We’ve seen a few jacket systems over the years, and most have suffered from a range of design flaws: complex connectors, bulky twin zippers, and odd fit issues. But Merrell avoids every pitfall in mating this 800-fill down sweater and 2.5-layer shell. Together, the Raven (and women’s Falconry) is a solid year-round system that—thanks to a high collar and articulated hood—sloughs off big alpine blows.
Apart, the ultralight inner stuffed in a tester’s knit cap as the ideal insulation for spring nights in the Rockies, and the long, stretchy shell provided terrific mobility while telemarking. Unobtrusive snaps connect the parts, and pit zips boost venting. Caveats: Temps below 10°F and high humidity taxed the Raven’s warmth and breathability, and the price could get you any two of the jackets on this page. $499; 2 lbs. 1 oz. (m’s XL); m’s S-XXL, w’s XS-XL; merrell.com