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As the lightest jacket in the review, this synthetic insulator still keeps up with the big dogs in the warmth department thanks to proprietary Thermal.Q Elite insulation. This material mimics the structure of natural down with thicker, rigid fibers providing a skeleton for thinner, softer fibers. The end result—countless tiny pockets of air trapping your heat—also mimics down. What you get is a jacket that “re-lofts faster and stays completely warm when wet,” according to one tester who took it for early-season ice and snow in Rocky Mountain National Park. “You never know what you’ll get in shoulder-season weather, but with this jacket, you can handle all of it.” The resilience and rebound of the insulation allowed designers to use a slightly heavier 20-denier ripstop nylon for increased burl, and testers found no reduction in loft after packing and unpacking a few dozen times. It packs into the chest pocket, but it’s not the smallest (think basketball size). Nice: It’s sized for layering, which was great for throwing over a midlayer and a shell at belay stations and rest breaks.
If weight and versatility are your top priorities for long routes or backcountry pursuits, this midweight puffy offers an ideal amount of warmth for all but the coldest situations, whether it’s on the ground or on the wall.
$295; 17 oz.; mountainhardwear.com