Best Down Jackets
Being cold is never fun, and fun fact, it can even do some irreparable damage to your health. But why is it that ducks and geese seem to be A-OK floating around semi-frozen lakes without a care in the world? How is that possible? The credit goes to Down – the small fluffy feathers found next to the skin of various waterfowl species. Us humans have been aware of hundreds, if not thousands of years, that Down has some incredible insulating properties. It’s light and fluffy and holds a lot of air, and this forms a pocket of warmth between the cold and yourself.
The problem is that if the down gets wet it loses almost all of its insulating properties. This is why you will see ducks preening their feathers to maintain their natural waterproofing oils that protect their feathers from moisture and the cold. Mother Nature is ingenious, isn’t she? And for us humans, there are now all sorts of selections of down jackets that also maintain waterproofing abilities. Take a gander through our list of down jackets to help you choose an option that works best for all of your needs.
- Orolay Women's Down Jacket
- Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoodie
- The North Face Women's Arctic Parka
10 Best Down Jackets
Orolay Women's Thickened Down Jacket
This features real quality down, wearable as a travel jacket, casual in cold weather or for a good range of outdoor pastimes. thoughtful design has been put into this product to ensure performance, comfort blended with style.
Offered in a range of neutral colors blended with an eye-pleasing stylish jacket
When a jacket features a blend of duck and gooses down you can be assured you are on to a winning combination for warmth, comfort, and protection. The exterior or shell is made from highly durable polyester at 100% quality, this enables the jacket to have a good level of protection against water and cold wind.
Though this product is long below the waist it is also surprisingly light and this is due to the use of down.
Featuring a full-length front zip which is protected by a wind flap, two front pockets so you can securely carry a phone or others useful items and two deep side pockets for keeping the hands warm and protected.
A synthetic fur feature around the hood gives added protection with style, the hood construction is thick and gives or retains good warmth.
This can be pulled to a tighter fit at the middle while being able to fan out over your hips and the coat/jacket drapes down to the thighs. The down quilting ends at the waist area which means that the part of the coat which drapes over the waist down to the thighs does not feel heavy and restrictive, flexibility for movement is very good.
For comfort at times when you might feel warmer, it is useful to use the full front zipper system as a temperature regulator, adjust the zip to allow body warm to escape and air to circulate.
Higher than average prices and a nice investment for ladies to give protection from the cold.
Good pocket space
Breathability is ok but could be better, frontal zip can be used to regulate body temperature.
Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody
Weather Protection: The exterior shell of this jacket is made with 20 denier ripstop polyester, which makes this jacket wind resistant and water resistant. This jacket is not totally waterproof, but it does offer a decent amount of weather protection.
Durability: This jacket has performed very well when taking a lot of abuse outside, so no matter what sports you like to do in the winter, this jacket will keep you going strong. You’ll get several seasons of use out of this jacket.
Features: This jacket gives you some oversize zip pulls, and you can easily adjust layers without having to remove your gloves. You also get several large-sized pockets to help you stash your things.
Easy to compress
Could be lighter
Could be more waterproof
The North Face Arctic Parka
Weather Protection: Featuring a thermal 550 goose down and a water and windproof Nylon outer shell, this jacket can withstand even the sloppiest of weather.
Durability: The seam-sealed outer shell prevents down feathers from escaping, and the thick material resists snags and tears very well. This is one of the more durable lightweight jackets out there.
Features: The knee-length fit and faux fur in the hood provide additional warmth while adding a stylish and feminine appeal to the jacket. Five pockets throughout the jacket provide ample space to store essentials, without adding too much bulk.
Faux fur ruff
Wide range of colors
Wide shoulders make for a boxy fit
Eddie Bauer Sun Valley Women's Parka
Weather Protection: This jacket is designed to withstand wind and rain, with a good amount of down and a nice DWR finish. Water beads on the surface of the shell, rather than soaking into the fabric and ruining your day.
Durability: The two-way adjustable zipper resists breaking or getting stuck, and the jacket itself is fairly strong against snags and tears. Caring for it is easy, too; just put it in the washing machine. No dry clean necessary!
Features: Metallic cross-dyeing adds a subtle, iridescent sheen to the jacket, making it stand out in a crowd. Pockets are fleece-lined with a zip closure for keeping your hands extra toasty. Available in a wide range of sizes: Petite, Regular, Tall, and Plus. This is definitely a jacket designed for a variety of body shapes.
