On their website, the folks at Italy’s Crazy Idea call their Levity Jacket “the lightest down jacket in the world.” I would have to believe they’re right about that. It’s almost mind-bending, just how weightless it feels while wearing it. Levity is certainly a word that comes to mind, and it’s likely the perfect name for the product. But it also raises questions of brevity—just how durable is this wondrous lightness? But more on that later.
Before seeing this jacket, I hadn’t heard of Crazy Idea (or just “Crazy” as it often appears in their branding). In fact, when I saw “Crazy Idea” in a text from a ski touring partner (who seems to be full of them) I braced myself. I figured this meant another long day of type two fun and shuddered to think of what he could be planning this time. Luckily, or maybe mercifully, he wanted to know if I would review the Levity.
It’s a great name, Crazy Idea, for a company geared toward the ski mountaineering crowd. The entire history of mountain sports is one crazy idea on top of the next: that first Cro-Magnon to slide around on two pieces of wood was probably institutionalized. Crazy Idea, the company, was founded in 1989 in the Italian Alps. They promote themselves as “The original fast and light mountain clothing.” The online catalog is full of the sort of clothing you might see on the nordic trails or ski-mo race scene. That is to say, it may not fit into everyone’s color palette, but you’ll likely look fast.
All neon and day-glow aside, the quality of this “fast and light” clothing speaks for itself. And as Grace Staberg wrote in “Light and Fast: but make it fun,” here in January, “the faster you can climb, the more meters you inevitably get to ski.” I usually ski with two puffies on a normal touring day. The first is a breathable mid-layer, Patagonia’s Nano Air, I often start the day in and stuff away later, keeping it handy at the top of my pack for more warmth as we get higher on the ascent or transition. The second is my trusty, but admittedly clapped out, belay, or emergency puffy. A twelve-year-old synthetic Patagonia jacket that mostly just lives in the bottom of my pack. The Levity Jacket is the elegant solution to that heavy, stinking belay puffy that I’m sure many of us have been lugging around well past its prime. It’s like putting a titanium knee in an old Tele-skier: It may be hard to let the old one go, but sometimes it’s time to embrace the wonders of modern science.
Initially, I was skeptical of a down jacket as part of my ski touring kit. Down is hard to match for the loft and warmth but downright useless when wet. The folks at Crazy have attempted to solve these problems by using what they call “Diamond Down.” According to their website: “The feathers are selected by hand one by one in order to choose only the most voluminous bows. Thanks to this work Diamond Down is extraordinarily light despite having a Fill Power of 950/1000.”
Here in the Northwest, we have been under a persistent high-pressure regime for multiple weeks. That being the case, I haven’t had the occasion to test the water repellency in the real world. The ripstop has been treated with a “super light DWR coating” to shed water.
Additionally, the feathers have also been given a water repellent treatment. After breaking a sweat on the skin track, the down does not seem to clump or wither. In a cursory test at the kitchen sink water was beading and rolling away on the outer skin of the jacket. Rain or snow aside, I did, upon request for a more real-world test, jump in the shower wearing the Levity. Consider that endeavor a success if dry feathers are your endgame.
In practical terms, this jacket has the warmth of a heavy, bulky down parka with the sleek, airy feel of a synthetic mid-layer. I have found it to be comfortable on those cold early mornings on the skin track. But, this jacket traps heat well. Be warned, work too hard when it’s not super cold out, you’ll sweat.
The outer fabric is seven denier ultralight ripstop nylon, weighing, according to Crazy, just 18 grams per square meter. The seams are mostly taped, reducing the number of sewn-through regions that can create cold spots or drafts when windy. The Levity‘s baffles look diamond-shaped. In the quest for the world’s lightest down jacket, the only real casualty seems to be the pockets. The Levity has one chest zipper pocket and one inside mesh pocket. Out of habit, I am still reaching for hand pockets while wearing the jacket, only to come up empty. In the mountains, I don’t find myself missing the pockets, that would likely be hidden under my pack’s waist belt.
I’ve mentioned the levity, now it’s time to discuss its potential brevity. What is the real lifespan of such a light jacket? As light as the jacket is, I wonder how well it will hold up after a whole season, or several seasons, of being stuffed into and out of a pack and worn crazy proud. Crazy includes about twelve square inches of iron-on patch material with directions in Italian and English. Yeah, picking up the jacket, whatever your native tongue, you’ll likely say something like, “this jacket is crazy light.” But, a lightweight ripstop can be fragile. Snag it on a twig, catch it on a pokey thing in your pack yanking it out during a windy transition, and you’ll pay the price of down feathers returning to their birthright-flying free in the sky. As a rule, I treat the Levity kindly. Maybe, as you should anyhow, keep some Tenacious Tape handy for easy in the field or at-home repairs.
The hood, waist, and cuffs feature an elastic trim to snug a bit tighter. The cuffs also include a few extra inches of stretchy fabric to seal out the elements.
This jacket has so far been a great addition to my ski touring days. If you are looking to shed weight in your pack, the Levity could be a good replacement for your current belay puffy. Or if you tend to run cold on the up track this could be a good fit to keep you feeling light and warm. As you may have suspected with all of the talk of hand-selected feathers and ultralight ripstop the Levity does not come cheap. The Levity sells for $610.00 here in the US and weighs, after zeroing the baker’s scale, 215g.
As for sizing, we tested a men’s large. If you’re usually a medium, maybe size up. The Levity also comes in a women’s version.
Joe grew up in Bend Oregon in a family where skiing was religion. He spent most of his youth as a Nordic skier, racing all around the US. After hanging up the skinny skis and Lycra, and prompted by a love for surfing and the ever-inspiring local snowboard community in Central Oregon, Joe began snowboarding. Splitboarding, especially in the Cascade volcanoes close to his home, is now Joe’s main pursuit. Joe has worked for the Redmond Smokejumpers since 2014 and still lives in Bend.
Joe grew up in Bend Oregon in a family where skiing was religion. He spent most of his youth as a Nordic skier, racing all around the US. After hanging up the skinny skis and Lycra, and prompted by a love for surfing and the ever-inspiring local snowboard community in Central Oregon, Joe began snowboarding. Splitboarding, especially in the Cascade Volcanoes close to his home, is now Joe’s main pursuit. Joe has worked for the Redmond Smokejumpers since 2014 and still lives in Bend.