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Q&A

Which Ultralight & Compact Jackets are suitable for Winters (minus 10-15 deg. Celsius)?

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I am not sure if this question fits here but since I like to travel and often face difficulties because of different weather conditions in different cities/countries so, I am hoping that somebody could tell the things to consider to find a suitable ULTRA LIGHT jacket.

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I have already read a lot about down vs synthetic jackets, their compact size, and the warmth but nobody tells the performance of the jacket in terms of temperature, wind speed, and humidity.

MY JACKET REQUIREMENT:

  • Ultra Light (Max. 500 grams)
  • With/without hood
  • Suitable for winter strolling in cities minus temperatures (upto -15 deg. celsius)
  • Performs well in (humid + Cold) conditions
  • Warm enough that not more than 2 layers (of something light) are needed underneath

I have found several reviews, which say that the following jackets perform really well but nobody says under which conditions they perform well.

Some Popular Jackets I found:

  1. Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer 2
  2. Patagonia Micro Puff Jacket
  3. Acteryx Cerium LT Men's Jacket
  4. Montbell Mirage Parka

The above links are just the examples of the categories of jackets that I have found so far. But I do not see any information about the temperature range for which they can work.

QUESTION Is the category of jackets I have posted as examples above suitable for Winter strolling (with temp. up to minus 10-15 deg. Celsius)?

PS: I hope this is not considered as a shopping question as neither am I asking for reviews of a particular product not am I asking for product comparison. I am only looking for the criteria that I should look for to find a suitable jacket.

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4 answers

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Question was edited to add the criteria of maximum 2 layers of something light. This invalidates the initial answers, but I am leaving this because I still think it is the proper solution to outdoor warmth.


The real trick to staying warm is dressing in layers. If you put on enough layers, then you don't even need a jacket.

The weather in my area is currently almost that cold, and I have been dealing with it recently by wearing 2 t-shirts, 2 long-sleeved shirts, and a wind breaker. In my case, the wind breaker is functioning as my jacket, but it provides very little thermal insulation and is used more to protect me against the wind and light rain and snow.

My son has been going out without any jacket at all. Instead, he piles on many t-shirts, sometimes 5 or more of them, and he puts on 1 long-sleeved shirt over the t-shirts. I think that is silly, but he says it works fine for him.

I'm not sure how much my wind breaker weighs, but it is certainly less than your weight limit. It might be even less than 100 grams. Even better, one of my wind breakers even folds up into its own pocket and closes on itself that way for easy packing.

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Wind blocking is important in cold weather. A very small breeze on skin whisks away your warm air. On the flip side, keeping a thin layer of air stationary next to you works very well.

I have an old sierra designs 3 layer gore-tex wind parka that over the years has lost its water repellancy. I still use it in winter, over a long sleeve polypro top.

  1. Your garment MUST have a hood. This gives you an additional adjustable vent.
  2. You want to completely separate wind blocking from warmth. They are entirely different functions. So your jacket should have no insulation.
  3. The lightest form of construction would be two layer one with a waterproof breathable layer. The outer layer can be ripstop nylon -- same stuff as sleeping bag shells. Note that light weight jackets aren't robust against damage. There is a reason expedition parkas are substantially heavier than the lightest ones.
  4. Features I'd look for:
    • Velcro closures at wrist that can accommodate bare wrists or mittens with good fit.
    • Drawstring at waist.
    • Drawstring on hood.
    • Extended collar that zips up to chin.
    • Double ended zipper. (Allows unzipping lower end for freedom of movement -- usually used by me when sitting.)
    • Snap closed storm flap. (Handy to for quick 'close it a bit' days.)
    • Underarm vent zips.
  5. Features to avoid:
    • Zip in liner. This complicates construction, takes time to insert and remove, and leaves a cold strip along the jacket zipper.
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Battery Powered, Heated Jacket

With the newly added criteria of "not more than 2 layers of something light" I began to fear there is no answer. However, your mention of strolling specifically in cities may have saved you.

I think the only thing that might fit all your criteria, or at least come the closest to it, is a heated jacket. There are jackets which provide heat electrically which are powered by battery.

If you get one of the wind/water resistant heated jackets that is advertised as light-weight, and you put on the warmest 2 layers that you are willing to tolerate under it, then you might be fine in the conditions you mention, though I make no guarantee. Make sure you also keep a good set of mittens and hat on.

Notice I might not have provided this answer if the question covered general outdoor activities, including hiking and camping. Trusting your life to a battery powered, heated jacket while out in the wilderness sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. But you specifically said city strolling, so if the battery or the jacket fail you can stop sooner or get help more easily.

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The question as you asked it is unanswerable - you supplied cold and (potentially) humid - no mention of wind or duration for outside; 10 min is very different to 1 hour, which is very very different to 1 day!

I can't comment specifically on any of those jackets you linked. They are all from reputable companies that produce serious mountaineering gear and will be reliable and warm. How warm - that's not something that can be measured easily and the reason is this: what works for me, might not work for you!

The key with going out in the cold is not one single item of clothing, it's about layers of clothing that can be used to adjust to your body and temperature tolerance and the conditions.

Generally mountaineers and others who spend a lot of time in cold conditions wear a few key items -

  1. A hat - tight fitting is best, beanie/knit cap style or balaclava depending on conditions. For low temperatures, something that covers the ears is important.
  2. Tight fitting thermal underwear - wool is best, but artificial fibers such as polypropylene work well too
  3. Warmth layer - this could be warm jacket - down filling is lightest and warmest, but should be protected from water.
  4. Wind-proof layer - the wind is the killer. I have been outside on still dry days at -10 Celsius and been fine in jeans and t-shirt with a light jacket, but as soon as there's a wind or wet I need all of the list above to keep warm.

If I were you, I would look for a down jacket in the 600-800 fill range (higher is warmer for same weight/mass), with a wind- and water-proof layer. I would also head down to my local outdoors shop and test a few out and get advice from the sales people.

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