breathable insulated jacket reviews

A backcountry skier in Idaho's Boise Mountains.

The Best Clothing Layers for Winter in the Backcountry

By Michael Lanza

There’s one certainty about the clothing layers we use in winter: We get our money’s worth out of them. While a rain shell or puffy jacket may rarely (or even never) come out of our pack on a summer hike or climb, we almost invariably wear every article of clothing we carry when backcountry, Nordic, or downhill skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, climbing, or trail running in winter. That’s money spent wisely to make us more comfortable and safer.

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Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket.

The 10 Best Down Jackets of 2022

By Michael Lanza

Whatever you need an insulated jacket for, there’s a down or synthetic puffy for your needs, within your budget. And whether you want a puffy jacket for outdoor activities like backpacking, camping, skiing, climbing, and hut treks, or just to keep you warm around town or at outdoor sporting events, this review will help you figure out how to choose the right jacket for your needs, and it spotlights the best down and synthetic insulated jackets available today.

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The Best Base Layers, Shorts and Socks for Hiking and Running

By Michael Lanza

Let’s admit it: We don’t always take our base layers as seriously and we do our outerwear and insulation—or packs, tents, boots and other gear, for that matter. But this under-appreciated first stage in a layering system for the outdoors really sets the table for how comfortable you’ll be. Base layers that don’t perform well probably won’t kill you, but misery isn’t a good companion. This is what we wear against our skin. It matters.

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Beyond Dasche L3 Jacket with hood up.

Review: Beyond Dasche L3 Jacket

Breathable Insulated Jacket
Beyond Dasche L3 Jacket
$190, 14 oz. (men’s medium regular)
Sizes: men’s XS-3XL
beyondclothing.com

Over several cold days of ski touring from Utah’s Wasatch Range to Idaho’s Boise Mountains, with temps in the single digits and teens Fahrenheit, snow falling, and a cold wind chill at times, the Dasche L3 Jacket rarely left my body, whether serving as a middle layer skiing downhill or an outer layer skiing uphill—a testament to its breathability and versatility. The fact that it comes in under a pound and under 200 bucks should make a variety of winter adventurers sit up and take notice.

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Outdoor Research Helium Insulated Hoodie.

Review: Outdoor Research Helium Insulated Hoodie

Breathable Insulated Jacket
Outdoor Research Helium Insulated Hoodie
$199, 11 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
backcountry.com

On a late-September backpacking trip in Yosemite, this lightweight and packable puffy jacket kept me warm on evenings and mornings in the 40s Fahrenheit—including one morning when a steady, chilly breeze blew through our camp beside Yosemite Creek, even though I wore it over just one midweight, long-sleeve base layer. But the story only begins there. The Helium’s breathable synthetic insulation greatly expands its versatility to four seasons, wet weather, and wearing it while hiking, climbing, or pursuing backcountry snow sports in cool to cold temps. And it’s made from partly recycled materials.

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