First Lite Source Jacket Review | Insulated, Silent, Packable, Warm

May 26, 2024

When I bought the Source Jacket, I hoped that it would become a go to piece of gear that I wore all the time, after all, it wasn’t cheap. Since that day I have hunted whitetail deer, ducks, geese, turkeys, and more wearing this jacket. It has become my all around, all time, favorite hunting jacket. It’s not perfect, but I can honestly say, if I lost or ruined this jacket tomorrow, I would buy another one to replace it.

The First Lite Source Jacket is engineered to be the ultimate lightweight deer hunting jacket. A thin, light, ultra quiet puffy jacket that has both stretch and resilience. It is a combination of benefits that sounds too good to be true. And it is too good to be true. It doesn’t quite live up to all of that. But it does pretty good. In this review I am going to cover the features, benefits, performance, pros and cons, and the HUGE MISTAKE that First Lite made with this jacket.

Let me just start by saying that this review is not sponsored by First Lite. I bought this jacket with my own money, because I wanted to, and have hunted with it for a year before doing this review. 

Why The Source Jacket

From the first moment that First Lite even mentioned the release of the Source Jacket, I wanted it. I read about it and their marketing had me hooked. It was the perfect combination of features and was exactly what I had been looking for. And ultralight weight outer layer with Primaloft insulation that could double as a mid-layer was something my gear setup was lacking. I had an older piece of gear I was using to fill this niche in my setup but it was taking a lot of wear and tear and need replaced, and it was not very quiet. The Source Jacket had my full attention.

I didn’t have the spare cash handy enough to order it that day so I waited a few weeks after release to buy it. However, by the time I got around to it, the jacket had sold out for the season. I guess it was more popular than First Lite anticipated. I checked back weekly until finally just singing up for a notification when it came back in stock. It wasn’t until the following spring or summer that it did, and I ordered it right away. I had kept this spot in my gear unfilled, waiting months to get this thing, and thankfully I was not disappointed with the jacket. I don’t know if it was really worth the wait, but it felt good to finally get it. 

Features & Benefits

The The First Lite Source Jacket is marketed as packable and versatile. And both are true. It weighs just 17 ounces and is stuffed with Primaloft Gold Stretch Insulation. For more info on the insulation, check out my podcast episode: Making Sense of Insulation For Hunting Gear. The fabric does have some stretch to it and it comes with a DWR treatment to repel moisture. It has thumb loops and a harness pass through, along with a very comfortable versatile collar. The specs pretty much end there. But that does not tell the whole story.

The genius of this jacket is the internal and external fabric. It is very quiet, ideal for the bow hunter and the still hunter alike. It’s also great for the turkey hunter, and anyone else that relies upon silence, like the duck hunter who is trying to sneak within range for a shot. But beyond that the fabric is perfect for both an outer layer and a mid layer. Most other gear I’ve used that is multi-purpose like this does not do both jobs well. It’s either a good outer layer or a good mid layer, never both. But this jacket changes that.

The outer fabric has just enough friction to give you good fit underneath an heavier outer layer like a coat, parka, or rain shell. The outer layer does not slip and slide around awkwardly overtop of this jacket. Likewise, the Source Jacket has enough room and perfect fabric to accommodate a base layer and even a mid layer underneath it.  So you can comfortably wear it over a base layer like First Lite’s 250 weight Merino Wool Kiln Crew or their heavy duty 350 Furnace Quarter Zip. Each of those links goes to my review for each layer.

I can also fit a fleece layer in addition to the base layer, enabling this jacket to work really well in cold weather. Also, because the insulation is Primaloft instead of down, it retains its insulative properties even when it gets wet. Which gives it alot of versatility and also enables it to function better than down as a mid layer. And also, unlike down, it does not compress much under a heavy coat, enabling it to insulate better than down as a mid layer. 

So this jacket really does thrive as both an outer layer and a mid layer. It’s a genius design. 

Pros & Cons

I wish I could say the The First Lite Source Jacket was totally flawless but that would be overselling it. Its strengths are certain stronger, but I have some things I’d like to see improved.


