Walk down any city street or mountain trail and you’ll likely come to the conclusion that warm down jackets are more popular than ever before – they’ve become the new wear-anywhere winter wardrobe staple both in and out of the great outdoors. So is there a way to stand out of the down crowd? Australian brand Kathmandu think so – they’re newest offering couples a fashionable oversized fit with a innovative material that will biodegrade when you’re down with it. Meet Kathmandu’s new NXT Level jacket (opens in new tab) . So how does it perform out and about?
Kathmandu NXT Level Bio Down jacket: Specifications
- RRP: £340
- Weight: 440g (Women’s) 460g (Men’s)
- Fill: 600-fill-power duck down
- Outer material: AMNI Soul Eco nylon
- Women’s Colours: Natural / Rosin / Red earth
- Men’s Colours: Gum Tree / Rosin
- Women’s Sizes: 6–12
- Men’s sizes: XS–L
Kathmandu NXT Level Bio Down jacket: Materials and design
Every material in the Kathmandu NXT-Level line is biodegradable: fabrics, thread, zippers - even the packaging. Here’s the techie bit - the Bio Down Jacket uses AMNI SOUL ECO nylon insulated with Responsible Down Standard (RDS) 600-fill-power duck down. And no, it won’t start degrading as you wear it, or if it gets wet – Kathmandu reckon that once in active landfill and without oxygen, around 86% of the jacket would degrade in three years. Is this design a gimmick? Perhaps – but it’s a step in the right direction that we’d like to see from all outdoor brands, and by choosing to buy a recycled or recyclable jacket over one that isn’t you’re making a positive difference. The only thing we’d change about the NXT’s green creds is that it seems a pity that such a recyclable jacket isn’t already made from recycled materials.
Kathmandu use animal down to provide the warm insulation in this jacket. The ethics of animal down is a sticky subject, and if you want to steer clear you can always choose synthetic insulation instead. If you are going to choose down, do pick a brand like this – Kathmandu use down certified by the responsible down standard and trackable via Track My Down. 600 fill power is plenty to ensure you feel warm instantly, but doesn’t feel heavy – at 440g, the NXT Level is pleasingly lightweight and you’ll barely feel like you’ve got the jacket on. It also rolls down and is easy to stuff in a backpack when you’re on the go.
Kathmandu’s biodegradable design is already innovative – but they haven’t stopped there. The NXT Level looks rather different to most down jackets we review – it has a boxy, flattering and rather retro-feeling cut. We think the NXT Level looked a tad smarter and more urban-friendly than other insulated jackets. The black is a good choice for both city and country use, while the bright brick red will make you visible in the mountains. We’d probably steer clear of the white – it’s likely to look dirty easily, and also looks a bit like it’s meant to be part of a Star Wars costume…
Kathmandu NXT Level Bio Down jacket: Performance and comfort
The hood is wide and roomy, but while it can be adjusted it does feel on the bulky side. It’s an odd shape – it has a bonnet-like wide lip on the front that must be designed to repel rain but might make you look like you’ve escaped from Victorian Britain. The plus side is that it fits over helmets.
The NXT Level is one of the most pleasingly duvet-like jackets we’ve tested – it’s super comfortable next to the skin, and feels deliciously warm from the second you pull it on. We liked the roomy, comfortable fit, which makes layering up easy, and doesn’t restrict movement. Despite having a wide fit, the jacket does layer under waterproof jackets, so it works as a mid-layer as well as an outer layer. Its comfy warmth and bulk make it a good choice for cold days when you aren’t working up too much of a sweat – we’d recommend it for casual country walks, or belaying. We’ve also found ourselves wearing it at home on the coldest days – it’s that comfy.
Kathmandu’s jacket is treated with a Durable Water Repellent finish that does effectively repel light rain, which beaded right off the surface of the jacket on test. We’d keep this topped up with a wash-in down jacket treatment, but probably wouldn’t take this jacket out in a torrential downpour, as it’s likely to eventually soak out.
The only thing we found odd about the NXT Level was the sizing. We mistakenly tried one size too large, which was comically huge on our size UK12 tester, but even the correct size felt far too roomy, and despite the fact that you can cinch in the bottom of the coat, air still got in. We’d recommend trying on a size or even two down from your usual, even if you do want to layer this coat over jumpers and fleeces. We also would have preferred zipped pockets – while the two large pockets on the front of the jacket are in the perfect spot for warming your hands, they aren’t a safe space to store valuables.
Kathmandu NXT Level Bio Down jacket: Overall verdict
We predict the Kathmandu NXT Level will be a bit of a marmite coat – we love its eco credentials and its cosy warm performance, but the fit and looks may be divisive. Sporty mountaineers will probably pick a more functional fit rather than this fashionable jacket, but if you’re in the market for a nice all-rounder down jacket that still gets you plenty of style points when worn casually, this eco warrior could be a good addition to your winter wardrobe.