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The 5 Best Insulated Jackets for Women of 2024

We purchased and tested insulated jackets from Patagonia, Arc'teryx, Columbia, and more to find the very best
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Best Insulated Jacket Women Review (Regardless of the jacket you choose, we hope to have helped along the way.)
Regardless of the jacket you choose, we hope to have helped along the way.
Credit: Kaylee Walden
By Kaylee Walden, Maggie Nichols and Amber King  ⋅  Apr 11, 2024

The Best Women's Insulated Jacket for 2024


Over the past decade, we've hauled insulated jackets along for just about every adventure, rigorously testing over 50 of the best. With fabric technology only continuing to improve, this review highlights 13 of this year's latest and greatest, tested in a range of weather conditions and for all kinds of activities. To track the all-around performance of each jacket, we tested them through everyday winter situations, like walking the dog, running errands, or nights out. We also pushed them to their limits in rugged environments, like sailing the raging North Seas, climbing cold alpine routes, backcountry skiing, and wet weather hiking. We scrutinized their materials, wore them in the shower (yes, that was comical), teased out their strengths and weaknesses, and investigated every feature. And, at the end of it all, some clear favorites rose to the surface.

Are you after the very best quiver of jackets to complete your cold-weather layering system? We've continuously tested a wide variety of women's jackets through the years. Whether you're looking to keep dry in a rain jacket or keep cold weather at bay in a stylish winter jacket, we've put in the extensive research and testing to discover the best. If you're looking for the added compressibility of down than these synthetic models, check out our favorite down jackets for women.

Editor's Note: We updated this review on April 11, 2024, expanding our testing lineup and adding new findings to existing award winners.

Related: Best Insulated Jackets for Men

Top 13 Insulated Jackets - Test Results

Displaying 1 - 5 of 13
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Awards Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  
Price $300.00 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$113.30 at Amazon
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Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$300 List
$104.89 at Backcountry
$260 List
Overall Score
78
71
78
66
71
Star Rating
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Pros Soft and comfortable, breathable, easy to layerWarmth, many comfort features, very weatherproofExcellent water resistance, warm, packable, good fit and coverageHighly breathable, great stretch and mobility, pockets are good for a pack or harness, very comfortable cuffsMany thoughtful features, soft yet water and windproof, warm and high loft
Cons Doesn't stuff into its own pocket, not the most wind-resistantNot breathable or very packableShell material is fragile, less breathable, doesn't stuff into its pocketSlim fit runs snug, too ventilated for inactivity in serious cold, not very weather resistant, doesn't pack into pocketSizing runs very large, doesn't pack into a pocket, relatively heavy
Bottom Line An incredibly adaptable jacket that excels in mobility, comfort and breathabilityA cute, high performing non-technical option that boasts an excellent priceA high performer that'll keep you warm and protected throughout the seasonsA unique jacket with exceptional mobility and breathability that makes it a great high-octane adventure layerThis technically-minded jacket for mountain adventures will keep you warm and dry — but, for a better fit, we'd recommend sizing down
Rating Categories Arc'teryx Atom Hood... Columbia Heavenly H... Patagonia DAS Light... Ortovox Swisswool P... Rab Xenair Alpine -...
Warmth (25%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
4.5
8.0
Comfort (25%) Sort Icon
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.5
Weather Resistance (20%)
7.5
8.5
9.0
4.0
8.5
Portability (15%)
7.0
3.0
7.5
8.0
4.0
Breathability (15%)
8.5
3.0
6.0
10.0
6.0
Specs Arc'teryx Atom Hood... Columbia Heavenly H... Patagonia DAS Light... Ortovox Swisswool P... Rab Xenair Alpine -...
Measured Weight (Size S) 10.5 oz 22.4 oz 11.5 oz 10.4 oz 17.0 oz
Number of Pockets 3 (2 zippered hand, 1 internal zippered chest) 3 (2 zippered hand, 1 internal zippered chest) 3 (2 zippered hand, 1 exterior zippered chest) 2 (2 zippered torso) 4 (2 zippered hand, 2 zippered chest)
Hem Type Dual bungee adjustment No adjustment No adjustment Elastic Dual bungee adjustment
Fit Athletic trim Slim Relaxed Athletic trim Relaxed
Insulation Resilient Coreloft Compact 60 (100% recycled polyester) 100% polyester 65g PlumaFill (100% recycled polyester) 88 % virgin wool (Swisswool), 12 % polylactide 133 gsm PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Active+
Outer Fabric Dope Permeair 20D (100% nylon) Storm-Lite DP II polyester 100% recycled ripstop nylon Pertex Quantum (100% polyamide) 20D Pertex Quantum Air with fluorocarbon-free DWR
Lining Tyono 20D 100% nylon
Stretch fleece side panels: 94% polyester, 6% elastane
Luscious Pile Fleece Polyester 100% recycled ripstop nylon 100 % polyamide 20D recycled nylon
Hood Option Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Built-In Stow Pocket No No Yes; hand No No
Cuff Construction Stretch-knit Stretch-knit wrist-warmer cuff with thumbholes Elasticized cuffs Elasticized cuffs Elasticated gusset, Velcro adjustment


