Most people who spend time in the high latitudes own some sort of insulated jacket or vest. And most of these ubiquitous puffy garments are filled with goose down, the undisputed king of insulation. But while it’s true that down has the best warmth to weight ratio of any batting, fall through the ice and you’ll be cold in a hurry. Ironic but true, the feathers of waterfowl lose all their insulation properties once they get wet. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum is wool, which will keep you warm even if it’s soaked through. So it’s about time that someone decided to put wool inside an insulated jacket. That someone is the German backcountry gear company, Ortovox, as exemplified by their Piz Linard vest ($179).
Externally, the Piz Linard vest looks like any other puffy vest. But instead of goose down, the insulated chambers are filled with “Swisswool,” virgin wool from sheep herded in the remote Alpine regions of Switzerland. The vest feels as warm as any down vest and you might never tell the difference unless you have the misfortune of getting caught in a late autumn rainstorm, in which case you’ll be glad you chose wool as your padding of choice. The Piz Linard is close-fitting, which traps body heat better and allows more freedom of movement and it compresses compacty into its own internal pocket for easy stowage when things heat up. The high collar is lined with soft merino wool and stretchy back panels ensure the vest won’t resist when you bend over to click into your ski bindings just as you’re ready to drop in.
Buy Now: $179