The big test: Insulated jackets reviewed (2018)

If you want to stop on a mountain to drink in the view, an insulated jacket will take away the chill – but should you choose a fleece jacket, a down jacket or a synthetic insulated jacket? Trail headed to the hills to find out...

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The runners up


Haglofs Heron Hood £100

Tester: Tim Butcher

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  • Material Pontetorto Technostretch fleece

  • Men’s S-XL

  • Women’s XS-XL

  • Weight 425g (men’s XL)

The fleece fabric on this jacket has a good abrasion-resistant finish on the outside, while on the inside it’s quite fluffy to add more warmth. The hood was the best fitting out of the fleece jackets that I have used too, and so overall it feels very comfortable and ideal to wear as part of a layering system. However it is quite a lightweight fleece, so its use is limited to that of a mid layer in warmer weather. On cold days or for winter in Scotland I’d need either a thicker main insulation layer or an additional insulation layer to stay warm. I also noticed the wind driving through this layer easily. The price makes it feel like a luxury for something that won’t keep you warm year-round. But this lightweight fleece is ideal for walking in the UK from late spring through to early autumn.

Pros

Price, weight, packed size, great hood, works well as a warm-weather mid layer.

Cons

Not warm enough for colder spring or autumn days and so extra layers will be needed regularly and more so in winter.

Buy it if

You want an excellent fleece jacket for walking in warmer conditions.


Rab Alpha Flux £140

Tester: Jon Bennett

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  • Materials Polartec Alpha synthetic insulation

  • Men’s S-XXL

  • Women’s 8-16

  • Weight 328g (M)

Polartec Alpha insulation has a core of lofted knit fibres, so it traps more air than fleece, and offers far more insulation, which makes it ideal as an additional layer to throw on over other layers when the temperature dips. It’s also exceptionally breathable, therefore it works well under waterproof layers. This jacket also gets stretch side panels, giving it a closer fit than other jackets and again making it ideal as part of a layering system. I also liked the way the hood fitted and moved with my head. It’s not the warmest option though. Yes it is great as an additional layer when moving, which is what it is designed for, but when sitting around I’d need extra insulation on colder days. It’s not that windproof either, so expect to need a wind or waterproof shell over the top to stay warm.

Pros

Weight and packed size, price, great hood, works well as part of a layering system when moving.

Cons

Warmer than fleece, but you’ll need extra insulation in cold weather, especially if not moving.

Buy it if

You want extra insulation to wear as part of a layering system while moving.


Arc’teryx Cerium SL Hoody £270

Tester: Graham Thompson

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  • Materials 850 fill power down, Coreloft synthetic insulation on shoulders and cuffs

  • Men’s S-XXL

  • Women’s XS-L

  • Weight 236g (men’s L)

A new jacket using very efficient 850 fill power down, which ensures you get an extremely low weight. But importantly you also get synthetic Coreloft insulation in areas that may collect moisture, which would impact on the down performance, so this is placed on the cuffs and shoulders and also at the top of the front zip. Another huge benefit of this jacket is that you get rear cord volume adjustment on the hood, so it fits really well and moves effortlessly with the head. There is a hem drawcord too – a feature many jackets lack. You also get two main pockets. The main drawbacks are the price and it’s not quite the warmest option. But if you can afford it (and another jacket for colder winter days) this is a great jacket for year-round use.

Pros

Weight and packed size, warm enough for mild conditions, great hood, additional synthetic insulation.

Cons

Price, not quite warm enough in winter, no cuff adjustment, slightly short body compared to others.

Buy it if

You want a very lightweight insulated jacket for spring to autumn and on the mildest winter days.



The top three


Berghaus Privitale 2.0 Extrem Fleece Hoodie £90

Tester: Tim Butcher

This is a modern, practical fleece jacket, but is it warm enough to beat the chill you’ll experience at the lofty heights of a mountaintop lookout?

