The first thing to consider when selecting an insulated jacket to keep you warm in cold weather is whether you want natural or synthetic insulation. Natural insulation, typically in the form of down, is popular due to its warmth-to-weight ratio, but its Achilles heel is that it loses loft fast when exposed to damp. Synthetic insulation, on the other hand, will keep the wearer warm even if the jacket is wet – and occasionally even soaked through.

In places like the Pacific Northwest, Ireland or the UK, synthetic garments can be the best option as they remove the need to worry so much about keeping the materials dry. It’s worth bearing in mind that the same principles and cost-benefits between down and synthetic jackets also apply when choosing three-season sleeping bags.

The best insulated jackets of 2024

The following puffy jackets are the options that performed best for our testers, along with our Best Buy options. They are split into insulated jackets for men and insulated jackets for women looking at both synthetic and down insulation and rated for their performance, durability, feature set and value.

Berghaus Extrem MTN Seeker Synthetic Hoody – Kirsty Pallas’ best buy

Berghaus Extrem MTN Seeker

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  • Stars: 4.5/5
  • Price: U.S. shipping charge | £200
  • Weight: 318g
  • Pros: Good pocket placement, double zip, fit
  • Cons: none

Fill: 60gsm Primaloft Gold Active+ in main body and 40gsm underarms and centre back | Shell: lightweight ripstop with PFC free DWR treatment | Hood: elasticated with stiff wire peak and adjustable drawcord | Cuffs: elasticated stretch material | Hem: dual drawcord | Pockets: 2 handwarmer, 1 internal chest, all zipped | Sizes: UK 8-18 | Men’s version: Yes

Kirsty Pallas says: The Berghaus Extrem MTN Seeker is an insulated jacket that I’ve struggled not to pack because it works so well for me. Whether it’s just a quick layer I throw on while I have a bite to eat, or I put it on at the base of a winter route for the rest of the day, it always delivers. It’s warm enough when I’m stationary for a while, but it’s still manageable when I’m moving without immediately overheating, thanks to the zoned fill which is lighter on the back and underarms. And the best part is, the whole garment is made with over 50% recycled content. It’s a win-win for both performance and sustainability.

Read Kirsty’s full Berghaus Extrem MTN Seeker Synthetic Hoody review.

 

Rab Xenair Light – David Lintern’s best buy

Rab Xenair Light

SQUIRREL_BUTTON_12980350

  • Stars: 5/5
  • Price: $195 | £170
  • Weight: 263g
  • Pros: amount of insulation perfectly dialled, thumbloops
  • Cons: none

Fill: 40gsm PrimaLoft® Gold Active+, 55% recycled | Shell: 20D Pertex® Quantum Air | Hood: none | Cuffs: none-elasticated, thumb-loops | Hem: single drawcord | Pockets: 2 handwarmer, 1 chest, all zippered | Sizes: S-XL | Women’s version: no (nearest is the Xenair alpine hoody, with 60gsm primaloft)

David Lintern says: The Rab Xenair Light is my perfect active insulation layer, offering all the features I need without any unnecessary fuss. I love how it keeps me warm with 40gsm of Primaloft Gold Active+ while incorporating a significant amount of recycled content. What sets it apart for me is the lack of insulation under the arms, providing optimal breathability where I need it most.

The 20D Pertex shell strikes a great balance between breathability and durability, and the durable water repellent (DWR) finish continues to perform well even after several washes. When I wear it on its own over a baselayer in cool, calm weather, it excels at maintaining a consistent core temperature.

In more extreme winter conditions, sandwiched between a hardshell and a fleece, this insulated jacket truly shines. It not only keeps me warm but also allows water vapor to escape the layering system.

Read David’s full Rab Xenair Light review.

Sprayway Grendel – Chris Townsend’s best buy

Sprayway Grendel

  • Price: No U.S. shipping | £300
  • Available from: Outdoor Action
  • Weight: 17.6 oz | 500g (M)
  • Pros: Hood, pockets, recycled content
  • Cons: Not that light, no women’s version

Materials: shell: Gore-Tex Infinium 30D ripstop; fill: 35% recycled ThermoSphere | Features: adjustable hood with wired peak, handwarmer pockets, chest pocket, zipped inner pocket | Sizes:  S-XXL | Women’s version: no

Chris Townsend says: The Sprayway Grendel Jacket is a synthetic insulated jacket with a Gore-Tex Infinium shell, which is windproof, breathable, and water-resistant. The ThermoSphere fill is soft and flexible, with 80gsm in the body and sleeves and 60gsm in the hood.

The jacket is available in sizes S-XXL and has no stitch lines for heat escape or rain entry. The hood has a stiffened wired peak and adjustment cords, keeping the weather out. The pockets are roomy, with the chest one large enough for a map. The jacket arrived after the last winter weather had passed, and it has been warm in cool temperatures in the Cairngorms.

The generous sizing, with the Medium size being larger than some of the Large size jackets tested, makes it suitable for most winter conditions.

Read Chris’ Sprayway Grendel Jacket review.

Outdoor Research SuperStrand LT Hoodie

Outdoor Research SuperStrand LT Hoodie Review

SQUIRREL_BUTTON_12942230

  • Price: $219 | £220
  • Weight: 11.1 oz | 315g (L)
  • Pros: Light, warm, recycled content
  • Cons: Non-adjustable hood

Materials: shell: ripstop nylon; fill: 85% recycled VerticalX SuperStrand polyester | Features: stretch rim hood, handwarmer pockets, inner stuff pockets | Sizes: S-XXL | Women’s version: yes

Chris Townsend says: The Outdoor Research SuperStrand LT Hoodie is a lightweight, comfortable, and low-weight synthetic insulated jacket with a ripstop nylon shell and 85% recycled VerticalX SuperStrand polyester fill. It features a stretch rim hood, handwarmer pockets, and inner stuff pockets in sizes S-XXL.

However, the hood is not adjustable and the fit is not snug, making it susceptible to cold winds. The jacket is wind-resistant but not fully windproof, and has discontinuous quilting for easier compression. Breathability is good, and the large size fits well.

While it is too warm for walking, it is great for camp wear and backpacking due to its low weight and bulk. The jacket is wind-resistant but not fully windproof, and its distinctive discontinuous quilting reduces stitching needed.

Read Chris’ full Outdoor Research SuperStrand LT Hoodie review.

Rab Mythic Ultra Down Jacket – Alex Roddie’s Best Buy 

Rab Mythic Ultra Down Jacket

SQUIRREL_BUTTON_12925496

  • Stars: 4.5/5
  • Price: $475 | £420
  • Weight: 497g (men’s medium)
  • Pros: very warm for the weight, good hood, recycled fabrics
  • Cons: potentially fragile face fabric

Fill: 240g of 900fp European goose down, RDS-certified, with Nikwax PFC-free hydrophobic finish | Shell: 100% recycled Pertex Quantum 10D nylon ripstop with PFC-free DWR; 100% recycled nylon lining | Hood: stiffened peak, adjustment at sides | Cuffs: elasticated | Hem: drawcord with 2x adjusters | Pockets: 2x handwarmer, 1x outer | Sizes: S–XXL | Womens/Mens version: both


The Mythic Ultra is a lightweight, warm jacket with 240g of 900fp down, providing insulation for multi-day backpacking in Scottish winter conditions. The jacket’s baffles are a mix of stitch-through and box-wall, providing maximum efficiency. However, the face fabric is only 10D, making it less windproof and durable than thicker fabrics. The down is hydrophobic and the face fabric’s DWR works when new, making it weather-resistant. The hood is good but has no volume reducer and can only be adjusted at the sides, making it susceptible to high winds. The jacket’s fit is average and has good backside coverage. The lining and face fabric are 100% recycled, making it suitable for a “big coat” in blizzard conditions.

Read Alex Roddie’s full Rab Mythic Ultra Down Jacket Review

Arc’teryx Thorium SV Hoody

Arc’teryx Thorium SV Hoody

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  • Stars: 4/5
  • Price: $700 | £500 
  • Weight: 656g (men’s medium)
  • Pros: very warm, roomy, good pockets
  • Cons: expensive, down not hydrophobic, basic hood

Fill: 750fp European grey goose down, RDS-certified; zoned Coreloft 140 and 80 synthetic insulation (80% recycled) | Shell: 30D Arato nylon with Gore-Tex Infinium panels (PFC-free DWR) on hood/shoulders | Hood: not wired, adjustment at rear | Cuffs: elasticated. | Hem: drawcord with 2x adjusters | Pockets: 2x handwarmer, 2x inner, 2x outer | Sizes: XS–XXL | Womens/Mens version: both


This jacket is made with box-wall baffles to reduce cold spots and features 750fp down and zoned synthetic insulation. It feels warm and thicker than other jackets tested, but is heavier and less compressible. The down is not hydrophobic, but features like 30D outer fabric, windproof Gore-Tex Infinium panels, and zoned synthetic insulation help mitigate moisture resistance. The jacket performs well in short spells of light precipitation but lacks a stiffened peak and only has one adjustment point. The design is shorter and has less backside coverage, but the fit is more generous. The jacket is well-made and warm, but is more suitable for cold but dry environments without damping the down.

Read Alex’ full Arc’teryx Thorium SV Hoody Review

 

Montane Resolve XT Hooded Down Jacket

Montane Resolve XT Hooded Down Jacket

SQUIRREL_BUTTON_12998107

  • Stars: 4.5
  • Price: $450 | £350
  • Weight: 568g (men’s medium)
  • Pros: durable and weather-resistant face fabric, excellent hood, price
  • Cons: not as warm as other jackets

Fill: 220g of 750fp RDS-certified duck down with HyperDRY PFC-free hydrophobic finish | Shell: Gore-Tex Windstopper 30D nylon ripstop with PFC-free DWR; 100% recycled nylon lining | Hood: stiffened peak, adjustment at sides and rear | Cuffs: elasticated | Hem: drawcord with 2x adjusters | Pockets: 2x handwarmer, 1x inner | Sizes: S–XXL | Womens/Mens version: both


The Resolve XT jacket, with 220g of 750fp down, is suitable for most winter conditions in British hills. It is ideal for a blowy December summit camp and can be worn layered over a microfleece. However, higher fill power down is warmer for the weight, and a good mid-layer is needed in cold conditions. The baffle design is stitch-through, and the burly 30D Windstopper face fabric shields the down from the elements. The down is hydrophobic, making it more windproof and water-resistant. The hood is excellent, with a good peak and three points of adjustment, making it suitable for camp and layering. The jacket has good coverage of the backside and doesn’t ride up under a pack.

Read Alex Roddie’s full Montane Resolve XT Hooded Down Jacket Review

 

Montane Icarus

Montane Icarus Review

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  • Price: $209 | £150
  • Weight: 22.5 oz | 640g
  • Pros: Warmth, cost, recycled content.
  • Cons: Quite heavy, non-adjustable hood

Materials: shell/lining, Pertex Quantum Eco 50% recycled/ 100% recycled PEAQ synthetic ECO; fill, 205g of PrimaLoft Black Thermoplume 100% recycled | Features: stretch rim hood, handwarmer pockets, chest pocket | Sizes: S-XXL | Women’s version: no, but Phoenix Jacket is similar

Chris Townsend say’s: The Montane Icarus is a lightweight, warm, and functional jacket that is ideal for mountain walking in mixed conditions. It weighs 640g (L) and features a stretch rim hood, handwarmer pockets, and a chest pocket. The jacket is made of Pertex Quantum Eco 50% recycled/100% recycled PEAQ synthetic ECO shell/lining, PrimaLoft Black Thermoplume 100% recycled fill, and is available in sizes S-XXL.

The Montane Icarus fill mimics down and is held in micro baffles, making it comfortable and soft. The hood is not adjustable but is close-fitting, and the handwarmer pockets are accessible.

The chest pocket is too small for a map but can hold a smartphone or GPS unit. However, there are alternatives that weigh less and pack down smaller.

Read Chris’ Montane Icarus review.

Berghaus Affine

Berghaus Affine Review

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  • Price: £200 | U.S. shipping charge
  • Weight: 18.6 oz | 530g (L)
  • Pros: Warm, stretchy, hood, stash pockets
  • Cons: Not that light

Materials: shell: polyamide/13% elastane; fill: Hydroloft recycled polyester | Features: adjustable hood with stiffened peak, handwarmer pockets, inner stuff pockets | Sizes: XS-2XL | Women’s version: yes

Chris Townsend says: The Berghaus Affine is a synthetic insulated jacket with a stretch fabric that allows it to be close-fitting without being restrictive or uncomfortable. It has a small sizing and is suitable for wearing over a base layer.

The jacket is warm enough that it doesn’t need to be worn over anything more, especially in the UK. The Hydroloft fill is soft and lofts well. The jacket has an adjustable hood with a stiffened peak and is available in sizes XS-2XL.

The handwarmer pockets and inner stash pockets are useful for stuffing damp gloves. Although expensive and not lightweight, the hood and stretch fabric make it worth considering.

Read Chris’ Berghaus Affine review.

Mountain Equipment Particle

Mountain Equipment Particle

  • Price: $199 | £130
  • Weight: 14.4 oz | 410g (M)
  • Pros: Low weight, low cost, recycled content
  • Cons: Non-adjustable hood

Materials: shell: recycled 20D, stretch fleece side and underarm panels; fill: 14.4 oz / 130 grams recycled Polarloft | Features: stretch rim hood, handwarmer pockets | Sizes: S-XXL | Women’s version: yes

Chris Townsend says: The Mountain Equipment Particle jacket is a lightweight, lightweight mid-layer or outer layer suitable for moderate conditions. It is lightweight and compact, making it ideal for backpacking or rest stops.

The jacket is made of recycled 20D shell, stretch fleece side and underarm panels, and 130 grams recycled Polarloft fill. It features a stretch rim hood and handwarmer pockets, and is available in sizes S-XXL.

The main shell fabric is windproof, but the fleece side and underarm panels are not. The jacket’s basic design is more suitable for a mid layer than an outer layer, with a non-adjustable hood and handwarmer pockets. While not a full-weight winter jacket, it is suitable for backpacking throughout the year.

Read Chris’ full Mountain Equipment Particle review.

Rab Xenair Alpine – Lucy’s Best Buy

Rab womens Xenair synthetic insulated jacket

SQUIRREL_BUTTON_12857306

  • Price: $240 £195
  • Weight: 14.8 oz | 420g (Size 12)
  • Pros: Great all rounder
  • Cons: None of note

Materials: shell: 20D Pertex Quantum Air; lining: 20D Atmos Ripstop; fill: Primaloft Gold Active+ 55% recycled | Features: helmet-compatible hood, handwarmer pockets, chest pocket, zone insulation (100/80gsm) | Sizes: 8-16 | Men’s version: yes

Lucy Wallace says: It’s hard to find fault with the RAB Xenair Alpine, what sets it apart is the varying insulation depth within zoned areas, which enhances its performance and makes it ideal for stop-start cold weather activities.

One of the standout features is the helmet-compatible hood, complete with a drawcord that allows you to snugly cinch it in when facing high winds. Additionally, the inclusion of two-way zips provides easy access to a climbing harness, a crucial feature for those who engage in climbing or similar activities. And to top it off, there are two generously-sized handwarmer pockets that add to the practicality and convenience of this jacket. It’s a versatile choice for outdoor enthusiasts seeking both warmth and functionality.

Read Lucy’s full Rab Women’s Xenair Alpine review.

Montane Fireball Jacket

Montane Women’s Fireball Jacket

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  • Price: $299 | £200
  • Weight: 12.9 oz | 366g ( Size 12)
  • Pros: Light weight, great for year round use
  • Cons: Not as warm as some

Materials: shell: Featherlite Air nylon stretch; fill: 55% recycled 60gsm Clo Vivo Extreme Eco | Features: Hood, zipped handwarmer and chest pockets, elasticated cuffs | Sizes: 8-16 | Men’s version: yes

Lucy Wallace says: The Fireball, one of the lighter insulated jackets in this test, proves to be a versatile choice. It can serve as a winter midlayer or an emergency layer during the summer. However, it’s worth noting that the non-adjustable hood makes it more suitable to be worn under helmets rather than over them. Another limitation is the absence of a two-way zip, which might require climbers to tuck the jacket into their harness for convenience.

Described as having an “active fit,” the sizing was actually found to be quite generous during testing. This added roominess can be advantageous for layering or accommodating various body shapes. Furthermore, the shell and insulation exhibit good stretch, enhancing overall comfort and mobility.

Read Lucy’s full Montane Women’s Fireball Jacket review.

