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Best very warm, packable jacket for my trip

Going to Scotland in May!!!! I am sooo excited! I am a female senior, from sunny California, and get cold very easily. Years ago I had a wonderful puffy down jacket I bought from Cabelas, that could be wadded down very small, and it kept me very toasty! When it started "moulting" from years of use and small holes I discovered Cabelas did not offer the same jacket any longer and the replacement I ordered just does not keep me very warm on cold, windy or foggy days. If it makes any difference, the older one had about 3" wide "quilting" and was very "puffy"...the newer one has about 1" wide quilting, and is fairly "flat".

Any recommendations for a super warm, puffy jacket? Without spending hundreds? I was so pleased with the down that I think I want to stay with it as I have not tried any synthetics.....but am open.

I did just buy a great, very light, long rain jacket that wads down to inches for packing....

Thanking you in advance


Posted by
2526 posts

Patagonia Nano Puff is what I own and love. As for taking to Scotland in May, that would never be my choice. Stay warm.

Posted by
4897 posts

Look at Lands End clearance for some of their light weight down that are currently on closeout. We each are different, but I would simply have a fleece jacket or sweater to layer under my rain coat. That is how I dress at home and I don't think Scotland is very different from the weather here.

Posted by
302 posts

Have you looked online at Eddie Bauer or Lands End? They are both having good clearance sales on outerwear. Lands Ends seems to have a couple that look puffy, but they won't pack as small as the Cirruslite from Eddie Bauer.

Posted by
1217 posts

I'll second the recommendation for Uniqlo's clothing and ultra light down jackets. They're also starting to do their winter clearance sales now and have some good prices for the quality you get.

For warmer than that, I got a REI brand 650 fill down coat as a Christmas present this year, and will say it's very warm for as small as it packs down.

Posted by
228 posts

I second the advice saying go for a light, showerproof jacket with layers underneath. This is a much lighter and flexible arrangement - easy to pack, easy to care for and if the insulation is provided by layers underneath, you can tailor it to suit the day's weather, even making adjustments throughout the day if weather or activities demand it.

As an 'acclimatised' Californian, you will probably find at least some of the days a bit cold. The UK as a whole must always be treated with respect weather-wise, due to its latitude and the fact that it has a maritime (read: fickle) climate. I lived there for the first 42 years of my life, so believe me, I know. You just have to know that most of the UK's weather, especially in the north, comes bowling in from the north Atlantic, then you have a handle on the weather.

The maximums you are likely to experience are in the 10 - 16C range, with exceptional days warmer or colder. Without wishing to put a damper on your plans, you may also experience days when you will suffer a combination of 10C, wind and rain. For sure, you will be glad you packed that jacket!

Much depends though on what you plan to do and where you plan to go. You already know, I'm sure, that weather is less important when visiting cities than when out and about on the beach, in the forest or on the mountains. I always factor this into my packing. Footwear especially must be chosen to suit your days. That said, even if you plan to get among the Highlands (recommended), you can see a lot from the comfort of a car, coach or through a tea shop window :-)

I hope you don't let this weather report get you down. I'm guessing that you've done your homework and know this already. All it takes to have an absolutely fantastic time in Scotland is (a) a little planning and (b) some fortitude. Believe it or not, once you are accustomed to the climate, walking in cold - even wet - weather can be lovely, especially if you're exerting yourself a bit, when the cooler temps are a godsend.

There are also some experiences that are actually made better by inclement weather. One of these might be lunch or dinner in a rural pub. Getting hunkered down in the warm confines of a traditional Scottish pub while the rain bashes down outside, a hot meal in front of you and a locally-brewed Scottish ale beside it, is one of life's pleasures, in my opinion.

Have a great time!

Posted by
2928 posts

I concur with the earlier comments that a down jacket would not really be the way to go. I've been to Scotland in May twice and found myself dressing in the following set of layers: knee-length trench coat with removable quilted lining, wool blazer, cashmere pullover, silk undershirt, wool trousers, wool socks, and knee-high boots (the kind you can tuck your jeans into in the daytime and wear with tights and a dress for evening). Oh, and a rain hat and fingerless gloves. Some days, or parts of the day, it would warm up enough to go around without the trench coat, but I was basically comfortable with all those layers on most of the time.

Waterproofing is key. It will rain, and it's often wind-driven ("lashing") rain so an umbrella or a poncho would be fairly useless. Spray all outerwear with Scotchgard (hmm, funny about that brand name) before you leave home. Waterproof your footwear very thoroughly with silicone spray, especially where the sole meets the uppers.

