Down jackets are a dream item for many people. There’s nothing like pulling puffy warmth over each arm to fend off winter’s chill. The best down jackets are cozy, technical pieces of equipment that work equally in the mountain, on the couch, and out at a bar. It’s a centuries old piece of clothing, and the modern take is all about high warmth, low weight, and durable materials.
We have extensively tested and reviewed a number of down jackets, and highlight the best down jackets for you below. The jackets are broken into even smaller sub-categories for specific uses, but we think that any down jacket on this list could be worn and loved by almost anyone. Good luck picking your down jacket!
Down Jacket Comparison Table
|Best Down Jackets||MSRP||Weight||Down Fill||See Down Jackets|
|Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody||$379||10.8 oz||850||Women’s, Men’s|
|Feathered Friends Eos||$289||10.6 oz||900+||Women’s, Men’s|
|Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded||$350||7.7 oz||800||Women’s, Men’s|
|Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody||$279||15.1 oz||800||Women’s, Men’s|
|REI Down Jacket 650||$99||10.5 oz||650||Women’s, Men’s|
|Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket||$280||17 oz||750||Women’s, Men’s|
|Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Jacket||$525||9.5 oz||800||Women’s, Men’s|
|Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody||$225||16 oz||650||Women’s, Men’s|
|The North Face Nuptse||$249||22 oz||700||Women’s, Men’s|
|Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Parka||$79||8 oz||Not Listed||Women’s, Men’s|
The Best Lightweight Down Jacket for the Outdoors
Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody
- Weight: 10.8 oz
- Cost: $379
- Best For: Car Camper, Day Hiker, Ultralight Backpacker, Urban Hiker, Wilderness Backpacker
The Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody is a meticulously engineered down jacket. From its slim yet comfy fit to the large baffles of high quality goose down, you will be very warm and well-dressed for the backcountry. The 850-fill down is used alongside the synthetic Coreloft, which can be found in the shoulders and wrist cuffs, and helps fend off water and dampness. Arc’teryx uses Arato 10 fabric which is incredibly lightweight, even to the touch, and yet has a surprising rip strength.
The jacket weighs just under 11 ounces (depending on size), has a full down-filled hood that fits more casually than technically, and three zippered pockets, one internal. The hand pockets are backed by lofted down and all the zippers are thin and discreet, yet sldie with ease. Pack it into the included stuff sack if you want a ultimate portability. Down jackets are an impressive field of gear, and the Arc’teryx Cerium LT hits each mark exceptionally well.
Arc'teryx Cerium LT Star Rating
The Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody is a down jacket that hits nearly everything a weight- and cold-conscious backpacker could want. It is light, filled with premium goose down, incredibly puffy, and has a large hood that is quite cozy. The cost is extreme, but for that you get a precise fit, premium materials, and a very capable down jacket.
The Best Minimalist Lightweight Jacket for the Backcountry
Feathered Friends Eos
The Feathered Friends Eos is a big down jacket from a small brand. Feathered Friends, headquartered in Seattle, has been making extremely high quality down gear for decades, and their dedication to warmth and function for the backcountry culminates in this fast and light down jacket.
The Eos is minimal, very warm, and uses high-grade materials to create the best minimalist lightweight down jacket around, all while costing quite a bit less than the high-priced competition. The Eos also weighs just under 11 ounces (depending on size), uses 900+ fill goose down, and a Pertex Quantum shell to create a super light, super durable, super warm experience. There are two zippered hand pockets, a generous hood (with no adjustments), and that’s about it. You can’t order it in a jacket version, it doesn’t have very many colors, and it will last a lifetime if properly cared for. The Eos is a surprise to most people, and we think it’s an incredible down jacket.
Feathered Friends Eos Star Rating
The Feathered Friends Eos is a star-studded puffy with heaps of responsibly sourced down to keep you cold in freezing temps. The no-frills design focuses on comfort and warmth, so there’s only two zippered pockets, a single well-made front zipper, a full hood, and an elastic cinch at the waist. The jacket comes with a bright yellow stuff sack, which is easy to lose but doubles well as a pillow.
If you know Feathered Friends, you know this jacket is quality. When going ultralight this should be near the top of your list.
The Best Ultralight Down Jacket
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded
The Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer Hooded Jacket is probably the most “famous” down jacket on this list. Known for its incredible warmth-to-weight ratio, emphasis on the weight, the Ghost Whisperer has a distinct look, weight, and fabric that has kept it in the “best down jacket” conversation for years.
At under 8 ounces for a hooded down jacket, the Ghost Whisperer is best for those who care about weight more than anything. It’s not as warm as others on this list, but is warm enough for most 3-season backpacking, even at elevation. It uses 800-fill down and a custom Whisperer fabric, which is a minuscule 7D x 10D, and has a shiny (sometimes called “trash-bag”) appearance. This jacket is minimal, so it has just two zippered hand pockets. Still the best ultralight down jacket around.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded Star Rating
The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded down jacket is simply an ultralight masterpiece. At under 8 ounces for a warm, durable, and comfy down jacket that packs into its own pocket and layers exceptionally well, it will be hard to find a better warmth to weight ratio.
The Best All Around Down Jacket
Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody
- Weight: 15.1 oz
- Cost: $279
- Best For: Car Camper, Day Hiker, Ultralight Backpacker, Urban Hiker, Wilderness Backpackes
The Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody is a classic, highly versatile piece of kit that works for extended backcountry and city use alike. It is heavier than the down jackets above at nearly 15 ounces, but is beefier, too. The Down Sweater Hoody still uses 800-fill down, but the face fabric is 20x30D (and 100% recycled), meaning it doesn’t pack down nearly as small, is tougher to the touch, and is much more tear resistant. The jacket has two zippered hand pockets, and internal zippered pocket, technically stuffs into itself (but its tight), and comes in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and with or without a hood.
This is your typical, high-end, eco-friendly, big-brand down jacket that simply rocks, while being warmer than the three jackets above.
Patagonia Down Sweater Star Rating
The Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody is a down jacket with a reputation for warmth and durability. It doesn’t care much for the ultralight tendencies, and uses more down and thicker materials than comparable (and lighter) jackets, but this extra beefiness adds up a longer lasting product, and a warmer product in most cases. Patagonia’s attentinal to detail, from the felt-lined neck zipper to the evenly spaced (and filled) baffles to the high quality zippers all make this an excellent pick for outdoor enthusiasts.
The Best Budget Down Jacket
REI Down Jacket 650
The REI Down Jacket 650 is a model that receives improving tweaks year after year, and is the retailer’s excellent attempt at a well-made budget down jacket. It is not warmer, or as high quality, as the jackets above, but it costs $100 (or less, on sale), rather than the $250-plus of its competitors. For that cut in cost you get 650-fill down, which is heavier and not as lofty, a more generic treated nylon exterior, and two basic hand pockets. However, we’ve found that this level of warmth, weight (still under 11 ounces), and quality is ideal for most urban hikers, day hikers, and car campers.
If you don’t want to drop a lot on a high-performing down jacket that excels at backcountry use, the REI Down Jacket 650 is an incredible, affordable option, especially with the gaurantee and REI’s recent commitment to ethically and environmentally sourced goods, like RDS down (used in every jacket on this list), and bluesign approved fabrics.
REI Down Jacket Star Review
The REI Down Jacket is a decent budget choice for those who want responsibly sourced down, bluesign approved fabric, and a lightweight puffy in a wide range of colors. None of its features or warmth will blow you away, but for the price it’s a very capable, versatile jacket.
The Best Down Jacket for Wet Weather
Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket
- Weight: 17 oz
- Cost: $280
- Best For: Car Camper, Day Hiker, Ultralight Backpacker, Urban Hiker, Wilderness Backpacker
The Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket is a unique down jacket in that it excels at water resistance, a quality not often found in down jackets. It does this in three ways. First, it uses Hydrophobic Treated 750-fill down that’s PFC-free, in conjunction with NikWax, the leader in waterproofing tech. Second, it uses Pertex Quantum fabric, which is very tightly woven and sprayed with more PFC-free DWR to heavily fend off water. Finally, it has a stiff wire brim, not found in almost any other down jacket, and this keeps the hood up against wind and rain.
The Microlight Alpine Jacket is 17 ounces, which heavier than other jackets on this list, so unless wet weather is your main issue, we do recommend a lighter jacket. However, the Microlight Alpine Jacket works well in the back- and frontcountry, and doesn’t have the highest end price despite being a very high quality product.See Women's Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket See Men's Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket
The Best of the Rest
Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Jacket
The Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Jacket is a feathery beast. Created by ultra premium, ultra-hip brand Canada Goose (best known for arctic wear worn by celebrities), the Hybridge Lite is their fast and light (of course) jacket billed for city or forest.
It relies more heavily on movement than others in this list, and has a Tensile Stretch material along the sides of the torso and arms so that you can bend and twist while also staying warm. It weighs under 10 ounces, has thumb holes, and is one of those very shiny down jackets that’s modeled after a flight jacket. We’ve found the durability and warmth to be incredible. The main barrier is cost, which is exorbitant. You’re paying for brand cache, which is frustrating, but the jacket is made with the highest quality materials in the industry.
Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Jacket Star Rating
The Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Jacket is a surprsingly versatile down jacket that works for urban hikers that want to make a fashion statement, and outdoor enthusaists that want a highly active puffy. The tough 10D exterior shell fabric combines with Tensile Tech, a stretchy panel that runs along the torso and arms for exceptional movement. The Hybridge Lite is stuffed full of 800-fill down, has thumb holes, and weighs just under 10 ounces. It will last, and it will look good doing so.
Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody
The Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody is a classic down jacket used by hikers and backpackers. It’s more in the middling range of cost and materials, yet is a very warm, capable, and surprisingly durable down garment that holds its own against the jackets on this list.
The Transcendent uses 650-fill down, which is (in our opinion) the lowest fill that’s still acceptable. This is coupled with 20x40D face and internal fabric that’s soft to the touch, a full hood with adjustments, and a slightly relaxed fit. The jacket also has tons of pockets: two zippered hand pockets, a stealth zippered chest pocket, and two internal drop-in pockets, and it stuffs into a hand pocket, which is lined with micro-fleece for easy conversion as a pillow. The Transcendent is one of those down jackets that never gets old, is less money than competitors, and just works.
Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody Star Rating
The Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody is a workhorse of a down jacket. Heavier, a bit bulkier, and made of tougher material than your typical lightweight down jacket, the Transcendent exudes functional comfort. The zippers are well-made, including the stealthy chest pocket zipper that almost disappears it’s so innocuous. The jacket has a soft and luxurious sleeping bag texture on the inside, and one pocket has a micro-fiber lining for use as a pillow.
The weight and warmth won’t totally stun you, but the Transcendent Hoody will last longer than most, and has a number of features that make it extremely useful.
The North Face Nuptse
The North Face Nuptse is a fun, colorful down jacket that’s been styled in a retro way, if “retro” is applicable to the 1990’s. It is the heaviest down jacket on this list, and is not meant for the backcountry, but for urban warmth and style.
It uses 40D and 50D face fabric for serious durability, and 700-fill down for an impressive amount of warmth. With a full hood, two zippered hand pockets, and deep style, this is the puffy you will want on those cold city nights.See Women's The North Face Nuptse See Men's The North Face Nuptse
Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Parka
- Weight: 8 oz.
- Cost: $80
- Best For: Urban Hiker
The Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Parka, at just $80, may be the ultimate budget down jacket. We have seen ultralight backpackers switching to this surprisingly warm jacket when gearing up on the cheap, and despite the less-than-detailed specs and low-end materials (comparatively), it’s a very capable jacket.
The jacket is right around 8 ounces, which is quite light, and uses between 600-700-fill down. While the warmth does not compete with those jackets above, it’s still a down jacket and is still quite warm, but only to be used as a midlayer. If you want a versatile urban down puffy that can hop into the backcountry, and don’t want to spend much, this is your best bet. Note that Uniqlo does change its styling often, so finding the exact jacket you want may take some work.
Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Parka Star Rating
The Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Parka is a surprisingly able puffy from a large fashion brand. While it doesn’t have as many of the fancy features and materials of higher-end outdoor gear, it does give you solid down (likely in the 600 fill range) and a DWR nylon shell in a lightweight, packable package. It’s quite warm, too! If you’re looking for a sweet puffy on the cheap, this is where to look.
Down Jacket Features
There are lots of features and specs to look over when deciding on a down jacket. Are all of them important? Sure, if you’re a gear-head. But only some are super important. We highlight them below.
Down Fill Power
One of the key stats you’ll see in any down jacket is “fill power” — as in, the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody uses a 800-fill power down. Complicated science aside, this is an easy number to reference the quality of the down. The higher the number, the loftier the down is, which means the warmer it will be.
This means brands can either use less down overall to create the same warmth as a lower down fill jacket, or more down to create a much warmer jacket.
Down fill power is about the almighty weight-to-warmth ratio. The higher the fill power, the better your warmth to weight ratio.
Down Fill Power Reference Chart
- 900-1000: Extremely high quality. Best loft and warmth-to-weight.
- 800-850: Excellent quality, used most commonly in high-end jackets.
- 700-750: Moderate quality, used in mid-range to high-end jackets.
- 650: Lowest “acceptable” quality in outdoor down jackets.
Pro-Tip: You’ll need to wash your down semi-regularly for it to maintain the loft it came with. Without that, all the fancy down won’t be as warm.
Down Fill Weight
Not to be confused with Down Fill Power, Down FIll Weight is the literal weight of just the down in a jacket. This is an excellent metric that gives you a sense of how warm the jacket will be, and how heavy the other materials in the jacket are.
