10 Best Insulated Jackets Reviewed and Compared

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There is nothing that kills a workout high more than being able to feel the freezing cold temperatures. But this doesn’t have to be the case when geared up with the right insulated jacket. Insulated jackets are designed to retain heat to keep the consumer nice and warm. However, they also are breathable and moveable—ideal for spending active time outdoors in cooler weather. This means more time spent mountain climbing, skiing, and hiking. (And less time wishing you were snuggled inside by the fire.)

These jackets either feature synthetic or down insulation, and both materials have their pros and cons. But no matter the inside, these jackets both feature trapped air in the small spaces between the fibers to provide more warmth to the wearer. Many even include water-resistant properties to keep us from getting wet from rain or snow.

Bundling up is a no brainer for the winter, but exploring outdoor activities when the temps drop doesn’t have to mean wearing a bulky jacket.  Keep reading to find out our picks for the 10 Best Insulated Jackets!

Arc'teryx Atom LT
  • Arc'teryx Atom LT
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Durable & Versatile
  • Price: See Here
The North Face ThermoBall
  • The North Face ThermoBall
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Lightweight
  • Price: See Here
Patagonia Nano-Air
  • Patagonia Nano-Air
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Breathable
  • Price: See Here

 

10 Best Insulated Jackets

 

Arc'teryx Atom LT

The Atom LT Hoody has everything a good insulated jacket needs: warmth, comfort, breathability, durability and a good fit. It features the synthetic non-woven insulation Coreloftin in the torso, arms and even the hood.The StormHood is also adjustable, and the jacket features an adjustable hem drawcord. It has fleece side panels, has a trim fit and comes is various color options.
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Insulation

Designed to be worn as a midlayer in freezing temperatures and outer layer for the spring and fall and even mild winter temperatures in the 40s, the Atom LT has synthetic 1200g Coreloft insulation throughout the body, a lightweight non-woven insulation that has a fast drying time and retain warmth when wet. This insulation is packed into all of the jacket, besides the side panels and underarms, which instead features Polartec Power Stretch for mobility, stretch and breathability.

Other Features

The Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody has a taffeta shell that has a DWR finish aids to its lightness, and is wind- and water-resistant that makes it possible to wear as an outer layer in the light rain. The good has a cinch on the back for a more snug fit. Overall, the jacket as a slim and athletic fit and comes in many color options.

Weight And Breathability

While it’s slightly lacking in the breathability department compared to newer options, it still holds its own. Its Coreloft insulation itself is breathable, and its side panels aid in regulating temperature. It also makes up for it with its other features. It is highly compressible, to be packed down and can be noted in its hood. It is durable, yet lightweight at about 12.7 ounces.
Pros
  • Durable and versatile for changing weather
    Warm, yet breathable with a great ratio
  • Ample mobility for outdoor activities
  • Comfortable with a great, athletic fit
Cons
  • Doesn’t pack into its pocket

The North Face ThermoBall

This North Face jacket is toasty, yet lightweight and provides the mobility needed for outdoor training or activities. It can fold into its own hand pocket for storage, and includes features like a cinch-cord hem and internal chest pocket. It’s main selling point is its warmth, featuring synthetic ThermoBall insulation that makes it one of the best options for retaining heat in cold weather, and even when wet.
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Insulation

This jacket has bring able to keep the user warmer on the mountain. It’s the Thermoball Technology that makes it possible, providing a low weight and soft synthetic insulation that performs well. In comparison ThermoBall has the same amount if warmth as 600 fill goose down. The compressible insulation retains loft and traps heat, making it a versatile that is great for all conditions or occasions, even when it starts to rain.

Other Features

The ThermoBall Jacket features 100% nylon ripstop fabric with DWR (durable water-repellent) matte finish. It has a standard fit, is machine washable and has a lifetime warranty. It has a VISLON center front zip, zippered hand pockets, and internal chest pocket and is media compatible. It has a hem cinch-cord, internal, elastic-bound cuffs and can be packed into its hand pocket and has a clip in loop.

