Best Down Jackets of 2023
What’s new: The REI Magma 850 Hoodie Men’s / Women’s and REI Stormhenge Men’s / Women’s are back in stock. We’ve added Inclusive Sizing to our What’s Most Important to You section; you can use this new sub-list to easily find which brands are leading the way in making the outdoors a more inclusive space for all. Finally, we’ve reconfirmed our top picks and added some new photos from our recent adventures.
All mountain adventures have one thing in common: cold. Whether you’re summiting snow-covered peaks in the middle of winter or summer camping by a creek on a clear night, it’s only a matter of time until you reach for the warmest thing you brought. In most cases that will be your puffy down jacket. When cold is inevitable and every gram of weight counts, down insulation offers unmatched packability and warmth in cold, dry conditions.
We’ve tested the best down jackets available on trails all over the world and scrutinized every detail so you can focus on what counts: getting out there.
Check out this quick list of the best down jackets, or continue scrolling to see our full list of favorites with in-depth reviews.
- Best ultralight down jacket: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 Men’s / Women’s
- Best down jacket for everyday wear: Cotopaxi Fuego Hoody Men’s / Women’s
- Best warmth-to-weight performance: Montbell Plasma 1000 Alpine Parka Men’s / Women’s
- Stylish & well-made jacket for all-around use: Patagonia Down Sweater Men’s / Women’s
- Best value down jacket: REI Magma 850 Hoodie Men’s / Women’s
- Best mid-weight down jacket: L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down Men’s / Women’s
- Best budget ultralight down jacket: REI 650 Down Men’s / Women’s
- Best waterproof down jacket: REI Stormhenge Men’s / Women’s
- Warmest down jacket for winter: Rab Neutrino Pro Men’s / Women’s
- Best synthetic ultralight jacket: Patagonia Micro Puff Men’s / Women’s
- Durable & comfortable jacket: Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Men’s / Women’s
- Streamlined, lightweight down jacket: Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody Men’s / Women’s
WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU IN A PUFFY JACKET?
PRICE – We can attest that high-quality jackets are well-worth the cost, but we know the price of some of the high-end jackets can be out of reach for some. If you’re willing to deal with a bit more bulk and weight, down jackets that utilize lower-fill-power down (around 650) cost much less and can be a good option.
- Best budget down jackets
- Best mid-range down jackets
- Best high-end down jackets
WEIGHT & PACKABILITY – Keeping weight to a minimum is important for activities like hiking and backpacking. If you’re looking for a jacket that packs down small and weighs as little as possible, you may need to go without some frills. Opt for a less puffy, but highly efficient jacket with a high fill power (more on fill power below in our Critical Considerations section).
WARMTH – During summer, a lightweight jacket might be all you need for warmth in the mornings and evenings. During shoulder seasons, it’s worth considering slightly burlier options that contain more insulating fill.Depending on how extreme the temperatures get, you may even want a winter-worthy alpine parka.
- Best down jackets for summer
- Down jackets with the best warmth-to-weight ratio
- Best down jacket for winter
DURABILITY – Manydown jackets are made with thin nylon, polyester, or Pertex fabrics. If you tend to be accident prone or you often adventure in particularly rugged places, you may want to consider a jacket with more durable fabric. Even the hardiest down jackets can get torn or develop holes though, so it’s wise to keep Tenacious Tape handy for field repairs.
INCLUSIVE SIZING – Everyone should have high performance options that make them feel great and look great. After all, the outdoors is for everyone!
- Down Jackets with inclusive sizing for men
- Down Jackets with inclusive sizing for women
WATERPROOFING – Modern down jackets are often made with tightly-woven fabrics and DWR coatings that repel water if you get caught in light precipitation. Most down jackets are not waterproof enough to stand alone in heavy rain and will eventually start to absorb moisture. We usually recommend buying a down jacket that’s compatible with your favorite rain shell, but there are some exceptions, like the 2-layer REI Stormhenge (men’s / women’s).