Keela Talus

Keela Women’s Talus Jacket

SQUIRREL_BUTTON_12942246

  • Price: £145 | International shipping charges apply
  • Weight: 17.5 oz | 497g
  • Pros: Wired brim on hood price
  • Cons: Bulk

Materials: shell: Flylite Ultra ripstop nylon, side panels; 49%/40%/11% polyester/nylon/Lycra mix; fill: 60gsm Primaloft Gold | Features: helmet-compatible hood, zipped handwarmer and internal chest pockets, stretch fleece side panels | Sizes: 8-20 | Men’s version: Yes

Lucy Wallace says: This insulated jacket is a versatile choice designed to meet your needs all year round. While it might not provide the same level of warmth as jackets with heavier insulation like the 100/80gsm in the Rab Xenair Alpine, the 60gsm Primaloft Gold in the body still offers very effective insulation.

The inclusion of a helmet-compatible hood is a valuable feature, ensuring good protection from the elements when needed. If you plan to use this jacket as an emergency layer or a belay jacket, it’s advisable to size up to ensure there’s enough room underneath for additional layers.

Read Lucy’s full Keela Women’s Talus Jacket review

Mountain Hardwear Ozonic Insulated Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Ozonic

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  • Price: $250 | £250
  • Weight: 21.6 oz | 615g (Size M)
  • Pros: Very warm
  • Cons: Expensive, Bulky

Materials: shell: 50D stretch ripstop Pertex quantum air; fill: 120gsm stretch Primaloft Gold Active | Features: helmet-compatible hood, zipped handwarmer and internal chest pockets, internal drop pocket, under arm vents | Sizes: XS-XL | Men’s version: yes

Lucy Wallace says: The Mountain Hardwear Ozonic Insulated Jacket is a versatile and lightweight option for snow sports enthusiasts. It features stretch fabric, providing freedom of movement, and is made of 50D stretch ripstop Pertex quantum air shell and 120gsm stretch Primaloft Gold Active fill.

The jacket is available in sizes XS-XL and has underarm vents for improved breathability. The hood is roomy and fits over a helmet, and the cuffs have Velcro tabs for protection. The jacket is designed for cold and dry conditions, but is bulky and not suitable for general mountain use in the UK.

However, it is a practical choice for wildlife guides, as it provides warmth and ease of layering in their Alpine habitat. The price ranges from $250 to £250, making it a cost-effective choice for those seeking a warm and practical choice for their outdoor activities.

Read our full Ozonic Insulated Jacket review.

Sprayway Misten

Sprayway Misten Jacket

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  • Price: £140 | No U.S. shipping
  • Weight: 363g
  • Pros: Warm, lower price
  • Cons: Heavy, stitch-through baffles

Materials: shell: 100% recycled polyester; lining: 1005 polyamide; fill: 100% polyester Insofill blown insulation | Features: adjustable wired hood, zipped handwarmer pockets, internal chest pocket, elasticated cuffs | Sizes: 8-20 | Men’s version: yes

Lucy Wallace says: The Sprayway Misten Jacket is a synthetic insulated jacket with a ‘blown fill’, where synthetic fibres are blown rather than spun to mimic natural down. It weighs 363g and is made of 100% recycled polyester shell and 1005 polyamide lining. The jacket features an adjustable wired hood, zipped handwarmer pockets, internal chest pocket, and elasticated cuffs.

Although it requires sewn baffles to hold the fill in place, it is sufficient for warmth and performance in cold conditions. The jacket is bulky for rucksack packing but is suitable for belay or emergency layer. It is suitable for slower-paced activities or camp. At £140, it is the lowest-priced jacket in our guide to the best synthetic insulated jackets, making it a great choice for those looking for a budget-friendly option.

See our full thoughts in the Sprayway Misten Jacket review

How We Test

Lucy wallace, writer for the great outdoors magazine

Lucy Wallace

Lucy has tested the women’s synthetic insulated jackets over a varied mix of spring and summer conditions, with mountain camps and cold summit temperatures early in the testing period. Towards the end of the period things got a little heated but cooler conditions were found when heading into the hills at night. Lucy is a professional wildlife guide and outdoor instructor who holds the Winter, Summer and International Mountain Leader awards. She is an accredited Duke of Edinburgh’s Award assessor, working with schools and young people on expeditions throughout Scotland.

 

In Glen Dessary. Paramo Katmai shirt, Mammut Runbold trousers, Inov8 Rocfly G390 boots, Pacerpoles

Chris Townsend

Chris Townsend tested the men’s jackets over a varied mix of winter, spring and summer weather, with cold summit temperatures early in the testing period. Towards the end of the period cool conditions were found when camping high in the hills. Chis has been our Gear Editor since 1991, Chris Townsend is one of the world’s most highly respected commentators on outdoor clothing and equipment and is also well-known as an author and long-distance hiker. He is the award-winning author of 22 books, including The Backpackers’ Handbook, the Cicerone guide to walking in Scotland and Out There, a recent collection of essays.

Kirsty Pallas Headshot

Kirsty Pallas

Kirsty Pallas is a size 8 with a short back and arms. These jackets have been tested across Scotland from last winter, through spring and summer in all conditions. They were used as extra layers for summer stops and camping, and active layers for winter skills and winter climbing. Weights are taken from her own scales.

 

David Lintern headshot

Davis Lintern

David Lintern takes a size medium in tops and has arms on the longish side, relative to a short back. Most of these jackets have been in regular use since last winter, right across Scotland in all weathers, both on the move and at camp. He tends to run warm and values garments that can be left on all day.

© ALEX RODDIE After wetting out, a jacket is saturated and can no longer breathe.jpg

Alex Roddie

Alex tested his down jackets on a series of short backpacking trips in the Cairngorms and West Highlands during a spell of cold and snowy weather in November and December. The jackets were used both in camp and while hiking. All weights are as measured on Alex’s digital scale.

The first thing to consider when selecting an insulated jacket to keep you warm in cold weather is whether you want natural or synthetic insulation. Natural insulation, typically in the form of down, is popular due to its warmth-to-weight ratio, but its Achilles heel is that it loses loft fast when exposed to damp. Synthetic insulation, on the other hand, will keep the wearer warm even if the jacket is wet – and occasionally even soaked through.

In places like the Pacific Northwest, Ireland or the UK, synthetic garments can be the best option as they remove the need to worry so much about keeping the materials dry. It’s worth bearing in mind that the same principles and cost-benefits between down and synthetic jackets also apply when choosing three-season sleeping bags.

The best insulated jackets of 2024

The following puffy jackets are the options that performed best for our testers, along with our Best Buy options. They are split into insulated jackets for men and insulated jackets for women looking at both synthetic and down insulation and rated for their performance, durability, feature set and value.

Berghaus Extrem MTN Seeker Synthetic Hoody – Kirsty Pallas’ best buy

Berghaus Extrem MTN Seeker

SQUIRREL_BUTTON_12993876

  • Stars: 4.5/5
  • Price: U.S. shipping charge | £200
  • Weight: 318g
  • Pros: Good pocket placement, double zip, fit
  • Cons: none

Fill: 60gsm Primaloft Gold Active+ in main body and 40gsm underarms and centre back | Shell: lightweight ripstop with PFC free DWR treatment | Hood: elasticated with stiff wire peak and adjustable drawcord | Cuffs: elasticated stretch material | Hem: dual drawcord | Pockets: 2 handwarmer, 1 internal chest, all zipped | Sizes: UK 8-18 | Men’s version: Yes

Kirsty Pallas says: The Berghaus Extrem MTN Seeker is an insulated jacket that I’ve struggled not to pack because it works so well for me. Whether it’s just a quick layer I throw on while I have a bite to eat, or I put it on at the base of a winter route for the rest of the day, it always delivers. It’s warm enough when I’m stationary for a while, but it’s still manageable when I’m moving without immediately overheating, thanks to the zoned fill which is lighter on the back and underarms. And the best part is, the whole garment is made with over 50% recycled content. It’s a win-win for both performance and sustainability.

Read Kirsty’s full Berghaus Extrem MTN Seeker Synthetic Hoody review.

Rab Xenair Light – David Lintern’s best buy

Rab Xenair Light

SQUIRREL_BUTTON_12980350

  • Stars: 5/5
  • Price: $195 | £170
  • Weight: 263g
  • Pros: amount of insulation perfectly dialled, thumbloops
  • Cons: none

Fill: 40gsm PrimaLoft® Gold Active+, 55% recycled | Shell: 20D Pertex® Quantum Air | Hood: none | Cuffs: none-elasticated, thumb-loops | Hem: single drawcord | Pockets: 2 handwarmer, 1 chest, all zippered | Sizes: S-XL | Women’s version: no (nearest is the Xenair alpine hoody, with 60gsm primaloft)

David Lintern says: The Rab Xenair Light is my perfect active insulation layer, offering all the features I need without any unnecessary fuss. I love how it keeps me warm with 40gsm of Primaloft Gold Active+ while incorporating a significant amount of recycled content. What sets it apart for me is the lack of insulation under the arms, providing optimal breathability where I need it most.

The 20D Pertex shell strikes a great balance between breathability and durability, and the durable water repellent (DWR) finish continues to perform well even after several washes. When I wear it on its own over a baselayer in cool, calm weather, it excels at maintaining a consistent core temperature.

In more extreme winter conditions, sandwiched between a hardshell and a fleece, this insulated jacket truly shines. It not only keeps me warm but also allows water vapor to escape the layering system.

Read David’s full Rab Xenair Light review.

Sprayway Grendel – Chris Townsend’s best buy

Sprayway Grendel
  • Price: No U.S. shipping | £300
  • Available from: Outdoor Action
  • Weight: 17.6 oz | 500g (M)
  • Pros: Hood, pockets, recycled content
  • Cons: Not that light, no women’s version

Materials: shell: Gore-Tex Infinium 30D ripstop; fill: 35% recycled ThermoSphere | Features: adjustable hood with wired peak, handwarmer pockets, chest pocket, zipped inner pocket | Sizes:  S-XXL | Women’s version: no

Chris Townsend says: The Sprayway Grendel Jacket is a synthetic insulated jacket with a Gore-Tex Infinium shell, which is windproof, breathable, and water-resistant. The ThermoSphere fill is soft and flexible, with 80gsm in the body and sleeves and 60gsm in the hood.

The jacket is available in sizes S-XXL and has no stitch lines for heat escape or rain entry. The hood has a stiffened wired peak and adjustment cords, keeping the weather out. The pockets are roomy, with the chest one large enough for a map. The jacket arrived after the last winter weather had passed, and it has been warm in cool temperatures in the Cairngorms.

The generous sizing, with the Medium size being larger than some of the Large size jackets tested, makes it suitable for most winter conditions.

Read Chris’ Sprayway Grendel Jacket review.

Outdoor Research SuperStrand LT Hoodie

Outdoor Research SuperStrand LT Hoodie Review

SQUIRREL_BUTTON_12942230

  • Price: $219 | £220
  • Weight: 11.1 oz | 315g (L)
  • Pros: Light, warm, recycled content
  • Cons: Non-adjustable hood

Materials: shell: ripstop nylon; fill: 85% recycled VerticalX SuperStrand polyester | Features: stretch rim hood, handwarmer pockets, inner stuff pockets | Sizes: S-XXL | Women’s version: yes

Chris Townsend says: The Outdoor Research SuperStrand LT Hoodie is a lightweight, comfortable, and low-weight synthetic insulated jacket with a ripstop nylon shell and 85% recycled VerticalX SuperStrand polyester fill. It features a stretch rim hood, handwarmer pockets, and inner stuff pockets in sizes S-XXL.

However, the hood is not adjustable and the fit is not snug, making it susceptible to cold winds. The jacket is wind-resistant but not fully windproof, and has discontinuous quilting for easier compression. Breathability is good, and the large size fits well.

While it is too warm for walking, it is great for camp wear and backpacking due to its low weight and bulk. The jacket is wind-resistant but not fully windproof, and its distinctive discontinuous quilting reduces stitching needed.

Read Chris’ full Outdoor Research SuperStrand LT Hoodie review.

Rab Mythic Ultra Down Jacket – Alex Roddie’s Best Buy 

Rab Mythic Ultra Down Jacket

SQUIRREL_BUTTON_12925496

  • Stars: 4.5/5
  • Price: $475 | £420
  • Weight: 497g (men’s medium)
  • Pros: very warm for the weight, good hood, recycled fabrics
  • Cons: potentially fragile face fabric

Fill: 240g of 900fp European goose down, RDS-certified, with Nikwax PFC-free hydrophobic finish | Shell: 100% recycled Pertex Quantum 10D nylon ripstop with PFC-free DWR; 100% recycled nylon lining | Hood: stiffened peak, adjustment at sides | Cuffs: elasticated | Hem: drawcord with 2x adjusters | Pockets: 2x handwarmer, 1x outer | Sizes: S–XXL | Womens/Mens version: both


The Mythic Ultra is a lightweight, warm jacket with 240g of 900fp down, providing insulation for multi-day backpacking in Scottish winter conditions. The jacket’s baffles are a mix of stitch-through and box-wall, providing maximum efficiency. However, the face fabric is only 10D, making it less windproof and durable than thicker fabrics. The down is hydrophobic and the face fabric’s DWR works when new, making it weather-resistant. The hood is good but has no volume reducer and can only be adjusted at the sides, making it susceptible to high winds. The jacket’s fit is average and has good backside coverage. The lining and face fabric are 100% recycled, making it suitable for a “big coat” in blizzard conditions.

Read Alex Roddie’s full Rab Mythic Ultra Down Jacket Review

Arc’teryx Thorium SV Hoody

Arc’teryx Thorium SV Hoody

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  • Stars: 4/5
  • Price: $700 | £500 
  • Weight: 656g (men’s medium)
  • Pros: very warm, roomy, good pockets
  • Cons: expensive, down not hydrophobic, basic hood

Fill: 750fp European grey goose down, RDS-certified; zoned Coreloft 140 and 80 synthetic insulation (80% recycled) | Shell: 30D Arato nylon with Gore-Tex Infinium panels (PFC-free DWR) on hood/shoulders | Hood: not wired, adjustment at rear | Cuffs: elasticated. | Hem: drawcord with 2x adjusters | Pockets: 2x handwarmer, 2x inner, 2x outer | Sizes: XS–XXL | Womens/Mens version: both


This jacket is made with box-wall baffles to reduce cold spots and features 750fp down and zoned synthetic insulation. It feels warm and thicker than other jackets tested, but is heavier and less compressible. The down is not hydrophobic, but features like 30D outer fabric, windproof Gore-Tex Infinium panels, and zoned synthetic insulation help mitigate moisture resistance. The jacket performs well in short spells of light precipitation but lacks a stiffened peak and only has one adjustment point. The design is shorter and has less backside coverage, but the fit is more generous. The jacket is well-made and warm, but is more suitable for cold but dry environments without damping the down.

Read Alex’ full Arc’teryx Thorium SV Hoody Review

Montane Resolve XT Hooded Down Jacket

Montane Resolve XT Hooded Down Jacket

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  • Stars: 4.5
  • Price: $450 | £350
  • Weight: 568g (men’s medium)
  • Pros: durable and weather-resistant face fabric, excellent hood, price
  • Cons: not as warm as other jackets

Fill: 220g of 750fp RDS-certified duck down with HyperDRY PFC-free hydrophobic finish | Shell: Gore-Tex Windstopper 30D nylon ripstop with PFC-free DWR; 100% recycled nylon lining | Hood: stiffened peak, adjustment at sides and rear | Cuffs: elasticated | Hem: drawcord with 2x adjusters | Pockets: 2x handwarmer, 1x inner | Sizes: S–XXL | Womens/Mens version: both


The Resolve XT jacket, with 220g of 750fp down, is suitable for most winter conditions in British hills. It is ideal for a blowy December summit camp and can be worn layered over a microfleece. However, higher fill power down is warmer for the weight, and a good mid-layer is needed in cold conditions. The baffle design is stitch-through, and the burly 30D Windstopper face fabric shields the down from the elements. The down is hydrophobic, making it more windproof and water-resistant. The hood is excellent, with a good peak and three points of adjustment, making it suitable for camp and layering. The jacket has good coverage of the backside and doesn’t ride up under a pack.

Read Alex Roddie’s full Montane Resolve XT Hooded Down Jacket Review

Montane Icarus

Montane Icarus Review

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  • Price: $209 | £150
  • Weight: 22.5 oz | 640g
  • Pros: Warmth, cost, recycled content.
  • Cons: Quite heavy, non-adjustable hood

Materials: shell/lining, Pertex Quantum Eco 50% recycled/ 100% recycled PEAQ synthetic ECO; fill, 205g of PrimaLoft Black Thermoplume 100% recycled | Features: stretch rim hood, handwarmer pockets, chest pocket | Sizes: S-XXL | Women’s version: no, but Phoenix Jacket is similar

Chris Townsend say’s: The Montane Icarus is a lightweight, warm, and functional jacket that is ideal for mountain walking in mixed conditions. It weighs 640g (L) and features a stretch rim hood, handwarmer pockets, and a chest pocket. The jacket is made of Pertex Quantum Eco 50% recycled/100% recycled PEAQ synthetic ECO shell/lining, PrimaLoft Black Thermoplume 100% recycled fill, and is available in sizes S-XXL.

