Down jackets are insulated with layers of down feathers to keep you warm during those freezing winter days. The feather stuffing creates air pockets that retain warmth without adding much weight or bulk. Down jackets are light, snug, and easy to pack, making them the best-insulated jacket to take on your adventure. I have compiled this list of the best down jackets based on extensive research and reviews from real users.
What You Should Know Before Buying a Down Jacket
In this section, I will outline the different metrics and features to look out for when buying a down jacket. Although these are key considerations, you should also remember other factors such as your activity levels and the environment where you intend to use the down jacket to guide your purchase.
Down Jacket Materials
The down fill is made of duck or goose plumules or a combination of the two. Goose down is a better insulator than duck down as it has a higher fill power, which makes it warmer. Due to its superiority and scarcity, goose down tends to be more expensive and will reflect in the price of the jacket. However, duck and combination down are cheaper and offer the added advantage of being readily available. They are the most commonly used type of filling.
The outer material or shell fabric used in down fabric is varied. The most commonly used materials are synthetic fabrics such as nylon and polyester. While both materials are great, nylon is more weather resistant and has higher durability making it the best fabric for a down jacket. For additional protection, most down jackets come with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating. Premium options are sometimes made with ripstop fabrics that are woven using a special technique to prevent tears and rips.
The weight of a down jacket is determined by the down fill power and the fabric. Ultralight down jackets tend to have a higher fill power while using light materials. These jackets can weigh as little as 4 ounces. Heavyweight jackets, on the other hand, tend to contain more down fill. Although it improves quality and durability, it also increases the weight of the jacket significantly. Mid-weight down jackets attempt to balance the warmth and quality by either using heavy fabrics or having a higher fill weight.
more down filling tend to weigh more but are also warmer for it. Warmth-to-weight ratio is a feature that is often mentioned when it comes to puffer jackets and other winter gear. Aside from the lining and shell fabric used, the two main factors that affect the amount of warmth a down jacket provides are the fill power and fill weight. These factors also determine the warmth to weight ratio.
- Fill Power – This is essentially a metric for the quality of the down. It is a measure of the cubic inches of loft (fluffiness) that one ounce of the down produces. Most manufacturers will include this in the product description. It typically ranges from 300 to 900. The higher the number, the loftier the jacket and therefore, the better the quality of insulation. The best quality down jackets will have a fill power of 600 or more.
- Fill weight – This is a measure of the amount of down material used in a jacket. It is measured in ounces but most manufacturers tend to omit this important feature in the product description.
The down feathers will lose their insulating properties when wet, and will often take a long time to dry. That makes it hard to use down jackets in wet environments. Some down jacket models are made with water-resistant or hydrophobic down feathers, while others are made with a waterproof exterior fabric. Other features such as taped seams and a durable water repellent coating (DWR) are added to some brands to ensure water-resistance.
One of the best qualities of a down jacket is its ability to be squeezed into a tight pack to take up minimal space without getting damaged. Lightweight down jackets compress better than their heavier alternatives. Some heavy-duty down jackets will not compress as much, which can be a disadvantage when packing them. However, it means that more air pockets are left intact for more effective heat retention.
Smooth zippers are convenient, especially if you’ll be using them with gloves on. The YKK zippers are high-quality zippers favored by most brands. It is because of their standard coil design and zip pulls, which can be used even with the thickest gloves on.
Although a jacket hood can take up a bit more space when packing, I find it worth the hassle as it can come in handy when you’re out in the freezing weather. If you intend to use a helmet, make sure your hood can fit over it. If you’re uncertain about the need for a hood, you could opt for a down jacket with a detachable hood.
An insulated jacket works best when you find the perfect fit for you. To find the right down jacket size for you, I recommend that you try on a few options before you settle on one. If you are shopping online, look at the particular items’ sizing chart and take your measurements. You should also take into consideration the possibility of wearing the puffer jacket while wearing more layers underneath. However, you should be able to wear your down jacket with or without layers without allowing space for heat to escape. Adjustments such as elasticated hems and cuffs can help to seal in the warmth.
There are two main types of construction used in puffer jackets.
Stitch through baffle
Where the stitches go right through the layers which sometimes creates cold spots. Cold spots are areas such as the stitch lines where the wind gets through and heat is lost.
This method results in fewer cold spots, but it is harder to produce and often produces a heavier jacket.
What’s the Best Down Jacket?
The best down jacket is different for each individual, and I am here to make it easier to find the best one for you. I have gone through numerous options of down jackets that are currently available. After looking closely into the features mentioned above and reviews from real users, I have produced a list of the best down jackets to get in 2021. For additional information, check out the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section at the end of the article.
Weight: 0.7 lb (0.3 kg)
Fabric: 100% Nylon
See it in your local store:
This Eddie Bauer jacket for men features two secure zippered side hand pockets and an interior pocket to carry your essentials. The 100% nylon construction makes this down jacket ultra-light and soft to the touch although some users also have noted that it feels delicate and may rip easily. The StormRepel DWR water-resistant finish sheds moisture to prevent it from soaking into the fabric. It also features a high neck collar to provide extra warmth.
This ultra-light puffer jacket is warm enough to hold you through winter temperatures but you might want to layer it up during harsh conditions.
