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Reviews > Clothing > Jackets and Vests > GoLite Diablo > Test Report by Will Rietveld

GoLite Diablo Parka

Test Series by

| Initial Report | Field Report | Long-Term Report |

Tester Information
Name: Will Rietveld
Age: 65
Gender: Male
Height: 6 ft (183 cm)
Weight: 170 lb (77 kg)
Chest Girth: 41 in (104 cm)
Sleeve Length: 34 in (86 cm)
Email: (willi_wabbit at bresnan dot net)
City & State: Durango, CO 81301
Location for Testing: Southwestern US (Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico).

Backpacking ExperienceI have been an avid backpacker for 49 years. Backpacking is my passion. I backpack the year around in the Southwestern US (CO, UT, AZ, and NM).

Backpacking Style—I have been a lightweight backpacker for many years and an ultralight backpacker for 8 years. My wife and I give presentations on lightweight and ultralight backpacking in our local area, and have developed a website called Southwest Ultralight Backpacking ( to share information.

Initial Report (November 2, 2007)

Product Information 
Manufacturer Website:
Product Tested: Men’s Diablo Parka
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Sizes Available: S to XXL (size L tested)
Colors Available: Red, Blue (Blue tested)
Weight: Measured weight 32.5 oz (921 g) size Large; manufacturer weight 32 oz (907 g)
MSRP: $350 US
GoLite Diablo Parka. The garment tested is blue,
GoLite Diablo Parka. The garment tested is blue,
not red as shown. (Photo from GoLite Website.)

Product Description
From the GoLite website: “The heat is on in this well-featured, technical, lite-weight arctic parka. With premium 800-fill goose down in the internal baffles and exterior baffles on the side panels plus a silky WispHP™ micro-polyester shell fabric to shed wind and water, the Inferno will keep you warm in the coldest winter conditions. Featuring two handwarmer pockets, an internal zippered security pocket, adjustable Velcro® rubber cuffs, a single-handed vertical hood adjustment, and an internal water bottle pocket, the Inferno will protect you on the highest mountain peaks without weighing you down.”

Features (from the GoLite website):

  800 fill goose down
  Printed Polyester Liner
  WispHP™ Shell Fabric
  Two handwarmer pockets with reverse coil zippers
  Reverse coil center front zip
  Decorative tape on center front storm fly
  Single-handed cord lock waist adjustment
  Adjustable rubber Velcro® tabs on cuffs
  Internal zippered pocket
  Internal mesh storage/water bottle pocket
  Interior and exterior baffles on side panels

Initial Impressions
The GoLite Diablo is a technical alpine down parka, not a down jacket. With an attached (not removable) insulated hood, a longer body length to cover the hips, approximately 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg) of 800 fill-power down insulation, and a water-repellent shell, the Diablo Parka is designed for extreme conditions. By comparison, a down jacket usually does not have a hood, is waist high, and contains much less down insulation.

Materials and Construction—According to the GoLite catalog, the Wisp HP shell fabric on the Diablo Parka is “A 22 denier polyester taffeta with DWR (Durable Water-Repellent finish). It’s ultra-lite, highly breathable, wind-resistant, and water-repellent. It’s an ideal fabric for use in high motion, sweat intensive endurance sports.” I have a GoLite Wisp Windshirt made of the same fabric, and agree with GoLite’s claims, except I find that it is not exceptionally breathable. However, for use as a parka shell, wind and water resistance are probably more important factors.

The quality of construction is superb. All stitching is tight and a high number of stitches per inch (about 12) are used in higher stress areas. I found only two flaws in the entire jacket: 1) the drawcord on one side of the hood is not solidly anchored in its seam, and 2) there are a lot of loose threads and an unsewn 2 inch (5 cm) gap in the bottom seam of one of the front pockets (my wife sewed it closed). I will watch these areas for any signs of failure.

Size and Fit—I normally wear a size Large, but size Large in the Diablo Parka is more like a Large Plus. GoLite calls it “semi-fitted”, but on me it is more of a relaxed fit. I measured the body width and found it to be tapered only 1 inch (2.5 cm). So far, I like the roomy fit, because there is room to wear several layers of clothing under it without it being too tight and compressing the down. I donned the parka over a thick baselayer plus a Primaloft insulated jacket and found that it has plenty of extra room for the additional clothing without feeling tight.

