Packing the Perfect Travel Jacket….Confession Time 13

As you may have read in my last post, I have been in search of the perfect travel jacket for off-season travel. I’d decided I wanted a puffy jacket, something ultralight, warm, long enough, water repellant and (gasp!) stylish.

I settled on two. Neither met my desires exactly, but they were both well priced and seemed to be decent choices for different parts of the season. Both were from Eddie Bauer, which tends to be my go-to jacket provider because of my height.

The Ignitelite Reversible Jacket was a maybe for me, but I liked the reversibility and the packability, so I was planning to keep it for the summer season. I wore it downtown this weekend and immediately decided to rethink it. I was cold. Even indoors at the Garden Show. The website said it was warm down to 40 degrees, but I was shivering at 55. I also didn’t like the sound it made when I moved, too plasticky. The shiny black fabric was so flimsy that it looked terrible, like I was wearing a coat made of garbage bags. I had packed it into its interior pocket a few days before, and when I unfurled it, it was a mass of ugly wrinkles. So, a wrinkly black garbage bag jacket. The tall size wasn’t so tall, either, and that is what broke me. I have broad shoulders, long arms and a big bust, which this jacket could not handle. It strained at the shoulders and puffed out at the belly. Return.

The Alpine Express Down Parka seemed like a winner. It’s pretty. Really pretty.  It’s like one of those boyfriends that is so pretty that you will overlook a multitude of sins for because you just really want to be the one who owns it. But it doesn’t fit in reality, it’s not the boyfriend, er, jacket for me. I wanted so badly to love this jacket. It’s cool! The zipper is asymmetrical! But it kind of doesn’t fit. The shoulders are too narrow and the sleeves too short. There is no hood. It looked good in my mind but actually made me look a little fat. I know that shouldn’t be a criteria, but come on, it is. The very avant-garde neckline was perfect, but the way it overlapped made it touch my throat all the time. I don’t like that, I don’t even like my kids touching my throat. Unzipping the collar made it stick out too far.

I could have lived with either of those jackets, but I’d have been vaguely unhappy. The coat that made me happiest was still in my mind. The Archteryx Nuri parka was my dream travel jacket, it was cute, comfy and filled all of my requirements. I was sad about that because the cost was prohibitive, I was not going to pay $425 for a travel jacket that I’d probably damage or lose. I kept thinking about it, though, and looking at reviews, which confirmed my suspicions that it was the jacket for me. And then! Amazon! They were selling it for….$250! Ok, it’s still a ton, but heck with it, the heart wants what it wants.

It came in the mail today and I love it so much, even more than I did at the store. I ordered an XL, rather than L as I tried at the store. It fits perfectly. The sleeves and shoulders are exactly right. I can stretch out and the shoulders don’t pull and sleeves still reach my wrists. The material is elegant, soft and light, and the down filling is very warm. It feels as if I’m being cuddled up in a soft cocoon like a swaddled baby. The most extraordinary thing about it is the cut, it has been designed in a way that makes it fit like a glove. It is a FLATTERING jacket for a curvy girl! I don’t know what kind of voodoo they used in designing this, but it is a puffy jacket that makes me look thin! The jacket is cut to come in exactly at the waist and has a quitting pattern that gives the optical illusion of a trim waist. Black magic!  

The best part is what sold me on the purchase to begin with, the weight. It weighs less than a pound and rolls up into a relatively petite ball (see photo with cat for scale-she’s a small cat btw). As a comparison, the Alpine Express weighs 2 pounds and is about double that size when rolled up, although it is a little too stiff to roll.

I’m sure there is some sort of heart warming lesson in all of this, something about not settling or giving up on your dreams. But it’s just a jacket after all. I am so very happy to have found my perfect travel jacket at last. I don’t want to take it off, it’s like having a warm hug floating around me all the time. Don’t we all need a portable hug? Yes. Yes we do.


Sarah Murdoch is a tour guide and guidebook writer for Rick Steves Europe. Her blog, Adventures with Sarah, focuses on packing tips, travel stories and advice for planning the best trip possible.

13 thoughts on “Packing the Perfect Travel Jacket….Confession Time

  • LauraH

    You deserve and earned a great jacket. Every time you put it on you’ll feel great. Always a good choice, and one you won’t regret.

  • Janet Lockwood

    I too purchased a Lands End jacket that packs into its own pocket. ( it comes in Tall). It’s a beautiful Aqua/turquoise. Every time I wear it I get compliments. I wore it on my RS tours to England and Germany Austria and Switzerland. I did wear an REI raincoat over the top when it poured down and it worked perfectly. I’m also a sucker for sales and will buy something because it’s a good deal, not because its a good investment. I end up returning it or wearing 1 time and then it takes up space in my closet before it goes to Goodwill. Glad I’m not the only one who does that. I’m glad you got the coat you wanted! 😊

  • Linda

    I’m so glad you chose this one it was my favorite! I have to say I don’t read many blogs , this one is not only entertaining it’s interesting , helpful and all around a good time!

    • Post author

      Awwww, thanks! I have so much fun writing it, that anyone reads and enjoys it is just icing on the cake! I usually just sit around with my laptop laughing at my own jokes, so I’m glad others enjoy my madness. 😉

  • Ruth Ann Crow

    So glad you confessed. I had actually typed out an opinionated reply to say that I didn’t like any of the ones you brought home and that I had seen the Nuri on sale at $325. I wimped out because I thought you didn’t sound like you were going to spend more than $100 (I also thought that you wouldn’t really want an old lady’s opinion). I even thought about suggesting that maybe you could deduct it as a business expense. So now you got the one you wanted and the one that definitely looks so very flattering on you. Here’s to travelling in style!

  • Barbara

    Yay!! I’m so glad you spent a little more and got that jacket! It looks awesome on you and you are going to get your money’s worth out of it. I’m really happy for you. And it weighs 1 pound – that’s great. Buon viaggio!

  • CMN

    LOVE that you went with the dream jacket — and found it for a much better price point too. YAY! Three cheers for persistence!

    Really enjoyed the original post too, btw. Sharing the thought process behind your search is always interesting to fellow travelers. ESPECIALLY after I just hauled the Eddie Bauer Premier Polar Parka on a long-haul trip… It was seriously warm in the frozen north, but also a serious pain in the airports. But, who are we kidding. I love that coat. LOL!

  • Suzanne Shearer

    Lands End has a similar product which worked great for me on a 10 day trip to Paris which included a windy day with snowflakes at Versailles. Left Dallas at 75 degrees F and arrived in Paris at 45 F. Used the jacket stuffed inside its own storage pocket as a foot rest on the plane and then fluffed it up at CDG and viola: warm and dry for the rest of the trip.

  • Marsha Martin

    If they still have it, Costco has a jacket that is just what you are looking for that is wonderful for around $50. I’m buying two!

  • Deb Clark

    Oh, thank heavens! We could all see from the pictures that this was the most flattering jacket on you. Don’t you just love the serendipity of style , function and price coming together? I hope you enjoy many happy travels together.

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