Last Updated on 27/08/2023
Top 10 Best Down Jackets for Staying Warm in Winter
In this guide to the best down jackets, we share some of the most waterproof, breathable, durable, and lightweight down jackets for camping and hiking. You will learn the different down insulation treatments that help retain its loft even when wet and also how fill power can increase a jacket’s warmth.
When it comes to staying warm in the wintertime, these ten best down jackets will certainly do the trick. With an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, feather-down jackets are super lightweight for their size and can be packed down to a small size for backpacking.
Top 10 Best Down Jackets for Winter
Arc’teryx Thorium SV Hoody Down Jacket
- Materials: Arato™ 40D Ripstop Nylon, 100 and 140 weight Coreloft Synthetic Insulation, European Grey Goose Down
- Weight: 19 oz / 540 g
- Fill Power: 750FP
The Arc’teryx Thorium SV is our number one best down jacket for staying warm this winter. Thanks to its durable face fabric and combined use of 750 down with Coreloft synthetic insulation, this jacket looks great and keeps your toastie warm.
A new and improved box wall construction gives the jacket an excellent loft even after it has been packed into its stuff sack (included in zippered pocket). Its soft outer material is abrasion resistant and has a DWR (durable water repellent) finish to keep out the storm.
The simple yet stylish design on the outside hides the clever down composite mapping on the inside with strategically placed synthetic insulation for maximum comfort. I really don’t mind the extra weight or use of synthetic insulation, as it just makes the jacket more reliable and still provides an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio.
Built to last multiple seasons, withstand abrasion and weather, and keep you warm no matter what. It can be worn as a mid-layer at high altitudes or, more commonly, as a stand-alone down jacket for climbing and cold days.
Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Hoody Down Jacket
- Materials: 10D Feather-Light (93% polyester), YKK® reversed coil zippers, Hutterite White Goose Down
- Weight: 8 oz / 228 g
- Fill Power: 800FP
The Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Hoody is a super lightweight mid-layer down jacket that is crafted with expert care and attention to detail. As the most expensive jacket on the list, it is no surprise that only the best materials are used. The highest quality down and tough 10D shell fabric means that your jacket will last a lifetime without losing loft or warmth.
I really like the design of this jacket with the tech panels, thumb loops (big thumbs up for this feature!), and double chest pockets. Because there aren’t masses of down in the jacket, the Hybridge Lite is surprisingly breathable as well as easy to pack into the left-hand pocket.
The Tensile-Tech™ inserts allow for maximum mobility and allow you to climb/stretch without the jacket rucking up. A little on the pricey side, but if you have the money, you won’t be disappointed.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket
- Materials: Whisperer 7D x 10D Ripstop Nylon, Q.Shield Goose Down
- Weight: 7.5 oz / 215 g
- Fill Power: 800FP
The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer down jacket is super lightweight and compact but with full features and amazing warmth. Weighing just 7.5 ounces and packing into its own pocket/stuff sack makes this a great down jacket for backpacking.
The low profile of the quilted-through design gives you excellent freedom of movement when extending, and the narrow tubes create channels for the down to trap warm air. Super soft elasticated cuffs seal out the wind and rain while the interior toggle adjustment allows you to tighten the hem with one hand.
Even though the outer layer is not massively waterproof, the Q.Shield DOWN 800 fill is resistant to moisture and maintains much of its warmth when wet. One of the very best down jackets for lightweight packing.
Montane Featherlite Micro Down Jacket
- Materials: PERTEX® Quantum Ripstop with DWR, PEAQ Down Lining, 90/10 Allied Feather & Down Titanium Water Resistant Fluorocarbon-Free HyperDRY™ ECO Down (RDS Certified and Trackable from responsible sources)
- Weight: 12.3 oz / 350 g
- Fill Power: 750FP
The Montane Featherlite Micro Down Jacket is lightweight and super packable with plenty of technology, and engineering went into the design. The micro baffle construction cuts down on the extra weight of a full baffle but still offers better performance than a sewn-through quilted stitch. Waterproof and breathable with our favorite hood design on our top 10 best down jackets list.
The lightweight and durable PERTEX Quantum material has a DWR coating and is very effective at stopping the rain from getting in. If any moisture makes it through the face material, no worries because the water-resistant fluorocarbon-free HyperDRY™ ECO down keeps on working. Overall, the Montane Featherlite is a high-performance packable down jacket for backpacking, hiking, and general everyday use.
Patagonia Hi-Loft Down Hoody Jacket
- Materials: 30D 100% Recycled Polyester Ripstop with DWR finish, Patagonia Traceable Duck Down
- Weight: 19 oz / 540 g
- Fill Power: 600FP
The Patagonia Hi-Loft Down Hoody is a super reliable and well-made jacket that delivers exceptional comfort and warmth. Patagonia’s traceable down offers the absolute highest assurance of animal welfare in the clothing industry. They go a long way to understanding the supply chain of responsibly sourced down and even publish their suppliers on their website for full transparency.
