Looking for a good and decent priced down jacket has been quite a chore for me. There are a lot of down jackets on the market but some of them are so pricey it can be a bit overwhelming to make a purchase. And I do not know about you, but I would rather save some of that money to buy other gear. In this article I am covering the 5 best budget down jackets that are sure to save you some money and do not skimp out on performance.
Over the last couple years and counting I have researched over 20 down jackets I would put in the budget category of about $40 to $150. And have physically tested 7 down jackets ending up with 5 over the last few years that I believe have performed up to my standards.
I consistently make it my mission to continue to test and update this list as needed. I spend time analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each jacket out on the trails. I test in various conditions to really challenge the features of the jackets. When creating this list, I focused on budget down jackets that are not only reasonably priced but have good performance.
What are the 5 Best Budget Down Jackets?
In our list of the best budget down jackets, we have included different areas each jacket excelled in. We believe there is no such thing as a true one size fits all, everyone is different and require different wants and needs. In this list you will find the best budget down jackets and synthetic jackets with varying warmth, weight, and durability that we have physically tested.
Here are the best budget down jackets:
- Best Overall Budget Jacket: Decathalon|Forclaz MT100 Hooded Down Puffer
- Best for Layering: REI Co-op Down Jacket
- Best Synthetic Puffer Jacket: Decathalon|Forclaz MT100 Hooded Synthetic Puffer
- Most Budget Friendly: Amazon Essentials Lightweight puffer jacket
- Best for Town to Trail: Columbia Delta Ridge Down Jacket
Decathalon|Forclaz MT100 Hooded Down Puffer
Best Overall Budget Jacket
- Price: $99.99
- Weight: 11 oz (size L)
- Fabric: Polyamide
- Fill: Down 800 fill power
Try the Decathalon|MT100 Down Puffer
Our Take on the Decathlon MT100 Down Puffer: All around the Decathlon MT100 Down Puffer is an excellent bargain. This jacket is easily one of the best deals you can find for a down insulated jacket. I have yet to find a better priced jacket with the amount of features this jacket has on the market yet. The MT100 down puffer is up there with the top insulation jackets in the market. I was surprised by the abundance of features of the jacket and the comfort.
The one thing I found most surprising about this jacket compared to most budget jackets has 800 RDS fill power as most higher end budget jackets I have tested come with around 650 fill power. During my testing out on the trails I noticed that the elastic cuffs are a bit set back so I was able to use my watch without having to constantly move the elastic wrist cuff. Also, I found the reset elastic cuff was also a nice feature for wearing gloves keeping my wrist a lot warmer.
Another feature this jacket has is a waist cinch cord to minimize upward wind drift which worked pretty well out on trail. The jacket is also super packable and can be stuffed and zipped up within its own zippered hand pockets for travel.
Frankly, the only con I noticed while wearing this jacket was the sizing. It does run fairly small, and I had to size up to a large. I would highly recommend sizing up a size if you plan on layering another layer underneath. And if you plan on layering at least two layers you might want to size up two sizes up to accommodate. The price to value ration makes the Decathlon one of the best down jackets for cold weather and overall performance.
Read More: Decathlon Forclaz MT100 Down Jacket Review
Trail running at Lake Springfield in the Decathlon MT100 Down Jacket
REI Co-op Down Jacket
Best for Layering
- Price: $129.99
- Weight: 10.9 oz (size M)
- Fabric: Recycled Nylon Shell fabric
- Fill: Down 650 fill power
Try the REI Co-Op Down Jacket
Our Take on the REI Co-Op Down Jacket: The REI Co-op Down jacket is our 2nd top pick out of this list and is a very close contender to the Decathlon MT100 Down jacket. The REI down jacket has been recently updated from the 2.0 version. It is just a good all-around jacket with basic features you find on most jackets on the market new features on the recent model are the cinch cord and option for hooded jacket.
When wearing it I found the jacket to fit all around pretty well. The jacket has a 650-fill power which is fairly standard of other down jackets in the higher budget range. While wearing the down jacket I found it slight baggy and loose around the waist which allowed some cold draft to come in. Thankfully, the new updated model now has a cinch cord around the waist to help makes the waist snugger to alleviate this issue.
During my testing with the REI Co-op down jacket I found the fit to be more standard and it was easier to layer my TKA 100 fleece underneath on colder days. I would say of this list down jacket was definitely the easiest to layer under.
Overall, this jacket makes for another great pick for affordability to value performance. REI has an excellent track record and good warranty for their customers. I believe this jacket should work for most people especially those want a looser fit, unfortunately the jacket is a little pricier than the previous model but still well worth the price.
