Scott Kickstart Jacket
- 6’, 160 lbs.
- Sleeve Length: 37-38”
- Torso Length: 18”
Blister’s Measured Weight: 398g / 14.04oz
Type: Down Insulator
- Shell fabric: 20D Ripstop made from 100% recycled polyester
- 550 fill Prime Duck Down insulation
- DryOzone DWR (durable water-repellent)
- Full length YKK center zip
- YKK zippered hand pockets
- Zippered interior “security” pocket
- Adjustable hem
Days Tested: Worn 70+, Skied ~20
Over the past four months, I’ve spent at least a few hours each day wearing one of two insulator jackets from Scott. When in need of a light insulator, I’d grab the ultra lightweight, synthetic-fill Komati. To stay warm on the absolutely bitter cold days, I’d throw on the significantly warmer, thicker, down-insulated Kickstart.
Fit & Sizing
As with other layers I have reviewed from Scott, the “athletic fit” of the Kickstart fits my long and lean frame very well. The sleeve and torso lengths permit a full, unrestricted range of motion and keep everything 100% covered regardless of activity. The bonus of the slimmer, athletic fit for someone of my build is that it improves the jacket’s aesthetics when worn as an outer layer, and more importantly, decreases the bulk when worn under a shell.
Some measurements for the Kickstart in an XL size are: 29” from the base of the collar to the hem, 6” from the base of the collar to the top of the sleeve, and a sleeve length of 27”.
The Kickstart has two YKK zippered hand pockets, and an internal storage pocket located at chest level. The hand pockets are a welcome feature after having to resort to tucking my hands up inside the sleeves of the Komati on cool mornings.
In my opinion, the Kickstart’s chest pocket is the perfect size: it easily fits my LG G2 phone, debit card and driver’s license, but is small enough to keep those items from shifting around inside the pocket while skiing. The smaller size of the pocket also means you can’t put so much in it that the weight causes the material of the jacket to get pulled and twisted to one side.
Warmth & Breathability
Without question, the Kickstart provides the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any mid layer I’ve used. Skiing at Alta on the coldest mornings of the season (around -5° F), with only a long-sleeve base layer (Icebreaker Sprint) under the Kickstart and an extremely thin hardshell (Oakley Unification Pro) over it, I was comfortable up the lift and toasty on the ride down.
The Kickstart is so warm, that it borderlines being too warm for me—I tend to run pretty warm. On mellower skiing days, the jacket starts feeling like overkill if the temps rise above ~25°F (wearing the layers listed above). And I’ve been sweltering on days skiing hard in temps in the single digits, especially if I use a 3- layer Gore-Tex shell (Scott Ridge) and a warmer base layer than the Sprint.
The Kickstart’s full-length front zipper has made dumping excess heat manageable when used in appropriate temperatures. But in general, down insulators are not known for their breathability, and the Kickstart is no exception. Its breathability is limited by the tight nylon weave necessary to keep the feathers where they belong.
I don’t have experience in another brand of similar down insulator, so I can’t really compare the breathability of the Kickstart to another similar down jacket. What I can say is that touring in the Kickstart is completely out of the question; it is too warm and does not breathe well enough for the level of heat and moisture production that occurs when skinning. (If you’re looking for an insulator to tour in or to ski aggressively in resort on warmer days, I recommend reading Sam Shaheen’s Marmot Alpha Pro and The North Face Radium jacket reviews.
Besides skiing in it, I commonly use the Kickstart as in outer layer on my commute to and from school, the mountain, the grocery store, and hanging out après ski. Only on very cold mornings (<15°F), waiting for the train for 10 to15 minutes, have I needed to wear more than a cotton long sleeve tee shirt underneath the jacket.
Some people will be happy about this, and others may be disappointed, but the version of the Kickstart I tested doesn’t have a hood. I really like having a warm insulator to wear under a shell while skiing that doesn’t add bulk around my neck with a hood. The downside is that less bulk around the neck creates an opportunity for cold air to infiltrate the area, making a “neck warmer” (like the phenomenal Icebreaker Chute) mandatory on cold days.
I should note, however, that Scott lists two different versions of the Kickstart on their website: the jacket I’ve reviewed here, and another with a hood and horizontal baffling (both are called the Kickstart). So if you are in the market for a down jacket with a hood, you can search around the web to try and find the hooded Kickstart.