Versatile and intelligent, these four multi-functional mids are designed to perform in a variety of conditions.
TESTED BY SOPHIE
SPEC: Light, stretchy fabric on arms, shoulders, back and torso. Body-mapped PrimaLoft Gold Active insulation on chest. Thumb loops. Elastic hood and hem. Harness compatible zip front pockets. Weighs 298g (women) and 359g (men).
VERDICT – This well designed hybrid genius can be worn as an outer for fast and light heart-racing ascents or as a mid when faced with a super chilly high precipitation day in the backcountry. The athletic fit feels close and cozy and the stretchy breathable fabric facilitates freedom of movement making it an ideal choice for rapid summit bids and blood pumping bootpacks in the high alpine. Body-mapped PrimaLoft insulation keeps the wind and chill off your chest, thumb loops help keep things secure and toasty at the extremeties, and the elastic hood fits easily under your helmet with beanie-like ease.
We’ve tested this jacket across a range of chilly mountain adventures including cold days cragging and snowy mountain bike rides in the Cairngorms and can confirm it’s built to do business in the backcountry.
BEST FOR – All-round mountain athletes looking for a well-designed, stylish, high performance mid-layer. Destined to be seen on many a ski touring summit this winter.
TESTED BY MARTIN
SPEC: Innovative TirolWool insulation in the body and hood, including over the shoulders and upper arms. Chest pocket, two hand pockets and an internal pocket which doubles up as a compression pouch. Weighs 376g (women) and 402g (men).
VERDICT – This is THE hybrid mid that makes me question whether I ever need to carry a softshell again. Salewa have absolutely nailed the functionality for stop/go mountain activities. The innovative TirolWool insulation claims to “combine polyester fibres enhanced with thermo-reactive minerals and wool sourced from Tirolean sheep”. Whilst we’re not exactly sure what that means, we can confirm it delivers oodles of warmth for the weight! The super athletic fit works surprisingly well, thanks to the stretch panels down each side, the Durastretch fabric in the sleeves keeps them snug yet functional and the collar zips up high to keep out the elements, with or without the hood up. Combine all those features and fabrics and you’re looking at a warm, lightweight, highly packable jacket that will keep most wind and weather at bay. Far more than just a mid-layer then….
BEST FOR – Fast moving ski-alpinists, looking for a versatile mid-layer to render their soft-shell obsolete.
TESTED BY SOPHIE
SPEC – 4 way stretch water-resistant fabric with UV 50 protection. MotionFit tech. 700 fill power down insulation. 2 large backpack compatible pockets. Snap closure neck system. Elastic hem and thumb loops. Packs down into it’s own pocket. Weighs 309g (women) and 335g (men).
VERDICT – Many intelligent mid-layers can verge on the tighter side of claustrophobic but the Haloes Down manages to be both comfortable ANT technical, and a whole lot more besides. With 700 fill power down insulation covering the whole of the front of the jacket, from the upper shoulders right down to the hem, this jacket is guaranteed to keep you warm on chilly ascents and stop-start backcountry adventures. The stretchy hood, arms and back offer breathable weather protection and the long sleeves with elastic thumb loops keep things in place when you’re reaching for that next axe placement.
We’ve tested this jacket over the past couple of winters and found it ideal for chilly, mid-winter tours and snowy mountain runs. Our favourite feature is the snap closure system that keeps the jacket in place when you need to unzip it for a bit more ventilation.
BEST FOR – Kilian Jornet wannabes – aka fast moving high alpine adventurers looking for a breathable, stretchy weather-resistant jacket with max insulation on the front.
TESTED BY MARTIN
SPEC – Polartec Power Grid fleece on sleeves and back. 100g Polartec Alpha insulation with 2-way stretch fabric in the chest and hood. Hand pockets, chest pocket and adjustable hem. Weighs 420g (women) and 460g (men).
VERDICT – Hurrah: Scott Sports have worked out that we ski tourers are likely to be wearing a pack when we exert ourselves and have created a hybrid mid that incorporates just the right level of insulation and only in the areas where it’s needed most – ie in the front panel and the hood. A sleek, but not stifling fit ensures harness and layering compatibility, and it’s built with a cunning stretch fabric that keeps everything in place. The pockets are equally well thought out and the sleeves are plenty long, but not over tight. The Power Grid (waffle style) fleece offers excellent warmth to weight ratio and is super breathable. Some mid-layers seem to have an identity crisis, sporting a host of shell features – but not this one. The perfect component in a technical layering system, the Explorair Ascent is a cracking performance mid that has the additional benefit of looking good enough to be worn at après!
BEST FOR – Multi-day backcountry explorers, looking for superior mid-layer with way more to offer than fleece.
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