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How We Tested Insulated Jackets

By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Wednesday May 8, 2019

For the past three years, 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.

Taking the Xenon X out for a spin in Pine Creek Canyon
Taking the Xenon X out for a spin in Pine Creek Canyon

The Eastern Sierra is our testing playground. We put each of these jackets through the wringer so we that can 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 unstuffing them into their pockets. We used them to bundle up in the boulders and then wore them to the bars.

Our tester Evan appreciates the DWR treatment on the Atom LT.
Our tester Evan appreciates the DWR treatment on the Atom LT.

We pushed ourselves hard uphill to see how sweaty the jackets get inside, and we stood out in the rain too long in order 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 jacket and set them side by side for loft comparison.

With so many sunny days in the Sierra  we went inside to find controllable rainstorms for standardized testing.
With so many sunny days in the Sierra, we went inside to find controllable rainstorms for standardized testing.

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

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.
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.