'Tough, warm and light, the Vega mixes a highly water-resistant outer with plenty of top quality, traceable down for serious alpine and winter mountain missions '
Outdoors Magic: High-loft down, tough but light fabric, thorough design, helmet hood, all-round, glove-friendly adjustability. Warm.
Outdoors Tragic: Hard to fault. Bare head moves inside the hood.
Outdoors Grabbit? The Vega's a serious technical mountaineering jacket stuffed with top-notch 800 fill power down and a level of magnitude warmer than most lighter-weight competition. The outer fabric is highly water resistant to cope with snow, spindrift and dripping ice-falls and we can't fault the overall build quality and design. It's decently light and packable too and about as warm as stitch-through construction jackets gets. Ideal for the Alps we reckon, but that water-resistant fabric should also cope with occasional Scottish use.
Vega Jacket Ratings
Outright Warmth [rating score="4.5"]
Packability [rating score="4"]
Damp-proofing [rating score="3.5"]
Overall: [rating score="4.5"]
Down-filled, medium weight mountain jacket / 90/10 800 fill power goose down / DRILITE® Loft outer / stitch-through baffle construction throughout / Half Dome HC hood with EXL® lining / 2-way YKK® / zipped hand warmer pockets with moulded zip / moulded centre front zip with off-set insulated rear baffle / DRILITE® Loft hem and hood lining / adjustable cuffs and dual-tether hem drawcords
Full Review Below
Mountain Equipment Vega Jacket - The Fill
The Vega packs a load of 800 fill power goose down sourced ethically from eastern Russia. That's seriously high-lofting stuff and means you get more warmth per gramme of down helping to keep weight to a minimum.
It's also worth noting that ME has done pioneering work when it comes to sourcing its down ethically. The company's Down Codex project was created to make sure that the brand's down is 100% traceable with audits regularly carried out on all parts of the supply chain.
By entering the Codex number on your garment or sleeping bag into the website, you can find out exactly where it originates. In the case of our jacket, it turned out to be a small three-farm supply chain in the Rostov region of western Russia.
The birds who provided our down were bred for meat and lived 'predominantly free-range lives'. Auditing suggests that there's zero chance that any live plucking was involved in the down production.
That's reassuring for anyone concerned with animal cruelty and a tangible example of the work ME has done over the years to ensure that its down is ethically and humanely produced.
Mountain Equipment Vega Jacket - Performance
The Vega feels seriously, reassuringly sturdy. Some of that is down the reassuringly generous down fill, and some to the tough-feeling and highly water-resistant DRILITE® Loft outer fabric. The down quantity, by the way, is carefully calibrated according to the needs of each individual baffle for maximum effectiveness.
It undoubtedly adds a little weight, but it's the reason ME hasn't bothered with water-resistant down here. The jacket's too warm to be worn in normal wet conditions anyway and that fabric is designed to cope just fine with snow, condensation drips and the odd thawing ice-fall. It'll deal with the odd shower too - we tried - but like we said, the jacket's too warm for rain.
Construction is weight-saving, simple stitch through. Not as outright warm as a box-wall jacket, but lighter and simpler and cheaper to produce.
The cut is trim and technical. It fits over a sleek, technical soft shell, no problem, so you could conceivably use it as an alpine belay jacket, and the hood is well-filled and super warm. It'll accommodate a helmet, but also sits well on a bare head, though your noggin will move slightly within it. It also uses ME's head-hugging EXL lining to give a close, efficient fit - it's a development of the brand's elasticated sleeping bag inner technology.
Otherwise the Vega's hard to fault. We love the smooth-running moulded-tooth YKK Vislon zip - no snagging or dragging, the easy-to-use pulls and adjusters and subtle but effective, off-set insulated main-zip baffle. Also neat are the DRILITE® Loft linings on the inside of the drop-tail and the hood, both areas which can get damp easily.
Finally, for an impressively warm jacket, the Vega's pack size in the stuff-sac supplied is impressively compact making it ideal for alpine missions where space and weight matter.
Mountain Equipment Vega Jacket - Verdict
If you're after a proper alpine down jacket with a killer balance of warmth, weight and packability with a highly water-resistant shell thrown in, then you can't really go wrong with the Vega. It's about as warm as stitch-through down jackets get, feels sturdy but not heavy and has a proper helmet hood too.
Use it as a sleek, warm belay jacket or team it with a lightweight sleeping bag of your choice for alpine bivi nights or simply swan around the pubs of Fort William looking pro, the Vega will do it all. And as a bonus, you'll know exactly where all that lovely 800 fill power down has come from.
Hard to fault.