Sortable Down Jacket Comparison Table
|Down Jacket||Price||Weight||Fill Power||Fill Weight|
|1. Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2||$360||8.9 oz.||800||3.0 oz.|
|2. Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded||$275||14.0 oz.||800||4.2 oz.|
|3. MontBell Plasma 1000||$479||8.7 oz.||1000||3.4 oz.|
|4. Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie||$329||14.8 oz.||500||5.2 oz.|
|5. REI Magma 50 Down Hoodie||$249||12.3 oz.||850||Not listed|
|6. L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Hooded||$249||14.7 oz.||850||Not listed|
|7. REI 650 Down Jacket 2.0||$100||11.0 oz.||650||3.2 oz.|
|8. Rab Neutrino Pro||$385||21.3 oz.||800||7.5 oz.|
|9. Patagonia Micro Puff Hoodie||$329||10.5 oz.||Synthetic||2.3 oz.|
|10. Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Hoody||$300||18.0 oz.||700||4.6 oz.|
|11. Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody||$400||11.8 oz.||850||4.0 oz.|
|12. REI Stormhenge Down Hybrid||$279||31.8 oz.||850||Not listed|
Best Down Jackets of 2023
BEST ULTRALIGHT DOWN JACKET
WEIGHT: 8.8 oz.
FILL POWER / FILL WEIGHT: 800 / 3 oz.
PROS: Ultralight, excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, highly compressible, packs into its own pocket, wind/weather-resistant (DWR finish), layers easily
CONS: Expensive, no hood adjustments, no chest pocket, less durable than other jackets (general con of UL jackets), slim design isn’t for everyone
BOTTOM LINE: The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 (men’s / women’s) is everything you need for fast and light adventures, and nothing you don’t. It’s exceptional balance of warmth to weight is its key strength, but its sleek, layer-able design is also a huge plus. Supplement it with a lightweight fleece or a rain shell, and you’re set for cooler shoulder-season conditions. The price is a bit steep, but the Ghost Whisperer is a top-of-the-line down jacket that’s well worth the cost for anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors. If you’re willing to pay a bit more for even more warmth-to-weight efficiency, check out the Ghost Whisperer UL (men’s / women’s), which has upgraded 1,000 fill power down.
BEST DOWN JACKET FOR EVERYDAY WEAR
WEIGHT: 14 oz.
FILL POWER / FILL WEIGHT: 800 / 4.2 oz.
PROS: Great quality for the price, packs into its own pocket, hem adjustments, weather-resistant (DWR finish), layers easily, durable, stylish, inclusive sizing
CONS: A bit heavy for backpacking, slightly bulkier than some
BOTTOM LINE: You’ve probably seen the unmistakable style of the Cotopaxi Fuego Hoody (men’s / women’s) at your local ski mountain, climbing crag, trailhead, or brewery. Fun colorways make this jacket stand out when you see it, and high-quality materials and construction set it apart when you put it on.
Surprisingly the Fuego is one of the most affordable jackets on our list, but its weight, down quality, and warmth are on par with many of the higher priced hoodies we recommend. It’s not the lightest hoodie around, but its middling weight is still reasonable for backpacking in the cooler months of spring, fall, and winter
The Cotopaxi Fuego has quickly become one of our most reached-for jackets in our gear closet, and we highly recommend it for those looking for a good all-around down jacket with an emphasis on style.
BEST WARMTH-T0-WEIGHT PERFORMANCE
WEIGHT: 8.4 oz
FILL POWER / FILL WEIGHT: 1000 / 3.4 oz.
PROS: Ultralight, best warmth-to-weight ratio, highly compressible, hem & hood adjustments, wind/weather-resistant (Ballistic Airlight with DWR finish), layers easily
CONS: Very expensive, less durable than other jackets (general con of UL jackets), no chest pocket
BOTTOM LINE: The MontBell Plasma 1000 (men’s / women’s) is one of our go-to jackets for ultralight trips due to its exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio. Stuffed with the absolute highest quality down available (1000 fill-power), the Plasma is the most efficient insulator we’ve ever worn. This jacket weighs about the same as some of the other ultralight jackets on our list, but it definitely feels warmer. The biggest downside to the Plasma in our eyes is its price, which will make it prohibitive for many. However, if you’re a thru-hiker or dedicated backcountry traveler looking for top-of-the-line ultralight warmth for 3-season trips, the Plasma 1000 is well worth the investment.
STYLISH & WELL-MADE DOWN JACKET FOR ALL-AROUND USE
WEIGHT: 14.8 oz.
FILL POWER / FILL WEIGHT: 800 / 5.2 oz.
