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 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 experience, testing, research, and insight to cull the best of the best. Each of these down jackets is available now and merits a look for its construction, price, features, and warmth.
In researching all the down jackets on the market, we paid particular attention to standouts within a particular category. For example, we have selections for those shopping on a budget, those searching for more sustainable options, and for others who just want the most durable puffy of them all.
Our team has collectively tested legions of these puffy insulators for the creation of this guide, with our current author and Senior Editor, Chris Carter, 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, this guide’s current selection had to prove its mettle all over the world in just about every environment imaginable. Only the best of the best made the cut.
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 refreshed this guide on October 23, 2023, including additional information about our testing practices, as well as sprucing up the Fill Weight section in the buyer’s guide, and making sure our product list is up-to-date with current models and designs.
The Best Down Jackets of 2023
- Best Overall Down Jacket: Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody
- Best Budget Down Jacket: REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0
- Runner-Up Best Down Jacket: Outdoor Research Helium Down Hoodie
- Best Lightweight Down Jacket: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer UL
- Warmest Down Jacket: Rab Neutrino Pro Down Jacket
- Best Down Jacket for Everyday Style: Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket
- Best Down Jacket for Belaying: Black Diamond Vision Down Parka
- Fill 850
- Weight 11 oz.
- Key features Synthetic insulation strategically placed in areas prone to getting wet
- Hybrid insulation design is helpful in wet weather
- Solid warmth-to-weight ratio
- Comfortable, stylish fit
- No integrated stuff sack
- Fill 650
- Weight 11 oz.
- Key features Durable and recycled shell fabric, slimmed down simple design looks good around town
- Quite durable given the price
- Simple and sleek design looks good around town
- Somewhat heavy for the lack of features
- Not much adjustability
- Fill 800
- Weight 15.4 oz.
- Key features Wind, water, and abrasion resistance plus waterproof shoulders and hood
- Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certified down
- Five pockets: two external hand pockets, chest pocket, dual internal stash pockets
- Cozy but not built for supreme warmth
- King warmth-to-weight ratio
- Pockets aren’t included
- 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
- Superior warmth-to-weight ratio
- Anatomical shape that allows the jacket to move with you during activity
- Hood is pretty large and floppy unless you are wearing a helmet
- Packs into its own pocket
- Increased bust circumference on women’s jacket for improved fit
- 20-denier ripstop nylon liner
- Not premium construction for rugged outdoor play
- Fill 800
- Weight 20.5 oz.
- Key features Two-way front YKK zipper, helmet-compatible hood, RDS down, DWR finish
- Very durable
- Underarm gussets for mobility
- A bigger investment
- Not a streamlined fit
- Fill 800
- Weight 22.3 oz.
- Key features Certified Advanced Global TDS by NSF International, DWR treatment, Fair Trade Certified sewn
- Helmet-compatible hood
- Two external chest pockets and two hand pockets for easy access while on the wall
- Take care: Not the most tenacious face fabric
- Fill 700
- Weight 17.7 oz.
- Key features Stitch-free baffle construction for non-restrictive flexibility, meets RDS
- Zippered hand and chest pockets
- No stitches or glue to degrade or restrict movement
- Pretty heavy for the warmth you get
- 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
- Modest price
- Packs into its own pocket
- One-way front zipper
- Only three pockets
- Fill 800
- Weight 14.8 oz.
- Key features Recycled ripstop polyester fabric and liner, interior chest pocket doubles as a stuff sack
- RDS down
- Super comfortable
- Only three pockets
- On the heavier side
- Fill 700
- Weight 17 oz.
- Key features Down has a fluorocarbon-free water-resistant finish, 100% recycled fabrics, and down insulation
- YKK zippers on hand pockets
- Large chest pocket
- 30-denier ripstop nylon face fabric
- Fair weight but not ultralight for minimalists
- Fill 800
- Weight 8.8 oz.
- Key features Adjustable hem, packs down small into hand pocket, ultralight ripstop fabric
- Stellar warmth-to-weight ratio
- Packs down ridiculously small
- Cuffs aren’t elasticated, making it hard to seal in warmth
- Somewhat boxy fit in the torso
- Fill 900
- Weight 10.8 oz.
- Key features Ethically sourced down, long stitchless panels on underarm and sides
- Great warmth-to-weight ratio
- Trim fit but can still layer underneath
- Durable design
- No internal drop-in pockets
- Separate stuff sack to keep track of
Down Jacket Comparison Chart
|Jacket||Price||Weight||Fill Power||Shell Fabric Denier||Packability|
|Arc’teryx Cerium||$400||11 oz.||850||10D||Included stuff sack|
|REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0||$129||15.4 oz.||650||20D||Packs into hand pocket|
|Outdoor Research Helium Down||$299||11 oz.||800||15DX30D||Packs into hand pocket|
|Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer UL||$420||6.7 oz.||1,000||5D||Packs into hand pocket|
|Rab Neutrino Pro||$400||20.6 oz.||800||20D (larger over shoulders/sleeves)||Included stuff sack|
|Cotopaxi Fuego||$295||14 oz.||800||20D||Packs into internal pocket|
|Black Diamond Vision Down Parka||$465||20.5 oz.||800||20D||No|
|Patagonia Fitz Roy||$399||22.3 oz.||800||20D||Packs into hand pocket|
|Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Hoody||$300||17.7 oz.||700||Unavailable||No|
|REI Stormhenge Down Hybrid||$259||32 oz.||850||Unavailable||No|
|Fjallraven Expedition Pack Down Hoodie||$275||15.3 oz.||700||Unavailable||Packs into internal pocket|
|Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie||$329||14.8 oz.||800||20DX30D||Packs into internal chest pocket|
|Rab Microlight Alpine||$280||17 oz.||700||30D||Included stuff sack|
|Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2||$360||8.8 oz.||800||10D||Packs into hand pocket|
|Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket||$409||10.8 oz.||900||Unavailable||Included stuff sack|
How We Tested Down Jackets
Our team has tested, reviewed, and published down jacket 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 accruing 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 in August of 2022, and has been sifted through mountains of these chunky 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.
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 a Down Jacket
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.
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.”
Fill power measures the loft and quality of the down. To calculate fill power, a one-ounce sample of down is compressed in a cylinder. Generally speaking, the higher the number, the warmer the jacket — though the fill power isn’t the only variable affecting a jacket’s warmth.
The higher the fill quality, the less down is needed to create the same warmth. This is because it’s able to trap more air and warmth within the jacket. Higher fill power is also more compressible, loftier, lighter, and pricier.
Fill power ratings range from 300 to 900 and even greater. Most of the jackets on this list are in the 800-fill range, with a few clocking in above or below. Generally, the quality increases with the fill number:
- 400-500: fair quality
- 600: good quality
- 700: great quality
- 800: excellent quality
- 900 and above: highest quality
Fill weight, on the other hand, is the precise weight (generally expressed in either grams or ounces) of down that has been shoved into the jacket. A jacket with a lower fill weight provides lower warmth per ounce, making this a super important stat in determining just how warm each model is. A jacket may boast a fill power of 900, but only have 85 grams of that down, while another could have 200 grams of the same fill power (or even less) and be much warmer.
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, or box baffles play a role in how warm a jacket is, a higher fill weight will almost always indicate a toastier puffy.
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, on a chilly alpine assault, the fill weight is only a mere 70 grams.
The heavier Rab Neutrino Pro, on the other hand, is decorated with slightly less quality 800 fill down, but its baffles are crammed with 212 g of the stuff — making it a much warmer barrier when temps plummet at high altitudes.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 less than $100.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.