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Synthetic Insulated Jackets

Top Picks

How we choose: The best synthetic insulated jackets highlighted here were selected based on 311 reviews of 175 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

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Arc'teryx Atom SL Hoody

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

The Arc'teryx Atom SL Hoody is a lightly insulated, shoulder season jacket with hood to get you through those cooler fall or spring days. It is breathable and water resistant enough to be a part of your gear throughout the summer too. The Atom SL Hoody is a versatile outer layer which I’d recommend for a variety of activities during three-season use.

Reasons to Buy

  • Breathable fabric/design
  • Jacket moves well with my body during dynamic activities
  • Stretchable fleece side panels
  • Versatile jacket for multiple uses
  • Well-made and fitting hood design
  • Generous external, side pocket size

Reasons to Avoid

  • Expensive
  • Thinner fabric shell
  • Lightweight (non-insulated) hood annoyingly whips in the wind

Background & Testing Conditions I am 5'9", 160 lbs, with an athletic frame with 40" chest and 31" sleeve length. I received a size medium spring 2016 Arc'teryx Atom SL Hoody for testing, in color genepi green (more like a yellow). I’ve tested it primarily in Florida, but also in North Carolina between mid-October through January. Temperatures varied between the 40s to low-70s F, with the majority of my usage being when temps were in the mid-50s to low-70s. Testing included multiple activities such as backpacking, day hikes, and running, as well as urban uses such as geocaching and casual wear.

Read more: Arc'teryx Atom SL Hoody reviews (2)

Norrona Trollveggen Primaloft100 Zip Hood

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

The Norrøna Trollveggen Primaloft 100 Zip Hood is a synthetically insulated jacket which utilizes Primaloft's Gold Aerogel (more info on Aerogel below), mapped out to provide an incredible amount of warmth, especially compared to the weight. This jacket is an ideal belay/last line of defense for when the proverbial "stuff" hits the fan. As you can see below the amount of designs Norrøna has nailed in this product are, well, all of them. This is a jacket that has clearly been devised, used, tested, and perfected by spending days on the mountain in the winter.

Reasons to Buy

  • Warmth (both stationary and active)
  • Weight
  • Weather resistance
  • Drop hem
  • Oversized hood
  • Durable face fabric
  • Smooth zipper
  • Accessible pockets (two hand, two chest)
  • Interior dump pocket
  • Colour
  • Value
  • Rolled cuff
  • Price

Reasons to Avoid

  • Breathability
  • Less packable than down (that's more an inherent fact about synthetics in general...I had to put something here, right?)

FIT AND COMFORT For reference I am six foot tall, 175 pounds, and ordered the size large. I usually fall somewhere on the high end of a medium to the low end of a large, and that was exactly the case on the sizing chart provided by Norrøna. I wanted to use this jacket more as an outer layer and hence went with the larger size. The fit of the Trollveggen Primaloft100 Zip Hood is what I would describe as oversized. It is certainly not a restrictive fit, especially in comparison to the more traditional European sizing.

Read more: Norrona Trollveggen Primaloft100 Zip Hood review (1)

Arc'teryx Atom Hoody

user rating: 5 of 5 (9 reviews)

Amazing jacket which regulates temperature and moisture, great fit and comfy hood; have used it in winter high-exertion sessions with a T-shirt underneath, and bad weather with a hard-shell over it. Greatly recommended for all winter outings with a harshell in the backpack, or shoulder season.

Reasons to Buy

  • Good insulation
  • Good moisture wicking
  • Soft
  • Lightweight
  • Compressible
  • Elastic seals the sleeves
  • Warm pockets

Reasons to Avoid

  • Pricy at full price

I came into some additional money and was browsing my favorite website to treat myself, and found a great deal on this jacket; price paid 140$ (in late summer for those interested). The jacket is soft and lightweight, feels amazingly comfortable. For my part the fit is great, I'm 186 cm and 104 kg with relatively long arms. Last winter, it was a pleasure to get out to walk with a light layer underneath (even a t-shirt at times), and an additional sleeveless fleece jacket on the colder days. When precipitation increased over a drizzle, I would put a hardshell over it just to be sure.

Read more: Arc'teryx Atom Hoody reviews (9)

Arc'teryx Atom Jacket

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (7 reviews)

Superlight, super packable jacket perfect for mild weather and an excellent mid or stand alone jacket for the cool days.

Reasons to Buy

  • Super light
  • Super packable

Reasons to Avoid

  • Cost

Over the past week I picked up an Arc'Teryx Atom LT while it was on sale. I've been eyeing one of these jackets for quite a while, and at the price presented I decided to pull the trigger and pick one up. The Atom comes in four different versions: the Atom LT Jacket, LT Vest, LT Pullover, and LT Hoody. The names are pretty self-explanatory, and the "LT" designation stands for lightweight. I picked up an Atom LT jacket in "Nightshade", which is a dark grey/charcoal color. Here's the jacket's description from the web: Ideal for ambitious days when the mercury plummets, this warm mid-layer features composite materials that provide balanced warmth and breathability.

Read more: Arc'teryx Atom Jacket reviews (7)

Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (7 reviews)

Everyone that owns this puffy hoody loves it. The reason is that it looks good, fits good, performs good, and is packable.

Reasons to Buy

  • Good performance
  • Easy maintenance
  • Conveniently packable
  • Surprising durable

Reasons to Avoid

  • Stitching comes loose
  • Price

Everyone that owns this puffy hoody loves it. The reason is that it looks good, fits good, performs good, and is packable. It is not quite an athletic fit, rather I'd say it is a casual athletic fit. I'm 6 ft 175lbs and a medium fits me perfect. I can wear it over a base layer or a down vest. I can wear it under a parka. The fit and comfort are excellent. There's not much adjustability with this jacket. The waist has an adjustable cord.  The cuffs and hood have a fixed elastic. It all seems to work fine for me.

