Our experts Jen and Sim Benson seek out the best outdoor gear with outstanding ethical credentials.
Buyer’s tips for a good insulated jacket
A good insulated jacket makes cold weather a joy to be out in, but which one you choose depends on how and when you’ll be using it. Down is a great choice for cold, dry conditions and offers unbeatable warmth for its weight and pack size. Always check it’s Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certified. In wet weather, down loses its ability to trap warm air – also called ‘lofting’ – while synthetic and wool alternatives will continue to keep you cosy, even on rainy days. Gear on test prices quoted are all RRPs, so it is worth shopping around. Many shops also offer members an extra discount – log in to your account for full details.
Buyer’s tips for gloves
Buying gloves tends to come down to a choice between warmth and dexterity. Lightweight, fitted gloves are great for photography, smartphones and fiddly zips, while big padded mitts offer more warmth. For the best of both worlds, a slim-fitting liner glove can be worn on its own in cool weather, but boosts the effectiveness of your warm gloves when it’s really cold. Many shops offer a discount for members – log in to your account for details.
Kathmandu Epiq Hooded Down Jacket V2
+ A warm jacket that’s ideal for easy walks in cold, dry conditions. It’s made of a recycled Pertex polyester outer and RDS-certified 550-fill power duck down, and has a warm hood, zipped hand-warmer pockets and an internal zipped pocket.
– It’s relatively bulky and heavy for its warmth.
VERDICT 4/5 A good-value, entry-level down jacket made with responsibly sourced materials.
Montane Prism Jacket
+ This updated version of Montane’s classic lightweight insulated jacket has an improved cut and recycled PrimaLoft Silver Eco insulation. The Pertex Quantum outer is windproof and water-resistant. It has two large zipped hand pockets and a chest pocket.
– Adjustment toggles on the hips are tricky with a waist belt.
VERDICT 4.5/5 It’s lightweight and durable, and offers good-value protection, warmth and packability.
Salwea Sesvenna Polartec Alpha Jacket
+ The tough, stretchy, weather-resistant outer and recycled Polartec Alpha insulation in this jacket make it comfortable, breathable and protective. Great for wearing all day when you’re working hard, as the athletic cut offers great freedom of movement and the hood is effective.
– Less warmth for its weight than others on test. No hand-warmer pockets.
VERDICT 4/5 A top choice for fast and light hiking. Its technical fabrics and features make it a joy to wear.
Icebreaker Helix Hooded Jacket
+ Innovative MerinoLOFT utilises the warmth, comfort and breathability of Merino wool
which, unlike down, keeps you warm even in wet conditions. This smart, hooded jacket with zipped hand-warmer pockets has a recycled, PFC-free polyester outer, stretch side panels and responsibly sourced wool insulation and lining. Good on its own or as a mid-layer under a waterproof.
– Less warmth for its weight than down.
VERDICT 4.5/5 A smart jacket that makes the most of the comfort, warmth and breathability of wool. This is a good, sustainable choice for year-round walking.
Mountain Hardwear Super/DS Down Jacket
+ This smart, warm and lightweight down jacket is perfect for walking in cold, dry weather or as a cosy layer for lunch stops and chilly evenings. The outer is a lightly brushed stretch Nylon with a clever super-flexible stitch-free baffle construction. The 700-fill power RDS-certified goose down offers a nice balance of warmth and breathability.
– Not suitable for
VERDICT 4.5/5 Stylish, technical and comfortable down jacket that’s a real pleasure to wear. Perfect for crisp, cold winter days in the hills.
Vaude Freney Jacket IV
+ A great-looking jacket combining a durable Nylon outer with recycled polyester PrimaLoft insulation. The windproof fabric with a PFC-free water-repellent finish offers excellent weather protection for the low weight and small pack size. It has an adjustable hem, deep hood, zipped chest and hand-warmer pockets. Fair Wear Foundation certified.
– The hood isn’t adjustable.
VERDICT 5/5 BEST IN TEST Lightweight insulation with an inspired design and responsible manufacture. The ideal choice for a mid-layer or standalone jacket.
Berghaus Finnan Reflect Down Jacket
£180 medium www.berghaus.com
+ The Pertex Quantum polyamide outer with PFC-free DWR and 600-fill power Hydrodown – a hydrophobic duck down – means this down jacket will still keep you warm, even in wet conditions. It’s comfortable to wear with cosy, fleece lined pockets and a well-fitting adjustable hood. The down is responsibly sourced and the fabrics are bluesign approved.
