Technically, the Pisa is an insulated jacket, but not in the traditional sense of the word.
At 360g (w-280g) it’s considerably lighter than most insulated jackets – synthetics at least. It reaches this weight by doing away with a lining and having the synthetic insulation – Polartec Alpha Direct – rest directly against the skin. The outer is a windproof nylon ripstop with DWR treatment.
I used the jacket at the end of May during a four-day visit to Queenstown where temperatures remained around 5-degrees. I was surprised at how warm it kept me, especially when cinching the waist tight to trap air around my body. The insulation felt soft and non-irritable against my skin.
When I was active, I warmed up quickly, but didn’t overheat – un-cinching the drawcord waist helped here. It’s apparent the insulation does what it promises: help regulate your temperature.
Macpac says the jacket is quick-drying, but I didn’t have the chance to test this in real-world conditions: it was cold enough that I never got too hot to sweat and on the occasions it rained, the DWR outer easily repelled it.
I found the jacket sized well, being loose enough to wear a base layer and long-sleeve top underneath.
The elastic, insulated hood is snug and streamlined – designed to fit beneath a helmet.
The zippers glide easily, without catching, and there are good-sized glove-friendly toggles to aid use in extreme cold.
I would prefer the pockets be placed a little higher to allow access while wearing a pack harness, but they are fleece-lined and very warm. There are stitched-on thumb loops to prevent sleeves riding up when outstretched, but I found the arm length generous, so these were unnecessary for me – and I suspect most other users.
The Pisa is surprisingly warm and helps moderate temperature under activity. Whether it will hold up to a deep winter night in a hut is yet to be seen, but for the shoulder season, I am convinced.