The Best Women's Lightweight Insulated Jackets

Our favorite down lightweight jacket was the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer. It has the highest warmth-to-weight ratio of any jacket we tested, is highly mobile, and airy yet warm. The stand-out synthetic insulated jacket was the stretchy and comfortable Rab Strata Hoody. This layer excels when getting the heart rate up in cool temperatures. It manages to be breathable, warm and water resistant all at once.

We tested the best women’s lightweight insulated jackets during the winters of 2013 and 2016. We wore these layers both around town and in the mountains. We packed and sweated and shivered in each one and evaluated performance while running, snowshoeing and skiing around Lake Tahoe, California.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Rab Strata Hoody
91
Best in Class
2016
Fit 9
Warmth 8
Compressibility 8
Weight 8
Features 9
Value 9

Warm and comfortable

Weather resistant

Versatile

Noisy fabric

Hard to stow in own pocket

MSRP
$245.00
BEST DEAL
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer (Women’s)
90
Fit 8
Warmth 8
Compressibility 10
Weight 10
Features 7
Value 7

Best in show for warmth-to-weight ratio

Looks space-age cool

Good mobility

Good storm protection with fitted hood and high neck

Glove-friendly zipper pulls

Compresses into a Nerf football-sized stow pocket

Expensive

No inside pockets

Tiny zippers reduce weight but feel delicate

MSRP
$320.00
BEST DEAL
The North Face Thermoball Hoody
90
Fit 9
Warmth 8
Compressibility 8
Weight 8
Features 7
Value 10

Excellent warmth for its weight

Great fit and attractive style

Compressible and lightweight

Lacks extra features

Not as breathable as other mid layers

MSRP
$220.00
BEST DEAL
Patagonia Nano Air Hoody
90
Fit 9
Warmth 7
Compressibility 7
Features 8
Breathability 10
Style 9

Stretchy and comfortable

Lightweight and packable

Highly breathable

Starts to show wear early

Doesn't compress down into its own pocket

MSRP
$299.00
BEST DEAL
Arcteryx Atom LT Hoody
89
Fit 7
Warmth 8
Compressibility 9
Features 8
Breathability 9
Style 8

Comfortable and lightweight

Compressible yet warm insulation

Breathable fleece side panels

Too short in the torso

Hood is large and bulky

MSRP
$229.00
BEST DEAL
Mountain Hardwear Thermostatic
87
Fit 7
Warmth 9
Compressibility 9
Weight 7
Features 7
Value 8

Very lightweight

Compresses easily

Good value

No extra features

Not as warm as others in test

MSRP
$185.00
BEST DEAL
Arc’teryx Cerium LT (Women’s)
86
Fit 7
Warmth 7
Compressibility 9
Weight 9
Features 7
Value 7

Great arm mobility

Good neck coverage and snug-fitting hood

Body mapping with hydrophobic synthetic and lofty down

Lightweight and compressible

Expensive

For the money, it has thin zippers and hard-to-find zipper pulls

No hem draw cord

MSRP
$350.00
BEST DEAL
Sierra Designs Super Stratus Jacket (Women’s)
85
Warmth 7
Fit 8
Compressibility 7
Weight 7
Features 8
Value 8

Attractive cut

Hood is helmet compatible or cinches tightly around head

Well designed thumbholes

Two outside pockets and three inside including one zippered stash pocket

Good value for a decent performing down jacket

Thin material against stomach

Exposed wrists on reaches

Feels tight under armpits

Pocket zips too small and thin

MSRP
$279.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
High Sierra Molo Hybrid
82
Fit 7
Warmth 7
Compressibility 7
Weight 6
Features 8
Value 7

Affordable

Breathable side panels

Poor hand feel

Poor compressibility

Awkward fit

MSRP
$94.99
BEST DEAL
N/A
Rab Strata Hoody

The Rab Strata Hoody is a versatile mid layer jacket that manages to be both warm and weather resistant while being breathable at the same time. It has many nice features like a large chest pocket and double zippered side pockets. In addition it does pack down into its own pocket though reviewers did wish that it had an extra zipper pull to close it up when packed down.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at CampSaver.com

See All Women's Lightweight Insulated Jackets Reviews

What is a Lightweight Insulated Jacket for Women?

by: Last Updated:

The hip-length, lightweight jackets in this test are best for missions that involve periods of sweaty exertion or for stuffing into a backpack as a backup layer to pull on when the wind starts to blow and the temperature drops. These are the specialized companion pieces to cold weather athletic pursuits such as backcountry skiing and multipitch alpine rock climbing. Most of the jackets in this test compress into a stow pocket or a stuff sack, making them easy to pack along, especially on trips where weight matters and backpack space is at a premium.

The jackets in the test are filled with either down insulation or synthetic insulation. Down is typically more compressible and weighs less, but it can be more expensive and vulnerable to wetness, while synthetic insulation tends to be less costly and more weatherproof, but bulkier and heavier. Some down jackets come with water resistant or waterproof exterior fabrics, which extend the weather resistance of the jacket. Many companies now treat down feathers with water resistant coatings, which also help to widen the range of weather in which a down jacket can perform. A down jacket requires more care to be taken while wearing it: if you tear a hole in the outer material the feathers can leak out, removing the insulating power of the jacket. Synthetic jackets are the workhorse models. Unlike a down jacket, synthetic jackets have no problems with a few tears here and there. They also maintain insulating properties when damp, which is another advantage over their feather-filled-friends. The downside is that synthetic insulation will be slightly bulkier and heavier for the equivalent warmth of a down jacket.