There aren’t many garments championed by polar explorers and style-savvy urbanites alike but the insulated jacket is one of them.
This essential piece of outerwear will block the cold out, lock the heat in and keep you warm even in the darkest depths of winter.
Its power lies in its superior warmth-to-weight ratio. It’s lightweight and packable, yet it delivers exceptional heat retention thanks to a high-loft fill of either down or synthetic fibres.
This makes it perfect as either a warm midlayer or a standalone jacket, depending on the weather.
If you’re in the market for an insulated jacket there’s a fair bit to consider and a lot of options to choose from.
So, to save you the legwork, we put some of the best options to the test in some of the UK’s coldest conditions and brought you our top picks below.
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Arc’teryx atom lt hoody
Canada’s Arc’teryx is known for its precision-engineered take on outdoor apparel, fusing high performance with a clean, minimalist aesthetic. This hoody has been one of the brand’s core pieces for a number of years and remains a bestseller today.
The jacket uses the brand’s “coreloft” insulation, which behaves a lot like down in terms of loft and warmth, but unlike down it will keep its insulating properties when it gets wet. The fit is pretty slim in the body so if you’re between sizes it might be worth sizing up, but this means that it works very nicely as a layering piece underneath a heavier outer layer or a waterproof shell.
Stretchy, fleece-backed panels to the sides aid a range of movement and a DWR (durable water repellent) coating means it can stand up to a light shower without becoming saturated. In terms of striking a balance between warmth and weight it was by far the best jacket we tested.
Haglofs dala mimic hood jacket
Swedish winters are known for being particularly brutal so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the country has long been churning out some of the finest outerwear on the planet. Take this hooded jacket from Haglofs: it’s stuffed full of the brand’s own designed insulation which performs better than down when wet and is reinforced with thicker fabric in high-wear areas. The materials used all boast high sustainability credentials, including the insulation which is made from recycled fibres, and it’s not exactly unpleasant to look at either.
Patagonia down sweater jacket
If you’re looking for a simple, sustainable, high-quality down jacket from a highly reputable brand, look no further. Patagonia’s down sweater jacket doesn’t make a fuss, it just does exactly what it’s supposed to do and does it very, very well.
The fit isn’t overly bulky like a lot of down jackets, meaning it has a nice slim profile that will work well with a range of outfits. It’s the sort of thing you could throw on with a smart-casual outfit in the evening and then layer up in for a winter hike the next morning. This versatility is bolstered by the jacket’s minimalist styling. It’s clean and uncluttered, which makes it timeless and classic so that you can keep coming back to it for decades to come. And with the brand’s ironclad guarantee, meaning that if it doesn’t perform to your satisfaction, Patagonia will either repair, replace or refund you, so you can actually be sure it’ll last that long.
Colmar glossy down jacket
As far as looks go, there’s no denying this shiny number from Italian ski-wear label Colmar is a bit of a head turner. It’s made from glossy Japanese fabric and packed full of natural feather padding for warmth. The insulation feels substantial but a trim, form-flattering fit stops the jacket from feeling overly puffy.
This makes it a good option for anyone who likes the idea of a puffer jacket but would rather avoid feeling like they’re in Michelin Man fancy dress. Branding-wise, things are kept simple, with subtle patch detailing to the arm and hem, allowing design elements like the chevron baffles to take centre stage. A great looking, great fitting jacket overall and definitely one for those who like to make an impression at the apres bar.
Uniqlo ultra light down hooded parka
Down is one of the best insulators out there, but it doesn’t tend to come cheap. That’s why Uniqlo’s reasonably priced, ultra-light down range has proved such a big hit with so many people.
This hooded parka from the Japanese high-street brand is filled with responsible down standard certified down, finished with a water-repellent treatment and yet comes in at well under £100. That’s an unbeatable price for this type of jacket. It also features an adjustable hood, elasticated cuffs and hem and two zip pockets. Plus, it comes in a range of colours, so whether you’re after something bold and punchy or subtle and versatile, you’ll find an option to suit.
Finisterre nebulas insulated jacket
Brands love to throw the word “sustainable” around willy nilly, but Cornish surf brand Finisterre really does put its money where its mouth is. This reassuringly weighty jacket is made with 100 per cent recycled ripstop fabric and uses the label’s own 100 per cent recycled fill for insulation which looks like down (without a feather in sight) but performs like polyester as it keeps you warm even when wet.
In terms of look and feel, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for the real deal and there’s certainly no compromise on warmth, even in extreme cold. The jacket has a relaxed fit which makes it great for layering over a fleece or chunky knitwear when the temperature really plummets, but if you prefer a close fit you might want to size down.
Adidas terrex icesky down jacket
Terrex is the outdoor-focused arm of Adidas and it’s known for producing sporty, technical hiking apparel and insulated jackets are no exception. This jacket is cut close to the body for easy layering and has a low-bulk filling to keep the profile slim. Its water-repellent outer will happily shrug off light showers and the eye-catching overlapping baffles keep heat locked in without adding any unnecessary weight. Aside from the technical stuff, it’s a stylish piece of kit that’s sure to turn a few heads with its unconventional yet highly functional design.
Fjallraven expedition pack down hoodie
Swedish brand Fjallraven’s knack for pairing high performance with subtle retro details has earned it a place in the wardrobes of outdoor fanatics and style aficionados alike. The expedition pack down hoodie is a prime example of what the label does best, offering up polar-ready insulation in a package that won’t look out of place around town at the weekend.
It’s padded with high-quality, ethically produced down and constructed from recycled fabrics. It also features synthetic insulation to the shoulders – one of the areas most prone to getting wet – to help retain heat even in rainy conditions. But our favourite thing is the inclusion of little throwback details that give a nod to the brand’s heritage. The leather toggles and yellow drawstring that cinch the hood, for example, or the internal patch that tells the story of the original 1974 Expedition down jacket.
Picture organic clothing atlantis jacket
When searching for a jacket to protect you from the cold, who better to put your trust in than a brand born in the snow? Picture organic clothing’s roots may be in snowsports, but these sustainably produced garments are just as at home in the city as they are hurtling through Alpine landscapes.
This jacket is about as green as it gets for an insulated jacket. It’s made from recycled polyester, stuffed with high-quality synthetic insulation and finished with a PFC-free DWR coating to keep you dry. It also features a pullover design, which helps to trap heat and a relaxed fit for layering on the coldest of days.
The North Face nuptse 1996 down jacket
The North Face’s Nuptse jacket is more than just a piece of outerwear; it’s a piece of design history. This instantly recognisable puffer jacket has achieved legendary status in both the mountaineering world and the fashion world with its oversized baffles, cropped cut and boxy fit. It’s supremely warm, tough as nails and its timeless appeal means you’ll still be reaching for it in wintertime 20 years from now. In terms of features, it has an adjustable hem, two hand warmer pockets, one internal pocket and a stow-away hood. A really robust jacket that can happily take years of abuse and still come away looking like new.
The verdict: Mens’ down and insulated jackets
A big part of deciding on an insulated jacket will come down to its intended use, but for a quality, versatile all-rounder, Arc’teryx’s atom lt hoodie is difficult to beat. If you’re on a tighter budget, we’d recommend Uniqlo’s ultra light down parka, which offers genuine down insulation at a bargain price.
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