Testers did a double take when we revealed how affordable this synthetic puffy is. The features are streamlined (simple elastic cuffs, for example) without feeling stripped-down. The big, fat main zipper was easy to use even with gloves on. And the fleece-lined, zippered handwarmer pockets kept our fingers toasty when we were hanging out on the porch at Colorado’s Montgomery Pass Yurt even as temps dipped below freezing. Dings: Our packs’ hipbelts partially block those pockets, and their zippers are too small for gloves. The hood (not helmet-compatible) contoured well around our heads, but we wished it cinched down when the cold came in and the wind kicked up.
Good stretch in the sleeves and midsection allow for a wide range of motion and no tugging, even during scrambles on 13,294-foot James Peak.
It’s best for light activity, as breathability is minimal (we got steamy on that James Peak outing), but it worked as our warmest layer down into the mid-30s, and as part of a system in colder weather. It squishes down to about the size of a liter water bottle.