Best Down Vests
When the temperatures start to drop but it is not quite cold enough for a winter jacket, the best thing to keep you warm but not overheating is the down vest. The down vest is a vest that is insulated and covers the chest leaving the arms exposed, this is to keep your body warm but does not overheat your arms and gives you more mobility to start your spring activities. The nice thing about down vests is that they are not only usable during the fall months, but also can be used during the spring when the temperatures start to heat up but it is not quite warm enough to wear just a sweater. Check out our top picks below.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 11 hrs of research
The down composite mapping places the synthetic insulation in areas prone to moisture
The collar height provides an ample amount of warmth
Overall, it is lightweight yet extremely durable
- Arc'teryx Cerium
- Mountain Khakis Outlaw
- The North Face Nuptse
- Eddie Bauer Downlight Stormdown
- Patagonia Nano Puff
- Outdoor Research Transcendent
- Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer
- Patagonia Down Sweater
- Columbia Flash Forward
- 32 Degrees Nano Light
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Expert Interviews & Opinions
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 10 Picks
1. Arc'teryx Cerium
The down composite mapping places the synthetic insulation in areas prone to moisture
The collar height provides an ample amount of warmth
Overall, it is lightweight yet extremely durable
This vest tends to run small, may want to go up a size
When speaking about pure quality and design, there is little to nothing wrong with the Cerium LT Men’s Vest from Arcteryx. About the only aspect, you could take issue with is the fact that it tends to run small, but the construction and design are flawless.Read more
When the warmth is most needed, the 850-fill insulation will provide it. However, the down composite mapping also places Coreloft synthetic fibers to retain the warmth when the vest is exposed to moisture. Also, the collar is designed in a way to provide the maximum amount of warmth.
Constructed from full nylon and coated with a durable water-repellent finish, this vest will protect you from light precipitation. To reduce the noise, the zipper pulls are corded and simple to grab onto.
For a convenient place for your hands or accessories, there are zippered hand pockets in the front of the vest. When you are not using this vest, simply store it away in the included stuff sack. In addition, for adjustability, there is an elasticized hem.
Men can select all the way from small to XX-large while there are color options for black, magma, nautic gray, tropos blue, riptide, and admiral.
Arcteryx complements their superb quality and construction with a visual appeal that makes a great fashion statement. Past the small issue with the sizes generally running small, which is more of a note than a hindrance, this performs its designed purpose perfectly.
2. Mountain Khakis Outlaw
The fabric manages to feel durable without losing its softness
Has a very attractive trim fit for women
Retains the property of down even while exposed to moisture
Sizes have been known to vary, may fit too small or too large
All you men out there, this is the best down vest for you. Right off the get-go, it is a strong sign when the biggest issues are with the sizing and “over-shininess”. Everything past this is pure gold.Read more
This vest is specifically designed to mimic the quantities of down, even when it experiences moisture and water. The fabric itself is crafted from soft saving woven fabric with 650-fill down insulation.
Outside of the 650-fill down insulation providing superb warmth, the vest is crafted with treated nylon shell with a durable water repellent finish that sheds light rain and snow and has great wind resistance.
For a convenient location to rest your hands or stash your small accessories, there are zippered hand pockets that can be accessed. Past its intended design, there are not too many additional features to be aware of. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as this vest does not need excess accessories to be as terrific as it is. However, it is highly compressible and can pack into its left-hand pocket for easy carry and storage.
There are plenty of colors to choose from including black, pink, purple, gray, cool blue and cosmic blue. Size-wise, select from extra-small to XXX-large.
It is difficult to find many reasons to why you would not want to invest in this down jacket. However, it is important to note that the sizing may not be true to your size. Once you get the appropriate size, though, the rest will be history.
3. The North Face Nuptse
The North Face only uses the highest-quality goose down in their products
There is double-layer taffeta on the shoulders
When you shorten or tighten the bottom, the excess rope ends up in each pocket
Chances are, you have worn a piece of apparel from The North Face at one time in your life. There is a reason for that as they are keen on producing the best garments possible and their Men’s Nuptse Vest is a great example of why they have had success.Read more
With a 700- goose down fill, this vest manages to capture warmth around your torso. The insulation manages to trap all the hot air inside and reduces the amount of heat loss thus, enhancing the overall warmth.
The vest is crafted from 100 percent 50D x 50D nylon and a 700-fill goose down insulation. With high-loft baffles, it manages to sport an updated fit. Finally, it has double-layer taffeta crafted on the shoulders. But, the zippers are somewhat lacking in quality.