The raglan-style sleeves are very long; I can retract my hands completely inside them. Articulation is excellent; when I bend over and cross my arms or raise my arms above my head, the sleeves only pull back to my wrists.

The Parka completely covers my butt, and extends down about 11-12 inches (28-30 cm) below my belt. I measured the body at 31 in (79 cm) in back. The back is dropped 1 in (2.5 cm) lower than the front.

Garment measurements (size men’s L): body length 31 inches (79 cm) in back (measured from the base of the hood), body girth averages about 52 inches (132 cm), sleeve length (center of back to end of sleeve) is 37 inches (94 cm).

Loft—The Diablo Parka is insulated with 800 fill-power goose down. I measured the single-layer loft of the parka’s back at 2 inches (5 cm), and the sleeves at 1.6 inches (4 cm). The parka has baffled construction to hold the down, which is more thermally efficient than sewn-through construction, and is expected for an arctic parka.

Features—The parka seems to have most every feature I would want (see list above). Additional features not on GoLite’s list are a fleece chin guard, and three adjustors on the hood (two on the sides and one on the back). There is only one internal mesh storage/water bottle pocket; I prefer two large ones. They are very handy to hold items inside the parka (fuel canisters, gloves, goggles, water flask, etc.) to keep them from freezing, or to thaw them out. I will evaluate how well the thin mesh works for this purpose, and if the single pocket provides enough capacity for inside storage.

Test Plan
Test Period—
November 2007 through February 2008.

Test Locations—Southwestern US (CO, AZ, UT, NM).

Testing Conditions—I plan to use the Diablo Parka on high elevation winter camping trips where I will camp in the snow at high elevations in below zero temperatures. Every winter we build one or two igloos in remote areas were we backcountry ski or snowshoe, and we camp in the igloos for 1-2 nights on each trip. I spend a lot of time snowshoeing and skiing above 12,000 feet (3658 m) in the winter, and love to winter camp to enjoy the winter splendor. The highlight of this coming winter will be a 10-day winter camping trip in the Yellowstone National Park backcountry in February, where we will be traveling a 35 mile (56 km) loop on skis and building four igloo base camps. Expected extreme conditions (for all trips) include: high elevations with strong winds and high wind chill factors, snow storms, subzero temperatures, and deep snow. Elevations will range from 8,000 to 13,000 feet (2438-3962 m) and temperatures will range from subzero to about 40 F (-18 to 22 C).

Activities—The GoLite Diablo Parka will be tested doing the following activities: 1) snow camping in a tent and igloo, 2) snowshoeing, 3) backcountry skiing, 4) backpacking, 5) ice fishing, 6) winter car camping in Southern Utah.

How the GoLite Diablo Parka Will be Used—On these various activities, I will wear the GoLite Diablo Parka as either an outer layer or under a storm shell, depending on the temperature, wind, precipitation, and exertion level. In some activities (skiing and snowshoeing) the parka will be worn as a belay jacket when I take a break, in other activities (snow camping and winter car camping) it will be worn in the mornings and evenings when it is really cold, and for ice fishing it will be worn all day. The Diablo Parka will likely be too warm to wear for high exertion activities, unless it is extremely cold. Realistically, the parka will mainly be worn to stay warm at lower exertion levels. However, an important part of the test is to report on its versatility, comfort range, and the activities and conditions where it is best suited.

I will be testing the GoLite Diablo Parka in a range of activities and conditions over the next four months, and will be reporting on its performance in my Field Report in two months and my Long Term Report in four months. This concludes my Initial Report. My Field Report will be appended to this one in approximately two months.

 Field Report (January 5, 2008)

Amount and Type of Use
In the first two months of testing, I have taken the GoLite Diablo Parka on seven trips, as follows:


Number of Trips

Walking in a snowstorm




Backcountry Skiing


Winter Igloo Camping


Test Locations and Conditions
All testing was done in southwestern Colorado at elevations ranging from 6600 ft to 12,000 ft (2012 m to 3658 m). Temperatures while wearing the parka ranged from 30 F to -16 F (-1 to -27 C). The strongest winds I encountered were about 20 mph (32 kph) at 0 degrees F (-18 C), giving a wind chill of -22 F (-30 C).

The GoLite Diablo Parka kept me warm while backcountry skiing in a high alpine basin on a sunny cold day.

