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The Best Down Jackets of 2024

We tested the best down jackets on the market from Arc'teryx, Patagonia, Rab, Mountain Hardwear and more, to help you better understand the crowded marketplace and find the best jacket for your needs and budget.

a man wearing the arc'teryx cerium down jacket in the Lake Tahoe backcountryTesting the Arc'teryx Cerium along the Tahoe Rim Trail; (photo/Chris Carter)
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It’s one of the simple truths of the outdoors: When warmth is a must, it’s gotta be down. Synthetic insulation has come a long way, but its warmth-to-weight ratio just doesn’t quite rival that of the best down jackets (yet).

Down is plush, warm, packable, and even something of a fashion staple nowadays. But with dozens of brands offering hundreds of different styles, it can be crazy overwhelming to peg which down jacket is right for you. So we leaned on our personal experience and extensive hands-on testing to determine the best of the best.

Our team has collectively tested nearly 50 of the best down jackets for the creation of this guide, with our current authors Chris Carter and Nick Bruckbauer having donned over 30 different models on all sorts of wild escapades in the past year alone. From snowy alpine ascents to chilly windblown nights in the African desert to dog walking and snow shoveling, our team has put these jackets to the test all over the world in just about every environment imaginable.

Whether you’re looking for the latest in ultralight warmth for fast and light mountain adventures, the ultimate insulation for hanging out in frigid conditions, or a versatile everyday piece that can take you around the neighborhood or around town, we’ve tested the best of the best down jackets to help you find the right one for you, no matter your needs or budget.

Scroll through to see all of our recommendations. At the end of our list, be sure to check out our comprehensive buyer’s guide, as well as our comparison chart. And if you have some questions, take a look at our list of frequently asked questions.

Editor’s Note: We updated this Buyer’s Guide on May 18, 2024 with the addition of the warm and light Rab Mythic Ultra, which packs 8.5 ounces of 900-fill-power down into a 17-ounce package.

The Best Down Jackets of 2024


Best Overall Down Jacket

Arc’teryx Cerium Down Hoodie

Specs

  • Fill 850
  • Weight 12.0 oz.
  • Key features Synthetic insulation strategically placed in areas prone to getting wet
Product Badge The Best Down Jackets of 2024

Pros

  • Hybrid insulation design is helpful in wet weather
  • Solid warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Comfortable, stylish fit

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No integrated stuff sack
Best Budget Down Jacket

REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket

Specs

  • Fill 650
  • Weight 11.0 oz.
  • Key features Durable and recycled shell fabric, slimmed down simple design looks good around town
The Best Down Jackets of 2024

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Quite durable given the price
  • Simple and sleek design looks good around town

Cons

  • Somewhat heavy for the lack of features (no hood)
  • Not much adjustability
Best Down Jacket for Everyday Style

Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie

Specs

  • Fill 800
  • Weight 15.0 oz.
  • Key features Recycled ripstop polyester fabric and liner, interior chest pocket doubles as a stuff sack
The Best Down Jackets of 2024

Pros

  • Simple, classic style
  • Comfortable fit
  • Includes an adjustable hood and hem
  • Includes 5 total pockets

Cons

  • On the heavier side for a technical piece
Best Warmth-to-Weight Ratio

Rab Mythic G Down Jacket

Specs

  • Fill 1,000
  • Weight 10.1 oz.
  • Key features 1,000 fill-power goose down plus a heat-reflective inner lining combine for a fantastic warmth-to-weight ratio
The Best Down Jackets of 2024

Pros

  • Incredible warmth for its weight
  • Heat-reflective lining adds warmth without additional weight
  • 7-Denier Atmos outer shell has DWR finish
  • Comfortable fit and material, including the hood
  • Includes stuff sack

Cons

  • Expensive
  • 7-Denier outer material is pretty delicate
  • Lacks extra pockets and features
Warmest Midweight Down Jacket