Besides the secure-zip hand pockets on the front, there is also an internal chest pocket to hold any items you want to be secured. The North Face specifically designs these types of garments to be compatible with other apparel that they sell. Plus, the hem allows for proper adjustment.
While not all sizes are promised to be there, there is a wide selection from small to XXX-large. Meanwhile, there are loads of color choices including red and black, brown and black, blue and black, and blue and navy.
Everything about the Nuptse Vest is as good as it gets, except for the zipper construction. Each vest may not encounter this issue, but some will have a sticky zipper.
4. Eddie Bauer Downlight Stormdown
It is built to withstand cold-weather activities such as climbing
Includes a chest pocket with an audio port
While it does a good job of not being snug, it is a little poofy
While this next vest is fantastic for the reasons it should be (great design and comfort), it is also noteworthy for its convenient chest pocket. There is an audio port built into the chest pocket that provides you with an excellent location for your music player.Read more
In most cold weather climates, this will keep you warm with its 800-fill down insulation. Past this, it is designed to be a universal fit. Thus, not making it too relaxed or too slim on your body.
This vest is crafted from a durable polyester shell with a DWR finish, which manages to wick away moisture. In addition to this, this vest is also windproof.
Past the hand pockets on the front, there is also a convenient pocket located on the chest. On this pocket is an audio port that allows your electronics to stay warm and close nearby your reach.
The audio port is convenient enough, but there is also a drawcord waist that can be streamlined to better adapt to your needs. Even though the fit is made to be universal, everyone will have a different preference.
All men should be able to find a size for them with options from small to XXX-large (with some options for tall). For colors, there are a few including black, gray, berry, cinder gray, and blue.
It is hard to ask for much more than this. Past a few blimps in the radar, this is beyond a worthwhile investment.
5. Patagonia Nano Puff
Lightweight and portable
Plenty of color options
Three zippered pockets
Breathability could be improved
The Nano Puff is a dependable and eco-friendly addition to our list. It is made primarily from recycled materials and maintains 98% of its warmth, even when wet. It is lightweight and portable and easily stuffed into its own pocket. To top it all off, it fits true to size and is available in ten different colors.Read more
This vest will keep you warm without weighing you down. The insulation is made from 60g Prima Loft Gold Insulation Eco. To keep all of the heat circulating around your core, and not let in breezes, there is a drawcord hem. Additionally, the two zippered pockets on the front are lined with a material that will help to keep your hands warm. hand-warming pockets.
With dependable zippers and great fabrics, there have been minimal concerns about the durability of this vest. The quilting pattern and the threads themselves are durable and abrasion-resistant.
The DWR finish on the vest makes it windproof and water-resistant. Even if you find yourself in a heavy downpour, the Nano Puff maintains 98% of its warmth when wet.
If you’re already an eco-friendly consumer or looking to begin, this vest is great. The insulation is made from 55% post-consumer recycled content. Additionally, the polyester shell is made from 100% recycled materials.
For ultimate comfort, the zipper has a storm flap and finishes with a garage. You’ll find three zippered pockets on this list. Two of them are hand-warming pockets and the other is an internal chest zipper that also doubles as a stuff sack for the vest. The lightweight vest is easily compacted and easy to carry.
You’ll notice this vest has a bit of a sheen to it, and it’s really up to you if that affects how you feel about it. It is available in ten different colors and from sizes XS to XXL.
As you can see, this is a great vest. The materials make it comfortable, durable, and weather-resistant. We would have liked to see a bit more breathability added in, but it’s nothing to cry about. We appreciate the three zippered pockets and easy portability.
6. Outdoor Research Transcendent
It is lightweight in nature
The internal front storm flap keeps out drafts
Its water-resistance allows moisture to bead off
Not as much insulation as some will prefer
As great as the Outdoor Research Men’s Transcendent Vest is, and you will soon find out, it does not provide as much warmth as other down vests. For its weight, though, the warmth is pretty remarkable.Read more
A brushed tricot collar lining manages to keep you both warm and soft simultaneously and the internal storm flap assists in keeping out drafts. Overall, the vest is stuffed with 650-fill power goose down.
As this vest is water-resistant, moisture will naturally repel off of the fabric and away from you. The ripstop polyester fabric and nylon taffeta liner make up the overall craftsmanship of the vest.
Per the norm with down vests, there are two zippered hand pockets. But, also a zippered Napoleon pocket. To keep everything in place and to keep the heat secure, there is a drawcord hem. In addition, the left-hand pocket doubles as a stuff sack.