Weight And Breathability

Weighing in at about 12 oz, this insulated jacket is lightweight, and ideal for wearing in mild to cooler temperatures both casually and for workouts. It’s both thin and lightly insulated, yet still warm enough for winter outings. It’s great as a top layer, although the shoulders can be a little bulky when worn has a midlayer. It is breathable, much more than some other insulated jackets, but slightly lacking in this department compared to options like the Patagonia Nano-Air.
Pros
  • Versatile and warm enough for cooler outdoor activities and workouts like skiing and mountain climbing
  • Great insulated comparable to down
  • Stylish
  • Packets away nicely
Cons
  • Lacking on wind resistance

Patagonia Nano-Air

Made from stretch nylon ripstop, with a water-resistant DWR finish, the jacket has FullRange stretch polyester insulation. Although it is warm, the Nano-Air provides lots of mobility with full range of motion, ideal for runner and cyclists. It also has stretch binding at the cuffs and an adjustable drawcord hem.
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Insulation

This jacket is known for how comfortable and soft it is, even though it is synthetic insulation, not goose down. It has 60g FullRange, a multi-denier synthetic insulation that is made with various types of polyester that provides the fibers with stability and stitch. It dries fast, but does stay warm even when wet.

Other Features

This jacket has a nylon ripstop lining that is stretchy, with a DWR finish that makes it water-resistant. It is movable and airy, and durable thanks to its Nono Puff quilting on the side panels (which also gives it a good shape and keeps it that way). It has two hand warmer pockets, a chest pocket and its center zipper has a wicking interior strong flap. There is also binding at the cuffs and an adjustable drawcord hem.

Weight And Breathability

The Nano-Air is made to be worn when working out outside, especially when on the mountain for skiing or hiking. It can also be worn for casual wear, an in chilly to cooler temperatures. That’s because it has temperature regulation, and is extremely breathable thanks to its insulation and fabric. It allows in airflow up to 40 cubic feet per minute. And while it is breathable enough to work up a sweat, it is still warm and soft. It is also very lightweight.
Pros
  • Breathable and stretchy—perfect for outdoor aerobic activity
  • Warm to be worn on cooler days and when skiing, and thin enough to be a mid-layer on freezing ones
  • Great fit
  • Super soft, yet durable
Cons
  • Can be too warm for milder weather

Rab Xenon X

This is the insulated jacket to wear when running, as well as for many other kinds of outdoor workouts in the cold. That’s because it is lightweight, packs away small, and is not bulky, while being warm and water-resistant in light rain and snow. It is equipped with “Gold Active Insulation” from PrimaLoft, has a collar to protect the neck, elasticated cuffs, and a slim fit. It is breathable, has a 2-way opening front zip, and insulated baffle and also serves as a great wind breaker.
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Insulation

This jacket is equipped with PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Active, a synthetic insulation that has a high warmth-to-weight ratio, while also being breathable to prevent the consumer from getting clammy.

Other Features

The Rab Xenon X has a Pertex Quantum outer fabric, with a nylon ripstop lining that provides wind-resistant properties. Warming features include two zippered hand warmer pockets, elasticated cuffs and an internal insulated baffle. It also has micro fleece chin patches, an under helmet hood and a hem drawcord. Overall, this jacket is made to be worn for outdoor activities, being light and breathable with ample warmth for winter workouts.

Weight And Breathability

This jacket is ultra-light, making it great for running in the wintertime. The Xenon X is the option for those who value breathabilty. The last thing any athlete wants is to feel a chill after getting sweaty and having their winter jacket stick to them as they move.
Pros
  • Great for outdoor workouts in mild cool weather
  • Extremely breathable
  • Folds into its pocket
  • Unrestrictive mobility
  • Ultra-Lightweight and impressively warm for its weight
Cons
  • Too thin for freezing temperatures

Outdoor Research Ascendant

Great for all seasons, the Ascendant Insulated Hoodie is wind- and water-resistant and has Polartech Alpha insulation with a soft interior. It looks great for causal wear, but will keep the consumer warm, although the shell is a bit thinner than other options. It’s lightweight and breathable making it perfect for outdoor activities.
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Insulation

Even though this hoodie jacket looks thin and more suitable as a mid-layer, looks are deceiving when it comes to warmth. It has Polartec Alpha insulation that makes it toasty enough to wear when skiing, although it can still be worn in milder weather without being too hot. It’s insulation is a set up from fleece, and when worn underneath a hardshell it will be exactly what a consumer needs for those freezing temperatures.

