Timmermade SUL 1.5 Down Sweater: The Ultimate Down Jacket
The Timmermade SUL 1.5 Down Sweater claims to be one of the lightest four-season down jackets on the market. It weighs in at around 228g, provides massive amounts of warmth, and is custom made for the perfect fit. Miles shares some thoughts on his after several months of use…
Additional photos by RJ Sauer (@rjsauer)
There are several reasons why I’ve never owned a nice down jacket until now. The first being I’ve had a synthetic filled jacket from Outdoor Research for well over five years now, and although it’s not particularly lightweight or packable, it’s dependable and I love the fit. Another reason is that for a long time I packed different specific layers that could all be worn at once for those “I need to be the warmest I possibly can be” moments. For example, if things got unseasonably cold one night, I’d layer my merino wool t-shirt, light long sleeve, a wind or lightly insulated jacket, and my rain shell. For warm summer trips I still use this approach, minus the insulation layer if weather allows, and think it provides a good mix of clothing while still keeping things light and tight for packing.
The thing is, every time I see someone pull out a plush down jacket at camp, I’m always incredibly jealous. My scientific layering methods simply can’t replicate the comfort and warmth offered by a good down jacket. I’ve gotten used to coping, while my bikepacking companions look comfortable and cozy tucked neatly underneath layers of lightweight nylon and goose down. Part of the reason is that if I’m going to fork out the cash to have a down jacket, I want it to fit perfectly, pack down small, but be warm enough to take me into a Canadian winter. What I’ve described is a jacket that no big brand offers, but something I knew Timmermade Gear could most certainly produce. After reviewing a custom-sized Wren False-Bottom Sleeping Bag last year, and catching wind of a super-ultralight down jacket with an incredible weight-to-warmth ratio, I figured it was time to get serious about my campsite comfort. Enter the Timmermade SUL 1.5 Down Sweater.
A Down Jacket, Pared Back
I love Timmermade’s description of the SUL 1.5 Down Sweater on their website, and it’s a clear indication that Dan Timmmerman is obsessed with the details. He first explains the difference between a sweater and a jacket, due to the lack of zippers, pockets, and additional webbing—all in an effort to make “lightest jacket possible for solid four-season use.” Warmth is maximized and cold spots minimized by increasing the space between baffles, and only a single vertical seam is sewn through the jacket (right down the front). With over 1.5″ of loft, and the addition of an ultralight cinch and neck button, Timmermade estimates a comfort range well below freezing. Zippers are frivolous, pockets are heavy, and drawcords don’t need to be full length. If anyone understands lightweight down insulated gear, it’s Dan. Albeit, I did opt for the addition of an insulated hood, which adds approximately 0.75oz to the sweater. Forgive me.
Just like the majority of Timmermade’s products, the SUL 1.5 Down Sweater is only offered a custom-made / custom-sized item. They require your torso and back length; shoulder, midsection, and hip width; the circumference of your head, neck, and bicep; arm length plus overall height and weight. I half expected Dan to ask me if I prefer hip-hop over jazz and whether or not I’m into long walks on the beach. You then get your choice of fabric colour and any additional features you desire, including a hood or collar. Honestly, I was a bit nervous about making mistakes in my measurements, but Dan assured me that the process is dialled and he’d check in with me if any numbers looked off.
The final product is an incredibly light down sweater, especially considering Timmermade’s claims when it comes to warmth, with overall quality and design to match. I found the fit to be spot on, having a touch of extra length overall and in the arms to keep covered and cozy while moving around camp. The neck opening is also snug fitting, which assists in keeping the warmth in and the cold out—although makes putting the sweater on a little slower. The hood is also nicely sized and shaped, and it’s great to see that Timmermade includes a lightweight drawstring in its opening to really seal things up in the cold. I usually find that commercially produced jackets aren’t long enough in the arms and either too long or too short in the front. I’m also not a fan of unnecessary features, so the SUL 1.5 makes sense to me.
I missed having somewhere to put my hands on a few colder nights this fall and I brought this to Dan’s attention. He explained just how much bulk and weight insulated pockets can add, and how adding a few extra inches on the arm length is a more effective way of achieving the same goal. We also discussed the potential for a kangaroo-style front pocket, and Dan says he hasn’t landed on a design that he’s satisfied with yet. It just goes to show that every aspect of the jacket has been dialled, and the final product represents that. The pared back design of the SUL 1.5 Sweater won’t be for everyone, due to its lack of features, but for those who want an incredibly warm and impressively lightweight layer for at camp, it’s definitely worth considering.
