Top Ten Holiday Jackets


If you have a winter-sports junkie on your shopping list, and you've seen Outside's third annual Winter Buyer's Guide, you've got your ski-coat, hard-shell, and soft-shell needs taken care of. To fill in the gaps, we found ten great jackets for fall/winter/spring, with something for every budget. Because, from Buffalo to San Diego, everyone loves to have another cool warm layer.

—Will Palmer

Burton Process Premium Full-Zip Hoodie: Some would say hoodie wearers must be under age 30 and own a snowboard, but this plush sherpa-fleece-lined, all-cotton model is subtle enough for anyone. At least anyone whose melon encounters cold once in a while—you wouldn't want to be a pretender. Look very closely and you can make out the thin green lines running across the front. That's for edge, just a touch. $75;

Brooks Tienken II: I wear this one around town on weekends because it makes me look like a real athlete. I think that's on account of the sleek striping across the chest and down one arm. But Brooks makes some of the best real running apparel out there, and this track jacket is no exception. With moisture-wicking, thermoregulating Equilibrium polyester, it breathes easy and keeps you warm after a blustery day on the trail. $60;

Dakine Turbine Mock: Think of it as a mash-up between a track top from the seventies and a fleece jacket from the naughts. It's what gearheads would call a “hard-faced fleece”—the polyester is smooth (and a bit water- and wind-resistant) on the exterior and soft and fleecy on the inside. It won't repel the elements as well as a bona fide soft shell, but it's a great piece for cruising around town by itself or as a midlayer at the resort. $80;

FlyLow Prefontaine: The backcountry skier's best friend. FlyLow is a five-year-old Denver company that designs clothes for “the out-all-day, skinning, bootpacking, lift-riding, ripping, I-use-my-gear modern skier.” This is a solid midlayer best suited for warmer days (it's not insulated or fleece-lined) and equipped to handle dampness, with durable water-resistant (DWR) nylon that stretches four ways for easy motion and runs two inches long in back to keep snow from creeping into unwanted places. Back at the lodge, it looks as good as anything else on this list. $100;

K-Swiss Sherpa Track Top: This is a proper coat, lined with sherpa fleece, a synthetic fleece that's unsheared, leaving it in a state that resembles fluffy merino wool. It's almost frightening how warm this thing is (from a company known for its tennis garb, no less). Come December, I'm still wearing it instead of a down coat (at least until the snow falls). As for the “Track” and the “Top” in the name? Beats me. It's just a downright dependable insulating outer layer for going anywhere. $175;

Merrell Torino: This piece is a rare successful combination of sporty, vintage, and semi-dressy. I wore it all day on Thanksgiving, instead of my shopworn cardigans, and I felt like I'd found the ideal 21st-century counterpart—with mod styling and a zip front. It provides a nice moderate amount of warmth, with just a touch of wool in the polyester-acrylic fabric. One fit note: Due to its deep cut, it's better for guys with a long torso. $139;

Mission Playground Indicator Jacket: The Killer Value on this list. This young company's “mission” is to preserve our common “playground,” and they do take their green credentials seriously, designing eco-messages into each piece and putting 1 percent toward environmental efforts. I've grown attached to this recycled-polyester-and-organic-cotton jacket because I feel good in it for other reasons: It's soft, slim-cut, and has a nice casual, almost grungy feel that makes me want to grab it for any errand. $38;

Patagonia Men's Wind Shield Jacket: The most technical jacket here, this high-performance soft shell is well worth the price for runners, nordic skiers, or anyone who spends serious time outdoors in the winter. With polyurethane-coated, three-ply panels in front to banish the wind; soft, breathable, stretchy fleece all over; DWR finish; and MP3 pockets right up by your neck, we can't think of what it's missing, but if it needs style points, it scores those for its unique blood-red color. $150;

Puma Tricot Cat Suit Jacket: Like the Brooks jacket above, this one is a classic warm-up jacket that's great for before and after a workout. But more than that, it's a hip zip-up, from an always hip company, that I can wear out to the bar, while raking leaves out back, or to work on Fridays. The polyester number has a svelte cut, and the seventies-style cat logo on the chest gives it enough flavor without being obnoxious. $55;

Saucony On Trak: The On Trak is a well-made jacket that sports a more conservative look. The subtle houndstooth pattern reminds me of one of the classic windbreakers my dad would've worn, and it's well suited for wearing around town and on bracing winter hikes. With smooth terry lining, it's also surprisingly warm for post-run cool downs. Night runners, be sure to check out Saucony's super-bright Vizi-Pro jackets, with embedded LED lights. $90;