Conquer Winter Wilderness in KÜHL Men’s ARKTIK Down Parka

Is the KÜHL ARKTIK Down Parka the Best Winter Wilderness Jacket for Photographers?

I’m not a fan of large jackets even in the dead of winter. When snowshoeing at altitude and hunting for photographic opportunities, I need to be really mobile so I prefer numerous layers of thinner materials. Bulk drives me batty, and I normally avoid big jackets. Juggling photo gear in the winter can be frustrating when you’ve only got seconds to get a shot with a sudden pop of sunlight. Just the thought of a big jacket AND a backpack is horrifying.

Once again, KÜHL has shattered my stubborn habits and view of what is possible with outdoor apparel. The Men’s ARKTIK Down Parka is a dream, but before I go into why I’ve fallen in love with it, I’d like to share how I came to adore this luscious, roomy, ultra-toasty beast.

Setting the Scene

The original plan was to spend three days in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado; however, Mother Nature had other plans. I don’t mind treacherous winter conditions, but one thing that slaughters my ability to produce large scale fine art photographic works is a savage wild west zephyr. In extreme winds it’s nearly impossible to lock the camera down for steady shots (when bracketing exposures for layered fusion in post production), and this is exactly what attacked me at Rocky Mountain National Park. So I bagged the remainder of the trip, waited a week, and then my wife and I headed out to the San Juan Mountains near Ouray, Colorado on a photographic quest for magical images.

The San Juan Mountains of Colorado

This is the magnificent mountain pass between Ouray and Silverton, Colorado. It’s along the Million Dollar Highway, and we were met with outstanding conditions and a tiny window before the next wicked storm approached.

An ice rock wall in Ouray, Colorado

I’m always hunting for photo ops which reflect the spirit of the place. I’m not always looking for huge epic landscapes but also for textures and graphical elements which convey the feeling and essence of ‘place.’ I call the photo above ‘Winter.’

Box canyon in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado

This is Box Canyon in Ouray, Colorado (above). It’s the perfect place to convey a very real sense of the cold of Winter. Look at the water. Cooooooold.

Immaculate Winter in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado

This is a landscape I shot between Ouray and Telluride, Colorado. I call this one ‘Immaculate Winter.’

Red Mountain Ghost in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado

I call the photo above ‘Red Mountain Ghost.’ We snowshoed up an old mining trail above Ironton, Colorado to find this beautiful setting. At one point I plummeted into a drift next to a hidden frozen creek and found myself shoulder deep in snow but the ARKTIK Down Parka kept me super warm.

What Happened to the Gunslinger

I sometimes haul a few props along in case a concept photograph emerges. I call this one ‘What Happened To The Gunslinger.’

Frozen Monster

High atop the summit pass of Red Mountain between Ouray and Silverton, we found this old wonderful ghost mill. I call this one ‘Frozen Monster.’

Gary’s wife stays warm in the KÜHL Dani Sherpa Jacket

KÜHL ARKTIK Down Parka Product Review

So now the answer to the question, is the KÜHL Men’s ARKTIK Down Parka the best winter wilderness photographer’s jacket ever? In previous blog posts I’ve noted I’m extremely picky about my outdoor garb. I saw the KÜHL Arktik Parka while shopping in Durango, Colorado before the holidays. The first thing that struck me was the amount of spacious zippered compartments. It immediately occurred to me that with this jacket I might be able to forgo a backpack on days when I’m not trekking ridiculously far.

This is what I tested on the San Juan Mountains.

What was I able to carry in the pockets that would normally be inside my backpack?

Gear that easily fit into ARKTIK Down Parka pockets

This is just some of what I carried in the pockets: two extra lenses, a professional sound recorder, a Spot Satellite transmitter, binoculars, a rocket air blower, adventure watch, head lamp, and a remote shutter control.

Missing in the photo: a 0.8 liter Sigg with water, the camera I used to take this photo, a few trail bars, a tripod (which I always carry by hand), and a few other minor items like a whistle and a KÜHL Alf Hat.

It all fit in the ARKTIK Down Parka!

While my wife and I meandered around high in the mountains between Ouray and Silverton, I had no need to wear a backpack! Did I mention the jacket is extremely warm, very flexible and uber stylish? There’s nothing more I could ask or hope for. Perfect.

Yes, the ARKTIK Down Parka is the best winter wilderness jacket for photographers ever! I love this work of clothing design art.< The ARKTIK Down Parka retails at $399. It's also available as a Down Vest and lined Jacket.

Gary Orona

Gary Orona is a native Californian now living in Green River, Utah amidst the sublime canyon lands of the Colorado Plateau. He is an international, award winning filmmaker and wild landscapes fine art photographer.