Posted by
2532 posts

It is more important to have a waterproof and wind proof jacket than a really warm jacket as in may the wind a rain will make you feel colder than it really is, just make sure you have layers to put on take can be quite cool in the morning and evening and if the wind gets up can feel quite cold, so layers rather than one large coat

Posted by
228 posts

"Waterproof your footwear very thoroughly with silicone spray, especially where the sole meets the uppers."

I have never done that, but will try it. I am very familiar with silicon sprays used as lubricants however and can vouch for how effective it is in that application. I therefore wonder if, should any spray reach the soles of boots being treated, this would make them very slippery and thus pose a hazard?

Posted by
5775 posts

Starting point to staying warm and dry during spring is layering. Base layer for moisture control, thermal midlayer for insulation and outside wind/rain shell. For spring conditions an upper body base layer that wicks body moisture away from the skin and is quick drying after washing. Lower body base layer is usually not needed in May. Mid layer can be fleece, but if packing volume is important, a synthetic down-like insulation is the way to go. A vest would be more compact. Wind/rain shell maintain warmth and keeps you dry with a breathable but waterproof membrane and moisture vent being the way to go. Read:

If you want the "best", my go to brand for best design and best quality is Patagonia. Consider Patagonia's Nano Puff line of vests and jackets:
and shells:

Posted by
2928 posts

Steves_8 asked "should any spray reach the soles of boots being treated, this would make them very slippery and thus pose a hazard?" Short answer: no.

I've been living for decades in a climate where we waterproof our boots regularly all winter long and I've never encountered this, er, side effect. That goes for a wide variety of types of boots & shoes with different sole material etc. It has never been a problem, so I would not worry about it.

Posted by
302 posts

The spray I use is non-silicone and the instructions say to mark off plastic heels. I always test spray a small area first to make sure it's not going to discolor the item I'm spraying.

Posted by
123 posts

We went this past November and took layers. All LLBean. Outer layer was lightweight waterproof jacket. Polar fleece layer, light hat and gloves. Then we bought EMS and REI hiking layering pieces that were lightweight and easy to pack.
Once we arrived, we discovered a TKMaxx (UK version of TJMaxx) in Edinburgh near Princes St and a Cotswolds next block down that had clothing that was better and cheaper than USA prices.

Lesson we learned: We’re going to purchase there.

Look into the stores on Google Map App near where you are staying. Check out the store websites and sales first before purchasing in states.

Posted by
193 posts

Another vote for Patagonia Nano Puff (men’s or women’s)..different styles are available..I have three of varying ages. They pack down into a very light, small bundle (at least one of mine, a 3/4 zip, folds into a pocket). They wash beautifully, age well....not sure about waterproof but mine seem water repellent to a point. I live most of the year in eastern Washington state and these work well from fall through spring. They fit nicely and work over other layers. I’ve taken one on each trip to Europe and love them because we carryon only...they take up very little space and weigh next to nothing.

Posted by
5775 posts

Patagonia Nano Puff...not sure about waterproof but mine seem water repellent to a point....

The Nano Puffs have some water repellency but are not hardshell waterproof. Patagonia description:

Lightweight, 100% recycled polyester ripstop shell and lining fabric
has a DWR (durable water repellent) finish

60-g PrimaLoft® Gold Insulation Eco, with 55% post-consumer recycled
content, is water-repellent, highly compressible and maintains 98% of
warmth, even when wet

DWR means that the fabric is treated to not absorb water but is breathable meaning that moisture can transport outward, but water can penetrate the fabric.

DWR (durable water repellent) fabric finish repels light rain and snow
and decreases dry times. When DWR is used in conjunction with a
waterproof/breathable barrier, the DWR finish keeps the outer fabric
from becoming saturated so that the breathable barrier can do its job.

Posted by
1746 posts

You might check LL Bean
For inexpensive I shop clearance at Sierra Trading Post online

Posted by
19 posts

I have a Michael Kors down jacket that rolls up into a small pouch ( maybe 6X12) that I use as a pillow on the flight. It's quite warm and sounds similar to the one you have. It may not be puffy enough based on what you said above. That and a rain jacket and I'm all set.

I went online and found one a similar one at Macy's for $111.99 It actually looks better than mine for warmth.

Hope this helps.

Posted by
52 posts

Nancy...thank you. Already got one. It is funny, so many people told me I wouldn't need a down jacket in May....and I am seeing posts on a FB page of snow in Scotland even now!!!!

