Insulated jackets used to be the preserve of mountaineers and other outdoor types, but they have now become a wardrobe staple for many of us – whether it's for doing the school run or walking the dog. There are a multitude of options out there, from vests to full-length coats – and there's also a choice of synthetic or natural down fillings, which have various pros, cons, and ethical considerations. Here are five of the best options...
Trespass Stormer down jacket, £41.98 - £72.40
There's nothing quite like a proper down jacket for an instant hit of warmth and comfort, and this reasonably priced offering from Trespass offers that in a lightweight, packable form. With an 80/20 mix of down and feathers, two zip pockets and a stuff sack in the pocket, it has great reviews on Amazon.
One happy buyer wrote: "Super warm and well made jacket. Colour looks smart and modern. Lightweight but effective; excellent as an under layer during my Antarctic trip."
Rab Altus Vest, £78.57 - £98.55
Sometimes a vest is a more-sensible option – either to slip over a jumper if it's dry or under a waterproof if it's raining. Sheffield-based outdoor brand Rab is one of the market leaders in insulated garments and their Altus vest uses synthetic 3M Featherless filling, which doesn't quite have the same insulating properties as down – but carries on working much better if it gets wet.
Some buyers also prefer synthetic filling due to animal welfare concerns regarding down garments. The Altus has two zipped pockets, an integrated stuff sack and a drawcord at the bottom to keep you nice and snug.
Tog 24 Black Vienna down jacket, £90
Want the warmth of down but don't want to look like you're about to scale the north face of the Eiger? Don't worry, there are an increasing number of "normal" looking garments to choose from. This item from respected budget manufacturer Tog 24 has a 70/30 mix of down and feathers and 430 fill, which means it will be warm but not too bulky. The extra length means more snugness around the thighs - and there's also an insulated hood.
The North Face Quest waterproof insulated jacket, £150
The one weakness of most insulated jackets – whatever the filling - is that they don't cope well with getting a soaking. However, there are a growing number of waterproof jackets with insulation on the market, such as this neat little number from The North Face.
Forsaking the traditional ribbed construction seen in most insulated jackets, it has a flat exterior made from waterproof "DryVent" fabric, which promises enough breathability that moisture won't build up inside. The hood should also come in handy when the heavens open. It will not be as warm as a down jacket, but the temperature tends to be higher when it's raining anyway.
Dare2Be Transfuse jacket, £39.60-£45
Can't decide between an insulated jacket or vest? This hybrid jacket offers a little bit of both by combining an insulated body with softshell material on the arms. The exterior is shower resistant so it will shrug off a bit of drizzle or a quick shower – and the insulation is actually an alpaca wool mix rather than down or synthetic wadding. While this does provide less insulation, it also means that the jacket is ideal for active pursuits such as running on really cold days.