For mountain climbing and serious expeditionary use…
Fabric: Rip-stop nylon, reinforced in high-wear areas
Fill: 600 down
Price Paid: $160 on Ebay
For mountain climbing and serious expeditionary use there is the Baltoro. For general leisure use there is the Arctic Baltoro.
The Arctic Baltoro is essentially a more stylish, cut-down version of the Baltoro. Thus there are slit pockets instead of cargo pockets, the outer shell is nylon not Gore-tex and the inner lining is nylon rather than Radiant material. There is no outer watch/altimeter pocket, and the interior web pockets are for mobile 'phones and Ipods, not water bottles.
If you need to climb Everest, don't buy this jacket. Snag the material on somethig sharp and pull, and it will tear. There is insuffient cargo space, and it will not keep you warm enough at 20,000 feet in the Himalayas. However, for the kind of use that 99% of people will put it to, this is a better jacket. It will keep you warm on the coldest days, and look good doing it.
There is a fully down-insulated attached hood with a removable fake fur collar for a change in appearance or purpose. There are drawstrings at the hem and the hood (and the hood can give really serious coverage for blizzard conditions).
The collar comes up nice and high to cover your jaw. It is fully insulated, as is the velcro-sealed storm flap that runs the length of the front zipper.
Although all pockets are slit-type, rather than cargo, they are nevertheless large -- and numerous. On the exterior, two are mounted low, with vertical slit access -- useful for puutting your hands in to keep warm. Two more are mounted high, and are Napoleon-style (vertical slit access, near the jacket's central zipper). Like the lower pockets, these too are very large. All exterior pockets are sealed with waterproof zips, have small (non-velcro) storm flaps and pull tags.
Inside, there are two more large slit pockets, mounted low and with horizontal access. They are also sealed with zippers. Mounted higher are two mesh pockets. The left one has a pictorial label denoting its intended use as an Ipod (or similar) and headphones carry position, and is quite small. The right mesh pocket is larger and much deeper, and is a handy place to store the fur collar when it is removed.
The cuffs are of a neoprene-like material (maybe actually neoprene), and can be tightened with a velcro fastener.
Overall, this is a very good all-purpose jacket. Wear it around town, to sports events, wilderness walking, fishing, ice fishing etc. and it will serve you well. You need never be cold again! Really, the only thing I would change is the outer material. It is tough, but ultimately vulnerable because it is a very thin nylon. I would have preferred the reinforcement at elbows and elsewhere to have covered the entire jacket. But then I am pretty rough (read careless) on -- well, everything, I guess. For most, this will probably not be an issue.
This jacket is no longer manufactured, and as a result there are some good bargains to be had on Ebay and elsewhere at the moment (early 2005) for the run-out stock. If this sort of jacket is what you're looking for, go and get yourself a bargain!
Sum-up -- great jacket for everything but serious expeditionary use.
BTW -- If you miss the run-out stock, try the North Face Mt. Erebus Jacket. It's basically identical to the Arctic Baltoro, except the lower outer pockets have horizontal access rather than vertical.