Rab Neutrino Pro Down Jacket

Specs

  • Fill 800
  • Weight 20.6 oz.
  • Key features Tougher ripstop fabric over high-use areas, two-way zipper with storm flap, over-the-helmet hood with stiffened peak for increased protection
The Best Down Jackets of 2024

Pros

  • Superior warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Anatomical shape that allows the jacket to move with you during activity
  • Durable

Cons

  • Hood is pretty large and floppy unless you are wearing a helmet
Best Down Jacket for Weather Resistance

Outdoor Research Helium Down Hoodie

Specs

  • Fill 800
  • Weight 15.4 oz.
  • Key features Wind, water, and abrasion resistance plus waterproof shoulders and hood
The Best Down Jackets of 2024

Pros

  • Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certified down
  • Five pockets: two external hand pockets, chest pocket, dual internal stash pockets

Cons

  • Cozy but not built for supreme warmth
Best Ultralight Down Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer UL

Specs

  • Fill 1,000
  • Weight 6.7 oz.
  • Key features Super warm fill, very lightweight
The Best Down Jackets of 2024

Pros

  • Weight-saver
  • King warmth-to-weight ratio

Cons

  • Pockets aren’t included
  • Expensive
Best of the Rest

Rab Mythic Ultra Down Jacket

Specs

  • Fill 900
  • Weight 17.4 oz.
  • Key Features Box baffle construction and heat-reflective inner lining in torso boost warmth without the weight
The Best Down Jackets of 2024

Pros

  • Best-in-class warmth-to-weight ratio
  • 900 fill-power down is treated with Nikwax hydrophobic finish
  • 10-Denier Pertex Quantum outer shell has DWR finish
  • Two-way front zipper
  • Includes stuff sack

Cons

  • Tight fit in midsection due to aggressively tapered waist
  • No inner pockets
  • Pricey

Patagonia Fitz Roy

Specs

  • Fill 800
  • Weight 22.3 oz.
  • Key features Certified Advanced Global TDS by NSF International, DWR treatment, Fair Trade Certified sewn
The Best Down Jackets of 2024

Pros

  • Helmet-compatible hood
  • Two external chest pockets and two hand pockets for easy access while on the wall

Cons

  • Take care: Not the most tenacious face fabric

Montane Alpine 850 Lite Hooded Down Jacket

Specs

  • Fill 850
  • Weight 10.4 oz.
  • Key Features Simple, no-frills design with outstanding warmth-to-weight ratio
The Best Down Jackets of 2024

Pros

  • Fantastic warmth for its weight
  • 850 fill-power down includes HyperDRY water resistant treatment
  • 10-Denier Pertex Quantum Eco shell includes DWR treatment
  • Includes inner stuff pockets

Cons

  • Somewhat pricey
  • Minimal extra features

Black Diamond Vision Down Parka

Specs

  • Fill 800
  • Weight 20.5 oz.
  • Key features Two-way front YKK zipper, helmet-compatible hood, RDS down, DWR finish
The Best Down Jackets of 2024

Pros

  • Very durable
  • Underarm gussets for mobility

Cons

  • A bigger investment
  • Not a streamlined fit

Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket

Specs

  • Fill 800
  • Weight 14 oz.
  • Key features Water-resistant goose down, DWR-treated nylon face fabric
The Best Down Jackets of 2024

Pros

  • Packs into its own pocket
  • Increased bust circumference on women’s jacket for improved fit
  • 20-denier ripstop nylon liner

Cons

  • Not premium construction for rugged outdoor play

Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Hoody Down Jacket

Specs

  • Fill 700
  • Weight 17.7 oz.
  • Key features Stitch-free baffle construction for non-restrictive flexibility, meets RDS
The Best Down Jackets of 2024

Pros

  • Zippered hand and chest pockets
  • No stitches or glue to degrade or restrict movement

Cons

  • Pretty heavy for the warmth you get
  • Bulky

Fjallraven Expedition Pack Down Hoodie

Specs

  • Fill 700 (plus synthetic touches)
  • Weight 15.3 oz.
  • Key features Ethically sourced down plus 100% recycled polyester synthetic insulation over shoulders, 100% recycled nylon liner, and shell fabric
The Best Down Jackets of 2024