The GoLite Diablo Parka kept me warm while backcountry skiing in a high alpine basin on a sunny cold day.
Photo by Bill Webbe

Testing Results to Date
Shortly after receiving the GoLite Diablo Parka, I decided to test its water repellency by walking near my home in a snowstorm. The snow was very wet and stuck to the parka. After about 30 minutes I was coated with snow, especially on my head, arms, and shoulders. Water beaded up on the parka’s shell fabric due to its DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish, and did not soak through the fabric. However, there was some evidence of wetting through at the seams, which are not sealed.

While snowshoeing and backcountry skiing at moderate elevations (9,000 to 11,000 feet/2743 to 3353 m), I carried the Diablo Parka in my pack and put it on when I took a break or stopped for lunch. The parka was simply too warm (for me) to wear during higher exertion activities, like skiing or snowshoeing uphill, but it is very handy to put on to avoid chilling whenever I stop.

When backcountry skiing or snowshoeing in the alpine zone above timberline (above 11,800 feet/3597 m at my location), there was typically a stiff breeze blowing in combination with temperatures in the 10 to 20 F (-12 to -7 C) range. Under those conditions, it was comfortable to wear the Diablo Parka over a heavy baselayer, if I slowed my pace somewhat.

Sunset on a cold windy point. In a 0 F (-18 C) temperature and a 20 mph (32 kph) wind, I had no trouble staying warm.

Sunset on a cold windy point. In a 0 F (-18 C) temperature and 20 mph (32 kph) wind, I had no trouble staying warm.
Photo by Rick Hagar

I also used the Diablo Parka on two igloo camping trips. On those trips the parka was too warm to wear while snowshoeing uphill in rough train to get to the igloo, but it was very useful late in the day when I was out taking sunset photos on an exposed point at 0 F (-18 C) and a 20 mph (32 kph) wind, then snowshoeing back to the igloo in the dark using a headlamp. I didn’t wear the parka inside the igloo in the evening, because the inside temperatures were in the 30’s F (-1 to 4 C), and a synthetic insulated jacket was sufficient. Overnight in the igloo, the parka stuffed inside my backpack made a great pillow. I put it on in the morning when the inside temperature was initially 23 F (-5 C), and when I exited the igloo into -16 F (-27 C) temperatures.

Fit – The Diablo Parka is roomy enough to wear over another jacket, like a medium weight synthetic jacket, for even more warmth. The sleeves are extra long, so I can retract my hands into the sleeves if I want to. The waist drawcord has two adjustors so I can snug it around my butt to eliminate drafts. And the hood has three adjustors that can be adjusted once and then left that way. Overall, I would rate the parka’s overall construction quality and fit as superb.

Fabrics – I really like the parka’s Wisp HP shell fabric. It is lightweight, but adequately durable (no snags so far), soft and supple, and very water and wind repellent.

Features – From the use I have given it so far, I am generally happy with the parka’s features. The fleece-lined hand warmer pockets have plenty of room, and the fleece chin-guard is appreciated. As mentioned, the parka will seal up tight to eliminate drafts. My only disappointment is that there is only one medium-sized inside mesh storage pocket; I prefer two large ones so I can warm up several articles of clothing or a fuel canister inside the parka.

Assessment to Date
The GoLite Diablo Parka is designed for extreme cold and wind, and performs very well under those conditions. For its 2 pound weight (921 g, size Large), the Diablo Parka is exceptionally warm. In lesser conditions, or under higher physical exertion, it is simply too warm (for me) to wear and seems like overkill. Granted, there are many people who easily get cold, or dislike getting cold (my wife for example), and don’t easily sweat while wearing heavy insulation, and for them a heavyweight down parka like the GoLite Diablo is just the ticket.

So far, I have tested the GoLite Diablo Parka on trips where I have only needed it occasionally, and it has actually spent more time in my pack than worn. For these trips in generally milder conditions, I personally prefer to take two lighter insulating jackets so I can layer them, rather than take a heavy parka that is too hot.

Long-Term Report (March 10, 2008)

Additional Testing
In the two months since my Field Report I have used the GoLite Diablo Parka on six additional outings totaling 19 days, as detailed in the table below.


Number of Trips

Number of Days




Backcountry Skiing



Igloo Camping






Test Locations and Conditions
Field testing was done in southwestern Colorado and Yellowstone National Park in northwestern Wyoming at elevations ranging from 6600 ft to 12,000 ft (2012 m to 3658 m). Temperatures while wearing the parka ranged from 18 F to -16 F (-8  to -27 C). The strongest winds I encountered were about 15 mph (24 kph) at 0 degrees F (-18 C), giving a wind chill of -19F (-28 C).

