For a slim-but-warm jacket that’s at home 400 feet up a big wall in a snowstorm and belaying single-pitch ice routes in single-digit temps, look no further than this “everything you need, nothing you don’t” piece from NW Alpine. Testers were impressed by the amount of insulating heat in such a compressible package: “With a heavy baselayer and a standard fleece midlayer, I could handle standing still in temps below 20°, which can’t be said for some fatter puffies.” Designers optimized warmth and minimized bulk (packs down to cantaloupe size) by putting four-ounce PrimaLoft One in the torso, where you need a bigger insulating boost, and three-ounce PrimaLoft One in the shoulders and hood, where your body needs less warming power. The bomb-proof 70-denier nylon shell was a standout feature on this belay jacket, as it stood up to repeated rock abrasion. Elastic cuffs were low-profile enough to layer smoothly under gloves. Testers loved the drop-tail hem and oversized helmet-compatible hood. Ding: A non-athletic fit felt a little bulky on slimmer testers.
A high-end, versatile, and warm synthetic puffy that’s trustworthy in any condition with a bargain-basement price. Testers chose it again and again because of its warmth, toughness, and minimal packed size.
$270; 21 oz.; nwalpine.com