- Made with a durable water-resistant nylon shell,
- Superior insulation provided by the 650 fill premium down,
- Universal fit designed to fit all body types,
- Comes with elasticated cuffs and hem to reduce heat loss,
- Zippered side hand pockets and an interior pocket for your essentials,
- Extremely soft to the touch,
- Designed to fit over layers
- The outer fabric could be sturdier to prevent rips
Fabric: 100% Polyester
See it in your local store:
The balance between price and quality is hard to achieve but Amazon Essentials has figured out how to land there with this Women’s Lightweight Water-Resistant Packable Down Jacket. For an affordable price, this jacket is ultra-light and warm enough to wear as a mid-layer in freezing weather and as an outer layer on mild winter days.
I recommend this Amazon Essentials down jacket for women as the best budget down jacket as it has numerous features to ensure quality and comfort while remaining affordable.
- Contoured seams give it a fitted shape,
- Two outside zipper pockets which are easily accessible,
- Made with durable zippers and outer fabric,
- Features a stand-up collar for extra warmth,
- Comes with a small bag to pack the jacket in,
- Extremely lightweight and packable,
- Available in a range of beautiful colors and prints
- Zippers on the pockets are quite small,
- Designed for a slim fit that does not accommodate everyone
Weight: 0.2 lb (0.1 kg)
Fabric: 100% Synthetic Fibers
See it in your local store:
The Columbia Men’s Delta Ridge Down Jacket is made with advanced space-blanket thermal technology and a heat-sealed baffle system to retain maximum warmth. The Omni-Heat body heat management system used on this jacket delivers the best performance for outdoor activities in mild winter weather. The thermal reflective fabric reflects body heat for superior retention while the breathable lining reduces the build-up of excess heat and moisture. The soft built-in chin guard is a handy feature for any adventure seeker.
This down jacket is made with excellent quality materials and a water-resistant shell to ensure durability. This puffer jacket is both stylish and comfortable for men.
- Made using heat seal construction for added warmth,
- Features binding at the hem, collar and cuff to seal in warmth,
- Maximum warmth guaranteed by the 650 fill power,
- Made with stitch-free baffles to avoid drafts,
- Available in a variety of sizes and colors,
- Features a highly breathable thermal lining
- Water-resistance is limited to light showers and short exposure,
- Not warm enough for sub-zero temperatures
Weight: 0.4 lb (0.2 kg)
Shell and Lining Fabric: 100% 20D*400T Nylon with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish
Insulation Fabric: 80% Duck Down, 20% Feather
See it in your local store:
The Wantdo Women’s Hooded Packable Ultra Light Weight Short Down Jacket is made from breathable and soft warm material. It features two zippered hand warming pockets and two inside deep pockets for convenience. It is also extra lightweight and can be compressed into a small pack for easy portability.
The down has a high fill power and the jacket re-inflates on unpacking. With elastics at the cuffs and hem, this jacket will protect you from the wind while the water repellent finish will help keep you dry and comfortable.
The earphone port makes it extremely convenient to listen to music on the go. It is available in a wide range of beautiful colors to suit every woman’s taste.
- Comes with an earphone port connected to the inner pocket,
- Comes with an included pouch for packing,
- Highly compressible
- Made with durable water repellent coating
- Comes with a hood with elastic binding to block wind
- Can be used to layer under heavier coats in extremely cold conditions
- The straight cut is unfavourable for curvier women,
- Not warm enough for sub zero temperature
Weight: 1 lb (0.5 kg)
Fabric: Pertex Endurance outer fabric
See it in your local store:
This classic lightweight down jacket is constructed with both zoned micro and nano baffles to retain maximum warmth without introducing any additional weight or bulk. It comes with a down-filled hood reinforced with a stiff wire brim and peak.
This puffer jacket features superior insulation properties from the goose down filling with 700 fill power, making it very warm for its weight. It features Pertex Endurance outer fabric which is both durable and water-resistant. Its ripstop quality prevents tears, thus giving this jacket a long lifespan. The RAB Microlight Alpine Jacket for men is my pick for the best premium down jacket due to its superior insulation properties and quality.
- Available in a wide range of colors,
- Features an insulated chin guard,
- Comes with an easy carry stuff sack,
- Fits great with room for layers,
- Features hand warming pockets,
- Warm enough for sub-zero temperatures with 700 fill power,
- Made with ripstop nylon to prevent tear
- Not very compressible
The Eddie Bauer Down Jacket is, in my assessment, the best down jacket. It is made from quality materials and has a high warmth to weight ratio. The superior insulation provided by the 650 fill premium down filling and the water-repellent coating makes it the perfect choice for hiking and adventure trips, as well as casual day to day use.
Questions and Answers About Down Jacket
Are down jackets worth the money?
For the buyer who is big on outdoor adventures, a down jacket is an invaluable companion. The warmth, weight, packability, and the weather protection properties available in some models make down jackets a staple for you. The best down jackets, such as those discussed in this list, have a long life span. That means you will not need to spend money on another insulated jacket for a good long while.
Are down jackets better than synthetic jackets?
Synthetic insulation has its advantages in providing better water-resistance and breathability. However, down jackets are usually warmer, lighter, and better for the environment. Down is a naturally occurring material, which makes it 100% biodegradable.
How do I clean and maintain my down jacket in good condition?
When it comes to cleaning your down jacket, make sure to check the care label for specific instructions, which will provide recommendations between hand washing or machine washing. Down jackets can go for a long time without being washed. However, you can spot wash regularly to remove stains and only wash when dirt builds up.
Down jackets can last for years if you take good care of them. Avoid keeping your jackets compressed for too long to avoid lumping, and ensure that your down jacket stays dry as moisture can damage the down filling.