Image of the June 2017 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
June 2017 Issue
Home / Gear reviews / Insulated jackets

Big Agnes Shovelhead Hooded

Price:

$379.95

Our Rating:

There is a lot to like about the Big Agnes’ Shovelhead, but looks isn’t one of them.

The vertical baffling and peaked hood give it an odd appearance: a little retro, a little space age and a little bit like an inflatable life-jacket.

But Big Agnes makes much of its ‘Vertical thermal channels’. This is a patented technology that is claimed to redistribute heat more effectively across the length of the body and to better contour the user’s body, thus minimising ‘dead’ space. ‘Flow gates’ within the baffles prevent the down from migrating south.

Although one of the boasts of vertical baffling is that it reduces the amount of fabric needed and so produces lighter gear, at 510g (w: 439g) the Shovelhead is one of the heavier jackets reviewed. But it is also stacked with features and feels like the hardest wearing jacket here.

The main zipper is chunky and runs smoothly thanks to a stiff internal baffle. It has three outside pockets and two internal mesh pockets. The pocket tally seems excessive for tramping, where downies are often more of an evening-wear item or are worn beneath a hardshell. The breast-pocket doubles as an impressively small stuff sack.

With 184g of 700 fill power hydrophobic down and a water and wind-resistant nylon outer, the Shovelhead is probably the most water resistant jacket reviewed. I was surprised to observe water still beading off after half an hour of walking in rain.

The hood comes with a stiff visor, high zip-cover and a drawcord to offer storm-tight protection.

Both the back length and the sleeves are uncommonly long. Another feature is the presence of thumb-loops. I’m ambivalent about these – they’ll probably wear out before the rest of jacket and make the sleeves drafty, but one way to avoid that is to not use them.

The Shovelhead is warm, ready for all weather and looks to be the toughest downie reviewed.

Support Wilderness

Since 1991, Wilderness has had one simple goal: to help Kiwis ‘See more, do more, live more’ of New Zealand.

If you value our mission, please consider subscribing. As a loyal supporter, you’ll receive these benefits:

  • New Zealand’s best outdoor journalism We’ve won multiple awards for our journalism and magazine production.
  • NZ’s best trips. Browse more than 610 trips with downloadable maps and route notes.
  • Trustworthy gear reviews. Each month we review gear we’ve been bashing and thrashing for months so you can determine if its worth your money.
  • Member benefits. Our WildCard provides discounts at more than 20 partners throughout New Zealand.
  • Your support goes a long way. Your subscription will help us fund NZ’s best outdoor journalists and writers and ensure Wilderness will be there to inspire the next generation of outdoor Kiwis.

A subscription costs as little as $7.00/month for instant access to all articles, trips, gear reviews and gear guides.

View all our subscription options and join the club.

Already a subscriber? Login Now.