Warmer than the classic down sweater, it is not ultra-lightweight by any means but still very packable for the amount of down inside. The tough 100% recycled polyester ripstop shell with DWR coating blocks out bad weather and the wind while resisting abrasions and rips. The shape of the Hi-Loft Hoody and drop tail hem creates a fairly long fit but can be adjusted to really keep the heat in.
- View our Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody Review
Arc’teryx Cerium SV Hoody Down Jacket
- Materials: Arato™ 10D 100% Nylon, 100 and 140 weight Coreloft Synthetic Insulation, European Grey Goose Down
- Weight: 9.8 oz / 280 g
- Fill Power: 850FP
The Arc’teryx Cerium SV Hoody is about half the weight of the Arc’teryx Thorium and while it uses higher fill power down, it is not as warm or effective as a stand-alone jacket. The DWR finish helps to repel moisture, and strategically placed synthetic insulation helps keep you warm if the jacket does get wet.
An athletic fit makes the Cerium easily packable into a small stuff sack and offers an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio. The cuffs and hood are elasticated, so it does lack a bit of adjustability but, at the same time, is highly functional. A solid performing mid-layer or a stand-alone down jacket for cold and dry weather.
Berghaus Extrem Micro Down Jacket
- Materials: Pertex Quantum CS10 Shell, PFC-free Hydrophobic Down by Nikwax
- Weight: 14.6 oz / 414 g
- Fill Power: 700FP
The Berghaus Extrem MicroDown is a stylish, mid-weight down jacket for everyday winter use and outdoor activities in the freezing cold. An impressive 4.9 ounces of 700FP Hydrophobic Down goes into this jacket which can provide up to 16 hours of water repellency. The Down is PCF-free, and RDS certified. Using only ethically sourced goose down, you can feel great about your purchase.
The PERTEX Quantum CS10 face material is lightweight, windproof, and breathable – constructed from tiny diamond-shaped filaments which lock together for strength. Micro baffles down the side and under the arms help keep a low profile and increase body-mapping performance. An easily adjustable hood with wire stiffened peak will fit over helmets, and all the zippers and toggles can be operated with gloves on. A slim-fitting down jacket that looks and feels great but performs even better.
Columbia Diamond 890 TurboDown Jacket
- Materials: 10D Omni-Heat Reflective Ripstop 100% Nylon Shell and Lining, 890 TurboDown (850-fill water-resistant goose down +40g Omni-Heat)
- Weight: 11.9 oz / 337 g
- Fill Power: 850FP
The Columbia Diamond 890 TurboDown Jacket is a super warm but lightweight jacket that excels in freezing conditions. The most interesting feature of this jacket is the thermal-reflective material on the inner lining and interior of the outer shell. This double-up heat reflection reduces heat loss and gives you twice the thermo-reflective power.
The 850FP water-resistant goose down is complimented by 40 grams of Omni-Heat insulation where you need it most. This means that while other down jackets will lose their warmth when wet, this will keep working and also dry faster. One downside to having such a warm jacket with heat reflection is that breathability could be an issue. Possibly suited to activities where you are sitting or standing still for long periods of time, like fishing.
Rab Positron Down Jacket
- Materials: 20D Pertex Endurance with DWR coating, 100% Ripstop Nylon Lining, Rab® Fluorocarbon Free Hydrophobic European Goose Down
- Weight: 22.9 oz / 650 g
- Fill Power: 800FP
The Rab Positron is a technical down jacket with a lot of warmth and weather protection built in. The AquaGuard® waterproof zips and DWR 20D Pertex endurance material makes this as waterproof as you can get without becoming too heavy or losing breathability.
Tested on mountain expeditions up to 6,000 meters, this is easily one of the top 10 best down jackets for mixed weather without stepping up to an Arctic Parka category.
The box-wall construction on the torso (front and back) and hood make sure there are no cold spots when the wind picks up and keeps the down evenly spaced. The sleeves are sewn through and have velcro adjustments to create a barrier to wind and snow. Using a whopping 10 oz / 275 g (size large) of the best 800FP European Goose down, you can expect superior warmth and loftiness with the Positron.
Also worth checking out is the Rab Neutrino Endurance Down Jacket.
North Face Corefire Down Jacket
- Materials: 50D GORE WINDSTOPPER® Shell, 40D 100% nylon Honeycomb Taffeta Lining, Heatseeker™ Insulation, RDS Certified Goose Down
- Weight: 35.4 oz / 1,005 g
- Fill Power: 550FP
The North Face Corefire is a heavyweight down jacket with super tough and water-repellent outer material. Weighing in at 35.4 ounces, this isn’t great for lightweight and compact travel. As a jacket you can wear every day without fear, this ticks all the boxes.
The GORE Windstopper shell is heavy-duty and very water-repellent to the point where you don’t mind if it rains. Heatseeker™ insulation in the shoulder, seat, side panels, hood, and lower arms provide extra warmth and padding on soaking wet days. Also worth checking is the North Face Immaculator Parka, which weighs less than the Corefire but is also less water resistant.