The Montane Icarus fill mimics down and is held in micro baffles, making it comfortable and soft. The hood is not adjustable but is close-fitting, and the handwarmer pockets are accessible.

The chest pocket is too small for a map but can hold a smartphone or GPS unit. However, there are alternatives that weigh less and pack down smaller.

Read Chris’ Montane Icarus review.

Berghaus Affine

Berghaus Affine Review

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  • Price: £200 | U.S. shipping charge
  • Weight: 18.6 oz | 530g (L)
  • Pros: Warm, stretchy, hood, stash pockets
  • Cons: Not that light

Materials: shell: polyamide/13% elastane; fill: Hydroloft recycled polyester | Features: adjustable hood with stiffened peak, handwarmer pockets, inner stuff pockets | Sizes: XS-2XL | Women’s version: yes

Chris Townsend says: The Berghaus Affine is a synthetic insulated jacket with a stretch fabric that allows it to be close-fitting without being restrictive or uncomfortable. It has a small sizing and is suitable for wearing over a base layer.

The jacket is warm enough that it doesn’t need to be worn over anything more, especially in the UK. The Hydroloft fill is soft and lofts well. The jacket has an adjustable hood with a stiffened peak and is available in sizes XS-2XL.

The handwarmer pockets and inner stash pockets are useful for stuffing damp gloves. Although expensive and not lightweight, the hood and stretch fabric make it worth considering.

Read Chris’ Berghaus Affine review.

Mountain Equipment Particle

Mountain Equipment Particle
  • Price: $199 | £130
  • Weight: 14.4 oz | 410g (M)
  • Pros: Low weight, low cost, recycled content
  • Cons: Non-adjustable hood

Materials: shell: recycled 20D, stretch fleece side and underarm panels; fill: 14.4 oz / 130 grams recycled Polarloft | Features: stretch rim hood, handwarmer pockets | Sizes: S-XXL | Women’s version: yes

Chris Townsend says: The Mountain Equipment Particle jacket is a lightweight, lightweight mid-layer or outer layer suitable for moderate conditions. It is lightweight and compact, making it ideal for backpacking or rest stops.

The jacket is made of recycled 20D shell, stretch fleece side and underarm panels, and 130 grams recycled Polarloft fill. It features a stretch rim hood and handwarmer pockets, and is available in sizes S-XXL.

The main shell fabric is windproof, but the fleece side and underarm panels are not. The jacket’s basic design is more suitable for a mid layer than an outer layer, with a non-adjustable hood and handwarmer pockets. While not a full-weight winter jacket, it is suitable for backpacking throughout the year.

Read Chris’ full Mountain Equipment Particle review.

Rab Xenair Alpine – Lucy’s Best Buy

Rab womens Xenair synthetic insulated jacket

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  • Price: $240 £195
  • Weight: 14.8 oz | 420g (Size 12)
  • Pros: Great all rounder
  • Cons: None of note

Materials: shell: 20D Pertex Quantum Air; lining: 20D Atmos Ripstop; fill: Primaloft Gold Active+ 55% recycled | Features: helmet-compatible hood, handwarmer pockets, chest pocket, zone insulation (100/80gsm) | Sizes: 8-16 | Men’s version: yes

Lucy Wallace says: It’s hard to find fault with the RAB Xenair Alpine, what sets it apart is the varying insulation depth within zoned areas, which enhances its performance and makes it ideal for stop-start cold weather activities.

One of the standout features is the helmet-compatible hood, complete with a drawcord that allows you to snugly cinch it in when facing high winds. Additionally, the inclusion of two-way zips provides easy access to a climbing harness, a crucial feature for those who engage in climbing or similar activities. And to top it off, there are two generously-sized handwarmer pockets that add to the practicality and convenience of this jacket. It’s a versatile choice for outdoor enthusiasts seeking both warmth and functionality.

Read Lucy’s full Rab Women’s Xenair Alpine review.

Montane Fireball Jacket

Montane Women’s Fireball Jacket

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  • Price: $299 | £200
  • Weight: 12.9 oz | 366g ( Size 12)
  • Pros: Light weight, great for year round use
  • Cons: Not as warm as some

Materials: shell: Featherlite Air nylon stretch; fill: 55% recycled 60gsm Clo Vivo Extreme Eco | Features: Hood, zipped handwarmer and chest pockets, elasticated cuffs | Sizes: 8-16 | Men’s version: yes

Lucy Wallace says: The Fireball, one of the lighter insulated jackets in this test, proves to be a versatile choice. It can serve as a winter midlayer or an emergency layer during the summer. However, it’s worth noting that the non-adjustable hood makes it more suitable to be worn under helmets rather than over them. Another limitation is the absence of a two-way zip, which might require climbers to tuck the jacket into their harness for convenience.

Described as having an “active fit,” the sizing was actually found to be quite generous during testing. This added roominess can be advantageous for layering or accommodating various body shapes. Furthermore, the shell and insulation exhibit good stretch, enhancing overall comfort and mobility.

Read Lucy’s full Montane Women’s Fireball Jacket review.

Keela Talus

Keela Women’s Talus Jacket

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  • Price: £145 | International shipping charges apply
  • Weight: 17.5 oz | 497g
  • Pros: Wired brim on hood price
  • Cons: Bulk

Materials: shell: Flylite Ultra ripstop nylon, side panels; 49%/40%/11% polyester/nylon/Lycra mix; fill: 60gsm Primaloft Gold | Features: helmet-compatible hood, zipped handwarmer and internal chest pockets, stretch fleece side panels | Sizes: 8-20 | Men’s version: Yes

Lucy Wallace says: This insulated jacket is a versatile choice designed to meet your needs all year round. While it might not provide the same level of warmth as jackets with heavier insulation like the 100/80gsm in the Rab Xenair Alpine, the 60gsm Primaloft Gold in the body still offers very effective insulation.

