June 23, 2014
Wafer-like weight, duvet-like warmth?
PHD has quietly been making some serious-quality outdoor gear for decades in its Manchester factory.
It supplies Everest expeditions with -50°C down suits, and minimalist bikepackers with barely-there sleeping bags. It’s at the latter end of the scale that the Wafer jacket (and range) is aimed. We’re dealing with those incremental/diminishing gains here and the Wafer is the most minimal jacket that PHD makes. It uses 900-fill down, which has the biggest loft for its weight and a very thin 10-denier fabric over the top. Features are minimal, but still include a full zip, elastic on cuffs and hem, and two front pockets. The whole thing comes in a stuff-sack that’s 10cm across and 18cm tall.
The jacket is small and light enough (190g) that it usually lives in my travel bag, or my winter backpack all the time. Pulling it out, you get a very flat-looking jacket, but given half an hour to loft (or less if you’re wearing it), it’s ready to protect you from the cold. There’s no water resistance promised, so it needs to be kept dry, but for cold, clear weather, the jacket is just enough to keep you warm on a chilly autumn or even winter night. I’d like to see more bulk around the collar as drafts can sneak in, but add a Buff or snood and the jacket is surprisingly good at keeping the chill off.