Haglöfs 2012 Winter Kit Review #2 – Essens Down Jacket

I few years back down gear with tiny baffles was suddenly everywhere and there was an equal amount of naysaying and enthusiasm. The concept has lasted long enough to shrug off the fad tag and it’s now an accepted style of down gear.
Haglöfs have the new mini-baffled Essens Down Jacket , which at 300g for my pre production size large is very light and packable, but is it warm?

The answer is that it is warm, but there’s been careful thought put into the Essens so that it is warm. The baffles are small, but the  down  still has room to loft inside, addressing the main suspicion that small baffles flatten down killing its insulative properties. Exactly how warm? Impossible to say, I’ve used it in its own for the past six months and with a down vest as a booster at winter camp and I’ve been fine and dandy, it’s usable insulation, not just a pretty face for walking through Aviemore or throwing on back at the car.

The amount of insulation makes it usable when you’re active and on the move, something I’ve done with the Essens and other insulation in recent winters, as it’s either colder or I’m getting old. With is in mind the jacket has some extra features which you can see above and below. The arms have Powerstretch gussets from your pit to your shoulder blade which helps with free movement and also helps to keep the down baffles lofted when you move your arms as the movement is taken up by the stretch fabric first.
Talking of lofting, it does fatten up pretty well when unpacked and especially when worn. It layers well over midlayers and under (or over if it’s light enough) a shell which kinda cements its place as a winter midlayer/general insulation jacket.

The collar’s a decent height and and baffle runs behind the lightweight zip right up to your chin. The hem and cuffs are lycra bound and the two hand warmer pockets have lycra entries which seal the pocket flat when not in use and grip your hands too for maximum coziness. The pocket bags are behind the down you you’re heating your hands on your belly which is the quickest way to go if like me you’re fueled on pies and Irn Bru.
There’s a chest pocket as well, you can see the line of the vertical zip next to the logo on the top two photies it’s a handy size and the zip is a skinny lightweight affair that runs nice and smooth. Despite it’s hidden position, it hasn’t snagged the fabric once.
Other little details are a rear hanging loop and glove-gripable zip pullers.

The fabric is 41gsm recycled polyester, so it’s got a good balance between lightness and durability, which I can attest to as it’s been scraped off rocks, trees, crampons, titanium sporks etc The DWR is pretty good too, light showers, spills and tent condensation haven’t ruined it yet and as it isn’t getting washed very often, or indeed ever so far, the DWR should last for a while. 
The cut is short and neat, there’s no fat on here at all, it’s trimmed to the bare minimum with compromising usability.

The Essens is a nice bit of kit, I’ll be packing it again until winter where some heavier weight new arrivals I’m expecting will no doubt displace it, and that’s an important point. It’s light, but don’t expect the same performance as a four inch thick down duvet just because you’ve spent a lot of money and want to save weight, it doesn’t work like that.  Factor the Essens into a winter system like I do and it’s excellent, outside of winter it’s ace on it’s own.

And yeah, how good does purple kit look in the snow?

10 thoughts on “Haglöfs 2012 Winter Kit Review #2 – Essens Down Jacket”

  1. Fantastic colours, probably my favourite combination.
    Unfortunately I’m not Haglof’s shaped.
    Maybe Patagonia will come out with a down sweater in those colours.
    My similar Patagonia down sweater is one of my most useful bits of kit for Winter layering and unlike the thicker down jackets fits nicely under a Paramo jacket when it’s really cold.

  2. The low profile does make it pretty useful. In the outdoor shots above I’ve got it over the bungy Hood and the red bits are the hood of my waterproof (Haglofs Endo Pull, very slim fit, review coming next), it worked fine and I’ve layered it under more regular shells where it’s been great as well.
    I had the Crux pull-on with the mini down baffles ages back and it was great as a midlayer when it finally stopped leaking down through the seams.
    I think down’s not as fragile as its reputation suggests.

  3. There’s a lot of new down about, but prices are rising.

    One thing I’ve got coming will bring a smile though, and there’s a great story attached to it which I’ll tell you if I see you before it arrives!

  4. I’ve just received one of these jackets and while I’m really pleased with it and it meets my expectations following your review, I noticed a down feather poking out of the material on the inside of the jacket. I managed to push most of the feather back into the jacket (the rest of the feather broke off) and the hole completely re-sealed itself.

    This is my first down product so I’m not sure if this is par for the course? Is this a sign of weak material or poor quality down? Should i look for a refund or just learn to accept it as a trait of this jacket and type of insulation?

  5. Don’t worry about it Neil, I’ve had this on almost every bit of down gear I’ve ever had. What’s come through is a wee feather which has enough strength to squeeze through the threads in the fabric. What I do is either pull it out or pull it back into the jacket from the other side.
    There’s always a few feathers in amongst the down clusters, I think the 900 fill gear is the only down gear that I’ve had that’s feather-free.
    Have a squeeze around the jacket, you’ll feel a few other feathers. I was wearing my old KimmLite down gilet today and had just the same as you, a little brown feather sticking out.
    It just goes with the territory, worth it for the warmth and low weight.

  6. Thanks for the re-assurance, looking forward to using this in earnest as an insulating layer underneath my softshell. Looks like we’ve got the weather for it now too!!

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