Best Overall Insulated Jacket for Women


Patagonia DAS Light Hoody - Women's


78
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 8.0
  • Comfort 8.0
  • Weather Resistance 9.0
  • Portability 7.5
  • Breathability 6.0
Weight: 11.5 oz | Insulation: 65g Plumafill (100% recycled polyester)
REASONS TO BUY
Baffle-less design makes it warmer
Great weather protection
Adjustable hood
REASONS TO AVOID
Fragile exterior
Material is crinkly

Through multiple years of testing, the Patagonia DAS Light Hoody continues to be one of our favorite insulated jackets. It features a baffle-free design, with a roomy fit throughout the arms and torso that leaves just the right amount of space for layering. The hood is properly cavernous, with enough volume to easily accommodate a helmet, hat, or thick beanie. The exterior fabric offers better weather resistance than any other model we tested, beading and repelling water in sleet, rain, and snow. The Plumafill insulation is airy and warm, yet it still packs down to the size of a one-liter bottle – almost comparable to down. Designed for alpine adventures, with climbers in mind, it's built to go anywhere.

While the DAS Light is near perfect for our day-to-day uses, breathability and durability are not its strong suit. The Pertex Quantum fabric is crinkly and not particularly breathable in seriously sweaty endeavors. Also, the exterior fabric is just 10D in thickness, making it a bit fragile — it cut easily when we held a sharp snowboard edge close to the fabric. While this airy jacket is quite compressible, we found it impossible to actually fit into its intended packed pocket. But if you're looking for a warm and weather-resistant jacket that's versatile enough for all seasons, this is it. If you want another solid jacket for super cold conditions, wet weather, and technical pursuits, we also liked the Rab Xenair Alpine, which has a soft exterior and is a bit more affordable.

Read more: Patagonia DAS Light Hoody review

Keeping dry and cozy in the DAS Light.
Credit: Kaylee Walden

Best Warmth and Value


Columbia Heavenly Hoody - Women's


71
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 9.0
  • Comfort 9.0
  • Weather Resistance 8.5
  • Portability 3.0
  • Breathability 3.0
Weight: 22.4 oz | Insulation: 100% Polyester
REASONS TO BUY
Great in poor weather
Excellent value
Many over-the-top comfortable features
REASONS TO AVOID
Not breathable
Not very packable

The Columbia Heavenly Hoody is a stylish hooded jacket with cozy features. The faux fur lining inside the hood feels decadent, while the extended stretch-knit cuffs with thumbholes are both soft and protective. The shell handily cuts the wind and repels rain and snow, with plenty of room for layering. Over the years, our entire team of testers continues to rave about how stylish this coat looks. To top it off, it's very affordable.

