1 Light as a feather
Nano Puff Jacket, Patagonia, £160. (Men’s and women’s versions available.) Made using PrimaLoft Gold Eco insulation, which comprises 55% recycled materials. Soft and lightweight (337g), it has a snug fit and distinctly unbulky profile. It is surprisingly warm, but when it gets really cold, it's best worn as a midlayer, with a thermal baselayer beneath and a rain jacket on top. Even when wet, it scarcely loses any insulating power, though it’s not very snug around the neck so on those chilly days you’ll need a scarf, or think about going for the hoody version for an extra £15. The jacket is very breathable, so it’s less likely to feel clammy or muggy – which means that you can wear it in relatively mild weather as well as on chillier days.
VERDICT Light, stylish, low-bulk; makes an excellent mid-layer. 4/5
Torres Alturo jacket, Páramo, £170. (Men’s and women’s versions available.) The bulkiest of the jackets tested, but also the warmest, being designed for long spells in cold and wet conditions. Unusually, it’s meant to be worn over a waterproof jacket (such as Páramo’s snug-fitting Velez); hence the generous cut. It’s windproof and will repel some water, but even when wet, will retain all its insulating power. The fabric and fill are soft, and the jacket envelops you in warmth, with no obvious cold spots. An adjustable, wired hood keeps the wind and snow out of your eyes. An orange lining looks good and the jacket can be reversed in an emergency to make your easier to spot.The bulk makes it less versatile than the other jackets tested – on a really cold day, though, this is the one you’d reach for.
VERDICT Best for winter hill walking, or long spells in chilly conditions. 4/5
3 The ultimate midlayer?
Xenon X Jacket, Rab, £160. (Men’s and women’s versions available.)
Versatility and compactness are great, but the inevitable flipside is a loss of insulating power, which means that on freezing days it’s best to think of the Xenon X as a midlayer, and combine with a thermal base layer, perhaps a micro-fleece, and a rain-jacket.
VERDICT Light, soft and highly versatile – wear with comfort in a wide range of weather conditions and activities. 5/5
Down jackets are luxuriously warm – when dry. In a damp climate, though, doesn't it make sense to consider winter jackets filled with stuff that stays warm, even if soaked? BBC Countryfile Magazine kit editor Joe Pontin recommends three
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