Kifaru is best known for their packs and tipi tents, but they also make a growing range of synthetic insulation products based around Climashields APEX insulation.
Kifaru have made their ‘Lost Park Parka’ (LPP) for some time now and they recently added a full zip option in addition to their classic pull over parka style. The team at Kifaru kindly sent me a full zip version mid-2018, and it got its fair share of use during my 2018 season.
The ‘Lost Park Parka’ full zip is a simple jacket design and uses Kifarus’ own ‘rhino skin’ fabric for both the outer and inner materials, this is then reinforced with 500D cordura across the belly and pocket area and from the elbows down to the wrists. 3.6oz Climashield APEX is used throughout. The ‘Rhino Skin’ fabric is treated with a DWR and seems to shed snow and light showers pretty well.
APEX is a continuous insulation sheet, so the jacket has no baffles or cold spots, and the insulation does not clump or move about like down and some other synthetics can. This is a big advantage over time and when washing the jacket as down often clumps and needs to manually ‘broken up’ after washing.
The jacket features two roomy hand warmer pockets and one small internal chest pocket with a Velcro closure. The hand warmer pockets hold gear well and nothing ever seems to fall out of them.
The Parka has a pass-through pocket which means you can wear your pack waist belt and still use the pocket as a hand warmer.
The jacket features a very well thought out hood design which has a cinch at the back of the neck as well as draw tabs on each side of the collar. The hood is very snug and fits almost like a helmet and it is very good in high winds and one of the best hoods I have used on a jacket. The only down fall of this hood is that it restricts your hearing because it fits so well. The Parkas’ hood is removable while the jacket hood is not.
The jackets and Parkas come in 3 colour options, Coyote Brown, Multicam or Highlander. They are a bit of a blocky style and the fabric is rather ‘shiny’ so they probably won’t win any fashion awards, but they are a functional roomy fit, with a slight ‘tail’ on them which is a must on an insulation jacket as cold wind up your back will chill you fast.
In the Field
I wore this jacket as my main outer layer/insulation piece through all my 2018 cold weather hunts and on my Ibex hunt in Kazakhstan. NZ is not particularly cold, but my hunt in Kazakhstan was a good test for this jacket. Temperatures were below freezing for most of the hunt, and we had a couple of days of gale wind (40-50mph or 60-80kph) and below freezing temps.
Needles to say I have not been cold once in this jacket and it seems to be extremely windproof. There is no windproof membrane as such, but the jacket material is very resistant to wind and I can’t see anyone needing another windproof layer with one of these.
The fit is fairly relaxed, as it should be for an outer layer and size Medium fits me well, even with layering. (For reference I am 178cm/5’10” and around 70kg/155lbs.)
I have worn the jacket in a few snow flurries and light showers and as expected it sheds water reasonably well, it is by no means a rain jacket, but in snow only conditions it makes a great outer shell.
The cordura panels on the arms and around the pocket area are a little ‘scratchy’ (as Cordura is when its new) but I think the panels on the arms are definite bonus. Most of the wear points on jackets I have are either the elbows/cuffs or on the lower back.
The LPP has simple elastic cuffs, which means its easy to pull your sleeves up when gutting animals and also easier to get on and off with gloves on. Something that is not quite so easy with some other cuff designs.
The jacket does not breathe very well, and you soon get very hot if you try and walk anywhere in it, but to me that is how a proper insulation jacket should be and an indication of how windproof it is.
There are lighter and more compressible insulation pieces of the same warmth(down), but you will loose some durability in the outer shell and the obvious difference in performance when wet.
Generally the LPP just gets stuffed into any spare space of my pack, but Kifaru do make their own compression bags. I was initially a little dubious of synthetic insulation but I have been surprised with how well this jacket packs down when you want it to.
I have had the jacket damp on a few occasions both from rain and sweat and it does not seem to affect the warmth of the jacket at all. The insulation and liner fabrics both seem to dry very fast and do not feel ‘wet’ even when they are quite damp.
Compared to down the Apex insulation is easily washed, and does not clump at all. This is a big plus for a hunting jacket as its not unusual to get covered in blood etc.
After 6+ months of ‘guide’ use the LPP shows no signs of wear or loss of loft. The outer shell fabric seems alot tougher than a normal ‘puffy’ and the bonus of the APEX insulation is that it does not leak or move like down can.
I found myself really liking this insulation piece for late season hunts and it is one of those things that you want in your pack when shit hits the fan. I spent a couple of nights in a rather ‘damp’ down sleeping bag this season(2018) and this jacket was very good at keeping me warm enough to have a good nights sleep.
- Synthetic Insulation
- Wind proof
- Simple well thought out design
- Weight and compress-ability (compared to down of the same warmth)
If you are after a warm and durable insulation layer the Lost Park Parka from Kifaru is definitely worth a look.
You can view their full range of clothing here.