(Photo: Inga Hendrickson and Kevin Zansler)
2022 Winter Buyer’s Guide

The Best Jackets of 2022

Outer-layer technology has reached new heights


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When it comes to jackets, there is no quiver-killer. Hard shells, soft shells, puffies, and hybrids each have a place in your closet. At some time or another, they’ll all earn the title “best jacket”—it just depends on the sport and weather du jour. Of course, some simply rise above the rest. After five months of testing more than 100 jackets, these seven came out on top.

Helly Hansen Odin Infinity Insulated Jacket ($800)

(Photo: Courtesy Helly Hansen)

Ever had a jacket lose its water repellency over time? That gradual decline in droplet shedding has compromised virtually all the waterproof-breathable technologies ever offered. Abrasion and laundering rub off the DWR that most jackets rely on. Not so here. Instead of the nylon or polyester typically found in hard shells, the Odin Infinity is made with polypropylene, a polymer that has a low surface tension and so sheds precipitation without any treatment. Designers also twisted the fibers and increased the weave density to heighten water resistance and durability. And, instead of the acidic solvents often used to create pores in technical hard shells, they used heat and mechanical stretch to build in ventilation.

The 50- and 70-denier fabric held strong shouldering skis and hitching snowmobile trailers. Meanwhile, ­80-gram synthetic insulation (100-gram on the women’s version) was just enough to keep testers toasty but not clammy during intense exertion. Two interior drop pouches and three zippered pockets round it out. 1.4 lbs (women’s XS–XL) /1.6 lbs (men’s S–XXL)

Women’s Men’s

Norrøna Lofoten Thermo100 ($599)

(Photo: Courtesy Norrøna)

Best Fully Featured Resort Shell

Got a long list of wishes for your ideal resort jacket? The Thermo100 (and men’s Thermo80) probably checks them all. This GoreTex workhorse has tough 70-denier recycled nylon fabric at high-wear points along the shoulders, chest, and lower sleeves to resist daily abuse. It also boasts five pockets on the outside and two on the inside, a snow skirt, and mesh-backed pit zips. Body-mapped, fully recycled synthetic insulation (80 gram for men, and 100 gram for women) delivers breathable warmth, and wrist-hugging gaiters line the asymmetric, full-coverage cuffs to seal out snow. The high, protective collar is even fleece-lined for comfort in hard conditions. Trade-off? It’s weighty. 1.9 lbs (women’s XS–XL) / 2.2 lbs (men’s S–XXL)

Women’s Men’s

Picture Organic Folder Xpore ($550)

(Photo: Courtesy Picture)

Best Streamlined Ski Shell

The men’s Folder Xpore (and women’s MT Xpore) is cut from a synthetic fabric that’s made from sugarcane-derived plastic and recycled plastic bottles. And, like Helly Hansen, Picture used a membrane made without chemical solvents, reducing toxicity and water consumption in manufacturing. It also boasts a PFC-free DWR. Those sustainability achievements don’t impact performance. The Xpore is as good as any burly ski shell in the test, with 150-denier fabric reinforcing the shoulders and hips to withstand friction from a pack. Reaping turns in billowing powder, we stayed dry thanks to features like a long hemline, wrist gaskets, and waterproof zippers. 1.8 lbs (women’s XS–XL) / 2.1 lbs (men’s XS–XXL)

Women’s Men’s

Black Diamond Vision Hybrid Hoody ($279)

(Photo: Courtesy Black Diamond)

Best Breathable Insulated Jacket

Don’t be fooled by the low-bulk construction: this jacket is a toaster. Credit the 60-gram synthetic insulation that’s infused with aerogel, a ridiculously warm but light material developed for NASA space suits. The silky nylon shell fabric is also tougher than it looks because it’s reinforced with a grid of liquid-crystal polymers (LCPs) that boost its resistance to tears from sharp ski edges or ice tools . Still, airy stretch-woven nylon panels across the back and underarms dissipate sweat and permit a full range of motion, so testers stayed comfortable in zero-degree temperatures, even when they were huffing and puffing up the skin track. 11 oz (women’s XS–XL) / 14 oz (men’s S–XL)

Women’s Men’s

Burton [ak] Softshell Jacket ($275)

(Photo: Courtesy Burton)

Best Soft Shell

Burton’s latest proves you don’t need flash to find great performance. With this ­lightweight, no-frills jacket, designers put all their chips on the soft-shell fabric, which buffers wind without stifling sweat. How? The nylon is tightly woven on the outside, to shield against chilling gusts, but woven more loosely on the inside, to draw heat and perspiration away from your body. On warm spring hikes above treeline and on cold midwinter ski tours where clamming up can be dangerous, testers stayed protected but dry. Three zippered exterior pockets hold sunscreen, car keys, and a phone, and a brimmed hood offers extra protection against harsh sun and gales. 14 oz (women’s XS–XL) / 1 lb (men’s XS–XXL)

