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Review: Dark Peak NESSH Jacket

Written by Fiona

March 05 2019

A new brand, Dark Peak Gear has launched the NESSH jacket. The company claims various USPs, including:

  • The creation of a high performance, lightweight insulated jacket
  • Sell direct to consumer on-line
  • One sold, One given away. Every jacket sold, one is given away to a homeless person.
Buy a NESSH jacket and another jacket, on the right, is given to someone affected by homelessness

New Dark Peak NESSH Jacket

The new-launch company states: “It started with a few gear geeks who wanted to design the best outerwear on the planet, but we realised that as a business we have a responsibility to improve society and give back.

“So Dark Peak is built on the simple promise: For every item of clothing sold, we’ll donate another to a person affected by homelessness.” Read about how they give.

The Dark Peak NESSH jacket itself has a nice list of features:

  • Lightweight at 345g (women) and 350g (men)
  • 850 Fill Power responsibly sourced Goose Down
  • 10D Ripstop Nylon fabric that is wind-resistant
  • Lower back hem for fuller coverage
  • Vertical side channels (baffles) that flex and expand for a better fit
  • DWR coating for the outer and inner shell
  • Wrist gaiters and hand warmers with thumb loops
  • Helmet-compatible hood
  • Zipped outer hand pockets
  • Zipped internal chest pocket
  • Two open topped deep internal pockets
  • Two-way front zip Chin guard for zip
  • Packs into its own pocket
  • Five colours for women and five for men.
  • Range of sizes
  • Male and female designs
  • £175.
  • See Dark Peak.

One Sold, One Given Away

I wasn’t sure what I thought about the One Sold, One Given Away policy. At £175 per jacket, it could be that some people think it’s a lot to spend. The price is not ridiculous and it is comparable to other similar brands but it is still quite high.

I thought that perhaps some of the cost of the price tag would be because the company is giving away another jacket (not the NESSH but one that is apparently “better suited” to homeless people). So I asked the company for confirmation.

Allen, one of the company’s founders, says: “Although the £175 price tag is a lot to spend, it’s still significantly less than retail brands charge for similar specs. It’s very important to look at the specs of the jacket when making a price comparison.

“Yes, there are cheaper jackets out there for less than the NESSH jacket, but those jackets have poorer specs across the board. We don’t think you’ll find a jacket with specs as good as the NESSH jacket for less than £175.

“We decided when launching the Dark Peak brand to launch the best jacket we could make and compete with some of the best jackets on the market from leading brands. We could have produced a cheaper jacket, but it didn’t seem right for us to launch with a jacket that would be considered to be middle of the road.

“We are certainly planning to make a lower priced jacket that we will sell for closer to £100 and we will still donate a jacket for every one of those jackets sold, too.

“It’s important to highlight that we feel our One Sold, One Given pledge comes out of our pocket and not the customer’s pocket. By cutting out retailers and distributors, we are able to use the mark-up/profit they would normally take and instead sell our jacket to the customer for a lower price – than if it were in retail stores – and use some of our profit to buy another jacket that’s given to the homeless.”

Of course, people could buy a cheaper jacket and donate money to charity themselves. But as Allen points out it might not end up with a suitable jacket for a homeless person.

He explains: “Someone would have to donate a lot more than it costs Dark Peak to make and distribute the jacket we donate, because only a percentage of the amount you donate to a charity goes to the person who they aim to help.

“Some of the money goes to various overheads that the charity has and which you, as the donor, have no control over how it’s spent or what it’s spent on.

“Also, if a charity were to buy a jacket from a retailer/wholesaler, they would have to spend a lot more to get the same jacket because the retailer/wholesaler they buy the jacket from will be selling it for cost plus mark-up/profit.

“Because Dark Peak is the manufacturer, we are in a unique position to source the jacket at cost and then donate it straight to the charity.”

On test: Dark Peak NESSH Jacket

Aside from the charitable element, which does seem like an excellent bonus to buying this jacket, I also wanted to test the NESSH jacket for quality and use.

The test for me with new products is how often I choose to wear a jacket from my already large collection of insulated jackets. The answer is: A lot. I have had the jacket a few months and I have worn it almost every day.

The size small fits me nicely. I am a tall UK10. If you wanted a bit more room underneath for layers, go up a size. I like the length of the jacket and also the length of the arms. For once, the arms are long enough for me to comfortably use the hand warmers. (Normally these cut off my circulation because they are too short.)

The jacket is lightweight yet warm. I have been surprised by its warmth-to-weight ratio. It is very good.

I have mostly worn the jacket over a couple of thin baselayers and on a few occasions I have used it under a waterproof jacket, too. The only time where I feel a bit restricted in my freedom of movement is in the arms. If I wear anything too thick under the jacket it feels tight on the arms. But perhaps I should have chosen a larger size to accommodate this?

Testing the jacket for guinea pig scratching! It passed. Credit: Rowan Seel.

I like several of the features including the two-way zip. So few brands add in this type of zip anymore but I really like to have the versatility.

The zipped outer pockets are fairly standard but it’s nice to also have the internal zipped pocket and the two deep inner pockets. (Beware of leaving cash and bank cards in the inside pockets though! I forgot about them and they went through the wash.)

The jacket has been washed several times in the machine and tumble dried (add a tennis ball to the tumble dryer to revitalise the down). The jacket still looks great and has remained puffy and warm. I have noticed a couple of small feathers starting to come out of the armpit of the jacket, where two seams meet but I don’t think this is too uncommon with goose down jackets.

The ripstop fabric feels light and soft but has also proved, so far, to be hard wearing. The DWR works in light rain but inevitably wears off, especially with machine washing. (It’s possible to re-waterproof these sorts of products with Nikwax Down Wash.)

The jacket looks quite stylish and I really like the blue colour.

See Dark Peak Gear for more details.

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