The 5.11 Primaloft Jacket – The Wearable Woobie

If you are in the southeast United States, you entered the first week of spring to a pollen storm mixed with being tossed back in the freezer for a final week of winter’s wrath. Admittedly, it’s not as bad as some of your weather, but hey, we didn’t sign up to be marinated and put back in the fridge. To deal with that sudden cold front, I grabbed my new 5.11 Adventure Primaloft Insulated Jacket

The Adventure Primaloft Insulated Jacket, which is hereby known as the Primaloft because that’s too much to type, is a lightweight, low-profile warming layer. The jacket appears pretty standard. It comes with a hood and a full zip design and is available in black or brown. Mine is the black model. The outside is polyester plain weave, the inside is nylon ripstop, and in between the two sits the 100% polyester PrimaLoft gold insulation. 

The jacket has two front pockets that act as hand warmers, and the inside of the jacket is massive and easy to drop items into. That’s the basic rundown of the jacket, and it might not sound special, but trust me, this thing rocks. 

The Primaloft Origin Story

SHOT Show has all kinds of meet and greets, parties, and the like, and I was able to attend the 5.11 pre-show meet and greet. Upon leaving, I was given a goody bag, and inside, I found what might be my new favorite jacket. What captured my attention at first was how seriously lightweight the jacket felt. I don’t mean when worn; I mean the overall weight of the jacket is crazy lightweight. Not only that, but it’s super thin and soft. This makes the Primaloft easy to fold up and stash in any kind of bag. 

The Primaloft would be a perfect hiking companion or general outdoor jacket. You start in the morning when it’s cool, but you warm up as you move and groove and want to ditch the warming layers. The Primaloft can be stuffed away with ease in your pack. It doesn’t require a ton of room. Or it can be carried into the wild or field on your back without ever taking up much room and then deployed when night falls and the temperature drops. 

In my case, I got hot and draped it over my laptop bag as I maneuvered through SHOT Show, airports, and other similar Vegas-born adventures. As the spring cold front rolled in, I tucked it in my daily backpack in the front pocket, and it never disturbed my day. The convenience sold me almost immediately. 

But Is It Warm? 

Is it warm? It’s downright cozy. The jacket is crazy lightweight but still super warm and comfortable. It gathers and holds heat very well. It punches above its weight class, for sure. It’s not a parka aimed at sub-zero temperatures, but around freezing, you’ll keep warm. When you zip up the jacket and toss the hood on, you’ll be toasty before you know it. In fact, there has been more than one occasion where I have to unzip the jacket to let a little heat out. 

I didn’t realize it while in Vegas through January and February, but during this last week of the cold front, an important revelation dawned on me. The Primaloft jacket is a poncho liner turned into a jacket! The poncho liner is my all-time favorite piece of gear. It’s a super lightweight blanket that is incredibly warm and issued throughout the military. The USMC always called it the poncho liner, but it’s also known as the wooby. 

The classic field jacket liner was also a poncho liner turned into a jacket, but it lacked a hood, zipper, and pockets like found on the Primaloft. The Primaloft is the field jacket liner turned modern and made handy for the average user. If I were 5.11 Tactical, my first line of advertising copy would be, “It’s a poncho liner you wear!” 

Under the Hood 

The Primaloft has a few extra features worth mentioning. It’s the little things that separate it from other attempts to create a poncho-liner jacket. First, the chin guard protects you from zipper rub when you’re all bundled up and warm in the field. The hood is elastic for a slightly more form-fitting design that helps retain heat. 

Inside the right pocket, you’ll find a piece of elastic cordage. Inside the liner of the jacket is an easy-to-locate locking nut. Press that locking nut and pull that cord, and you can cinch down the bottom of the jacket. This keeps the jacket tight against the body and, again, helps retain heat. 

Inside the big pocket of the jacket is a mini dump pouch. You can use this to protect and retain goods. It also adds another layer of moisture protection for phones and other electronics. It’s a feature-filled jacket that adds a different layer of versatility to the design. 

The Primaloft jacket has an excellent overall design. It’s lightweight and easy to compress in your pack. The jacket is downright toasty and offers a variety of modern features that make it a next-level field jacket. 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.