A good down jacket is a favourite insulator among backpackers, hikers and anyone else who spend a lot of time in the outdoors. Part of it is that down has one of the best warmth to weight ratios of any insulating material out there. But down is also great because it packs down extremely small. Still, there are some big differences between how well certain down will pack down, and the most packable down jacket will have a few certain things going for it.
Packable Down JacketWhat to look for when you're looking for a packable down jacket.
- Down Quality – First and foremost, you need to be paying attention to the quality of the down if you want a packable down jacket. 900+ fill down lofts better than 700+ fill down, meaning that you need less of the 900+ fill down to provide the same amount of warmth. And less down means a more packable down jacket.
- Hood – A hood on a down jacket is a useful feature, especially when the temperature drops and you start getting cold. But if you’re worried first and foremost about how packable your down jacket is, then eliminating excess features, like a hood, will help you cut down on the size of your down jacket.
Best Packable Down JacketSome of the most packable down jackets for men and women.
- Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoodie Jacket (Women's) - This is a good compromise of features and lightweight design. It uses 800+ fill down, which isn't the highest quality available, but it's a relatively thin jacket, so there isn't a whole lot of insulation, which helps to make it packable. It also has a few features, like a hood and a few zippered pockets, that add to the bulk, but will also go a long ways towards keeping you warm. So it walks the line between functionality and packability well. It weighs 9 ounces, or 255 grams.
- Mont Bell Ex Light Down Jacket (Women's) - The Ex Light is what you want if something truly lightweight and packable is what you desire. The Ex Light uses the very high quality 900+ fill down, which is about the best you will get when it comes to down quality. And while it's a thinner down jacket, like the Patagonia jacket above, this one has no hood and even no hand pockets, so it really has been designed with weight and packability front and center. The whole jacket weighs a very impressive 5.7 ounces, or 161 grams.
- GoLite Bitterroot Down Jacket (Women's) - The Bitterroot is an ideal choice if you want something a little warmer. It's packed with 850+ fill down, and plenty of it, which will keep you warmer than either of the two jackets above. But of course, the high quality down makes it as packable as possible, relative to warmth. It also has a hood and a couple of zippered hand warming pockets to keep those extremities warm too. It weighs a little more, at 13 ounces or 370 grams, but with all the extra down packed in to keep you warm in colder weather, that's to be expected.