Mountain Hardwear Hunker Down Jacket
Mountain Hardwear Hunker Down Jacket
Gear Guy

What’s the cheapest warm jacket?

What type of jacket do you recommend for winter traveling in Mongolia, where temps will drop to as low as -40? Can I get a good jacket for $200 or cheaper?

Mountain Hardwear Hunker Down Jacket
Doug Gantenbein

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That’s a tough one, Nathalie. You will want a jacket that’s down-filled, perhaps one like the Feathered Friends Volant jacket, which has the best weight-to-warmth ratio you’ll find on the market. But the Volant goes for between $300 and $350, depending on size and shell material.

I also like Mountain Hardwear’s Sub Zero Parka, which is cheaper at $280. It also looks like you can find it for $191 online in a couple of sizes. For fall 2011, Mountain Hardwear is discontinuing the Sub Zero in favor of the Hunker Down jacket, which also boasts 650-fill down and retails for $200. 
Mont-Bell makes a decent down piece called the Frost Line Parka, which has 800-fill down and comes with a full hood and tough ripstop shell. That’s not as much fill as the Volant, but the Frost Line Parka is still a good jacket.

In synthetic fill, Patagonia makes the very nice Nano Puff Hoody ($199), which isn’t warm enough to be a standalone jacket but layers nicely under a shell in very cold or windy conditions. It has a full hood, which I think you’ll find to be a useful feature.

That said, I wouldn’t rely on a single jacket to keep warm. You’ll want to think about layering, packing some good Merino wool long underwear, some fleece for a mid-weight layer, and then your insulated jacket. Layering is the only sure way to keep warm.

Good luck! I hear Mongolian sheep are tasty. Especially the boiled stomachs.

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