With its thicker insulation and sturdier materials, breathability and compression are inherent trade-offs. It's one of few jackets we tested that doesn't pack into its own pocket (though we packed it into a stuff sack with relative ease), and it's by far the heaviest jacket in our lineup. Yet we love the warmth, comfort, and vibe when wearing this coat to hit the slopes at the ski resort all day. It's a high-value and stylish jacket with solid performance and a great price. If you can't swing the cost, the Amazon Essentials Lightweight Water-Resistant jacket is super affordable, but you'll give up quite a bit in warmth, comfort, and weather resistance.

Read more: Columbia Heavenly Hoody review

insulated jacket womens - the heavenly hoody has us feeling all kinds of warm and cozy.
The Heavenly Hoody has us feeling all kinds of warm and cozy.
Credit: Amber King

Most Versatile Layer


Arc'teryx Atom Hoody - Women's


78
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 7.0
  • Comfort 9.0
  • Weather Resistance 7.5
  • Portability 7.0
  • Breathability 8.5
Weight: 10.5 oz | Insulation: Coreloft 60 (100% recycled polyester)
REASONS TO BUY
Incredible versatility
Good for cardio
Sweatshirt-like comfort
REASONS TO AVOID
No stuff pocket
Below average wind resistance

The Arc'teryx Atom Hoody feels and fits differently. It trades out the swishy exterior for a soft, pliable material that feels more like wearing a weather-resistant sweatshirt than a coat. Breathable side panels help to regulate your body temperature when you're putting in the effort, and the jacket is cut and designed for enhanced shoulder mobility. It has enough space underneath for bulky baselayers and is easy to layer under a shell or a parka to create a truly comprehensive expedition-worthy layering system.

We were surprised to learn the Atom Hoody doesn't stuff into its own pocket, as some other jackets of a similar size do. But it's still lightweight and compressible — and we often found ourselves just wearing it rather than packing it. Though it still offers great protection against the wind and snow, this lightweight model isn't quite as warm as some others. But it's a great choice for mild days or — our favorite use — as a midlayer in our all-day-adventure layering system. If you are seeking an even more breathable insulated jacket, we recommend the Outdoor Research SuperStrand LT Hoodie, which is less warm, but is even better yet for exercise.

Read more: Arc'teryx Atom Hoody review

On the go in chilly weather? The Atom would be a top choice.
Credit: Kaylee Walden

Best for Serious Breathability


Ortovox Swisswool Piz Boè - Women's


66
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 4.5
  • Comfort 8.0
  • Weather Resistance 4.0
  • Portability 8.0
  • Breathability 10.0
Weight: 10.4 oz | Insulation: Swisswool
REASONS TO BUY
Outstanding temperature regulation
Excellent stretch and mobility
Unique pockets are perfect for wearing a pack or harness
Very comfortable cuffs
REASONS TO AVOID
Slim fit runs snug
Weather resistance weak points

The Ortovox Swisswool Piz Boè is built for the adventurer who “can't stop, won't stop” even as the snow continues to fall. It's the perfect layer for any activity that typically includes a stop to remove a jacket. Expansive stretch panels span the area under your arms and extend back onto your shoulders. These panels are fleece-lined on the inside and manage to retain warmth when you need it and vent when you're hard at work. The elongated stretch-knit cuffs are comfortable on the wrists, and the bottom side of your forearms can breathe. Its pockets are located along the midline of the jacket, opening in the opposite direction — so your left pocket is accessed by your right hand. This arrangement is not only an ideal placement for on-the-go access, but as the pockets are lined with mesh, they also make for excellent ventilation when you need even more breathability.