Description of Use
I found it difficult to use the GoLite Diablo Parka a lot. The Diablo is an expedition weight down parka intended for more extreme conditions. On day trips in cold weather, including one day of backcountry skiing where the high temperature was 0 F (-18 C), I wore the Diablo parka only on breaks to avoid chilling. While I was skiing I was warm enough with less bulky insulated clothing. The same was true while snowshoeing on cold days.

On one three-day igloo camping trip in mid-January I built an igloo with a friend and camped in it two nights. I wore the Diablo Parka in the evenings and mornings when I was outside the igloo. I typically wore a heavy weight wool baselayer under it. The morning low temperatures were 2 F and 10 F (-17 C and -12 C). It was too warm inside the igloo to wear the Diablo Parka.

The highlight of my testing was an 11-day igloo camping trip in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. We transported our gear into the backcountry on pulks (sleds) pulled behind us and constructed three igloo base camps. At each base camp we stayed three to four nights and enjoyed daily ski trips to remote geyser basins and other features in the surrounding area. Again I wore the Diablo Parka only in the mornings and evenings when I was outside the igloo, in low temperatures ranging from 4 to -16 F (-16 to -27 C). I wore lighter clothing inside the igloo where it was warmer (20 to 35 F/-7 to 2 C).

The GoLite Diablo Parka kept me toasty warm on below zero mornings while igloo camping in January and early February.
The GoLite Diablo Parka kept me toasty warm on below zero mornings while igloo camping in January and early February.

The GoLite Diablo Parka handled all of my trips and test conditions in stride. On many of my day trips, I carried the Diablo Parka in my pack, but only wore it on breaks to avoid chilling. The Diablo was overkill for me in temperatures warmer than about 15 F (-9 C), where a lighter insulated jacket would have been sufficient. However, in temperatures I experienced below that level, the Diablo was very much appreciated. On the coldest mornings with low temperatures of -15, -12, and -16 F (-26, -24, and -27 C) at Yellowstone National Park, the Diablo was toasty warm over a heavy wool baselayer.

I was not able to get in an alpine tent camping trip during the test period so I could test the GoLite Diablo Parka under some really extreme conditions. When camping in a tent, there is no escape from the cold like there is in an igloo. If it’s -20 F (-29 C) outside, it’s almost the same temperature inside the tent, so an expedition weight parka like the Diablo is more essential. For my use, I could easily wear the Diablo in temperatures down to -20 F (-29 C). It’s sized so it will layer over other insulated clothing, so it can probably handle even lower temperatures when worn over other clothing as needed.

Test Summary

The following bullets summarize my testing of the GoLite Diablo Parka:

·        This is a serious alpine/expedition parka. It’s 800fill-power down and baffled construction provide about two inches of single layer loft. Its shell fabric is light weight, durable, and wind/water repellent.

·        Its construction is superb. Fabrics are lightweight and adequately durable. At 2 pounds (.91 kg), it’s one of the lightest mountain parkas available.

·        The fit is excellent. The body is long enough to cover the butt and sleeves are plenty long. The sculptured hood covers the head well and adjusts for a close fit. The parka has enough room to layer over other clothing when needed.

·        There is only one medium sized mesh “drop pocket” on the inside; I recommend two large drop pockets to provide plenty of room to warm gear inside the parka.

·        I found the Diablo to be toasty warm in temperatures down to -16 F (-27 C), and (for me) it seems capable of handling even lower temperatures.

·        For me, the Diablo is overkill for three-season backpacking because it’s too warm and too heavy. It’s also overkill for warmer winter days when the temperature is above about 15 F (-9 C), when a lighter insulated jacket will suffice.

·        From my testing, I found the appropriate situations for the Diablo to be really cold winter conditions, such as those encountered in the northern States and at high elevations. For day trips or winter camping in really cold conditions and wind (below 15 F/-9 C, and below 0 F/-18 C in particular), the Diablo is really in its element.

·        That said, for people who get cold easily and who feel chilly at much higher temperatures than those I mentioned, the Diablo is a good investment to “never feel cold again”.

I would like to thank GoLite and the BackpackGearTest Group for selecting me to participate in this test.

Will Rietveld

Read more gear reviews by Will Rietveld

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