- Fairly heavy for a micro down jacket.
VERDICT 4/5 A warm, good value down jacket that’s comfortable, protective and water-resistant.
Norrona Trollveggen Primaloft 100 Zip Hood
£199 medium www.norrona.com
+ A superb, warm and protective jacket designed for really cold conditions. Revolutionary recycled Primaloft Gold Aerogel insulation has an outstanding warmth to weight ratio for a synthetic fill. The longer cut, large hood, roomy pockets and tough polyamide outer are all designed to offer maximum protection. It’s also PFC free, Oeko-Tex and bluesign certified fabric from a transparent supply chain.
- Fairly heavy.
VERDICT 4.5/5 A well designed, high specification synthetic duvet jacket with good ethical credentials.
£134.95 medium www.snugpak.com
+ Snugpak rates this no-frills jacket as comfortable down to -5˚C, and it’s certainly warm so a good choice for cold, damp days. Made in the UK with a tough polyamide outer and polyester insulation, it features a weatherproof roll-away hood, zipped hand warmer pockets and a large internal zipped pocket.
- The heaviest and one of the bulkiest jackets in the men’s test.
VERDICT 3/5 Warm, tough and protective but heavy and bulky. The cut and design are functional rather than stylish or high performance.
Sprayway Agan Jacket
£125 medium www.sprayway.com
+ With its soft-feel face fabric and polyester InsoFILL that lofts almost lie down, this jacket is nice to wear and feels lighter than the scales suggest. It’s also warm and protective thanks to a PFC-free DWR coating for extra weather resistance. Finished with a snug, elasticated hood, zipped hand warmer pockets and a large internal zipped pocket.
- At the heavier and bulkier end of the test and no hood adjustment.
VERDICT 4/5 A good value, warm synthetic jacket that scores high for comfort. A little heavier and bulkier than some of the more expensive jackets on test.
Jack Wolfskin Thermic One Jacket
£100 medium www.jack-wolfskin.co.uk
+ The lightest jacket in the men’s test, with a small pack size and a bargain price make this a great emergency layer to stash in your pack and throw on when you need it. It’s comfortable and reasonably warm, combining a polyester filling with a PFC-free windproof and water-resistant polyamide outer.
- Not the most stylish jacket and doesn’t have a hood (although this could be a positive).
VERDICT 4/5 Light and packable so ideal to carry when out walking as an emergency warm layer or for travelling in warmer climates.
Adidas Terrex Agravic Windweave Insulation Jacket
£169.95 medium www.adidas.co.uk
+ This innovative jacket teams understated urban looks with impressive technical credentials. Recycled Primaloft Cross Core synthetic insulation gives it an excellent warmth to weight ratio, with a PFC-free water-repellent finish and durable face fabric for weather protection. The athletic fit looks good and works well under a waterproof. Finished with adjustable hood, zipped handwarmer pockets and two internal pockets.
- Doesn’t pack particularly small.
VERDICT 4/5 An innovative and high-performance synthetic jacket that offers excellent weather protection for its weight.
Sherpa Annapurna Jacket
£200 medium www.sherpaadventuregear.co.uk
+ A generous cut with room for a fleece underneath makes this great for evenings by the campfire or as a warm jacket to wear over walking clothing on a lunch break. The recycled polyester face fabric looks smart and protects the 3M 75% recycled synthetic insulation. Fleece lined handwarmer pockets are nice and a zipped chest pocket useful for a phone or compass.
- The hood isn’t well fitted or adjustable and it’s at the heavier and more expensive end of the test.
VERDICT 3.5/5 Stylish, comfortable and well made but others offer better performance at a lower price.
Rab Xenon Glove
+ Warm, while also being lightweight and packable, these gloves have a breathable, water-resistant Pertex shell with PrimaLoft Gold insulation. The palm is reinforced with grippy and durable PU. Ideal for stashing in a pack for emergencies or to wear all day on cold walks. A clip keeps them together, and they also come with a handy stuff sack.
– Not waterproof.
VERDICT 4.5/5 BEST IN TEST Warm, comfortable, light, packable and insulated.
Icebreaker Oasis Glove Liners
+ These gloves are made from 96% responsibly sourced superfine Merino wool, with a little Lycra for stretch. They make a comfortable, breathable liner, while
also working well as a lightweight standalone glove. They fit well and benefit from Merino’s properties of natural temperature and moisture regulation.
