Packable Down Jackets Offer Style, Warmth

Form no longer follows function. Rather, the two go hand in hand — at least for outerwear — as consumers want jackets that will keep them warm, while still looking sleek and fashionable. Packable down jackets fold and compress into a small pouch and don’t look bulky on wearers, but also provide more warmth and protection from the elements than outerwear with synthetic fills. The jacket can be worn as a top coat, but is also thin enough to be layered under another piece for added warmth.

“I call it a ‘three-season jacket,’ ” says Charlie McGuinness, national sales manager of MV Sport/Weatherproof (asi/68218). “I see people wearing down jackets in the fall straight through till spring.”

MV Sport began offering its Weatherproof packable down jacket (15600) to promotional products customers after success in its retail channel, according to McGuinness. The jacket is now available in multiple colors and in companion styles for women and children. It’s made with 90% duck down and 10% feather fill and has 550 fill power, which measures how many cubic inches one ounce of down will fill.

A higher fill power indicates higher quality down and more warmth for its weight. Although some products have as high as 900 fill power, these are more suitable to backpacking and hiking, where carrying less weight is important. For everyday use, most down jackets range from 550 to 650 fill power.

“It’s a technical jacket, and there are variations among brands with regard to duck down and fiber fill content,” says McGuinness.

MV Sport has sold the jackets to automotive companies, casinos and restaurant chains, but these jackets are great for any clients who are constantly traveling, as their light weight and packable shape make them easy to stow under an airplane seat or in carry-on luggage.

“When it’s packed, it’s perfect as a pillow for traveling,” says Margaret Crow, director of marketing of S&S Activewear (asi/84358).

Both the pouch and the jacket can be decorated, allowing for brand promotion whether the garment is worn or packed away. One buyer even asked for custom zipper pulls bearing the company’s logo, McGuinness says.

Packable down jackets have been so popular that both MV Sport and S&S Activewear are introducing a vest option in 2016.

“People love the softness and are surprised by the warmth,” McGuinness says.