PROS: Great quality for the price, packs into its own pocket, hood & hem adjustments, wind/weather-resistant (DWR finish), layers easily, durable
CONS: Heavy for backpacking, more bulky than other jackets
BOTTOM LINE: The Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie (men’s / women’s) is a warm, well-rounded jacket that’s stylish and practical to wear on a daily basis. It’s offered at an affordable price point for the quality too. The Down Sweater may not be the most technical jacket on our list since it weighs a bit more than our top ultralight picks, but the same features that make it heavier also make it more durable over the long haul. We recommend the Down Sweater for casual use, but it would also work for hiking and backpacking in a pinch.
BEST VALUE DOWN JACKET
WEIGHT: 12.3 oz.
FILL POWER / FILL WEIGHT: 850 / not listed
PROS: Affordable, excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, highly compressible, packs into its own pocket, hem & hood adjustments, wind/weather-resistant, layers easily, inclusive sizing
CONS: Not the lightest jacket available, less durable than other jackets (general con of UL jackets), seasonal availability
BOTTOM LINE: If you’re looking for an awesome value, check out the REI Magma 850 Hoodie (men’s / women’s). Its warmth, comfort, and efficiency are on par with competing jackets that cost $100-220 more, while only being 2-3 oz. heavier. The Magma shines brightest for summer trips but also layers well for cooler seasons. The main downside is that it’s only available on a seasonal basis. If the Magma is out of stock in your size, be ready to pounce when new inventory is released (typically in the early fall) since it tends to sell out fast. We hope the Magma becomes available year-round since it’s a great value and one of our favorite jackets on the market.
BEST MID-WEIGHT DOWN JACKET FOR FALL, WINTER & SPRING
WEIGHT: 14.7 oz.
FILL POWER / FILL WEIGHT: 850 / not listed
PROS: Affordable, very warm, excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, highly compressible, packs into its own pocket, hem & hood adjustments, wind/weather-resistant, durable, layers easily, inclusive sizing
CONS: Too warm and a bit heavy for most 3-season backpacking trips
BOTTOM LINE: We’re very impressed with the stylish and warm L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Hoodie (men’s / women’s). This jacket is thoughtfully designed with great adjustments, premium weather-resistant fabric, and a generous amount of 850-fill-power down. And the UL 850 is offered at a great price for such a warm jacket with a practical weight. We might opt for a jacket that weighs a bit less for summer trips, but the UL 850 is our go-to for spring, fall, and winter days when our minimalist favorites aren’t quite warm enough.
BEST BUDGET ULTRALIGHT DOWN JACKET
WEIGHT: 10.9 oz.
FILL POWER / FILL WEIGHT: 650 / 3.2 oz.
PROS: Very affordable, ultralight, highly compressible, packs into its own pocket, wind/weather-resistant (DWR), layers easily, inclusive sizing
CONS: Not as warm as some jackets, less durable than some jackets (general con of UL jackets), no hem or hood adjustments (hooded version), no chest pocket, boxy fit
BOTTOM LINE: The REI 650 Down Jacket (men’s / women’s) is a great lightweight and compressible option for those on a budget. It’s simple, comfortable, and extremely versatile for around town or backcountry use. The 650 Down is made with lower-fill-power down, so it’s not quite as heat-efficient as some of the more technical jackets on our list. But, for the price, we’re happy with its performance, especially when layered with a lightweight fleece. The 650 Down is a great basic down jacket for an affordable price.
BEST WATERPROOF DOWN JACKET
WEIGHT: 1 lb. 15.8 oz.
FILL POWER / FILL WEIGHT: 850 & synthetic fill / not listed
PROS: Affordable, fully wind and waterproof, very warm, fleece-lined pockets, pit zips (breathable), 2-way zipper (climbing harness compatible), hem & hood adjustments, durable, inclusive sizing
CONS: Heavy, more bulky than other jackets, less versatile than a separate down jacket and rain shell
BOTTOM LINE: The REI Stormhenge (men’s / women’s) is a unique two-in-one option that offers warmth and protection from the elements in one jacket. While it’s not as versatile as two separate jackets for backcountry trips, we found the Stormhenge to be very cozy and convenient for everyday outdoor wear in chilly, wet conditions. We love that it has pit zips to dump excess body heat when you’re on the move and a two-way zipper for easy access to a belay loop for climbing. We recommend the Stormhenge for those who prefer an all-in-one insulated, rain-proof jacket instead of multiple layers in the frontcountry.
WARMEST DOWN JACKET FOR WINTER
WEIGHT: 1 lb. 5.3 oz.
FILL POWER / FILL WEIGHT: 800 / 7.5 oz.
