Every jacket has its ideal conditions, and we weren't hard-pressed to find perfect weather for the Isis Whisper Hoodie, a lightweight down jacket made for women. On a windy day that barely scratched the teens, one tester stashed it in the bottom of her pack while backcountry skiing. On the uphill, she barely noticed it, since it weighs less than a pound and packs into a matching stuff sack the size of a grapefruit. At the top of the windy ridge, she donned it under a light shell and, while waiting for friends on the downhill, was warm but never sweaty.
We were happy with Hoodie's performance, and we'd gladly pack it for future backcountry outings in cool, winter conditions. It's compact and packs a lot of warmth for its trim profile and lightweight design. It easily fits under an outer shell without feeling bulky, but is stuffed with 650-fill goose down for maximum toastiness.
Some smart design features sweeten the pot. Elastic cuffs help moor the jacket in place when layering, a real perk when our testers were swapping jackets on top of a windy ridge. A velvet-lined chin guard helps avert chafing, while the slim hood hugs the head and is compact enough to wear underneath another hood. On most testers, however, it was a little too short to completely cover the head.
The ripstop nylon exterior has a DWR finish to make water-resistant, but testers found that the wind whipped right through it. The jacket is also cut somewhat short, making it useless on windy days unless worn under a shell.
As for the basic fit of the jacket, it's best for women with medium or larger builds. One medium-build tester happily reported that it fit perfectly, with a flattering waist cut, and she enjoyed numerous compliments on her style sense while wearing it around town.
On the other hand, the dimensions of the jacket didn't quite suit tall, lanky testers. For one person, the arm length was fine, but the body was too roomy, letting in drafts. For another, the body fit but the arms were too short.
Those who can wear the hoodie will appreciate the added perk that it's available in seven colors to suit most any taste, from basic black to white to bright orange and chartreuse.
SNEWS Rating: 4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $185