Review: Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Vest

Kali asked me a question re: my Ultra Light Down vest which I’ve been wearing for a solid month now and I’d like to share my notes on this oft-ballyhoo’ed piece from Uniqlo.

The good:
Overall, I like the vest. It’s very light and comfortable to wear, folds down into nothing and can be stored in a small purse. It does add warmth to the torso and the tall collar keeps my neck covered.

As far as styling it, I haven’t been terribly creative:

I have many plaid shirts/checked shirts. #hansoloseason

Yawn. Hehe.

The easiest most comfortable outfit to wear .

It’s just an easy piece to use. In my case, I’m wearing it as outerwear, but I can imagine it could go well under coats.

The meh: what I think is a lot of feather leak. Since I prefer wearing mostly dark-colored clothing, I notice the little white fuzzies very easily. Most of what escapes is small fuzz, thin fibers. But there’s enough of it to where when I look down I spend some time picking stuff off of myself. The seams of the panels seem to be the culprit and where I see the fuzz escape. Not happy with that. Then again, this is my first down-filled item, so maybe that’s just how those items work.

This vest retails at $49.90,  which isn’t unattainable, but I’d still like my clothes to not make a mess on me as I’m wearing them. Depending on your budget and comfort level, I personally would suggest other brands if you want the vest to work as a full-fledged outerwear piece vs. as a layering piece. I like wearing mine on the outside, so should I pursue a black puffer vest in the future I’ll look at North Face or Patagonia.

Final thoughts: I would recommend this piece, with a caveat: buy it on sale. Its tendency to shed makes me unwilling to recommend it at full price, rather, if you have an opportunity to grab a ULD item on sale, go for it–it will be useful and warm, but I personally think one can wait for a sale. I wish I could report how other similarly-priced down vests perform (I would class the Uniqlo ULD with other packable vests,) but the only ones I’ve seen are TJMaxx/Marshalls diffusion lines (Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs, and Michael Kors all make packable down pieces. Haven’t owned those, so I cannot comment, but the price point is comparable.)

Tell me what you think! Have you owned Uniqlo Ultra Light Down items? Is my feather leak problem standard, or should I just expect that from down-packed jackets? Do technical brands like North Face do it better, or do you know of other brands (LL Bean, Lands End, etc.) that work just as well?


13 thoughts on “Review: Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Vest

  1. I have exactly the same problem with those pesky little feathers – I thought I was imagining it when I first wore my ULD jacket over a black cashmere jumper. So, I simply don’t wear it with very dark solid colours as despite everything, I find it an easy piece to reach for as it is very light and just provides an extra layer of insulation under some of my more insubstantial coats. For the price point, they are not bad and the outer textile is much softer than on some similar high street fashion chain light down versions. I also find that they feel warmer when I am wearing a light layer like a heat tech and the down jacket on top as the warmth seems to travel back to my body a lot better than if I wear over a jumper. Would I recommend? Yes as a general garment and so long as people are not looking for an ultimate performance garment – they should go to the proper outdoor suppliers for that.

    1. Thank you Sue, I was hoping you’d chime in! 🙂 To add to your point about Heattech + ULD–definitely agree. I’m doing well with cashmere + Heattech baselayer + ULD vest, as long as it’s not raining or particularly windy. This combination seems to be enough for most cool weather near me; I would imagine you’ve figured out the right amount and types of layers for specific weather.

      1. i agree with sue too. i think it’s great for the price (i bought the long sleeve IDLF version in japan) and the fact that it is so light and fits in your handbag is such a nice bonus. i’m not getting the fluffy bits coming off mine yet, I’ve only worn it 3 times) but I have another puffy down jacket that always leaves me covered in white baby feathers!

      2. It must just be a thing about down…I went to check out North Face’s offerings at their stand-alone store, same deal. less leak, but big feather pieces poking out of the jacket.

        Definitely will aim for sales if I ever buy down outerwear.

  2. Thanks for this comprehensive recap Kristina (and for the additional info Sue 😉 ) I see the problem, and I indeed agree I may not pay full price for this one. Anyway my shopping fast ends in January so I might as well wait and see if there is any stock left when sales hit.

    If I buy it the one and only use would be to layer it down my 2 coats which are a bit too thin for the Winter weather – a very old short peacoat from Muji and an old trench-ish coat with a removable (faux) fur lining by comptoir des cotonniers. In a way I thought it would be a better optimization to pay for a ULD vest to wear those 2 coats more often, rather than buying a full winter coat (I agree I wouldn’t use the ULD vest as a winter coat by itself…) Thanks again for the detailed info – and as you suggested earlier I’ll definitely come in the store with the coat in question (the smallest one) to make sure it’s big enough to comfortably wear the ULD vest underneath 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, and oh, one last tidbit for those of you considering it–pockets.

      I’m not sure how the pockets are designed on the jackets and parkas (I believe those might be zippered?) but the vest has two open side pockets and! bonus pockets on the inside of the vest. The outer pockets are large and comfortable to shove hands into, and if need be a smartphone, but I wouldn’t trust it to carry heavy things for long periods. Also, I personally think stashing gloves is there is a bad idea–there’s a potential for stuff to fall out the open pockets (I think that’s a function of the way the pockets are sewn.)

  3. Thanks for the review! Down vests shouldn’t really shed excessively, I have a couple of great down pieces by add Italy (, maybe I’ll find a feather or two escape once in a while but no fuzzy things. But then again I live in the Northeast and love snow and cold, so it’s worth it for me to get good down pieces! But the Uniqlo ones seem fine for occasional wear, I did check out the leopard print ULD vest when they first landed in stores.

    1. Koko, thank you for dropping by! And I just checked out add Italy; that F/W 2014 collection is delicious! I like that they have a variety of cuts and quilting (first grid jacket I’ve seen.) Could you tell us how sizing works?

      For now, the Uniqlo line will more than suffice. It’s nice to dream about beautiful coats though 🙂

  4. I have been lusting after this vest ever since you first posted it. There is a Uniqlo near me and I intend to keep an eye out for sales. I have a down jacket that I love and every once in a while I spy an escaped feather, but it’s not excessive at all. Anyway, I still want it — feathers or not. 🙂

  5. I’m glad to hear someone has the same issue with me with the feathers all over my sweaters! Even though that happened from day 1, I continued to wear it for seasons as it was a simple and warm. I’ve had enough though. Not going to buy down from Uniqlo again. My Northface which I had before Uniqlo never shed feathers. That’s why I bought Uniqlo at less than half the price thinking it was a good deal. However, it has messed up many sweaters and dresses. You get what you pay for.

    1. I’m sorry it messed up your clothes! 😦 I definitely agree that the technical brands are constructed a bit better and tend to be warmer too…I just got another puffer this year from REI and while it still does shed some, it’s warmer and more stormproof than Uniqlo.

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