– Not as durable as some.
VERDICT 4.5/5 Good fit, lightweight and comfortable and with all the benefits of natural Merino wool. Great as a liner or a standalone glove.
Columbia Birch Woods Gloves
+ These cosy stretch fleece gloves have a thinner palm for better dexterity. The palm has silicon strips for enhanced grip and touch-screen compatible fingertips. They have a snug elasticated cuff and a small clip to hold them together.
– Expensive for a simple polyester glove.
VERDICT 4/5 Warm and with features to make them phone user-friendly.
Berghaus Nula Micro Jacket
+ Clever synthetic Hydroloft Polyball insulation feels almost down-like, while a PFC-free wind- and water-resistant outer and a slim, longer cut for extra warmth make this a great choice for cooler days on the hills. There’s a snug, adjustable hood and two zipped hand-warmer pockets.
– Feels a little stiff compared with down equivalents.
VERDICT 4.5/5 Well-priced, protective and with innovative insulation.
Dark Peak NESSH Lightweight Down Jacket
+ With its neat styling and 850-fill power RDS-certified down filling, this jacket packs lots of warmth without looking bulky. It has a helmet-compatible adjustable hood, integrated mitts and zipped internal and external pockets. Great for everyday winter wear from town to trail. For every jacket bought, Peak District-based Dark Peak donates another to a person affected by homelessness.
– Not suitable for wet weather.
VERDICT 4.5/5 Well-priced, high-spec down jacket from a new, UK brand. Great technical credentials.
Finisterre Nimbus Insulated Jacket
+ This comfortable, versatile, great-looking jacket is a perfect choice for year-round cool-weather walking, worn under a waterproof in the wet or over warmer layers when it’s cold. The main fabric, cosy synthetic insulation and even the zips are all 100% recycled. There’s an adjustable hood, two fleecy hand-warmer pockets and an inside zip pocket that doubles as a stuff sack.
VERDICT 5/5 BEST IN TEST A versatile, packable, light but warm jacket for all-round, year-round adventures. Well made using sustainable materials from Cornwall-based Finisterre.
Mammut Rime IN Hybrid Flex Jacket
+ This hybrid jacket combines a durable, lightweight PFC-free Pertex Quantum outer with stretchy side panels and a cosy layer of synthetic insulation. There’s no hood, so it’s ideal as part of a layering system. There’s an adjustable hem and three zipped pockets.
– Not that warm for the price.
VERDICT 4/5 Athletic-fit jacket designed for working hard in the mountains.
Rab Infinity Light Jacket
+ Designed for mixed conditions in the mountains, this jacket has a durable Gore-Tex Infinium wind-stopper face fabric for excellent weather protection. The 800-fill power RDS-certified goose down is hydrophobic, keeping you warmer for longer even when wet.
– Expensive but a lot of jacket for the price.
VERDICT 4.5/5 Gives great protection, even in harsh conditions.
Fjällräven Singi Wool Padded Parka
+ This jacket’s hefty price tag reflects its outstanding performance, manufacture, materials and sustainability. It’s incredibly protective, teaming a durable eco polycotton outer with insulation made from Swedish wool and corn starch.
– Heaviest and most expensive.
VERDICT 4.5/5 Beautifully made and with excellent eco-credentials.
Katmandu Lawrence Insulated jacket
+ An ISPO gold award winner, this jacket combines warmth, protection, packability and smart looks. Primaloft ThermoPlume synthetic insulation keeps you warm even in wet weather. The hood zips away into the collar and the whole jacket packs into a pocket that then doubles as a pillow.
- A little heavy and bulky compared to some on test.
VERDICT 4/5 A good all-rounder that will keep you looking smart and feeling warm from town to trail.
Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody
+ Lightweight, packable and superbly comfortable, this versatile jacket combines a durable windproof and water-resistant outer, synthetic insulation through the body, arms and hood, and breathable stretch fleece side panels and underarms. Two zipped, fleece-lined handwarmer pockets, zipped internal pocket and a snug hood. Great as a standalone jacket or under a waterproof in the rain.
- Expensive for a synthetic jacket.