Pros

  • Modest price
  • Packs into its own pocket

Cons

  • One-way front zipper
  • Only three pockets

Rab Microlight Alpine

Specs

  • Fill 700
  • Weight 17 oz.
  • Key features Down has a fluorocarbon-free water-resistant finish, 100% recycled fabrics, and down insulation
The Best Down Jackets of 2024

Pros

  • YKK zippers on hand pockets
  • Large chest pocket
  • 30-denier ripstop nylon face fabric

Cons

  • Fair weight but not ultralight for minimalists

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 Hoody

Specs

  • Fill 800
  • Weight 8.8 oz.
  • Key features Adjustable hem, packs down small into hand pocket, ultralight ripstop fabric
The Best Down Jackets of 2024

Pros

  • Stellar warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Packs down ridiculously small
  • Ultralight

Cons

  • Cuffs aren’t elasticated, making it hard to seal in warmth
  • Somewhat boxy fit in the torso

Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket

Specs

  • Fill 900
  • Weight 10.8 oz.
  • Key features Ethically sourced down, long stitchless panels on underarm and sides
The Best Down Jackets of 2024

Pros

  • Great warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Trim fit but can still layer underneath
  • Durable design

Cons

  • No internal drop-in pockets
  • Separate stuff sack to keep track of

The Best Down Jackets Comparison Chart

JacketPriceWeightFill PowerShell Fabric DenierPackability
Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody $40012.0 oz.85010DIncluded stuff sack
REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0$12915.4 oz.65020DPacks into hand pocket
Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie$32915.0 oz.80020D x 30DPacks into internal chest pocket
Rab Mythic G Down Jacket$52510.1 oz.1,0007DIncluded stuff sack
Rab Neutrino Pro Down Jacket$40020.6 oz.80020DIncluded stuff sack
Outdoor Research Helium Down $29911.0 oz.80015D x 30DPacks into hand pocket
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer UL$4206.7 oz.1,0005DPacks into hand pocket
Rab Mythic Ultra$49517.4 oz.90010DIncluded stuff sack
Patagonia Fitz Roy$39922.3 oz.80020DPacks into hand pocket
Montane Alpine 850 Lite$42510.4 oz.85010DIncluded stuff sack
Black Diamond Vision Down Parka$46520.5 oz.80020DNo
Cotopaxi Fuego $29514.0 oz.80020DPacks into internal pocket
Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Hoody $30017.7 oz.700UnavailableNo
Fjallraven Expedition Pack Down Hoodie$27515.3 oz.700UnavailablePacks into internal pocket
Rab Microlight Alpine$28017.0 oz.70030DIncluded stuff sack
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2$3608.8 oz.80010DPacks into hand pocket
Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket$40910.8 oz.900UnavailableIncluded stuff sack
Senior Editor Chris Carter putting the Patagonia Down Sweater through its paces on a thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail; (photo/Conor McNamara)

How We Tested the Best Down Jackets

Our team has tested, reviewed, and published down jacket Buyer’s Guides for men and women across several seasons. For this Guide, we considered the most durable, highly acclaimed, well-constructed, and environmentally responsible down jackets. These layers are made for a variety of conditions and present a range of prices.

Editor-in-Chief Adam Ruggiero led the charge in curating and testing our initial lineup of over 20 down jackets in 2020. A seasoned, well-rounded outdoorsman, he knows what to look for in the insulation he depends on in the backcountry, and used his years of experience to lay the framework for this comprehensive Guide.

Senior Editor Chris Carter took the reigns of this Guide in August of 2022, and has been sifting through mountains of these puffy layers ever since to bring you the streamlined selection you see today. No feather was left unturned. A long-distance thru-hiker and rock climber at heart, he’s tested countless down jackets in every concoction of conditions imaginable, and won’t settle for anything but the best on his escapades.

