It has been more than 2 years of time that I was looking to get a down vest. The possibilities within this field are many, or better, the market is overloaded with down vest products. As I usually do, prior of purchasing any new product, I search the market and the offerings of the various brands and based on previous experiences and knowledge I take a decision. This is the process I have followed also in order to select and buy a down vest, which is the Cumulus Minilite Down Vest.
Experience with Cumulus Products
Cumulus was established in 1989, immediately following the transformation of the Polish political structure. It was founded by Zdzislaw Wylężek, a Gdynia mountaineering enthusiast and former employee of the co-operative organization “Sail”, a state tourist equipment manufacturer, operating during the previous political era.
In the past I have reviewed two more product of Cumulus, the Cumulus Panyam 600 Hydrophobic Down Sleeping Bag and the Cumulus Incredilite Endurance Jacket. If you want to see this review, please click to the following link:
A facilitating factor for my choice was the previous positive experience I have had with other Cumulus products, such as the Cumulus Panyam 600 sleeping bag and the Cumulus Incredilite Endurance jacket. I have purchased the Minilite Vest directly from the manufacturer’s website and within few days the product was delivered. Though, I have to say, that the previous time the delivery service was much faster and smoother compared with the DPP service.
The new Minilite Vest perfectly combines style and functionality. It is perfect for everyday use – on the mountain or around town. The vest is ideal to carry as spare clothing and can significantly increase personal warmth when needed. It can be used independently, under a jacket or coat or as extra insulation in a sleeping bag. As materials is used the ultra-modern Toray Airtastic fabric and it is surprisingly low in weight and small in volume. The Toray Airstatic weighs only 19 g/m² and so far I have noticed that is durable enough. The only minor point -if one can say is a minor point- is that the black colour is not truly black, but this is just a matter of personal preference.
The narrow/slim fit, seals in heat around your body and creates immediate feeling of warmth. Down is evenly distributed all over the vest and with the first use one can understand the 850+ goose down. The whole vest is stitched through and from my basic knowledge, I can say the stitching work is done carefully. The armhole is rather tight and I guess this was done in order to block any external air to come between your arm and your chest. At the beginning, the tightness of the armhole might feel a bit awkward, but the user will certainly appreciate the added insulation this vest will offer.
The Cumulus Minilite is piece of clothing that is a must in those countless outdoor activities like backpacking, trekking, mountaineering where being fast and moving light is crucial. Another great use of this jacket is for daily use in an urban environment during the cold winter months for extra insulation or during spring/autumn time to use it on top of a T-Shirt. The design is simple and therefore the user will be able to wear the vest for casual hang outs in the city.
The colour of the vest I have bought is in black with cyan details in the elasticated parts of the jacket and also the zippers are in the same cyan colour. My personal preference would have been either simple black zipper or a darker shade of blue for those parts.
I have used this vest for multiple purposes in the mountains and I have never had any issue while wearing it. The only minor aspect I have found on this jacket are the very small zippers which makes it almost impossible to zip the jacket if one wears gloves. I understand that Cumulus wanted to have a reduced weight and volume, but I think it would have been better if they would have used a bit bigger zippers.
My most recent adventures with this vest have been to the following mountains:
- Aroania (Chelmos) Winter Mountaineering Ascent
- Vardousia Mountains Alpine Climb via Lion’s couloir
- Winter Mountaineering climb on Nisi Peak
Internal Pockets & Stuffsack
A nice feature of the Cimulus Minilite down vest is the two (2) internal side pockets. These pockets are large enough to fit a buff, gloves or even a 0.5 lt bottle of water. Though, these pockets are not sealing with a zipper and/or any other way and therefore the user should be aware of that.
Another great thing about this vest is that it packs down and becomes extremely small within the tiny stufsack. Stufsack’s dimensions is 12/7 cm (height/diameter) and only 0.5 lt.
The down used is from the highly-regarded Polish goose, which is considered the best in the world in terms of the fill power. These down feathers are one of the most important component of Cumulus’ products, because it determines the efficiency of the insulation and provides reliable comfort even in the most hostile conditions. It is this down which affects the quality of the products to the greatest extent.
Airtastic™ is a line of high-performance lightweight materials that are well-suited to a wide variety of sports and which can be used to produce lightweight, compact, and stretchable garments for all seasons. Toray has further developed its properties such as its texture and luster, developing materials to suit not only sports but many other applications.
It is said that at the ISPO and Friedrichshafen trade fair, about 95% of the products are equipped with YKK zippers with very good reason: these are the most durable zippers.
This is one more great product of Cumulus. At 124 euro (+7 euro of shipping costs) is a great choice for such a vest. of the best items. I particularly like the way it fits on me this vest and also all the insulated comfort it provides. Owning more Cumulus products, I can surely recommend this vest for daily use or for various outdoor activities. My only suggestion to cumulus would have been to use a bit bigger YKK zippers so this vest would be easily zipped even if one wears gloves.
- Fabric: Toray Airtastic, 19 g/m²
- Filling: Polish goose down, 850+ cuin
- Construction: Stitched through
- YKK zip with two self-locking sliders
- 2 zipped handwarmer pockets
- Close fit collar
- Total weight (size L): 142 g
- Down weight (size L): 55 g
- Stuffsack’s dimensions (height/diameter): 12/7 cm
- Stuffsack’s volume: 0,5 l