Gear Review: Kuhl Aktivator Jacket

Here is the full review of the Kuhl Aktivator Jacket. Learn details, pricing, and more about this jacket built for the outdoors.

Kuhl makes some of the best gear for spending time outside. With a slogan, “Born in the Mountains”, items like pants, shirts, and packs, better hold up to heavy usage, and Kuhl’s outerwear is no exception. The Kuhl Aktivator jacket is built for packability but designed for durability.

Disclaimer: Kuhl has submitted this jacket for review, but all of the opinions are the writer’s own. This post contains affiliate links. Purchases made through them send a small commission to TXTH at no additional cost but go a long way in creating new content.

Aktivator Jacket Features

Because Texas weather can be so unpredictable, most of my outerwear consists of items that can be layered if need be, but ideally feature materials that do a great job of insulating without a lot of bulk.

The Kuhl Aktivator jacket features synthetic insulation for warmth and packability, but the outer layer is made using Mikro Air technology that is windproof and water resistant.

The upper part of the jacket has 80 GSM (grams per square meter), under the arms you’ll find Kuhl’s Aero Knit panels, and the inside of the arm is 60 GSM.

Details like that go a long way for how comfortable your body will be with increased activity. If you’re hiking in colder temperatures, you want your clothing to adapt to the elements around you, but also how much the temperature of your body changes underneath. Especially when hiking somewhere with fluctuating temperatures like on the summit trail at Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Kuhl Aktivator Jacket Pros

If you’re familiar with the Kuhl brand you’re going to have high expectations of build quality and feel. The jacket has felt comfortable, and you can feel the stretch while moving around in it. In the few days of colder temps we’ve had here in Texas, it has also done a great job keeping that body heat inside. I noticed fairly quickly that it was blocking the wind while loading some stuff into my vehicle on a cold and windy February morning.

Where Kuhl elevates itself among other garment brands is in the details. I especially enjoy the small touches that are often overlooked like the reinforced material at the cuff that’s a high touch point, the strip of fabric that’s inside the pocket and body that helps prevent the zipper from getting caught on the jacket itself (you listening Patagonia!?), and the cinch pulls at the bottom of the jacket that tightens up the torso if you do choose to wear this as a mid-layer.

Kuhl Aktivator Jacket Areas of Improvement

My only gripe with Kuhl in general is its inconsistency with sizing. I have multiple pairs of pants from them in the same size, and they all fit differently. Not just because of the style of pants, but the measurements of the waist and length can vary.

This is the case with the shirts and jackets as well. Kuhl tops usually run smaller than the average size of brands on the market, so I recommend sizing up in this style for utmost comfort. If you’re slim, or if you plan to wear this as a layer, grab your traditional size for a slimmer, snugger fit.

Otherwise, build quality and comfort align with what you’ve come to expect with Kuhl products.

Unboxing Experience

This may seem like a small thing, but packaging is another factor when it comes to competition. The outdoor industry swelled during the pandemic, and brands are faced with declining sales. What sets brands apart is the story and the experience.

When you’re shopping online, your last impression is what you experience with the unboxing of your new product.

Kuhl shipped this jacket, and other items I’ve owned from them, with a packing slip, and a cardboard sleeve that features a “Thank ü” note with customer service information. INSIDE that sleeve were stickers and a Kuhl-branded, 70% cocoa dark chocolate bar.

Kuhl has already entered the wine market, and this little touch is just a nice addition to a product that costs $219.

Should you buy?

When people ask me about different items I always borrow a phrase, “Buy nice, or buy twice”. I learned this lesson in my 30s when it came to purchasing tires. Spend a little extra and things will last you much longer.

Such is the case with clothing and gear. Are there cheaper jackets out there? Yes. Will this Kuhl jacket do what it’s supposed to and last you a long time? Yes.

It’s really a matter of your budget and whether or not you want something you’ll be able to use for a long time. If you want to learn more about Kuhl and its products, make sure you check out the link to the storefront.


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