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Highlander Lewis synthetic jacket review: hard-wearing and moisture resistant at a great price

The Highlander Lewis synthetic jacket offers a great value insulating layer for hiking, camping and general outdoor use

Highlander Lewis synthetic jacket
(Image: © Highlander)

Our Verdict

There’s lots to like about this straightforward but effective puffy. Most importantly, the brand has nailed the fit, ensuring it insulates well. You also get hardwearing materials at a great price, including a moisture-resistant synthetic fill and a durable high-tenacity nylon shell.

For

  • Great fit
  • Microfleece-lined hand pockets
  • Synthetic fill for improved moisture-resistance
  • Hard-wearing nylon shell
  • Good value

Against

  • No hem drawcord
  • Hood design not the best
  • Main zip not fully insulated

Highlander Lewis synthetic jacket: first impressions

A simple but effective “puffy” – like the Highlander Lewis synthetic jacket – makes a great addition to any winter hiker’s kit. With a price tag that isn’t too scary, plus a decent warmth-to-weight ratio and a good set of features, it makes a useful standalone insulating layer for chilly days and an equally practical midlayer when worn underneath a shell for wet and cold mountain adventures.

This isn’t the most high-performing jacket around (like some of the ones in our best down jackets and puffers buying guide), but the Tecloft synthetic fill – a continuous filament insulation made from 100% polyester – still provides a welcome boost of warmth whenever the mercury plunges. It also boasts the same benefits as almost all synthetic fills, namely, good moisture-resistance and resistance to compression as well as being easy to look after and quick-drying even if it does get damp. 

Highlander Lewis synthetic jacket

A classic puffer look without being boxy (Image credit: Highlander)

The stitch-through design gives this jacket a classic “puffer’” look, without feeling too boxy or restrictive. This makes it a great layering piece. The fit is excellent, with plenty of length in the arms and torso, plus small stretch fleece inserts in the armpits that aid both breathability and mobility, ensuring ample freedom of movement. The stretch-bound cuffs lock in plenty of heat too. It’s just a slight shame that there is no hem drawcord, though the trim fit ensures minimal heat loss from the bottom of the jacket. We particularly like the microfleece-lined hand pockets, which feel nice and cosy. They’re placed behind the fill too, so hands benefit from that toasty synthetic fill. Their construction also effectively gives you two dump pockets inside the jacket, which are a good place to temporarily store gloves if you’ve stopped on the hills for a snack and a breather.

Up top, the jacket is fitted with a roomy hood, which will fit over a climbing helmet. Admittedly, the design isn’t the most sophisticated – it could hug the head a little better, and the chin could come up a little higher for added protection from gusting winds – but it is adjustable with a rear Velcro strip and elasticated face drawcords. It does have a stiffened peak to help deflect winds and keep light rain off your face too.

All the zips are a reverse coil design for added water-resistance, with chunky zip pulls that are easy to grab with a gloved hand. The main zip only has a half baffle at the top of the jacket, though. This ensures no chin irritation, but if it ran all the way to the bottom of the zip, you’d get better protection from draughts and moisture.

Lastly, the face fabric of the jacket is made from high-tenacity nylon, so in terms of resistance to abrasion, it should outperform cheaper polyester alternatives.

Specifications

• RRP: £100 (UK)
• Sizes: Men’s XS / S / M / L / XL / 2XL Women’s XS / S / M / L / XL
• Weight (men's medium): 350g / 12oz
• Fill: Tecloft synthetic fill (100% polyester)
• Colors: Men’s Grey / Forest green Women’s Forest Green / Maroon

Highlander Lewis synthetic jacket: on the trail

Highlander Lewis synthetic jacket

Superior wet weather performance is the major advantage of synthetic fills over traditional down fills (Image credit: Highlander)

This jacket proved a great layer for chilly spring and autumn days, and also found its way into our packs on winter mountain forays, when we needed an extra insulating layer for summit stops. Hunkered down in a shelter with our hands stuffed in its cosy pockets, it did the job very well. For its low weight, it offers decent warmth, and though it obviously doesn’t compare to a down puffy (see: down vs synthetic insulation: which is best for keeping warm?), this is a jacket that you’re not too precious about taking with you even if the forecast looks grim. Superior wet weather performance is the major advantage of synthetic fills over traditional down fills, and the Lewis jacket is no exception. It’s also reasonably packable, and though it lacks a stuff sack or stuff pocket, it rolls easily into its own hood. 

The excellent fit also gives it the edge over a lot of similarly priced rivals we’ve tested, and even some more expensive jackets too. Sure, spending more might get you a higher-performance fill power and a few more features, but this jacket nails the basics admirably. 

An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.