If you’re looking for sa uper-packable but still decently warm down jacket, the Berghaus Ilam should definitely be near the top of your list. It uses a combination of very light fabrics and very high-lofting down to make it both light – around 300g – and very packable and it has the added bonus of using Berghaus water-repellent Hydrodown.
Hydrodown is a water-resistant treated down that keeps more of its loft if it does get damp and dries without special treatment without losing a lot of loft, though it will lose some. It really does work, we dunked a Furnace jacket in a bath, then drained a wore it. It was dry in a matter of hours.
The other stand-out feature of the Ilam is body-zoned construction based on Berghaus tests using cold chambers and heat-sensitive cameras. The sides of the trunk and insides of the sleeves need less insulation, so they use a different baffle pattern that also saves bulk in the area and weight and bulk overall.
The Ilam doesn’t weight much more than a fair few microfbaffled jackets, but the combination of semi-translucent, ultra-lightweight Pertex Quantum GL and 850 fill power down means that it lofts like a hot air balloon and is deceptively warm given that it only weighs a shade over 300g.
It’s not as warm as a full box-walled jacket, but as a balance of weight and warmth, it’s very hard to beat. The hood’s handy too. It’s properly filled and makes a real difference if you’re hunkered down somewhere cold. Nice to have hand-warmer pockets too.
The fit is slim and neat with a medium sort of length and while we can’t say whether the thinner panels at the side and inner sleeves make a big difference to ultimate warmth, you do notice the lack of bulk under the arms if you’re just walking around.
Pack size is small, around grapefruit dimensions making it a great call where space is limited. That could be anything from lightweight alpine mountaineering through to trekking, where its nice to have extra warmth in the cool of the evening, but not so pleasant hauling a full-weight down jacket with you.
As for the Hydrodown. We tend to view it as an insurance policy against accidental dunking rather than something for regular use in the wet, but having seen how well it works, it’s a definite bonus and it’s nice not to fret if it starts spitting down while you’re out.
The only downsides we can think of are that it’s not a cheap buy at £240, though in our experience cared-for down lasts a long time – and that the ultra-lightweight fabric won’t enjoy abrasive abuse, then again, that’s not the sort of scenario you’d expect it to face regularly.
It’s no surprise to learn that the Ilam is a product of the excellent Berghaus Mtn.Haus design team – it’s super light, very compact and yet impressively warm when you do need it, certainly a step above most of the micro-baffled opposition and having a proper, down-filled hood is a real bonus when the going gets properly cold. Add in the insurance of Hydrodown and the Ilam really is hard to beat unless things get extremely chilly.
- 850-fill hydrophobic goose down
- Stitch-through quilted micro baffles
- Body-mapped construction
- Twin hand-warmer pockets
- Flap behind zip
- Down-filled hood
- Adjustable hem
- Lycra-bound cuffs