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Every skier or boarder who favours shells over insulated jackets is in need of a good midlayer. We review the Helly Hansen LifaLoft Hooded Stretch Insulator jacket to see if it's fit for the job.

helly hansen lifaloft hooded stretch insulator
Overall Score
Very light and toasty
Looks a little uninspiring

This is a midlayer built for comfort. The 'stretch' part of the LifaLoft Hooded Stretch Insulator makes for great freedom of movement and a snug fit. Most of the outside of the jacket has a quilted look to it, apart from two panels from the armpit to hem which are made of a stretchier, softer fabric.

The insulation is LifaLoft, a high-performance layer designed in partnership with PrimaLoft and Lifa (the original Helly Hansen baselayer). Intended to be lighter and warmer than other synthetic insulation, the Lifa fibres are also hydrophobic to get rid of any excess moisture. We found it kept us toasty warm on the slopes. The thin layer of insulation cuts down on bulk and is much more forgiving of wetness than some down midlayers. Plus, it's wonderfully light.

The face material is also water resistant and breathable to keep you dry from the inside and out. The colourways are fairly uninspiring - the jacket only comes in 'Charcoal' or 'Navy'. We tested the charcoal (which is a slightly lighter grey than we were expecting) version which does at least have contrasting colour zips in bright turquoise to add a pop of colour. On the flip side, the neutral colours shouldn't clash with the majority of ski jackets and pants.

The hem can be adjusted with a drawcord accessed from the hand warmer pockets and the cuffs and hood have Lycra bands to keep them snug on the wrists and around the face. The hood itself is fixed and fits well to the head, designed to be worn under a helmet if the situation calls for it.

The handwarmer pockets are zipped and there are two drop pockets on the inside. The jacket also features one of Helly Hansen's Life Pockets. This is an outside zipped pocket on the chest which features extra layers of 'thermal resistant materials' designed specifically to preserve the battery life of your phone and add extra protection to your tech. As someone who knows how annoying it is to pull your phone out at the top of a mountain only to find it's locked up from the cold, we're delighted by this little extra.

Overall a solid choice of midlayer to keep you warm when you're out and about, from flying down the slopes to heading out on a hike. Does the job without the song and dance.

All our reviews are independent and unbiased. We may earn a commission when you buy from links to Amazon and other affiliates on this page.