When faced with an iffy forecast, I grabbed this 800-fill puffy knowing it could handle minus temps but wouldn’t weigh down my pack if I never wore it. Paired with a shell, it kept me toasty on a seven-mile slog into Colorado’s Sangre De Cristos with blowing snow and –10°F lows. (When I stopped, I needed more; this is a layering piece, not a full-on winter parka.) The snug hood blocked drafts, but it’s nonadjustable, so check fit. DWR-treated nylon repelled heavy slush. Bonus: Extra-long sleeves with thumbholes (unique for a puffy) provide a great cuff seal. Bummer: Tiny zipper pulls are tough to grasp. sierradesigns.com
Shoulder-season hikers who need a lightweight puffy that can handle surprise winter squalls
> Ted Alvarez (others: Kristin Hostetter, Kimberly Lyons, Kim Phillips)
> Duration Nov. to Feb.
> Locales/conditions CO, MA; -20°F to 50°F, snow, sleet, winds to 35 mph
> “The short cut (to the hips) works well with a climbing harness but sacrifices butt coverage.”