Heading out to snowy slopes, into remote areas, or even just walking the dog nearby requires a warm and dependable down jacket—especially in winter weather. The best down jackets not only keep you warm, but also keep you dry, comfortable and protected from wind and rain no matter the season.
That’s why we caught up with down jacket expert Ashleigh McClary, Backcountry’s Outfit Specialist and Senior Account Manager, and Emily Pennington, journalist, photographer and author of the forthcoming book “Feral,” to find out what jackets they should consider when shopping for down. Whether you’re looking for 100% goose down, or a synthetic option that still keeps you warm, you can’t go wrong with any of these options.
There are many factors to consider when shopping for an insulating jacket, including everything from packability and warmth to durability and price point.
A big difference between jackets is their insulating properties. There are two main options: down and synthetic. If keeping warm is your number one priority, you won’t find anything warmer than a down jacket, says McClary. Down is the best insulation for keeping you warm in cold weather thanks to its loft or bulk that traps heat escaping from your body. If you’re concerned about warmth, it’s important to look for high-loft and high-performance down (between 600 and 800 fill), McClary says.
“A really good, everyday warm jacket will keep you fit and not overheated,” says McClary. “Whether it’s fall, spring, or winter, my standard jacket recommendation is usually an 850-padded hoodie. Down keeps you warm based on your body temperature, and it’s my go-to jacket type because it’s suitable for a wide range of temperatures.”
Wearing a down jacket nearby to keep you warm after (or during) your adventure is key before going outside, says Pennington. “Buyers should consider a three-step layering system,” she said, “understanding that if they’re skiing or hiking in very cold places, they may need a base layer, an insulation layer and a wind or rain cover. .”
The downside of down jackets is that they’re not waterproof or waterproof unless they’ve been treated with what’s called a Durable Water Repellent (or DWR). If you’re looking for a foolproof waterproof jacket for hiking in rainy climates or unpredictable weather, McClary recommends considering a jacket with synthetic down insulation as they retain their insulating properties even when wet . Alternatively, use Pennington’s suggested layering system to protect your insulation from the elements.
We spoke with outdoor experts about their top recommendations for down jackets that will keep you comfortable and warm in a variety of conditions. Here are 19 of the best down jackets to wear on your next adventure.
“I fell in love with my Patagonian puffiness when I was hiking the Annapurna circuit in Nepal,” Pennington said. “Even in high winds above 16,000 feet, the down sweater keeps my core warm so I can get to the top.” The jacket also comes in a hoodie style for extra warmth.
The North Face and Nordstrom $280
Belleview is a thermal jacket with 600 down, designed with movement in mind. This slim fit jacket is more fitted than other North Face down jackets, but still provides flexibility and mobility thanks to its two-way stretch recycled polyester body and sides and underarm panels for increased range of motion and breathability.
REI and Cotopaxi $275
If you are looking for warmth without the extra weight, this jacket is made for you. With 800 padding and a 20-denier ripstop nylon shell, the Fuego Hoodie is super lightweight—weighing just 14 ounces. It fits into the built-in interior pocket or can be easily mounted on top of an extra bottom layer. An adjustable drawstring hem at the waist also helps keep out unwanted cold air.
A no-frills and affordable down jacket perfect for packing into a backpack on a hike or cycling in cold weather. The REI Co-op 650 Down Hoodie is made from a recycled nylon shell with a durable water-repellent treatment that resists light rain, snow, and wind. The hood of this jacket is also insulated for extra head warmth.
“I absolutely do.” Love This jacket — it’s a super high-tech jacket that you can wear under any shell to keep you warm and breathe,” says McClary. “The jacket has a shell on the outside, which is better than other synthetics. The jacket is more breathable. Typically, synthetic jackets have thicker, ripstop nylon shells that absorb heat. Instead, this jacket is suitable for uphill and outdoor adventures thanks to its breathable insulation and shell. I also like the fleece hand warmer pockets and the two chest zip pockets”
REI and Patagonia $279
A more durable and weatherproof version of Patagonia’s Micro Puff jacket, the Nano Puff is beloved by the mountaineering and mountaineering community for its packability, durability, and climbing-friendly features. The hood’s lightweight design helps it fit better under the helmet, and its waterproof synthetic insulation is treated to keep it warm even when wet.
REI and Arc’teryx for $259
“I always hear a lot of people rave about the Atom LT because it’s a super comfortable jacket,” says McClary. “It’s not as breathable as the Proton hoodie from Arc’teryx, but I find it keeps you warm.”
