No! Not another down jacket review! Run!!
Before you run shrieking from your computer I promise you that the Helly Hansen Verglas Long Insulator ($300) is not just another down parka. Yes, it’s warm. Yes, it’s weather-resistant. Yes it’s insulated with 700-fill down blah, blah, blah.
This one is extra special, I promise.
What I liked
Humane innards. It’s what’s inside that counts and the Helly Hansen Verglas Long Insulator’ 700-fill down comes as a result of a partnership between Helly Hansen and ALLIED Feather & Down, a supplier who sources its down globally from farmers who have pledged allegiance to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS). In a perfect world, the down in your jacket, sleeping bag, gloves and comforter come as the byproduct of the food industry. Geese and ducks are raised on farms with good food, fresh air, clean water and warm beds. When big enough, they’re slaughtered for their meat and the sleeve of a down jacket is filled. Unlucky birds in imperfect worlds are forcibly live-plucked several times a year for their entire lives. That’s what makes this parka so special. Its down comes from the perfect world side—as told by its TrackmyDown.com hangtag of 0808L18F046 where I learned its full story.
Warm. Although Helly Hansen states that the Verglas Long Insulator offers 700 fill power, my coat is actually insulated with 735 fill power. Svalbard Island in January, here I come! When I entered the lot number on my TrackmyDown.com hangtag I learned that the specific break-down of the 735 fill contents is 87% down cluster, 6% down fiber, 3% feather fiber and 3.4% waterfowl, 0% broken feathers and quill, 0.4% landfowl and 0.2% residue. So far this winter it has translated to a very warm parka that continues to perform well when running around town on errands, walking outside and even snowshoeing. Yes, I wore it snowshoeing on a day that was twenty-eight degrees and found it slightly on the warm side. The hood is phenomenal and when its bungee cords are tightened, the hood stays on even in gusty 15-mph winds. It also hits me at 1.5 inches above my knees in the front and at my knees in the back. This translates to plenty of insulation on my upper legs.
Fit. The Helly Hansen Verglas Long Insulator is billed as a slim-fit jacket, which I found to be true. Therefore, I highly encourage you to try on before you buy. The size isn’t so much about what you normally wear in parkas but the reason for which you’re buying. If you’re normally a size small and plan to wear it with heavy baselayers and midlayers, consider sizing up. If you just want an attractive and warm city coat, stay with your usual size. For me, I found the most comfortable fit when wearing just one mid-weight layer underneath. If I added a mid-layer, like a fleece pullover or vest, the chest area became tight (although there still remained plenty of fit in the shoulders and sleeves). Not uncomfortably tight that I couldn’t breathe; just noticeably tighter.
Weather Resistance. When I mean weather resistance, I don’t mean you can wear the Helly Hansen Verglas Long Insulator in a rainstorm. I just mean that the DWR finish on the exterior polyester fabric does a good job of repelling the snowflakes. When the snowflakes melt, the water beaded up and rolled off like it’s supposed to do. Keep in mind that wearing it in prolonged wet conditions can compromise the down, which means it might not be as lofty or warm as it could be.
Comfortable. Despite its length, mobility was never impaired thanks to the two-way zipper that allowed for a bit more leg room when needed. When zipped all the way up, the zipper garage did not rest uncomfortably at my throat. Fleece-lined pockets provide a touch of extra warmth.
What I didn’t like
Cuffless sleeves. This is the only nit-pick that I could come up with. It has no cuffs on the sleeves to keep the cold out. A cuff should be added. It’s a small, simple feature make a difference in cold weather.
I love this parka, I really do. I love how its trim and slim fit doesn’t make me look like a bipedal marmot. I have a waist and I want complete strangers to know that I have a waist! I love that it’s full of responsibly sourced down and that I know where it came from. I have a new respect and admiration for grey geese from Asia now, especially knowing that they lived happy, healthy lives to the very end.
The Helly Hansen Verglas Long Insulator is a Gear Gals Piece of Recommended Gear!