Not too many colors are available, just black, dusk and night, earth and café, and pewter and lemongrass, but a strong amount of sizes from small to XX-large.
Sure, other vests use a more potent fill past 650 but that does not mean it will not keep you warm. In fact, this makes the vest an ideal choice if you still wanted to wear it in reasonably cool weather.
7. Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer
The lightweight nature makes it great for layering
A built-in secure loop for a carabiner is implemented
Construction for the toggle hem and zipper are below-average
In many ways, a lot of these vests could be flip-flopped. That is how close they are and much is the same with the Ghost Whisperer Men’s Vest. It could have easily eclipsed the top spot, but minor deficiencies prevent it from doing so.Read more
For both extra warmth and freedom of movement, a low-profile quilt pattern is implemented. Meanwhile, the 800-fill down provides an excellent amount of warmth and insulation.
Shield technology is able to resist heat-robbing moisture and manages to retain maximum loft even when damp. The Ghost Whisperer fabric utilizes a super-tight weave to ensure it is down-proof, windproof and water-resistant.
Its lightweight nature makes it simple to layer while the interior toggle hem provides an easy adjustment. Also, a built-in secure loop for a carabiner is included. Nothing out of the ordinary here, with two front handwarmer pockets.
The choice is yours from the black, dark compass, ice shadow, shark, and manta gray, among others. Size-wise, options are available from small to XX-large.
Mountain Hardwear clearly wanted to make this vest as lightweight as possible, which is good, but the toggle hem and zipper are not of the utmost quality. But, they will still more than suffice and do not hurt the overall rating that much.
8. Patagonia Down Sweater
It has an updated, contoured fit
The nylon-bound elastic armholes manage to seal in as much heat as possible
The front zipper sports a wicking interior storm flap
On the front pockets, the teeth of the zippers catch on everything
This sweater vest is a great example of an entry that could have so easily taken the top spot on this list but is hindered by one simple design flaw. This design flaw, which you will soon find out, does not make this unusable (as it would not be on the list) but is one to be cautious of.Read more
For next to your skin comfort, the collar has a zipper garage at the chin. To keep you dry, the center-front zipper has a wicking interior storm flap. The fabric itself has 800-fill power goose down for a terrific level of warmth.
The liner is a 100 percent recycled polyester fabric that has a durable water-repellent finish. Its shell fabric has an updated ripstop pattern and is more contoured. But, the plastic oversized zipper teeth on the pockets are a huge issue. They tend to snag on everything and it would have been sufficient to have hidden zippers.
Both of the handwarmer pockets on the front have zippers and garages. In addition, there is an internal zippered pocket near the chest area. The included internal pocket also self-stuffs and includes a carabiner clip-in loop. Plus, there is a drawcord hem that tightens from the inside.
Past large, there are no size options but you can go down to extra-small. A few colors are accessible including black, harvest moon blue and different shades of gray.
If you have layers on top of this vest, they may get caught from the teeth of the zippered pockets. Just a forewarning, but it should not deter you from this vest. It is just a slight inconvenience that could have easily been avoided.
9. Columbia Flash Forward
There is binding at the hemline and under the arm
A strong amount of color options are available
It may be too shiny for some
For short people, this is a no-go
First things first, this vest is tailored for taller men and taller men only. This is not necessarily a hindrance, but something all guys should be wary of. If you do happen to be a taller individual or do not mind a lengthy vest, you may just fall in love with it.Read more
It features 650-fill power down insulation for an ample amount of warmth and will hold up well in relatively cold conditions.
No-sew bonder baffles are integrated into the fabric to reduce the amount of water penetration. However, this also provides a modern and sleek aesthetic. Although, the sheen appeal may appall some. The 100 percent polyester is also coated to be water-resistant.
Just a normal day at the office here with zippered hand pockets on the front. For added convenience, this vest is packable into the hand pocket.
As mentioned, this is for tall men and the sizes reflect that. Available are sizes extra-large (tall) to 4X-large (tall). Some additional colors are also available including black, graphite, black and blue, and hyper blue.
If you can get past the long, albeit extra-long, and shiny appeal then you may have a match made in heaven. However, this will certainly not appeal to all so keep that in mind.