The main body of the Piz Boè is water resistant, but the breathable panels are not. This jacket is designed for high-output activities. It's thin and not appropriate for standing around in cold temperatures or during storms. Note that it's cut slimmer than other jackets, and is meant to be worn only over thin base layers. This fit can be limiting for some body types. This jacket doesn't have a dedicated stuff pocket, which we don't mind because we just wanted to keep wearing it. The Piz Boè succeeds in regulating body temperature when other layers fall short. From snowshoeing uphill to winter runs and cross-country skiing, the Ortovox Swisswool Piz Boè is our favorite active winter layer. Though not as breathable, the The North Face Thermoball Eco Hoodie 2.0 is perhaps more versatile with a low-key look and a bit more warmth.

Read more: Ortovox Swisswool Piz Boè review

insulated jacket womens - the piz boe is ridiculously breathable and our favorite...
The Piz Boe is ridiculously breathable and our favorite wintertime-wear for sweaty adventures.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Best Down Jacket for Women


Rab Neutrino Pro - Women's


Fill: 800-fill European goose down | Weight: 18.5 oz
REASONS TO BUY
Exceptional warmth and weather protection
Great fit and full coverage
Cozy fleece-lined features
REASONS TO AVOID
Overkill for mild winters
Hood adjustment could be better

If you're after something packing more warmth than all of these synthetic options, the Rab Neutrino Pro continues to consistently win over our testing team. For this winter, this lofty and impressively warm down jacket was our Editors' Choice for best women's down jacket. The toasty-warm Neutrino boasts extra-wide, lofty baffles and a long drop hem for full protection from harsh conditions. Raglan sleeves make dynamic movement easy and unrestricted, especially for ice climbing and mountaineering, without compromising coverage while moving in extreme cold. Somehow, despite its high loft, the Neutrino Pro doesn't make us look (or feel) like a marshmallow when compared to parkas of a similar caliber.

If you're not often heading out in frigid conditions, the Neutrino Pro might be overkill. Unless you run very cold, it's so warm that it might be too much if you live in a mild or even moderate winter climate. To split hairs, a few of our testers were left wanting with the adjustability of the velcro strap rather than a traditional pull-cord toggle on the hood and found that it could feel floppy. If you're after ultimate warmth no matter where you roam, the Neutrino Pro is the jacket for you. For another similarly weather-resistant but lower loft down jacket, we loved the Rab Microlight Alpine, which has a price tag more comparable to synthetic jackets.

Read more: Rab Neutrino Pro review

The Neutrino Pro is our go-to cold-weather down jacket.
Credit: Kaylee Walden

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
78
Patagonia DAS Light Hoody - Women's
Best Overall Insulated Jacket for Women
$349
Editors' Choice Award
78
Arc'teryx Atom Hoody - Women's
Most Versatile Layer
$300
Top Pick Award
71
Columbia Heavenly Hoody - Women's
Best Warmth and Value
$150
Best Buy Award
71
Rab Xenair Alpine - Women's
$260
66
Ortovox Swisswool Piz Boè - Women's
Best for Serious Breathability
$300
Top Pick Award
65
Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket - Women's
$239
65
Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody - Women's
$289
62
Outdoor Research SuperStrand LT Hoodie - Women's
$235
62
Patagonia Nano Air Hoody - Women's
$329
61
The North Face Thermoball Eco Hoodie 2.0 - Women's
$240
49
Cotopaxi Teca Calido Hooded - Women's
$150
49
Columbia Powder Lite II - Women's
$160
45
Amazon Essentials Lightweight Water-Resistant - Women's
$45

Comparing and contrasting insulated jackets in cold temperatures.
Credit: Kaylee Walden

How We Test Women's Insulated Jackets


Over the last 10 years, we have researched over 100 insulated jackets to find the best of the best to bring to you. After sifting through reviews, technical specifications and accolades, we selected the best and most promising jackets available. Buying each one at retail cost, we then tested them comparatively for months at a time. We zipped into each jacket for many cumulative hours while camping, hiking, backpacking, skiing, splitboarding, running, sailing, running errands, and more. Ideally, each jacket gets tested in multiple climates and in a range of conditions to determine where it shines. We also put each jacket through objective tests, weighing them, packing them, checking their wind resistance, and examining their water repellency. For more information on our testing process, see our full How We Test article.

