When I first started looking around for a puffy jacket to add to my adventure gear arsenal, I searched high and low for an insulated jacket that would tick all my boxes: super warm, highly water and wind resistant, ultralight, packable, durable, comfortable and cost effective.
The longer I looked, the less hopeful I became. I found a few great options from UL brands like Cumulus and Katabatic Gear, but they were overkill for what I needed.
While cruising through the pages of Garage Grown Gear, I came across the Enlightened Equipment Women's Torrid Jacket and decided to look into synthetic insulation, as an alternative to down.
While down has an amazing warmth-to-weight ratio and is highly compressible, synthetic insulation boasts excellent performance in rainy, humid or otherwise wet conditions. The Enlightened Equipment Torrid Jacket is made with Climashield APEX insulation, which is particularly well suited for exposure to high amounts of sweat and body oils.
The benefits of a synthetic insulation sounded inviting, so I decided to order a Enlightened Equipment Torrid Jacket and see for myself. My partner also picked up the men's version of the EE Torrid.
That was two years ago and hundreds of sweaty outdoor adventures later. And I have to say, I’ve grown to absolutely love my Torrid Jacket, synthetic insulation and all.
There are many, many reasons why this piece of clothing has earned its place in my UL kit. Here are 5 of them:
Keeps Me Warm
This is probably the most important feature of any insulated jacket. If it keeps you warm, it's doing its job.
When it's below freezing, I toss a mid layer between my puffy and my base layer. Otherwise, I can get away with just my Torrid on top of a long sleeve merino base layer because . . .
Highly Wind & Water Resistant
I have worn my Torrid jacket in some serious downpours that called for Gore Tex instead of an ultralight nylon fabric with a DWR coating. But guess what? It kept me dry and warm.
And anytime I get to the top of a windy mountain summit, the first thing I reach for is my EE Torrid jacket because the cold breeze can't seem to cut through the layers of Climashield™ Apex insulation.
Packs Down Small
Synthetic insulation might not be as compressible as down, but it still packs into a pretty dang small package for the warmth and comfort it provides.
I place my Torrid jacket into a 1L stuff sack which has the ability to compress down even smaller, but I choose not to, because it wrinkles the fabric more and it's not necessary for me to save any more space.
When it's bedtime at camp, it's easy to take my Torrid out of that stuff sack and place it in my Pillow Strap because . . .
Makes a Great Camp Pillow
In the event that it's warm enough to not need to wear my Torrid jacket to bed (which is like wearing a second sleeping bag, it's so comfortable!), it makes for a superb sleeping pillow.
I fold it like a piece of origami, creating a soft, square-shaped place to rest my head. I then place it inside my Pillow Strap so it doesn't slide around, and experience a luxurious night's sleep.
Never Gets Dirty
Part of the bonus of the DWR coating is that it's super easy to clean. I opted for a dark color outer fabric because I tend to be a spilly eater. All the soy sauce and dirt blends right into the purple background.
When something really sticks to it, I just spot clean it with warm water and a washcloth. After two years, I decided to hand wash my Torrid for the first time for the fun of it.
The sink water had a light tinge of brown, but for what this jacket has been through, I was blown away by how clean it has remained.
From a 6,000-mile bikepacking adventure on the Eastern Divide Trail to thru-hiking the 93-mile Sentier Nepisiguit Mi'gmaq Trail in Northern New Brunswick — not to mention touring around Europe and backpacking along the coast in British Columbia — my Enlightened Equipment Torrid Jacket has had more than its fair share of adventure thrown its way.
Bottom line: this lightweight, synthetic jacket has kept me warm and toasty through each and every sweaty mile, rainy downpour and chilly night. I simply can’t recommend it enough.
Ali Becker is a freelance adventure writer and narrative storyteller who shares compelling conversations about personal transformations, overcoming limitations, wellness education and adventurous situations. You can follow her rambling adventures on social at @thisisalibecker.