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How We Tested Insulated Jackets

Thursday July 21, 2022
insulated jacket
Credit: Matt Bento

For years now, we have tested synthetic insulated jackets side by side. We've worn them under shells, over base layers, as belay jackets, and as insulating mid layers.

insulated jacket - taking the xenon x out for a spin in pine creek canyon
Taking the Xenon X out for a spin in Pine Creek Canyon
Credit: Matt Bento

The Eastern Sierra is our testing playground, although recently, we have also been testing these jackets in the high desert, Cascades of Oregon, and the Colorado Rockies. We put each of these jackets through the wringer and rate them by warmth, weight, comfort, weather resistance, breathability, and style. We took them climbing and scrambling. We climbed multi-pitches with a rack of jackets, cycling through them at belays, and stuffing and un-stuffing them into their pockets. We used them to bundle up in the boulders and then wore them to the bars.

insulated jacket - our tester evan appreciates the dwr treatment on the atom lt.
Our tester Evan appreciates the DWR treatment on the Atom LT.
Credit: Matt Bento

We pushed ourselves hard uphill to see how sweaty the jackets get inside, and we stood out in the rain too long to test water resistance. After all the fun, we took the jackets inside for more testing. We stood under a cold shower for side-by-side comparisons of how well the different water repellents worked. We looked at how long it took for the jackets to soak through (some never did!). We weighed the jackets, compared how long it took to stuff away each model and set them side by side for loft comparison.

insulated jacket - with so many sunny days in the sierra, we went inside to find...
With so many sunny days in the Sierra, we went inside to find controllable rainstorms for standardized testing.
Credit: Matt Bento

We've climbed, skied, hiked, camped, slept, and gone out on the town in all these jackets to find the very best.

insulated jacket - our tester eric enjoying a very peaceful and deserted indian creek...
Our tester Eric enjoying a very peaceful and deserted Indian Creek, Utah in mid-winter. The Xenon X was a perfect warm outer layer this day with cold temps, snow on the ground, and a stiff breeze blowing.
Credit: Brandon Lampley

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