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A Lightweight Winter Companion: KUHL Spyfire Parka Review

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It’s pretty annoying when I need to wear a winter parka on a flight because it does’t fit in my suitcase. I could leave it at home and make do. But freezing in the Swiss alps only makes it memorable for the wrong reasons.

I was happy to stumble upon the KUHL Spyfire Parka, an 800-fill winter jacket that can be easily stuffed into a suitcase or backpack. The best part? I don’t need to sacrifice the warmth. Part of the Spyfire series, this parka is a great choice for gals looking for a winter jacket that doesn’t limit mobility.

So, I tested out the Spyfire while visiting remote Colorado mountain towns. I also took the jacket on blustery hikes in local alpine zones, and it was pretty adaptable across environments.

In short: The KUHL Spyfire Parka ($329) is a beast of a winter jacket without being too cumbersome or long for activities like snowshoeing, hiking, or even mellow bike commuting. The 800-fill goose down insulation is solid for cold days, and the water-resistance performs well in light flurries and short blizzards. Thanks to the 20-denier exterior textile, the Spyfire is tear-resistant in addition to being lightweight and packable. This parka is ideal for active women needing a warm winter jacket at a reasonable price point. 

To read more about our winter jacket picks, be sure to check out the Women’s Winter Jackets buyer’s guide. 

  • Weight
    1.1 lbs
  • Fill
    800-fill RDS-certified goose down
  • Center back length
    34.5 in. (size small)
  • Waterproof
    No, water resistant.
  • Hood
    Reinforced brim with added elastic binding and an adjustable pull cord
  • Fit
    Trimmed fit with room for layers
  • Zipper
    YKK Metaluxe two-way front zipper for added mobility
  • Outer
    MIKROTEX 20-denier body fabric
  • Pockets
    2 hand pockets, 1 left sleeve pocket, and 1 internal pocket with YKK Reverse coil zippers
  • Sizes
    XS-1X

  • Lightweight material makeup is packable

  • Length is perfect for mobility

  • Thermal body mapping increases warmth and breathability


  • Wrist gaiters would benefit from thumbholes

  • Size options could be broadened

When I first pulled on the KUHL Spyfire, I was surprised by how silky and featherlight it was, especially for a winter jacket. I wore it on a breezy 4-mile hike in freshly laid snow but didn’t find myself shivering or uncomfortable at all. I layered pretty light underneath the jacket with a merino wool sweater. That layering system was a perfect combo for a midwinter hike. 

Throughout testing, I found that the thermal body-mapping of this design worked well to regulate my body heat and still provide breathability.

Furthermore, the fit of this coat is flattering with an hourglass-like silhouette that hugs at the waist. Often, winter jackets feel like they are swallowing me whole, so I appreciated the more feminine style this coat had to offer.

The Spyfire is also available in five muted color schemes that are easy to style and have a more timeless aesthetic. 

Construction and Materials

The Spyfire may feel lean, but it boasts some serious warmth and durability thanks to the textiles.

The outer face is made with MIKROTEX, which is a 20-denier nylon that can withstand all sorts of scrapes and abrasions without adding weight. This fabric is also water-resistant, which makes it great for use in light rain and snow. Since it’s not waterproof, I recommend pairing this jacket with a rain or wind shell if you’re heading out into a serious blizzard or storm. 

Furthermore, the front and sleeves are treated with an extra fabric overlay that increases durability and improves the longevity of the coat. The shoulders are designed with a nylon/spandex blend that is also highly protective and provides some stretch. 

Insulation and Body Mapping

With impressive insulation, this coat has 800-fill RDS (Responsible Down Standard) goose feathers stuffed inside. Despite the jacket being so lightweight, I found that it was protective in the range of 15-30 degrees Fahrenheit.

Not only does the Spyfire utilize high-quality down, but it also has thermal body mapping. Larger baffles are located on the front and back of the torso, where you’ll want the most warmth. Smaller baffles are on the sleeves and side panels, where more mobility is needed and you may be more prone to sweat. 

