Gear Editor Chris Townsend is astonished by the ultra light weight of PHD’s Waferlite down jacket

A few weeks ago I wrote about PHD’s Summer Lightning Collection 2017. Since then two of these ultralight items have arrived for test, the Waferlite down jacket and the Hispar 300 sleeping bag. I haven’t tried the sleeping bag in earnest yet though I’m impressed with the weight and small packed size. A report will follow soon.
I have been using the Waferlite jacket however and I’m astonished! Firstly it weighs just 131 grams (Medium size), which is less than most base layers, and packs up to the size of grapefruit in a 5 gram stuffsack. At the same time it’s easily as warm as heavyweight fleece jackets that weigh six or more times as much. This extremely low weight is achieved by ultralight materials and a minimalist design. There are no pockets, hood or drawcords. The cuffs are Lycra and the hem is plain with small stretch sections on each side. The shell is a new 7-denier fabric that is wind-resistant and downproof. The fill is 1000 fillpower European goose down, the highest lofting and therefore warmest down there is. The lightness of the shell allows this down to loft fully. It’s contained in square sewn-through baffles that give the jacket a distinctive look. The small compartments ensure that the down doesn’t migrate and leave cold spots.
Unsurprisingly given the thin fabrics this isn’t a jacket for rough usage. It’s one for carrying in the pack to pull on in camp or at chilly rest stops and for boosting the warmth of your sleeping bag on cool nights.
PHD gives the ‘typical operating temperature’ as +5C but that of course depends on what you wear with it. Over a fleece it should be warm in cooler temperatures, combined with another light down top it should be much warmer. The test jacket is a Medium size and I can wear this over a lightweight fleece jacket.
The Waferlite jacket is so tiny and ultralight that there’s no reason to ever leave it at home. In summer it could be all the back-up warmwear needed. In winter I’d use it with another down top.
£229 until the end of June, then £275