Gear Shed

The Warmest Cocoon for the Coldest Days

A feather-light down jacket

The Mountain Equipment Xero is a great lightweight down insulator.    

This is the insulator you need for those frigid, hardcore backcountry trips.  

Weighing just over a pound, Mountain Equipment’s surprisingly compressible, 750-fill Xero down jacket is made for extreme alpinists who depend on their gear to keep them warm—even in the Arctic.

But there’s no reason why only professional explorers should wear the Xero. The silky outer fabric is durable and downproof, and combined with the down, (which I’d swear was closer to 850- than 750-fill), I was warm even on days well below zero. And when I wore the Xero as an outer layer during snowstorms, the DWR finish repelled melting flakes and kept the jacket lofted.  

This minimal jacket also has a hood, handwarmer pockets, and a baffled zipper. The final bonus? All of Mountain Equipment’s down is humanely sourced and traceable. The only complaint I heard came from belayers who wanted a two-way zip.

$325, mountainequipment.co.uk

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