From Idaho’s Sawtooths to Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness and Washington’s Olympic Mountains, this full-zip down jacket proved surprisingly warm for its weight in temperatures from the 40s down to a hair below freezing (with only one or two base layers underneath).
Ultralight Puffy MontBell EX Light Down Jacket
$190, 5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s S-XL montbell.us
Don’t ask: How lightweight can a down jacket be and still keep you warm? Instead, reframe the question: How light a puffy do you want and how does it fit into your layering system? With sewn-through construction to prevent down from migrating, elastic cuffs to seal out drafts, and no hand pockets, this jacket stuffed with just 1.8 ounces of premium, 900-fill down feathers is no fat puffy. But it’s a very light stand-alone insulation piece for mild summer temperatures, or a versatile middle layer in a system that you can customize for a variety of outdoor activities in any season.
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).