Other Features

With its trim fit, the Ascendant Insulated Hoodie has a Pertex Microlight nylon ripstop shell that is water-and wind-resistant. It has an adjustable hood that is roomy enough to pull over when wearing a helmet. It has hand warmer pockets, and an elastic drawcord hem.

Weight And Breathability

This insulated jacket is all about the breathability. Compared to the Uberlayer Jacket, it is even more breathable and lighter. It is light weight to wear underneath another jacket in sub-zero temperatures without it being too bulky or kitting awkwardly.
Pros
  • Great for layering; can be worn as mid-or outer layer
  • Can be worn in spring, fall and winter
  • Very breathable, yet warm as an outer layer on slightly cold days or for winter workouts
Cons
  • Not as warm as others on this list
  • Not ideal for heavier rain

Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody

Made with 800 fill power goose down that is sourced ethically, this jacket is cozy and warm. It is durable, windproof and water-resistant on the outside, and has features like an adjustable hood, front zipper, hand warmer pockets and looks great on.
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Insulation

The down Patagonia uses is ethically sourced ad certified to the Advanced Global Traceable Down standard, so the consumers can rest assure that the animals are not live-plucked. The down makes this jacket super comfortable and cozy, with 800 fill power down to be exact. It isn’t overly heated, but will keep the consumer warm—being the best option for that middle ground area. This means that on below freezing temperatures, it’s a good idea to layer up.

Other Features

The shell is made from polyester ripstop that has a DWR finish to make it water-resistant and further keep things chill-free. It does a great job keeping the wind out, thanks to its adjustable hood (with fabric that zippers over the nose), hand warmer pockets, and elastic cuffs. There were an adjustable hem cord thats pilled in the hand warmer pockets for a more snug and warm fit.

Weight And Breathability

Although not the lightest option on this list, it still is pretty airy and won’t be weighing the consumer down during their winter backpacking trip. It does keep the cold away, but won’t be too warm when on the move.
Pros
  • Functional and generally performs well
  • Can fold into its own pocket
  • Hood zips over the nose when in extreme cold
  • Great style for every day wear
Cons
  • May need larger size when layering

Columbia Frost-Fighter Puffer

With faux down insulation, water-resistant fabric, and a comfortable, relaxed fit, this jacket is all any outdoor adventurer needs for surviving the winter. It’s shell has nylon Omni-Shield ripstop fabric, with synthetic down insulation. It has an abrasion resistant chin guard, zippered hand pockets and has a drawcord adjustable hem.
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Insulation

This faux-down jacket has 150g of synthetic insulation. Not only does it prevent feeling a chill in the consumer’s bones, but it also includes Omnni-Shield shell fabric that sheds water to further add to its warming properties. The lining is made from polyester synthetic down, and it has a drawcord adjustable hem to further ward of wind and air while giving a tighter and more flattering fit.

Other Features

This Columbia jacket has water and stain repellent fabric, and is available in multiple color options. It was zippered hand pockets and a zip-front. There is no hood, but it features binding at the cuffs and an abrasion resistant chin guard.

Weight And Breathability

This jacket is lacking a bit in the breathability department, making it not the best for certain outdoor sweat sessions. However, it is lightweight and is easy to fold to pack away.
Pros
  • Warm and comfortable, great for winter
  • Good style and fit for every day wear
  • Water-resistant fabric
Cons
  • No hood

Marmot Tullus

This is a down jacket made with 600 fill power down with Down Defender technology that makes it all about warmth and comfort. It is water-resistant to keep the consumer dry, and and has an attached hood for face protection.The best part is its hand warmer pockets to keep cold fingers toasty.
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Insulation

The Marmot Tulles Hoody has 600 fill power down with the company’s Down Defender, which is specially treated down that makes it water-resistant, while also preventing it from climbing and losing its fluffiness when it comes into contact with water.

