I love a good jacket, especially when it does double (or triple) duty. Lightweight insulated jackets play an important role in cool to cold weather comfort, from use as light outerwear to an extra midlayer when needed. I’ve collected a group of lightweight jackets that weigh next to nothing, work as light insulation when needed and, for some, double as a midlayer when temps drop. Results of my testing, in order of jackets received from the companies:
Dynotherm™ Down Jacket (MSRP $200): Q.Shield® down 650-fill insulation; semi-form fitting, active cut; 3 exterior zippered pockets including media chest pocket along with 2 interior pockets; very similar to Thermostatic Hooded Jacket below yet felt more substantial and less loose; fantastic as midlayer or outerwear over a wide temperature range; I’m not a big fan of the baby poo brown color (looks orange in photo, but that’s misleading), but it’s not obnoxious enough to not wear; this jacket just feels great to wear.
Thermostatic™ Hooded Jacket (MSRP $220): 60 grams of Thermal.Q™ Elite synthetic insulation; light and flowing feeling; keeps you much warmer than expected from the light weight; three exterior zip pockets including media chest pocket – hand pockets are on the large size so things move around quite a bit; hood fits nicely around face; stitching is somewhat loose and prone to snagging; fantastic jacket that delivered from cool Fall evenings to cold Winter days as both a midlayer and outerwear.
Bear Head Down Jacket (MSRP $178): 100% Polyester fill of indeterminate make-up; sporty and close fitting design; lightweight insulation but warm enough to use as outerwear; zippered hand pockets but no chest pocket; two deep interior pockets along with a 3rd zippered one mean plenty of stowage; tight at the wrists means large hands and bulky watches might struggle to get through. Flattering design and I LOVE the subtle camouflage pattern in grey (blue?) and black.
Mill Brook Quilted Overshirt (MSRP $128): 100% Polyester fill of indeterminate make-up; definitely more of a shirt than jacket along with a more urban design make this more likely to see use in the city than by a campfire, though it would work ably in either case; buttons instead of zippers and a collar along with lighter insulation means this will probably be used either as a lightweight outer layer for clement temps or as a midlayer under a warmer piece; no interior pockets, but 4 exterior mean storage is not lacking; nice addition to the gear closet as a unique piece.
Frostlight Climaheat Hoodie (MSRP $195): 700+ fill power of 80/20 white goose down; slim, athletic fit; 2 zippered exterior pockets with great insulation over hands; stretchy gauntleted cuffs mean no snow enters but easily slide over large hands or bulky watches; best hood ever – fully constructed with a small brim that looks and works great; this jacket makes one want to get out and do stuff.
Frosty Light Jacket (MSRP $179): 700+ fill power of 80/20 white goose down; very similar to the Frostlight Climaheat Hoodie, with an athletic fit; two zippered exterior pockets with great hand insulation; this jacket would not be out of place at the local crag nor at your favorite downtown restaurant; plenty warm as a midlayer and works as outer wear as well, though size up if you’re planning on wearing something under this slim jacket.
Zephyr Hooded Jacket (MSRP $125): 160g of Whisper Fill insulation (a soft polyfill insulation that stays warm when wet); super comfy fit, love the fleece-lined pockets. For those with big hands or wear bulky watches, wrist openings will be TIGHT, but they also don’t allow snow or anything else in either. Love the zippered chest pocket, my preference for carrying my phone. For the money, an excellent buy.
Momentum Thermoball Hybrid Jacket (MSRP $180): 9.5 g/ft² ThermoBall™powered by PrimaLoft® synthetic insulation; now you don’t have to choose between your favorite fleece or lightweight insulated jacket. The North Face has combined both in the Momentum Thermoball. Body-mapped fleece on the sleeves, side panels and back add breathable warmth to the insulated core area.
This is a great jacket for active sessions outdoors; its athletic fit moves with you and the drawcord at the hem resists drafts. I received this as a member of the TNFLocals (man are they good to us) and have been wearing it almost daily ever since. The only negatives I can find are a lack of chest pocket (my preference for carrying my phone) and no thumbholes in the sleeves. These would be minor additions to make an amazing jacket stellar.
All of these jackets are worthy additions to your gear closet, dependent on the circumstances, preferences, and, of course, budget. Pretty amazing when a round-up reveals not a single dud, but this group did so, with style.
Jackets provided for review purposes – all opinions are my own.
Need a warmer jacket – check out the Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown!
Cover your ass with outdoor pants.