The best thing about down jackets is their weight. Which, if you’re a backpacker, hiker or camper, should be an important metric when considering what kind of jacket to take with you. The only real problem with using down as an insulating material is that it does not do so well in wet conditions. There are ways around that, which the best down jackets may use of, but it’s something that you definitely have to keep in mind when buying and wearing down jackets.
Best Down JacketWhat to look for when you're reviewing down jackets.
- Down Quality – There is a wide range of down qualities, which are indicated by the fill number. 700 fill down, for instance, is not nearly as good as 900 fill down. The 900 fill down will provide the same amount of warmth that the 700 fill down does, but with less down, and thus, less weight.
- Waterproof – The one big weakness of down is water, but the best down jackets prevent, or at least mitigate this problem, by having a waterproof, usually water repellent exterior. That way, things like rain showers and snow flurries get shrugged off, and the down stays dry, and warm.
Best Down Jacket ReviewsReviews of some of the better down jackets on the market, for both men and women.
Best Down Jackets for Men
- Mont Bell Ex Light Down Jacket - This is a down jacket designed with backpackers and campers in mind. It uses very high quality 900+ fill down, which both makes it extremely lightweight, at 5.7 ounces, or 161 grams, and also extremely compact when packed up, so that it fits very well in a backpack. And at that light weight it also manages to have a water repellent finish on the outer nylon, so that the down is protected from moisture. Definitely one of the best down jackets around.
- Patagonia Down Sweater - The Down Sweater from Patagonia is similar to the Ex Light from Mont Bell in design, with a basic front zip, high collar, elasticized cuffs and water resistant finish, but also two zippered pockets for your hands, which the Ex Light lacks. But this jackets only uses 800+ fill down, which is high quality, but not 900+ fill like the Ex Light. It also weighs considerable more, at 11 ounces, or 311 grams, making it a less attractive option for backpackers and campers.
Best Down Jackets for Women
- Mont Bell Ex Light Down Jacket - Very similar to the Ex Light for men above, but with a woman's fit. It lacks most extras, including pockets, but it makes up for that in weight, which is a very light 4.7 ounces, or 133 grams. Part of how it gets so low in terms of weight is that it uses 900+ fill down, which is the highest quality you will find on most commercial products. That high quality down means it will also pack down extremely small, so an ideal choice for backpackers and campers. It also has a water repellent finish.
- Patagonia Down Sweater - Another down jacket, this one very similar in design to the Ex Light, the only major difference that's immediately obvious being that it has two zippered hand pockets. There are a few other differences that you don't see, however, including the 800+ fill down, and the weight, which is considerably more, at 11 ounces, or 311 grams. And it has a water repellent finish, to protect the down from moisture.