Wide range of sizes
Pockets could be deeper
Triple F.A.T. Goose Chenega Mens Goose Down Jacket Parka
Weather Protection:This jacket is made with a premium nylon called taslan and has a Durable Water Repellent coating that is combined with Teflon. This combo offers supreme water protection. The water repellency of the Chenega is at 10,000 mm.
Durability: These jackets have been featured in major publications, such as The New York Times and Men's Health - this is for good reason. These jackets use premium materials and are built to last.
Features: This jacket has a real coyote fur rim around the hood, which provides optimal protection as coyote fur doesn't freeze or absorb water. The sides of this coat feature vents with mesh inserts, so that you can control the temperature of your core. There are holes in the cuffs of the sleeve, so that your hands are better kept warm without jacket slippage.
- Extremely warm
- Decent price point for the quality
- Sizing may vary
Marmot Guides Down Hoody
Weather Protection: The exterior shell of this jacket is designed with a DWR coating to help repel water. Also, the hydrophobic down designed in the interior of this jacket is designed to be fast drying, and will also repel water.
Durability: The Marmot Guides Down Hoody is designed to be very durable, and features strong materials and a good design that makes this jacket long-lasting. So, for the money, you’ll get a lot of use out of this jacket.
Features: Made with fleece-lined hand pockets, you’ll get plenty of opportunity to organize your items and keep your hands warm. Also, you get a two-way zipper and a dual hood pull cord for easy adjustability.
Can feel bulky
Difficult to compress
Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket
Weather Protection: The outer shell is water resistant, but in prolonged rain exposure you might get a bit wet. The jacket is designed to make movements easy in lightweight ascents.
Durability: The only area of concern here is the zipper hardware, which we found a few reviews noting was a bit finicky and fragile for some. Other than that, Rab’s time-tested materials hold up here, and this jacket should keep you moving for several years to come.
Features: The down filled helmet compatible hood can be rolled down for easy storage. This is a very good jacket, that not only serves the purpose of an adventure jacket but will also look good just running down to the shops to get a pint of milk on a cold winter morning.
- Wind resistant
- Fragile zippers
- Can run small
Mountain Hardwear Nilas Jacket
Weather Protection: The 850-fill power down has been treated with their Q. Shield in which they infuse a permanent water repellent to the down fibers enabling the down to maintain its loft and insulating properties even when wet. The main jacket fabric is wind and water resistant.
Durability: We found that Mountain Hardware knows their niche very well, and that means that their jackets cater strongly to hikers in need of something durable enough to make the long haul.
Features: The hood and hem drawcords have been designed to be used one-handed for quick adjustments, so if you need to adjust the hem draw cord whilst holding onto the rock face with one hand you can. The hood is insulated with down and has a low profile but cannot be removed. On the price side, it is a little more expensive that others, but the quality of the down used and the other nice features would make the money well spent.
- High quality down
- Can feel bulky
Arc'teryx Thorium SV Hooded Down Jacket
Protection: This jacket has a waterproof and durable shell.
Durability: The fabric is designed to be abrasion resistant, and should keep you going for a few years, no problem.
- Not as high down fill as other Arc'teryx products
Fjallraven Greenland No. 1
Weather Protection: Sporting a windproof outer shell, and with users reporting solid warmth in even subzero temperatures, the Fjallraven Greenland is sure to stand up to even the coldest of days. It is, however, not waterproof, and may take a good deal of waxing to ensure strong protection against water.
Durability: Initially developed in 1968 for mountain climbers, this jacket features lots of down, a windproof G-1000 Eco outer shell, all of which ensure that this jacket will stand the test of time . . . and wind, and cold, and rain.
Features: While it doesn't have hand pockets, the Fjallraven Greenland No. 1 has no shortage of pockets overall, featuring two breast pockets and a large inner pocket. With this jacket, you'll always have a spot to stash your keys, wallet, phone, etc. It also has a stylish fit and design that makes it ideal for casual occasions and even daily wear.
Looser fit for ease of movement
Down filling in hood for extra warmth
Large inner pocket
The Criteria We Used To Find The Best Down Jackets
So you are going to go out in the cold, and you need a lightweight warm jacket. Down is the way to go. But there are a few things you need to know. Not all down jackets are equal. What is best for backpacking might not be best for skiing or mountaineering. Let’s take a look at a few factors you should be keeping in mind when purchasing a Down jacket.
Comfort & Warmth: Down and Down Fill Power
As mentioned earlier, down is the fluffy clusters of filament that form the undercoating of waterfowl. it is incredibly light, and yet, because of the 3-dimensional structure and its ability to “loft”, each filament traps more air for its weight than any synthetic material. On average, every ounce of quality down has around two million filaments that overlap and form a protective layer of air. This layer of air insulates the cold out but keeps the warmth in. Due to its structure, it is difficult for it to be compressed and flattened. Conveniently, if it does, you can just shake it like a pillow.
