Best Active Insulated Jackets Of 2024

Spring has sprung and with the warmer temperatures, adventure is also kicking off in a big way. The days are getting longer and it all feels amazing. But dang! A lot of these days are still pretty darn chilly. That’s why we’ve rounded up the best active insulation of the year. Just for you, dear reader.

We want you to feel cozy and confident while you’re playing this spring. And so do a lot of the best outdoor brands out there! Active insulation has become a shoulder-season staple and thanks to improvements in technology over the last decade, active insulation has become affordable and more or less custom built for whatever your favorite activities are.

active insulation gear guide for every adventure you can imagine

Hiking and Trail Running and Backpacking, Oh My!

Cardio can be a tricky thing to dress for when you plan to be getting your heart pumpin’ in cold conditions. You don’t want to be freezing in a t-shirt. But you also don’t want to build up a heavy sweat in too-warm layers. Because that will also have you freezing in no time and will likely lead to a dangerous situation. Active insulation solves these issues by offering just enough warmth to stabilize your body temperature, while being breathable and even wicking sweat.

Here at Backpackers, we’ve tested out some of the most talked about active insulation jackets, along with some lesser known jackets, to create this guide of the best active insulation jackets of 2024!

Helly Hansen Odin Stretch Hood Insulator 2.0

active insulation jacket from helly hansenIf a do-it-all active insulated jacket is what you’re after, Helly Hansen’s Odin Stretch Hood Insulator 2.0 is our top pick! This jacket performs great as a midlayer and is equally awesome on its own. Perfect for hiking, backpacking, skiing and mountaineering! Our gear tester Jon was impressed by the range of motion he was able to maintain while backpacking in the Odin Insulator. This is due to the durable and highly breathable nylon ripstop it’s made of, which offers a lot of stretch.

PrimaLoft Gold Active synthetic insulation will keep you warm in this jacket, while offering a good dose of comfort on your adventure. Overall, the Odin Stretch Hood Insulator 2.0 fits the bill for most adventures you can dream up that involve chilly weather. Including those extra-crisp mornings in high country summers.

See the Helly Hansen Odin Stretch Hood Insulator 2.0

KUIU Kenai Hooded Jacket

active insulation in subtle colorsKUIU’s Kenai Hooded Jacket is another phenomenal do-it-all jacket that works well in most seasons by regulating your core temperature with body-mapped DWR 3DeFX+ active insulation and breathable Stunner Stretch fabric. I have tested out quite a few KUIU items over the past several years and the Kenai Hooded Jacket is one of my favorites. It has a streamlined, modern fit and some great pockets to keep your gear and snacks on hand.

Something KUIU’s Kenai Hooded Jacket offers that sets it apart from other jackets, at least for women, is that it’s available in muted colorways. Not a pink option in sight! This comes as a breath of fresh air to many women who are sick of the whole “pink it and shrink it” thing.

See the KUIU Kenai Hooded Jacket

Rab Xenair Alpine Light Insulation Jacket

Lightweight insulated jacket from RabA versatile and good looking insulated jacket to boot, Rab’s Xenair Alpine Light Insulated Jacket is a high performer! It’s great at camp, on trail and up in the alpine, as its name suggests. This is one of the lightest jackets on this list when it comes to weight, and it comes in at a scant 9.5 ounces!

If you’ve got a climbing adventure coming up, be sure to check out the Xenair Alpine Light, as it has some nifty features specific to rock-life. The under-helmet hood with a semi-elasticized opening is one of them. This ensures that your head stays comfortable while you’ve got a helmet on. Which, ya know, is pretty important!

See the Rab Xenair Alpine Light Insulated Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Kor Airshell Warm Insulated Jacket

lightweight insulated jacket for everyoneMountain Hardwear’s Kor Airshell Warm Insulation Jacket is a stylish and affordable option for active insulation. It features Pertex® Quantum Air fabric on the outside, which resists abrasion and moves with you. It also has two zippered chest pockets above its two spacious hand pockets. A reviewer here at Backpackers really loves this piece for snowshoeing in the PNW. The Kor Airshell Jacket is breathable and cozy.

See the Mountain Hardwear Kor Airshell Warm Insulated Jacket

Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket

a staple for active insulation

Next up is an active insulated jacket with a bit of a cult-like adventurer base! It’s the Patagonia Nano-Air Hybrid Jacket. This insulated jacket has fans for a reason. It’s a great piece. It’s constructed from 40-gram FullRange® insulation, a flyweight shell and lining fabric, and R1® Air knit paneling for warm, stretchy and breathable performance during high-exertion activities.