PROS: Very warm, excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, highly compressible, hem & hood adjustments, fleece-lined pockets, 2-way zipper (climbing harness compatible), wind/weather-resistant, durable
CONS: Expensive, heavy, bulky, too warm for most 3-season ultralight backpacking trips
BOTTOM LINE: If you’re looking for a technical jacket that’ll keep you toasty on winter camping trips or alpine ascents, theRab Neutrino Pro (men’s / women’s) is an excellent choice. It’s stuffed to the gills with 800-fill-power down for maximum heat retention and features solid hardware, durable high-tech fabric, and excellent craftsmanship that justifies the steep price. The Neutrino is a bit heavier than some other jackets, but it’s actually very practical in its weight and packability for the level of warmth it provides. The Neutrino Pro is super high quality and it’s our go-to when we expect really cold conditions.
BEST SYNTHETIC ULTRALIGHT JACKET
WEIGHT: 10.5 oz.
FILL POWER / FILL WEIGHT: Polyester Pluma Fill / 2.3 oz.
PROS: Ultralight, highly compressible, packs into its own pocket, wind/weather-resistant, layers easily
CONS: Not as warm as some jackets, no hem or hood adjustments, no chest pocket, less durable than some jackets (general con of UL jackets), synthetic insulation breaks down over time
BOTTOM LINE: Patagonia’s Micro Puff Hoodie (men’s / women’s) is one of the lightest jackets you can get, which makes it great for summer evenings or ultralight hiking and backpacking trips. The Micro Puff uses synthetic PlumaFill insulation, which provides lightweight warmth, great compressibility, and performs slightly better when wet compared to down. We really like the slim athletic cut, the elastic form-fitting hood, and the way the jacket moves with you. The Micro Puff will serve you well on most warm-weather adventures, but you may want something a bit loftier and warmer for cooler fall, winter, and spring months.
DURABLE & COMFORTABLE DOWN JACKET
WEIGHT: 1 lb. 2 oz.
FILL POWER / FILL WEIGHT: 700 / 4.6 oz.
PROS: Great quality for the price, comfortable (soft & stretchy), durable, highly compressible, layers easily
CONS: Heavy for backpacking, bulkier than other jackets, no hood adjustments
BOTTOM LINE: We love the Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Hoody (men’s / women’s) for its exceptional comfort and durability. The rugged stretch fabric makes it easy to move freely in for athletic activities and also far less likely to catch or tear when we’re doing yard work. The Stretchdown Jacket contains 700-fill-power down, so it isn’t the warmest jacket on our list, but it’s great for all but the bitterest cold and the unique baffle system eliminates cold spots. The Stretchdown is one of the most comfortable jackets we’ve found for casual everyday wear, and it’s our top choice for rock climbing and tough outdoor jobs.
STREAMLINED, LIGHTWEIGHT DOWN JACKET
WEIGHT: 11.8 oz.
FILL POWER / FILL WEIGHT: 850 / 4 oz.
PROS: Lightweight, highly compressible, sleek & stylish, wind/weather-resistant (DWR finish), layers easily
CONS: Expensive, not very adjustable, no chest pocket, less durable than other jackets (general con of UL jackets), slim design isn’t for everyone, runs small (we recommend sizing up if you’re on the edge)
BOTTOM LINE: The Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody (men’s / women’s) is an attractive streamlined jacket made with top-quality materials. It’s exceptionally compressible and is a great layering piece for three-season use. Unfortunately, we find the Cerium a bit basic for such a high price point. It fits wonderfully (as long as you have a slim body type), but leaves a bit to be desired as far as adjustments. For the price and weight savings, we’d probably go for a jacket like the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 for ultralight backpacking, though some may find the Cerium more attractive style-wise and worth the additional chunk of change.
The following down jackets didn’t make our final list, but they’re very popular and they’ve still got a lot of good things going for them. You never know, one of these jackets might be perfect for you:
- Feathered Friends EOS Men’s / Women’s – very high fill power down jacket with a large hood
- Sierra Designs Whitney Hoodie Men’s / Women’s – stylish budget-friendly down jacket on the heavy side
- Marmot Hype Down Hoody Men’s / Women’s – heavy, but generously stuffed for the price down jacket
- Amazon Essentials Lightweight Hooded Puffer Men’s / Women’s – budget synthetic jacket for non-technical use in mild weather
CRITICAL Down Jacket CONSIDERATIONS
NOT JUST FOR WINTER – You might first imagine a winter scene when you think of a puffy jacket. But, if you’re like us, you’ll probably use your down jacket year-round. Even during the summer (especially on backpacking trips), we wear our down jackets multiple times a day. Puffies make frigid mornings and evenings in the mountains much more bearable and are also convenient to pull out on breaks when you’re hiking. On top of that, they make great pillows for backpacking trips and can increase the warmth of your sleep system (sleeping bags / pads) on extra chilly nights.