My only complaint, if you can call it that, is that the neck hole on the jacket is a touch tight and doesn’t have any stretch. It really just fits over my head when I’m putting it on, and I think I’d prefer to have a little wiggle room there. Others may not feel the same. Of course, the benefit of having a custom-made down sweater is that Timmermade can tweak the fit depending on your preferences—so the snug neck hole is really on me.
SUL 1.5 Down Sweater Details
Like all of their products, the Timmermade SUL 1.5 Down Sweater is hand made by Dan Timmerman in in central New York. The outer and inner shells are made of a lightweight ripstop nylon, and the sweater is insulated with Hyperdry 950 fill power goose down. Hyperdry is treated with a water repellent coating that is fluorocarbon free, as standard DWR coatings have proven to damage our health and our environment. The insulation is also Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certified, which ensures the down and feathers comes from animals that have not been subjected to unnecessary harm.
The SUL 1.5 is made from Argon 67 ripstop nylon, which resists wind and water enough to be used as an exterior layer but also has a high air permeability rating of 50cfm so it breaths very well. The fabric has a tight weave, a DWR coating, and is calendared and completely downproof—which means it helps prevent the down insulation from ‘leaking’ out. It’s commonly used in lightweight down insulated gear like jackets, quilts, and sleeping bags. Although it doesn’t weigh much (0.67oz/yd²) and feels quite delicate to the touch, the exterior fabric has no signs of early wear and I haven’t been using a dedicated stuff sack during several recent bikepacking trips. Since I only use it at camp in the evenings, I tend to stuff it into my handlebar bag alongside my sleeping bag or quilt.
So, just how warm is it? Although results will vary from person to person, I can confidently say this is a four-season down sweater, and just to confirm, that’s four seasons in Canada. I’m not kidding when I say I’ve never owned a jacket this warm. The only thing comparable was my Black Diamond Cold Forge Hoody, but that weighed around 575 grams and didn’t compress all that well. During a recent trip to the South Chilcotin Mountains in BC, the nights dropped to right around freezing and the SUL 1.5 was more than enough to keep me cozy at camp. Since I only brought my ultra lightweight Western Mountaineering NanoLite Quilt (rated for 38°F (3°C), I often ended up wearing the down sweater while I slept for some added warmth. I was pretty happy with this pairing, as opposed to packing my cold weather sleeping bag, since a lightweight quilt and the down sweater work well and pack down incredibly small. I’ll likely use the same approach this fall and into the winter for some coastal bikepacking as well. If I needed to put a number to it, I wouldn’t be surprised if the SUL 1.5 continued to keep me warm in full on winter conditions, 5°F to -4°F (-15°C to -20°C) is definitely not out of the question, with proper layers, and I bet you could push it a tad further if needed.
How small can it pack down? Roughly the size of a standard 22oz water bottle. See the photos above. This is arguably its biggest selling point. That’s impressively small considering how warm it is. For those who don’t require a jacket quite as warm, check out Timmermade’s SUL 1.1 or .75 Down Sweaters, which are better suited for three-season and summer use, respectively.
- Made by hand in New York, USA.
- High-quality construction and components.
- Responsible Down Certified and fluorocarbon-free down insulation.
- Custom sized for you at no extra cost.
- Very reasonably priced considering what you’re getting.
- Minimalist design and lack of features won’t be for everyone.
- Neck hole is a touch tight and has little stretch.
- No pockets.
- Material: Argon 67 ripstop nylon / Hyperdry 950 fill power goose down
- Weight: 228 grams (8oz)
- Place of Manufacture: New York, USA
- Price: $265 USD
- Manufacturer’s Details: Timmermade.com
Considering the quality, weight, and pack size of the Timmermade SUL 1.5 Down Sweater, I think it is priced incredibly competitively. I have yet to find a down jacket that comes close to what it offers, with the majority of popular ‘ultralight’ down jackets weighing and costing more, and seemingly not being as warm either. Still, a $265 down sweater will be an investment for anyone, so it might make the most sense if it can be incorporated into both your nightly camp routine and sleeping system. It might just be the golden ticket to stretching out the versatility of that three-season sleeping bag, and a way to avoid purchasing a winter sleeping bag. Or maybe you’re just cold and would prefer to be warm—it does that too!