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  • Material Stretch polyester fleece

  • Men’s S-XXL

  • Women’s n/a

  • Weight 593g (XL)

It’s good

The Privitale is an immensely comfortable and warm jacket at a great price for what you get. Its stretch polyester fleece fabric has a tight knit on the outside to improve wear, while inside the looser knit increases warmth and comfort. The fit is close but as the fleece is very stretchy it does not restrict movement. The hood is particularly well-designed with a close fit, and turns with the head easily. The baffle behind the zip, long sleeves with thumb loops and generous back length protected my 6ft 2in body well to keep out draughts and retain body warmth. A great benefit over many jackets is that the pockets are large and easily accessed while wearing a rucksack. Also as fleece is very breathable this works great under a waterproof jacket as part of a layering system. The Privitale is versatile enough to be worn over a base layer and under a waterproof jacket, so it can be used as your main insulated layer or as back-up insulation.

However

Whilst I’d be happy with this as my only mid-layer on most hill days, I’d still want something a little warmer and with more wind resistance, such as a down or synthetic insulated jacket, for back-up in autumn or winter, particularly for camping on the hill or for bothy nights or for really snowy Scottish mountains days. While I like the price tag, I’d be happy to pay a few extra pounds for a hem drawcord to lock out drafts and retain the great fit if I was lucky enough to lose a few pounds in weight on a trip. But the main drawback here is the weight and bulk of this jacket compared to warmer jackets, as any back-up jacket that is spending much of the day in the rucksack needs to be as light and compact as possible, and others are better in this department. Sadly there is no women’s option either.

Verdict

For me it’s the perfect mid layer, providing reassuring warmth and ease of movement at a great price, but others are lighter and offer more weather resistance.

  • Features 4/5

  • Packability 3/5

  • Weatherproofness 3/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 5/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 76%


Montane Icarus / Phoenix £150 

Tester: Jon Bennett

Does the latest Primaloft Thermoplume insulation make this jacket ideal for taking on the hill when extra warmth is needed at a reasonable price?

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  • Material Primaloft Thermoplume

  • Men’s S-XXL (Icarus)

  • Women’s 8-16 (Phoenix)

  • Weight 605g (M)

It’s good

New for 2018 and made from the latest Primaloft Plume insulation, which is said to offer similar levels of performance to 550 fill power down. Not surprisingly perhaps, this was very warm – in fact the warmest jacket we tested. The outer Pertex Quantum Eco nylon shell fends off wind and moisture well, and is also reasonably breathable so you don’t get sweaty. This jacket feels pretty warm and cosy, with a good length, well-insulated hood, and elasticated cuffs and hem to lock out draughts. The two main handwarmer pockets are well placed to allow access even when a rucksack is worn, and there’s a third useful GPS receiver-sized zipped chest pocket. So this jacket is ideal for stopping for a brew on the hill or sitting around a bothy or campsite, with the added bonus that the synthetic insulation won’t be impacted by dampness as much as a down jacket. It’s as warm as a down jacket too, but with a far less chilling price.

However

It costs more than a fleece and is quite heavy and bulky too. So while great in terms of warmth, you may think twice about carrying it regularly in your rucksack. It’s not as breathable as a more open-knit fleece either, so isn’t so great for walking with. Also, while the fit was good, the hood doesn’t move quite as well with my head as the hoods on some other jackets, and the cuffs didn’t fit as neatly as they could. As there is no Velcro adjustment on the cuffs there is no way of tightening or loosening the fit here to allow the cuff to fit over gloves. The hem is elasticated, but again has no additional adjustment. This jacket is great in terms of warmth but it could be too warm for mild autumn days, so with its extra weight and bulk this is one for colder days only.

Verdict

Great for stopping out on a cold, British winter mountain, with a price that’s more attractive than a down equivalent. But the weight and packed size are drawbacks.

  • Features 4/5

  • Packability 3/5

  • Weatherproofness 5/5

  • In use 4/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 80%


Mountain Equipment Arete Hooded £160  

Tester: Graham Thompson

Down insulation is extremely efficient, so is this lightweight jacket the best option for stashing in your rucksack as a back-up jacket?