Out on a hike wearing the REI Co-op Down Jacket 2.0
Decathalon|Forclaz MT100 Hooded Synthetic Puffer
Best Synthetic Puffer
- Price: $59.99
- Weight: 13.01 oz (size L)
- Fabric: 20D Polyamide outer
- Fill: Synthetic fill
Try the Decathlon|MT100 Synthetic Puffer
Our Take on Decathlon MT100 Synthetic Puffer: Similar to the down version the Decathlon MT100 Synthetic Puffer offers most of the same benefits of the down version. The MT100 synthetic puffer is an excellent bargain at an inexpensive price it offers many features of other synthetic jackets on the market.
I found this jacket during my testing to have really good durability thanks to the 20D outer layer. Frankly, this does make it a little thicker when compressing it down into the pocket but, for the price I guess you cannot have it all. The cuffs on the synthetic jacket are a bit different than the down version. I really missed those receding wrist cuffs on this jacket. But the MT100 synthetic puffer comes with similar lightweight warmth and the two zippered hand pockets similar to the down version.
Overall, this is an awesome budget synthetic jacket that is an excellent value. I found the jacket to perform quite well around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also a little snug around the arms and waist in which I would recommend sizing up one or two sizes for sure depending on how many layers you plan of using with the jacket.
Amazon Essentials Lightweight Puffer Jacket
Most Budget Friendly
Try the Amazon Lightweight Puffer
Our Take: The Amazon Essentials Lightweight Puffer is another awesome budget synthetic insulated jacket. I have used this lightweight puffer jacket on multiple hikes, and this was actually one of the first puffers I ever purchased. I was looking for a decent budget option that would work and this jacket did just that. Now, it is not the best puffer jacket at all it definitely has some drawbacks. But it does do the job and I have used this jacket in 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit with a fleece and found it to be quite warm and comfortable.
Big drawbacks I noticed about this jacket was the warmth and durability. This is definitely not the warmest jacket on this list and has many cold spots. It does let in some draft at times and no cinch cord to tighten the waist. Also, the durability is not the greatest I have accidently torn the seams out before snagging it on a tree branch.
But, at the price you can get it for it is hard to beat and overall, it is a workable choice when in a pinch. Also, instead of using the flimsy stuff sack I just recommend reverse stuffing it in its own pocket. It is much easier to do that and besides I always loose those separate stuff sacks anyway.
Overall, this jacket fits close to size, not too tight and not too loose. It has a great fit for layering under and over. And I have seen this jacket go on crazy sales such as half off before. Usually, it is always on some form of discount and can be
Columbia Delta Ridge Down Jacket
Best for Town to Trail
Try the Columbia Delta Ridge Jacket
Our Take on Columbia Delta Ridge: The Columbia Delta Ridge is not the cheapest option on this list but, the jacket usually can be bought on discount. I was able to get my jacket for half off on a winter sale. I was pleasantly surprised by how warm this jacket was out on the field and in town. I would rank this a fairly warm jacket slightly less warm than some 800 fill power jackets I have.
I found the fit of the Delta Ridge to be fairly slim at times a little snug around the underarms but not overly too bad. I was able to notice the weight a little more on this jacket. Frankly, it is pretty bulky for backpacking and does not compress well at all. The outer is pretty durable and holds well against precipitation in wet weather and cold wind. It has a couple of internal stash pockets which I found useful.
Overall, I tend to use this more for town use or shorter hikes and don’t use it for backpacking due to the poor packability and weight. The omni heat really makes this a warmer jacket great for colder temperatures. It’s just not very packable and light for most of my outdoor uses. But it makes a fantastic option for those looking for a trail to town or more casual hiking option.
Trekking with the Delta Ridge by Columbia
To evaluate the best budget down jackets I focused on affordability to performance ratio. Which was assessed by multiple metrics such as: comfort, warmth, weight, packability, and features. I challenge and test these metrics with on the field testing in various conditions. I mostly rely on the field testing because it correlates more to real application.
When I look at comfort, I am assessing how well the jacket fits and moves with the body. Down jackets tend to be used as a mid-layer or outer layer in most cases. The jackets in this list can be used by themselves, as mid layers, and outer layers. All of these jackets are able to accommodate a fleece layer for additional warmth if needed.
Ideally a down jacket should fit the body fairly well to minimize cold air from blowing through but also provide room for additional layering beneath or over it. I prefer jackets to not be extremely fitted and allow some movement for the arms especially under my arm pits. This tends to be an area that get restricted the most. Also, the jacket should be long enough to still cover your stomach when your hands are in the air.
Left to Right: Horizontal baffles and square baffles.
When it comes to comparing the best budget down jackets, warmth is probably one of the most important factors. Puffy insulated jackets are designed to be warm and usually make a wonderful addition to any hiker, backpacker, or camper during the colder days and nights.
Most down jackets get their warmth through a use of fill material sewn through in sections called baffles. Most commonly baffles are sewn in horizontal sections or square sections. Although some companies use their own unique baffle system like Columbia’s Omni Heat line. Sewn through baffles generally do create areas where there is not down to insulate causing that area to cool a little more quickly.
