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Gear Review: Big Agnes Hole in the Wall Jacket

Big Agnes Hole in the Wall Jacket

Big Agnes Hole in the Wall Jacket

Down Jacket
Big Agnes Hole in the Wall Jacket
$220, 14 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
bigagnes.com

When I unzipped my sleeping bag after a night spent under the stars at nearly 11,000 feet by Columbine Lake in Sequoia National Park in August, I wasn’t thinking about what’s inside the new Hole in the Wall Jacket. Cocooned warmly inside my bag, I had been hammered by strong gusts all night; and with that cold wind still blowing when I woke up, I didn’t want to get out of it. But I pulled on this fat puffy and all but forgot about the wind—reminding me that sometimes the characteristics that make for a good puffy jacket are what you can’t see.

The Hole in the Wall also kept me warm in temps from the mid-teens to the 30s from Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument last March to Washington’s Glacier Peak Wilderness in July. So what makes it different from the scores of hoodless, three-season puffy jackets on the market? Big Agnes gave it a couple of technologies common in its high-end down sleeping bags: Insotect Flow vertical baffles, which distribute heat more efficiently than traditional, horizontal baffles (because, the company says, the body naturally distributes heat vertically rather than horizontally); and Flow Gates to eliminate down shifting, which can produce cold spots.

Ultimately, though, a puffy jacket’s warmth also comes down to the amount and quality of what’s stuffed inside it. The Hole in the Wall contains six ounces of 700-fill, water-resistant DownTek feathers. That fill rating means the down isn’t quite as compressible or as expensive as, say, 800-fill down. But I found the jacket lofts up almost instantly and was warm enough over only a midweight base layer when the mercury slipped below freezing; I added a fleece vest only when the temp dropped into the mid-20s. In a light rain in the backcountry of Capitol Reef, the water-resistant down showed no sign of losing loft or suffering compromised warmth from the dampness.

The vertical baffles help create a form-fitting cut that doesn’t rise up when you lift your arms. The lightweight microfiber shell is wind and water-resistant. The jacket sports nice details: the zipper never snags, and there are three roomy inside pockets and two warm, zippered, hand pockets, plus a soft lining inside the collar. Well constructed, with a good warmth-to-weight ratio, the Hole in the Wall Jacket is perfect for three-season trips where you might see temps below freezing. For people who prefer having a hood on a puffy jacket, Big Agnes offers the men’s and women’s Shovelhead Jacket, $250.

 

BUY IT NOW: You can support my work on this blog by clicking either of these links to purchase a Big Agnes men’s Hole in the Wall Jacket or women’s Hole in the Wall Jacket at moosejaw.com.

See my reviews of other puffy jackets, and all of my outdoor apparel, hiking gear, and backpacking gear reviews.

NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.

—Michael Lanza

I invite you to subscribe to this blog by entering your email address in the box at the top of the left sidebar or on my About page, and follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

 

About The Author

Michael Lanza

A former field editor for Backpacker Magazine, Michael Lanza created The Big Outside to share stories and images from his many backpacking, hiking, and other outdoor adventures, as well as expert tips and gear reviews to help readers plan and pull off their own great adventures.

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Welcome to The Big Outside

photo of Michael Lanza

Hi, I'm Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside and former Northwest Editor at Backpacker magazine. Click my photo to learn more about me and my blog. Sign up for my free email newsletter in the blue box above. Click on Subscribe Now! in the main menu (top right) to get full access to all of my stories on America's best backpacking, hiking, and outdoor adventures. And click on Ask Me in the main menu to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

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