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  • Material 700 fill power down

  • Men’s S-XXL

  • Women’s 8-16 

  • Weight 370g (M)

It’s good

The use of 700 fill power down inside this jacket ensures that it is very lightweight. It also packs down small, and both of these features make it great for stashing in a rucksack just in case you need it on the top of the mountain. The level of insulation is less than the heavier, synthetic Montane jacket featured here, but more than fleece, making this a great general-purpose jacket for autumn and spring. And for me it is just about warm enough for mild winter conditions too. The outer is a lightweight Helium 20 nylon which fends off wind better than fleece and keeps some moisture away from the down. The hood and cuffs are only elasticated, but you do get a hem drawcord so you can fine-tune the fit more easily than some others. There are just two main pockets and these are placed low to make them good for hand-warming. The price is also more attractive than some other down jackets you could consider!

However

For the depths of winter you may need something even warmer if camping in snow or sitting around for long periods high on a snowy mountain. As the Arete uses down, lots more care is needed to ensure this jacket stays dry, as its insulating performance drops off dramatically if it does get wet. Also, of course, this is not as breathable as a more open knit fleece, so it’s not one for wearing while walking. While the fit is okay, the hood disappoints in this area and did not turn easily with my head. Also some adjustment on the hood and cuffs would be a real benefit. The pockets are okay, but again on other jackets these are placed higher or are bigger or there is a third chest pocket. There are some niggles with this jacket and you can get lower-priced fleece or synthetic jackets if cash is tight. 

Verdict

Ideal for stowing in a pack year-round just in case it gets chilly, but some lower-priced jackets are warmer or perform better if damp.  

  • Features 4/5

  • Packability 4/5

  • Weatherproofness 4/5

  • In use 5/5

  • Value for money 4/5

  • OVERALL SCORE 84%

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North Ridge Elbrus (2015)

Features
The North Ridge Elbrus is filled with a 650+ fill power 70/30 duck down, which is less efficient than higher-priced options, and so this jacket is not the warmest, but it is light – in part because there is also no hood. But you do get Velcro cuff adjustment and a nice brushed collar area. The outer is also quite robust too, and has a stylish matt finish. 3/5

Fit
This jacket is available for men in sizes S-XXL and for women in sizes 8-18. The fit is initially similar to most others, though I did find the hem and sleeves ride up more easily with this jacket compared to the higher-priced options. But at least there are Velcro cuff adjusters to improve the wrist fit. 3/5

Comfort
At 556g (size L) the North Ridge Elbrus is lighter than some jackets, which improves the comfort level, but as there is no hood, your comfort plummets in really cold weather. However, there is a great brushed collar area and as long as you don’t raise your arms too much the jacket doesn’t ride up, which of course would drastically reduce comfort. 3/5

In use
At 556g (size L) the North Ridge Elbrus is lighter than some jackets, which improves the comfort level, but as there is no hood, your comfort plummets in really cold weather. However, there is a great brushed collar area and as long as you don’t raise your arms too much the jacket doesn’t ride up, which of course would drastically reduce comfort. 3/5

Value
The North Ridge Elbrus is all about the price and it is only £90 with a Go Outdoors discount card, making it a real bargain. 5/5

Verdict
There are far better jackets available but if your cash is limited the North Ridge Elbrus will keep you warm as you watch the sunset or sit around a tent. 3.4/5

www.gooutdoors.co.uk

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2015

 


Alpkit Filo (2015)

Features
The Alpkit Filo features 675+ fill power 90/10 duck down – not quite the spec of higher-priced jackets – which is why it’s a little heavier. The outer is ripstop nylon, again a slightly heavier option than pricier jackets, but you do get a removable hood, which benefits from a wired peak. The cuffs only have plain elastication rather than tab adjustment, though. 3/5

Fit
The Filo is only available in men’s sizes S-XL and women’s sizes 8-14. The jacket fits quite closely and felt a little more restrictive than some higher-priced options. The hood fits quite closely too, but isn’t helmet-compatible, although it is removable, which may be more important for non-climbers. The cuffs have no adjustment but they fitted me fine. 4/5

