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The new Stio Skillet Stretch Down Hooded Jacket is a lightweight down jacket. It uses a four-way stretch nylon fabric with a ‘stitchless’ baffle design to create a jacket that moves with you.
To get us a closer look, Stio sent Man Makes Fire a review unit. After testing the Stio Skillet Stretch Down Hooded Jacket in a variety of winter temperatures and conditions, this is what we learned:
Stio Skillet Stretch Down Hooded Jacket Review
Stio describes the Skillet Stretch Down Hooded Jacket as a ‘belay’ jacket, which is basically a lightweight super-warm jacket you throw over all your layers when you’re roped in to belay a fellow rock or mountain climber who’s climbing above you.
While you can certainly use the Stio Skillet as a belay jacket, most people won’t, which I’m sure Stio knows. The real market for the Skillet is basically all active outdoor-loving people.
At its heart, the Stio Skillet is a super warm, lightweight and durable do-it-all jacket with a sweet mountain town style that’s also ready for action. We’re big fans.
The Stio Skillet Stretch Down Hooded Jacket also comes in a non-hooded version. It has the same basic material construction but, of course, lacks the hood. The collar is also a bit smaller and more suitable for layering under hard ski shells.
The Stretch Down
Stio’s implementation of stretch in its Skillet Stretch Down Hooded Jacket is fantastic.
Stio uses a 20-denier doubleweave, four-way stretch nylon blend. The main body is made from 84% nylon with 16% spandex. The shoulder panels have a bit more nylon and a bit less spandex for increased durability and improved water repellency.
When you pull the fabric with your hands, the stretch might not seem like much, but if you haven’t tried competing insulated jackets with stretch before, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how comfortable the Stio Skillet fits across your shoulders. You don’t get pressure points across your back when you raise your arms or move them across your body. In the Skillet, I can shovel snow, haul skis, scramble around and in and on vehicles, pull sleds, split wood, and drink a beer . . . all without any stressing any seam. (To be fair, I can usually drink beer without stressing non-stretch jackets, too, but hey, the point remains for the other activities.)
Our men’s Stio Skillet Stretch Down Hooded Jacket XL review unit weighs in at 21.7 oz. Compared to ultralight down jackets, this is a bit heavy but compared to down coats, it’s very light. For the level of insulation, warmth and durability you get, the Skillet meets our expectations and is competitive. Note: Smaller sizes will obviously weigh a few ounces less.
The Stio Skillet Stretch Down Hooded Jacket is very warm. It’s generously packed with HyperDRY 650-fill goose RDS down that resists moisture. In terms of fill power, 650 is appropriate to the material and weight of the jacket. (For truly ultralight down jackets, 800-plus fill power is required to compete.) Because the Skillet is a built with more rugged fabrics, the 650-fill goose down seems to be staying put and hasn’t leaked at all. We’re actually surprised by how well it retains loft in the Skillet.
The exterior has a durable water-repellant (DWR) coating, which helps the Skillet shed light rain or melting snow. Overall, it does a decent job of shedding moisture but it’s not waterproof.
The Stio Skillet Fit and Size Recommendations
The Stio Skillet fits true-to-size if and only if you want extra room for layering. What do I mean? It’s slightly complicated. The Skillet fits slightly big compared to typical lightweight and midweight down jackets. For a belay jacket made in the spirit of a belay jacket, it fits true-to-size because you’ll end up throwing it over other layers.
Stio describes the intended fit as its medium cut, which is roomier than trim but still designed with athletic performance in mind.
That’s fair. Even so, it’s not the full story. Because I believe most potential buyers will be looking for a do-it-all down jacket that they’ll often throw on over a light shirt or two, the sizing is just a bit big.
For reference, I’m about 6’3″ and weigh 220 lbs. My chest is about 46.5″, which puts me right in the middle of the XL range for Stio’s Fit Guide sizing chart. If your chest is 44-45, for example, you could size down to a Large for a trimmer fit in the Skillet. If you’re at the top-end of Stio’s size range, I’d stay put with your usual size (do not size up).
Whew, that’s a lot to read, but sizing is one of the most important considerations for ordering online! So what are my general sizing recommendation scenarios here? If your usual size in jackets is slightly big, size down. If you want a trimmer fit, size down. If you want maximum versatility in layering for cold weather, stick with your usual size. If you have a heavier-than-average torso — a big belly — stick with your usual size. If you already have Stio’s popular Pinon Down Sweater and you want a warmer down jacket, the Skillet fits a roomier than the Pinion (read our Pinion review here).
Incidentally, I have longer-than-average arms and the sleeve length is excellent.
Stio Skillet vs Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Hoody
The biggest competitor to the Stio Skillet Stretch Down Hooded Jacket is the Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Hoody. Mountain Hardwear has been making this jacket for a couple of years and it’s a great jacket with a great reputation.
At first glance, the Stio Skillet and Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown jackets look the same. The alternating square puffy baffle-like design looks similar, and in-person, the stretchy fabrics have a similar matte-like feel. The weight is similar, too — both jackets weigh several ounces more than most high-quality non-stretchy down jackets.
For me, in XL, the Mountain Hardware Stretchdown fits true-to-size . . . and as such it fits very slightly smaller than the Stio Skillet.
One key difference is the shoulder/sleeve designs. The Mountain Hardware Stretchdown Jacket Hoody uses a raglan sleeve construction, which is similar to a baseball shirt sleeve that extends up to the neck/collar (see the shoulder design at Mountain Hardwear). These type of sleeve designs deliver excellent range of motion, even if the fit isn’t quite perfect.
The style drawback is that the less-structured design of the Mountain Hardware Stretchdown Jacket can appear a bit vague. The Stio Skillet, on the other hand, has a more structured shoulder. By adding the black fabric panels on the shoulders, Stio amplifies this design choice to give the jacket even more style.
So for me, for everyday style, Stio wins hands down. But what about range of motion? I have wide shoulders and long arms, and I’m generally irritated by any shirt or jacket that binds up at all. The Stio Skillet, however, delivers outstanding range of motion. In fact, when I first tried it on to test sizing, I was flat-out surprised by the comfort.
Note the slightly different baffle design in the non-hooded version.