Himali Altitude Down Parka Review
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As an ice climber in northern Michigan, I have experienced the single digit days standing around climbs. Nothing is more difficult than trying to enjoy this beautiful, wonderful sport without the right gear. While the active gear must be flexible and versatile, the gear while you are static is most important. As the belayer, or at times of rest, there are no warming tents. No cabins. No shelter. Only the brutal winds from Lake Superior. After a super cold experience last season, I knew I needed to improve my gear. I looked to Himali for a selection that I knew would take care of my needs. I perused through their gear online and decided the Himali Altitude Down Parka would meet my needs as a belay jacket and keep me warm while on the ground.
Himali was started in 2014 after a chance meeting of two men on adventure in Nepal. Nearly 10 years years later, Himali has proven itself to be a leader in extreme weather gear. Their performance base design process uses feedback from professional mountaineers & mountain athletes to create apparel to help you perform at your highest level.
My Initial Impression of the Himali Altitude Down Parka
When my package from Himali first arrived, I questioned if it was even my parka. The package was so light! I knew the parka was lightweight and packable, weighing in at a tiny 1 pound 3 ounces. It wasn’t until I held it in my hands that I really appreciated what this high quality piece of gear had to offer. Knowing that I wanted to do a detailed review on this jacket, I took the time to get to know all the fine details. Himali clearly listened to their users and made a coat with all the details truly needed in cold-weather gear.
The Himali Altitude Parka is designed for the function of the wearer. Many areas of the jacket have functional fleece panels for comfort. The pockets are fleece lined and under a layer of down. They are the softest, warmest pockets I have ever slipped my cold hands into. Also, the inside of the jacket where it will touch your face is covered with soft, quick drying fleece to keep your face from getting chafed by the zipper while comfortably shielding your chin and lips from the elements.
The wrists are made with elastic AND hook and loop closure to tighten them up and prevent your arms from becoming wind tunnels. The waist has an elastic bungie style adjustment that also keeps the nicely insulated tail of this jacket tight around your backside, even when bending over. The jacket is roomy and easy to move in. Even with some thick base layers underneath, I never felt that the coat was restrictive in any way.
Excellence In Construction
Himali chose only the finest materials to create this masterpiece of a jacket. The Altitude Down Parka’s shell is made of Pertex Quatum ripstop nylon and holds roughly 7 ounces off RDS certified, 850 fill-power HyperDry Down. It provides the ultimate in warmth in a super lightweight package. A DWR coating and water expanding threads are there to keep the water out. The HyperDry down prevents internal moisture buildup. The Pertex outer layer is also wind-proof, providing incredible warmth and protection from the elements. It is surprisingly breathable and even when I was getting a little heated up, I didn’t feel like I was in a plastic baggie holding in the moisture.
An Excellent Fit!
The fit of this jacket is incredible, especially for a tall woman like myself. I measure in at 6 feet tall and have difficulty with jackets being too short and lacking sleeve length. I was so pleased that this jacket has plenty of length in the tail as well as the sleeves. The rear, lower panel of this jacket has extra insulation to protect your rear from the cold. I found that even at my height, I never had an issue with wind blowing up the back of this long jacket. The sleeves I would call “reacher’s length” meaning that even a tall person like me can reach for something up high and not have exposed skin in the wrist area. It is fantastic and unique. Thank you, Himali!
The hood has plenty of space for a helmet and 2-way adjustment to prevent gaps where cold air could penetrate. It is insulated just as thick as the rest of the jacket to keep your head super protected with a tube style hood. The hood was easy to fold back when I wanted less of a tunnel around my face.
I ordered the woman’s cut of the Altitude Down Parka. I found there was a gently contour in the waist area keeping this jacket fitting neatly and preventing large air pockets. This looser fitting jacket still contoured nicely and really kept the heat bouncing right back at me. When ordering I chose a size up, large instead of medium, because I knew I may have some bulkier base layers. I don’t think the size up was necessary, though, because this jacket was pretty roomy. I would recommend ordering true to your size since Himali already thought to add a little space.
Great Functional Details in the Himali Altitude Down Parka
Himali really added some great additional details to the Altitude Down Parka. The easy gliding zipper closes neatly all the way up the chin. There is a fleece zipper garage at the top to keep the cold zipper from touching your face. The zipper works 2 ways, from the top and from the bottom. This came in super handy while belaying so that my jacket could hang nicely around my belay device without becoming drafty. A snap at the bottom may have been a nice addition in case it becomes super windy while belaying but I didn’t have any trouble with the jacket blowing while I was testing it.
Superior Packability and Storage
The Altitude Down Parka left nothing to be desired in the way of storage and pockets. There are two exterior zippered pockets in the hip area. They are fleece lined and deep, large hand warmers. In the left outside pocket, there is a stuff sack sewn in. I thought this was a little cumbersome inside the pocket and it was easily tangled with other things I stored there. I decided to cut mine loose from the pocket, but others may decide they like it. The stuff sack is the perfect size to compress the jacket into a very small package. It will be very convenient went it’s time to shed a layer and stow it away.
On the inside of the jacket, there is a large mesh pocket to stow away puffy gloves or other bulky items. It has an elastic edge to keep your items neatly in their place. On the opposite side, there is a smaller zippered pocket that would be great for keeping your electronics safe and warm or for stashing your keys or other smaller items.
The reason I chose the Himali Altitude Down Parka was for the intended use of staying warm while at camp or belaying, things that don’t involve a lot of dynamic activity. My first real test was camping at 12 degrees. The warmth of this feather-weight jacket is incredible. With innovations in fabrics and materials, Himali was able to provide the warmest jacket I have ever worn. It seems to reflect the heat right back into my body without getting sweaty. It’s breathable Pertex shell holds in the heat. The gentle hug of warmth was exactly what I was looking for.
I wanted to test this jacket in the snow, which was slow coming in Michigan this season. When we finally welcomed the snowfall, I immediately took out the coat to see how it held up to the moisture and cold. Despite wind and snowfall, I stayed warm and dry inside my parka, now called my “warming tent”. As the waterfalls have yet to freeze in northern Michigan, I am so looking forward to ice climbing. The Altitude Down Parka is sure to make my experiences warmer and more pleasurable.
- 100% Pertex® Quantum ripstop nylon (20 Denier)Windproof
- Integrated stuff sack in the left hand pocket
- 850 fill power RDS certified HyperDRY™ down
- Eco-DWR coating
- Water expanding thread
- Fleece lined front pockets
- Tapered hem (longer in back)
- Internal mesh pocket
- Helmet compatible hood
- Large hood lip designed to protect against wind and snow
- 2x hood draw cords for customizable fit
- 2-Way belay zipper
- Average weight: ~ 1 lb. 3 oz
Himali Altitude Down Parka: Final Thoughts
The Himali Altitude Down Parka is created to perform. From it’s rugged, durable shell, which is somehow buttery-soft and lovely, to the piles of insulating down, this coat is perfect. The fit and warmth of this parka exceed all of my expectations. This is the perfect addition to my backcountry ice climbing adventures wardrobe. It provides exceptional warmth during the static times of activity frequent in the climbing world. No more freezing while setting up my top ropes or while belaying down below. This parka is an excellent example of the quality you will expect and receive from Himali.
The parka is available in women’s sizes XS-XL and in men’s from S-XXL. Both the men’s and women’s jackets are available in 4 colors: Monk Red, Dark Teal, Golden Hour, and Deep Space (grey). This parka is an fantastic purchase at $495. If you would like to learn more about Himali or would like to purchase the Altitude Down Parka for yourself, visit their website at www.himali.com.