The inclusion of a helmet-compatible hood is a valuable feature, ensuring good protection from the elements when needed. If you plan to use this jacket as an emergency layer or a belay jacket, it’s advisable to size up to ensure there’s enough room underneath for additional layers.

Read Lucy’s full Keela Women’s Talus Jacket review

Mountain Hardwear Ozonic Insulated Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Ozonic

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  • Price: $250 | £250
  • Weight: 21.6 oz | 615g (Size M)
  • Pros: Very warm
  • Cons: Expensive, Bulky

Materials: shell: 50D stretch ripstop Pertex quantum air; fill: 120gsm stretch Primaloft Gold Active | Features: helmet-compatible hood, zipped handwarmer and internal chest pockets, internal drop pocket, under arm vents | Sizes: XS-XL | Men’s version: yes

Lucy Wallace says: The Mountain Hardwear Ozonic Insulated Jacket is a versatile and lightweight option for snow sports enthusiasts. It features stretch fabric, providing freedom of movement, and is made of 50D stretch ripstop Pertex quantum air shell and 120gsm stretch Primaloft Gold Active fill.

The jacket is available in sizes XS-XL and has underarm vents for improved breathability. The hood is roomy and fits over a helmet, and the cuffs have Velcro tabs for protection. The jacket is designed for cold and dry conditions, but is bulky and not suitable for general mountain use in the UK.

However, it is a practical choice for wildlife guides, as it provides warmth and ease of layering in their Alpine habitat. The price ranges from $250 to £250, making it a cost-effective choice for those seeking a warm and practical choice for their outdoor activities.

Read our full Ozonic Insulated Jacket review.

Sprayway Misten

Sprayway Misten Jacket

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  • Price: £140 | No U.S. shipping
  • Weight: 363g
  • Pros: Warm, lower price
  • Cons: Heavy, stitch-through baffles

Materials: shell: 100% recycled polyester; lining: 1005 polyamide; fill: 100% polyester Insofill blown insulation | Features: adjustable wired hood, zipped handwarmer pockets, internal chest pocket, elasticated cuffs | Sizes: 8-20 | Men’s version: yes

Lucy Wallace says: The Sprayway Misten Jacket is a synthetic insulated jacket with a ‘blown fill’, where synthetic fibres are blown rather than spun to mimic natural down. It weighs 363g and is made of 100% recycled polyester shell and 1005 polyamide lining. The jacket features an adjustable wired hood, zipped handwarmer pockets, internal chest pocket, and elasticated cuffs.

Although it requires sewn baffles to hold the fill in place, it is sufficient for warmth and performance in cold conditions. The jacket is bulky for rucksack packing but is suitable for belay or emergency layer. It is suitable for slower-paced activities or camp. At £140, it is the lowest-priced jacket in our guide to the best synthetic insulated jackets, making it a great choice for those looking for a budget-friendly option.

See our full thoughts in the Sprayway Misten Jacket review

How We Test

A guide to synthetic insulation

Synthetic insulation is usually made up of sheets of fibres and the thickness or density of these, and hence the warmth, is measured in grams per square metre (gsm).  Alternatively, it may be ‘blown clusters’ that mimic the structure and ‘loft’ (fluffiness) of down, requiring baffles to hold them in place; for this the overall fill weight is quantified. Synthetic fill has good ethical credentials, being vegan and cruelty-free by default, but it may contribute to microfibre pollution if the fibres escape. You can reduce the environmental footprint by choosing products with recycled content.

Two types of synthetic insulation: on the left, a blown Primaloft fill and on the right, a sheet of Polartec fibres.

Whilst insulated garments are great for throwing on for a breezy snack stop, a cold summit or a camp, many are light and breathable enough to form part of layering system, including underneath a waterproof jacket, and could conceivably be worn on the go in cold temperatures. The bigger, chunkier jackets are typically too warm to wear on the go, but are heaven on cold belay stances or winter camps – i.e. when you’re stationary for a long time.

Synthetic puffy jackets are simple to clean, and dry quickly, making them easy to maintain. There’s an argument for carrying one in your hiking backpack all year round.

What makes a good synthetic insulated jacket

Fill

Primaloft is the big name in synthetic insulation; but there are other excellent ones, and all those reviewed are good quality. With the latest types are lighter, more compressible and more durable than previous ones. Whatever the fill, it’s still true that the higher it lofts the warmer it is.

Shell fabrics

Thin synthetic shell fabrics are surprisingly tough, windproof, breathable and fast-drying. When new they’re usually quite water-resistant too, due to a DWR treatment. This comes in handy when scrambling or climbing thicker fabrics are more abrasion-resistant.

Pockets

Insulated handwarmer pockets are a boon on a chilly day. Ones that lie above a pack hip belt are best for use whilst walking. Chest pockets for map or smartphone/GPS are worth having. There are roomy pockets big enough to stuff hats and gloves in when you take them off, so they stay warm, and you don’t lose them, are useful too. Inner stash pockets are good for the same reason.

Hoods

Hoods aren’t essential but they are nice when the wind picks up, and a good substitute for a warm hat. Some hoods are designed for stormy weather and are adjustable, so they’ll stay on in strong winds. Simple hoods with just an elasticated rim can blow off in powerful gusts.

Size

Sizing varies between makes, so take it as a guide only. Some of the men’s Large jackets tested are smaller than some of the Mediums. Think about what you’ll wear under a jacket. If you might want to pull it on over all your other clothes including your waterproof jacket, then you may need a larger size than usual.