Comfort
The Alpkit Filo is a heavy jacket at 689g (size L) and it’s quite bulky too, so it feels a bit more restrictive when worn. But its comfort level is reasonable as you get plenty of insulation packed inside, although this does give it a slight ‘Michelin man’ sensation. Some soft lining material at the chin would be a welcome addition. 3/5

In Use
In use the weight and packed size are drawbacks as this is a lumpy piece of kit to stuff in a rucksack. If it gets wet then it won’t be as warm as those with more water-resistant insulation or outer fabrics either. But it keeps you warm and is great around a campsite or bothy, which is the main reason many hillwalkers will buy this jacket. 4/5

Value
Like all Alpkit gear the price is remarkable, but you can only buy it online and there are drawbacks to the design. 5/5

Verdict
The Alpkit Filo  is not the best, lightest or comfiest jacket available, but its performance is good enough for many walkers and its price is stunning. 3.8/5

www.alpkit.com

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2015

 


Mountain Equipment Lumin (2015)

Features
This jacket uses water-resistant 675+ fill power 90/10 down, production of which is audited via Mountain Equipment’s Down Codex scheme to ensure it does not include live plucking. The outer is a lightweight ripstop nylon. The hood gets a wired peak, volume adjuster and face drawcords, and it can be rolled down and secured at the collar. 5/5

Fit
The Mountain Equipment Lumin comes in men’s sizes S-XXL and women’s sizes 8-16. The fit is good with a slightly longer back protecting the bum and reasonable movement in the sleeves to prevent the cuffs or hem riding up. The hood allows good vision, although it didn’t turn with the head as well as the best jackets. The cuffs have no tab adjusters to refine their fit. 4/5

Comfort
This jacket feels great on, with the insulation gently hugging the body and providing great temperature control for average winter conditions, meaning it’s a good general jacket for hillwalkers camping or spending nights in a bothy. The weight of 534g (size L) makes it comfortable to wear and to carry in pack. 5/5

In Use
If it gets damp that comfort is maintained thanks to the water-resistant down. The pockets are nice and large, and the hood – while not perfect – protects the head pretty well. Some jackets are slightly warmer than this, although this is warmer than the lighter options. It is great for summer Alpine use and winter valley use in the UK. 4/5

Value
Very good performance for the price as it’s a great all-rounder that will suit the needs of most walkers and campers. 4/5

Verdict
The Mountain Equipment Lumin is a great general down jacket, ideal for anyone who can’t afford the best but wants more than budget options can muster. 4.4/5

www.mountain-equipment.co.uk

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine January 2015

 


First test: Sherpa Nangpala Down Jacket (2014)

The traditional and well-proven choice for top-quality insulation has been down, gathered from geese. However, as down loses some of its insulating performance when wet, synthetic fibres are often used instead, which perform better than down when wet, but are heavier and less compact. This is not ideal, say when carrying an insulated jacket in your rucksack. So over recent years manufacturers have been exploring ways to squeeze a little more performance out of down – even when it is wet.

The most recent development is Primaloft Gold Insulation Down Blend. This sounds like the naming process took place over a cup of Nescafé, but it is actually the world’s first hybrid insulation. The material combines water-resistant down fibres with synthetic fibres, so you get the best of both options. The Sherpa Nangpala Hooded Down Jacket is the first jacket in the UK to use this new fibre, and it could set new standards for staying warm in the winter months.

To produce Gold Insulation Down Blend, Primaloft takes 750 fill power goose down and gives it a fluorocarbon-free treatment to improve its water resistance, which results in the down drying four times faster than untreated down. This down is then bonded to synthetic fibres, which can withstand up to 10 machine wash cycles. The result is a hybrid insulation that comprises 70 per cent water-resistant down and 30 per cent Primaloft synthetic fibres. This is said to be as warm as 750 fill power goose down, yet it absorbs water ten times slower than 100 per cent down. It also dries four times faster than a pure down fill, while also being able to retain 95 per cent of its warmth even when wet – making it very hot property.

