** Please see the addendum at the end of this review…
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (Sample provided by Big Agnes for testing and review)
** Please see the addendum at the end of this review
Big Agnes has applied their knowledge of down to their foray into apparel. The women’s Late Lunch Vest uses 700 fill power DownTek water repellent down, and they have applied their Insotect Flow vertical baffles which are designed to keep the wearer warm.
While the down does shuck water, and the vest is warm, a major drawback is the vest’s fit. Warmth, durability, quality—fantastic! Fit…mmm – needs some tweaking.
- Nylon sheds water
- Feathers don’t mat when damp
- Very arm
- Fairly packable
- Deep pockets are high enough to be accessed while wearing a pack
- Good layering piece
- Inner stash pockets
- Tight arm holes
- Elastic piping doesn’t fit shoulders well
- uncomplimentary cut
- Doesn’t fit female figure well
- Mid-weight down vests with contoured fit and drop tail
- 700 fill power DownTek water repellent down
- Insotect Flow vertical baffles contour to your body to provide a more comfortable fit and keep you warmer
- Flow Gates eliminate down shifting to keep uniform insulation coverage
- Lightweight nylon rip-stop shell is wind and water resistant
- Adjustable drawcord at hem seals out wind
- Main zipper includes interior no-draft flap and a zipper garage at chin
- Fill Weight: 3 oz / 78 g
- Vest Weight: 9.5 oz / 269 g
Fit & Comfort
This test vest is a medium, and the actual fit of vest was fine in how it fitted shoulders and hips.
However, the cut of the vest did not accentuate the female figure. It felt “clunky” on. I had several ladies try the vest on, and without exception, the cut of the coat was not really flattering.
The way the vest is designed, it does not really flatter the natural architecture of the female form. It is just the way the vest is cut. It's not over-stuffed or clumpy. It just does not have a nice "lie" to the design.
The vest on one of my daughters
The vest while warm feels bulky.
The design element that everyone who tried the vest on disliked, without exception, was how the arm holes were designed. The elastic piping made the arm holes feel very tight and binding. The only time the piping/snug design worked is if the lady’s shoulders were *just* the right width, which was only one or two people.
The tightened piping was designed to keep cold from blowing into the vest, but it only really served to make the vest feel tight and confining.
My shoulders are narrower than my daughter's, and the shoulders still bunch and pucker from the tight armhole design.
A major uptick of the design did keep me warm in wet and cold conditions. In its pure performance, it was a terrific layering piece.
On a summit bid on Mt. Adams.
I used the vest extensively while touring in Iceland, and it was my go-to outdoor piece, as it stood alone over my tech shirt, or when it began to rain, as a mid-layer. I loved having the down vest in my arsenal. I wore it every time I went outside.
The design did keep the vest from riding up inside the outer layer. The slippery nylon mated well with other garments.
The only place the vest has adjustability is in the hip drawstring. The zipper comes up under the chin comfortably.
The vest shucked a light rain and handled a hard rain really well. It never really wetted out.
Water beaded up well, and the vest never really wetted out in a hard rain.
I noted that the vest dried quickly, and the feathers did not mat or get nasty after a good wetting. But what really impressed me since I wore the vest under my rain shell, and the shell wicked rainwater into my clothes, the vest did a great job of handling the wicked water well.
The vest did have some breathability, but I found that as a vest, the torso breathability was not really an issue for me. I wore it in a summit bid for Mt. Adams, and it was the perfect piece. I never felt sweaty nor did the fabric ever feel sticky.
I never felt overheated in the vest. The nylon/feather combo never felt tacky against me.
The down was the perfect piece to have as a 40’s-50’s temperature piece. I liked how I could adjust what long sleeved shirt I wanted to wear beneath, and roll/unroll my sleeves and adjust the zipper to stay comfortable.
I loved being able to beef up the warmth factor through which layers I chose to pair with the vest.
Vests by their very nature layer well. The ONLY thing I don’t like is the cupped/pinched feel of the elastic piping of the armhole.
I was able to take an international trip this summer, and the vest had to get crammed and stuffed into one carry-on bag that I took for all of my clothes. It got dragged in and out of the carry-on. And when I was able to do the Mt. Adams hike, the vest got pushed in and out of the pack.
Because I pulled the piece in and out of my bags and layered this vest so much, I really kept an eye on the wear and tear. The fabric and seams look factory new. And, within an hour or two, the wrinkles just faded out of the fabric. The feathers never bunched up or slid inside the baffles.
The pockets were really comfortable and warm. I used them a great deal while wearing the vest.
I did note, however, only the top of the pockets are accessible while wearing a pack.
Large inner storage pockets
Ease of Use
Again, outside of the tight/pinched armholes, the vest is very comfortable, and the zipper never caught.
The feathers were held in place well as I had to pack and stuff this vest for overseas travel. The vest always shook out and looked brand new.
Packs into its own right pocket — note the hang loop on the right
The water resistance is, for me, the best feature of the vest. The fabric and feathers do maintain their warmth and loft.
Construction & Durability
The vest took a lot of beating from getting crammed and stowed, then layered over consistently. The vest looks great.
In the Pacific Northwest and Iceland, where it rains at least once a day 75% of the time.
Summit bid to Mt. Adams. It was bitter cold in the wind! The vest kept my torso WARM!
Trolls, downtown Reykjavik, sharing a light rain
I really love the quality and warmth of the Big Agnes Late Lunch Vest. The piece's design could use some tweaking to make the fit more comfortable, especially on the shoulders.
The quality hit a home run, but the design needs some tweaking.
Understand, I have LOVED having such a fantastic layering piece. I just wish the fit was a bit more "stylish" and the shoulders fitted comfortably.
In response to this review, Big Agnes made some revisions to their Late Lunch Vest.
They redesigned the arm holes. The openings no longer bind and grab from being too tight. But, the did not change the piping, and the shoulders still want to "mound" at the top of the shoulders.
In studying the design of the vest, it also feels like the pattern was taken from a men's model, and applied to the women's vest. If you look at angles of the sewing, you can see the more classic "V" of a man's build versus the "curve" of the woman's.
The new design is vastly more comfortable than the original permutation. But I still would like to see Big Agnes retool the vest to better flatter the women's basic curved architecture more. Women often like to multi-task a garment like a vest.
I know here in the Pacific Northwest, many of the ladies use their vest as a 3-season outer garment for office wear. I just find that the Big Agnes does not pull off the fashionable side of their otherwise terrific garment the way I would like to see it do.
This vest is very well made. It is really warm, shucks moisture, and is a terrific layering piece, and now, fits the arms vastly better than the original design. I would just like to see a couple more tweaks of getting the shoulder tops to lie flat, and the vest to complement a woman's physique more fashionably.