The North Face Polar Hooded

    Photo: The North Face

BEST FOR: Start-stop activities on cold days.

THE TEST: A unique mashup, the Polar Hooded melds soft-shell construction (arms, shoulders, and hood) with low-profile insulated panels (shoulders, biceps, and back) and a swath of fleece around the torso. In single-digit temperatures while skiing and snowshoeing in Minnesota, the stretchy, breathable Polar Hooded regulated temperatures nearly as well as a traditional soft shell. And it was surprisingly warm: during breaks when we’d normally be reaching for our puffies, it kept us just warm enough on its own.

THE VERDICT: A versatile soft shell with an insulating alter ego. 26 oz

Breathability: 5
Weatherproofness: 3.5

Brand: The North Face $299

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