We love a good jacket, whether it’s a cozy and warm down piece, a hardshell that keeps you protected in a winter storm, or an everyday rain shell. Below you’ll find our jacket buying guides and in-depth reviews, which cover the gamut from budget and casual to high-end designs meant for serious alpine use. We’ve tested these products in far-off places like Patagonia and New Zealand, as well as the backcountries in our home states of Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.

Best Rain Jackets of 2020

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we know a thing or two about rain. From months of daily drizzle to heavy downpour in the mountains, we’re acutely aware of the benefits of a quality waterproof and breathable jacket. The 2020 rain jackets for men and...

Best Down Jackets of 2020

Nothing beats a great down jacket, whether it’s for casual use or tearing around the backcountry. This cozy insulation type offers the best warmth-to-weight ratio on the market and also compresses more easily than synthetics for easy stowage. Below are...

Best Women’s Down Jackets of 2020

As impressively warm and cozy insulators, down jackets are one of our favorite pieces of outdoor gear. Whether you’re looking for an uber-light alpine piece for the mountains, a casual fur-brimmed parka for around-town use...

Best Synthetic Insulated Jackets of 2020

If you’re looking for a jacket that offers solid warmth at a good value, synthetic insulation is the way to go. You don’t get quite as high of a warmth-to-weight ratio as down, but synthetic jackets resist moisture, can breathe better, and are more...

Best Hardshell Jackets of 2020

Hardshell jackets are designed for the alpine: they’re highly windproof, waterproof, breathable, and durable. This is the outer layer you turn to for ultimate protection while backcountry and resort...

Best Softshell Jackets of 2020

For high-output activities, it’s hard to beat a softshell jacket. Their breathable and stretchy fabrics offer fantastic performance and a really comfortable fit that moves with you. And as long as you don’t take them...

Best Midlayers of 2020

In the typical 3-layer ski clothing system, the midlayer is given the all-important insulating duties. As such, it is the one article of clothing you’re most likely to swap out depending on weather conditions. Is it bristling cold and dry...

Best Windbreaker Jackets of 2020

Let’s get right to the point: we love windbreaker jackets. In our opinion, a good windbreaker is the most versatile outdoor jacket money can buy. These small but mighty outerlayers pack a punch...

Best Fleece Jackets of 2020

There are a wide variety of insulating jackets available, but the most comfortable and affordable choice is the classic fleece. These polyester jackets have been providing cozy warmth...

Best Winter Jackets of 2020

When the heart of the coldest winter months arrives, it’s time for a serious jacket. Our picks for the best winter jackets and parkas below are among the warmest on the market—they are packed with...

Best Ski Jackets of 2020

Choosing the right ski jacket is all about managing the conditions that you might encounter on the mountain. This depends on the specific kinds of skiing you enjoy most—skinning up a sunny ridgeline in the North Cascades is far different than bracing...

Patagonia Ski Jackets: How to Choose

From resort days to deep backcountry missions, Patagonia’s 2019-2020 ski jacket lineup covers nearly the full gamut of possible designs. At the time of publishing, a grand total of eight different models...

Marmot PreCip Eco Rain Jacket Review

Being from Seattle, we get asked for rain jacket recommendations a lot, and often steer people to the Marmot PreCip. The reasons for this are fairly simple: the jacket punches well above its $100 price with quality waterproofing, a versatile...

REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Review

Backed by a Gore license, REI Co-op now has top-of-the-line waterproofing technology to replace their old eVent line. Combine this with REI’s increased focus on design and performance of their in-house products, and you have some very competitive...

Arc’teryx Zeta SL Review

Arc’teryx’s Zeta line of rain jackets is designed for lightweight trekking and runs the gamut from the fully featured and pricey Zeta AR (“all round”) to the feathery Zeta FL (“fast and light”). The Zeta SL is the “superlight” version and puts a big...

Outdoor Research Helium Rain Jacket (2020) Review

Outdoor Research has updated its long-standing and very popular ultralight rain shell for 2020. The latest Helium—replacing the “II”—sticks largely to the same formula with upgrades in durability and fit without...

Marmot Minimalist Review

Marmot’s Minimalist jacket isn’t new, but its combination of price and performance keeps it among our favorite rain shells year after year. With proven Gore-Tex waterproofing, a thoughtful feature set, and premium build quality, the...

Patagonia Down Sweater Review

Climbers, hikers, and outdoor adventurers of all types have enjoyed Patagonia’s Down Sweater for years. It’s a go-to piece that has defined a jacket category, as any new down sweater is compared to this legendary...

Best Cheap Down Jacket: REI Co-op 650 2.0

Here at Switchback Travel, we’re passionate about our down jackets. We’ve tested a huge range of models over the years from entry-level options from Outdoor Research and Columbia to premium alternatives...

Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody Review

Always designed with a specific purpose in mind, Arc’teryx offers a wide range of insulated jackets, and the Cerium LT is one of its most popular. With premium 850-fill down and Coreloft synthetic in areas prone to moisture, it’s a great option for...

