Best Insulated Jackets of 2012

According to Mountain Hardwear, the Ghost Whisperer (hooded) is the world's lightest down jacket—seven ounces, 850-fill down, two pockets, and a ripstop shell that's down- and wind-proof and water repellant

(Mountain Hardwear)

Gear Institute's 2012 Insulated Jacket Reviews: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket

THE GOOD
    •    Ultra light—lightest in the test.
    •    Highly packable—about the size of an orange.
    •    Very warm for its weight.
    •    Good weather protection for this category.
    •    Excellent value.

THE BAD
    •    Lack of breathability hurts versatility.

THE VERDICT
When we struggle to find something negative to say about a product we know we've found a winner. The Ghost Whisperer Down delivers on everything we look for in a down sweater—lightweight, warmth, packability—at a price that's right in the middle of the category.

Read the full review at Gear Institute, a network of the best outdoor gear testers in America, dedicated to providing the most professional, objective, and helpful advice you can get about the gear you depend on.

Gear Institute's 2012 Insulated Jacket Reviews: Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Hoody

Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Hoody is an ultralight hooded down jacket with breathable side panels and plenty of high-quality down for warmth

(Canada Goose)

THE GOOD
    •    Very light and packable.
    •    Good breathability.
    •    Super warm hood.
    •    Lots of pockets.
    •    Stretches to fit over layers.

THE BAD
    •    Price is far higher than we’d expect.
    •    Fits a little small.

THE VERDICT
Combining the best of every jacket on this page, the Hybridge Lite Hoody was best in class in almost every category, except one of the most important ones—price. At more than $600, it's twice as expensive as any other jacket here.

Read the full review at Gear Institute, a network of the best outdoor gear testers in America, dedicated to providing the most professional, objective, and helpful advice you can get about the gear you depend on.

Gear Institute's 2012 Insulated Jacket Reviews: Rab Generator Stretch Jacket

The Rab Generator Stretch Jacket is a hybrid piece, combing synthetic fill and softshell panels to create a jacket best used for warmth in active or more aerobic activities

(Rab)

THE GOOD
    •    Best breathability in the test.
    •    Insulation made from recycled materials.
    •    Best of test for layering under a shell.
    •    Attractive look.
    •    Good performance in damp conditions.

THE BAD
    •    Not as warm as other jackets in test.
    •    No hood.

THE VERDICT
Though not as warm as other jackets in our test, the Rab Generator Stretch can't be beat on versatility. Sitting around camp, we were warm enough to kill a chill, but while hiking, the breathable soft shell panels along the sides kept sweat to a minimum. The good precip and wind resistance were appreciated, as was how easily it slips under a hardshell.

Read the full review at Gear Institute, a network of the best outdoor gear testers in America, dedicated to providing the most professional, objective, and helpful advice you can get about the gear you depend on.

Gear Institute's 2012 Insulated Jacket Reviews: Smartwool PhD SmartLoft Full Zip Jacket

The Smartwool PhD SmartLoft Full Zip Jacket is down-puffy style jacket, but with insulation made from wool

(Smartwool)

THE GOOD
    •    Very warm.
    •    Best next to skin comfort.
    •    More casual, less technical look.
    •    Good weather protection with glossy exterior and DWR treatment.
    •    Great price.

THE BAD
    •    Nearly twice as heavy as other jackets in this category.
    •    Not very packable, too bulky.
    •    Slick-looking exterior will not appeal to everyone.
    •    Less fitted style doesn't work as well as a mid-layer.

THE VERDICT
We found the Full Zip Jacket worked best around town as an outer layer in cool weather. Despite its slimish profile this jacket packs a surprising amount of warmth, but it’s not nearly as light as a down sweater, and felt more “urban” than “expedition.” The design is not as conducive to layering under an outer shell, or for packing when weight and bulk is a concern.

Read the full review at Gear Institute, a network of the best outdoor gear testers in America, dedicated to providing the most professional, objective, and helpful advice you can get about the gear you depend on.

Gear Institute's 2012 Insulated Jacket Reviews: Ibex Aire WI Sweater

The Ibex Aire WI Sweater is an eco-conscious down puffy that uses wool's natural performance attributes in a casual, easy-wearing design

(Ibex)

THE GOOD
    •    Green cred: recycled nylon shell, wool interior.
    •    Slim, attractive fit.
    •    Machine washable.
    •    Wool insulation is warm when wet and naturally moisture wicking away from the body.
    •    Made in Canada, eh!.

THE BAD
    •    Fairly heavy for the category.
    •    Not as compressible as down or synthetic.
    •    Less "puffy" than other jackets tested.

THE VERDICT
The Aire ditches the bulging insulation in a your typical down sweater for a slimmer profile. But it still packs the same warmth as its down brethren and layers well under a shell and over baselayers. If you like the idea of a down puffy, but don't want to look like Pop-Eye, this is your best choice in the test.

Read the full review at Gear Institute, a network of the best outdoor gear testers in America, dedicated to providing the most professional, objective, and helpful advice you can get about the gear you depend on.

More Gear

Obsessed with Gear?

Thank you!

Pinterest Icon