Other Features

Made polyester ripstop DWR fabric, this coat is water-resistant. It has hand warmer pockets, and elastic bound cuffs and hem for a snug fit. It was has an attached hood with elastic binding with full coverage to protect the face and neck.

Weight And Breathability

This insulated winter jacket has a regular fit with relaxed shoulders and a straight hem. It is lightweight at just over 1 lbs. It is breathable, so there is no over heating here.
Pros
  • Warm without being too toasty
  • Deep pockets for storing gloves
  • Non restricting for easily moving out in the cold
Cons
  • Consider getting a size up when laying
  • 600 fill might be lacking for those used to more fluff

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer

Filled with 800-fill down, this jacket is extremely lightweight, yet very warm. It has Q-Shield Down technology to retain heat even when wet, with a quilt pattern that also adds to its overall warmth. There is elastic binding to close off the cold from seeping in through the hands. This is a very stylish option that is great for hikers.

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Insulation

Even though this is one lightweight jacket, it still keeps the consumer toasty inside. It is made from Q.Shield Down, where the fibers are infused with water-resistant properties to enhance insulation capabilities. With 800-fill insulation and its quilt pattern for trapping heat, this jacket retains warmth (even when wet), while resisting moisture. This makes it one of the best when its raining or snowing.

Other Features

Users can easily adjust the hem with its interior toggle. The cuffs have elastic bindings to prevent cold air and moisture from coming in through the wrists. There is a hood that provides face protection, but it doesn’t include a hood cinch.

Weight And Breathability

This jacket is known for how lightweight it is in proportion to its warmth. Although the Ghost Whisper fabric is dense and thin, it is still durable. This insulated jacket weighs in just under 8 ounces, and has a slim fit. It isn’t as breathable as other options because of the down.
Pros
  • Ultra-light
  • Ideal for snowy conditions because its moisture-resistant hydrophobic down
  • Easy to pack up small
Cons
  • Hood can’t be adjusted to fit snug

Canada Goose Hybridge Lite

This jacket is all about keeping out the cold, while still being light and flexible. This makes it a desirable option for active wear, as well as for layering in the winter. It includes 800-fill power white goose down, a quilt-through design and Tensile-Tech fabric for extra comfort.
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Insulation

This jacket uses goose down as its form of insulation. Canada Goose is the company to buy from for the ethically conscious since it sources the down from animals that aren’t mistreated or caused any harm. The 800 Fill Power Hutterite white goose down in this jacket makes it ultra-warm.

Other Features

With a slim fit and hip length, the Hybridge Lite Hoody packs into its own pocket—which is arguably one of its best features. When not wearing it can be used as a pillow when camping. But keeping the cold away is its main job, so it has a down hood, and stretch cuff binding around the sleeves.

Weight And Breathability

This jacket is considered a lightweight option on the company’s “Thermal Experience Index,” so its ideal for active wear. Its made with Feather-Light 10D, making it light like, well, a feather for layering yet durable. The Tensile-Tech, soft shell, stretchy fabric adds to its breathability and makes it abrasion resistant.
Pros
  • Ethical goose down
  • Warm, yet lightweight
  • Packable
Cons
  • Expensive

 

The Criteria We Used For Selecting the Best Insulated Jackets

It’s true that in order to call an insulated jacket the best, it must be… well, insulated well. But with different brands, styles, fit and features it can be hard to know which is the best for a particular consumer. That is why we used a set criteria to determine if an insulated jacket is a worthy buy or not. The following criteria is detailed below.

Insulation: Of course this is the most important criteria on this list because users want to make sure they are purchasing a jacket to keep them warm. The amount of insulation depends on what fibers the jacket is made from. These jackets feature either down or synthetic insulation.

Weight: Is this a lightweight jacket? Is it ideal for layering? If the jacket is for every day wear, its weight might not be an issue. However, those wearing it as a piece of activewear will probably want the jacket to be light and not too bulky.

Weatherproof Features: What is the use of buying an insulated jacket if it doesn’t hold its own against the wind or rain? This is wear features like water-resistant tech and adjustable hoods come into play.

Style: Is this jacket something many users would want to wear? Although its key that the jacket be warm, that doesn’t mean it has to be unattractive. What determines a nice looking jacket varies among consumers, but in this case it should have a nice fit, be available in various color options and overall, be something we could see ourselves wearing.

