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Best Down Jacket: Staying Warm for The Winter

Down jackets review
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

When wintertime rolls in, and it’s coming quickly, you’ll want a warm jacket to take you through the season. You want a jacket that’ll resist against the rain, snow, and cold – a jacket that’ll keep you warm without feeling like you’re carrying 30 pounds around town. With that being said, there’s a couple things you need to know before going out and buying a winter jacket.

Lightweight down jacket

Good thing we did the research for you and have everything you need to know about winter jackets. Let’s get started in helping you pick out the best down jacket.

The Big 2

When considering a winter jacket, there are two primary factors you’ll need to look at before choosing:

  • Insulation Type: The type of insulation you choose will ultimately decide how well your jacket is going to withstand moisture and how well it’ll keep the heat in.
  • Jacket Features: A hood, pockets, ventilation – these are all features that’ll provide you comfort and ease.

Types of Jackets

There are several different kinds of down for you to choose from. Knowing the difference will help you find the one most suitable to your needs.

  • Down: ever think of how geese stay so warm? That’s because they have nature’s best insulator. Geese and duck feathers, also known as down, is the best option for a lightweight and less bulky jacket. Down jackets have a reputation of being extremely lightweight, ultra-warm and highly convenient for packing. However, it doesn’t do too well when it gets wet – as it provides for poor insulation when damp. The best way to measure the quality of a down jacket is with the fill count. The fill power ranges from 450 to 900, it’s the volume in cubic inches that one ounce of down fills, so the higher the fill power, the higher the quality and the warmer the jacket. It’s best used for casual wear or mild activity.
  • Water-Resistant Down: a water-resistant down jacket is essentially the same as a down jacket, however, has a polymer treatment which helps reduce the dampness that can be caused by rain and snow. It still retains its ultralight, ultra-warm and ultra packable features, however, it’s usually more expensive than your regular winter jacket.
  • Down/Synthetic: down/synthetic is the happy medium of both materials. Depending on the company, designers will blend the materials in different ways. This blend can handle all environments and are also cheaper than 100% down jackets.

Jacket Features

When it comes to looking for the right jacket, you’re going to need one that isn’t only warm, but also has a lot of features to ensure that you’re comfortable. What’s the point in having a winter jacket that doesn’t have a hood to keep your head dry?

Down jacket features

To help you find exactly what you’re looking for, here are number of other important features to consider.

  • Hood: some people are anti-hood, they don’t want the extra weight and prefer to wear hats instead. Some jackets come with removable hoods which can be attached with either a zipper or clasp. Depending on your use, you may want a jacket that has an insulated hood, especially if you’ll be doing outdoor activities. If you’re wearing it casually, then you may not necessarily need a hood. It’s all based on personal preference.
  • Size: one size does not fit all. Everyone has a different body, so, adjustment features are necessary for giving you extra comfort and providing you a proper fit. Look for hood adjusters, front zippers, cuffs, and drawcords. You also don’t want a jacket that’s too loose or too fitted. You need enough space for layers, however, you don’t want too much room or else the cold air will get through. Also, you want to make sure you can comfortably move around and not look like a snowman since down jackets can be a little on the puffy side.
  • Pockets: pockets are underrated. You may not even notice the importance of pockets, but you’ll need them. They provide extra storage, however, do add extra weight. There are a couple of types of pockets to choose from such as zipper, music, security, and hip belt pockets.
  • Vents: these are usually found on rain jackets, however, on some winter jackets, you’ll be able to find vent features that will help reduce the heat in your jacket. This is a good feature if you sweat or are doing strenuous activities.
  • Waterproof: water can really add extra weight to your jacket, not only that, it’s not comfortable to walk in. If you go with a waterproof option, you’ll be able to withstand any weather condition without having to feel it. It may be a pricey feature, however, you won’t have to buy another jacket.
  • 3-in-1 Design: you’ll want a jacket that’ll have a mid layer and outer shell that are detachable. That way, you’ll be able to wear the mid layer, or outer shell, or both. This way, you can customize the jacket depending on the weather conditions.
  • A proper outer shell: when looking for a winter jacket, the outer shell is crucial. You’ll need to look for these four factors in an outer shell:
    • Durability
    • Weight
    • Warmth
    • Waterproof/breathability
  • Fill Power: you want to invest in a warm down jacket. Fill power essentially shows you the quality of the jacket – the higher the fill power, the warmer the jacket. Fill power ranges from 400-900, with most outerwear ranging between 600-800.
    Fill Power:Quality of Down:
    400-450Medium
    500-550Good
    550-750Very Good
    750-900Excellent

Now that you know what to look for in a down jacket, here are some of the best down jackets available. Let’s take a closer look.

Review of Top Products

Arcteryx Cerium

Arcteryx Cerium

Weight: 0.2 ounces

Dimensions: 15 x 12 x 3 inches

Best Use: From mild to strenuous climate conditions

Description: Arcteryx Cerium is made in the USA, this down jacket places synthetic Coreloft in strategic areas to reduce moisture and provide you with the most warmth: sleeves, underarms, shoulders, and collar. It’s lightweight, however, the fabric is highly durable with a DWR finish that repels against the elements.