The Feathered Friends Eos down jacket weighs 10.6 ounces overall, and the down fill weight is 3.7 ounces. That means that roughly one-third of the jacket is down, which is quite high. You can surmise then that the jacket will be very warm, and the materials used are very light.
The down fill weight isn’t always that ratio, and really depends on the jacket’s purpose. Most of the jackets listed here are all about lightweight warmth, rather than big parkas, which often have a very high down fill weight.
Note that not all down jackets list Fill Weight — in fact many do not — which we think is too bad.
Pro Tip: If you’re buying online and want to answer “will it be warm enough”, check the down fill weight, or ask the company for the weight. This will help you get an answer.
Down jackets are known for poor water resistance. So poor, in fact, that synthetic jackets were created to combat the issue. When down gets wet is loses loft, and therefore warmth, and it takes forever to dry out.
Yet down is still the lightest, warmest material out there, so outdoor engineers have set about to improve its water resistance. Today there is “hydrophobic down” — water resistant down — that has been treated with chemicals at the plume level. This helps it repel water, but more importantly (and more often) it really helps the dry-out time of down.
You can see this in a few of jackets above, specifically the Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket.
While this system works, it’s still not quite as good against water as synthetic insulation.
Pro Tip: If you want a down jacket but are worried about water, look for hydrophobic treated down or a down and synthetic combination.
The hem cinch is a toggle and elastic string at the waist that allows you trap in air at the bottom of the jacket.
Since down jackets are used so much for warmth, especially while standing around (or setting up camp) in the brisk hours of the day and night, we find that being able to nearly seal the bottom of the jacket is critical to maintaining that warmth.
Personally, I am fans of two zippered hand pockets and a zippered chest pocket, preferably internal. This allows ample storage around camp, and makes for easy use around town too.
That said, if you want a truly ultralight down jacket — or one that doubles as a pillow frequently — the less pockets and zippers the better.
Finally, some pockets allow you to stuff a down jacket inside, creating a very small portable package. The best of these work as a pillow. Some people love this, others just stuff the down jacket deep into their pack.
Pro Tip: Look for jackets that line the hand pockets with down! This will keep your hands toasty.
Picking a jacket with hood is up for debate. I love hoods, especially down hoods, because when done right they make sure your noggin’ is warm no matter the situation.
However, if you have a dialed in layering system that makes a down hood bulky or unnecessary, you can get a jacket version (no hood), which cuts weight and reduces the chance of a large part of the jacket getting wet.
How to Buy Down Jackets
You can simply pull the trigger on any of the jackets above, and be assured in receiving a quality product. But there are a few things to think about when looking for a new down puffy.
Ethical and Environmental Responsibility
We’re in an age where ethical and environmental responsibility is on the mind of most consumers, especially outdoor focused ones.
Down jackets use a live animal product — down feathers.
Down feathers are a byproduct of the meat industry, and therefore have a supply chain that has historically been questionable. Recently the Responsible Down Standard — an agency that ensures ethical sourcing of down — has become the norm for outdoor brands (and other agencies like it).
We believe you should only buy a down jacket that uses the RDS or an equal program, and all the jackets that we have listed do.
Online vs Real Stores
It’s always nice to feel a product, especially a jacket where sizing is important. However, most of the jackets above follow a form-fitting, active design that is meant to hug the body. If you are typically a size Medium, you should fit into most brand’s Mediums.
Buying online vs. in-person doesn’t matter too much, and online there are usually more color options and sizes. That said, if sizing is often difficult, try some jackets on in stores.
Used vs. New
Used or new — down jackets continue to work year after year. Unlike synthetic jackets, down can retain its warmth properties for a very long time (20+ years) if properly maintained, so buying used isn’t a problem there.
Make sure the garment is washed, or that you’re able to wash it, as dust mites can live in the down and cause allergies.
But, if the product is well-made, fits, and you like it, there’s no reason to get a brand spankin’ new jacket.
Down Gets Responsible
We mentioned this above, but the push these days is for responsibly sourced down feathers, water-resistant down, and environmentally neutral chemicals to treat that down.
RDS the leader in the responsible field, and NikWax is the leader in the chemical field.
A high-end down product today will often have traceable down feathers, treated down with PFC-free chemicals, and wash fairly easily. We expect this trend to continue and increase in frequency.
Backpackers.com Affiliate Policy: This guide contains affiliate links, which help fund our website. When you click on the links to purchase the gear we get a commission, and this goes a long way to creating guides, gear reviews, and other excellent content.