The 6 Best Insulated Jackets of 2012

Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody

Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody    Photo: Courtesy of Patagonia

Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody

After several months of field-testing, including a month of trekking in the Himalayas, one happy tester deemed it the most versatile down layer ever: cool enough for 60-degree hikes, warm enough for 15-degree tours under a shell, extremely packable, and incredibly tough. 10 oz

TAGS: 800-FILL, VERSATILE

Eddie Bauer First Ascent Microtherm Down Sweater Jacket

Eddie Bauer First Ascent Microtherm Down Sweater
Eddie Bauer First Ascent Microtherm Down Sweater   Photo: Courtesy of Eddie Bauer

The good news: it’s well priced and has two big underarm stretch panels that allow for an impressive range of motion. The bad news: it’s not nearly as tough as the Patagonia (left)—the 800-fill feathers began escaping immediately. Tip: runs big; size down. 9.7 oz

TAGS: TOP-SHELF DOWN, STRETCH PANELS

REI Salix Jacket

REI Salix
REI Salix Jacket   Photo: Courtesy of REI

This waterproof hard shell, which is filled with a moderate amount of synthetic insulation (PrimaLoft Eco), is a jack-of-all-trades. It’s ideal for knocking around town in wet, cold climes, but thanks to pit zips and an insulated hood, it’s up for sidecountry excursions, too. Only bummer: it’s a bit heavier than you’d think. 1.9 lbs


TAGS: WATERPROOF, SYNTHETIC INSULATION

Marmot Baffin Half Zip Jacket

Marmot Baffin Half Zip
Marmot Baffin Half Zip Jacket   Photo: Courtesy of Marmot

The original Baffin was already a very lightweight synthetic midlayer—then Marmot nixed the two hand pockets and ditched half the zipper. Big stretch panels under the arms keep the fit snug, and testers felt the house-brand insulation was every bit as warm for its weight as the name-brand stuff. 9.6 oz


TAGS: ATHLETIC MIDLAYER, LIGHT AND FAST

Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket

Rab Neutrino Endurance
Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket   Photo: Courtesy of Rab

The Neutrino is stuffed with the best down (800-fill) on the market, and the ultralight face fabric is surprisingly tough. It’s not waterproof, but thanks in part to its secret weapon—a Pertex Quantum interior liner—a ten-minute squall (with our garden hose) revealed only a hint of penetration in the shoulders. 1.3 lbs


TAGS: HIGHLY WATER-RESISTANT, DURABLE

Outdoor Research Chaos Jacket

Outdoor Research Chaos
Outdoor Research Chaos Jackets   Photo: Courtesy of Outdoor Research

With its supple Gore-Tex Windstopper exterior and thin layer of synthetic insulation, the packable Chaos is essentially a winterized soft shell, perfect for everything from cold-weather hikes to serious alpine climbs. Our only minor gripes: the watertight zipper is annoyingly sticky, and the fit is a bit boxy. 1.6 lbs

TAGS: GREAT VALUE, STORM-RESISTANT

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