Chris Maxcer

Cabela’s North Port Down Jacket Review

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The Cabela’s North Port Down Jacket is an entry-level lightweight down jacket that is surprisingly great.

In fact, at less than $100, the Cabela’s North Port Down Jacket flirts with best-buy status. Let’s take a closer look.

The style of the Cabela’s North Port Down Jacket is a common modern puffy-jacket design — the horizontal baffles aren’t too small or too large. Its 20-denier nylon shell isn’t an ultralight, cutting-edge fabric, but it looks good and is reasonably durable and fairly light.

The 650 fill power down is on the low-end of the down quality scale and it includes an 80/20 down-to-feather blend.

Because of the price, you might think that the Cabela’s North Port Down Jacket probably leaks feathers . . . and you would be wrong. I’ve experienced very little down leakage over 18 months. I’ve been pleased and impressed.

Meanwhile, the North Port Down Jacket includes a near-critical feature: A shock-corded drawstring at the hem. This lets you tighten the base of the jacket to seal out drafts.

The two zippered hand pockets are large, and while Cabela’s doesn’t advertise the ability to stuff the jacket into its own pocket for storage, I’ve done it anyway with decent results.

As for weight, it’s not the lightest lightweight down jacket out there, but it’s still very light — my XL is just 11.7 ounces. I like to take it backpacking to save weight and then wear it on cold mornings in the high country, as well as wear it under a rain jacket when the weather turns bad.

When you wear it, you barely know it’s on — except that you’re warm, and if you’re inside, you’ll start overheating.

Cabela’s North Port Down Jacket Review: The Cons

There are a few minor cons to the Cabela’s North Port Down Jacket. First, the down is not hydrophobic. That is, it has not been chemically treated to make it water resistant. This means that if the down inside the jacket gets wet, its insulating properties will drop to zero.

At the same time, the nylon shell doesn’t come pre-treated with a DWR waterproofing finish. It sheds light moisture and snow, but if you stand out in a drizzle, it’s going to get wet.

In good cold weather, I’ve worn it without a shell, but most often I’ll wear it under a shell while backpacking, sledding, or skiing. The only concern here is if you’re a hard-charging skier that sweats or generates a lot of moisture — water vapor from your core can get into the down and reduce its insulating abilities. I tend to pay attention and unzip layers to shed heat, so I haven’t experienced this as an issue . . . and this is an issue with most down jackets, by the way: If you’re a sweaty outdoor adventurer — or plan to be — you’re probably better off getting a lightweight jacket with synthetic insulation.

There is one more minor con for me personally — the fit. I have long arms and I like extra-long sleeves. The sleeves are standard length and the fit is true-to-size — at a size that is designed to accommodate a layer or two underneath it. If you’re athletic with a slimmer figure and want a closer-to-the-body fit, I would size down one size . . . provided that your arms are of normal length. (This issue isn’t limited to the Cabela’s North Port Down Jacket — most down jackets are conservative on the arm length, too, unfortunately.) In practice, I’m usually wearing gloves and multiple layers so sleeve length isn’t a big deal, but if you want your down jacket to do double duty as a fashion piece out on the town, skip the North Port if you have long arms. If Cabela’s would manufacture a “tall” version, I’d snap up another color for wearing around town.

Cabela’s North Port Down Jacket Review: Incredible Value

All-in-all, the Cabela’s North Port Down Jacket does not excel with any specific high-end technical achievement . . . but on the other hand, it provides all the core elements of a lightweight down jacket. If you have a specialized outdoor need or have the budget for a more technical down jacket, by all means, invest in a high-end jacket — read our gear guide, Best Lightweight Down Jackets, if you need some help.

The key to the Cabela’s North Port Down Jacket is the truly fantastic price-to-value ratio. If you’re on a tight budget or aren’t quite sure that a lightweight down jacket is right for you, it’s hard to go wrong with the Cabela’s North Port Down Jacket. Highly recommend entry-level gear.

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