I am entering the 4th winter with this excellent down jacket from PHD. Luckily I purchased this prior to the winter of 2010, when temperatures dropped as low as -19C at home and remained sub-zero for many weeks and became my constant companion during winter hikes and when outside and wearing to work.
PHD, standing for Peter Hutchinson Designs is a British company who have a worldwide reputation for down products including sleeping bags and clothing, many of are used for Everest and polar expeditions. The Minimus Down Jacket is filled with 800 fill down (UK measurement) and has the following features taken from the PHD website.
- Front closure: zip with internal baffle
- 3 pockets: 2 lower pockets; 1 inside for security
- Lycra on hem and cuffs
- Fleece lined collar
- Stuff sac
- Pack size: 13 x 21cm
- Set options:
- Wind and water-resistant Drishell outer fabric: adds approx 20gm (1oz) to weight
- MX Outer
- Stud-on down-filled hood (hood fabric matches outer).
The weight measured on home scales is 480g including hood and stuff sack. The stuff sack weighs 20g
The Minimus jacket is a simple design with a zip, two insulated pockets and an inside pocket. The hood is insulated and removable by the use of popper studs. The outer shell I have on my jacket is made of MX fabric . There is the option of having this in Drishell fabric which is more water-resistant, I would recommend spending the extra for this, as I have to be more careful with mine not to get it wet as this will lose the jacket’s insulating properties.
The hood is a rather odd shape in that in makes you look like an extra from the film “Cone heads” but is very comfortable and warm. On occasions I detach the hood and use separately in my sleeping bag, as I find it more comfortable than my sleeping bag hood. I have used the Minimus to boost the rating of my -3C rated Alpkit Pipe Dream 400 sleeping bag (400g of 700 Down) to -10C.
The jacket is rated down to -5C and in my experience that unless the temperature is 0C or below (or there is a significant wind chill) it is generally too warm to walk strenuously in for me.
The main use for this when walking and backpacking in winter is for lunch stops on bitterly cold days and when inside the tent. Slipping the jacket on instantly warms you up and the outer fabric has some wind resistance, with the inside being very soft to the touch. Ideally the hood would have a wired peak, like my Montane Flux, but this is a relatively minor complaint.
I have been very happy with this jacket, it is warm, lovely to wear, weighs very little and packs down small making it ideal for backpacking and winter walking. It is important to put this in a waterproof stuff sack, particularly if like me you go for the MX outer shell.
Overall rating: 4.5/5
Price: £187 (+£16 for Drishell option). This product is sometimes in the PHD bi-annual sale – usually 20% off.
What I like: Comfort, warmth, and packs down small.
What I don’t like: Nothing I can think of. ( The hood ideally would have a wired peak).
Thinking about a down jacket for winter camping. Normally I’d have gone for a mainstream brand like Rab but this looks an interesting option to check out
Well made British product. Rab is good as well.
I don’t think i would get any benefit from a wired hood but apart from that i agree with all aspects of your review. I have a dri-shell outer and i find it does work well as long as you remember it is a down jacket and not a waterproof shell.
One point i find which you have not picked up on and therefore you probably don’t find it an issue is that i would prefer the jacket length to be one baffle longer.
Great jacket all the same and i would have another one.
The length is about right for me. For my height I take a medium, but I am quite broad across the chest and shoulders, so I take a Large in some types of clothing – it fits me fine. I agree with you, it is a great jacket
All my early down gear was Mountain Equipment when Peter owned it, and every major expedition used his down bags, jackets and suits. With that pedigree you can’t go wrong really. Good review Mark.
Hi Gibson. As you say you cannot go far wrong with Peter’s designs and products. I am sure there is not much he does not know about down clothing and sleeping bags.