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Named for an Italian ski-mountaineering race, the Mezzalama is a go-to for variable winter weather or alpine conditions. Strategically placed insulation adds enough warmth for colder temps or lower intensities, but breathability remains fairly high due to the light, stretchy ripstop fabric used elsewhere.
That nonabsorbing, water-resistant, wind-blocking fabric, along with a hood that zips up to become what one tester termed a “quasi face mask,” made this our pick for gusting winds, falling snow or simply looming, unpredictable clouds.
Features athletic fit / thumbholes / large chest zip pocket / elastic hood / DWR finish.
TRAIL FLASH HYBRID
This comfortable, versatile piece is lightly insulated in the chest and upper back, with soft, breathable fabric elsewhere. It served well as a mid-layer on truly cold days, as well as a standalone jacket when it was merely chilly. Comfortable and breathable but low on frills, it’s the most competitive price point of the bunch.
The insulation on the men’s version (pictured) extends down almost to the lower back, impairing breathability a bit in that high-sweat zone. (The women’s version, which has less insulation in back, didn’t have this issue.) Also, the loose hem on the women’s version let some cold air in.
Features loose fit / thumbholes (women’s only) / small zip pocket on side / DWR finish / reflective detailing.
This jacket, the warmest of the bunch, had the perfect blend of insulation and breathability for temps in the 30s or colder (much warmer and it’s overkill). Plush and cozy, it feels great to put on and smooth to run in, with articulated arms that allow unimpeded range of motion.
The pockets—often an afterthought—are a rave-worthy feature. One of the two front zip pockets includes a headphone port and secure inner pouch for a phone, while two stash pockets on the lower back are perfect for gloves, a hat, small snacks or (as we unfortunately got to test) transporting litter picked up from the trail.
Features athletic fit / thumbholes / adjustable hem / two front zip pockets (one with secure media pocket) / two back stash pockets / DWR finish / reflective detailing.
This merino-wool jacket, insulated with a wool/poly blend in the front and collar, was surprisingly breathable, staying comfortable during varied temps and high-intensity winter workouts—including the hill intervals one tester did on a cool late-fall day. (The downside of such breathability was that the sides, arms and back let wind whistle through.)
We especially loved the silky-soft feel of this jacket, which lent itself to all-day comfort and casual wear. Plus, wool is naturally odor-resistant, so you can leave this jacket alongside the others on your coat rack all winter long.
Features casual but secure fit / two front zip pockets / DWR finish.