How do you signal you’re a cyclist to other cyclists, while not riding your bike? By wearing a down jacket of course… Riding group uniform regulations aside the First Ascent Transit Down Jacket is a pretty stellar piece of kit, writes Seamus Allardice.

Cape Townians in general and cyclists in particular love a down jacket. We wear them year-round, for any occasion. With shorts, in summer, to beat the chilly south easter. With jeans and flip-flops, in autumn and spring, when it’s just a little cold. And with layers underneath and a beanie, in the depts of the freezing cape winter. Down jackets are simply a must have for surviving in Cape Town.

With that simple fact established here’s why the First Ascent Transit Down Jacket is so great. It is exceptionally light, stuffs away into a compact compartment within its own pocket and like all down jackets traps an unbelievable amount of body heat. It has a 650 fill power from a responsible down standard certified source of down feathers. Which means that means, is that the loft of the down in the jacket is of a high quality and that one ounce of the down used in the Transit Down Jacket can cover 650 cubic inches. (Anything over 500 fill power is considered good loft.)

To help the Transit Down Jacket perform in inclement weather it also has a DWR coating, which helps water bead on the jacket rather than penetrate into the down. This doesn’t make it waterproof mind you, just slightly water resistant. But that nonetheless is still a great help.

I’ve been using down jackets on bikepacking trips since 2018 and can highly recommend First Ascent’s version for this use. Not only does the Transit Down Jacket fulfil the basic requirements of being light and keeping me warm, it packs down so compactly that it takes up minimal room in my bag. Additionally doubles as a pillow, which as someone who only sleeps on feather pillows at home, is essential to me getting a good night’s sleep while on a trip.

The only hassle with down products in general is the fact that you have to wash them carefully. I use a down shampoo and wash mine on a cold-water machine wash. Then I hang the jacket over a chair to dry, out of the sun. It takes a couple of days for the feathers to dry completely and regain their loft, doing it like that. First Ascent suggest a quick tumble dry, with tennis balls in the machine, to speed up the loft regaining process.

Currently (October 2021) the men’s First Ascent Transit Down Jacket is available in 3 colours – black, granite and navy – for R1 999 from There is also a women’s specific version, which is available in black, maple blush and navy for the same price as the men’s jacket.