VERDICT 4.5/5 An excellent balance of warmth, stretch, comfort and breathability. Ideal for all-day wear or to stash in a pack for emergencies.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2 Down Hoody
+ Mountain Hardwear has updated its classic, superlight down jacket, which now features a 100% recycled ripstop face fabric and RDS-certified 800 fil power down. It’s a joy to wear, offering superb warmth for its weight and packsize and outstanding thermoregulation over a variety of activities and temperatures. Ideal as a standalone jacket or a midlayer under a protective shell.
- Easily damaged by sharp/rough objects.
VERDICT 4.5/5 A top choice when weight and packsize is a priority. Warm, breathable and incredibly comfortable but needs care to avoid damage.
Sprayway Malin Jacket
+ Good value lightweight down jacket with recycled Nylon ripstop outer and PFC-free water repellent. 700-fill power fully traceable duck down offers a nice amount of warmth and is treated with Teflon for better water resistance. There are two zipped handwarmer pockets and a useful zipped inner pocket.
- Hood isn’t adjustable. Duck down less good warmth to weight than goose down.
VERDICT 4/5 A water-repellent duck down jacket with decent warmth, weight and packability. Comfortable and well-priced with responsibly sourced materials.
Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Hoody
+ This relaxed fit down hoody hides plenty of high performance features behind its laid-back looks. The outer and lining are 100% recycled polyester ripstop, while the insulation is 650-fill power responsibly sourced goose down. Features an adjustable hood and lower hem, zipped handwarmer pockets and stretch inside pockets.
- Not suitable for wet weather.
VERDICT 4.5/5 A super comfortable, soft and cosy all-round down jacket. A great choice for cold weather walks and the pub afterwards.
Rohan Stratus Jacket
+ Sustainable Sustans insulation, made from plant-based oils, gives this good value jacket an impressive warmth-to-weight ratio, softness and loft, with the moisture-resistance of a synthetic fill. Features include a snug, adjustable hood, zipped handwarmer pockets and two drop-in inside pockets.
- A longer cut at the back would improve warmth and comfort and an internal zipped pocket would be useful. Not PFC-free.
VERDICT 3.5/5 A good value, straightforward and practical jacket, made using sustainable yet effective plant-based insulation.
Craghoppers Expolite Hooded Jacket
+ A good value, synthetic fill jacket that’s slim enough in profile to work well as a midlayer under a waterproof or as a warm, year-round standalone jacket. Microbaffles keep the insulation evenly distributed throughout. It has two zipped handwarmer and two drop-in internal pockets, adjustable hood and elasticated hems.
- The fit and features aren’t as good as some on test.
VERDICT 3.5/5 A great value, versatile, warm jacket for year-round wear. Not as technical as some but good for everyday wear.
Arc’teryx Cerium SL Hoody
+ This super lightweight but super comfortable minimalist down jacket is a perfect choice as a midlayer under a protective shell in cold weather, or as a standalone jacket for year-round use. It has a tiny pack size, with 850-fill power goose down offering outstanding warmth for its weight and a tear-resistant outer for durability. The snug, adjustable hood offers adds extra warmth and there are two zipped handwarmer pockets.
- Expensive and fairly specialist.
VERDICT 4.5/5 A perfect choice when maximum warmth for minimum weight and pack size are crucial. Great looks and superb comfort.
Gore GTX Infinium Stretch Gloves
+ You can type wearing these lightweight, windproof gloves, which use 3D-shaped technology for a perfect fit. They’re snug without being restrictive, and the windproof fabric is protective but not sweaty. Well-placed grips on the fingers allow for good dexterity.
– The seam around the tips of the fingers slightly reduces dexterity.
VERDICT 4.5/5 Light, weatherproof gloves with well-positioned grips.
Outdoor Research PL 400 Sensor Gloves
+ These smart, touchscreen-compatible, dual-layer gloves are made with a protective and durable outer and a soft lightweight fleece liner. Great either as a warm liner under a waterproof glove or mitt, or as standalone gloves.
– They may be a little stiff and bulky if you’re using them as a liner.
VERDICT 4/5 Warm and cosy, versatile touchscreen-compatible gloves.
Extremities Vortex GTX Gloves
+ These gloves feel tough and protective with Gore-Tex waterproofing, PU-coated palm and fingers for extra durability and grip, and a soft, fleecy lining for warmth and comfort. The longer, elasticated cuff sits snugly under a waterproof jacket sleeve for great protection.
– A little baggy, particularly around the palm. Expensive.
VERDICT 3.5/5 Protective, durable and with touch-screen technology.