insulated jacket reviews

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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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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The Black Diamond Vision Down Parka.

Review: Black Diamond Vision Down Parka

Down Jacket
Black Diamond Vision Down Parka
$450, 1 lb. 4.5 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-XL
moosejaw.com

On a morning in the first week of March, with the temperature a blood-thickening 17° F at a campsite on the edge of The Maze District of Canyonlands National Park, this fat down parka felt like my best friend. That followed a night in the teens spent inside a sleeping bag not rated for temps that low, when I spread the parka over my torso and hips inside my bag and felt an immediate infusion of warmth that enabled me to enjoy a comfortable night of sleep.

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Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket.

Review: Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket

Water-Resistant Down Jacket
Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket
$280, 15 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XXS-XXL, women’s XS-XXL
moosejaw.com

Although it wasn’t the weather we’d hoped for in the Wind River Range, the rain and chilly wind whipping through our campsites seemed like the perfect testing conditions for Rab’s Microlight Alpine Down Jacket. And it passed the test, thanks to features designed to fend off wet and raw conditions—giving this puffy jacket strong appeal to backpackers, climbers, and others with a knack for getting themselves into that kind of weather in any season.

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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
moosejaw.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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