10. Degrees Nano Light
It is easily packable when not in use
The front zipper closes all the way up past the neck
Can be machine washed
Sizes can vary, some say it runs big while others small
Truthfully, there really is nothing wrong with this 32 Degrees’ down vest. However, when you stack it up against the competition, it does not necessarily stand out in any way. Though, that does not mean it will not make a worthwhile addition to your winter clothing.Read more
It features both a packable design and down-fill insulation to provide you with warmth throughout the day. The collar also zips all the way up to prevent a draft from hitting your neck.
The fabric is made up of a mix of nylon and polyester and it has a coating to prevent water from penetrating the surface.
On the side of the vest, front zippered pockets are present for you to access. With a drawstring at the bottom, you can adjust this vest to tailor to your needs. Plus, its lightweight nature makes it easy to layer additional clothing.
On Amazon, you can choose from small, medium and XX-large. For colors, select from either royal blue or asphalt.
You know, there is nothing wrong with simple and that is just what 32 Degrees exemplifies with this vest. Not too much here is going to open your eyes but there is enough quality to warrant an investment.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
When discussing any type of garment that is intended to be used to keep you warm, you need to judge how well it does its intended designed purpose. With down vests, this mainly comes down to the fill power utilized. First of all, for those that do not know down is the soft layer of feathers that is closest to a bird’s skin. When you see “down vests”, this is not referring to the literal direction of down. Now, the amount of fill each vest has will vary. For example, on this list, there are some with 650-fill, 700-fill, 800-fill, and 850-fill. But, what on earth do these numbers mean?
Fill power is the measure of loft in a down product. As such, the more fill power it has (the higher the number is) allows it to trap more air; thus, providing a greater amount of insulation. In layman’s terms, the higher the number the warmer the vest will keep you. But, there are outside features that attribute to the overall warmth of a vest. This includes the design of the collar and whether or not the zipper has a garage at the chin, an interior storm flap to block drafts, and elastic armholes to seal in heat.
Having a vest keeps you warm is extremely important, but the overall design and construction do not end there. In fact, it is only the beginning. There are two huge areas of the construction to pay attention to, one being the fabric utilized and the other if it is resistant to water and the weather. The types of fabric will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but most on this list either consist of nylon or polyester. Honestly, picking between these two is like flipping a coin as they both are terrific materials.
Polyester has a high-durability and tenacity and can withstand repetitive movements while nylon is known as being thin and flexible while maintaining an excellent amount of toughness. Either one will more than suffice but be sure there is some sort of durable water-repellent finish coated on top of it. This will allow the vest to protect itself from water, allowing it to repel off your vest. However, remember that water repellency means it is not easily penetrated by water, but it is not waterproof.
As an additional design feature, also look for shoulder construction. Take special note of the ones that are crafted with double-layer taffeta on the shoulders, as taffeta gives it a greater volume.
As simple as it seems, pocket location and design can play a factor in any type of garment, but especially types such as vests like these. Throughout the entirety of this list, you probably started to notice a theme. Most vests had zippered hand pockets in the front and the occasional one had an internal chest pocket. The reason to want these types of pockets is simple as it gives you a location to store your valuables and accessories, while also providing a resting spot for your hands.
But, what is more important is whether they are zippered and if the zipper has a garage. Zippers are important as they keep your items secure. Say, for example, you had loose change in your front pocket and leaned over. Without a zipper, there is a high probability that the change will fall out. Take note if they do not have a garage, though, as that can lend its way to comfort. A garage is a small piece of fabric that will keep the zipper pull away from your skin. While a zipper will not result in a serious injury, those without garages can quickly become nuisances.
There are also additional features to be aware of. Some of which, such as an included carabiner clip-in loop, elasticized hem, and the ability to double as a stuff-sack, can be very beneficial for you.
Let’s start off with the carabiner clip-in loop. The only way this would be of any use to you is if you ever see the need to wear a carabiner, say for rock climbing. It would also work well with a harness.
As far as the ability to double as a stuff sack, that is a neat feature in times where you want to take off and store the vest. Lastly, an included drawstring or elasticized hem allows you to tailor the vest ever so slightly to add comfort.
It truly is a shame that every single aspect of a garment could be perfect, but if the color or size is not to your liking it can tarnish the entire product. Oftentimes, resulting in a pass. Color is one thing, as you sometimes may have to live with a color scheme that you are not in love with, but the size is everything.
