Women’s hunting clothing has improved tremendously since I spent my first season in the field 20 years ago. At the time, there was no hunting gear specific to women, such as the Kuiu Women’s ULTRA Super Down Jacket Hoodie. I shot my first mule deer while wearing ripped jeans and a chunky Carhartt coat. Teen fashion statement? May be. Functional? Barely.
Me, at fifteen, I wouldn’t believe how comfortable and technical my equipment is today. I spent the majority of my 2021 hunting season wearing the KUIU Women’s Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket. This jacket is a one-piece showpiece wrapped in something light as air.
If you’re looking for a versatile midlayer that will keep you warm without taking up space in your backpack, this is the one. Here are my experiences with this jacket.
- Weight: 6.8 ounces
- Water resistant Quixdown insulation with over 850 fill power
- 12D nylon ripstop fabric
- Two-way adjustable hood and adjustable hem
- Zipped hand pockets
- Left pocket doubles as stuff sack
The jacket is designed as an athletic cut, which means that it is fitted. I wore a medium with my 5’5″ 135 pound frame. I found the fit flattering and functional. When temperatures drop below zero, the jacket fits comfortably over three base layers, including a long-sleeved shirt, a mid-weight hoodie, and a fleece, I was also able to throw on a softshell jacket over everything without feeling bulky.
KUIU designed the Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket be wind and water resistant. I look for this in every hunting jacket. As someone who primarily does spot and stalk hunting in the mountains, I don’t want to have to stop and take off my pack, bino harness and blazing orange every time a little bit of time settles down.
KUIU claims its Super Down ULTRA system is 40% lighter than older versions. The company’s website says this is because the fabric features a Toray finishing process, which eliminates the need for coatings, creating a lighter fabric. I’ve owned several down jackets for everyday use besides hunting and fly fishing, and this is by far the lightest down jacket I’ve ever worn.
Down jackets are favorites of hunters who spend a lot of time hiking and packing. Most of the best down jackets are light, warm and pack down small into a bag, making them one of the best mid-range winter jackets. layer or outer layer. However, the downside of down is that when the feathers get wet, they lose their height. This means that the jacket loses its heat.
KUIU combats this by using Quixdown which the company says is a “premium goose down treated with a durable water repellent that makes it nearly waterproof.” Thanks to this technology, KUIU claims that the down will maintain its insulating volume even in the most humid weather.
The KUIU Women’s Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket sells for $299. The company makes a non-hooded version for $279. These prices are roughly comparable to other down jackets on the market.
Testing the KUIU Women’s Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket in the Field
You can say that KUIU has made its mark by creating clothing for mountain hunters and making some of the best cold weather hunting jackets. One of the most frustrating parts of mountain hunting is balancing adding and subtracting layers as you bounce between a sweaty climb and chills while sitting glassy. The KUIU Women’s Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket has proven to be a superstar layer for the mountains. Layered over long johns, a hoodie, and fleece, the jacket kept me snug while battling 40 mph winds and sub-zero temperatures. Sometimes when hunting partners were lined up on much bulkier down jackets, I was snug in this one.
Montana’s 15-week hunting season typically throws everything weather-wise at you, from 100 degrees to blizzards (and that’s only during archery season). This year the elk hunt was miserably hot and dry, and the coolest part of my day was often still in the 60s. I found myself hiking in and out of the areas with a t-shirt or a hoodie, putting on a jacket while I sat and called elk.
Once the arc season shifted to cooler weather, the jacket became a go-to mid-layer. I would wear it under a softshell jacket. It gave me an awesome boost of insulation under a quieter layer. I loved that it didn’t add bulk to my body, making it easier to navigate through the woods. Even when temps were in the 30s, I was comfortable wearing only long johns, the KUIU jacket, and a softshell jacket as my outer layer.
Once I put away my bow for the year and grabbed my weapon, the KUIU Women’s Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket quickly became my go-to jacket, both as a mid-layer and as an outer layer. I hate feeling like a marshmallow waddling through the woods while wearing bulky clothes. Larger layers are also a burden in the backpack, but this jacket gives you warmth without the bulk. It’s really impressive how hot he is for his low profile.
I can’t say much about how this jacket performed in wet weather. Montana struggled with an extreme drought that continued well into the fall. However, November brought some really nasty winds as well as sub-freezing temperatures on my mule deer hunts. This jacket lived up to its windproof promise.
Windy and cold conditions are where you’ll appreciate having a balaclava to keep the wind out of your face and ears. The two-way adjustable hood was warm and stayed in place even in windy conditions. Zippered pockets on each side are easy to access and keep your hands warm. Stretch cuffs allow for easy layering or tucking under other jackets.
I spent almost three months bushwhacking through the woods, crawling through cacti and packing meat in this jacket. Although it’s been washed a handful of times, at the end of the season I haven’t seen a single feather stick out or suffer any tears in the fabric. I can confidently say that this is one of the best winter jackets to incorporate into your cold weather system.
What the Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket does best
the KUIU Super Down ULTRA jacket is the brand’s lightest down jacket for women. It’s not just lightweight, it’s incredibly lightweight. It weighs less than half a pound. When it arrived in the post I thought the package was empty as it was too light to hold a jacket.
The left pocket doubles as an easy-to-use stuff sack. When packed in the stuff sack, the jacket is about the size of a burrito. I have a friend who uses this jacket as an everyday jacket that she can easily slip into her purse when she’s not wearing it.
Considering its thinness, I was skeptical about its warmth. I found myself repeatedly underestimating its warmth. Many times I started hiking only to take layers off because the jacket kept me warm. It withstood sub-freezing temperatures and winds blowing at over 40 mph. It’ll fit easily into any backpack, and you won’t know it’s there until you put it on, and it’ll give you a big boost of warmth.
What this KUIU jacket does the worst
The KUIU Women’s Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket is not my first choice for bowhunting. When the antlers are still, any artificial noise can disrupt the hunt. The fabric texture is just too loud for my bowhunting preference. It makes a rustling noise when you move, as well as when it brushes against vegetation or terrain.
If you’re bowhunting in wet, windy conditions where comfort is key, noise may be worth the trade-off for fabric performance. However, in my opinion, if you are bowhunting in hot weather and only need one jacket in your bag, leave this one at home.
Final Thoughts on KUIU Women’s Super Down ULTRA Hooded Jacket
I spent years being jealous of the male hunters in my life who climbed the mountains of KUIU. They raved about the lightness and comfort of the garments that kept them going on backcountry hunts. I have always valued fit over performance. Often they go hand in hand. It’s hard to hunt at the top of your game when your sleeves are too long, your pants are rubbing, and your crotch is snagging on every fence you cross.
It really feels good to finally be able to wear a piece of KUIU equipment designed to fit a woman’s frame. If you go hunting where every ounce counts, consider adding this jacket to your layering lineup. It will surpass the amount of space and weight it takes up. But you don’t have to be a mountain hunter to enjoy the benefits of this jacket.