The Permafrost Light Down Jacket
The Permafrost Light Down Jacket (courtesy, Mont-Bell)
Gear Guy

What’s the warmest, lightest woman’s winter jacket?

What's the warmest and lightest winter jacket for under $300 for a woman? JonWarren, VT

The Permafrost Light Down Jacket
Doug Gantenbein

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Sort of depends on the climate. Are we talking cold and dry or cold and damp?

The Permafrost Light Down Jacket

The Permafrost Light Down Jacket The Permafrost Light Down Jacket

If cold and dry, then something down-filled is the clear winner. Probably the leading sub-$300 candidate here is the Mountain Hardwear Sub Zero SL Hooded Jacket ($280). A classic design, executed well. Full hood, 650-fill down. And it actually has a waterproof/breathable laminate shell so is pretty good when it’s damp. Another very strong candidate is the Mont-Bell Permafrost Light Down Jacket for women ($250). Lighter than the Mountain Hardwear piece, with 850-fill down, and an excellent Gore Windstopper shell for great breathability and decent moisture-repellency. Weighs only 14 ounces.

If conditions are damp, then I lean a bit toward a synthetic-fill parka-type piece. A good one is the Patagonia Women’s Nano Puff Hoody ($199). It’s a trimly cut piece that has very soft, warm PrimaLoft One insulation, which keeps you warm if it’s wet or damp. Also has a naturally water-resistant polyester shell.

A third option is a so-called three-in-one, a jacket combo with a zip-out inner piece. Those can be pretty warm, and quite versatile. A good example is the Columbia Whirlibird Parka 3:1 ($200). It has a waterproof-breathable shell along with a zip-in liner that has polyester-fiber insulation. It’s a nice piece, and better looking than most insulated parkas.

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021 Lead Photo: courtesy, Mont-Bell

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