insulated jacket reviews

A backpacker hiking the Dawson Pass Trail in Glacier National Park.

How You Can Tell How Warm a Down Jacket Is

By Michael Lanza

While sleeping bags have temperature ratings, with down jackets and other insulated jackets, there exists no easy way to determine how warm any specific garment will be without wearing it outside. But despite the absence of a precise metric for gauging the warmth of down and synthetic puffy jackets, there are ways to assess a specific jacket’s relative warmth before you even see it, using simple metrics. This article will explain how to do that.

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The Black Diamond Approach Down Hoody.

Review: Black Diamond Approach Down Hoody

Water-Resistant Down Jacket
Black Diamond Approach Down Hoody
$360, 10 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XL, women’s XS-XL
moosejaw.com

Sometimes it’s hard to anticipate how much warmth you’ll need from your insulation, especially on a multi-day backcountry trip—and you may be tempted to go with an ultralight puffy jacket and hope for the best. If your choice is BD’s Approach Down Hoody, you’ll achieve the ultralight objective with little risk of feeling under-dressed. Wearing it on cool, very windy evenings and mornings down to the 40s Fahrenheit on a six-day backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon in early April and in similar temps on a five-day, late-summer hike in the Wind River Range, I stayed both perfectly warm and happy that I’d avoided adding more ballast to a pack already encumbered with substantial food and water weight.

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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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The Black Diamond Vision Down Parka.

Review: Black Diamond Vision Down Parka

Down Jacket
Black Diamond Vision Down Parka
$465, 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
backcountry.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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