As stated, this new Primaloft insulation is used in the Sherpa Nangpala Hooded Down Jacket – but as always it is the attention to detail that is important when choosing outdoor gear. On the jacket you are getting a water-resistant ripstop outer, with a tight weave to ensure the insulation is protected from moisture and cannot escape through the material. The insulation is captured within a stitched-through box wall construction, and there is a good amount of insulation packed into each section to ensure there are no cold spots. So far so good.

The front zip has a wide baffle behind to block out draughts, but the cuffs only have elastication rather than the Velcro tab adjusters often featured on jackets around this price. The hood is well-insulated and benefits from face drawcords but there is no volume adjustment and no peak – again features that jackets of this price do sometimes include.

The overall fit of the Sherpa Nangpala Down Jacket’s body and sleeves was fine on me but the hood fit was disappointing, as it tended to be either too loose or – when the face drawcords were adjusted – it cut in too close to my eyes and did not move easily with my head either. So the design of the jacket is not quite as good as the design of the insulation inside.

Specifications:
Outer ripstop polyester with durable water repellency (DWR)
Insulation Primaloft Gold Insulation Down Blend (70% water-resistant down, 30% synthetic)
Sizes S-XXL (men’s); XS-XL (women’s)
www.sherpaadventuregear.co.uk
www.primaloft.com

Verdict
Primaloft Gold Insulation Down Blend raises the bar for cold-weather comfort, but the Sherpa Nangpala Hooded Down Jacket could do with a tweak to its hood to make it the ideal combination for such great insulation. That is, unless you find the hood fits perfectly – in which case this is a great combination and a good buy.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine November 2014

 




Alpkit Filo (2014)

Alpkit gear is only available directly from the manufacturer, but the price is stunning for what you get. The Filo is very warm thanks to a good amount of good-quality down, which is packed into a shell made of ripstop nylon with a water-resistant treatment. The detachable hood benefits from a wired peak, but there’s no volume adjuster and it can’t fit over a helmet. So the Alpkit Filo is a jacket for those who need a warm top for camping and watching sunsets from summits, rather than for sitting on belays while mountaineering. The sleeve cuffs don’t get Velcro adjustment either, so it’s worth checking the cuffs are a close fit. You also don’t get a brushed chinguard at the top of the zip to make this area just that little more comfy. There are two external, and one internal, zipped pockets, but they aren’t as large as on higher-priced jackets. So the Alpkit Filo lacks some of the finer details of costlier options, but if you’re on a budget and need good insulation when camping it’s a winner.

Outer 30d micro ripstop nylon with DWR
Insulation 650+ fill power 90/10 down
Weight 694g (size L)
Men’s sizes S-XL
Women’s sizes 10-14
www.alpkit.com

 

Verdict

The Alpkit Filo was the best-value down jacket in our test.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine February 2014

 


Rab Ascent (2014)

The Rab Ascent is a down jacket with an outer made from Pertex Endurance, which is water-resistant enough that the down is protected from melting snow and tent condensation. Inside the size L jacket is 330g of hydrophobic down, which is better able to maintain its performance when wet than standard down. The removable hood gets a volume adjuster so it can be worn over a helmet or just on a head, and it fits both very well. It also has a wired peak. There are two external zipped pockets and one internal pocket. The whole package feels very warm and cosy, and is ideal for settling down around a tent or just heading out into the snow to build a snowman. But the drawback is that it’s also a notch heavier than some other insulated jackets at 890g (size L). Its price is very good for what you get, though, with most jackets around this price being less warm or lacking the water- resistant materials of the Ascent. The Rab Ascent is a superb jacket if low weight is not the number one priority but staying warm is.