As you noticed, most of these vests tend to vary with size. Some fit large while others tend to fit small. The more size options are given to you, the higher the chance you will find one that fits you. Keep an eye on both of these, as if you are going to go all-in and invest in a down vest you might as well enjoy the visual appeal and fit.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Features such as an included carabiner clip-in loop, elasticized hem, and the ability to double as a stuff-sack, can be very beneficial for you. The ability to double as a stuff sack is a neat feature in times where you want to take off and store the vest. Lastly, an included drawstring or elasticized hem allows you to tailor the vest to add comfort.
Any down vest that is made from feathers (not synthetic) is best kept out of the rain. When the feathers get wet, it takes quite a while for them to dry and depending on the garment, and how you care for it, can become clumpy. For this same reason, it is also recommended to not wash the down vest often. Depending on how often you wear it, a couple of times a year or a couple of times per season should suffice.
Other Factors to Consider
We couldn't forget to mention to comfort! Unless you are a woman trying to suffer through the pain of high heels, if something isn't comfortable, you simply won't want to wear it. Luckily, vests tend to provide a comfortable range of motion. To ensure comfort, you'll want to check out how the sizing runs, the fabric used, and the seams. If the seams are exposed, it could cause chaffing in a certain area. Additionally, some vests feature a protective "garage" for the zipper when it is fully zipped up. Since the collar usually comes up high, the zipper could rub on your neck or chin.
As mentioned, the sizing of the vest is also important. Something too loose won't insulate as well and might not fit under a jacket. Something too tight won't feel right. To ensure you choose the right size, it's a good idea to browse through customer reviews and also look for a size chart listed on the page.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What is better, goose or duck down?
It is often wondered what bird produces better down, a goose or a duck. While the answer may shock you, one is vastly superior to the other but both are still great. The IDFL, the world’s largest feather and down institute, states that goose generally tends to be a better product than duck. First off, goose clusters are typically much larger than duck clusters and come from older and larger birds. What this produces is a higher amount of fill power, making the down more durable and resilient.
But, goose down also plays a helping hand in odor control. Geese do not have much of a diet, mostly eating grass, and as such, it is easier for manufacturers to control the odor from the down. Meanwhile, ducks have a diverse diet and the odor becomes more of an issue. That being said, do not think that duck down is incompetent; it is just that goose down is superior.
q: Does more filling mean a higher price tag?
This is a very interesting question, but it also seems like common sense. As mentioned earlier, the greater the amount of fill the more insulation a down garment will possess. As such, you would think that this would automatically make down products with a higher fill more expensive. But, this is not necessarily the case as other factors play more of a role than the weight of the down.
For example, the quality of the fabric and construction, in addition to the quality of the down fill, play more of a role in determining the final price. So, technically, a 650-fill power down vest could be more expensive than an 850-fill power down all because the 650-fill has a superior fabric and construction.
q: Why use down?
All this talk about down is fabulous and all, but why do companies choose it in the first place? It seems like such a cruel process to have to gather the down from a defenseless animal, although, most companies will do so after the animal has been used for food purposes. However, even though some animal activists will take serious offense to this, it is one of the best insulators in the world and that is the primary reason it is so popular.
As compared to synthetic insulators, it is approximately three times warmer per ounce. What this provides to you is superior warmth, but its lightweight nature does not make it bulky. Per each ounce of down, there are around two million fluffy filaments that overlap with one another to create insulating pockets of air. In addition, if you care for a down garment properly, the material will last for years on end.
q: How do you remove grease stains from down?
The process of cleaning and washing a down garment has already been addressed, but what happens when you get a pesky grease stain on it? Honestly, much of the same process will be followed with some minor alterations. For starters, spread out your vest on a flat surface and apply a few drops of detergent directly on the surface of the stain. Then, use your fingers to gently rub the detergent into the stain. For the next few hours, allow the vest to sit and soak in the detergent.
From there, follow the same instructions as before for washing but select the “Large” load setting and ensure that the vest is pushed down to soak up as much water as possible. If this fixes the problem, proceed to dry it as normal. Otherwise, repeat the above steps until you finally remove the stain.
q: Why can duck or goose down have an odor?
It was briefly mentioned how odors can come into play with a down garment and if you do happen to smell something funky coming from your vest, it may not have properly cleaned down. It is a manufacturers responsibility to ensure that the down they are using is clean and odor-free, or hypoallergenic. Even when they state it is, there is a chance that they simply masked the smell with certain spray-on chemicals. Unfortunately, this remedy to the odor will not last forever.
Thankfully, as you now know, goose down typically has less odor than a duck down. Thus, if you see a vest with goose down (which most on this list have) you need not worry about odor too much. But, the only true way to get an odorless down is for the seller to thoroughly wash it.