This jacket won the closet test. “I hung four new samples side-by-side in the closet,” says a tester, “and over three months I grabbed this one more than any other.” The thin layer of synthetic fill provided just the right amount of warmth for hiking in temps above 20°F, and the stretchy fleece side panels enhanced mobility and breathability. He also used it as a lounge-around jacket while camping in the merely cold, and on weekend trips when he needed one warm layer for all-purpose travel.
“The muted color and style blend in anywhere,” he says. “I was concerned about the 12-denier nylon shell holding up, but precrimped fibers add strength, and it showed no wear and tear even after a five-kid, two-dog yurt trip in Wyoming.” The fleece-lined collar (there’s no hood) and stretchy cuffs seal in heat, and it has two internal water-bottle pockets. Verdict: It’s not the lightest or warmest puffy in its class, just the most versatile. $170; 11 oz. (m’s M); m’s S-XXL, w’s S-XL; montbell.com