We talked about down puffy jackets, now let's talk synthetic insulation!
synthetic jackets are filled with polyester fibers that don't absorb water, keeping the warmth-trapping properties even when wet.
this is the layer you're going to grab if it's wet outside and/or you're being active in it this winter! synthetic layers perform when damp, they dry faster than down and are more than likely cheaper than a down counterpart. things to look for in your synthetic layer -
this is an insulating layer you'll be active in, so you want it to breath. insulating shells usually have vents that help with breathability while out adventuring in the snow
✨weight - 40g, 60g?!
these numbers just refer to the weight (in grams) of a square meter of insulation. AKA how warm to how heavy! The higher the number means it's a thicker (and warmer) insulating jacket. *this only helps when comparing the same insulation*
✨type of synthetic insulation and blends
there are so many types of synthetic insulation and, only to make things more complicated, there are blended jackets that have both down/synthetic or wool/synthetic blends.
to try and keep it simpler, look at the fabric, fit and features.
fabric - ask yourself if your priority is weight or durability
fit - do you need to layer over or under this jacket?
features - a hood is a necessity for me. ask yourself if you want a hood, zippers and/or pockets
the two synthetic jackets I have are both from Arc'teryx and have been on so many adventures with me over the years and still look brand new
Arc'teryx LT Atom / 10.9 oz
Arc'teryx Heavyweight Hoody / 13.9 oz
When outside in precipitation in the winter, I usually wear one of the above synthetic jackets with a shell. The winter shell I use is an old version on the Arc'teryx Beta Jacket
For a winter backcountry shell, I look for breathability and weather resistance. Ideally, you'll have a GORE-TEX jacket with vents and is larger enough to fit over your layers.
Other synthetic insulating jackets I'd consider depending on what you are looking for:
REI Flash Insulated Hoody / 12.7 oz
North Face Ventrix / 11.6 oz
Outdoor Research SuperStrand Hoody / 9.6 oz
Cotopaxi Teca Calido Hooded Jacket / unknown ounces but recycled materials
Patagonia Nano Air Hoody / 10.2 oz
Arc'teryx Proton Hoody / 11.3 oz