Read more: Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody reviews (7)

Black Diamond First Light Stretch Hoody

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

The Black Diamond First Light Hoody is a multifunctional, breathable jacket that can easily be used in a wide range of seasons and temperatures, particularly on highly active days. It's warm (PrimaLoft Silver Insulation Active), easy to layer with, and doesn't restrict body movements, making for a highly versatile jacket.

Reasons to Buy

  • Wonderfully breathable
  • Super adaptive to body movements
  • Full coverage (over the butt and all the way to the wrists)
  • Big, but not bulky pockets
  • Functional hood
  • Bluesign certified fabric (Schoeller)

Reasons to Avoid

  • Doesn’t stuff easily into the stuff pocket
  • Looks wrinkled

Conditions: I’ve worn the Black Diamond First Light Stretch Hoody throughout the winter and early spring in Pennsylvania. I’ve worn the jacket during high-energy activities like hiking and splitting wood, and in low-energy activities like camping and even around town. Over a three-month period, I’ve worn the jacket at least three to four days per week, with some weeks being closer to five to six days. Temps have ranged wildly, from 0F to 55F (-17.8C to 12.8C), and depending on the temps, I'd either add or subtract layers under or over.    Reviewer’s Measurements:• Height: 6'2" (74" or 1.88m)• Weight: 200 lbs.

Read more: Black Diamond First Light Stretch Hoody review (1)

Outdoor Research Shadow Insulated Hoodie

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

The Shadow Insulated Hoodie is a mid-weight insulating layer; a relatively thin layer of synthetic insulation is sewn between two layers of somewhat wind-resistant but air-permeable and somewhat stretchy or forgiving shell material. The Shadow Insulated Hoodie is appropriate for a fairly wide range of temperature and weather conditions as an outer layer or mid-layer. This layer’s best use is for high-output cool and cold weather activities where you want to stay warm while working hard and generating a lot of heat and moisture. On the flip side, fabrics that do so well at regulating temperature and moisture aren’t particularly good performers in high wind, where this is much better suited to wear under a truly wind-resistant shell, and they aren’t super warm for really cold weather unless you wear a significant shell or warm layer over it.

Reasons to Buy

  • Versatility
  • High output activities
  • Comfortable
  • Range of motion
  • Most details thoughtful and well-done
  • Quiet fabric

Reasons to Avoid

  • Zipper pulls with gloves
  • Slightly narrow fit

Intro Pretty demanding hike in mid-20s and snow showers. A fair bit of moisture buildup on the beanie. Sunny, 30’s a nice half-day hike. I was a little overdressed, ended up ditching a long sleeve shirt for short sleeves; note a little sweat beading up on the outer shell.  I wore the Outdoor Research Shadow Insulated Hoodie (Shadow Hoodie for the balance of this review) from mid-fall through early winter in a variety of situations and different layering scenarios in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, in temperatures ranging from low 20s to about 50 Fahrenheit, once or twice in light snow, always walking or hiking.

Read more: Outdoor Research Shadow Insulated Hoodie review (1)

Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (10 reviews)

The Nano Puff Pullover is a lightweight, windproof, water-resistant three-season jacket. It is made with 60 grams of highly compressible Primaloft ONE synthetic insulation. The shell is 15 denier polyester and the lining is 22 denier polyester.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight
  • Wind resistant
  • Packs down small
  • Comfortable
  • Dries quickly

Reasons to Avoid

  • Does not have hand pockets

The Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover is a staple of my backcountry gear. I wear it during most of my backpacking trips. I bought this one in 2009, after seeing the first one that was made in the Patagonia catalog. I had to have it. I am so glad that I did get it, because it sure has kept me warm the last few years. This pullover is very minimalist. It does not have hand warmer pockets, adjustable cuffs or hem, or a hood, and the zipper is 1/2 length. I do really like the length of the zipper though.

Read more: Patagonia Nano Puff Pullover reviews (10)

Patagonia DAS Parka

user rating: 4 of 5 (7 reviews)

I shopped around for a while for a synthetic belay parka and it was a quick while because everyone directed me to two jackets that set the standard of belay parkas: The North Face REDPOINT OPTIMUS ($199) for its minimal weight and great packability and the Patagonia DAS PARKA ($265) for its superior warmth, and function. After playing around with the very flimsy OPTIMUS in The North Face store I decided to spend more and get the obviously warmer DAS PARKA. After a cold weekend in the woods, I found the DAS sleeves in my size (Small) fitted too short and narrow so my wrist would be exposed between the gloves and the cuffs while belaying.

Read more: Patagonia DAS Parka reviews (7)

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (4 reviews)

This jacket works well as a stand-alone jacket in cool weather, and as a layer when the weather gets frigid. I have enjoyed how small it packs up for a synthetic, it holds up in wet weather, and is incredibly warm for how light it is (for a synthetic). It is perfect for any kind of travel and is nice to whip out during a cold belay.

Reasons to Buy

  • Warmth even when damp
  • Comfort
  • Fit
  • Packable

Reasons to Avoid

  • Lightweight fabric does wear out, eventually

I acquired this jacket while working as a kayak guide. When working in the cool, rainy climate of Valdez, AK, it was nice to be able to pull this jacket out at camp and not worry about how damp the conditions were. Since I've moved on to other employment now, the jacket has followed me and performed well in most conditions.  It has come with me on all of my travels, works well for cool weather trips, and is perfect for exposed, cool belays.  Unless it is really cold I wouldn't wear it for very active pursuits (like cross country skiing) because you may overheat, but it is great as a camp jacket! It is also attractively styled so it can be worn in civilization too.

Read more: Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket reviews (4)

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Other Types of Jackets

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