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How We Tested Insulated Jackets

Thursday February 2, 2023
insulated jacket - comfort and subsequently, a jacket's mobility proved essential to...
Comfort and subsequently, a jacket's mobility proved essential to its performance when we were out climbing on the rocks around Boulder, Colorado.
Credit: James Lucas

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. We've tried them as every combination of layering piece imaginable.

insulated jacket - we tested each of the jackets in a variety of conditions including...
We tested each of the jackets in a variety of conditions including sun, rain, and snow.
Credit: James Lucas

The Eastern Sierra serves as our primary testing ground, 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, and breathability, taking their style into consideration as well. 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 brewery.

insulated jacket - we spent a fair bit of time testing these jackets in the flatirons...
We spent a fair bit of time testing these jackets in the Flatirons around Boulder Colorado, climbing and exploring the sandstone in the hills there.
Credit: James Lucas

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 - running up the 1,000 foot ridge line of the first flatiron provided...
Running up the 1,000 foot ridge line of the First Flatiron provided us with evidence as to how well the jacket breathed under heavy exercise.
Credit: James Lucas

We've climbed, skied, hiked, camped, slept, and gone out on the town in all these jackets to find the warmest, the lightest, the most comfortable, the most weather-resistant, the most breathable, and the best value on the market. Our extensive testing helped us cull the synthetic jacket world and provide you with the cream of the crop.

insulated jacket - we wore these jackets from the crags to the backcountry to the bars...
We wore these jackets from the crags to the backcountry to the bars to find the very best.
Credit: James Lucas

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