Down with the down(-like material): Digging the puffy trend in golf apparel
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Down with the down(-like material): Digging the puffy trend in golf apparel



In the winter, I'm usually a vest guy. It's my chest that's cold, not my arms.

In the civilian world, I have a vest stuffed with down-like material I absolutely love. It keeps me warm while wearing long sleeves gives me enough room to breath, move and regulate my temperature. However, that kind of vest is too puffy to wear playing golf. There's all kinds of friction between my arms and the vest, and it's just no good. But there are days when I want to play golf in colder months where a pullover doesn't cut it, so I need a jacket or a less-bulky vest to do the job.

Fortunately, textiles and materials have come a long way in recent years, and one of the many, many innovations is the advent of down-like synthetic material that works as well or better than the natural stuff while not having to take up as much volume on a jacket.

In the last few weeks, when there hasn't been snow on the ground or I've been out of the D.C. area, I've been able to try a few pieces that utilize modern thermal materials that have earned a place in my cold-weather closet -- for both golf and everywhere else.

I'm a big fan of Straight Down apparel. We tried out some of their shorts last summer in a quest to figure out the best golf shorts out there, and they were aces. They were kind enough to send me a few pieces for the winter, too, including a couple of technical pullovers and their Patton jacket. The Patton jacket really caught my attention.

Here's a model in the Patton because I'm not a model.

It's a full zip-up jacket, with front panels filled with 140 grams of thermal insulation, like you'd see on your favorite vest and in a variety of fashion-style jackets these days. Even better, the Patton jacket (1) has sleeves to keep your arms covered and (2) those sleeves and the back area are made from performance materials with four-way stretch like you'd expect to find on a technical quarter-zip. The combination is brilliant. It's like wearing a quarter-zip with a chest plate of warmth attached, including two front pockets.

The Patton is a little more of an athletic fit, so there's nothing loose to cause havoc in the swing. I can swing with the jacket on and not even be aware I'm wearing it. Even better, the jacket is downright warm. On a 40-degree Maryland day, I walked off the golf course with a little bit of sweat because the heat was trapped in that well. The Patton jacket plus a beanie for my bald dome is a perfect combination.

The Patton jacket is $98. But if you want a vest, the Delta is $90, has 20 grams more thermal insulation with back panels, stretch side panels and the sleevelessness many of you crave.

Callaway Apparel makes some really strong technical pieces more people should know. Their Tour Authentic series is as impressive as it is luxurious. This year, their big push is Swing Tech, which is a way of cutting materials and combining them together to offer a traditional fit as most guys above 30 would come to expect while having a more athletic fit in areas key to the swing. For shirts and pullovers and vests, those areas are the arms and shoulders, so a golfer isn't swimming in sleeve and shoulder room while not being overly restricted anywhere in the piece.

This SwingTech carries through into their Thermal Performance quilted vest ($110). Similar to Straight Down's Patton and Delta, this vest has insulted thermal fabric on the inside. It's a little less on the puffy end of the fabric spectrum, but it's lightweight. The SwingTech stretch fabric is in the shoulder area, with some extra jacket material around the arm holes for some additional coverage. A stretchy gripper hem keeps the vest from flopping all over the place, and there are two internal pockets to complement the two on the outside. The nylon stretch panels also help with range of motion.

On the converse of Straight Down, there's a quilted jacket version of this, too.

Not everyone has the luxury of choosing between playing in borderline freezing temperatures, but if you're like me and refuse to give in to colder weather, you need good gear to get through a round. Having the right outerwear can make a cold-weather round seem downright balmy without feeling downright bulky. And with that final pair of down puns, you have some new options to be able to play comfortably in any conditions.

About the author

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]thegolfnewsnet.com