The Best Down Jackets for Women
Photo credit: Xander Bianchi

The Best Women’s Down Jackets of 2020

We found the best women’s down jackets for every budget and activity. From a do-all hoodie to a budget-friendly puffy, we’ve got you covered.

Down jackets are a winter staple. They provide top-level warmth while packing down small. But with so many options on the market, it can be hard to choose.

Our group of testers donned a handful of the best down jackets in salty elements at work and exploring the outdoors. These outer layers were tested while rock climbing, hunting, farming, trail running, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, shoveling snow, and camping.

And while there isn’t a perfect jacket for every single activity, we’ve found a variety of the best down puffies to keep you warm all winter.

Best Down Jackets for Women in 2020

Best Overall: Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody ($279)

Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody

This 800-fill Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody withstands wind, resists moisture, and is lightweight for its level of warmth. We took this jacket on rolling hikes, bike rides, and walks on crisp bluebird days during 5-degree lows and with dry blizzard conditions in Colorado’s Elk and Sangre de Cristo mountains. We stayed dry throughout thanks to the shell’s DWR (durable water-repellent) finish, which resists moisture.

Heavier amounts of water noticeably dampen the exterior, though it rebounds. This hoodie easily withstood bitter gusts, and the elastic cuffs are comfortable and block wind. When fully zippered, the reinforced neck rise doesn’t slouch, which protects the lower half of the face, but the hood shape is a little too snug to comfortably wear a helmet.

“This is an excellent everyday down jacket with great style and protection for the winter season,” said one tester. It’s awesome to pull on after cardio activity, like after a winter run. And it maintains loft and warmth even with snowfall and some moisture.

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Best Budget Down Jacket: REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0 ($100, $70 on Sale)

REI Down Jacket Womens

This one is for anyone in search of a down jacket that won’t break the bank. It packs down easily into its own pocket and quickly regains its shape after unpacking.

The DWR coating protects from light moisture. It even withstood an accidental coffee spill; it just sat on top and rolled off with a quick shake. No stain, no absorption. One tester reported, “The jacket never got soggy, and the wind never bit me. The zipper’s storm flap actually works.”

One con is that the feathers did leak more than expected. But as a DWR-treated jacket with a 650-fill at less than $100, it’s a top contender.

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Most Stylish: Basin and Range New Wingate Down Jacket ($270, $162 on sale)

Basin and Range New Wingate Down Parka

Looking for an around-town winter jacket that will keep you warm and stylish? Then you need to meet the New Wingate Down Jacket. The 550-fill down is lofty and warm. And the nylon outer shell is durable enough to withstand years of use. We’ve worn this during blizzard conditions and stayed toasty running mountain town errands.

We especially like that the adjustable storm cuffs keep cold wind out. And the insulated hood kept our ears warm even when we forgot our hat at home. The hood has a faux fur lining, which is removable if that’s not your style.

We’ve heard concerns about this jacket being too narrow through the hips, but our testers had no such problem. We were easily able to layer a sweater underneath and zip it fully.

This isn’t the jacket to choose for light packing or backcountry adventures. But for apres-ski outings and in-town adventures, it’s a wintertime winner. And considering you can grab one now for over $100 off, it’s a great deal too.

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Best Stretch: Mountain Hardwear Super/DS Stretchdown Hooded Down Jacket ($275, $192 on Sale)

Mountain Hardwear DS stretch Jacket

“This is the most flexible down jacket I’ve ever worn, which makes it super comfortable for everyday outdoor tasks and recreation,” said our tester, a Colorado adventurer based in the Gunnison Crested Butte Valley. The jacket performed well on commuter rides, nippy walks, and snowy hikes in a range of temperatures from 10 to 35 degrees plus wind chill at 10,000 feet.

“When I lean over handlebars, there’s no seam restriction on my upper back, arms, or shoulders. My ability to fully reach feels like I’m not wearing a jacket at all,” she said.

The Super/DS is the first-ever jacket with stitch-free baffle construction and is made from a single fabric, eliminating the need for glue. The jacket is 700-fill, lightweight, and packs down to the size of a small travel pillow. Most impressively, water droplets roll off the surface with no signs of absorption or loss of loft.

Bonus: Its hood is stretchy and spacious for a climbing helmet. However, when fully zippered, the hood’s elastic slightly pulls back the front collar, so the lower face is exposed from time to time.

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Most Eco-Friendly: Mammut Whitehorn IN Jacket ($249, $150 on Sale)

Mammut Whitehorn Down Jacket Womens

There’s a lot to like about this jacket from Mammut. First, let’s talk about an unusual standout feature: It’s reversible. You basically get two warm and comfortable looks for the price of one. Plus, you can feel good knowing it’s top of class for sustainability.