Our women's insulated jacket testing is divided into five rating metrics:
  • Warmth (25% of total score weighting)
  • Comfort (25% weighting)
  • Weather Resistance (20% weighting)
  • Portability (15% weighting)
  • Breathability (15% weighting)

Why Trust GearLab


This review is headed by two long-time Senior Review Editors, Maggie Nichols and Amber King. Maggie worked as a backcountry guide for over 15 years, leading backpacking, rafting, kayaking, and hiking trips across the world from the Ecuadorian Andes to the Drakensberg Mountains spanning South Africa. She grew up in frigid Midwestern winters and now calls the Sierra Nevada Mountains home. Amber lives and plays in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, exploring the peaks around her hometown. She can be found sailing the north seas, splitboarding throughout Colorado, climbing and trail running wherever she can. These two women have over a decade of combined experience testing and writing for GearLab. Trying to keep up with this high-caliber team is freelance contributor Kaylee Walden. Kaylee is a backcountry skiing and expedition guide and avalanche educator, who spends her year following the snow to mountainous and glaciated places. That predisposition to chase winter has her often reaching for insulated jackets to keep warm year round.

We&#039;d keep cozy in the DAS Light any day, for cold weather activities.
We'd keep cozy in the DAS Light any day, for cold weather activities.
Frigid winter mornings in Yosemite Valley proved great testing...
Frigid winter mornings in Yosemite Valley proved great testing grounds for these jackets.
The exterior of the Teca Calido repels water easily but lacks wind...
The exterior of the Teca Calido repels water easily but lacks wind resistance.
We tested these synthetic insulated jackets in all kinds of conditions.

Analysis and Test Results


Our selection ranges from heavier options for serious weather to featherweight and packable products designed for light and fast pursuits. All are subjected to an array of objective tests to measure performance in five exhaustive and mutually exclusive metrics: Warmth, comfort, weather resistance, packability, and breathability. Though their overall scores show how they compare, we will dive into the specific metric performances of this lineup; some jackets are good across the board, whereas others are far more specialized in one category.


Value


At GearLab, we love finding products that are a good value. Our selection of course includes top-shelf options, but also features those that we think offer solid performance at a reasonable price. The Columbia Heavenly is an affordable, stylish jacket that's less technical but full of cozy features that we love. It's our favorite option when warmth and comfort are key, and it performs well in cold weather — all for a lot less than many others. For value, the also offers a stylish, lifestyle-oriented option. The Amazon Essentials insulated jacket is also worth mentioning. It's a big outlier in terms of price – much cheaper than other jackets – yet provides reasonable weather protection for infrequent and non-technical use. It's a good choice for those who don't often need a puffy jacket or ever-growing teens, and who value affordability over performance.

insulated jacket womens - the columbia powder lite kept us warm with its high collar, and...
The Columbia Powder Lite kept us warm with its high collar, and provides style for a good value.
Credit: Kaylee Walden

Keep an eye out for price cuts on last year's colors or deals at the tail end of the winter season.

Warmth


When evaluating warmth, we're sure to take each jacket out in truly bad weather: Ideally wet, and likely below zero. We evaluate the jacket's ability to keep us cozy while moving, and also while still. Often, this comes down to the loft and weight of the insulation, and the exterior shell, but the extras can also make a big difference. We look for features that contribute to the weather protection, like cinching hoods, weather-resistant exterior material, and long, full-coverage cuts.