Other Important Factors to Consider

It’s important to first think about when or how often the insulated jacket will be worn. If a consumer lives in a climate that gets really cold, performance is key when it comes to warmth and breathability. But even the most warm option may mean layering up. Also consider the fact that many of these options are versatile to be worn past the winter.

Down vs Synthetic

When talking about warmth, the consumer should know the difference between synthetic and down insulation.

Down is not feathers. It is the coating underneath the feathers of birds like geese that provides warm by making tiny air pockets. It is soft, breathable, and keeps its shape, or loft (its puffiness) better than synthetic options. Down provides three times the warmth for each ounce compared to its synthetic counterpart. It’s also lighter, more compressible and has better longevity. However, it is more expensive, takes a long time to dry and loses its warmth when wet.

Synthetic is cheaper, but also is slightly heavier and less compressible. It’s made usually from polyester filaments that also have air between the fibers to resemble down. Synthetic performs better than down when wet, keeping its warmth even in this condition. It is hypoallergenic, machine washable and dries fast.

Fill Power

Descriptions for insulated jackets with down include its fill power. Fill power measures the quality and amount loft (fluff) of the down. This is measured by the number of cubic inches one ounce of down takes up. Therefore, higher quality down has a higher fill power rating. Down that covers 800 cubic inches has a fill power of 800, for example. Most activewear or outdoor apparel has a fill power of around 500-550.

Hood or No Hood

The insulated jacket may or may not come with a hood. Depending on the climate and activity, this could a deal breaker. Hoods provide more face and neck protection. However, this may mean there isn’t room for a helmet. A hat may be enough to wear in cooler temperatures. But rainy days means having a hood is a safe bet.

FAQ

Q: How to clean an insulated jacket?

A: Many synthetic insulated jackets are machine washable, but should be set to a gentle wash cycle or hand washed in cold water and fragrance-free soap. Tumble dry on low heat or air dry. Look into buying a cleaner specifically made for down jackets to not damage the fibers.

Q: Is this jacket waterproof?

A: Insulated jackets typically feature water-resistant properties, and new technologies further add or enhance this capability. Down insulation by itself isn’t water-resistant, but the jacket may include a DWR finish. None of these options are 100% waterproof.

Q: What does fill power mean?

A: The fill power refers to the amount of fluff, puff, or better known as loft that the down has. The higher the number the better the insulation.

Q: How warm is this jacket?

A: The warmth has to do with its amount of insulation and its other features that may keep air getting in and warmness from escaping. It’s always best to layer shirts underneath an insulated jacket, or wear lighter options as a mid layer.

Q: Does the jacket run true to size?

A: Consult a sizing chart if available. Many of these options do fit true to size, but slimmer fits may run a lit small.

Q: What is the best temperature range for a insulated jacket?

A: Many are versatile for mild winter days as an outer shell or a mid layer for colder days, and can be worn for spring and fall. Those with water-resistant features can be worn in light rain and snow.

Sources

  1. Matt Bento, How to Choose the Best Insulated Jacket, Informational Outdoors Website, Dec 02, 2016
  2. Sierra Trading Post, Down vs Synthetic, Company website,
  3. Joe Pasteris, own vs. Synthetic: Which Insulation is Right for You?, Company webiste,
  4. Ashleigh McClary, A Guide to Insulated Jackets, Outdoor Website,
  5. Triple Fat Goose, A Guide to Down Jacket Warmth: Down Fill Power vs Down Weight, Apparel Website,
  6. Jess Clayton, PATAGONIA DEBUTS REVOLUTIONARY NANO-AIR™ JACKET AND HOODY WITH FULLRANGE™ INSULATION , Company Website, Sep 04, 2014
  7. Primaloft, PRIMALOFT® INSULATION THE WORLD'S BEST DOWN ALTERNATIVE , Company Website,
  8. Coreloft, Coreloft Premium Thermal Insulation, Company Website,
  9. Marmont, Down Defender? What Is It?, Company Website,
  10. Philip Werner , How to Wash a Synthetic Insulated Jacket or Sleeping Bag, Hiking Website,
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