The Best Men's Lightweight Insulated Jackets

These jackets include down, synthetic, and hybrid insulated pieces. The down models will be the lightest and most packable, and are the most desirable for those trying to go ultralight. Synthetic insulation is not as vulnerable to wetness, so it can handle snow, rain and sweat-soaking while retaining some degree of insulating ability. Synthetics are also typically wrapped in a tougher face fabric and can withstand frequent contact with rough rock, hence they’re more durable.

If you do tear a hole in the face fabric, synthetic insulation won’t leak out like it would in a fragile down jacket. Modern synthetic insulations such as Polartech Alpha and Arc’teryx’s proprietary Coreloft begin to compete with lightweight down jackets in terms of warmth, and are just slightly heavier and bulkier. Arguably, synthetic insulation is more versatile since it functions in a wider range of conditions and can handle rougher treatment.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Outdoor Research Uberlayer Hooded Jacket
86
Best in Class
2017
Durability 7
Breathability 9
Weatherproofing 5
Fit/Comfort 9
Compressability 7
Features 9

Extremely breathable

Excellent mobility

Well featured

Limited wind resistance

Heaviest jacket of the test

Low water resistance

MSRP
$299.00
BEST DEAL
Arcteryx Proton AR Hoody
85
Durability 9
Breathability 7
Weatherproofing 8
Fit/Comfort 9
Compressability 7
Features 5

Impeccable construction quality

High wind resistance

Great freedom of movement

Limited breathability

Pricy

Small zipper pulls

MSRP
$349.00
BEST DEAL
Black Diamond Equipment First Light Hoody
83
Durability 9
Breathability 7
Weatherproofing 8
Fit/Comfort 7
Compressability 7
Features 5

Good wind resistance

High durability

Very warm for the weight

Limited breathability

Tight fit

Small zipper pulls

MSRP
$249.00
BEST DEAL
Brooks-Range Mountaineering Alpha Softshell Jacket
83
Durability 8
Breathability 7
Weatherproofing 6
Fit/Comfort 8
Compressability 8
Features 6

Excellent arm mobility

Durable exterior

Asymmetric cuffs offer great coverage

Sleeves offer less warmth relative to torso

Uninsulated hood

Torso short for harnesses

MSRP
$259.95
BEST DEAL
N/A
Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket
83
Durability 6
Breathability 10
Weatherproofing 4
Fit/Comfort 8
Compressability 10
Features 5

Supreme breathability

Lightweight

Extremely compressible

Low water resistance

Low wind resistance

Limited to highly aerobic pursuits in colder climates

MSRP
$199.00
BEST DEAL
Marmot Isotherm Jacket
82
Durability 7
Breathability 7
Weatherproofing 6
Fit/Comfort 7
Compressability 8
Features 7

Good wind resistance

Excellent abrasion resistance

High compressibility

Lightweight

Too warm for highly aerobic activities

Torso too short for harnesses

No hood option in 2017 version

MSRP
$225.00
BEST DEAL
Outdoor Research Uberlayer Hooded Jacket

This Outdoor Research Uberlayer Hooded Jacket is ideal for intermittent, high output activities in cold conditions. The Polartec Alpha insulation and shell materials do a standout job of allowing heat and vapor to escape while moving, and then trapping the heat when stopped. Theis Jacket can cut the hassle and time loss of adding then removing a layer during breaks, as long as it’s dry and winds aren’t strong.

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See All Men's Lightweight Insulated Jackets Reviews

What is a Lightly Insulated Jacket?

by: Last Updated:

For a lightweight layer to keep you warm between periods of exertion on big days, you will want to carry a lightly insulated jacket rather than a thick puffer jacket. Since these jackets can be quite warm for a low weight and can pack down very small into a pocket or stuff sack, they are appropriate for missions like backpacking or a single day mountaineering objectives. For these activities the weight of your gear matters, but having a way to keep warm is a matter of safety. Choosing a specialized lightweight jacket is an equally important gear choice as your harness or backpack.

Trends

One of the current design trends is to make hybrid jackets that combine soft-shell or fleece materials with insulation on the core to increase mobility and breathability while still offering some warmth. These hybrid models are designed to be worn while moving. That can mean wearing as a mid-layer underneath a protective shell in stormy weather or as an outer layer while you are sweating up the trail. The lack of insulation on the sleeves allows some hybrid jackets to fit comfortably underneath outer layers and helps reduce the need for you to stop and strip a layer due to overheating.

Our favorite lightweight down jacket was the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer. It is the lightest layer in our test and packs down to the size of an orange, yet it is still incredibly warm. Our favorite hybrid piece was the Brooks-Range Mountaineering Alpha Softshell, which has an insulated torso and uninsulated sleeves and hood. These uninsulated sections allow for excellent range of motion and outstanding compressibility. The entire jacket packs down smaller than a 1 liter water bottle.

Over the course of the 2016 winter and 2017 spring seasons we tested the best men’s lightweight insulated jackets by guiding, climbing, hiking and mountaineering.