The warmest jacket we tested was the Columbia Heavenly Hoody. This thickly insulated coat has Columbia's Omni-Heat lining to reflect your body heat back at you, a faux fur-lined hood that wraps around to nuzzle your chin as well, and elongated stretch-knit cuffs with thumbholes that can be worn inside gloves to keep your wrists protected. It's cut slim and fits well; easily sized up for adding extra base layers.

insulated jacket womens - the heavenly hoody is supremely warm in cold places like the san...
The Heavenly Hoody is supremely warm in cold places like the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.
Credit: Amber King

Another impressively warm option is the Rab Xenair, which packs a lot of loft into a malleable, weather-protective package. Not only is the Xenair lofty, it also features a Pertex Quantum exterior that helps it block wind and water surprisingly well for the soft feel. The hem of the Xenair provided full backside coverage for even our curvier testers, and the cuffs are among few in the test with velcro closures to seal out gusts. However, despite all of these positives, the Xenair has an oversized fit verging on baggy, and we would suggest sizing down.

Staying cozy in a biting north wind in the Xenair Alpine.
Credit: Kaylee Walden

We're impressed by the Arc'teryx Atom. This lightweight model is the most breathable option to land itself on the “warmest insulated jackets” list, which is no easy feat! It maintains warmth despite being so thin, in part by a baffle-free construction that offers no weak points for wind or water to make it through. The North Face Thermoball Eco 2.0 also packs warm, dense insulation into its thin exterior. The Patagonia DAS Light Hoody is another impressive jacket. It has plenty of insulation inside its baffle-free body, and its Pertex Quantum shell traps air very well, keeping you comfortable and warm inside. It's cut long in the torso and sleeves, adding extra coverage to ensure toastiness.

insulated jacket womens - cozied up in the das light for a day of ice climbing.
Cozied up in the DAS Light for a day of ice climbing.
Credit: Kaylee Walden

Comfort


In this metric, we look at the comfort and coziness of each jacket. Think uninhibited movement, fleece lining, flexible and well-fitting hoods, and adjustment cords that are easy enough to use without taking off your gloves. We also consider how well you can layer underneath and over the jacket based on its fit, construction, and more. We, of course, consider pockets, their placement, their utility, and how many there are. Lastly, we examine the fit of each jacket and how adaptable it is to a range of body shapes, and how the material of the jacket feels.


The Arc'teryx Atom is also impressively comfortable. Ditching the classic swishy exterior and adding stretch-knit cuffs increases the sweatshirt-like feel of this moderately stretchy jacket, as well as its ability to be very easily layered both over and under other garments. It's also one of the only ones we tested that has removed the seams from the armpit area, making it more comfortable to move in. The Columbia Heavenly Hoody is full of cozy features that many of the more technically focused models in our lineup don't. The wrist-warming cuffs with thumbholes and the fuzzy hood lining not only add warmth but make us feel all snuggly inside this jacket.

insulated jacket womens - the fleece-lined hood of the columbia heavenly makes it one of the...
The fleece-lined hood of the Columbia Heavenly makes it one of the most comfortable pieces that we've tested so far.
Credit: Amber King

In a similar vein, the Ortovox Swisswool Piz Boè is a joy to wear and move in — if its slim build fits your frame. Though it still has armpit seams, it also incorporates extremely stretchy (and breathable!) panels that extend back across your scapulae. That level of mobility is not something we see in any other jacket. On top of that, the Piz Boè has stretch-knit cuffs that are silky smooth and feel just fantastic on your skin. The Patagonia DAS Light is another very comfortable jacket, though in a different way. It's highly lofty and is somehow joyful in its slightly marshmallow-like feeling. A longer torso and sleeves add to its coziness.

insulated jacket womens - the stretchy paneling on the underarm and shoulder of the piz boe...
The stretchy paneling on the underarm and shoulder of the Piz Boe make it a great choice for mobility.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

The Patagonia Nano Air Hoody is similar in its comfort to the Arc'teryx Atom. It, too, is made of softer material that's quieter and more pleasant to wear than the average puffy jacket. Its stretch-knit cuffs feel great on the wrists, though it lacks the seam-free armpits and the same level of stretch that the Atom offers. When it comes to that “classic puffy jacket feelingThe North Face Thermoball 2.0 and the Outdoor Research SuperStrand LT bring plenty of traditional comforts. The SuperStrand is quite lightweight, thin, and flexible, making it easy to layer over baselayers. The Thermoball is thicker and stiffer, and we appreciate it as a more standalone coat for everyday use.