Fill power is a measurement of how fluffy the down is, it is not really related to its insulating value. But that said a higher fill power number the more air it traps and will provide more insulating ability when compared to the same weight of a lower fill power down. Down fill power is measured from 300 to 900. 400 to 450 is medium quality, 500 to 550 good quality, 550 to 750 very good and 750+ excellent quality. Almost all commercial down comes as a secondary product from geese reared for meat consumption. Most geese raised for meat consumption are around 4 months old, meaning the feather down is smaller and with a 400 to 500 fill power. The higher fill power down of 700+ comes from mature birds. These are usually birds which are kept for breeding purposes, these geese or duck will molt them down in the spring where it is collected. This makes it rarer and as such more expensive.
There are a lot of downs which have been treated with a durable water-repellent (DWR). And it helps the down repel water if you happen to be caught in a heavy downpour. If down gets wet, no damage is done to the down; however it will become heavier, and it will no longer e an effective insulator. By coating the down with a DWR the hope is that it will repel the water and this combined with a good level of waterproofing on the jackets materials has made down jackets more and more practical for outdoor and adventure uses.
Most down jackets have some kind of water-resistant material on the exterior shell of the jacket. Some jackets come with hydrophobic down, but most often, the down jackets also feature some type of water-resistant coating features over the shells.
One of the types of coatings you’ll find on many down jackets is a Durable Water Resistant (DWR) coating. DWR coatings are a treatment that goes over the exterior of the shell and helps to repel water off of the jacket before it can enter the fabric area or make it to the down. DWR also helps to make jackets water-resistant while still keeping them comfortable with a good ventilation system.
However, it’s important to note, that not all DWR treatments are created equally. Some manufacturers use better DWR treatments than others. Also, DWR coatings can break down and wear off over time, so you need to make sure you pay attention to the performance of your DWR coating as your jacket ages.
Some manufacturers also add extra water resistance to their jackets by treating their down with some kind of DWR coating in the actual insulation, making the down hydrophobic and able to repel water. However, it can still be difficult to tell even how strong the DWR coating is on the down insulation, so you need to pay attention to customer reviews to find out how well the jacket performs when you are out in the winter weather.
Durability: Jacket Materials
The main material of the jacket will have a major impact on the jacket’s water resistance, weight, and durability. There are some things to consider when choosing your coat. Are you going to get wet often? Do you really need the lightest jacket available?
The weight of the jacket includes zippers and buttons. The more zippable pockets the heavier the jacket. Is there a possibility that you may be brushing against a rock face or tree branches, if so are these going to rip the jacket. A hole in your down jacket and it will leak some down, not normally enough to affect your warmth, but worth considering.
Do you need a hood? If you don’t need a hood, then opting for a hoodless jacket will save you some money. But if you want a hood, consider if you will also be wearing a helmet. Some hoods are designed to go over a helmet, and some are designed to go under a helmet. Tailor your choice to fit your needs. For example, if you know that you will be in high winds, you will want a jacket that provides higher face coverage.
If you are going to be mountaineering at high altitude or chilling out on a glacier, you should be looking at an expedition jacket or parka type. They tend to be heavier and have more pockets and other features, and they are warmer and better suited for your adventures. Whereas if you are backpacking or skiing, a lighter jacket could be a better option. And it can be used as a mid-layer or an outer layer.
There is a lot to consider when making your jacket choice, but the best thing to do is to head to your nearest retailer and try them on or read other’s reviews.
Down jackets come with a bevy of features attached to them, depending on the style and brand. The products we’ve provided on our list all come from well-known manufacturers that all make high-quality products, so selecting what type of down jacket you really want to buy can sometimes come down to the features the jacket has.
Some jackets have zippers that are waterproof or easier to use. Also, some jackets include more pockets on them than others. Some jackets might have a longer hem or a shorter hem. You’ll find some jackets that have excellent drawcord hoods and great insulated pockets.
Depending on what you really need to get out of your jacket, consider the features you really want before you select the jacket you want to purchase. The more features your jacket offers, typically the more expensive that jacket will be. So, if you are shopping on a budget, you want to try and remember this, and try to focus on getting a jacket that offers the features you really need and want.