In Spring of 2024, Lake Tahoe resident Nick Bruckbauer contributed his testing experience to this Guide, adding two new lightweight models that he tested on fast and light hikes in the Tahoe backcountry, chilly forrest and neighborhood walks and runs, and while shoveling and plowing Tahoe’s famous Sierra Cement snowfall.

To challenge and determine the top designs, we enlisted a number of other staff authors and editors to get as diverse a perspective as possible, and test these puffies across a broad range of outdoor pursuits. Our testers donned these jackets in all seasons, from snowy environments in the Rockies, to chilly big wall ascents of El Cap in Yosemite.

The crew has used these jackets for camping and urban commutes, as well as alpine and rock climbing, backcountry skiing and splitboarding, bikepacking, and alpine skiing. The testers ranged from AIARE-certified backcountry venturers to lifelong recreationists.

Finally, this is an organic, constantly evolving Guide. We work hard to stay on top of new trends and novel technologies, and closely examine updated jackets and new models the moment they hit the market to bring you the most up-to-date choices possible.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Down Jacket

Two climbers stand on a portaledge while wearing down jackets
Author Chris Carter and his climbing partner hanging out in a couple of mega-warm Rab Neutrino Pro jackets on a portaledge high on El Cap; (photo/Ryan Bode)

This article includes the best down jackets for men and women. You can also check out our expanded list of the best down jackets for women.

Warmth

Unlike sleeping bags which usually have a handy EN (European Norm) temperature rating associated with them, figuring out how warm a down jacket is can often be a tricky process. Many of us are familiar with the “fill power” of down jackets, but an equally, if not more, important component is “fill weight.”

There are certainly other factors that contribute to a down jacket’s warmth — like baffle shape, design, and construction, jacket materials, size, and fit, and other features like hood, hem, or cuff closures — but all things being equal, the down fill power and fill weight will have the most direct impact on a jacket’s warmth.

Fill Power

Fill power is a number that quantifies the quality of the down in terms of its loft — or fluffiness.

Fill power ratings range from around 400 to 900 and even greater. Most of the jackets on this list are in the 700- to 800-fill-power range, with a few clocking in above or below. Generally, the quality and fluffiness of the down increases with the fill-power number:

  • 400-500: fair quality
  • 600: good quality
  • 700: great quality
  • 800: excellent quality
  • 900 and above: highest quality

The numbers listed above represent the volume per unit of down filling in cubic inches per one ounce. To calculate fill power, a one ounce sample of down is placed in a standardized cylinder, and then the total volume of that sample is measured in cubic inches.

The higher the fill power, the less down filling is needed to create the same volume of insulation, which is able to trap more air and warmth within the jacket. Higher fill power is also more compressible, loftier, lighter, and pricier.

Fill Weight

Fill weight, on the other hand, is the precise measured weight of down that has been placed into the jacket, generally expressed in either grams or ounces.

To get a reasonable estimate of a jacket’s overall warmth, you can multiply the down’s fill power (expressed in cubic inches per ounce) by the jacket’s fill weight (expressed in ounces), which will yield a number that represents the three-dimensional volume of the jacket’s insulation, or loft, in cubic inches.

On paper, we can therefor estimate that the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody (5.3 ounces of 800-fill-power down) will be warmer than the Feathered Friends Eos (4.0 ounces of 900-fill-power down). Even though the Eos has a higher fill power of 900, the Down Sweater has a higher fill weight of 5.3 ounces.

Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody: 800 cubic inches per ounce x 5.3 ounces = 4,240 total cubic inches of insulation
Feathered Friends Eos: 900 cubic inches per ounce x 4.0 ounces = 3,600 total cubic inches of insulation

Though the Down Sweater is slightly warmer than the Eos, the Eos is much lighter overall (10.8 ounces vs. 15.0 ounces), and has a higher warmth-to-weight ratio.