insulated jacket womens - the nano air has stretch-knit cuffs that we love.
The Nano Air has stretch-knit cuffs that we love.
Credit: Amber King

Weather Resistance


To assess weather resistance, we went outside when mother nature offered soul-crushing weather, and went hiking, skiing, and even just stood outside in it. If the forecast called for “wintry mix,” then we were out in it. We then brought our testing indoors to objectively compare their resistance. We stood in front of high-powered fans and sprayed, poured, and rubbed water into the fabric of each jacket. Though none of these jackets are meant to be a standalone layer against all-day rain, some of them do a pretty solid job keeping us dry. And though we don't recommend getting them soaked, that is one of the biggest benefits of synthetic insulation over down: It will continue to insulate even when fully saturated.


Water Repellency
An insulated jacket does not serve as a substitute for a rain jacket or hardshell, but many of the products that we review are treated with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish. With differences in fabric and stitching, each repels water a little differently. Be sure to carry a shell with you if you intend on using any jacket in especially wet conditions.

When it comes to both wind and rain, the Patagonia DAS Light comes out on top. This insulated jacket is entirely baffle-free, eliminating the lines of weakness that other jackets have. Over time, the stitching to create baffles nearly always becomes minute holes that let wind and water seep in. Not so with the DAS Light. We wore this coat all day skiing while wet heavy snow pelted us non-stop, and we never saw a shred of evidence that any of the water made it through to the insulation. Nearly as impressive is the Columbia Heavenly Hoody. The Storm-Lite DP II polyester exterior of this jacket repelled wind with ease and lasted for a long time against a downpour. Even as the fabric eventually allowed water to soak in, it never reached our inner layers, ensuring we remained toasty warm within.

We were toasty and free to move as we pleased in the DAS Light.
Credit: Kaylee Walden

The Arc'teryx Atom is another baffle-less model we tested. Though this jacket is much thinner than other top-scoring models, that lack of baffling proved its worth when pitted against both wind and water. Snug cuffs keep your arms sealed from the cold, while a dually-adjusted hem easily closes the jacket against any weather. As a purpose-built, technical jacket made to withstand harsh conditions, the Rab Xenair Alpine unsurprisingly had solid performance in this metric. It let in almost no wind whatsoever, even when gusts topped out above 70 mph in the backcountry.

insulated jacket womens - gale force winds are no match for the xenair alpine.
Gale force winds are no match for the Xenair Alpine.
Credit: Kaylee Walden

Portability


We appreciate jackets that compress effectively into the bottom of a backpack, or stuff into their own pocket or stuff sack. When temperatures rise, you're changing elevation on your hike, or while you're traveling, it's important that your jacket can stow away with ease. We weighed every jacket, and noted how heavy or light they feel to wear and carry. We packed them away into themselves and crammed them into backpacks and suitcases to see how compressible they are.


The Outdoor Research SuperStrand is the lightest jacket we tested. It's fairly easy to fit into its pocket and forms a similar oblong shape. However, it loses a point in our weight and compressibility metric for its lack of a carabiner loop. You could, of course, clip it to the zipper pull hanging off one end, but as that's just a segment of knotted cord, it could easily come untied along your route, dumping your puffy without you ever noticing it was gone.


The Ortovox Swisswool Piz Boè doesn't pack into itself but is lightweight and so useful that we find it easy to stuff into our bag or suitcase for any applicable adventure. The Patagonia DAS Light is also impressively light for the loft, and readily compresses into the small corners of your pack. It is technically able to pack into its own pocket, but despite testing several iterations of this jacket over many years, we have never been able to get it in all the way and close the zipper.

