Review: Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket

Down Jacket
Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket
$295, 13 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL

Down jackets come in a wide range of prices based primarily on the fill-power rating (read: warmth per ounce and packability) and amount of down inside, with the cost boosted when those feathers are water-resistant. While $250 does not seem inexpensive at face value, the Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket’s price ranks it among the most affordable high-quality, water-resistant down jackets—and the brand’s commitment to improving living and working conditions for people around the world gives this puffy an appealing back story.

I found the Fuego Hooded Down Jacket delivered plenty of warmth—especially for its moderate weight—for cool evenings and mornings in camp on a climbing trip in Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve in early October, with low temps in the 40s and dry conditions.

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Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket
Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket

Its high warmth-per-ounce and packability come from the 800-fill-power down feathers on the inside, which are also water-resistant—meaning they will retain some warmth even when wet and will dry faster than standard down, enabling you to use the Fuego in damp weather year-round. However, many people would find it not warm enough for sitting around outside in temps much below around 40° F with more than one or two base layers beneath it—true of many puffy jackets of similar weight—and it’s not breathable, so it could cause you to overheat in moderate-exertion activities in winter. I would say it’s best for three-season camping and backpacking.

The 20-denier ripstop shell fabric is more durable than you’ll find on many puffy jackets, especially lighter models (which often also are less warm), but you should avoid sharp points or edges. The fabric also has a DWR (durable, water-resistant treatment) that will repel light precipitation, elasticized cuffs, and drawcord hem.

The jacket has two zippered hand pockets deep enough to keep small items from falling out when a pocket’s open, and two internal pockets, one a stash pocket with no closure and space for warm, winter-style gloves or mittens, and the other a spacious zippered pocket that the jacket stuffs inside, packing down to a bit less than two liters.

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Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket
The Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket.

One demerit: The non-adjustable, elasticized hood does not wrap snugly over your head. Consequently, when you turn your head, the hood doesn’t turn with it—half of your face disappears inside it. Many insulated jackets in this quality and price category have an adjustable hood—and for the range of temps you’d wear a jacket like this in, I recommend getting one with a hood. Still, the hood is nonetheless deep and provides warmth; and even with an imperfect hood, the Fuego represents a good value.

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The Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket stuffed.
The Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket stuffed.

Bonus points: If you like to buy from brands that do good, Cotopaxi uses RDS (Responsible Down Standard)-certified down and allocates one percent of annual revenue to the Cotopaxi Foundation, which awards grants to nonprofit partners selected for their track records at improving the human condition and alleviating poverty. In addition, Cotopaxi says the Fuego is made at a factory in China where worker well-being is a top priority.

The Fuego also comes in hoodless down jacket ($230) and down vest ($150) versions for men and women.

The Verdict

Despite an ill-fitting hood, the Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket’s high-quality down, warmth, and packability make it a solid value at this price, with a good back story of social responsibility.

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See my review of “The 10 Best Down Jackets,” and all of my reviews of insulated jackets and outdoor apparel that I like at The Big Outside.

NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See my Gear Reviews page at The Big Outside for categorized menus of all of my reviews and my expert buying tips.

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