In a way, down jackets (and their synthetic alternatives) are a bellwether for innovation in outdoor gear. Ever since Eddie Bauer patented his feather-filled Skyliner nearly a century ago, down jackets have been a keystone item for outdoor survival and recreation. They’re incredibly lightweight yet sufficiently warm — and any time a brand can increase these qualities, along with durability and packability, it’s usually a sign that other things like tents and outerwear might follow suit. These advancements come with a price tag though, which is why it’s notable that Uniqlo’s Seamless Down Parka only costs $150, and is currently marked down to $100.
The main innovation is right in the jacket’s name: seamless. Even after decades of existence, most traditional down jackets use stitching and seams to create the baffles that hold down fill in place. Stitching not only creates minor cold spots by isolating the fill into groups but is also a common point of failure on jackets that are well-loved over many seasons. Outdoor companies are just recently innovating ways to do away with them, usually by welding the fabric together or by weaving the shell material to create the baffles. This construction is generally apparent in only the highest tier down jackets though.
Uniqlo, though, uses that zero-stitch construction in its affordable parka. The company doesn’t specify the fill power of the down inside, but categorizes the jacket as “extra warm.” The jacket is windproof and has a DWR coating for precipitation though, and $100 is as affordable as down jackets get.
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