Women’s Men’s

Maloja LeuchtmoosM (from $279)

(Photo: Courtesy Maloja)

Best Aerobic Shell

Elastic, trim, and light, the LeuchtmoosM (and men’s Auerhahn, $269) will help you keep pushing on long endurance days. A hybrid construction of Gore-Tex Infinium on the front and stretchy soft shell on the back provides protection from wind and snow as you move forward, while preserving breathability and mobility. For extra measure, Maloja added a grid of ventilating perforations over the spine. We also love the cozy soft-shell hood, designed to sit flush against your back when not in use rather than bustling around your ears. The single waist pocket is just right for stashing a phone or beanie. Testers deployed the Leuchtmoos for skate skiing, biking, and winter runs. 12.3 oz (women’s XS–XL) / 12.8 oz (men’s S-XL)

Women’s Men’s

Mammut Aenergy Air HS Hooded ($449)

(Photo: Courtesy Mammut)

Best Ultralight Shell

Most ultralight shells save weight by ditching features and trimming fabric, leaving a restrictive fit. Not so with the 13-ounce Aenergy Air. The secret: a superlight ­waterproof-breathable fabric that is stretchy enough for the narrow cut not to feel tight. The weight savings allow for niceties like a broad, stiffened hood brim and footlong pit zips with two-way zippers that are easy to use with gloves on (though the fabric is so breathable we hardly needed them). The Aenergy Air takes up less room in your pack than a slim thermos. Not that it ever ended up there; the jacket is so supple that testers kept it on all day long. 13 oz (women’s XS–XL) / 13.7 oz (men’s S–XXL)

Women’s Men’s

Crazy Levity Jacket ($540)

(Photo: Courtesy Crazy)

Best Ultralight Puffy

With 950-fill down lofting up beneath a seven-denier fabric, this plump little jacket brushes against the theoretical upper limits of the warmth-to-weight ratio. It weighs a stunning 6.1 ounces—the lightest puffy we’ve ever tested—but kept us warm down to five degrees. The insulation even has an ­eco-friendly hydrophobic treatment that reduces clumping when it is wet and also speeds drying time. Of course, such weight savings do come with sacrifices. The Levity’s only feature is a single pocket, and we took extra care with the delicate zippers and gossamer fabric. But realistically the biggest risk is that the faintest of breezes will send it sailing into the trees. 5.4 oz (women’s XS–L) / 6.1 oz (men’s S–XL)

Women’s Men’s

Rab Cubit Stretch Down Hoody ($300)

(Photo: Courtesy Rab)

Best Stretch Puffy

Stretch puffies have been around for a few years now, but Rab’s superwarm pullover tops the list. Its 700-fill down is entirely recycled and treated with Nikwax, so it doesn’t lose loft in wet conditions, and the ­20-denier nylon/elastane fabric is densely woven, so it prevents down shedding even while it stretches. It also features a DWR that’s PFC-free, but we couldn’t tell the difference. On a test mission in northwest Colorado’s Park Range, snow melted and beaded off just the same. We also love the hood, which is brilliant at sealing in heat. Elastic edging holds it close to the face, and a cozy flap of stretch-jersey fabric across the back of the neck blocks drafts. 1 lb (women’s XS-XL) / 1.2 lbs (men’s S–XXL)

Women’s Men’s

Patagonia Micro Puff Storm ($499)

(Photo: Courtesy Patagonia)

Best Synthetic Puffy

The best synthetic insulation dries dramatically faster than down. Patagonia’s PlumaFill does the job without a weight or bulk penalty. Instead of the typical sheets of insulation, PlumaFill consists of boa-like strands tacked vertically into the jacket. It creates the loft and packability of down with the water resistance of a synthetic. Wrap that in a two-layer waterproof-breathable fabric, and you get the Micro Puff Storm, a foolproof puffy for soggy skiing and mountaineering. Testers liked that Patagonia cut weight by including just a single pair of pockets that double as torso vents. In the men’s sizes, those pockets are large enough to accommodate a pair of 106-millimeter climbing skins. 1.1 lbs (­women’s XS–XL) / 1.2 lbs (men’s XS–XL)

Women’s Men’s

From Winter 2022 Buyer’s Guide Lead Photo: Inga Hendrickson and Kevin Zansler

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