puffy jacket reviews

The Rab Mythic Alpine Down Jacket.

Review: Rab Mythic Alpine Down Jacket

Water-Resistant Down Jacket
Rab Mythic Alpine Down Jacket
$390, 11 oz./313g (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
backcountry.com

A weeklong backpacking trip in Glacier National Park in mid-September presented a quandary: Starting out with the weight of a week’s food gave me added incentive to trim all superfluous weight from my pack; yet the possibility of temperatures dropping near or even below freezing made bringing adequately warm layers essential. The Rab Mythic Alpine Down Jacket achieved both goals, keeping me warm on our coldest mornings in Glacier while weighing less than most comparably warm puffy jackets.

Read on

The Himali Accelerator Down Jacket.

Review: Himali Accelerator Down Jacket

Down Jacket
Himali Accelerator Down Jacket
$330, 12.5 oz./354g (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
himali.com

On cool mornings and windy evenings in the low 40s Fahrenheit (4-6° C) in campsites while backpacking the Skyline Trail in Jasper National Park and the Nigel, Cataract, and Cline Passes Route in the White Goat Wilderness in the Canadian Rockies in August, my Himali Accelerator Down Jacket kept me perfectly warm over just one or two base layers. By many measures, this midweight puffy hits the target for three-season mountain adventures in its balance of weight, packability, warmth, materials, water resistance, and features—all at a competitive price for a high-quality down jacket.

Read on

The Patagonia Micro Puff Jacket.

Review: Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody and Jacket

Ultralight Insulated Jacket
Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody
$329, 9 oz./255g (men’s medium)
Patagonia Micro Puff Jacket
$279, 8.7 oz./247g (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-3XL, women’s XXS-XXL
backcountry.com

Since getting my Micro Puff Hoody several years ago—and the latest version of the Micro Puff Jacket recently—I have zipped into one or the other in countless circumstances ranging from wind blowing 30 to over 40 mph while belaying a climbing partner or in camp at Idaho’s City of Rocks; sitting at campsites on cool, windy evenings and mornings while backpacking in the Wind River Range and backpacking on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim; on cold winter days under a shell when skiing downhill in the backcountry; and at kids’ soccer games on blustery autumn and spring days. One of the lightest insulated jackets on the market, the Micro Puff is surprisingly warm and versatile. Here’s why.

Read on

The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer UL Hoody.

Review: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer UL Hoody

Ultralight Down Jacket
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer UL Hoody
$420, 6.7 oz./190g (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
backcountry.com

At under nine ounces/255 grams, Mountain Hardwear’s classic Ghost Whisperer/2 Down Hoody has long held the distinction as one of the very lightest, most packable, and warmest-for-its-weight down jackets for backpackers, climbers, and other backcountry travelers—and arguably the best among the tiny number in its weight class. So why make one that’s even lighter? That question occupied my mind while using Hardwear’s newer Ghost Whisperer UL Hoody, which whacks about two ounces/57 grams off its older sibling’s weight while excelling for many of the same reasons—and differentiating itself.

Read on

A backpacker at Evolution Lake on the John Muir Trail in Evolution Basin, Kings Canyon National Park.

The Best Backpacking Gear for the John Muir Trail

By Michael Lanza

So you’re planning to thru-hike the John Muir Trail and making all of the necessary preparations, and now you’re wondering: What’s the best gear for a JMT hike? Having thru-hiked the JMT as well as taken numerous other backpacking trips all over the High Sierra—mostly between late August and late September, which I consider that the best time to walk the Sierra, to avoid snow and the voracious mosquitoes and blazing hot afternoons of mid-summer—I offer the following picks for the best ultralight and lightweight backpacking gear and apparel for a JMT thru-hike.

Read on