Offering excellent levels of thermal protection and full outdoor-ready functionality, the Shackleton Rothera is a super-stylish puffer jacket that performs brilliantly as a good-looking outer layer, or a technical mid layer when conditions are wet.
Warm and waterproof
Excellent pockets and hood
Great storm cuffs and thumb loops
Comes with pack sack
No women’s version
Back could be longer
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Shackleton Rothera Hooded Down Jacket: first imprssions
The Shackleton Rothera Hooded Down Jacket (available direct from Shackleton) is a technical piece of kit, but initial impressions count, and unavoidably, the first thing that crosses your mind when looking at this puffer jacket is how dashingly handsome it is. But, of course, that wouldn’t count for much if it didn’t perform in the field/hills. So that’s where we took it on test, to see whether it would earn a place in our roundup of the best down jackets available today.
• List price: $565 (US) / £495 (UK)
• Weight: 647g
• Fill: RDS-certified 850 fill goose down
• Shell: 100% recycled nylon
• Sizes: S–XL
• Colors: Black / Pewter / Bronze
The Rothera is not exclusively a winter jacket – it’s a versatile garment, designed to be worn across several seasons, so whether you’re layering up for a hike during the darkest and coldest months, wrapping up for an outing on a frosty spring or fall morning, or stargazing late on a clear and chilly summer’s night, it will serve you well all year round.
And it needs to, because this is a high-end piece of apparel, with a premium price tag and some glossy branding around renowned explorer and Antarctic survivalist Ernest Shackleton to match. The care and attention that has gone into the design and production of this Bluesign-certifed coat, the materials used (including very ethically sourced down and 100% recycled nylon) and the performance levels it offers are all absolutely excellent… But it is a major investment.
The build quality seems extremely robust, however, so if it lasts a decade or more, as the brand confidently predict it will, then it’s money well spent.
Shackleton Rothera Hooded Down Jacket: in the field
I tested this jacket all through winter and spring, wearing it on walks in scenarios ranging from day hikes in the Surrey Hills to tor- and moor-exploring escapades on Dartmoor and Exmoor. Given its good looks, I also tended to grab it first when heading out socially during colder months – it’s brilliant for keeping warm in outdoor cafes.
The Shackleton Rothera is not the most chunky puffer jacket I’ve ever tested, but stuffed full of premium 850 fill goose down, and with a smart baffle design to keep the filling in place, its level of thermal protection is impressive. And the lack of bulk means it works very well as a mid layer when needs must.
In dry weather it makes a superb and stylish outer layer, perfect for everything from peak-bagging to post-adventure pub swaggering. But while it will keep the wind at bay, like the vast majority of puffers it is not fully waterproof (it has a C-zero DWR finish, making it resistant to light rain and drizzle), so when heavier rain starts to fall you will have to, reluctantly, cover it up with a lightweight waterproof shell layer.
The jacket has a highly protective, warm and easily adjustable hood, plus storm cuffs with in-built thumb loops, and a lower hem that can be tightened around your hips. All of this combines to keep drafts out and it ensures the coat stays where it should be if and when you slide an outer layer over the top, or whilst you’re wearing a hiking backpack. I do think the rear of the jacket could perhaps have been extended slightly, to offer more bum coverage, but this is a relatively minor quibble.
There are two fleece-lined hand pockets and a pair of chest pockets on the outside, all of which have good-quality YKK zips with pull cords so you can operate them with gloves on. Inside there are a further two zipped pockets, one vertical and one horizontal, both generously proportioned (the left chest one is large enough to swallow an Ordnance Survey sheet map). And when you’re not wearing it, one of the inner pockets offers a stuff sack, so you can pack the jacket down and easily carry it around for when it is needed.
Whether worn as a mid or an outer layer, the Rothera really delivers on some big promises.
Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and instagram here.