As the colder weather approaches here at Webtogs Gear Guru we decided it was time to reveal our Top 5 Insulating Jackets in 2016. Any outdoor enthusiast or professional will know that keeping warm and dry is crucial, especially in low temperatures and windy conditions, yet you also need to be mobile enough to reach high when climbing with gear light enough to not weight you down. Having this in mind we have looked at a varied range of insulating jackets from a number of brands that specialise in lightweight, high-performing and very comfortable clothing to find our favourite five overall.
There are various factors to look for when choosing an Insulating jacket that can determine how enjoyable the experience is overall such as the fill power which relates to the amount of insulation either natural or synthetic down is able to provide and the type of fabric as there are different levels of water repellency and durability. The fit and articulation of the jacket arms is important as well as you will need higher reach on Alpine and mountain trails and compatibility with other gear such as a backpack, harness and helmet. We have listed all of these features in each of our Top 5 Insulating Jackets for this year where applicable so that you know exactly what each one offers.
Our Top 5 Insulating Jackets for 2016
North Face Thermoball Insulating Jacket
The North Faces’ decades worth of experience in designing outdoor gear shows in the Thermoball Insulating Jacket. It is versatile enough to wear throughout the seasons and works well during cold weather excursions. The Thermoball insulation is entirely synthetic and gives the insulation equivalent of 600 fill power by mimicking natural down clusters. As it is part of the North Face Primaloft range even if it becomes wet, Thermoball down still retains warmth. An exterior 20 Denier Ripstop shell fabric gives enough durability to this hooded version of the Thermoball jacket and helps with it being able to be packed down to a very small size. The mid-weight and low bulk of The North Face Thermoball insulating jacket means that it can be worn as part of a layering system as a top or mid layer depending on how cold the temperature is.
Rab Nimbus Insulating Jacket
Designed to be very light in weight, the Rab Nimbus insulating jacket is ideal for when you need to be fast paced on trails or climb high during wet weather conditions. The outer fabric is Pertex Quantum which is one of the reasons this Rab Nimbus shell is so light, yet it is also durable and water resistant and able to dry quite fast, so for rocky or woodland treks it is ideal if there is moisture in the air, or snow is starting to fall. Cirrus 3M insulation, similar to the previous Top 5 jacket is 600 fill power down that is entirely artificial so is able to retain warmth even when wet or compressed, plus actually has more loft than natural down as well. The Rab Nimbus jacket gives you complete control over the fit as there is a hem drawcord and Lycra binding around the helmet compatible hood and cuffs so it feels comfy to wear, plus heat loss and spindrift entry are greatly reduced.
Montane Prism Insulating Jacket
The feature-filled, versatile Montane Prism insulating jacket is a mid-weight shell that works well as part of a shell system during wet cold weather, or as an outer layer in dry conditions. For the Montane Prism, Pertex Microlight fabric has been used for the outer as it is windproof, plus repels moisture and dries fairly fast as well so is ideal for high altitude trails. The insulation filling is 40g of Primaloft Silver Eco which is entirely synthetic and 70% of it is made from recycled textiles is water repellent just like our previous two insulating jackets in our Top 5. Articulated arms give the advantage of higher reach while not lifting the hem, so spindrift entry is greatly reduced. The hood is articulated, helmet compatible and has an internal tab that lets it be secured if you need to roll it away. Hand warmer pockets feature insulation around them and are clear of any backpack straps so can be accessed for that extra bit of warmth at any time, plus there is a beardguard for further comfort and even reflective Scotchlite details to help you be more visible.
Columbia Powder Lite Insulating Jacket
Perfect for a varied range of weather conditions and walks, the Columbia Powder Lite insulating jacket is fairly similar to the previous of our top 5, though more suited to autumn and winter walks at a lower altitude. The outer of the Columbia Powder Lite is water resistant Storm Lite DP II which is entirely polyester. Columbia Omni-Heat thermal reflective material has also been used as it is light, thin and is able to simply reflect any warmth back to you which combined with the synthetic down insulation retains plenty of heat. Both the hood and hem are adjustable for a secure fit and to help either retain heat or let a cooling airflow in if required.
Marmot Variant Insulating Jacket
This Alpine trail and ski Marmot Variant insulating jacket is a little different from our other chosen five as it is more form fitting due to stretch-fleece fabric on the back and sleeves that keep it in place, yet allows for a freedom of movement akin to wearing a base layer. The cuffs and hem on this Marmot Variant jacket are elastic bound to help achieve the fit as well without restricting movement. An outer of tough Ripstop fabric on the torso area gives durability, plus features a water repellent treatment as well. Thermal R insulation is a proprietary synthetic polyester down from Marmot that was created to cover the insulation requirements on garments, sleeping bags and gloves while being light, warm and having loft as well so works very well with this jacket.
In our Top 5 Insulating Jackets for 2016 there should be an appropriate choice to suit walks, hikes and climbs during the colder months, some that can be worn as part of layering systems so you can make the most of changing weather and other outdoor gear, or one’s better suited to carrying and wearing light gear for a faster pace.