This insulated jacket is Fair Trade certified and weighs in at 10.5 ounces. It’s available in a rainbow of color options as well.

See the Patagonia Nano-Air Light Hybrid Jacket

Arc’Teryx Atom Insulated Hoodie

active insulation perfect for springIf you spend much time in cold alpine environments, you are sure to see more than a few people rocking Arc’Teryx Atom Insulated Hoodies. These insulated jackets are a popular pick for alpine skiing, expeditions and other high elevation, cold weather adventures. With a price tag as extreme as the adventures this jacket is made for, the Atom Insulated Hoodie best serves those of us looking to get absolutely gnarly up in the mountains.

See the Arc'Teryx Atom Insulated Hoodie

Fjallraven Keb Padded Insulated Hoodie
fjallraven and it's staple active insulation piece

If you love colorful autumn hikes and playing in the wild, Fjallraven’s Keb Padded Insulated Hoodie is the perfect jacket for you! Made from 100% polyester with a lot of stretch, it offers ease of movement; 60g G-Loft® Supreme synthetic insulation offers warmth in crisp weather. This is a no-frills active insulation jacket that can hold up to bushwhacking and tree climbing!

Of course, the Keb Padded Insulated Hoodie is as stylish as you’d expect a Fjallraven jacket to be and it comes in an array of pleasing colors.

See the Fjallraven Keb Padded Insulated Hoodie

Black Diamond First Light Hybrid Hoody

active insulation in high vis orange

Black Diamond’s First Light Hybrid Hoody is next on our list and if you love trail running, this one’s for you! Featuring 20D stretch nylon ripstop shell with DWR coating, Merino wool back panel and sleeves and the ability to pack down super small, the First Light Hybrid Hoody is a great companion when you’re moving fast in chilly conditions.

This is another piece our gear tester Jon uses frequently and tends to rave about. In his words, the First Light Hybrid Hoody is one of the easiest layers to toss in his running vest whether he thinks he’ll need it or not! We all have a couple items like that and they tend to make a massive difference in our enjoyment of the outdoors.

See the Black Diamond First Light Hybrid Hoody

Kuhl Impakt Insulated Jacketstay cozy in active insulation

Kuhl’s Impakt Insulated Jacket is another great active insulated jacket for playing in the wild. It’s also a perfect warm jacket for travel and town-life. The Impakt Insulated Jacket combines modern style with rugged outdoor performance. It features premium high-loft insulation and a durable softshell exterior that offers reliable wind and water resistance.

The Impakt Insulated Jacket is available in a wide array of colors and sizes. If you like a more laid back styling, this is perfect for your next mountain town adventure!

See the Kuhl Impakt Insulated Jacket

Cotopaxi Trico Hybrid Jacket

a laid back approach to active insulationAs cute as it is cozy, Cotopaxi’s Trico Hybrid Jacket is an active insulated jacket that blends the vibe of high pile fleece and the warmth of an insulated vest into one versatile jacket. The Trico Jacket features quilted, 100% recycled synthetic insulation that provides an even distribution of warmth without causing overheating.

Cotopaxi is a brand known for it’s epic colorways and you can find the Trico Hybrid Jacket in a massive array of cool color combos. And if bright colors aren’t your thing, rest easy knowing they always create a more muted colorway or two.

See the Cotopaxi Trico Hybrid Jacket

Orvis PRO LT Insulated Hoodiegreat insulation for spring adventure

Rounding out our Best Active Insulated Jackets list is Orvis’ PRO LT Insulated Hoodie. Orvis is a southern brand and often overlooked in the outdoor adventure scene, which is a real shame! They make burly, epic pieces and the PRO LT Insulated Hoodie is one of em. This jacket is perfect for shoulder seasons and features 40g of PrimaLoft® Gold Active insulation, a 20d mechanical ripstop nylon shell and DWR coating.

This is a no-frills kind of insulated jacket that’s perfect for bushwhacking, time on the water and hunting adventures. It’s also a great piece for kicking around town on especially crisp days!

See the Orvis PRO LT Insulated Hoodie

All images courtesy of respective brands, All Rights Reserved. Affiliate Policy: This guide contains affiliate links, which help fund our website. When you click on the links to purchase the gear, we get a commission, and this goes a long way to creating guides, gear reviews, and other excellent content.

Deirdre Denali Rosenberg

Deirdre Denali is a wildlife conservation photographer and outdoor writer based in Tucson and the San Juan Mountains. She is a big fan of type II fun and loves gear! To check out some of Deirdre's work, check out her IG! Instagram.

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