High Gear: Big Agnes Hole in the Wall men’s jacket review
Big Agnes Hole in the Wall jacket | $199.95
Sizes: S-XXL, men’s
Colors: Black, red, blue
Weight: 14 ounces (medium)
Fill: 700 fill DownTek (water-repellent goose down)
Pockets: 5 (2 hand-warmer, 2 interior mesh, 1 chest)
Features: Insotect Flow vertical baffles and Flow Gates to prevent down piling and clumping, chest pocket doubles as stuff pouch, adjustable waist drawcord, thumb loops on sleeve cuffs
For more info on the Hole in the Wall jacket, including sizing charts and a list of local or online retailers, see BigAgnes.com.
Everyone who lives in the Rocky Mountains knows about mud season chic: You don’t go anywhere in April (and even May) without a puffy stashed somewhere nearby. That means hiking, biking, camping, alpine touring — even Moab gets chilly at night this time of year when you step away from the campfire.
But what puffy to choose? Along with overpriced flannel and dog collars that double as bowls, it seems like just about every major outdoor manufacturer offers a three-season puffy for guys and gals, and they all tend to be in the $100 to $200 range. There’s the Patagonia men’s Nano Puff for $120 to $200, made with recycled PrimaLoft synthetic fill and a water-repellent polyester ripstop outer. Add a hood and the Nano jumps in price to $250. There’s The North Face men’s Thermoball zip jacket, a lightweight puffy made with the titular PrimaLoft synthetic fill for $200, and also the men’s Morph jacket, this one a mid-weight made with 800 fill goose down. That puffy runs $250.
Then there’s the Big Agnes Hole in the Wall men’s jacket ($199.95), a mid-weight puffy like that rest — and that’s where the similarities just about end. Unlike the Nano Puff and Thermoball, the Hole in the Wall features water-repellent goose down and no synthetic fill. Unlike the goose down in the Morph, Big Agnes’ pre-treats the down itself to shed moisture — the biggest complaint about any down product. It’s the exact same fill the Steamboat-based company uses in its sleeping bag line.
Big Agnes also makes a big fuss about the Hole in the Wall’s tech construction, which features vertical baffles and interior gates to prevent piling and clumping. The only thing worse than a wet down coat is a wet down coat with no insulation left in the shoulders, and Big Agnes is pretty sure they’ve remedied both sins with this jacket.
Let’s just say I’ve been happy to have the Hole in the Wall this May. It’s been a weird one — spring snow one day, summery sun the next, real snow the day after that — and the jacket has easily stood the test around town. The down does its job, even in freak snowstorms, and after packing it into the chest pocket a few times, it’s lived up to its no-pile promise. We’ll see if the treated down’s spunkiness lasts longer than a single season, but I’ve got hope.
I’m about 5 feet, 9 inches, and the men’s medium fits perfectly, with no bunching or pulling in the armpits. It also fits snugly and comfortably beneath most of my snowboard shells. The waist gaiter stays put without making things tourniquet-tight, and I like how roomy all five of the pockets are. That extra storage has been a godsend for someone (like myself) who’s hobbling through slush storms on crutches; I can only imagine how useful those pockets would be in the high alpine, or on an extended backpacking trek.
With that said, it’s been tough to give the Hole in the Wall a proper test with this knee injury. I haven’t taken it deep into the field — just as far as hobbling along the Flume trails with my dog — and I definitely haven’t brushed it up against rocks, trees or anything else that can turn a down coat into an expensive feather-blower with one snag. But the outer ripstop material feels more rugged than the typical puffy polyester, and I’ve only pulled a single, small feather from one of the seams. This jacket won’t cough down.
In the sprawling world of mid-weight, three-season puffy jackets, the Big Agnes is one of the best on the market, if not the best — especially if you prefer down over synthetic fill. Bring it with you on hikes, camping trips and early-morning spring tours for extra warmth and no fuss. Plus, it looks just as mountain-man cool as the rest.
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