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Man wearig Dark Peak jacket on cliff walk

Review: Dark Peak NESSH Lightweight Down Jacket

An 850 fill down jacket that is super warm, lightweight and comfortable, AND gives to the homeless!

In a market where high end down jackets all perform exceptionally well, it can be tough to figure out where best to invest your hard-earned cash. But then the Dark Peak NESSH Lightweight Down Jacket entered the scene. Boasting excellent warmth, low weight, and tons of functionality and comfort, the jacket soon joined the top dogs in terms of appeal, quality and value for money. But how scared should those tried and tested favourites really be? And is Dark Peak’s promise to give another jacket to the homeless for every jacket sold enough to give this jacket the edge? Read on to find out.

Dark Peak NESSH Lightweight Down Jacket: The stats

Insulation:Goose Down (Responsibly Sourced)
Weight:12oz / 340g
Down fill weight:5.23oz / 148.2g (Size L)
Down fill power:850
Outer fabric:10D rip-stop Nylon
Pack down size:28 x 12cm / 11 x 4.7″

Features of the Dark Peak NESSH Lightweight Down Jacket

Hood

Jacket hoodWith a single adjustable toggle at the back, the helmet compatible hood fits surprisingly snuggly, even when not wearing a helmet. This is thanks to the elasticated front opening which fits around the face nicely, keeping the wind out and not gaping open.

Outer fabric

Jacket fabricThe outer shell is slightly shiny and has a DWR (Durable Water Resistant) coating which helps prevent light rain and moisture from penetrating the fabric. Despite how flimsy and thin the 10D rip-stop Nylon feels, the shell actually provides excellent wind resistance, is tougher than it feels and is very lightweight.

Cuffs

Jacket sleevesThe cuffs are not adjustable. However, the elasticated gaiter-type fabric that sits within the sleeve fits snuggly around the hands and wrists, and features thumb loops for extra cosiness.

Internal pockets

Stuff-it jacket pocketThere are three internal pockets. One at the chest which is zippered, and two large stuff-it pockets. These are big enough to fit in a hat, map, snacks or a pair of gloves.

Hand pockets

Jacket pocketThe two hand pockets have discreet zippers with good sized zipper pulls for handling with gloves on. The whole jacket packs down into one of the hand pockets.

Two-way zipper

Man zipping up jacketAn often undervalued feature of jackets is a two-way zipper, which the NESSH Jacket has. It’s just another well-considered feature that Dark Peak haven’t scrimped on.

Hem

Jacket hem toggleExtra length at the back of jackets is a total must for me. There is plenty of length to cover my backside when walking, and the jacket stays in place at the hem well when moving/sitting/bending etc. This is thanks to the adjustable elasticated hem that is easily tightened with a single toggle on the inside hem.


Dark Peak NESSH Lightweight Down Jacket review

I received the Dark Peak NESSH just as a global pandemic forced the world into lockdown. So it hung in my hallway for weeks, patiently biding its time. My other coats sensed the new arrival was a threat. Its 850 fill down baffles looked warm, the lustrous maroon ripstop nylon finish looked both stylish and water resistant. My Mountain Hardwear StretchDown jacket was particularly worried, he enjoyed being my go to jacket, but deep down he knew he wasn’t quite warm enough. Would this usurper be the one to dethrone him?

As government restrictions eased, the Dark Peak jacket spent less time on the peg and more time outside and I immediately appreciated how warm it was for its weight. There are few days in Cornwall that aren’t marred by wind chill, so having the right layers is essential for enjoying time outdoors. The NESSH does an excellent job of blocking the wind and keeping the body warm. The fit is fairly athletic with no unnecessary bulk, and the longer back does well at preventing drafts. It’s only the neck that is a little roomier than I’d like, offering no sort of adjustment, but it is high enough that I can sink my chin down and pull it up to my nose to shelter from icy blasts.

man putting up tent

The sleeves are a good length (though being a long limbed creature I could always take another inch) and feature built in wrist gaiters which unfortunately irk me somewhat. I frequently find my fingers catch on them in some way when donning the jacket and I have to adjust them ever so slightly to get my hand fully through the sleeve. And they invariably follow my hands out of the end of the sleeve, at which point I have to pull the main sleeve back over them in order to get them to retreat inside. I suppose I could just leave them but I think they look a little bit strange protruding 2 inches from the end of the arms (it gives me flashbacks to my teenage days where I would outgrow my sleeves annually). The problem is made all the worse by the large thumb hole that tends to gape open, leaving a part of my wrist exposed.