NOT JUST FOR BACKPACKING – Down and synthetic jackets are not only great for the backcountry, they’re also practical and stylish to wear around town. They pack down small enough to keep handy in a backpack and they’re also really easy to pack in luggage for travel. Low-profile designs fit well underneath a rain shell, look sleek, and compliment every outfit.
HOODED VS. NON-HOODED JACKETS – Most down jackets are designed with hoods, but there are a few awesome non-hooded options out there too. Hooded down jackets trap heat more efficiently because you can cover your head and neck, but they’re typically more expensive. Non-hooded down jackets will need to be paired with a warm hat in really cold conditions, but they tend to be a little more compressible and they’re easier to layer when worn as a mid-layer.
WHERE DOES DOWN COME FROM? – Down is the fluffy, small plumage found underneath the outer feather layer on waterfowl birds, mostly ducks and geese. These tiny filament fibers insulate the birds and keep them warm even in frigid conditions. Most down is a byproduct of the meat industry, 70% of it coming from China.
AVOIDING INFERIOR QUALITY AND POOR ETHICS – Sometimes affordable down jackets are stuffed with materials other than down or contain only a small amount of down that’s blended with feathers or filler. For the best insulating value and warmth-to-weight ratio, look for jackets that are made with 100% duck or goose down. If the fill power isn’t advertised, it’s likely the jacket isn’t top quality and won’t compress very well. Inexpensive down jackets are also sometimes made with materials that are unethically sourced. To be sure you aren’t supporting bad practices like force feeding or live plucking, check whether a company uses traceable down or complies with the Responsible Down Standard. Companies that use good practices are generally proud of it and clearly state it for their customers to see. For us, it’s worth paying a bit more for the peace of mind.
WHAT IS FILL POWER? – Fill power is a measurement of the “fluffiness” of the down. The higher the number, the more efficient the down is at insulating. The warmth of the jacket also depends on how much down it’s stuffed with (typically in oz.), so it’s important to look at both fill power and fill weight. Just remember, the greater the fill power, the loftier the fibers are. This means that you need a smaller amount of high-quality down to trap the same amount of body heat that a larger amount of low-quality down would. So high-fill-power jackets are usually slimmer, lighter, and more packable. The warmest down jackets will also have hoods, cinches at the cuffs/hem, and wind-proof fabric to help retain maximum body heat.
WHEN HIGH FILL POWER MATTERS – 800+-fill-power down products like clothing, quilts, and sleeping bags are generally much more expensive than lower-fill-power products. But for activities like backpacking where weight and bulk matter a lot, it makes sense to spend more money for highly efficient down that compresses easily to fit into a backpack and fluffs back up when you need it. For times when packability and weight aren’t as important however, a super puffy jacket stuffed full of lower-fill-power down will keep you just as warm.
HYDROPHOBIC DOWN – Goose and duck down are naturally hydrophobic to start with. The problem is that unwashed down smells and can rot if it’s not stripped of the majority of its natural oils, so it gets thoroughly cleaned which reduces its hydrophobic properties. Some outdoor apparel companies choose to treat their down with chemicals to make it absorb less water and dry out faster if exposed to moisture. To make the down more hydrophobic again after washing, PFC-based, silicone-based, or wax-based coatings can be applied, but the jury is still out on whether or not they make much of a difference. As far as we can see, hydrophobic treatments don’t hinder the performance of down, however, they do increase the environmental impact of manufacturing. If you really want to make sure your down jacket stays dry, the best defense is a good water-repellent shell and taking care to keep it out of conditions it’s not intended for.
WASHING– Down is a durable material, but it loses some of its efficiency when it gets oily or dirty over time. If properly maintained, a down jacket can last for many years. For details on down care, visit ourHow to Wash a Down Coat tutorial.
need more Gear advice?
If you liked this list, you’ll love the CleverHiker Gear Guide where we test and recommend tons of outdoor adventure gear from a variety of categories. here are some links to popular articles:
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