Posted by
2239 posts

Scotland can be quite cold in May, especially at night. I think you will be happy with a down jacket.

Posted by
942 posts

Hi, Marna,

Why not wait until you get to Scotland to get a jacket? It'll be one less thing to carry on your way over, and there are so many outdoor/camping stores in Scotland that you'd have no difficulty finding something. Many of the stores will be having sales on their heavier jackets, as the Scots are a hardier lot than Americans, and no one will be looking for a warm jacket at this time of year.

Last time we were over, my wife found a very nice waterproof Peter Storm jacket, with a removable liner, marked down from 100 pounds to 40 pounds. This was in early June. She got it from Black's in Aberdeen.

The major outdoor stores are Tiso, Nevisport, Black's and Cotswold. They are in every large city, especially Tiso, and even in smaller towns like Fort William and Aviemore.

If you buy over in Scotland, you'll have the added benefit of contributing to the Scottish economy!

Best wishes for a warm holiday!

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
2532 posts

Auchterless gives very sound advice, in addition to stores mentioned there is a company called Mountain Warehous that do a wide range of decent quality outdoor clothing items and i have bought many things from them over the years,they always have a clearance section where you can get some great bargains.
You won't need a really heavy duty warm jacket unless you intend climbing up the hill and mountains .
this time of year I use a lightweight compressable down jacket I bought from TK Maxx a few years ago,Harvey and jones is the make and it weighs 370g (no idea what that is in American), rolls down into a small bag and easily packed in my day bag.
wear layers,t-shirt ,fleece and then jacket, thats all i tend to wear this time of year . In the mornings the temps can be quite cold and yesterday we a a bit of overnight frost but by 9.00am the temps were up to about 10c (again I have no idea what that is in American) today were are expecting highs of around 16c and at the weekend maybe as high as 20c. so have things that you can put on and take off as and when the temperatures vary during the day.
I would however suggest you have a half decent windproof and waterproof jacket as it is the wind that can really suck the heat out of you.
I was in Prague a couple of weeks ago with a friend from Kansas city and one day he was walking around sweating buckets,i asked what was wrong and he admited he was over dressed for the day and had thermal underwear on as in Kansas city winter was still holding on, he had to go into the toilets at the train station to remove his undergarmets and never wore them the rest of the trip.
hope this helps.

Posted by
10 posts

I recommend the LL Bean primaloft packaway waterproof jacket. It's a down alternative lined jacket, ultralight-weight and packed with features like an interior drawcord waist (so you don't look like an apple dumpling in your vacay pics), armpit zips (so you can catch a breeze when hiking or exerting yourself), external and internal pockets, a chest pocket, wrist cinches, an integrated/adjustable hood...
Here's the link:
Priced at $249, it's not cheap but it's well worth it.
I also have the non-waterproof version of this jacket, which is very warm for its weight & folds into its own pocket. That version is on clearance sale, if you're willing to wear a separate waterproof shell:

Posted by
2532 posts

well I am just back from my first competitive lawn bowls ( look the game up) match of the season, started off at 6.30 pm reasonably warm , short sleeve shirt and a very light track suit type jacket. wind got up and the sky became overcast and temperature began to drop , put my fleece top on and then by 8.15 pm my lightweight compresable down jacket went on and stayed on till I got home at 9.00pm,probably a 10c change in temps in a couple of hours, so layers worked well for me tonight.
and before you ask , my team won 15-8.

Posted by
7459 posts

Congrats on the win, Uncle Gus.

Ramblin' on, love that weather site!!!! I have bookmarked it!

Posted by
5668 posts

So, I am with those who say that you don't need a down jacket in Scotland in May and that layers are absolutely the right way to go. Bring some winter silks with you for the ultimate bottom layer.

But, all that said, everybody needs to notice that the OP is from California, not the Midwest or Northeast. I swear that Californians and Southerners bring out the down jackets when the temp hits 50 degrees Fahrenheit! So, there it is.

BTW if you had gone the layer route, you can always supplement your layers by buying a beautiful new Scottish woolen sweater/jumper.

Posted by
52 posts

Pamela; THANK you for realizing where I am from! It all is relative isn't it? Our lat Spring thru Autumn is warm! Summers are in the 90s ti 115F. !!!!!!!!! Yes, down jackets come out into the 60's. AND I am 66 years old! Leaving in 4 days. I have layers....and went the opposite route: if too warm I will buy blouses!!!