The outer is protected with a PFC-free DWR coating to repel moisture and keep you dry. We had no problem in light, wet snow, but be sure to bring a shell for any wetter conditions. With a combo of 650-fill recycled down and strategically placed recycled synthetic Ajungilak insulation along the shoulders, we stayed plenty warm during 10- to 20-degree days.

This jacket doesn’t pack down super small, so it’s not a favorite choice for lightweight backcountry outings. But anyone looking for a warm, comfortable, sustainable puffy will appreciate the Whitehorn IN.

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Best of the Rest

Elevenate Agile Down Jacket ($400, $280 on Sale)

Elevenate Agile Down Jacket from Sweden

Born in the mountains of Sweden, Elevenate delivers high-quality, winter-worthy clothing for women and men. This jacket earned high marks from testers for both function and design.

The 750-fill made for a warm midlayer while still packing down small. While hiking uphill, one tester did report overheating. For high-energy activities, it doesn’t offer the breathability of other options. But for general daily use and cold-weather protection, it was a favorite among testers.

The down-filled hood kept our ears warm. And we were especially grateful the adjustability made for a tight fit during an unexpected windstorm. Yes, this jacket is on the higher end of the price spectrum, but it’s worth it for the quality, comfort, and packable warmth.

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Arc’teryx Cerium SL Hoody ($359)

Arcteryx Cerium SL Hoody Down Jacket Womens

This superlight, packable, 850-fill, lofty down jacket is exemplary for belaying, climbing, and hiking in the fall and spring as well as alpine climbing in the summer.

“The jacket and insulated hood’s amazing insulation kept me warm even with wind, which I didn’t feel through the fabric. The Cerium SL Hoody is easy to move in. I also really liked the elastic cuffs on the sleeves: I can easily tuck my hands to warm them,” said one tester.

But we wouldn’t recommend this jacket for wet winter activities, as snowfall dampened the outer layer. It’s also not super breathable, and there are no interior pockets.

One tester used this jacket as an outermost layer for backcountry ice climbing in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains in zero- to 10-degree temperatures. Her routes included multipitch and mixed (rock and ice), vertical and overhanging frozen faces, and chimney moves.

She said, “While I belayed and climbed, this jacket kept me warm without overheating. It was super lightweight, especially for how protective it is.”

It gets top marks for range of motion. And the exterior fabric is both supple and durable.

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Fjallraven Greenland Down Liner Jacket ($250)

Fjallraven Down Jacket

Fjallraven is known for making high-quality gear, and this puffy is no exception. On top of that, it’s impressively eco-friendly. From the ethically produced 650-fill down to the recycled polyester outer, this jacket hits all the marks. It shed light moisture well (thanks to a PFC-free DWR finish) but can soak through in extremely wet conditions.

Our testers appreciated the soft jersey cuffs and urban flair. Though this jacket is touted as a midlayer, it looks good enough to hold its own in town.

For active pursuits, it doesn’t offer the extra stretch or breathability as some of the best women’s down jackets. And women with broad or muscular shoulders may find it too tight for comfort.

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Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Down Jacket

Down insulation is made from goose or duck plumage, a natural undercoat beneath feathers. This traditional jacket fill is known for being lightweight, compressibile, and maintaining warmth due to intricate clusters that capture air and body heat.

Finding the Best Down Jacket for Women
Testing zippers, durability, and performance; photo credit: Eric Phillips

Fill

Fill power is a measurement of that loft, on a scale of 400 to 900 cubic inches per ounce, which reflects the down’s quality and warmth-to-weight ratio. The higher the quality, the less down is needed to create the same warmth, so a jacket will be lighterweight, more packable, and pricier.

The downsides of down are a loss of insulation when wet and an inability to dry fast. In the long run, it also requires special cleaning.

Down vs. Synthetic

Synthetic insulation, on the other hand, is made from polyester fibers and designed to imitate down clusters and properties with a few key differences. If you compare two equal-weight jackets, down is warmer than this alternative. But synthetic insulation retains warmth even when wet. It’s also easier to wash and usually comes at a lower price point.

Within synthetic jackets, active insulation is another progressive subcategory to know. These technical garments are designed to dump extra heat and dry fast, so you don’t have to remove the jacket during vigorous activity. But these layers need also to be durable, warm, and wind resistant. It’s a tricky balance.

Responsibly Sourced

Outdoor industry brands have made an effort to source down ethically without animal cruelty and create transparency in the global supply chain. Various certifications exist such as the Responsible Down Standard, the Patagonia Traceable Down Standard, and the National Sanitation Foundation’s Global Traceable Down Standard. Without meeting such standards, abuse can become part of the supply chain. Synthetic choices can set some folks at ease.

Overall, in super-wet or mixed weather, synthetics can be a safer choice. Active insulation is best for high-output action. If it’s cold and dry, down is optimal despite a higher cost. The above are a handful of the best down jackets, plus a few alternative fills, to keep you covered in the cold.


Have a favorite down jacket we missed? Let us know in the comments for future updates to this article.


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