  • Lightweight and packable
  • Very warm, even when wet
  • High warmth to weight ratio
  • Truly doubles as an outer layer and mid layer
  • Very quiet outer fabric
  • Perfect amount of friction on the inner and outer fabric
  • Good camo pattern
  • Perfect fit. I wear a large in everything and a large fits me perfectly, with room for layers underneath but not too loose.
  • Wind resistant, though not quite windproof
  • Useful for almost any temperature range as a mid or outer layer.
    • For an external layer I agree with First Lite’s rating of 45+ degrees Fahrenheit if you are sitting still all day.
    • If you are on the move all day and have 2 layers under it, this is viable down to 20 degrees.


  • Not as durable as the marketing makes it sound, it also came with some loose threads.
  • The seem inside of one of the pockets tore from putting shells in there. It can be easily sown, but pockets should be stronger than that.
  • Only comes in one camo pattern, I’d like a solid color to wear to work.
  • It is expensive for a jacket, even an outstanding jacket.


I did not just buy and unbox this jacket and do a review, I hate reviews like that. I hunted in this for a year. I hunted deer, waterfowl, turkey, and more. I have used this on the coldest days of the year all the way up to 60 degrees. And I have been thoroughly impressed with the The First Lite Source Jacket. I have worn this under my parka at dawn on windy snowy mornings in the duck blind, only to later remove the parka and hunt ducks on foot for the rest of the day wearing only the Source Jacket and the Kiln base layer under it at 32 degrees with wind and snow. 

I have hunted with this jacket in pouring rain, which I don’t recommend, but it kept me dry enough long enough to sneak up on and take the game I was after. I have worn it sitting still and walking miles. I’ve worn it on trails and in thick brush. And while heavy brush puts too much wear and tear on it, the jacket is so quiet that I want to wear it all the time and I have to remind myself to be gentler with it than I normally am to my less expensive gear.

The camo pattern is also better than expected. People on my YouTube channel are constantly commenting how I blend into the background when I wear the jacket on camera. In the woods, I’ve found the camo great for hiding from just about everything. I normally don’t comment on camo patterns, but this one performs better than usual. 

All in all, the Source Jacket has the highest warmth to weight ratio of anything I own save heavy down outer layers, but those down layers are not useful for how I normally hunt. They are too loud, cannot be worn under another layer well, and are too fragile for anything but sitting still. The Source Jacket could use a little more durability, but wow do I like it. It beats anything else I have.

I think this jacket performs just as well or better than anything competitors like Sitka Gear, Kuiu, Cabelas, and others are producing.  They are making some good stuff, but First Lite nailed it on this one.  Once I got this jacketed I quit looking at what anyone else was selling in this niche. I was totally satisfied. It’s as good as a jacket can be that doesn’t have magical properties. 

First Lite’s HUGE Mistake

First Lite made a huge blunder with this jacket. And honestly, I cannot believe they have not fixed it yet. And the blunder is this, they are marketing this jacket as a deer hunting jacket and only a deer hunting jacket. It only comes in one color of camo with no other options. This is utterly ridiculous. I used this jacket more hunting waterfowl and turkeys than I did for deer last year. It is so versatile and so useful for hunting so many things, that to only offer it in one color is a massive lost opportunity.

I would wear this jacket to work often if it came in a solid color. I might buy a third jacket in Typha camo to wear waterfowl hunting alone. Yes, it has a harness pass through on the back, which is only applicable to deer hunting, but so what? Its just as good, if not better for hunting other things. This jacket is a gold mine that First Lite should start marketing across the board. It is one the best things they ever made, and I want it in more colors.

Recommendation & Conclusion 

The price on this jacket is significant. But I do wear it more than three cheaper jackets I have. And it does go on sale a few times a year.  I do not have a ton of First Lite gear because it’s not cheap, but this a piece I am very happy that I bought and I would honestly buy it again. I recommend the The First Lite Source Jacket wholeheartedly if you are in the market for something that matches the features and benefits this thing provides. Treat it with a little care, and it will likely become your favorite hunting jacket also.

Be sure to listen to The New Hunters Guide Podcast and check us out on YouTube

Till next time. God bless you, and go get em in the woods!

George Konetes Ph.D. – Founder and Host of the New Hunters Guide.

The New Hunters Guide is simply what George wishes he would have had when learning how to hunt; a single place to get practical hands on knowledge about different kinds of hunting, gear, strategy, and tips that can improve your comfort and fun factor in the woods.