When I put on the ridiculously warm Fire Tower jacket from Big Agnes it feels like I’m wearing my sleeping bag! Soft and cozy it makes frigid belay stances or mornings on a mid-winter camping trip not only bearable but almost comfortable. A surprising feat given the exceptionally reasonable cost. So if you’re willing to trade a little room in the backpack for the warmest and softest hoody we’ve ever reviewed then look no farther!
- Fill: 700 loft DownTek PFC Free Water Repellent Down
- Fabric: Rip-stop nylon
- Weight (Large): 770g
- Compressed Size: about 3L
- Cuffs: Elastic
- Pockets: 3 external, 2 internal
The Fire Tower jacket from Big Agnes isn’t available in a women’s version but it does come in small and extra small sizes if that works.
The Fire Tower jacket is made with a baffled box construction utilizing a unique vertical baffle design. A design that gives the jacket a unique and very cozy feel.
Instead of orienting all the baffles horizontally, Big Agnes has oriented them in different directions depending on their location. The front and back of the jacket as well as the arms feature vertical baffles while the hood and shoulders have horizontal. The underarm area has diagonal baffles. Vertical baffles have never been popular in jackets despite providing a great fit and feel because the down tends to migrate to the bottom of the baffles. To address this issue Big Agnes utilized what they are calling Flow Gates which work very well keeping the down coverage nicely uniform.
Big Agnes has utilized a 700 fill power DownTek PFC Free Water Repellent Down in the Fire Tower jacket. Now you might be thinking that it seems a little redundant to put treated down in a jacket that’s designed for temperatures well below freezing. This is definitely not the jacket for a rainy day where less insulation and a waterproof outer fabric is called for! However, the water repellent down will help maintain loft and warmth when the jacket’s thrown on over a layer that’s soaked from climbing a wet pitch of ice. Or when put on over a sweaty mid layer after breaking trail through knee deep snow.
The Fire Tower jacket has 2 nicely sized zippered hand pockets. The insulation is situated on the outside of the pocket allowing body heat to warm your hands when they’re in the pocket. There’s also an external, zippered chest pocket for a bar or phone. Like the hand pockets, it’s designed to be insulated from the elements. On the inside of the jacket are 2 large mesh dump pockets for a water bottle, climbing gloves, skins, etc.
The hood is helmet compatible and can be adjusted at the collar and the back of the head making it quite versatile. It can be worn over a touque (beanie), with a helmet, etc. and adjusted to move with you providing a great field of view.
The zippers are all quite burly with large zipper pulls that are easy to operate with gloves. The main zipper is 2-way allowing it to be zipped up a bit for belaying though it can be finicky to zip up sometimes and require a gloves-off approach.
Lastly, the torso extends just below my butt and has an elastic cord adjustment to keep out the drafts.
Fit & Feel:
This jacket is absolutely stuffed with high quality, 700 loft down and so actually fits a little on the small side. There’s so much down in the sleeves that they fit snugly against my arms! Without any dead air space the Fire Tower’s exceptionally warm and cozy but it also limits the layers that can be worn under it. If you plan to put it on over a bunch of other layers you may want to look at going up a size.
When you put on the Big Agnes Fire Tower it feels just like wearing a sleeping bag! Soft and warm. The cut is also quite well done. It doesn’t have a bulky feel and allows for an unrestricted range of motion, quite surprising for such a large jacket.
Pros: Warm, Very Comfortable, Affordable
Cons: Finicky main zipper
Overall: The Fire Tower jacket is an amazing cozy and well thought out cold weather down jacket that offers superb value with an MSRP of $300 USD. Ideal for cold belay stances, winter camping and high elevation pursuits.
A sample was provided for testing but of course this didn’t influence us in any way.