Feathered Friends Eos Review

Feathered Friends is a boutique down specialist birthed out of Seattle’s climbing scene in the 1970s, and they still lead the pack in down outerwear construction and design. The company is known for...

Patagonia Nano-Air Review

Patagonia’s Nano-Air took the active insulation market by storm, designed to be a synthetic jacket that truly can be worn all day through a variety of conditions and activities. After testing the past-generation hoody while ski touring, we took...

Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody Review

The Atom LT from Arc’teryx is a legend. It’s been one of the popular synthetic jackets on the market for years, so much so that it has received few updates even as the competition continues to increase. It’s true...

Rab Xenon Synthetic Jacket Review

U.K.-based Rab has a long history of designing quality, high-performance products for the harshest of conditions (or “connies,” as the British would say). And when rain and cold are constantly in the...

Black Diamond First Light Stretch Hoody Review

Touted as Black Diamond’s most breathable insulation piece, the synthetic First Light Stretch Hoody is built for technical activities like ski touring and climbing. Updated from the standard First Light (no “stretch”) last year, the new jacket retains...

Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody Review

Patagonia’s Nano Puff is one of the most popular and recognizable insulated jackets on the market today. But with a fresh crop of new rivals, we felt it was time to take another look at this legendary...

Arc'teryx Beta AR Review

From Arc’teryx’s formidable hardshell lineup, the Beta AR slots in as the all-around workhorse. The jacket has been a flagship piece since its release back in 2000, and it remains a favorite thanks to a premium...

Patagonia Galvanized Hardshell Jacket Review

Alpine pursuits demand a balance of weather protection, breathability, and mobility that few jackets are able to achieve. Enter the Patagonia Galvanized. Combining the waterproofing of a hardshell with...

Arc'teryx Alpha SV Review

Arc’teryx is no stranger to hardshell jackets and long has been a go-to option for protection from harsh weather. At the very top of their lineup is the Alpha SV (severe weather), designed for use in the most serious of conditions. Frigid winds and...

Arc'teryx Alpha FL Jacket Review

Arc’teryx's Alpha series is designed for top-notch climbing and alpine performance, and their “FL” represents fast and light. True to its name, the Alpha FL jacket is minimalist and lightweight, yet meticulously designed and highly protective. We took...

Arc’teryx Beta LT Review

Sliding in just below Arc’teryx’s popular Beta AR in their hardshell lineup is the light but tough Beta LT. Featuring a compelling mix of 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro waterproofing and 12.2-ounce weight, we tested the jacket on everything...

Arc'teryx Firebee AR Review

Arc’teryx rarely misses the mark with quality, performance-oriented gear, and the Firebee AR is no exception. This winter parka is the whole package: it’s loaded with premium down, and offers excellent weather resistance and impressive packability...

Rab Neutrino Pro Review

Winters are harsh in the U.K., and British alpinists are known for getting out in all types of conditions. So if there’s any brand we can trust to make proper gear for the cold and wet, it’s Rab. This England-based company launched the Neutrino down...

Marmot Montreal Review

Many women’s winter jacket models come and go, but Marmot’s Montreal has been a powerhouse for years. For less than $300, you get quality down fill, a fleece-lined interior, fur-rimmed hood, and clean styling, making it ubiquitous across a wide range...

Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Parka Review

Patagonia’s down products are known for their 100-percent-traceable feathers, quality construction, and sleek, stylish looks. Building off of these core characteristics, the Fitz Roy Down Parka is...

REI Co-op Stormhenge 850 Review

REI Co-op continues to impress us with their premium down products, and we’ve been particularly taken with the Stormhenge 850 winter jacket. Featuring a waterproof shell and high-quality 850-fill down, the...

What is a Softshell Jacket?

Softshell jackets fill a much-needed void between lightweight insulating pieces and waterproof hardshells. They stretch for movement and breathe well, yet still offer better protection from the elements than...

Does Your Down Jacket Need a Hood?

A down jacket is a wonderful insulating piece: it’s light, packable and offers premium warmth that you simply can’t find in a synthetic equivalent. In choosing your perfect puffy, one of the forks in the road...

How to Choose a Down Jacket

For the best in cozy and lofty warmth, down jackets are in a class of their own. That said, the category covers a wide range of options, from lightweight and packable designs for backcountry use to stylish...

Down vs. Synthetic Insulation

As the weather cools down each year the insulation debate heats up. Goose and duck down fill are among the premier insulators on earth, trapping air and creating pockets of warmth around your body...

Ski Jackets: Shell vs. Insulated vs. 3-in-1

Today’s ski jackets are well-made and built to handle many seasons of use in foul weather. They also can be big investments, with even entry-level jackets often setting you back a couple hundred dollars or more. With so many options to choose from, it...

How to Choose a Ski Jacket

As your outermost layer, ski jackets play a key role in keeping you comfortable and protected from the elements. The jacket market has expanded in recent years, covering everything from warm and cozy insulated resort pieces...