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The North Face Thermoball

How to Choose a Synthetic Jacket



A jacket with relatively little insulation makes an excellent choice as a versatile mid-layer when you're on the move or as a primary layer when you're just hanging out by the campfire. Opt for a jacket with more insulation if you're standing around while belaying an ice climb, or you know you'll encounter brutally cold weather.


Most synthetic-insulated jackets use a lightweight or medium-weight nylon shell with a water-resistant DWR coating. However, a puffy with fully waterproof fabric can reduce the number of jackets you need if you think you'll encounter wet weather.


How you use your jacket determines which fit is best for you. Choose a slim, athletic, or medium fit if you'll wear your down jacket as an insulating mid-layer, or opt for a loose fit if you plan to layer your down jacket over everything else.