Mountain Hardwear from $350 or Backcountry from $211.24
The impressively lightweight Ghost Whisperer 2 Hoodie is both sustainable and can withstand cold weather. Weighing just 8 ounces, this jacket is insulated with sustainably sourced 800-fill, RDS-certified down and made from fully recycled fabric and trim. Elastic edges around the hood help absorb heat, and the jacket tucks into its own pocket for easy packing.
$379 at Arc’teryx and REI
“I think it’s both a technical jacket and an everyday jacket. It’s super lightweight, has 850 fill down for insulation, and has a lightweight shell on the outside for added durability,” says McClary. “I love how super compressible the jacket is, and I find the layering is really nice because it’s tapered.”
REI and Outdoor Research $279
“if you want [a jacket] Stronger, you’ll want higher denier ripstop,” Pennington said. “That means the jacket is more durable, which is great for those of us who like to run around trails and get a little dirty. Great. “
Known for the durability of its 30-denier Pertex Quantum fabric shell, the Outdoor Research Helium Down Hoody is perfect for those looking for a jacket that will stand up to the wear and tear of even the most rugged adventures. The hood and shoulders also feature a waterproof version of Pertex Quantum to prevent rain or snow from penetrating the jacket when outdoors.
Not only is the Stio Pinion a super packable down jacket, its 800-fill RDS down is water-repellent so it won’t get wet on the trails, mountains or backcountry in rain or snow. This jacket is lightweight yet still gives you excellent protection against wind and water thanks to its durable waterproof, 20-denier nylon shell and waterproof down.
Patagonia and Backcountry $329
The Micro Puff is an all-around jacket for cold weather. It’s Patagonia’s most compressible synthetic jacket and has the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any other featherless design from the brand. The outer shell is made from 100% post-consumer recycled nylon ripstop made from recycled fishing nets, and the interior is filled with Patagonia’s PlumaFill insulation, which mimics the warmth, lightness and compressibility of real down.
REI and Outdoor Research $219
Simplicity meets packability. This multi-season jacket provides performance and protection in all weathers – whether you’re on a brisk fall hike or snowshoeing. Because it’s light and roomy, you can layer it over a fleece or hoodie for added warmth in winter, or drape it over a tee if it’s suddenly cold during a spring or fall hike. Weighing just 9 ounces when tucked into its own pocket, this jacket is a great jacket for back and forth country travel in a backpack.
REI $280 and Rab
This ultra-fluffy, lightweight 700-fill down jacket is popular for its packability, warmth and eco-friendly design. The down in this jacket is 100% recyclable. Its filling is Nikwax treated and its outer shell is DWR treated to more effectively wick away moisture and keep you dry in bad weather. There’s also no fuss to tuck this jacket into its own pocket, as it comes with its own separate pocket.
$168 at Tentree
If you are looking for a more stylish jacket with a more eco-friendly design for outdoor wear, this is the one for you. Its DWR-coated polyester shell, interior zip and pouch storage pockets, and cruelty-free insulation to keep you warm at 32 degrees F are just some of the technical specs that make this jacket stand out. You can easily tuck this jacket into the interior zippered pocket for easy portability.
The North Face $350
Filled with ThermoBall insulation, this 18-ounce eco-friendly jacket is designed to mimic the warmth and compressibility of a goose down jacket without the need to harvest feathers. You can carry it in your left hand pocket, and it’s about the size of a Nalgene water bottle, making it perfect for travel.
Most waterproof jackets have a standard DWR treatment. But if you want a true waterproof membrane like Gore-Tex, it will cost you more (but leave you drier). This jacket is Arc’teryx’s most versatile insulated Gore-Tex mountain shell. It’s filled with synthetic insulation that promises faster drying times, longer life and warmth even when wet.
An eco-friendly jacket where you don’t have to worry about getting wet and cold. Patagonia’s Jackson Glacier is fully wind and weatherproof – insulated with 100% recycled down (recycled duck and goose feathers) and has a two-layer shell made of 100% DWR treated recycled polyester.
Looking for a puff that is also waterproof? This is a great option. This jacket is made with 850 fill goose down so it’s super compressible yet tall and warm. On the outside, it’s covered with a two-layer waterproof and breathable nylon shell with fully sealed seams to prevent any kind of leaks. Don’t worry about wet and cold days wearing this jacket.