If you’re an athletic body type and need some warm clothes, they are highly recommended by me!Dec 10, 2021 at 2:39 pm #3734435Michael SchlesselmannBPL Member
@mschlessLocale: Southern Los Padres National Forest
Nice review! I have pretty much settled on this jacket for my 3 season use. I’m an 805 local who recently relocated to Minnesota so wont be needing the 3 season jacket for many months still, but I’ll be interested to hear how low you can push this in the LP. Currently have a MH Ghost Whisperer and agree that it is just not warm enough. Got any pics of the cut? And if you don’t mind what size did you get, and what is your normal size in something like Patagucci? I’m 6’0 and 170-180 depending on if I’m working out consistently or not. Figured I would get a Large as I normally wear a medium in most brands.Dec 10, 2021 at 2:52 pm #3734439
Funny, I grew up in MN and left in 2015 for the east coast, then most recently the west coast. As an 805er going to MN you’re just getting to the painful part of the year. Enjoy :)
I’ll take some pictures an post them in the next day or 2 for everyone. The lower hem is so fitting that its a tad tight when donning, but a worthwhile tradeoff for a good fit.
I’m normally a medium in base layers (Smart wool, Icebreaker, Kuiu Peloton 97).
I wear a Montbell US Large or Japanese XL jacket and that’s about right in the shoulders and baggy in the gut. The GW vest perfectly fills out the MB torso area for me on cold days.
I have a Arcteryx shell in Large
I do not like the cut on most Patagonia stuff so do not actually own any, even though I live only a few miles from their HQ. I did try on a friend’s Micropuff in medium and would be a medium if I didnt despise their potato sack cut
I got the Primelite in Large. I’m very similar to your dimensions – 6’1 185lb with a 41.5” circumference below my armpits. As I mentioned the large will accommodate only thin base layers at my size. If you wanted an active jacket under the puffy such as a Proton LT or a thicker fleece (like a Patty R4?) you’d definitely want to go up to XL, IMODec 10, 2021 at 3:48 pm #3734458Michael SchlesselmannBPL Member
@mschlessLocale: Southern Los Padres National Forest
Good to know! I’ll go with the large when I do order. All I see myself layering would be a Peloton 97 in camp and maybe another baselayer.
And ya it’s been snowing all day. I have no idea what I’ve gotten myself into haha!Dec 20, 2021 at 12:39 pm #3735233NicolasBPL Member
I have the Cumulus Primelite Pullover as well and I like absolutely everything about it except that it’s too loose for me around the neck (wind gets into the neck area easily).Dec 21, 2021 at 10:51 pm #3735340
After wearing this some more I agree with you. The neck is slightly large. not terribly so, but I wish the upper neck were slightly tighter.
I cold tested some gear last weekend at 30 degrees with minimal wind.
In a peloton 97 and GW vest I was comfy until about 42 deg F with lightweight pants and a mid weight wool hat.
Then I traded the vest for the primelite. I was comfy down to 32 sitting around camp.
My legs got cold after a while and I put on my new montbell down pants. They are great! I’m in love with down pants now.
My mid weight hiking pants are 13oz and my summer pants are about 8. The down pants are 8. That means the summer pants + down pants are only a 3oz penalty but much much warmer than midweight fabric pants alone, so this is easy to justify for me and a much more versatile combo, being comfortable from 20-80 degrees F.
So the primelite plus MB down pants and a down beanie is easily good for me at 25 degrees. My wool hat was too cold without help from my EE Hoodlum apex 2.5. With the hoodlum I was toasty slightly below freezing.
Overall I’m still loving this jacket and I learned down pants are great for extending camp comfort and noticably boosting the warmth of a jacketJun 30, 2022 at 6:12 pm #3754114
After using this all winter, I have to say I am very pleased with the Primelite and highly, highly recommend it. Also, I have too many Montbell jackets and nerded out on deciding which to keep or sell by making a spreadsheet to show warmth, weight, cost, and the ratio between them. You can see that the Primelite + Plasma 1000 parka is a killer combo that is comfortable from 55F down to single digits or probably lower if you’re not a cold-wuss like me.
These 2 jackets are one of the best, most versatile combos in UL jackets in my opinion. The Primelite weighs nothing (~6.5oz in Large) and is good to around freezing in calm-ish, dry-ish weather. It packs to the size of a softball and ensures you’re never cold in 3 season weather. Below that the P1k at 9.1oz (size large) is comfortable to the high teens, probably lower is the rest of your body is properly insulated and again, not a cold wuss like me. (David I can hear your alaskan laugh from here :)
Put them together and I would think you’re good to single digits or less. I havent had cold enough weather to test this in practice, but can confirm at 24F I was overheating in them both.
Throw a windshirt or hard shell over them and the wind is eliminated from the equation, and the sewn through construction matters less. Assuming 2.5oz for a UL windshirt you have 6100cuin fill with an exterior wind blocker/sacrificial abrasion/fire layer for 17.6oz total. That warmth:weight ratio is better than the Mirage 7d/box baffle parka. (not quite that simple I realize, but you get the point). For colder climates like Canada, the P1k+Mirage could be a similar colder-combo.
Cropped for readability –
Full sheet – Comfort temp assumes some wind, minimal humidity/moisture, and only a light base layer (Peloton97 shirt or 150weight merino blend). And im a cold wuss so the cold hardy can subtract 5-15 degrees from my subjective ratings. Also note once it gets to the high 20’s I typically put on Montbell ExLight Down Pants, which extends the jackets comfort rating substantially.
Basically thats a long way of saying I think the Cumulus Primelite and Plasma 1000 Parka, combined with some sort of shell, are 2 of the most versatile jackets a UL backpacker can have and provide incredible Warmth to Weight, although their Warmth to Cost is significantly worse than heavier jackets such as anything from Decathalon, the Alpine Light, or REI 850 down jacket 2.0
I could not resist a Mirage for half price and will review that this winter. Now I need to seek out some mountain peaks to get temps cold enough to test its limits!
Closing thought – My name is Marcus and I am a Downaholic.
PS Stephen, if you want to Clo/R test any/all of these, it could make an interesting articleJul 7, 2022 at 4:38 pm #3754619Christopher SBPL Member
I have been very interested in their down pants and also their biggest parka – the weight to down ratio is impressive. And I love that the heavier pants have the full outseam zips. Unfortunately outseam zips also mean it is super hard to hem so you really need to get the inseam right from the get go
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