The NovaPro Jacket was my only outer layer as I hiked out of a canyon in the snow. I occasionally stopped, adjusting the extra long pit-zips to dump heat. The only time I grabbed a layer to throw over the puffy was back around camp, as a cold rain turned to slush and eventually snow.
The NovaPro Jacket is made for hikers who want to be prepared and comfortable in cold temperatures. The 850-fill Power insulation is DownLT. It’s a mix of mostly Power HyperDry down (Allied RDS down, responsibly sourced) with a bit of synthetic LoftTek, a mixture the brand says is more stable than other fills and can retain loft if it gets wet.
Pit zips, a common feature on shell jackets, are usually a side note in a product description. Yet while testing this hiking puffy, those extra-long pit zips were the little detail that made a big impression.
In short: The Outdoor Vitals NovaPro Jacket ($250) is a well-insulated puffy with a wind-resistant baffle design and hiker-friendly touches like oversized pit zips, thumb holes, and adjustable hems and hood. What it might lack in breathability, it makes up for with details that many comparable puffy jackets lack entirely.
Outdoor Vitals’ Novapro Jacket Review
Zero Baffles, Fewer Holes
Traditional puffy baffles have thousands of pin holes to create the baffles, which is where you’ll eventually see insulation leak out. Those holes also allow airflow and breathability (or cold drafts).
If you look closely at the NovaPro Jacket, you’ll notice the baffles are not sewn — the jacket’s only stitches are along the seams and cuffs. Instead, it uses Nova Zero Stitch fabric which is woven into place to create a weld to hold together insulation in a rather recognizable offset pattern.
The brand estimates it creates 10,000 fewer stitch holes using this construction method. That means there’s less airflow through the jacket — which can translate to lower breathability. (But with the pit zips, that wasn’t an issue.) The NovaPro isn’t meant to be windproof, but it falls on that end of the spectrum compared to other puffy jackets.
Living in Colorado, I’m less concerned with rain during winter hikes and appreciate a puffy that protects against wind and sheds light snow. If things heat up, that’s when the large pit zips come in. And if it does start to sprinkle, sanctuary is just a rain shell away.
Temperature Regulation and Features
Obviously, opening the front of the jacket is an easy heat dump. I adjusted that zipper and the two large pit-zips like venting presets based on the activity and conditions. When I was stationary, I’d zip them all up. If the sun was out with little wind, I’d zip them down to the middle of my ribcage. And if I was charging hard and it was cold and windy, I’d zip the front up and the pit-zips just halfway down, so only the armpits emptied heat.
When worn as a midlayer, the zippered armpits line up with those in a rain shell. Leaving all of the zips open while hiking with trekking poles creates that bellows movement to push heat out.
Again, this puffy was made with hikers in mind. The loose fit allows room underneath and in the sleeves for other layers. I’ve layered with a wool T-shirt and a Polartec Power Grid hoodie under it on several occasions without feeling constricted.
The drop hem does a good job of keeping out drafts, as does the adjustable hood and high collar. The hood is roomy enough to fit a helmet (for climbers or skiers) which makes it a tad oversized for routine hikes.
Hikers will note it’s also packable for its size. Its entire 14.5-ounce weight can be carefully crammed into its own left pocket. It’s made with a 20D nylon face fabric, which is more durable than other nylon fabrics like 7D and 10D but is both heavier (at 1.1 ounces per yard) and less breathable. And despite its strength, 20D nylon fabric can still tear during high abrasion activity — so you still have to be careful with it.
Lastly, I appreciate the zippered pockets for stashing gloves and the thumbholes, which are just a nice option to keep the jacket in place and insulate one’s wrists.
The NovaPro Jacket is available in men’s and women’s sizes.
- Fill 850
- Weight 14.5 oz. (Men's large)
- Key features Nova Zero Stitch baffles, DownLT insulation, zippered pits and pockets
- Oversize pit zips
- Water/wind resistance
- Two-way adjustable hood
- Pockets and thumbholes
- Mostly a winter layer
- Weight may scare some off
NovaPro Jacket Conclusion
If your hiking season begins and ends with cold nights, the NovaPro Jacket is a worthy option. And for $250, it boasts a lot of tech. The hefty 850-fill power of responsibly sourced down mixed with synthetic is comfortably warm. And you’ll appreciate the pit-zip venting that allows you to control your temperature.
The NovaPro’s unique I-baffles also add performance life to the jacket since the insulation is less likely to migrate. And while the 20D nylon face fabric isn’t the lightest or most breathable, this jacket should still hold up for a long time if cared for properly. It’s a reliable hiking companion that’s served me well on Colorado’s trails.