Fill weight isn’t always advertised as readily as fill power, but is — in our opinion — a much more crucial stat to consider when gearing up for any adventure. While other factors such as face fabric, sewn-through seems vs. box baffles, and other features play a role in how warm a jacket is, a higher fill weight will almost always indicate a toastier puffy.

A woman wears a down jacket in a field below some mountains
The Feathered Friends Eos is packed with quality 900+ fill down, with a respectable fill weight of 112 grams, and is suitable for late fall temps or as a layering piece in the dead of winter; (photo/Bella Horrocks)

Make sure to bring an appropriate weight for the full range of weather conditions and temperature fluctuations you’re bound to encounter on your trip, and don’t focus too much on going ultralight that you put yourself in a dangerous position. While it may be tempting to cut weight with the 6.7-ounce Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer UL, with its flashy 1,000-fill-power stat, the fill weight is only a mere 70 grams (2.5 ounces). It’s actually one of the least-warmest jackets we tested, but boasts an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio.

The heavier Rab Neutrino Pro, on the other hand, is decorated with slightly less lofty 800-fill-power down, but its baffles are crammed with 212 grams (7.5 ounces) of the stuff — making it a much warmer barrier when temps plummet at high altitudes.

Durability

The shell fabric is an important factor for both durability and packability. Ultralight jackets tend to be made with a lighter, thinner shell material. Denier is the measurement used here. A lower denier rating means the outer fabric is lighter and therefore more prone to tears.

For backcountry excursions, the lower weight can be a worthy tradeoff. But for daily use, a higher denier is recommended. And if you do get a tear or campfire burn hole, there’s always the reliable duct tape, Tenacious Tape, or Noso Puffy Patch repair options.

On one end of the spectrum, the Rab Mythic G Down Jacket stands out for its impressive warmth matched with a scant 10.1-ounce weight, achieved in part by using a delicate 7-Denier shell fabric. Most of the jackets we tested have a 10-Denier or 20-Denier shell fabric, with some 30-Denier models.

ATP03928
A cozy, durable down jacket makes evening fireside hangs all the better; (photo/Chris Carter)

Water Resistance & Hydrophobic Down

Down does not perform well when wet. And this is one of the places synthetic jackets tend to win out. In the past decade, there has been a growing use of hydrophobic down. Essentially, the down feathers are coated in a water-resistant polymer. It still doesn’t match the water resistance of synthetics, but for light precipitation, hydrophobic down can’t be beaten.

The face fabrics of some down jackets are treated with DWR to help block light moisture, too.

Down vs. Synthetic

Most of the jackets in this guide are made with down, though a handful are filled with synthetic insulation that mimics down or a blend of the two.

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 jackets of equal weight, 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.

  • Pros of down: excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, comfort, compressibility, lightweight, high inherent warmth
  • Cons of down: inability to insulate when wet, not super breathable, more difficult to wash, pricier
Testing down jackets during long, cold belays in Yosemite; (photo/Chris Carter)

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.

Overall, in wet or mixed weather and when weight isn’t an issue, synthetics can be a better, safer choice. Active insulation is best for high-output action. If it’s cold and dry, down is optimal despite a higher cost. This guide lists a wide variety of the best down jackets to keep you covered in the cold.

Responsibly Sourced Down

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.

DSC04860
The Ghost Whisperer/2 is made with completely recycled face and trim fabric, and stuffed with RDS-certified down, scoring high points in the sustainability department; (photo/Honey McNaughton)

Eco-Friendly & Recycled Materials

Beyond responsible down, down jackets have an opportunity to include a bunch of eco-friendly design traits. Some jackets are created with PFC-free DWR treatments or recycled materials.

Other layers guarantee Fair Trade sewing like the Patagonia Fitz Roy. A handful of designs even have recycled down, including the Rab Microlight Alpine.

Fit

The activities you do while wearing your down jacket will influence the type of fit you need. Some jackets are more streamlined, while others are roomier, boxier, or longer.

