A down jacket is a great addition of insulated wear for anyone looking to get out and explore. However, with so many options it can get difficult to pick a jacket that works for you and your needs. So, if you are trying to figure out how to choose your next jacket keep reading as we will explain the most important things to look for in this best down jackets guide.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2
- Category: Lightweight
- Weight: 8.8oz
- Fill: 800 fill power RDS certified down insulation
- Versions: Men, Woman
Bottom Line: Mountain Hardwear Ghost whisperer 2 is a revamped down jacket which has been remarkably improved. This updated model features an increase in fill power, more recycled material for the outer shell, excellent warmth and packability. The outer shell features ripstop with a DWR finish to add extra water resistance.
Columbia Delta Ridge
- Category: Lightweight
- Weight: Unknown
- Fill: 650 fill power RDS certified certified down insulation
- Versions: Male, Woman
Bottom Line: A great budget option this hooded jacket is a great lightweight option for cold weather. It features thermal reflective lining to help hold in warmth and the outer shell is water resistant. One thing that is nice is the amount of zippered side pockets featured to help store items and also keep hands warm. The hood also fits snug which works well to prevent cold from getting through.
Arc’teryx Cerium SL Hoody
Bottom Line: This jacket is light and packable and also works as a great midlayer during colder adventures. The jacket works well for providing warmth and has a nylon DWR outer shell that provides wind, water, and tear resistance. The jacket features down composite mapping, in which they place synthetic insulation in areas where moisture may build up and down in areas for more warmth.
Best Jacket for Cold Weather
Marmot West Rib Down Parka
Bottom Line: This jacket provides wind protection and warmth retention and it works well for those times when you need a good jacket for the summit. The jacket is filled with 800 fill power goose down and has a protective outer shell that shields against wind and wet weather. The 3D WarmCube technology traps the head and prevents cold from getting in and it works surprisingly well. Another benefit is the hood features an adjustable drawcord that allows a snug fit. Only downside is that the fit is a tad bulky but that’s a small sacrifice to pay.
Best Water resistant
Rab Valiance Down Jacket
- Category: Lightweight
- Weight: 23oz
- Fill: 800 fill power RDS recycled hydrophobic down ethically sourced
- Versions: Men, Women
Bottom Line: The Rab Valiance is effective at providing warmth and waterproofing protection. It is stuffed with 800 hydrophobic down treated with water repellent which helps to trap body heat and makes the jacket dry quicker. The outer shell works well and provides protection against wet conditions.The slimline cuffs are a nice touch that really helps to seal the warmth in and prevent moisture from getting in. I am a huge fan of zippered hand pockets and the drawcord hem that allows a more snug fit.
How to Choose A Down Jacket
The most important factors when choosing a down jacket to consider are:
- What is the intended use?
- How much warmth do you need?
- Features & Fit:
What is the Intended Use?
When it comes down to the time to pick a down jacket the first and most important aspect to consider is what the intended use will be. For example, if you are looking for a down jacket to use to take a walk in the city, what you would want would be very different than if you were planning to use the down jacket to go on a day hike in the mountains. Overall, it really depends on what the use is for but, this is the first step in figuring out what is going to be best for you
How Much Warmth Do You need?
When it comes to choosing warmth for a jacket there are a lot of options to consider. First, we want to consider the type of materials being used, fill power and weight, and the weight of the jacket.
Down vs Synthetic
In general down is often a more superior insulation when it comes to outerwear. Down consists of the soft and fluffy filaments that are often found underneath the feathers of a goose or a duck. This is what helps to keep them warm and insulated.
Synthetic insulations are a blend of material that is usually relatively cheaper however, may offer more reliable warmth in wet conditions. But, are usually overall less thermally efficient, not as packable, and usually not as soft.
Overall, down-filled jackets tend to last longer and provide more in the way of warmth. Also, newer models of down jackets offer pretty effective waterproofing outer layers.
Down Fill Power & Fill Weight
When it comes to down jackets the most often seen specs are the fill power and the fill weight. The fill power basically just measures the amount of quality or how much the jacket is filled with loft. A very good fill power would be around 550- 650 and even better is 700 and above. High end jackets often have a measurement around 800 fill power and some jackets have even higher fill power.
The other factor to note is fill weight which is how much down is packed into the jacket. This often gets overlooked sometimes but is also an important factor in looking into how warm a jacket is. For example if you had two of the same jackets with the same fill power the jacket with more fill weight would most likely be a little warmer.
Down is often not as great at providing warmth in wet conditions when in comparison to synthetic insulation. Although, most modern down jackets now have water resistant down also known as DWR. This allows the down to retain its loft better in wet conditions and it also helps to speed up the drying time.
Also, modern jackets now offer down insulated jackets with waterproofing shells which provide warmth and adequate weather protection. While others are now making jackets with mixed insulation where they utilize both synthetic and down insulations. Which makes the advantage of synthetic filled jackets weaker.
Durability & Weight
A heavy weight jacket will be made of thicker, heavier material for the outer shell. Often it is more ideal to reduce weight which makes lightweight jackets often more desirable. In addition, lighter jackets often are often more packable while heavier jackets tend to be more durable. In terms of choosing between durability and weight it goes back to thinking about the intended use of the jacket.
Features & Fit
A down jacket should fit well, just like any other article of clothing. You do not want the jacket to fit too tight or be too loose. There should be enough room to be able to add layers underneath but not so much that cold air is able to get through.
Besides fit there are often many features that are provided in a down jacket. Some great features to look for are:
Hoods: This is probably one of the most useful features as it helps to add extra warmth and also protects your head. Only downside is it adds a little more weight
Pockets: Are useful in storing items and also can be helpful in keeping hands warm
Cuffed waist and wrist: A great feature for added warmth as it helps to prevent cold air from blowing in.
Well, there you have it here is our list of the best down jackets. Feel free to leave a comment down below on what you think or what your favorite jackets are. Also, if you are looking for more guides check out our best socks for hiking guide.