We all have our must-haves when it comes to gear and apparel. If you climb or backpack, maybe “ultralight” is at the top of the list. Or, for the the earth-conscious gear hounds, it might be “locally made” and “eco-friendly materials” that you seek out. And then again, the ski bums might just look for something that will simply stand up to 200-plus days of abuse. But when you find a piece of gear that combines all those must-haves into one package, I call it winning.
Cue Feathered Friends’ Ellia Women’s Hooded Down Jacket.
This season, I had the opportunity to check out the newly redesigned “Ellia” women’s hooded down jacket by Feathered Friends — a Seattle-based company with over four decades of experience and passion in building down garments and gear. After several trips in wind, snow, single-digit temps and in varied rocky, dirty, and some unforgiving environments, the Ellia has become my go-to down jacket.
Pros: The Ellia is hand made in the USA. It’s ethically-sourced, and ultra warm at 900-plus fill down. It’s ultralight and boasts a minimalist design with a few thought-out, much-appreciated features.
The Ellia is a hooded down jacket with a straightforward construction. It features two outer zipper pockets and drawstrings in all the right places (hood and hem). This keeps it light (13oz) and free of any potential snag-able loops, dangles, or other randomness. In fact, its durability and simplicity are what I like best. I wore this jacket scrambling around rocks in the desert, in a winter camp with two jumpy cattle dogs, while skiing, and it held up through it all — even through pulling it in and out of bags and backseats while traveling all over the country.
And Feathered Friends “womens-specific fit” means I can have a traditional puffy outer layer jacket that still fits comfortably under a shell as an insulating layer in wet conditions. I went with the medium to have a little more room in the arms and chest (I’m 5’4″, 135 lbs) and I appreciate having a little room to play without the jacket feeling baggy or too big.
But perhaps one of the jacket’s best features is its zippers. The Ellia features wind and water-resistant zippers on the main and pocket zippers. These were especially nice on several occasions including rainy nights in Alaska and during filming sessions while skiings. The Uretek zippers gave me full moisture protection and kept small cameras and my cell phone safe and dry.
Oh, and the included stuff sack is a really nice bonus!
Cons: It is tough to identify a real flaw in the Ellia. Its construction is solid, it’s incredibly light and packable, and I feel good knowing the down fill is ethically sourced. Honestly, the only “con” I can think of is deciding between a small or a medium. The small was slightly more fitted (think down “shirt” vs. jacket), which meant I didn’t have much use of the drawstrings; and the medium has a little extra space in the chest that I would like to see better distributed, but it still fits well. It’s not a deal breaker, it’s just something to consider if you’re often a “smedium” fit.
Where I Took It: I used the Ellia on several trips including some late November desert hikes in Moab, Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park during an early December site-seeking trip to Alaska, on a late-December bikepacking camping trip in the Colorado high country and on several snowy fat bike rides and dawn patrols at Wolf Creek Ski Area.