If you’re using the layer for climbing and skiing, you’ll want an athletic or slender design that can be layered below or above a midlayer or shell. For big movements, it’s nice to have a silhouette that’s also stretchy and flexible, especially in the shoulder and chest area. Jackets such as Rab’s Neutrino Pro have been specifically designed with an anatomical shape that contributes to stellar freedom of movement while climbing or trekking in cold weather.

On the opposite end of the spectrum

While many down jackets have an adequate amount of wind resistance built into their shell, the stitching between baffles often goes all the way through the jacket, allowing strong wind to squirm its way through to your core. In truly gusty conditions, pairing your down jacket with a lightweight windbreaker jacket can be a power concoction of warmth retention.

For daily commutes or bicycling around town, when your activity is generally creating less heat, a puffier and less athletic down jacket can be really cozy.

DSC09800
Finding a jacket that moves with you and fits well is essential, particularly if using it during high-output activities; (photo/Honey McNaughton)

Weight

The down jackets in this guide range from 6.7 ounces at the low end to more than 30 ounces on the heavy side. The median weight is around 15 ounces, and the most common weight is closer to 20 to 23 ounces.

As you might expect, the warmest down jackets are typically also on the heavier end, as the down fill weight has a big impact on overall warmth. This is where fill power comes in. Jackets with a higher fill power can achieve an equivalent warmth level at a lighter overall weight. The Rab Mythic Ultra with its 900-fill-power down insulation really stands out for its excellent warmth for the weight. We weighed the men’s size Large that we tested at 17.4 ounces — and this jacket is as warm or warmer than many others in the 20 to 23-ounce range.

Rab Mythic G down jacket on a digital scale
The Rab Mythic G packs a lot of warmth and weighs just 17.4 ounces (Note: the included stuff sack weighs 0.32 ounces); (photo/Nick Bruckbauer)

Super lightweight down jackets typically come with a premium price tag, but the investment can be worthwhile for adventurers with limited space looking to trim ounces. Models like the Feathered Friends Eos strike a solid balance between lightweight simplicity and premium performance. If speed and efficiency are of utmost importance, jackets like this won’t hold you back. Make sure to research the full range temperatures you will encounter on your trips before leaving, however, and don’t prioritize an ultralight base weight so much that you put yourself in danger.

Storing and Caring for Down Jackets

Some of these down jackets can compress to the size of a water bottle or smaller, while others are bulkier — influenced by the fill, face fabric, and overall design. A tiny pack size can allow you to carry a smaller, lighter load on lightweight excursions, but make sure to not leave your down jacket smushed up for long periods of time. This can greatly impact the down’s lofting and insulating abilities, and reduce the jacket’s overall lifespan.

A comparison of the stuff sizes of some of our favorite down jackets
The packed sizes of some of our favorite down jackets in their stuff sacks. Some pack into their own zippered pockets, while others come with a separate pouch; (photo/Chris Carter)

It’s fine to keep your jacket in its stuff sack for one or two days at a time, but try to pull it out of the sack regularly and let it loft up fully over the duration of your trip. When storing your jacket after you get home, hang it in your closet — and don’t mash it too tightly between your other clothes. Washing your jacket with down-friendly detergent can also prolong its life. We gravitate to Nikwax’s Down Wash Direct for this purpose.

Down Jacket Hoods & Sleeves

Many down jackets include a hood, some of which are helmet-compatible, while others have a tall collar. Some hoods may have a stiff wire at the brim which improves protection and visibility during snowy conditions. Zipper width, toggle size, and durability can vary. But as a general rule of thumb, YKK produces the strongest zippers. Minimized zippers can reduce weight and bulk.

Cuffs and sleeves can have a flexible, comfortable elastic closure or a Velcro tab for extra security. Occasionally, designs have wrist gaiters with thumb loops.

ATP03672
You want to make sure that the features on your jacket, such as hood size and elasticated hem and cuffs, are a good fit for your adventure; (photo/Chris Carter)

Pockets

Two front hand pockets with zip closures are common, though some pockets are smaller or placed higher than others for harness compatibility. These handwarmer pockets often become super important for keeping heat from escaping your extremities once the temps start to drop.

