Editors' Choice Snow Award 2012: L.L. Bean Ultralite 850 Puffy

The ultimate bang-for-buck ratio jacket.

[new-tech down bargain]

Who says high-tech always has a high price? This versatile jacket, stuffed with 850-fill DownTek (feathers have been individually coated with a molecular-level polymer to repel moisture), lets you upgrade to cutting edge without taking a financial hit. On the outside it looks like a standard, midweight down layering piece, but after our crew exposed it to some truly nasty weather, the Ultralite proved there’s nothing standard under the hood.

“I wore it shell-less for three straight days in northern Scotland’s Cairngorms National Park, with afternoon downpours, evening sleet, and drippy morning fog,” says one tester. “I convinced my partner to wear a standard 800-fill jacket as a control. Within a few hours, his had collapsed to a sodden nylon windbreaker, but my Ultralite stayed fluffy and warm throughout the trip. And it dried fast in my bag each night.” $179; 13 oz. (w’s M); m’s S-XXL, tall M-XXL, w’s XS-XL, petite XS-XL; llbean.com