Welcome to another installment of Staff Picks from our Outdoors and Fitness team. Every other week, we select our favorite pieces out of the gear we’re testing, mainstays in our kits, as well as items on our wish lists. It’s like a sneak peek at the gear we’re testing and what we’re stoked on. Have something you think we should check out? Or just want to say hi? Drop us a line at outdoor@gearpatrol.com.

BlackYak Yakutian

Since moving to New York, I’ve become a type of person that a younger, cynical, teenage me once ridiculed: a leaf peeper. I took autumn’s palette for granted, but now once the fall equinox rolls around, I begin making frequent trips north in anticipation of the forests’ gradual metamorphosis. These journeys typically involve wandering through the peaks of the Adirondacks or the Green Mountains, and while the temperatures have finally started to drop here in the Northeast, I still haven’t needed to break out my favorite down pullover.

For now, a lighter jacket will do, and BlackYak’s active insulation-filled Yakutian is just the thing. Some of its zones are filled with warm synthetic insulation while others are left as stretchy, breathable fabric. I can put it on and leave it on, even when I’m tramping up the hills amongst the orange and red trees. — Tanner Bowden, Staff Writer

If you’re looking for something similar, but the pick above isn’t quite right, try these alternatives: The North Face Ventrix Hooded Jacket ($220) | Patagonia Nano Air Hooded Jacket ($299)

Bight Gear Swelter Jacket

When our Outdoors and Fitness team headed upstate for a week to test gear, we needed to bring some insulation. As soon as we crossed the Albany line, temperatures dropped and I was suddenly reaching for sweaters and puffy coats over short sleeves and zip-ups. I tested the Bight Gear Swelter Jacket, made of synthetic Polartec Power Fill (80 percent of the insulation is post-consumer recycled content). The athletic fit worked well with my daypack, as well as with my jeans, meaning I can wear it all over town as well. Temperatures surged north towards the end of our week, and yet, I still found myself reaching for this coat. It somehow was the perfect in-between mix.

The jacket had its moment as I climbed Mt. Marcy, easily coming on and off, while also staying relatively breathable when layered. It was also just the right amount of thickness for a quick sunrise hike over Mt. Jo the next morning. The brisk early temperatures paired with the winds at the top and the slow, but beautiful sunrise meant I relished in this jacket. Freezing summits are no match for this powerful layer. — Meg Lappe, Staff Writer

If you’re looking for something similar, but the pick above isn’t quite right, try these alternatives: Eddie Bauer Microtherm 2.0 ($138) | Houdini Wisp Jacket ($320)

Arc’teryx Atom LT

I’ve had this jacket for the past three years and it has yet to let me down. It’s breathable enough to function well as a shoulder season layer while still packing enough insulation to keep warm on brisk mornings and evenings. The stretchy fleece side panels also make it great for active pursuits. Plus, it packs up nice and small so I can tuck it in a backpack if I get a bit too warm. — AJ Powell, Assistant Editor

If you’re looking for something similar, but the pick above isn’t quite right, try these alternatives: Eddie Bauer Evertherm Hooded Jacket ($179) | BlackYak Burlina Hoody ($280)
The 11 Best Down Jackets of Winter 2018

These top picks for lightweight, innovative down jackets will keep you warm from when the leaves fly until the snow melts next spring. Read the Story

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