Additional accessory pockets might include an interior or exterior chest, inside mesh pockets, and a pocket the jacket itself stuffs into.

Athletic Features

For high-output activity, down jackets can feature mesh-lined pit zips and a powder skirt. Some designs also have a two-way zipper down the front, which is helpful when wearing a harness and belaying.

Price

It’s easy to spend $250-500 on a down jacket. And that’s no small investment. The main thing to consider when looking at your budget is the end use.

If you’re regularly packing into the backcountry, an ultralight, super-packable, rather expensive jacket may be necessary. If you’ll mostly wear it around town, something like the budget-friendly REI 650 Down Jacket will keep you warm for just over $100.

DSC07234
A solid down jacket can be expensive, but is an important investment for comfort and warmth during chilly adventures; (photo/Honey McNaughton)

Frequently Asked Questions

When should you wear a down jacket?

A down jacket holds heat around your body’s core in order to maintain a comfortable level of warmth when the temperatures drop. A spectrum of down jackets exists from plush and stylish for everyday use to lighter, packable designs for year-round backcountry adventures.

What’s the difference between a down jacket’s fill power and fill weight?

A jacket’s fill power is the down’s quality and amount of loft. You’ll see jackets labeled as 600-fill or 800-fill, for instance. The fill weight, which is measured in ounces, reflects the density or amount of down stuffed inside the jacket.

So when two 700-fill jackets have different weights, we know the heavier one is warmer.

On the other hand, if two down jackets weigh the same with different fill power (two 15-ounce jackets with 650-fill and 800-fill), the higher fill jacket is going to be less bulky, lighter, and more compressible.

It’s tricky to compare jackets with differing fill power. But in general, the lower the fill power, the less loft and warmth.

IMG_0553
The Rab Neutrino is one of the warmest jackets on our list with a high fill weight, but is consequently on the heavier side; (photo/Chris Carter)
What warmth should I choose for a down jacket?

Down jackets have a huge variance of warmth. Some jackets are constructed to withstand freezing or sub-zero temperatures, while others are a match for summer, spring, and fall backpacking trips. Here are the broad categories of jackets, depending on their fill weight:

  • Lightweight: 3-4 ounces of down fill, three-season jacket, skiing midlayer
  • Moderate weight: 5-6 ounces of down fill, more warmth for sub-freezing temperatures
  • Heavyweight: More than 6 ounces of down fill, tenacious design for winter conditions

The combination of the fill weight and fill power, which is the loft and quality of the down, changes how warm a jacket is. The higher the fill power and higher the weight, the more heat the jacket retains.

ATP03589
A lightweight jacket makes cold miles go by with ease; (photo/Chris Carter)
How heavy should my down jacket be?

Lightweight down jackets are very compressible and a great choice for cramming into your pack for emergency use. But they often cost more. Those weights range from close to 8 to 15 ounces. Midweight options bump up to the 20-ounce range, and heavier down jackets are around 30 ounces.

What is the best down jacket to buy?

The best down jacket for you is based on where and how you’ll use it. If the weather is relatively dry and super cold, a down jacket with greater down fill that will retain more heat could be worth the investment. If you’ll be in a really wet environment, a synthetic down jacket might be a better choice.

Best Down Jackets
The Arc’teryx Cerium is our top pick for down jackets, but it truly does boil down to personal preference; (photo/Emily Malone)
What qualities should I look for in a down jacket?

As you search for a down jacket, pay attention to the fill power, overall fit, and price. Be sure the warmth and features match your needs, like whether or not the jacket has a helmet-compatible hood, underarm zippers, and harness-compatible hand pockets.

Examine the level of weather resistance, like DWR-treated material or down, and if it matches the exposure you’ll be in. Some jackets are even reinforced in high-use areas, like in the shoulders for pulling on and off a pack. If you plan on venturing into the backcountry, weight and compressibility make a difference, too.

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