You want to be warm when the temps start to drop? I mean, do you really want to be warm? Do you want to be warm, but are too scared to sweat so much that you start to freeze again? Yeah, that happens. Then the answer is to layer up properly. Base layer. Insulating layer. Outer layer. Put it on when you need and shed it when you don’t. All are important, but the insulating layer is where it’s at.
Insulated jackets are designed fit pretty snug to the body, protecting you from the cold outside air and keeping your body heat close to the skin. The secret to choosing the right insulating layer is to know what you are doing and where you are going, then getting one that is versatile enough to be able to handle moderately chilly experiences on its own, but will really shine acting as an insulator underneath a waterproof layer or softshell jacket. Being lightweight and packable is important. Being water and wind resistance is key. Keeping you warm is essential.
Earth Gear is here to help with our three choices of what to put on when the sun starts to go down and the temps start to drop.
The North Face Summit Series have been the go-to insulating layer for years. And the L3 is no different. The 800-fill goose down filling means that it is some of the highest quality down available, making it able to provide the most warmth for the least weight for men and women.
It is designed to sit at your waist, is treated in a quality water-resistant coating and is one of the few out there in this category with a fully insulated hood. At over 12 and a half ounces, it is one of the heaviest options, but is still way lighter than other products and is easily able to stuff into itself for easy travel.
“We do things because they are difficult, not in spite of it. The 2015 Summit Series collection represents the world’s finest alpine equipment, re-imagined. Designed as the most elite equipment for exploring the world’s harshest environments. The Other Way means holding product design and development to the highest standards, and a dedication to moving the relationship between the athlete, the product and the environment forward.”
Like the Summit, Mountain Hardware uses only premium 800-fill goose down from mature geese in their Ghost Whisperer jacket. But in theirs, they included a water-resistant treating on the down itself, making it potentially better able to maintain loft if it gets really wet. And, by eliminating a hood and using their unique quilting system, they have made an incredibly warm layer that weighs only 7oz and stuffs down into a tiny pocket. That’s light, and perfect for the trekker or traveler.
“The world’s lightest full-featured down jacket. The sub-eight-ounce Ghost Whisperer Down can be compressed into its own pocket for easy storage. It’s been designed with the essentials in mind: Q.Shield™ DOWN 800-fill insulation resists moisture and maintains warmth ,stealth elastane binding inside cuffs seals out moisture, toggle hem adjusts easily.”
Patagonia brings something different to the table with its Nano Puff Jacket. Instead of goose or duck down, Patagonia went with PrimaLoft for the insulator in this piece. Is down better? Probably, a little, for most uses. But it’s more expensive and not the best in all situations.
PrimaLoft is a synthetic down replacement that mimics the loft and insulation of down, but is designed to maintain more loft when it gets wet. The result is a less expensive jacket than traditional down, that might not be quite as warm as down, but could keep you better protected if you get soaked in inclement weather.
This jacket is still super light, at about 12oz, and it packs down pretty small. But where it really shines is in that one instance – that one time – when you get caught out in a torrential rainstorm and all you have is your insulating layer. It’s not perfect, but it will maintain loft enough to keep you protected until you find shelter. And, at easily $100 less than most competing down alternatives, it makes this jacket attractive on all levels.
“Windproof and water-resistant, the Nano Puff® Jacket is made with warm, incredibly lightweight, highly compressible 60-g PrimaLoft® Gold insulation; ideal as outerwear or as an insulating layer in colder climates.”