puffy jacket reviews

Gear Review: Marmot Variant Hoody

Marmot Variant Hoody review
Marmot Variant Hoody

Hybrid Cold-Weather Jacket
Marmot Variant Hoody
$185, 15 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s S-XXL, women’s XS-XL
marmot.com

Whether a fast-forward winter sport like skate-skiing, or a pack-carrying activity like hiking, ski touring, and snowshoeing, many cold-weather outdoor adventures demand a jacket that doesn’t quite fit into the traditional definition of insulation, hard shell, or soft shell. Short story: You need more insulation in front and breathability on your back and arms. Enter the Variant, a hybrid cross between lightweight insulation and a soft shell. I’ve really grown to like it for my two primary winter sports, skate-skiing and ski touring, but it would function equally well for hiking and snowshoeing.

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Gear Review: Westcomb Cayoosh LT Sweater

 

Westcomb Cayoosh LT Sweater

Westcomb Cayoosh LT Sweater
$260, 10 oz. (men’s medium)
Sizes: men’s XS-XXL, women’s XS-XL
westcomb.com

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).

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Gear Review: MontBell EX Light Down Jacket

MontBell EX Light Down Jacket

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.

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Gear Review: Outdoor Research and Rab Winter Down Jackets

Outdoor Research Maestro Jacket

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).

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Gear Review: Brooks-Range Cirro Hoody Puffy Jacket

Brooks-Range Cirro Hoody

Puffy Jacket
Brooks-Range Cirro Hoody
$189, 13 oz.
Sizes: S-XL
brooks-range.com

I looked at this puffy jacket and thought, “Not gonna keep me warm. Too thin and light.” Wrong. From Washington’s North Cascades to Oregon’s Grand Ronde River and Idaho’s City of Rocks, I was toasty on windy, cool mornings down to the upper 30s. The lightweight, Primaloft One insulation doesn’t look Michelin Man fat, but is tops at trapping body heat.

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