We'd happily pack the DAS Light for its impressive warmth-to-weight ratio.
Credit: Kaylee Walden

The Patagonia Nano Puff is impressively light at just 10 ounces. Its closely related hooded option, the Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody adds on a small amount of weight for a total of 11.6 ounces. Both Nano Puff options can be stored in their chest pocket. The Cotopaxi Teca Calido Hooded also stores inside its chest pocket, though it's not as light.

The Patagonia Nano Puff doesn&#039;t have a hood, so it weighs slightly...
The Patagonia Nano Puff doesn't have a hood, so it weighs slightly less.
The Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody adds on 1.6 ounces to include a hood.
The Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody adds on 1.6 ounces to include a hood.
The Patagonia Nano Puff options include hooded and non-hooded. The main difference is 1.6 ounces of extra weight for the hood.

Breathability


Breathability is even more important when recreating in cold weather. If you become soaked with sweat underneath your jacket, your base layers will no longer keep you warm — a recipe for potential hypothermia. We tested every jacket's breathability by doing hard work while wearing them. We went backcountry skiing, running, climbing, snowshoeing, and more in each. We noted how their fabrics handle excess body heat and what features they have (or lack) that make them more breathable.


By far, the most breathable jacket in our lineup is the Ortovox Piz Boè. We can't imagine a more breathable option out there, and it earns our extremely elusive perfect score in this metric. Extensive breathable panels comprise the armpit area, extending back across the shoulder blades. Stretch-knit cuffs continue nearly seven inches up the insides of your forearms, effectively helping to regulate your body temperature. Already, these features make it more breathable than every other insulated jacket, but the Piz Boè has more up its sleeves. The unique pockets — appreciated for their easy access and superb location while wearing a backpack or harness — open along the midline of the jacket and are made of fine mesh. This lets them double as vents effectively, as the mesh allows airflow, and the central location of the pocket openings encourages even the slightest breeze from forward motion to enter the jacket. We've worn the Piz Boè for dozens of highly active outdoor winter adventures, and we love it a little more each time.

insulated jacket womens - the piz boe is the most breathable insulated jacket we could ever...
The Piz Boe is the most breathable insulated jacket we could ever dream of.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Though it can't match the ridiculous breathability of the Piz Boè, the Arc'teryx Atom does a great job. It also features knit side panels (though not extending onto the shoulders) to offload excess body heat and stretch-knit cuffs (though not spreading up the forearm as far) that ventilate and can be pulled up if need be. The Atom is a great option for stop-and-go activities where you need breathability while moving but extra protection while standing still.

insulated jacket womens - we found the arc&#039;teryx atom extremely breathable for the uphill, yet...
We found the Arc'teryx Atom extremely breathable for the uphill, yet protective from the elements on the downhill.
Credit: Kaylee Walden

The Patagonia Nano Air has some similar features to the Atom, with a softer exterior that breathes more easily than any swishy model we've tested. It also has small stretch-knit cuffs that help. It's another good option for intermittent sweaty winter activities. The only “classic” puffy jacket we tested with notable breathability is the Outdoor Research SuperStrand. It's the thinnest, least insulated jacket in our lineup, with comfortable elastic cuffs that can be pushed up like a sweatshirt sleeve.

insulated jacket womens - there&#039;s more than a handful of insulated jackets out there! we hope...
There's more than a handful of insulated jackets out there! We hope this can help you pick the best one for you.
Credit: Kaylee Walden

Conclusion


Many of these jackets work at their best with a comprehensive cold weather layering system: Starting off with cozy long underwear, and finishing with a hardshell jacket and a pair of the best gloves can help you get the most out of your synthetic warmth without asking too much in inclement weather. A synthetically insulated jacket offers many advantages, like staying warm when wet and spending less money compared to down jackets. We hope our unbiased review process and intensive testing will help you determine which insulated jacket is precisely the right one for your lifestyle and budget.

Kaylee Walden, Maggie Nichols and Amber King