Filled with 850 white geese down, this is one of the highest quality jackets. This means that the jacket will be able to dry easily in dry conditions. If you’re wanting a jacket with a hood, this one comes with a down insulated StormHood that also is equipped with an adjuster. So, if you’re looking for a reputable and high-quality jacket, this is the one.

Related: Arcteryx Men’s Bird Head Toque, Arcteryx Arc’Word Shirt.

Western Mountaineering Jacket

Western Mountaineering Jacket

Weight: 11 ounces

Dimensions: available in Men’s SM-XL and Women’s XS-LG

Best Use: Mountaineering and strenuous activity

Description: Western Mountaineering Jacket is a great option if you’re looking for a jacket that can withstand more strenuous activity such as mountaineering. Though it’s lightweight, it’s more water resistant than your typical down jacket as it’s made with Proloft XR – a laminated shell fabric. It’s made with 850 plus fill goose down and has insulated pockets and hood.

The insulated pockets have zipper closures for extra protection and also keeps the water out. The hood is easily adjustable, blocking out draft from coming inside. The mountaineering jacket also comes in navy, black, sage or raspberry colors.

Related: Western Mountaineering Flight pants, Western mountaineering flash down booties

Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Hoody

Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Hoody

Weight: 33 ounces

Dimensions: available in Mens SM-XXL

Best Use: casual to strenuous activity

Description: Canada is known for many things and their goose down jackets are one of them. The Hybridge Lite hoody is feather-light with 10D outer shell that’s abrasion resistant.

Though it’s stuffed with Canada’s finest goose down, it’s designed to be easily packable, making it a great jacket for traveling. The Tensile-Tech inserts are located at the side and underarms to provide you maximum comfort and fit.

There’s also a center front YKK 2-way locking reversed coil zipper for perfect insulation and protection. An insulated storm flap is designed for the center front and prevents any harsh climates from hitting your chest. The lower hand pockets are all fully secured with YKK reverse coil zippers and internal stretch mesh – a perfect jacket to withstand the harsh elements.

Related: Black Diamond Men’s Guide Gloves, Crosspoint Waterproof socks, Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Vest

Arcteryx Thorium Hoody

Arcteryx Thorium Hoody

Weight: 33 ounces

Dimensions: available in Men’s SM-XXL

Best Use: casual to strenuous activity

Description: Available in 9 fun colors, Arcteryx Thorium Hoody will make sure to keep you warm during those snowy days. Thorium’s down strategically blends synthetic and down insulation together, making sure areas which need extra protection are fully secured.

The durable fabric withstands abrasion while the DWR outer shell finish repels moisture while keeping the heat in.

Thorium also has two zippered hand pockets and one internal zipper pocket which includes a stuff sack and one internal dump pocket. So, if you’re worried about storage, this jacket has plenty of options. It also has elasticized cuffs at the wrist to prevent the elements some seeping in. A great option if you’ll be hiking and.or mountaineering.

Related: Arcteryx Acrux FL Approach Shoe, Arcteryx Men’s Bird Head Toque, Arcteryx Bastion pant.

Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket

Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket

Weight: 33 ounces

Dimensions: available in Men’s SM-XXL

Best Use: strenuous activity

Description: If you’re planning on hiking or mountaineering in extreme weather conditions, then you’ll need Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket that’ll be able to protect and support you during your travels.The Rab Neutrino is certainly one of the best down jackets on the market for this.

The Nab Neutrino is made of 800 fill power, making this one of the warmest and highest quality down jackets. It’s designed with a Pertex Endurance outer shell and a Pertex Quantum inner layer providing you with extra insulation and warmth.

The Rab fluorocarbon free Hydrophobic Down developed in conjunction with Nikwax, providing moisture repellent. It features a down filled hood, 2-way YKK Aquaguard front zip, internal insulated zip baffle, chin guard 2 YKK Aquaguard hand warmer pockets, velcro cuffs, hem drawcord and stuff sack. So, if you’ll be outdoors the Rab Neutrino endurance jacket is equipped with everything you need for a warm and secure journey.

Related: Outdoor Research Men’s Crocodile Gaiter, MSR Snowshoe Bag, Outdoor Research Men’s Cirque Pant.

Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody

Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody

Weight: 10.6 ounces

Dimensions: 20.3 x 14.7 x 1.7 inches

Best Use: casual to strenuous activity

Description: Truly an exceptional jacket for the winter months, the Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody is extremely warm and lightweight. It’s made of 800 fill power Traceable down with a 15-denier 100% nylon Pertex Quantum shell. What does that mean? It’s mean all the warmth stays in, which is exactly what you want.

The great part of the traceable down is that you can actually see exactly where the goose down is coming from – it’s certified by NSF and ensures that the geese are not force-fed or live-plucked, so you can wear this jacket with a clear conscious.

