Norrona Lofoten Warm2 High Loft Jacket
$199, 13 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: Men’s S-XL, women’s XS-L
A highly breathable fleece jacket is a layering staple for almost any cool- or cold-weather outdoor activity year-round. This lightweight jacket raises the bar in the two most important characteristics to look for in this type of piece: insulation and breathability. After wearing it on numerous winter days backcountry skiing in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, I’ve decided the Lofoten is the Goldilocks insulating layer: it always feels just right.
The jacket moves moisture so well it kept me from overheating during hard exertion and allowed my body heat to dry out damp base layers very quickly as soon as my exertion level dropped. Yet, it delivers impressive warmth when needed, especially for a garment that weighs less than a pound and squishes down to about the size of a grapefruit. Credit the zoning of different fabrics in different areas of your upper body. Polartec High Loft fleece through the torso and outside of the sleeves has abundant air pockets for trapping body heat where you need it most. Meanwhile, Polartec Power Dry in the sides and under the arms provides higher breathability and stretch to allow a close fit that doesn’t feel at all binding. The fabric is also luxuriously soft against skin, like your chin and neck, and the collar closes warmly without feeling tight. Of course, you need a shell in wind, which cuts right through a jacket this breathable. It’s not the cheapest fleece on the market, but it’s the most versatile I’ve used. In the U.S., Norrona is sold exclusively through backcountry.com.
NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu. See more reviews of backpacking gear I like by clicking on the “backpacking gear reviews” tag in the tag cloud in the left sidebar.