But despite that I do like their functionality, mostly as a windbreaker around the cuffs. I’m not a big user of thumb loops, but once I’ve tucked the cuff back inside the main sleeve it does a very good job of stopping any draft getting in. I have also used the thumb loops to good effect to stop the sleeves riding up when layering up with a shell.

The hood is a cosy cocoon of comfort. It provides instant warmth and the silky lining feels luxurious on my ears. It’s helmet compatible which does make it a little roomy around an unprotected cranium, so much so that I can twist my head and the hood barely moves. But luckily it features an elasticated front hem that can be cinched tighter with an easy to use toggle on the back of the neck, achieving a good fit that withstands strong winds. It does make me look like a giant ant though.

The jacket features five generous pockets. There is the traditional trinity of a zippered internal chest pocket (suitable for a phone of keys), and two hand pockets where my hands like to reside and get toasty. These are also zippered, which is nice if you need to carry anything other than hands. There are also two cavernous internal stash pockets, one on each side, which are ideal for maps or other large items. These deep pockets start about midway down the jacket and run all the way to the hem, so you can be confident nothing’s going to fall out, at least whilst you and the jacket are vertical.

Jacket next to bottle

As with most lightweight down jackets, the Dark Peak squishes down into its own pocket. The left side pocket is the perfect size to scrunch the jacket into and it features a double-sided zip to secure it all into a very tidy package. It ends up slightly bigger than a 1 litre Nalgene, but still with plenty of softness to it, so it’s easy to pack away in a rucksack. Reversing the process is a little quicker and the jacket puffs back up nicely.

All the external zippers have a handy cord extension, allowing even the puffiest of gloved fingers to operate. Which is handy because the pocket zips are definitely on the small side. The internal chest pocket lacks this extension cord and so possibly requires more dexterity than most gloves will offer.

The main zipper is two-way, facilitating belay use, and has an internal wind baffle to further boost the warmth. The zippers have performed well, zippering smoothly and thus far avoiding the dreaded snag-nibble.

The outer fabric feels thin and perhaps a little delicate, but it’s proven to be tough and showing little sign of wear after 3 months. The baffles are sewn, rather than heat welded, and so examining closely there is evidence of tiny strands of down beginning to poke through sporadically but I think this is fairly normal.

Overall I’m very impressed by the build quality.

My other coats were right to fear this newcomer. It quickly became my go to jacket and it has proved extremely versatile. It’s great for everyday wear, offering good warmth and shower resistance, plus it’s light enough to replace a jumper around the house when you’re feeling chilly. As the weather improves I suspect it will offer too much insulation as a layer for hiking, but its squishability makes it perfect for backpacking where you need additional warmth in the evenings.

Man eating camping food

What I love the most about the Dark Peak NESSH Lightweight Down Jacket

I love the warmth-to-weight ratio. I can wear it under a shell in winter and feel toasty. In spring/autumn I can layer it over a jumper and not feel restricted. In summer I can stuff it in a bag and pull it out in the evening.

I also really love that for every jacket sold, Dark Peak give another jacket to the homeless.

What I don’t love so much

The wrist gaiters bother me, which is a shame because I love everything else about the jacket. I think if they didn’t incorporate the thumb loops they could have been half the length and wouldn’t catch so often. That said I’m sure some people will love this feature, particularly those who experience snowy winters.


Man hiking in down jacket

Verdict

In an ever-growing crowded down jacket market, the Dark Peak NESSH Lightweight Down Jacket has rightfully eeked out a solid place at the top amongst other big brands. It’s stylish, super warm and lightweight, and has a load of highly functional features that make it a mega versatile choice for all seasons in various outdoor and everyday scenarios. But if you’re still deciding between this great value jacket and another comparably high performing option, then Dark Peak’s promise to give another jacket to the homeless for every jacket sold ought to make the decision for you. I’m certainly sold.

Two BIG thumbs up from me.

Find the latest price at:
Dark Peak

Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.

About the author

author-rob

Rob is a graphic designer and web developer, based in Cornwall, UK, and is in charge of making Cool of the Wild look fabulous! He loves camping, especially the beer drinking, fire building, and cooking parts, and is deceptively fast at running up hills. When he’s not surfing or throwing a frisbee on the beach, he’ll be drinking tea whilst playing board games.

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