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Every alpine start brings the same choice: Begin cold and warm up, or leave camp comfortable but stop 5 minutes later to delayer. Here’s how to simplify your decision: Wear the L3 50/50. It’s warm enough that we wore it straight out of our tent in Montana’s Hyalite Canyon on a 15°F morning, but it moves air and moisture so well that we didn’t have to stop for a layer change as we kicked steps under a heavy pack with temps rising into the 30s. (Adaptability makes the price tag easier to swallow.)
This jacket’s key is its baffles. Rather than use typical face and liner fabrics stitched into rows and filled with insulation, the L3 50/50’s baffles are separate tubes stuffed with 800-fill hydrophobic down and stitched individually, like scales, to the interior. This design creates gaps between each baffle, so moisture and excess heat escape through the nylon face fabric. While other jackets have used these “down flaps”on the exterior, putting them on the inside seals out drafts and boosts weather resistance (the L3 50/50 also has a DWR that, unfortunately, uses PFCs). When a storm rolled in while we practiced crevasse rescue in Montana, melting snow never reached the down.
The L3 50/50 comes chock-full of thoughtful features. In a stiff wind on Colorado’s 13,294-foot James Peak, the helmet-compatible hood (it uses the same baffle architecture as the body) offered a shot of warmth—a single cinch in the back sucked in the entire hood to our head. Two drop pockets hold gloves or climbing skins, and hand pockets are accessible under a hipbelt. This puffy packs small for its weight and warmth, jamming into an included stuffsack to the size of a standard Nalgene. We tested this packability sparingly, though, as we rarely had a reason to take the L3 50/50 off.
$475; 1 lb. 2 oz (m’s M); m’s XS-XL, w’s XS-XL