When it comes to determining a jacket’s warmth unfortunately there is not really a standardized measure yet. Most of the time I consider the fill quality to a correlation of warmth but, there are also other factors to consider like fit and outer fabric makeup. A slimmer fit jacket will tend to be less drafty in comparison to a looser fit one. Also, the length of the jacket or cinch cord features help minimize upward draft around the waist. But, at a quick glance fill power is a good indicator of the warmth of a jacket.
When looking at fill power it helps to know how it is measured. Standardly the jackets fill power is measured by filling a cylindrical container with one ounce of down and then compressing it for a minute. Next, the amount of the space filled is considered the fill, for example 650 cubic inches of down equals a fill of 650 which is a common fill for more inexpensive jackets. The best fill power a jacket can have is 900.
Weighing the Amazon Essential Lightweight Puffer
In regard to weight this factor is important based on the duration of the time you plan to spend on the trails. I typically like to lean on lighter is better as long as the jacket is able to still function well. For example, if you are planning to go mostly day hiking then weight is not necessarily a super big deal. But if you are backpacking several miles or even going longer on the spectrum like section or thru hiking then weight really adds up.
This is where down jackets tend to have a huge advantage compared to synthetic jackets. Most down jackets beat synthetic jackets when it comes to warmth to weight ratio. Down jackets are lighter and often much warmer and packable, than their synthetic counterparts. If you look at our list, you will begin to see that trend. For example, on this list: The Decathalon MT100 Down jacket and REI Co-Op have a lighter jacket weight than the synthetic options on this list and are warmer.
But this is not the only factor that can make a jacket lighter or heavier. Other factors impact weight as well such as jacket design, fabric thickness, and features like a hood. This happens to be the case for the Columbia Delta Ridge jacket. This jacket is a lot thicker than the other jackets on the list which adds to the durability and warmth. But its higher jacket weight makes it have poor packability and not a great option for longer hikes.
As you can see there are tradeoffs between jacket weight, warmth, durability, and packability. And although weight is important you also do not want a jacket that will just fall apart after one hike either or in the inverse one that just takes up way too much space.
Testing the packability of these puffer jackets
Unless you plan on hiking or backpacking in colder condition. Most of the time down jackets tend to sit in your backpack especially while you’re on the move generating body heat. This is where it really helps to have a jacket that is packable.
As I discussed in the previous segment. Down jackets tend to provide more warmth to weight and be more packable compared to synthetic jackets. Thus, making them usually the better picks for packability. The top budget picks of this list like the Decathlon MT100 Down jacket and REI co-op Down jacket excel in weight and packability and remain lofty after being compressed for some time.
Features like inside pockets and zip pockets are useful
When it comes to features, I enjoy having a jacket with zip pockets, stuff sacks or reversable pockets, and I like a hood. When it comes to features think about what you like to bring and what you like on a jacket.
I really like a zip pocket because it helps prevent my items from falling out and I like hoods especially for backpacking because that works as extra warmth during cold conditions. Though, if you did not want the extra weight from a hood, you could forgo it and just bring a light stocking cap.
While it is nice to have features it can also be more of a liability. The more bells and whistles the jacket has the more room for error such as a zipper breaking or snagging. Also, the more features the heavier the jacket as well.
I focus a little less on weather resistance with puffy jackets for a couple reasons. First, when I think of the intended use for a puffy or insulated jacket. These jackets are not usually designed to be waterproof and highly wind resistant. Though some companies are now adding water resistant coatings and treated down. These jackets are designed with the main focus to provide additional warmth during colder weather and be highly packable.
Secondly, I believe that it most scenarios you should have some form of rain gear with you on any hike or backpacking trip. Though of course this does depend on the area you are hiking in. Rain gear will always be significantly more effective at water repelling and wind resistance than a puffer jacket will be. So, when looking to purchase a puffer being water resistant is not really a priority although if it has some water-resistant properties, it is a bonus.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is 800 fill down warmer than 600? yes, 800 fill down has more down per cubic inches than 600 fill. The highest amount of fill power a jacket can have is 900.
What is the difference between a down jacket and a puffer jacket? A down jacket is a type of puffer jacket. Some puffer jackets use down and some use synthetic insulation. They both can be effective in colder temperatures. Synthetic tends to be more inexpensive and down tends to be lighter, warmer, and more compressible.
What is a good down jacket rating? I believe a fill power of at least 650 works pretty well in most cases. With a fill power of 650 you may have to layer a fleece underneath for additional warmth. A fill power of around 800 is pretty awesome at protecting against the cold.
What is the warmest down fill jacket? Fill power ranges from 500 to 900. 900 having the most down insulation per cubic inches. Making it quite a bit warmer than a jacket with 500 fill power
It can be difficult to find a good down jacket out in the vast outdoor market. But remember an amazing down jacket does not have to be super costly. This list is a result of my endless research and trialing of what I found to be the best budget down jackets on the market. My wish and hope for you is that this list finds you and helps make your decision easier on your next insulation jacket purchase. Maybe it will save you some money and allow you to spend more time out on the trails!