Compared to down, synthetic jackets breathe better, resist moisture well, and are more cost-efficient, making them popular for activities like hiking, backcountry skiing, climbing, and more. Below we list all of our detailed synthetic jacket reviews, from active insulation pieces for high-output pursuits to down-mimicking jackets that are impressively warm for their weight. From the Pacific Northwest to far-flung places like Patagonia, we’ve put these jackets through the wringer to truly test their performance.

Best Synthetic Insulated Jackets of 2021

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...

Patagonia DAS Parka Review

Ever since its debut in 1992, Patagonia’s DAS Parka has been a staple for winter climbers and backcountry skiers due to its excellent combination of warmth and weather protection. Reintroduced for 2020, the newest model...

Arc’teryx Atom AR Hoody Review

Arc’teryx’s Atom series is a long-time favorite in the synthetic jacket world, and the AR (“all round”) slots in as the warmest design in the collection. Updated for fall 2020 with a revised fit...

Outdoor Research Refuge Jacket Review

Seattle-based Outdoor Research is a leader in the synthetic jacket market, often hitting a nice balance between price and performance. Their Refuge replaced the old Cathode and slots in as an impressively warm and comfortable piece for casual use and...

Patagonia DAS Light Hoody Review

Merging features from Patagonia’s winter-weight DAS Parka and their fast-and-light-focused Micro Puff, the new-for-2020 DAS Light Hoody might just be the best of both worlds. Billed as an “ultralight belay hoody"...

Patagonia Macro Puff Review

Patagonia’s Micro Puff became an immediate hit in the synthetic jacket world by attempting to mimic the lofty warmth and packability of down in a weather-resistant package. Last year, the brand released their follow-up Macro Puff, which shares the same...

Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody Review

The Atom LT from Arc’teryx is a legend. This popular synthetic piece crosses over between daily wear and backcountry use as well as anything on the market, thanks to its truly impressive balance...

Arc'teryx Proton FL Hoody Review

Made to move with you during high-output activities, active insulation jackets—like those in Arc’teryx’s Proton collection—merge warmth and weather resistance with class-leading breathability. For spring 2019, the Proton FL ("fast and light") joins the...

The North Face ThermoBall Eco Jacket Review

Now in its third generation, The North Face ThermoBall remains an extremely popular insulated jacket. With its puffy synthetic fill and smooth shell, the latest “Eco” version does a pretty good impression of a lightweight down piece, and recent updates...

The North Face Ventrix Hoodie Review

Now in its second generation, The North Face’s Ventrix Hoodie is a synthetic jacket designed for use during activity. Changes with the retooled model include less insulation and a lighter overall build...

Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody Review

Synthetic jackets are hot-ticket items these days, and the buzz was particularly strong around Patagonia’s Micro Puff. Taking the polyester fill game in a different direction than their Nano-Air, which is a highly breathable performance piece, the...

Patagonia Nano-Air Jacket 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 the...

Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody Review

Patagonia’s Nano Puff remains 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 synthetic piece. What we found is that the...

Arc'teryx Proton LT Hoody Review

High-output activities like ski touring and winter climbing require an insulated jacket that balances warmth and ventilation. Retooled for this winter, Arc’teryx’s Proton LT...

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-Air Light Hybrid Review

Patagonia has been a front-runner in the active insulation market with the popular Nano-Air and Nano-Air Light, but even those jackets can be overkill for sustained, high-output activities. Enter...

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...

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...

How to Stay Warm While Skiing

There’s a lot to love about resort skiing: you can cram in a ton of runs per day, always have the convenience of a lodge nearby, and don’t have to hoof it up thousands of vertical feet to earn your turns. That said, the biggest challenge with skiing...