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Gear Reviews

The 11 Best Insulated Jackets of Winter 2018-2019

Keep warm and cozy with an insulated layer.

Montane Iridium Hybrid Pull-On

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Shimmying and sliding across coarse North Cascades granite would lay a beating on most fleeces, but after a busy season of alpine climbing and backcountry skiing, our Washington tester said the Iridium showed hardly any signs of wear.

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Mountain Equipment Kinesis

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“A fleece-turned-belay jacket.” That’s how one tester described the Kinesis after a season of climbing and skiing in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. The lining is made from hollow polyester fibers (the core retains warm air).

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Bight Gear Fissure Tech Fleece

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Anytime we can avoid changing layers mid-climb, we’re happy—which is why we took the Fissure on 18,491-foot Pico de Orizaba in Mexico. Its gridded polyester fabric—like a Patagonia R1, but thinner—kept our tester comfortable on an all-day climb that began with an alpine start in the 20s and eventually warmed up to 50°F. The Fissure also has the slimmest cut in the test, good for moving moisture quickly.

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Adidas Outdoor Stockhorn Fleece Hoodie II

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No one likes winter rain in the mountains, but our tester who wore the Stockhorn didn’t mind it. Made of wind- blocking Polartec Power Stretch Pro with a PFC-free DWR for added protection, the hoodie kept her toasty during a soggy season in Utah’s Wasatch.

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Patagonia Micro Puff Storm

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The synthetic-fill Micro Puff impressed us last year with its high warmth- to-weight ratio, and this year Patagonia added a waterproof nylon shell to the Storm version, making it impervious to the elements.

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Dynafit TLT Hybrid Primaloft Hood Jacket

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When you’re working hard, you produce enough heat to go light on insulation. The TLT Hybrid gives hard chargers just the right amount, thanks to body mapping: It uses synthetic PrimaLoft Luxe in the shoulders, torso, and upper back, while woven nylon-elastane in the arms, sides, lower back, and hood dumps heat and boosts mobility.

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Rab Microlight Summit

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Lots of puffies are warm, but few insulate like the Microlight Summit. It hoards your hard-earned warmth with seamless baffles, effective stretch cuffs, and the test’s best hood gaiter. In lieu of stitching, the baffles are woven into the nylon Pertex Quantum Infinity face fabric without creating any holes, which makes the jacket fully windproof while shedding weight and bulk.

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Ortovox Swisswool Tec Stretch Zebru Jacket

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“The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.” Teddy Roosevelt said that about the Grand Canyon, but he could have just as easily been talking about wool. Evolution has wrought wonders with sheep, especially the ones in the Swiss Alps.

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Decathlon Trek 100

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When we first saw the price of this lightweight puffy, we thought it was a typo. A warm, packable jacket for $45? Believe it. 

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Blackyak Niata

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Yes, this jacket costs twice as much as most puffies, but here’s why some hikers might want to splurge: Stretchy sections on the shoulders and under the arms prevent baffles from compressing during reaches, keeping warm air in.

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Strafe Outerwear Alpha Direct Insulator

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This jacket performs like a high-tech piece, but it doesn’t look like one. “My buddy wore it on a big objective near Chamonix, and it kept him at a consistent temp while he was touring fast and hard,” one tester says. “In town afterward, I got called out for looking like a skimo dork, while he got compliments.”

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The key to thriving in any temperature? Pick the right insulation. From thin fleeces perfect for tough objectives to Ice-Age-ready puffies, these 11 insulation pieces can handle any clime.