The Spyfire has breathable mesh panels on the arm undersides to accommodate for built-up moisture while doing high-level activities. These features were great for temperature regulation when the sun came out on dog walks.  

Packability

At a hair over a pound, this parka is pretty easy to toss into a duffel bag or suitcase. Since it’s made with natural down, the loftiness is quickly restored. I would give it a few shakes after it’d been compressed for a while. 

It’s also super packable, because of the limited amount of down and lack of exterior shell. Without a waterproof shell, the jacket isn’t waterproof or completely windproof (despite being advertised as so).

I found that the best way to pack this coat was by rolling it into the hood. Then I used the hood cinch to compress the bundle. This wasn’t the perfect solution and made it about the size of a soccer ball. I’d like to see this parka include the ability to pack the body into one of the front pockets. 

Fit and Length

The fit and length of the Spyfire were two of my favorite aspects. The silhouette tapers at the waist and conforms well over curvier hips. The shape is nice for women who want extra space for thicker layers beneath, like puffy pants. 

At 35 inches long, I appreciated that the length was suitable for walking, biking, or loading a car roof box. It’s not so long that it limits range of motion.

Not to mention, the elastic fabric in the underarms seriously helps if you need to reach for items.

In the size small, the hem of the Spyfire fell to mid-thigh on my 5’3” frame. This length kept my torso and hips well insulated without being restrictive.

While the overall fit of this jacket is comfortable and flattering, I wish it was available in more sizes. It only reaches 1X for plus-sized folks. If you want a parka with serious mobility, try out the Spyfire. The mid-length and the two-way zipper enables large strides in addition to flexible fabric and construction. 

Pockets

The Spyfire doesn’t stop at packability. This parka has four pockets. Two are located at the hips, there’s one interior, and an inconspicuous sleeve located on the left upper arm. That range of storage options was great. I could carry necessities and keep my hands tucked away in the microfiber-lined hand pockets.

I’d stash my phone safely and warmly in the interior chest pouch. The sleeve pocket was ideal for my apartment key, a small plastic card that is otherwise easy to lose. The pockets themselves have reflective threads for increased visibility at night. But I found them to be a little pointless, since the pockets had to be unzipped to see the reflectivity. 

Hood

The hood of the Spyfire Parka is smaller than other winter jackets that I have tested in the past. But I liked that the snugger fit helped cover my ears from the cold. The toggle on the back of the hood was easy to adjust and helped further improve its overall fit. I liked that the brim protrudes just slightly, giving my face some much-needed shade and protection from blowing snow. 

I liked the collar, which covered my chin once it was zipped up all the way. It helped keep my face shielded during gusty episodes and increased the jacket’s overall coziness. 

Critiques

While the 2-way zipper on this parka increased mobility and ventilation, it was really hard to zip up. Every time I put this jacket on, it took at least four or five tries before the zippers would budge.

The chunky metal zippers provided some zest to the appearance, they jangled pretty loudly and add some unnecessary weight. 

Conclusion: Who Is the Spyfire Parka For? 

Overall, I was pretty happy with the performance of the KUHL Spyfire Parka. It offers solid insulation combined with a durable, water-resistant outer fabric. The construction is good for winters with mild moisture. Despite being a longer jacket, it is still lightweight and very packable. 

With a mid-thigh length, the Spyfire is sufficient for ladies seeking a winter layer for all sorts of activities. It’s not too long. The taper is ideal for women with wider hips or those seeking a more flattering silhouette. 

I greatly enjoyed this coat for frigid strolls and unpacking gear from my truck. But I struggled with the two-way zippers when it came time to putting the jacket on. For me, the Spyfire’s generous pockets made up for where the zippers fell a bit short.

At $329, the Spyfire is a decently priced parka. It doesn’t boast as much technicality as other winter coats at the same cost. That’s OK for the right climate and use. Not every activity or weather condition needs a fully windproof or waterproof jacket! You’d find yourself sweating too much.

So, if you live in a mildly wet winter climate, the Spyfire would be perfect for you. If you’re traveling and need a jacket that’s easy to store and warm enough for most winter elements, the Spyfire is an ideal addition to your packing list. 



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