What is a Down Jacket?
The feathers on ducks, geese and other waterfowl are the outer protective layer covering almost their entire body. Feathers have hundreds of quills that help to repel water, increase buoyancy, and make it possible to fly. Underneath this protective layer of feathers, and especially on the underbelly of a bird, is the light and fluffy down. This not only provides all the warmth that birds need but also helps to incubate any eggs that are laid in the nest.
Luxuriously light and soft, down has been used in bedding and pillows for centuries for ultimate sleeping comfort. Down Sleeping Bags offer many of the same qualities as down jackets and can be fantastic assets while backpacking.
Down Jacket Vs Synthetic Down Jacket
Down jackets offer superior warmth, comfort, and packability for anybody looking to stay warm when it gets cold but not get stuck carrying a bulky jacket everywhere you go. Synthetic down jackets are often engineered to perform just like a down jacket with similar composition and insulation properties.
I don’t care what anyone says, NOTHING will ever be as good as the real thing. That being said, synthetic jackets will always have their place in people’s outdoor gear closets due to their often low price and availability.
Check out these Top 10 Best Down Vests for an even lighter, more compact alternative to a hooded-down jacket.
When trying to decide whether to get a synthetic insulation jacket or a feather-down jacket, there is one main advantage that synthetic materials hold over natural fibers. Man-made insulation is normally very good at retaining heat when wet, which down struggles to do. Another benefit that comes from this is that synthetic down jackets will dry much faster than even the best down jackets, which tend to clump up and hold moisture for longer.
Retaining insulation properties when wet is a down jacket’s only downfall in my eyes and is something that outdoor companies have been working to tackle. With materials like Pertex now being used on some down jackets, you get some level of protection against light showers. If you are expecting rain or snow as well as cold temperatures, then you should always carry rain gear to prevent your down jacket from getting wet.
View our Comprehensive list of Waterproof Jackets that can be worn over a down jacket.
Different Types of Down Jacket Construction
When looking for the best down jackets, there are some construction features you should look out for. If the down feathers are Sewn Through in tubes (aka quilted through), this means that the outer material is stitched to the inner lining, allowing the feathers to be separated into lines. While this is a cheaper and still effective method of filling a down jacket, it does mean that you can end up with some cold spots if the feathers bunch together against the stitches.
Box-Baffled down jackets tend to be higher quality than sewn-through designs and require more fabric as well as more time to make. Instead of sewing the outer layer of the jacket directly to the inner lining, box baffles have an extra piece of fabric to join the outer and inner material of the jacket. This piece of material creates a box shape for the down feathers to sit in with no extra tension to pinch the feathers into a bunch.
Different Levels of Insulation (Fill Power)
The level of insulation that down jackets provide is often measured by Fill Power. Fill power indicates the space that 1 oz of down will fill in cubic inches when at its maximum loft. So 1 oz of 600 fill power down will occupy 600 cubic inches, 800 fill power will fill 800 cubic inches, and so on. As you can see in the image below, higher fill power means a larger size of the down cluster.
Larger down clusters are generally higher quality and will retain their maximum loft for longer. The largest down clusters come from mature birds and do a better job of trapping warm air in the insulation. Another detail you should look for when buying down products is the ratio of feathers to down. This is commonly found on the inside label of the garment and will be displayed as a percentage e.g. 90/10 (90% down / 10% feathers). The more down, the better.
Why Get a Down Jacket for Camping?
High-quality goose down is the best insulation material in the world for filling outdoor winter jackets. Slipping into one of the following top 10 best down jackets will provide you with instant warmth, even in sub-zero temperatures.
Goosedown offers one of the best weight-to-warmth ratios in the jacket industry. Ever heard the term “light as a feather”? Well… Down is lighter than feathers and can often weigh half as much as its comparative synthetic equivalent.
Because down is very fluffy and light, it can be compressed down to a very small size if needs be. While it is not advisable to store a down jacket under too much compression for long periods of time, packable down jackets are one of the most popular variations for backpacking.
The comfort you feel when putting on one of these top 10 best down jackets is unparalleled, and the sensation of the down baffles filling with warm air after just a few seconds makes wearing a down jacket such a pleasure when it’s cold outside. Like wearing a warm, soft pillow of air, down jackets also make great camping pillows when loosely packed into a stuff sack.
What is Hydrophobic Down?
In trying to find the best way to explain what hydrophobic down or HydroDown we came across a description that explains exactly what it is in one sentence:
“Hydrophobic down is the term usually given to down which has been coated with a hydrophobic (water-hating) chemical to make it absorb less water and dry out faster.” Mountain Equipment
Thank you for reading this list of the top 10 Best Down Jackets for staying warm this winter. Stay tuned for a list of the Best Lightweight and Packable Down Jackets. Subscribe!