Outer Pertex Endurance
Insulation 330g of 650+ fill power hydrophobic down
Weight 890g (size L)
Men’s sizes S-XXL
Women’s sizes 8-16
www.rab.uk.com

 

Verdict

The The Rab Ascent was the best jacket for water-resistant down performance in our test.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine February 2014

 


Alpkit Filo (2013)

Like all Alpkit gear the price of the Filo is outstanding, yet it also manages to pack in great performance that almost matches the best on test. The Filo has won a ‘Best Value’ award before from Trail, and it remains an excellent option for the price-conscious. It’s very warm thanks to a good amount of good-quality down, and this is well-protected by a water-resistant shell (though this does not shed water as well as some higher-priced options). The removable hood benefits from a wired peak but there is no volume adjuster and it cannot fit over a helmet as some higher-priced examples are able to. The sleeve cuffs are elasticated but you don’t get Velcro adjustment as provided by others, so it is worth checking the cuffs are a close fit, otherwise draughts could enter. Also you don’t get a brushed chinguard at the top of the zip to make this area just that little bit comfier on a freezing cold day. There is an inside pocket in the Alpkit Filo but it is not the largest; and the two lower pockets are zipped – but again they are not the biggest available.

Outer 30d micro-ripstop nylon with DWR
Insulation 650+ fill power 90/10 down
Weight 671g (size M)
Men’s sizes S-XL
Women’s sizes 8-14
Website www.alpkit.com

 

Verdict

If your budget won’t extend to the higher-priced options then the Alpkit Filo is a great alternative, and for most walkers in the UK it is perfectly adequate while being better than some higher priced options.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine February 2013


Karrimor Sub Zero (2013)

The Karrimor Sub Zero is a great all-rounder thanks to its features, which are well-designed. It is a midweight jacket with a good amount of down to ensure it is warm enough for general winter camping and resting on summits. The shell is nylon with very good water resistance, so you don’t have to panic as much about keeping dampness away from this jacket as others demand, which just makes life easier in a condensation-riddled tent. Put it on and the two hip pockets are a good size; but others are slightly bigger and higher on the body, so they are not perfect. The Karrimor Sub Zero’s cuffs have Velcro adjustment so you can trap warm air inside and lock out cold. The hood cannot be removed, which some may feel is a drawback; but put it up and it fits well and moves well with the head, thanks to a volume adjuster at the rear and a pair of drawcords. It has a wired peak too. The drawcords hang down, though, which is not ideal as they may blow about in wind and strike your face. Also there is no soft brushed lining around the chin. The body of the Karrimor Sub Zero is a bit shorter than others too.

Outer nylon
Insulation 750+ fill power 90/10 down
Weight 684g (size L)
Men’s sizes S-XXL
Women’s sizes 8-14
Website www.karrimor.com

 

Verdict

It is not perfect in every way but the Karrimor Sub Zero does provide a good general performance for hillwalkers and campers looking for winter warmth.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine February 2013


Rohan Nightfall (2013)

The Rohan Nightfall offers a superb degree of warmth for its weight, which makes it ideal for stashing in a rucksack and throwing on to watch the sunset from a summit or to keep the chill off an evening camp. The down quality is the key to its performance but you also get a lightweight shell fabric, which has a durable water repellency (DWR) treatment to help keep the down dry, although it does not shed water as well as some other products, which is a pity at this price. Put the Rohan Nightfall on and it has a good, comfy fit that allows the down to ‘loft’ (fluff up) and keep you warm. You can adjust the cuffs with Velcro tabs to trap warm air and keep out draughts. The two zipped hip pockets are fairly large so you can warm your hands effortlessly. There is some very comfortable brushed polyester around the inside of the collar and at the top of the zip, to further improve comfort. The Rohan Nightfall’s hood can be zipped off, while its fit and ease of adjustment are ideal for keeping you warm. But it has a soft peak, which provides minimal benefit compared to the wired peaks of other jackets.