Other Important Factors To Consider
Some jackets on our list state that they use RDS down. RDS down means that the down comes from ducks and geese that have been treated well throughout their farm life. These animal have not been subjected to the pain of fear. RDS Down is always identified with a label, and every stage of the supply chain can be audited and traced. If the down is not RDS then the ducks and geese may have been force feed, or even hand removed their feather whilst they were alive (live plucking).
Live plucking is done to be able to gain more down feather from the same bird. A duck or goose may have feathers ripped from its skin every 6 to 7 weeks. In our opinion, this is a cruel and unnecessary method of obtaining down. For more information check the RDS website http://responsibledown.org/.
Depending on what you are planning to accomplish while you wear your jacket, you’ll need to think about how much weight you can carry along with you each time you put your jacket on. If you’re going to be using a lot of energy and performing some highly aerobic outdoor activities during the winter, then you want to make sure you purchase a jacket that can keep you warm while still remaining lightweight. So, what you’ll need is to check out the warmth-to-weight ratio of any jacket you want to select.
When a jacket has good fabric and an excellent design, it can get rid of some weight and still give you a warm, durable, highly functional jacket that can assist you with all of your cold-weather adventures. Some jackets that are designed to be ultra-light will subtract other features from the jackets to cut back on weight. So, if you are going for a super light jacket, remember it probably won’t offer as many features, and the jacket will seem simpler in design. Some ultra-light jackets, however, aren’t very durable, so you need to make sure you wind up with a jacket that can withstand your planned winter weather activities.
The products we’ve provided on our list all use high-quality materials to make their jackets. However, all of the jackets here vary greatly in their weight and how thick they are. Remember that when the material is heavier, it’s usually more durable, and lightweight materials won’t be as strong.
When trying to figure out the weight and durability of a jacket, you’ll need to consider the denier of the fabric or the thread count. The denier tells you how durable and heavy your jacket will be. Typically, the higher the number of the denier on the jacket, the heavier and more durable the jacket will be.
When you are trying to make your choice about how light you want your jacket to be, remember you can still sacrifice some durability when you go for a lightweight jacket. So, consider what you will really need before you make your purchase.
Q: Is down better than synthetic materials with compressibility?
Compressibility helps tell us how well a jacket will pack down when you carry it along with you, and it also lets us know how well the materials in the jacket can resist damage after it has been compressed. Down is far better than synthetic insulation where it comes to compressibility since it can recover and retain its features better when compared to synthetic insulation. Also, another benefit is that down is lighter when you compress it and carry it along.
Q: Do I need a hood?
Some down jackets come with hoods, and others come without hoods. If you purchase a down jacket without a hood, it’ll be more lightweight and cost less, but you’ll lose out on the extra comfort and warmth a hood can provide you. If you’re going to be outside doing your sports often during the winter weather, it’s almost always best to just spend the extra money and get the hood. You won’t regret it since you’ll be able to stay much warmer with your hood.
Q: What do I need to know about jacket fit?
The fit is something that is up to personal preference and can also depend on the style and brand of the jacket you select. If you wind up with a down sweater, it’ll fit and appear more casual. But ultralight and jackets made for sports will have more options for warmth and flexibility, including hood features. No matter what type of down jacket you wind up with, you need to know that how the jacket fits can vary a lot depending on the brand. For instance, Arcteryx jackets tend to have a slim fit and can run small, so that’s something to consider if you are purchasing a jacket from that manufacturer.
Q: What is hydrophobic down?
Hydrophobic down is a type of down that is treated with some type of water-resistant technology. Sometimes, brands will use a DWR coating on the down insulation as well as the exterior shell of the jacket to help make the down hydrophobic. However, depending on the brand, different types of technologies might be used to treat the insulation in the jacket, and not all treatments work as well as others. It can be difficult to test out or know how well hydrophobic down will work until you’re outside and it gets wet, but just keep in mind you might need to do some research and read reviews regarding the hydrophobic down in your jacket.
Q: What is DWR treatment?
A DWR treatment on a down jacket helps to repel moisture, giving your jacket some element of water protection. DWR is also known as Durable Water Repellant and helps water drops from making it through into the interior area of the jacket, which can make you wet through your insulation, creating a very miserable day. With DWR treatment, you’ll have less of a chance of experiencing misery since you’ll be protected against the water. DWR treatments are not fully waterproof, but they do offer some element of water protection.
Q: What is the denier?
Denier (D) tells you how much a thread weighs. Typically, the lower the denier count, the more lightweight your jacket is. On the other hand, the higher the denier count, the heavier and more durable the jacket will be. Lightweight jackets with low denier counts will be more prone to abrasions.