A down puffy is warm in a way that other jackets can’t touch. It’s the difference between a crackling blaze in a woodstove and hot air blowing out of a floor register. The wood fire warmth is superior in a sense that’s tough to put your finger on—but it warms you to your bones, the same way a down jacket does. Down puffy warmth is sensory—nothing quite compares.
If you sweat when you ski, however, skiing in a down jacket hasn’t really been an option. When down gets wet it gets flat, losing its ability to insulate. At least that used to be the case. Now, new jackets with water-resistant down are hitting the market. They’ve got the same toasty, cozy down feel but they won’t get drenched when you’re working hard.
One of our favorites is Sierra Designs' Tov belay jacket. The jacket uses ordinary down treated with a hydrophobic finish that Sierra Designs says keeps it dry 10 times longer than untreated down, whether you’re dealing with slushy snow, condensation, humidity, or sweat. Insulated with 600-fill DriDown and equipped with a hung liner, the Tov takes the chill out of all but the coldest of days. The helmet-compatible elasticized hood and elasticized cuffs with thumb holes add extra warmth. Two hand pockets and two interior pockets are just the right size to hold your phone, a goggle wipe, and your sunscreen. $259
For warmer days, Sierra Designs' 800-fill Gnar Lite DriDown jacket still has outstanding warmth but fits into a surprisingly light and compressible package. Two exterior hand pockets and two interior dump pockets are perfect for stashing hats, gloves, and other essentials. Thumb loops add a little extra insulation. $229, sierradesigns.com