This Big Agnes Shovelhead has been a literal life-saver to our testers. It’s one of the warmest puffies we’ve tested in the mid-weight category. It has a Goldilocks element to it: it’s warm enough for snowstorms, light enough to be crammed in a backpack, and has a “just right” heft to it. When testing insulators during cold nights on the Canadian coastline and frigid missions into Colorado’s high alpine, there was no puffy we’d rather rely on than this Big Agnes.
Despite being relatively lightweight, the warmth of this puffy is nothing short of radical. The Shovelhead has a proper, cozy thickness to it—thanks to the water-repellant 700 DownTek down and the robust vertical baffles—that makes you feel like you just slipped into a sleeping bag the moment you put it on. No surprise there, as Big Agnes makes some of our favorite sleeping bags on the market. The nylon is tough, durable, and difficult to tear. Zippers are no-nonsense and easy to manipulate, even with only partially functioning, fumbling fingers (been there, zipped that). The thumbholes are a welcome touch on the sleeves, as are the internal mesh stash pockets.
Our favorite element of the Big Agnes is how warm and cozy it is, but that comes at a premium, and the jacket definitely takes up more space when stuffed into a pack, especially when compared to our favorite lightweight puffy, the Patagonia Micro Puff.
Where to start? The Big Agnes puffy was one of the most feature-rich insulated jackets of the entire test, and rather than being overwhelmed by unnecessary bells and whistles, our testers were appreciative of the design elements. Our two favorite features? The thumb holes on the cuffs that keep the sleeves from bunching up while on the move, and the handy chest pocket which moonlights as a stuff sack.
“Many hoods fall off your head when it’s windy or when you have another hood or a helmet on underneath—not this Big Agnes. That said, I can also wear it with no hat or helmet and cinch it down and be perfectly comfortable. This was by far my favorite mid-weight puffy of the test. For those who get cold easily, this is your best bet!”
- Insotect Flow vertical baffles contour to your body to provide a more comfortable fit and keep you warmer
- Flow Gates eliminate down shifting to keep uniform insulation coverage
- Lightweight nylon rip-stop shell is wind and water resistant
- Adjustable drawcord hood closure keeps the weather out
- Main zipper includes interior no-draft flap and a zipper garage at chin
- Adjustable drawcord at hem seals out wind
- Thumb holes make layering easy and eliminate the gap between sleeve and glove
- Two zippered hand-warmer pockets with zipper garages
- Textured zipper pulls are easy use with gloves
- Large interior mesh pockets for extra stash space
- Interior chest pocket doubles as stuff sack