At literal first glance, the Spyder Leader appears to be the most sophisticated jacket in our test. The look is simply the most polished and opulent. This classy look is accomplished while also maintaining a somewhat contemporary looser fit and feel, which is a rare combination in the ski jacket market. Under the shell, literally, is synthetic insulation that will either prompt you to pass on by, or really seal the deal for you.
The down insulation of the Editors' Choice Arc'teryx Macai is truly better. It is lighter and warmer and will last much much longer. However, the one performance advantage of synthetic insulation like that used in the Leader is that it dries out many times faster than down. For back-to-back wet days, a synthetic piece like this contender is the best insulated choice. It is in these circumstances that many will choose to construct a layered ski clothing system using a three-in-one jacket like the Top Pick Columbia Whirlibird or a system comprised of individually selected jackets, starting with something like the Editors choice Arc'teryx Sabre. For those that want a one-piece insulated jacket, and ride regularly and hard in wet conditions, the Leader is our recommendation. The Helly Hansen Alpha 3.0 is also a contender, with a slightly higher overall score.