The Year's Warmest—and Most Comfortable—Winter Jackets

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer. (Photo: Courtesy of Mountain Hardwear)
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisper

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer

Two years ago, alpinist Ueli Steck, a.k.a. the Swiss Machine, asked Mountain Hardwear to make him a line of gear that was tough enough to handle the world’s tallest peaks and packable enough to take on speed climbs. The company delivered one of the lightest, most versatile down jackets we’ve ever tested. It’s slim fitting enough to wear under a shell, weighs just seven ounces, and, thanks to a paper-thin, wind and rip-resistant nylon exterior, tough enough for bushwhacking. Then there’s the secret weapon: the down insulation is treated with a waterproofing polymer that keeps it warm when damp. The Ghost Whisperer may be built for the Alps, but the same features that excel up high work just as well on cold bike commutes and frigid lift rides. 7oz

Nau Wool Patrol

Nau Wool Patrol
Nau Wool Patrol. (Photo: Courtesy of Nau)

We’ve tested (and admired) wool-nylon-blend soft shells in the past, but this is the first waterproof-breathable jacket we’ve seen with wool used on the exterior. While the Patrol Hoody isn’t quite as light or breathable as a top-of-the-line ultralight hard shell like the Westcomb, it’s more weatherproof than you might think and dapper enough for a night out. Water beaded off the DWR-treated wool when biking between coffee shops in a Portland, Oregon, drizzle and again during a downpour while skiing Mount Hood. The waxed-cotton trim is also a nice touch. 1.6lbs

Stio Rambler Reversible

Stio Rambler Reversible
Stio Rambler Reversible. (Photo: Courtesy of Stio)

Flannel isn’t just for lumberjacks anymore. It’s appearing in synthetic base layers, Primaloft insulated shirts, and the Rambler Reversible from Stio, a startup based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Turned one way, the exterior is a brushed-cotton work coat that’s as tough as your grandpa’s Pendleton but softer to the touch; flip it around and it becomes a DWR-coated nylon windshell. Either way it’s handsome, well priced, and ideal for kicking around town, collecting firewood, or, on a warm and sunny spring day, riding the slopes. 1.2lbs

Arc'teryx Diplomat

Arc’teryx Diplomat
Arc’teryx Diplomat. (Photo: Courtesy of Arc'teryx)

The company that built its reputation making the best high-end technical outerwear has done a beautiful thing: it made the coat you’ll want to wear when you’re far from the mountains. The thigh-length Diplomat features a bonded-wool face, fleece backing, and a hood. As you might expect from Arc’teryx, all of these features make it warm enough to handle a blizzard. Note: the slim cut is best for taller guys and not quite roomy enough to wear over a suit jacket. 2lbs

Armada Bomb Pop

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisper
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer (Photo: Courtesy of Armada)

The reason the X Games crowd prefers loose-fitting outerwear isn’t just that it looks cool. It’s also more comfortable, especially in the air. The waterproof-breathable, uninsulated Bomb Pop features a baggy fit that allows for freedom of movement whether you’re launching off a cliff or jibbing your way through the park. Even better, it’s packed with features—tall collar, giant hood, powder skirt, wrist gaiters—that make it just as user-friendly for rallying groomers as it is for hunting down fresh snow. But at two and a half pounds, it’s probably best worn in-bounds. 2.5lbs

Westcomb Shift LT Hoody

Westcomb Shift
Westcomb Shift. (Photo: Courtesy of Westcomb)

A jacket like the Shift LT really could be your all-season, do-everything hard shell. The key is the fabric, Polartec’s much lauded Neoshell, which makes the LT waterproof enough to fend off the wettest storms at the resort, light enough to double as your backpacking rain jacket all summer, and just breathable enough to wear over a base layer when climbing or skinning up a peak. We also like that it’s made in British Columbia and has all the features you need—one Napoleon pocket, one helmet-compatible hood—and nothing you don’t (trust us: you won’t miss the pit zips). 10.9oz

Columbia Winter Blur

Columbia Winter Blur
Columbia Winter Blur. (Photo: Courtesy of Colombia)

The Winter Blur has all the creature comforts—pit zips, removable hood, and powder skirt—you expect in a full-featured ski jacket. It also has two you don’t. First, Columbia wrapped the heavy synthetic insulation in a four-way-stretch fabric, allowing for an athletic cut and an uninhibited feel that’s rare in a jacket this warm. Second, the interior of the Blur is lined with aluminum microdots that reflect heat back to the body. Basically, it’s a wearable, breathable space blanket, and it makes the jacket noticeably warmer.

Filed To: Jackets
Lead Photo: Courtesy of Mountain Hardwear