This separate review provides additional descriptive and performance information on the Westcomb Chilko Down Sweater. Read our article Ultralight Three-Season Down Jackets State of the Market Report 2010 for a state of the market analysis and comparative specifications and performance for a range of ultralight down jackets.
The new Westcomb Chilko Down Sweater is cutting-edge, as you would expect from Westcomb. The Chilko combines the best components and construction methods available to create a really warm and lightweight down sweater. How suitable is it for backpacking?
New for fall 2010, the Westcomb Chilko Down Sweater is insulated with 850 fill power down and weighs just 11.8 ounces (335 g), measured weight for size Medium.
The Chilko’s shell and lining are the new 0.8 oz/yd2 (27 g/m2) Pertex Quantum ripstop nylon with DWR, which is 20% lighter and has the same tear strength as the “old” Quantum. The insulation is 850 EU fill power (884 fill-power by the US measurement method) Canadian Hutterite down, which is claimed to be 100% down (less than 1% feathers). Down fill is 3.25 ounces (92 g), giving the jacket a measured single-layer loft of 0.9 inch (2.3 cm), which is on the high end for multi-purpose jackets.
Front and rear views of the new Westcomb Chilko Down Sweater.
The jacket has a total of three pockets: two zippered fleece-lined hand pockets (left) and one large zippered stretch mesh pocket on the inside (right). The pocket zippers are welded on and are not the water-resistant type.
The cuffs (and hem) are Polartec Powershield fabric, which is stretchy, durable, and water-resistant.
Also new for fall 2010, the Kokanee Hoody is a hooded cousin of the Chilko. It has a little more down fill than the Chilko, and the target weight is 17.6 ounces (500 g) for men’s size Medium.
I wore the Chilko on several high elevation early spring snowshoeing trips.
The Chilko seems to have an average fit. With a heavy baselayer on, the Medium just fit me, with no room left for additional layering inside. The sleeves are long enough, but the jacket is snug and barely long enough. From this, I would say the sizing is normal and a size Large would fit me with adequate room inside for more layering.
The feature set on the Chilko is minimal, fairly lightweight, and very functional. There is a little extra weight in the hem drawcord; it could be made lighter with smaller elastic cord and cordlocks, or just eliminated. The front Ri Ri zipper is heavier than a #3 zipper, but it operates smoothly and will last a long time. Overall, the jacket is designed to be both lightweight and functional.
This jacket seals up well. The neck and wrists are snug and there is a drawcord on the hem to close the bottom of the jacket.
In the comparative warmth tests we performed for our state-of-the-market report on ultralight multi-purpose down jackets referenced below, the Chilko Down Sweater was among the warmest in the group.
I wore the Chilko on several high elevation early spring snowshoeing trips and found it to be very wind and weather-resistant (left). In my one-hour indoor “puddle test” (right), quite a bit of water leaked through the seams, which was a bit of a surprise.
Our article Ultralight Three-Season Down Jackets State of the Market Report 2010 provides complete specifications and ratings for the Westcomb Chilko Down Sweater in comparison to a range of other lightweight down jackets. The jacket most similar is the Salomon Minim Down Sweater.
The new Westcomb Chilko Down Sweater is indeed impressive. This is a jacket you admire once you get it, and others will admire it too. It has cutting-edge materials and construction, it’s well insulated, and the feature set is minimal, lightweight, and functional.
The closest comparison to the Chilko is the Salomon Minim Down Sweater. The shell on both jackets is the new 0.8-ounce Pertex Quantum, which is impressive. The Chilko weighs one ounce less and costs $10 more than the Minim. I would personally choose the Chilko because I like the design, fit, construction, and features a little better. The hand pockets are larger and fleece-lined, and zippers are welded on and easy to operate. The Salomon has a larger zippered chest pocket while the Westcomb has an inside stretch mesh pocket, which are about equivalent in usefulness.
Although both jackets mentioned are standouts in the group, they are both more expensive as well. For about the same money you can purchase a Western Mountaineering Flight Jacket which weighs about the same, or a Feathered Friends Hyperion Jacket which costs $50 less. Now, that’s a tough decision…
Specifications and Features
|Year/Model||Fall 2010 Chilko Down Sweater|
|Style||Hoodless jacket with full front zipper (hooded version available)|
|Fabrics||Shell and lining are 0.8 oz/yd2 (27 g/m2) Pertex Quantum ripstop nylon with DWR|
Cuffs and hem are Polartec Powershield Light-Weight fabric
|Insulation||850 fill power down, 3.25 oz (92 g)|
|Construction||Sewn through with 2.25-in (5.7-cm) horizontal quilting, set-in sleeves|
|Loft||Measured two-layer loft is 1.75 in (4.5 cm), single-layer loft is 0.9 in (2.3 cm)|
|Features||Down-filled stand up collar, full height Ri Ri zipper with one slider and storm flap under zipper and beard guard, two welded on zippered fleece-lined side pockets, zippered inside stretch mesh pocket, stretch fabric cuffs, drawcord hem with two adjustors|
|Weight||Size Medium tested.|
Measured Weight: 11.8 oz (335 g)
Manufacturer Specified Average Weight: 12.2 oz (345 g)
Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and it is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to review this product to the manufacturer under the terms of this agreement.