If it’s cold outside, there’s no rain, and you’re not doing cardio, a down jacket is the way to go. They are lightweight and they insulate well. But, it’s too bad the nicest ones are so expensive, right? Maybe not. Decathlon isn’t a household brand here in the States, but when I heard the French low-price retailer had an 800 fill down jacket for $100, it caught my attention. Over the past few months, I’ve been testing the Forclaz MT100 Hooded Down Puffer Jacket, and it seems that a reasonable quality down jacket can be sold for $100 with some minor tradeoffs.
Decathlon Forclaz MT100 Hooded Down Puffer Jacket Features:
- 800 fill RDS ethical down
- 100% polyamide, 35 g/sqm. 15 denier outer material
- Surface-treated outer fabric to prevent water from getting in
- Easily folds away into its left-hand pocket using a zip with double puller
- 2 zipped hand pockets
- Weight: 330 grams (as measured in size Large)
- MSRP: $99.99
Excellent Insulation at an Excellent Price
Before diving into the jacket’s features, strengths, weaknesses, etcetera, I want to be clear about what my testing looked like over the past few months. I don’t like to use down jackets for high-output activity of any kind, nor do I like to bring them as emergency insulators on alpine objectives. For both, I feel that synthetic jackets are more logical choices for the sake of moisture management. So, the Forclaz MT100 walked its paces in more low-output activities like easy climbing, casual hiking, and daily use. It got scraped up against brush and rock, and it got exposed to rain and snow, but testing for this jacket was decidedly less metal than alpine-tuned jackets such as Patagonia’s Nano-Air Light Hybrid. It’s just not that kind of jacket.
My first impressions of the Forclaz MT100 were mixed. On the one hand, it had all the features that I’d hope to see in a jacket of its type. There are two zippered hand pockets placed comfortably low with zippers of acceptable quality. It has a single elastic cord cinch to tighten up the waist and keep out drafts. It even had a couple bonus features that I thought were excellent for a jacket of its price, like the ability to stuff and store it in its own pocket, and some cleverly designed wrist closures which appear to be straight cuffs from the outside, but have an elastic draft gasket on the inside of the sleeve. Overall, great features!
I did say that I had mixed first impressions though, and that’s largely owing to material quality. With the Forclaz MT100, you don’t get the same soft, nearly-non-existent shell feel as you do with jackets like Patagonia’s run-of-the-mill Down Sweater. The shell on the MT100 feels thicker and less pliable, and frankly, reminded me at first of a low-tier jacket I bought from Costco years ago. On the same note, the down feels a bit more prickly to me on the MT100 when worn against bare skin than the Patagonia Down Sweater. Is it fair to compare the Forclaz to a jacket almost 3x its price? Perhaps not, but it’s worth noting that the difference between the two is noticeable.
For any misgivings I had about material quality upon initially getting the jacket, it’s rarely fallen short in testing. In fact, it’s quite an effective insulator. Temperature-wise, my town tends to hang around in the 40s for the majority of the Fall and Winter, but some of these January days have been down even to the single digits, and the MT100 has been a trusty companion. For that, we can thank the combined fill power of the down, slimmer profile, effective waist cinch and cuffs, and well-designed hood. It’s no parka, but it really does a great job keeping the cold at bay for a light jacket. And it looks good doing it, which never hurt anybody.
Now, at the beginning of all this, I said that I don’t do high-output activity in down jackets. There’s more to it with this particular jacket. Early in my testing, I found that it suffers from a lack of flexibility. When I reach my arm above my head, the waistband follows upwards towards my belly button. When I make a hugging motion, I feel the fabric of the back draw tight against me and stop moving. The shell just doesn’t want to stretch very much, so mobility is not in this jacket’s list of party tricks. Still, it’s more than good enough for around-town use.
Fit: I’m 5’11” and a lean 170lbs, and I tested a size Large. The jacket definitely fits on the slim side. I like that, personally, but for anyone whose ribs don’t show, it would be prudent to order a size larger than you normally would.
Buy Now: Available at Decathlon.com
The Bottom Line
The Forclaz MT100 is a killer deal, but it doesn’t come without exceptions. While it insulates very well for a light jacket and has both good features and looks, it does fall short when it comes to flexibility and material quality. For many, this jacket will be an absolute come-up. Others may pine for a bit more.
- Insulates quite effectively
- Hood is well designed
- Waist cinch and cuffs cut drafts nicely
- Stuffs into its own pocket
- Looks pretty snazzy
- Exceptional bang for your buck
- Shell material feels cheaper than that of comparable jackets
- Down can be pokey when worn over bare skin
- Limited flexibility