When it comes to staying warm in cold weather, nothing beats a down jacket. In addition to being warm, the best down jackets are also incredibly lightweight and compressible, allowing you to take them anywhere with you. Because of this, they are the favorite apparel of many hikers, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
If you want to get the most out of your down jacket, you need to consider more than just its style. Factors like down fill power and weight also play important roles because they directly show you how warm a jacket is. To help you choose, we’ve created a buying guide that will debunk all of these terms. In addition, our down jacket reviews will present the best down jackets so you can stay warm and cozy regardless of the temperature.
How To Choose A Down Jacket – Buying Guide
Based on their design and additional features, down jackets can be sorted into a few different categories. All of these have their pros and cons, so we’ll say a few words about each of them so you can easily figure out what you need.
Ultralight Down Jacket – These jackets usually feature a smaller amount of high-quality down with a high fill power (over 600). They are very warm, comfortable, and pack down very small. However, a down jacket ultralight model won’t be enough for very cold weather and might get damaged easier than heavy jackets.
Down Sweaters – This type of jacket is a little heavier than the best ultralight option, which makes it great for both layering and everyday use. While they are a bit bulkier when packed, they are often warmer than an ultralight down jacket.
Heavyweight Jackets – If you want to wear a down jacket in winter, this is what you should look for. Not only do these feature high-quality down, but they also have a lot of it inside. In addition, they come with stronger shells that make them more durable. They are a bit heavier and bulkier, but it’s worth it if you need additional protection.
Size and Fit
For a down jacket to keep you warm and cozy, you need to get the right size and fit. Since it relies on trapping air to keep you warm, you need to make sure that the jacket doesn’t leave too much space around your body. Down jackets are sold in standard sizes, but we advise that you double-check the size chart and see whether a model runs true to size.
As for the fit, down jackets need to be fairly snug in all areas. Some of the puffer jacket best models allow you to adjust the fit and come with cinch drawcords at the hem or waist, as well as elastic or Velcro cuffs. Thanks to this, you’ll be able to close all the gaps and prevent wind from getting in the jacket.
Style and Design
While style shouldn’t be the first consideration, we can all agree that it’s important when choosing a jacket. While a lot of these jackets have a similar quilted design, there can still be some differences between them. These differences include quilt size, hem length, pocket placement, and whether the jacket has a hood or not.
The weight of a jacket is important both when wearing it and when carrying it in your backpack. All down jackets are very lightweight, meaning they won’t cause any discomfort while wearing. However, there are still small differences in weight between them caused by the down weight and down fill powers. To help you with this, we’ve listed the weight for all the best down jackets for men and women that we’ve featured.
When it comes to shell materials, the most common choices are nylon and polyester. Keep in mind, however, that these materials can’t be too thick so they don’t increase the overall weight (Denier rating usually between 10 and 20D). Because of this, even the best down jackets can be fairly easy to damage on sharp objects or branches if you’re not careful.
Compressibility And Packability
Another big upside to getting a down jacket is the fact that it can be compressed to a very small size. How much you’ll be able to compress it mostly depends on the down fill quality (loftier down compresses better). Thanks to this, the jacket will take very little space in your backpack. Some of the best down jackets can even be stuffed into their own pocket, making packing even more convenient.
Water protection is what separates a good down jacket from a great one. While down isn’t naturally resistant to water, your jacket can still give you very decent rain protection. For example, some jackets come with DWR coating on the shell that repels water and prevents it from soaking in. On top of this, some models feature specially treated down (Down Defender) that won’t get soaked and lose its insulating properties.
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The main reason for buying a down jacket is getting additional insulation and warmth. The benefit of these jackets is that they can work on their own in moderately cold weather, or be used as a mid-layer when temperatures drop below zero. The overall warmth of a particular padding jacket depends on fill power and fill weight, which we’ll explain in detail in the next section.
Fill Power and Weight
When choosing any type of down garment, fill power, and fill weight are two of the most important factors to consider. Down fill power represents its ability to trap air and insulate you. On the other hand, down weight represents the amount of down used in a particular jacket. Logically, higher fill power and more weight mean a warmer jacket.
While this is not the first thing you look at when buying a new jacket, additional features still play an important role when it comes to functionality. For example, zippered side pockets are a really nice addition for keeping your hands warm. Furthermore, an inner pocket might be very useful for stashing your valuables.
One more feature we like to see in the best ultralight down jacket is a hood, as it gives you additional head protection on windy days. It’s even better if the hood can be stowed away or even completely removed when you don’t need it. Lastly, adjustable cuffs and hems are very useful at preventing wind from getting inside the jacket.
Q: What Is A Down Jacket?
A down jacket is a type of jacket that is filled with down, sourced from either ducks or geese. These jackets are excellent insulators and keep your body warm, which is why they are a favorite for many hikers and campers. In addition to wearing them on their own, you can also use them as a layer under a waterproof hardshell. While they might cost more than a standard jacket, the warmth they provide will make the investment worth it.
Q: What Are The Benefits Of A Down Jacket?
The main benefit is the warmth it gives you. Down is very lofty and traps a lot of air, which results in very impressive insulation. It has an impressive warmth-to-weight ratio, so a down jacket lightweight design can keep you warm in very low temperatures. Lastly, the down jackets packable and compressible design makes it easy to carry them in your backpack as a backup.
Q: How Warm Are Down Jackets?
Q: What If I Am Allergic To Down? Can I Still Wear This Jacket?
Q: How To Patch A Down Jacket?
The first thing you need to do is clean the area around the tear. Afterward, get the repair patch and cut it just slightly larger than the hole. After this, it’s time to remove the backside of the tape and add the patch. We advise that you always use an adhesive patch and avoid sewing kits.
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Q: How To Wash A Down Jacket?
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If you’re looking for warmth, ultralight down jackets are the smartest choice. In addition to great insulation, they are also very lightweight and easy to carry anywhere you go. We hope that our buying guide and reviews have helped you decide and pick a jacket with the right style and down fill to keep you warm on all of your outdoor adventures.
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