The fabric is made with bluesign, a Swiss company which designs material that is environmentally conscious, however, still maintains quality and durability. If you’re someone who’s environmentally aware and wants to be conscious of your environmental footprint, Patagonia is a company that promotes environmental responsibility, safe working conditions, and fair labor practices.

Related: Patagonia Down Shirt, The North Face Paramount Peak Pant

Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Hoody

Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Hoody

Weight: 30 ounces

Dimensions: 24 x 18 x 4 inches

Best Use: casual to strenuous activity

Description: Another high-quality goose down produced in Canada, the Canada Goose Hybridge Lite hoody is another exceptional down jacket that’ll take you through winter without any problems.

The 10D outer shell insulated the jacket and is also abrasion resistant. The quilt design is meant to allow the jacket to reduce significantly in size, creating easy packing. The lycra hood is stretchable and fits any head, as well as the cuff are binding to prevent wind, rain, and snow from entering inside.

The Tensile-Tech inserts at the side and underarms provide you maximum comfort and fit. For extra protection from the elements, the center front has a YKK 2-way locking reversed coil zipper and an insulated storm flap. If you’re worried about storage, the Hybridge has lower hand pockets with YKK reversed coil zippers and an Upper Napoleon chest pockets. In addition, there are two vertical strips of reflective tape on the back of the hood for extra visibility. If you plan on doing some late night walking and/or hiking, the extra safety features make it a great jacket.

Related: Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Vest, Canada Goose Women’s Freestyle Vest

Arcteryx Thorium AR Women’s Hoody

Arcteryx Thorium AR Women’s Hoody

Weight: 16 ounces

Dimensions: 17 x 12 x 4 inches

Best Use: casual to strenuous activity

Description: Available in XS-XL, the Thorium Women’s hoody comes in 9 fun and vibrant colors. Arcteryx is a very reputable brand and designs well thought out down jackets. The down composition of the Thorium is designed to strategically place the down and synthetic blend in areas which need more insulation and moisture protection such as the underarms, collar, and sidearms.

The jacket is incredibly soft, however, extremely durable as it’s abrasion resistant due to its DWR outer shell finish. The hood is synthetically insulated to repel moisture, with hem drawcord sealing out any draft.

You want to make sure your arms are protected so the cuffs are elasticized for proper insulation and protection. The two zippered hand pockets are designed to insulate and secure your belongings, while you also have a stuff sack for traveling.

Related: Arcteryx Cerium Vest, Arcteryx rolling word hat

Rab Microlight Alpine Women’s Jacket

Rab Microlight Alpine Women’s Jacket

Weight: 16 ounces

Dimensions: 25 x 17 x 3 inches

Best Use: casual to strenuous activity

Description: Rab Microlight Alpine Women’s Jacket featuring 8 vibrant colors the Rab Microlight Alpine jacket is not only a fashionable jacket but it’s a warm jacket. It says it in the name, the microlight outer shell is made of Pertex, while the inner layer is made of 100% nylon ripstop.

Made of 750 European fill power, the down is fluorocarbon-free hydrophobic, meaning, you’ll be able to go in the rain without having to worry about ruining the down as it has a water resistant finish.

The mini stitch-through baffle gives the jacket extra durability and also makes it easy to fold up and pack. The hoodie is adjustable with a flexible polymer wired YKK front zip, internal insulated zip baffle and a chin guard – all features that will come in handy during a strong wind storm. The 2 YKK zipped handwarmer pockets and chest pocket will easily secure and protect your belongings.

Related: Rab Stance Women’s Tee, Rab MeCo 165 Women’s Hoodie.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve learned what features to look for in a down jacket and the various materials used for insulation, you’ll be able to find the best down jacket that will fulfill your needs.

Down jacket with hood

The down jackets we reviewed are notably the best ones on the market, so during your search, make sure you try on some of these well-known and reputable brands, as these jackets mentioned above will all be able to keep you safe and warm.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Carraway
Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.

  • Chynna Lambert

    I have personal experience with Patagonia’s down jacket and it’s fantastic. It’s very lightweight and warm. I’ve had the chance to take it out camping and it certainly serves its purpose. It fits great, perfectly warm for the cool temps, and is pretty durable. I haven’t had to try out any warranties, ever, I just use duct tape if/when things start to fall apart.

  • Daniel Carraway

    I think a lot of people love the Patagonia. Not only is it durable but it is stylish as well. It has a classic feel to it, isn’t it? Laughing on the “duct tape” scenario that you’re planning. 🙂

  • Liz Baldwin

    Rab Microlight is a great jacket because of the very flattering fit. I also love that it can be carried easily and looks good in the stow bag. I needed the function of the hood so it worked at its best for me. It is something I will be comfortable wearing overnight in the woods.

    • Daniel Carraway

      Hi Liz! You’ll also be pleased that this jacket has a water-resistant finish – the down is fluorocarbon-free hydrophobic so getting it wet won’t ruin it. This is a beautiful jacket and highly recommended!

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