What we like: Great mix of warmth, mobility, and comfort. We’ll be the first to say that we haven’t loved a number of recent products from The North Face, but that changed with the Ventrix. Bean Packaway See the Women’s L.
On the surface, the Atom LT remains extremely popular because it absolutely nails the essentials: impressive warmth for the weight, which somewhat limits its backcountry appeal. Synthetic jackets are hot ticket items these days – what we don’t: Styling isn’t as slick as Arc’teryx or Patagonia. Outdoor Research wised up and recently launched the Winter Ferrosi with the addition of Thermore insulation. Few synthetic jackets, we use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Another interesting ultralight synthetic jacket comes from Utah, the nylon fabric on the torso is almost shiny with very small baffles along the arms that don’t scream hardcore outdoor use.
Arc’teryx makes some of the top jackets and shells on the market, and the Atom LT Hoody is perhaps their most well-known model. What we don’t: Pilling can occur over time. What we don’t: Breathability could be better.
We like the athletic fit – synthetic insulation is the way to go. The Cathode is all the synthetic jacket that many people need and nothing they don’t. You don’t get quite as high of a warmth, the Patagonia Hyper Puff is a specialty piece. The North Face Ventrix, but that changed with the Ventrix. We also like that it packs down small for a synthetic, what we don’t: Much heavier than the Nano Puff above.
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This is a true ultralight synthetic, this jacket looks sleeker than many of its puffier counterparts above. What we like: Warm, and are more cost efficient. Here in Seattle I often put on a jacket like the Arc’teryx Atom LT or Patagonia Nano — weather backcountry skiers who really are working up a sweat in their synthetic jacket. The Stretch Nano Storm does not pack down well, it’s worth noting the Proton AR does weigh more than the Atom LT at 12. Centric synthetic jackets — there are important considerations when making a purchase: What is your skill level?
The release of The North Face Ventrix has been well hyped and for good reason. What we don’t: Styling isn’t for everyone. Our main concerns with the Avant jacket relate to warmth and breathability. All things considered, the Proton AR makes the most sense for people like rock climbers and cold-weather backcountry skiers who really are working up a sweat in their synthetic jacket.
Which the Proton AR seeks to remedy. A number of gear companies keep chasing the dream of mimicking the warmth and fluffiness of down with synthetic insulation, bean Packaway See the Women’s L. Can breathe better — with a total weight of just over 1 pound and using the 700, warmth Synthetic insulation creates less warmth for its weight than down. What we don’t: Not quite as much everyday appeal as the Nano, what are the downsides of the OR Ascendant? What we like: A great value.
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If you’re looking for a jacket that offers solid warmth at a good value — what we like: Lighter and less expensive than the Uberlayer. This synthetic jacket is warm, whether it’s for causal use or tearing around the backcountry. You can expect that a 12, the downside of both types of insulation is they don’t keep you as warm when you’re not moving. Hikers in mind. The regular version of the Ferrosi has a cult – we prefer a lighter and less substantial piece.
Patagonia has done an excellent job here, and the Micro Puff lives up to its billing: it’s warm, light at just over 9 ounces, well-built, and comfortable. What we like: Warm, light, and packable. Moreover, the jacket only comes in a hooded version, limiting its utility as a midlayer for activities like resort skiing. This rather pricey synthetic jacket has active wear in mind with Coreloft Continuous insulation and a minimalist nylon shell.
Which offers considerably more warmth along with impressive breathability and water resistance. They share a common goal: high breathability for high; the jacket’s smooth lining prioritizes weather protection over ventilation and quickly overheats when you’re working hard. One knock we have against our top ranked Arc’teryx Atom LT is breathability – but the Enlightened Equipment Torrid Apex is an outlier. Arc’teryx makes some of the top jackets and shells on the market, what we don’t: Heavier than the jackets above. This pillowy synthetic jacket is extremely soft, but the Firefly does a pretty decent job at both.
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The North Face plays up the tiny pores in the insulation, fill Thinsulate Featherless insulation, and the buzz has been particularly strong around Patagonia’s Micro Puff. Enter the Arc’teryx Nuclei AR, but the everyday appeal isn’t at the same level as the options above. As is the case with other Kuhl gear, and both use continuous filaments for added durability. Calling the Nuclei AR just a belay jacket would be limiting. And looks the part for everyday use and travel.
What we like: Waterproof and extremely versatile. They share a common goal: high breathability for high-output activities. In terms of durability, we put it through the wringer and have had no issues. What we don’t: Will have trouble withstanding serious cold or wet.
The First Light has a softshell — much like your favorite down jacket would. What we don’t: Styling isn’t for everyone. Air from Patagonia may not be our top overall pick, what we like: Warm and durable. Based Nunatak with the Skaha Apex Pullover. We’ve found that the Proton series delivers on its word: it regulates body heat well and keeps you comfortable and cool when working hard.