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You always want to be prepared when traveling in the cold. Nothing ruins a new city or hike like being too uncomfortable to enjoy it. A down jacket will offer the warmth and comfort you need while allowing you to move freely on a trail, down a slope, or through a city. But like every piece of travel gear, there are definitely some imposters on the market. Check out this guide so you can choose the best down jacket for your cold-weather adventures.
Comparison Table of the Best Down Jackets
Below is a list of the best lightweight down jackets for women and men. Click on the name to read reviews and check prices.
What to Look for in the Best Down Jackets
Here’s what you should consider before purchasing your new down jacket.
What you’ll be doing while wearing this jacket will determine how much of a consideration weight should be. If you’re backpacking or mountaineering and will be hauling your gear around, weight should be one of your top considerations and you should consider a jacket around 10 ounces. If you just need it for daily use in cooler temperatures, then other factors probably have a bigger impact on your decision.
When it comes to weight, there are also several categories you might see that may also impact your decision.
- Heavyweight / Midweight: If you’re heading out into bitter winter conditions then this is probably the jacket for you. These types of jackets are mainly used by those who are mountaineering or alpine climbing. They’re warmer and bulkier, which is a positive for some, but keep in mind they won’t pack down as well as their lighter counterparts. One thing you should look at is the fill weight. These types of jackets usually have a fill weight of six ounces or more.
- Lightweight: These are great for everyday use and easy adventures. If you’ll be in an environment that’s around 40 – 50°F, this type of jacket will likely be just fine. If the temperature continues to drop, you can keep this jacket on as it works well as a mid-layer.
- Ultralight: If cutting weight is the most important thing then this is the type of jacket you need. They’re lighter while maintaining warmth thanks to their minimalist designs, premium down fill power, and thin shell fabrics. They usually have an athletic fit because they’re created for things like snowboarding or backpacking.
2. Fill Power / Fill Weight
Fill power and weight determine the warmth of a jacket. Because everyone is different when it comes to warmth, it’s important to figure out what feels best to you. The higher the fill power the more body heat the jacket will trap and the warmer you’ll be.
If you’re looking for a premium down or high-performance jacket, then 800-fill should be the minimum you buy. If weight isn’t a big deal, then you can consider a jacket with less fill power and more fill weight to get a similar amount of warmth.
Fill weight is the amount of down in a jacket. A jacket with 5 ounces of 700-fill-power down will be warmer than a jacket with 3 ounces of 700-fill-power down. Because high performance jackets cost more, some people will opt for a jacket with lower fill power and higher fill weight. That’s fine for some people, but it’ll make the jacket bulkier.
Hoods are a great source of warmth and comfort, but they’re not for everyone. If it’s going to be particularly wet because of snow or rain then consider going with a waterproof down jacket with a hood to help keep you comfortable. If you’re going to be doing things like biking or skiing, make sure the hood is compatible with a helmet. A hood will add weight, but if you’re going into cooler temperatures then you definitely won’t regret it.
If you’re going to be traveling with this jacket a lot, you’ll want to make sure it fits comfortably in your luggage. Many of these jackets will pack down into their own pocket and some even come with a carabiner clip. If that’s a feature off the jacket you choose, be sure it doesn’t take up too much space in your bag or backpack. The higher the fill power, the easier the jacket will pack down.
Because you want your jacket to maintain its performance through countless adventures, make sure it’s made of quality material. A jacket with a higher denier means it’s more durable. The less seams a jacket has not only helps with warmth, but also with durability.
Best Down Jacket Reviews
Now that you know what to look for, here are the best down jackets for men and women currently on the market.
Overall Best Down Jacket
Weight: 13.1 oz.
Fill: 3.4 oz. of 800-fill down
Specifically designed for cool-weather hiking, the Patagonia Down Sweater is also the best down jacket for just about every outdoor adventure. The 13.1-ounce jacket is lightweight, windproof, and has an 800-fill-power European goose down. It has both interior and exterior pockets, and the interior chest pocket doubles as a zippered stuff sack with a carabiner clip-in loop so you can hook it on your backpack when you’re not wearing it. There’s a drawcord hem that tightens the handwarmer pockets and the jacket has elastic cuffs to seal in warmth. When you need to be warm during your outdoor excursions, you’ll be more than satisfied with the Patagonia Down Sweater.
Best Budget Down Jacket
Weight: 11 oz.
Fill: 4.2 oz. of 650-fill down
The REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0 is a casual jacket that provides enough warmth for cooler temperatures. It has a 650-fill-power down and an impressive warmth-to-weight ratio. The 11-ounce jacket has a recycled nylon shell fabric treated with a durable water repellent finish to help it resist wind and shed light snow and rain. The stretch cuffs and hem also hold in warmth. The jacket is easily compressible and packs down into the left-hand pocket. If you need a quality down jacket on a budget, go with the REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0.
Best Ultralight Down Jacket
Weight: 8.3 oz.
