KÜHL excels with its own signature outdoor style and the KÜHL FIRESTORM DOWN JACKET is no exception. In fact, we can almost boil this review down to a single sentence: If you want a down jacket that doesn’t look like everyone else’s puffy, the KÜHL FIRESTORM is for you.
To help those of us who don’t live near a brick-and-mortar store that stocks KÜHL clothes, KÜHL sent us a review unit to get us a closer look at the innovative style and performance built into the FIRESTORM. I took it skiing, sledding and out on the street in the winter winds of Idaho. Here is what I learned.
KÜHL FIRESTORM DOWN JACKET Review: Performance & Style, Blended
Instead of choosing the ultralight path, KÜHL aimed for durability and functionality — and then built it with an undeniable sense of style. It’s hard to overstate how good the KÜHL FIRESTORM DOWN JACKET looks when you’re wearing it. It blends an outdoor sports vibe with a mountain town feel — you could wear this tubing during a winter day then sit back around an outdoor fire pit sipping spiked hot chocolate. Or wear it in the city while staying true to your outdoor roots.
Meanwhile, KÜHL doesn’t skimp on performance. KÜHL combines multiple fabrics with a DWR finish, including a two-layer wool overlay at the front and top of the sleeves for better water resistance and breathability. The shoulders get a softshell yoke to protect your jacket from shredding under a pack or winter equipment.
The chest gets a nylon topsheet to help resist wind and tears. The cuffs inside the ends of the sleeves get thumb loops, too — but we’re not sure they’re really needed unless you plan to layer this stout jacket underneath a truly waterproof backcountry shell.
The main zipper and front zippers are water resistant. KÜHL built in plenty of pockets — you get two chest pockets, an interior pocket, hand warmer pockets, plus inside stow pockets for gear like your goggles.
KÜHL FIRESTORM DOWN JACKET Review: Jacket or Coat?
The KÜHL FIRESTORM is packed with ethically sourced 800-fill goose down. This is a great quality down, which means it’s going to provide excellent insulating properties.
The large weighs 23.7 ounces, which isn’t the lightest in this category of down jackets, but you choose the FIRESTORM for the style and functional durability. It’s light enough to classify as a jacket — but not really a lightweight down jacket. At the same time, you could call it a coat, no problem.
And the hooded version? KÜHL calls it a parka. The point is, the KÜHL FIRESTORM DOWN JACKET is more coat than jacket . . . but it’s definitely a lightweight coat that is warmer than most every other synthetic coat you’ll find in this range — and stouter than most traditional lightweight down coats. That said, it feels very light in your hand, and because of its down insulation, it looks bigger than it actually weighs and just feels light when you’re wearing it.
So is the KÜHL FIRESTORM DOWN JACKET warm? Can it handle some wind? Is it stiff or mobile? I haven’t devised a particular test using a walk-in freezer or anything like that, but I can tell you this: the FIRESTORM blocks wind well and is one of the warmest jacket/coats I’ve worn that wasn’t a full-on parka. You could probably get a bit more warmth out of the overall weight in an ultralight construction that bulked up with more down with a thinner shell, but you’d lose out on durability and style.
As for mobility, it’s very good for a coat. I can’t remember being annoyed by its movement or lack of movement while skiing, sledding and making snowmen. The extra thickness is nice when you get hit with a speedy snowball. The high collar is warm and reduces the angles at which wind can sneak in. Two drawcords at the hem let you seal out drafts.
Finally, I should also mention that I’m an unabashed KÜHL fan. I first ran into the company’s well-built clothing line with its pants and quickly started buying shorts. If you’re interested, check out KÜHL Review: ‘Once You Go KÜHL, You Never Go Back’ for the full story.
All-in-all, the KÜHL FIRESTORM DOWN JACKET is both a lightweight performance coat as well as an urban-worthy down jacket. It’s surprisingly versatile, warm and it looks fantastic. The overall construction is excellent. Very highly recommended.
Get the Gear:
Note: KÜHL doesn’t make a Firestorm version for women, but the company has dozens of women’s jackets with KÜHL’s signature look. And guys? Man-to-man here, if you’re looking for a gift for an outdoorsy woman, starting your search with KÜHL is a pretty good plan.