Hands-On: lululemon Navigation Stretch Down Jacket

Photo: HiConsumption

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It’s hard to find the perfect outer layer when the weather turns cold when you’re an active person. Typical cold-weather jackets offer warmth and style, but they’re too bulky and restrictive to move effectively in. Training-focused layers tend to be skintight, not warm enough, and — oftentimes — too goofy looking to wear anywhere but on the trails. If only such a garment existed that combined stellar heat retention and protection from the elements with excellent mobility and good looks. Naturally, our search for such a jacket led us to lululemon, where we discovered the new Navigation Stretch Down Jacket.

Lululemon’s Navigation Stretch Down Jacket from lululemon looked to be just the performance coat we were looking for. Here, we appeared to have a lightweight down jacket that isn’t bulky, that’s made with stretchy material that’s designed to move with you, and that offers an updated take on the classic insulated nylon jacket style in five good-looking and versatile colors. It sure looked like it fit the bill, but could the lululemon Navigation Stretch Down Jacket really do all of the things it claims? We took one for a test run to find out.

Photo: HiConsumption

Classic Style

From Trails To Train

The Navigation Stretch Down Jacket is designed to move, meaning it’s fully capable of helping you power through your workouts in the colder months of the year. But it’s also a stylish casual coat that offers a sleek and modern update on the classic down puffer jacket. The jacket isn’t puffy and oversized, it’s streamlined and modern, and it looks just at home running the trails as does on the train to work during a chilly fall day. We paired our medium olive jacket with a casual tee and some rugged black work pants, but we could see it working just as well with a more active-minded ensemble.

The jacket wears like a dream. It offers a classic fit that keeps things looking trim while leaving plenty of room inside for layering. And since there’s no extra material puffing up the outside of the jacket, you can also easily slide a shell over the top of it during heavy rain. We found the jacket to be comfortable both zipped and unzipped thanks to the stretchy material (more on that below). And the at-the-hip length and stand collar both give off an easy-wearing casual vibe.

Photo: HiConsumption

The Materials

Nothing But The Best

As fans of the brand already know, lululemon’s materials are everything. The company has revolutionized the athletic apparel game with proprietary technologically advanced fabrics like Swift, Nulux, and Warpstreme, and the material at the heart of the Navigation Stretch Down Jacket is no different. The jacket’s outer layer is made from lululemon’s DiamondStretch fabric, and it provides just about every feature you’d want in an athletic-minded cold-weather outer layer.

The DiamondStretch fabric is highly water-resistant, allowing it to shed light rain. It’s windproof, too, and proved more than capable of keeping strong gusts from penetrating while training. And perhaps most importantly — in case you couldn’t tell from the name — DiamondStretch is made to move with you. The material offers comfy two-way stretch that keeps the jacket from being restrictive, a byproduct of DiamondStretch’s high Elastane content (9-13% in the jacket’s outer layers). Overall, it adds up to yet another premium performance material from the masters of the segment.

Photo: HiConsumption

Warmth Without Compromise

Keep Your Heat & Use It Too

There are two things we really look for when it comes to an outer layer for cold-weather training: it needs to be warm, and it needs to be able to move easily. We’ve already covered the latter by discussing how DiamondStretch fabric makes for an unrestricted wearing experience, and now it’s time to talk about how this jacket keeps you toasty. For the fill on this jacket, lululemon turned to nature’s greatest insulator: goose down. Hey, there are some things on this Earth that technology has not yet found a way to improve upon.

The jacket’s insulation is a mix of white goose down and white goose feathers, and as expected, it does an excellent job of keeping the body warm in cold weather. But a big part of the reason why it works so well comes from the way that lululemon has incorporated the down into the jacket (here’s where the technology comes in). The down insulation is distributed evenly throughout the coat thanks to lulu’s ThermoChannel construction; a system of channels that keep the feathers in place to lock in your body’s warmth. After all, we train hard to work up that body heat, and it’s nice to be able to hold onto it when the temperature drops outside.

Photo: HiConsumption

The Verdict

The Perfect Outer Layer For Cooler Weather

Long story short, the lululemon Navigation Stretch Down Jacket is exactly the jacket we thought it was. It’s extremely warm while remaining lightweight, and its channeled insulation arrangement does an excellent job of evenly distributing heat across our body — no cold spots here. It’s incredibly stretchy and feels far less restricting than any down jacket we’ve experienced before, and it’s quite a looker to boot. Overall, we’re not sure that a better cold-weather jacket exists for light training. Heck, we’re still surprised this one does.

Purchase: $248