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Gear Review: Outdoor Research and Rab Winter Down Jackets

Outdoor Research Maestro Jacket

Down Jackets for Winter
Outdoor Research Maestro Jacket
$325, 1 lb. 5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL
outdoorresearch.com

On January nights that dipped into the low teens during a four-day yurt trip, this fat, 800+-fill power, hooded down jacket was so warm I could hang around outside for hours in the evenings and early mornings, staying perfectly warm. At a bit under a pound and a half, it’s a burly puffy jacket made for very cold situations: ice-climbing belays, winter camping, or all-day backcountry ski tours on frigid days when you need a super-warm puffy for breaks (or even just inside your pack as an insurance policy in an emergency). The down is packed into baffles for even insulation. The two hand pockets with stretch binding warmed my numbed fingers almost instantly after I was shooting photos in freezing temps with bare hands. The adjustable hood stays put in wind, has a brim to help keep blowing snow off your face, and is sewn in behind the collar, so that the collar covers your neck even when the hood is dropped. The water-resistant Pertex Quantum shell fabric repelled falling snow. The jacket has a longer cut than the Rab Infinity Jacket, and two big mesh cargo pockets on the inside—ideal for drying damp gloves or socks. It stuffs into a sack (not provided) that’s 12x5x5 inches—kind of bulky, but that’s the cost for super warmth.

 

Rab Infinity Jacket

Rab Infinity Jacket
$224, 15 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: Men’s S-XXL, women’s 8-16
rab.uk.com

The search for the right winter puffy jacket comes down to finding the perfect balance between warmth and minimal weight and bulk, and the Infinity hits a sweet spot in that regard. Using it while backcountry skiing in Idaho’s Boise Mountains, it kept me warm during lunch breaks in cold wind, without adding much weight or bulk to my pack, thanks to 850-fill power down, some of the lightest and warmest feathers available, and lightweight but durable, 10-denier Pertex Quantum GL shell fabric. The stitch-through baffle construction keeps down from shifting. The jacket has two nice hand-warmer pockets, and the thick hood, although not adjustable, has a stretchy edge that keeps all but the strongest gusts from blowing it off your head. The jacket comes with a stuff sack and packs down to about 9.5x6x5.5 inches, more compact than the Outdoor Research Maestro Jacket, though not quite as warm.

—Michael Lanza

About The Author

Michael Lanza

A former field editor and primary gear reviewer for Backpacker Magazine, Michael Lanza created The Big Outside to share stories and images from his many backpacking, hiking, and other outdoor adventures, as well as expert tips and gear reviews to help readers plan and pull off their own great adventures.

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photo of Michael Lanza

Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside and former Northwest Editor at Backpacker magazine. Click my photo to learn more about me and my blog. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside now to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. And click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

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