Outer polyamide with DWR
Insulation 800+ fill power 95/5 down
Weight 551g (size men’s L)
Men’s sizes S-XL
Women’s sizes S-L
Website www.rohan.co.uk

 

Verdict

The Rohan Nightfall is a very warm, comfortable and lightweight jacket that is ideal for camping and stashing in your pack, but the shell is not the most water-resistant option.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine February 2013


Rab Ascent (2013)

The Rab Ascent is a very popular jacket that provides a similar performance to the Mountain Equipment Lightline but with some valuable additions. Firstly the hood gets a volume adjuster so it can be made to fit well, both over a helmet and on a bare head. It is packed with a little more down than the Lightline, and it does feel a notch warmer. The drawback is that it is a notch heavier and carries a slightly higher price tag. The outer fabric is Pertex Endurance, which is water-resistant to 1000mm of hydrostatic head, which means the down is protected from melting snow and tent condensation. The Rab Ascent’s outside pockets are very large and as they are above the waist you can access them when wearing a rucksack waistbelt. The hood is removable and has a wired peak, and the cuffs are Velcro-adjusted at the wrist. Inside you get a large pocket and there is a soft polyester area at the top of the zip to protect the chin. There is little between the Rab Ascent and the Lightline, but the Ascent justifies its higher price with a better hood.

Outer Pertex Endurance
Insulation 330g of 650+ fill power down
Weight 877g (size L)
Men’s sizes S-XXL
Women’s sizes 8-16
Website www.rab.uk.com

Verdict

The Rab Ascent is a superb jacket for mountaineers and those heading to colder conditions; but the drawback is a higher price tag and more weight, and many hillwalkers may not need its extra benefits.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine February 2013


Montane Featherlite Down Jacket (2013)

‘Micro baffle’ down jackets have become very popular recently. These narrow horizontal baffles contain small quantities of insulation that are adequate for milder winter conditions, and as they are relatively light and pack down small they are also ideal for spring and autumn use. The Montane Featherlite Down Jacket is an example of the genre that is quite well-designed and it benefits from a fixed hood with a stiffened peak and a volume adjuster at the back. The hood does fit very well and there is a nice patch of brushed polyester at the top of the zip to protect the chin. The sleeves are a close and comfy fit but the cuffs are only elasticated, so do check they provide a snug fit to prevent draughts. The body of the Montane Featherlite Down Jacket is slightly longer at the back, which helps to keep the kidneys warm. You get two hip pockets plus a chest pocket on the outside, a feature that is less common but useful. The shell fabric is Pertex Quantum so it is not as water-resistant as other fabrics, but it does benefit from being lightweight. You can get warmer jackets at this price for winter, although the Montane Featherlite Down Jacket is good for milder conditions.

 

Outer Pertex Quantum ripstop
Insulation 140g of 650+ fill power 93/7 down
Weight 452g (size L)
Men’s sizes S-XXL
Women’s sizes 8-16
Website www.montane.co.uk

 

Verdict

The Montane Featherlite Down Jacket is a lightweight down jacket that’s suitable for spring and autumn conditions, but others are warmer for the same price.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine February 2013


Mountain Equipment Lightline (2013)

Mountain Equipment’s Classic Lightline, a frequent winner of Trail ‘Best in Test’ awards, is now renamed the Lightline, although it remains otherwise unchanged this year. There is a good amount of quality down used so it feels genuinely warm, thus you can feel safe in the knowledge that it’ll beat the chill. The outer is Drilite fabric, which is waterproof to 1500mm of hydrostatic head – which in simple terms means that the down will stay dry even when the snow or ice melts or the jacket comes into contact with some condensation inside your tent. The hood is removable, which is ideal; and it fitted me okay too – although I’d like some volume adjustment to make it a slightly snugger fit. The Mountain Equipment Lightline’s sleeves are not as shapely as some but they are acceptable, and you get Velcro adjustment at the cuff to lock in the warm air. The two zipped hip pockets are positioned just high enough up so you can access them with a rucksack on if needed. Nice extras are a wired peak and a brushed polyester chinguard at the top of the zip.

 

Outer Drilite
Insulation 316g of 675+ fill power 90/10 down
Weight 769g (size L)
Men’s sizes S-XXL
Women’s sizes 8-16
Website www.mountain-equipment.co.uk

 

Verdict

The Mountain Equipment Lightline is the down jacket that sets the standard for general purpose winter insulation, and it remains hard to beat for the hillwalker. If in doubt just buy this and head to the hills knowing that it’s a proven classic! It won the ‘Best Value’ award in our test.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine February 2013