Fill: 3 oz. of 800-fill down
When it comes to ultralight down jackets, the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 is one of the best. At only 8.3 ounces, the jacket provides heat when you need it. It has an 800-fill-power down that’s treated so it stays drier than untreated down and is guaranteed not to come from animals that are subjected to unnecessary harm. The jacket has a low-profile pattern and packs down into its own zip pocket. It also includes a carabiner loop so you can attach it to your hiking backpack. If weight is your top priority, be sure to check out the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2.
Best Packable Down Jacket
Weight: 10.9 oz.
Fill: 3.4 oz. of 850-fill down
The Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody is the perfect packable down jacket. This multisport jacket functions great as a mid-layer or even as a standalone jacket in cool conditions. At only 10.9 ounces, it has an 850-fill-power down to keep you insulated and warm. The hood is also insulated and has adjustable drawcords so your vision isn’t compromised. Several features are included to help prevent drafts, such as the adjustable hem, elastic cuffs, and chin guard. The hand pockets have zippers and there’s an internal zippered security pocket with a stuff sack. Because of its packability, it’s also among the best backpacking down jackets you can buy. If space is at a minimum when you’re heading into the mountains or forest, the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody is an ideal answer.
Best Down Jacket for Winter
Weight: 17 oz.
Fill: 5 oz. of 750-fill down
The Rab Microlight Alpine is a contender due to its warmth, packability, and weight. At 15.1 ounces, the jacket has a 750-fill-power ethically sourced down. Designed for climbing and mountaineering, you can use this as a daily jacket or a mid-layer if you’re alpine climbing. The outer fabric is made of Pertex® Microlight that’s both windproof and breathable. The slim fit jacket includes cuffs and a hem drawcord to seal in warmth, and the down hood is helmet compatible. If you’re heading into colder temperatures, the Rab Microlight Alpine is the perfect companion.
Best of the Rest
Weight: 13.8 oz.
Fill: 800-fill down
When the temperature drops, the North Face Summit L3 should be your go to mid-layer. This jacket has an 800-fill-power down as well as minimal seaming to minimize cold spots and enhance strength. The hood is insulated and brimless to provide maximum warmth, and it can even fit under a helmet if you’re biking or snowboarding. It has pockets that have been designed to minimize bulk so it’s easier to layer with other clothing and pack away when you’re not wearing it. This 12.7-ounce jacket was designed for comfort and mobility in alpine environments, so whether you’re camping or skiing, consider bringing the North Face Summit L3 along with you.
Weight: 10.6 oz.
Fill: 3.7 oz. of 900-fill down
The Eos Down Jacket is praised because of its warmth-to-weight ratio. Only weighing around 10.6 ounces, this jacket has an impressive 900+ goose down fill power. It’s made of a Pertex® Quantum® brushed nylon and treated with durable water repellent. The hand warmer pockets have zippers and the construction is sewn-through to help maintain warmth. The hood has a fixed low profile and there’s an elastic drawcord hem and Lycra cuffs. A stuff sack is also included so you can easily pack it down and store it in your hiking daypack. When it comes to the best lightweight down jackets, it’s hard to beat the Feathered Friends Eos.
Weight: 10.6 oz.
Fill: 800-fill down
The North Face brand is world-famous for a reason, and their Sierra Peak Hoody maintains the standard you expect. This jacket is easily compressible yet still offers impressive warmth and protection from the wind and wet weather. It weighs 10.6 ounces and has an 800-fill-power goose down. When it’s time to travel and pack it into your luggage, the jacket packs into its pocket and includes a carabiner clip-on loop. It has a slim fit and includes a hem cinch cord and elastic cuffs. Both the center zipper and hand pockets have exposed reverse-coil zippers. Great for any outdoor activity, you’ll love the comfort and warmth the North Face Sierra Peak Hoody offers while you’re on the move.
Weight: 17 oz.
Fill: 700-fill down
Thanks to its stretch, you’ll never again be restricted with your movement when you choose the Mountain Hardwear Super/DS StretchDown Hooded Jacket. This 17-ounce jacket is made of nylon and elastane, and has a 700-fill-power goose down and feather. The stitch-free construction significantly reduces cold spots and down migration. It has an alpine fit, insulated hood, and zippered hand pockets. There’s even a port for your headphone cord. For streamlined performance in cold environments, go with the Mountain Hardwear Super/DS StretchDown Hooded Jacket.
One of the warmest, softest, and lightest jackets Columbia makes, the Voodoo Falls 590 TurboDown Jacket includes a water-resistant shell with a snug fit. It has almost 1.5 grams of 550-fill-power down to promote heat retention and warmth. The jacket has everything you’d expect in a quality down jacket – a drawcord adjustable hem, cuff binding, zippered hand pockets, and an interior security pocket. The lining is made of 100% Omni-Heat™ Reflective polyester. This breathable material helps to reflect body heat to keep you even warmer. The Columbia Voodoo Falls 590 TurboDown Jacket is an excellent choice for your fall and winter adventures.
Whether you need a jacket for walking around or for tackling the backcountry, you’ll love being wrapped in a quality down jacket. The warmth, weight, and comfort of down jackets continue to be praised in the travel community. Your new jacket will definitely become one of your favorite travel accessories.