KUIU Women’s Super Down Ultra Hooded Jacket: Amazingly Light, Incredibly Warm
The KUIU Women’s Super Down Ultra Hooded Jacket survived bow and rifle season in Montana. Here’s how it performed
Women’s hunting clothing has improved immensely since I spent my first season in the field 20 years ago. Back then, there wasn’t any women’s hunting-specific gear, like the Kuiu Women’s Super Down ULTRA hooded jacket. I shot my first mule deer while wearing ripped jeans and a bulky Carhartt coat. Teen fashion statement? Maybe. Functional? Hardly.
Fifteen-year-old me wouldn’t believe how comfortable and technical my gear is today. I spent the majority of my 2021 hunting season wearing the KUIU Women’s Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket. This jacket is a powerhouse of a piece packed into something that feels light as air.
If you’re looking for a versatile mid-layer that will keep you warm without taking up space in your pack, this is it. Here are my experiences wearing this jacket.
KUIU Women’s Super Down ULTRA Jacket Specs and Features
- Weight: 6.8 ounces
- 850-plus fill power water-resistant Quixdown insulation
- Nylon 12D ripstop fabric
- Two-way adjustable hood and adjustable hem
- Zipper hand pockets
- Left pocket doubles as a stuff sack
The jacket is designed as an athletic fit, meaning it’s form-fitting. I wore a medium with my 5’5” and 135-pound frame. I found the fit flattering and functional. When temperatures dropped below freezing, the jacket fit comfortably over three base layers, including a long-sleeved long john shirt, mid-weight hoodie, and fleece. I was also able to throw on a softshell jacket over the top of everything without feeling bulky.
KUIU designed the Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket to be wind and water-resistant. I look for this in every hunting jacket. As someone who primarily does spot-and-stalk hunting in the mountains, I don’t want to be forced to stop and strip off my pack, bino harness, and blaze orange every time a little weather moves in.
KUIU claims its Super Down ULTRA system is 40 percent more lightweight compared to older versions. The company’s website says it’s because the fabric features a Toray finishing process, which eliminates the need for coatings, creating a lighter fabric. I’ve owned several down jackets for everyday wear in addition to hunting and fly-fishing, and this is by far the lightest down jacket I’ve ever worn.
Down jackets are a favorite among hunters who spend a lot of time hiking and packing in. Most of the best puffer jackets are light, warm, and fold up small inside a pack, which makes them some of the best winter jackets as a mid-layer or outer layer. However, the downside of down is that when the feathers get wet, they lose their loftiness. This means the jacket loses its warmth.
KUIU fights this by using Quixdown which the company says is a “premium goose down that’s treated with a durable water repellent which makes it nearly impervious to water.” With this technology, KUIU claims the down will maintain its insulating loft even in the wettest weather.
The KUIU Women’s Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket sells for $299. The company makes a non-hooded version for $279. These prices are roughly comparable to other down jackets on the market.
Testing the KUIU Women’s Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket in the Field
You can tell KUIU made its mark creating clothing for mountain hunters, and making some of the best cold weather hunting jackets. One of the most frustrating parts of mountain hunting is figuring out the balance of adding and subtracting layers as you bounce between working up a sweat climbing elevation and shivering while sitting still glassing. The KUIU Women’s Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket proved to be a superstar layer for the mountains. Layered over a long john top, hoodie, and fleece, the jacket kept me toasty warm while glassing in 40 mph winds and below-freezing temperatures. At times, when hunting partners were doubled-up on much bulkier down jackets, I was toasty warm with just this one.
Montana’s 15-week hunting season typically throws everything at you weather-wise, from 100 degrees to blizzards (and that’s just during archery season). This year, bowhunting elk was miserably hot and dry, and the coolest part of my day was often still in the 60s. I found myself hiking in and out of areas in a t-shirt or hoodie, throwing on a jacket while I sat and called for elk.
Once bow season transitioned into cooler weather, the jacket became a go-to mid-layer. I would wear it underneath a softshell jacket. It gave me an impressive boost of insulation underneath a quieter layer. I loved that it didn’t add any bulk to my body, making it easier to navigate moving through the woods. Even when temperatures were in the 30s, I was comfortable wearing just a long john layer, the KUIU jacket and a softshell jacket as the outer layer.
Once I stashed my bow for the year and grabbed my gun, the KUIU Women’s Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket quickly became my go-to jacket, both as a mid-layer and outer layer. I hate feeling like a marshmallow waddling through the woods while wearing bulky articles of clothing. Bigger layers are also a burden in the pack, but this jacket gives you warmth without any bulk. It’s truly impressive how warm it is for how low profile it fits.
I can’t speak much to how this jacket performs in wet weather. Montana battled an extreme drought that’s continued well into the fall. However, November brought some truly wicked winds along with below-freezing temperatures on my mule deer hunts. This jacket held up to its windproof claims.
Windy, cold conditions are when you’ll appreciate having a hood to keep the wind off your face and out of your ears. The two-way adjustable hood was warm and stayed in place even in the wind. The zippered pockets on either side are easy to access and keep your hands warm. The stretch-binding cuffs make it easy to pull over layers or fit underneath other jackets.
I spent close to three months bushwhacking through timber, crawling through cactus, and packing meat in this jacket. While it’s been washed a handful of times, at the end of the season, I haven’t seen a single feather pop out or experienced any tears in the fabric. I can confidently say it’s one of the best winter jackets for incorporating into your cold weather system.
What the Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket Does Best
The KUIU Super Down ULTRA Jacket is the company’s lightest down jacket for women. It’s not just light, it’s shockingly lightweight. It weighs less than half a pound. When it came in the mail, I thought the package was empty because it felt too light to contain a jacket.
The left pocket doubles as a stuff sack that’s easy to use. When packed in the stuff sack the jacket is about the size of a burrito. I have a friend who uses this jacket as an everyday jacket that she can easily stuff into her purse when she’s not wearing it.
Based on how thin it is, I was skeptical about how warm it could be. I found myself repeatedly underestimating its warmth. On multiple occasions, I would start hiking only to strip off layers because the jacket kept me that toasty. It held up in below-freezing temperatures and winds gusting over 40 mph. It will easily fit in any pack, and you won’t know that it’s there until you put it on, and it gives you a big boost of warmth.
What This KUIU Jacket Does Worst
The KUIU Women’s Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket is not my first pick to take bowhunting. When the woods are still, any artificial noise can disrupt the hunt. The texture of the fabric is just too noisy for my preference bowhunting. It makes a crinkling noise as you move, as well as when it brushes against vegetation or terrain.
If you’re bowhunting in wet and windy conditions where comfort is critical, the noise might be worth the trade-off for the fabric’s performance. However, in my opinion, if you’re bowhunting in warm weather and only need one jacket in your pack, leave this one at home.
Final Thoughts on the KUIU Women’s Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket
I spent years being jealous of the male hunters in my life who climbed mountains in KUIU. They raved about how lightweight it was and how comfortable the clothing kept them on backcountry hunts. I’ve always valued fit in addition to performance. Often, they go hand-in-hand. It’s hard to hunt at the top of your game when your sleeves are too long, your pants rub together and your crotch catches on every fence you cross.
It feels really good to finally be able to wear a piece of KUIU gear that’s designed to fit a woman’s frame. If you’re going on a hunt where every ounce matters, consider adding this jacket to your lineup of layers. It will outperform the amount of space and weight it takes up. But you don’t have to be a mountain hunter to take advantage of the benefits of this jacket.