Steamboat Springs, Colorado is hard to top for year-round adventure. And, as the home of Big Agnes, it serves as the backdrop for inspiration, shenanigans and innovation. Newly-updated this year is their Meaden down jacket and I’ve towed it along for the ride to test just how capable it can be.
Big Agnes Meaden Jacket Features
- Ultralight down jacket with a straight cut
- 850 fill power DownTek™ water repellent down
- Insotect Flow™ vertical baffles fit better and keep you warmer
- Flow Gates™ eliminate down shifting for even insulation coverage
- Wind/water-resistant ultralight nylon rip-stop shell
- Main zipper includes interior no-draft flap and a zipper garage at chin
- Adjustable drawcord at hem
- Thumb holes make layering easy and eliminate the gap between sleeve and glove
- Two zippered hand-warmer pockets with zipper garages
- Large interior mesh pockets for extra stash space
- Interior chest pocket doubles as a stuff sack
- Textured zipper pulls are easy to use with gloves
- Fill weight size Large – 6oz/ 162g
- Jacket weight, size Large – 11.5oz/ 326g
- MSRP: $379.95
One versatile down puffy
Since launching their outerwear in 2013, Big Agnes has delivered functional designs that have performed at very high levels. Going down the feature list of the updated Meaden reads like a “must-have” list for the best down puffy you can buy. The thing is, it not only checks off the boxes on paper, it functions superbly everywhere I’ve roamed.
Upon arrival, the Meaden was put to use running — yes, running. I was recovering from a serious injury and about all I could do was speed walk and lightly jog. As luck would have it, the weather was pretty darn cold, so I appreciated the full 850 fill power DownTek feathers every morning I stepped out the door. Even though I tend to work up a sweat, this jacket breathed beyond expectation.
Initially, I wore it with a lightweight Merino base layer, like the Pearl Izumi Transfer Wool Base Layer. That system works wonders for a cold morning hike, walk or run and allows the Meaden to expel moisture without getting bogged down. As a test, I soaked the jacket with water in the sink. It took more effort to wet out completely and maintained much of its insulative powers even when waterlogged. DownTek does work wonders and keeps the feathers from getting soggy prematurely. It also speeds dry times — something that becomes important in the mountains, far away from air vents.
I found the Meaden to dry pretty quickly just hanging up in my cool garage. But, place it in the warm sunshine and it dries out in a hurry.
The fit of the size Medium is perfect in the body and collar. I’m 5’11” and 170 lbs. and typically need a M’Large for some reason. I’m pretty sure I’m right about average in height, weight and proportions, but I consistently feel like I need an in-between size. In this case, the Medium fits spot on with the exception of the sleeves. The darn things could be just an inch longer. And, since they sport thumb ports, why not just make them longer? That way you could actually use the things.
As an outer layer, the Meaden does a great job — except for extreme weather (wind, snow, rain). A little bit of those and it’s fine, but if Mother Nature is coming down in earnest, you’ll want a hardshell. For that, I chose to pair it with the Patagonia Untracked Jacket — primarily for cold days resort skiing. As a mid-layer, the Meaden’s fit is perfect since it’s narrow cut can fit easily under most shells and the shorter sleeves are actually a good thing so as not to complicate the sleeve/glove interface. I’ll add that the vertical baffles offer a great level of loft and maintain warmth — just as advertised.
So far, the Meaden has taken abuse from scrub oak and other sharp, pointy objects — all without any signs of wear. It is fantastically warm and features pockets galore. Heck, it even stuffs into itself to double as a pretty nifty little pillow for backpacking trips or long car rides.
- DownTek makes using this as outerwear feasible
- 850 fill is perfectly warm
- Surprisingly breathable — even for running (yup)
- Vertical baffles are slimming (hello, ladies)
- Insulation has stayed in place
- Surprisingly durable shell
- Collar height/diameter is perfect
- Nice zipper pulls
- Sleeves are a tad short
- Stuff sack could be more square
- The shiny purple/grey color “rabbit” is borderline feminine (I think)
- Could use more DWR for improved water resistance
The Bottom Line: Big Agnes Meaden
With all the boxes checked, the Meaden jacket offers warmth and comfort as a mid or outer layer. I’ve worn it skiing and even running and it performs well under a variety of conditions. It could have a little longer sleeves and a bit more DWR for weather protection, but this is a quality package.
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Treated down has transformed puffy jackets into more versatile performers and the updated Meaden shows that in spades. The size medium could use longer sleeves and the shiny purple/grey color isn't my favorite, but this thing simply rocks as both a mid and outer layer.