A high quality down jacket is one of the best investments for any adventurer. However, choosing one can be daunting as many factors impact the comfort, suitability and warmth of the jacket.
To help you narrow down the choice we have analysed the best down jackets on the market and assessed them against a range of important criteria including weight, fill power and features. Use this review and comparison to find a jacket to suit all of your cold-weather adventures.
Top Pick: The North Face Summit Down Hoodie
Fill Rating: 800
Pros: Warm, ripstop fabric, secure-zip chest pocket, RDS certified, ideal for climbing
Cons: Hood cannot be stowed, waist is not adjustable
The North Face Summit Down is one of the most versatile down jackets available. With one of the best fill ratings on our list, it offers serious warmth making it ideal for use in the mountains. Some of the features we love include the large pockets that can still be easily accessed when wearing a harness and the helmet-compatible hood.
This is a midweight jacket that offers an excellent warmth to weight ratio. It is water-resistant thanks to the durable water repellent coating and treated down. The Summit Down Hoodie has an athletic fit while providing plenty of space for layering underneath. Although the waistline is not adjustable, the fit is tapered slightly at the waist.
The Summit Down Hoodie is a comfortable jacket that can handle the elements. It is not the lightest option on this list, take a look at the Arc’teryx Cerium LT for that, but it is warm, hooded and offers lots of convenient pockets including a zippered chest pocket.
Another feature we love is that the Summit Down can be packed away into one of the pockets when you’re not wearing it. This is a great choice as an insulating layer for most cold-weather adventures.
Lightweight and Affordable: Kathmandu Heli Lightweight Down Jacket
Fill Rating: 600
Pros: Lightweight, high collar, large pockets, RDS certified, packs away into its own pocket
Cons: Not as warm as other options, the hood is not adjustable
If you are looking for warmth without bulk the Kathmandu Heli Lightweight is ideal. This jacket weighs only 396g making it one of the lightest jackets on our list. With a fill power rating of 600, this jacket is great for everyday use but isn’t quite as insulated as the other options listed.
The inclusion of the chin guard and the adjustable hem help to keep you well protected against the elements while the large zip handwarmer pockets are convenient inclusions. One of the key features of the Heli jacket is how compressible it is, packing into its own pocket with ease to help save space.
One of the things we would change on this jacket is the hood. The hood is elasticated but it isn’t adjustable and cannot be detached or rolled away. Being able to adjust the hood so it sits snug would be great for both comfort and warmth but overall this is an excellent puffer jacket packed with useful features.
This down jacket offers excellent value for money, it is one of the most affordable options on the list and doesn’t sacrifice quality. The duck down is responsibly sourced (RDS certified) and the ripstop fabric has been treated with durable water repellent (DWR) finish so is water resistant too.
Best for Performance: Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody
Fill Rating: 850
Pros: Super light, very warm, packs down well
Cons: High price, hand pockets are quite shallow
The Arc’teryx Cerium LT is not only the lightest jacket on this list at an incredible 280g, but it is also one of the warmest offering an 850 fill power rating.
The warmth to weight ratio of this jacket is one of the best on the market. This is a performance jacket that you can rely on, it uses a mix of strategically placed down and synthetic insulation to help retain heat in wet conditions.
The slim fit and premium feel of the Arc’teryx Cerium LT makes it a stylish option for casual wear as well as active adventures. The hood is insulated, adjustable and helmet-compatible. The adjustability means the StormHood fits comfortable and evenly.
One thing to note about this jacket, especially compared to the large pockets of the Heli, is that the hand pockets are long but shallow so aren’t ideal for keeping hands warm when you’re not wearing gloves. If deep pockets are high on your requirement list then take a look at the Aconcagua, Summit Down or Heli jackets instead.
Unlike many of the other options listed, the Cerium LT comes with a separate stuff sack rather than being able to compress down into one of the pockets.
Overall, the Arc’teryx looks and feels great, the stitching is excellent and the lines are clean so you’re unlikely to find any loose threads. The top quality and high-performance design come with a higher price tag so you can expect to pay a bit more than the average down jacket.
Best All-Rounder: Patagonia Down Mens Sweater Hoody
Fill Rating: 800
Pros: Versatile, stylish, ideal for everyday use
Cons: Not as light as alternative options
The Patagonia Sweater Hoody is a great choice for everything from casual city wear to challenging outdoor adventures. The ripstop shell fabric is made from 100% recycled polyester and the down is traceable so it’s a good choice for sustainability.
The high end 800 fill power down gives the Patagonia Sweater Hoody excellent loft and compressibility. In terms of weight, this jacket falls in the middle of our list. It is not super lightweight but is not heavy either. The jacket can be stuffed into the interior chest pocket and packs down to a respectable size.
As expected from a Patagonia jacket, the fit and finish are high-quality and reliable. With 10D shell fabric, the jacket is durable and can handle vigorous use. The elasticated cuffs and adjustable hem help to make this warm and comfortable whatever the weather.
The fit of this jacket is multifunctional too, it looks refined and contoured while still leaving space for layering. The fit isn’t loose but it doesn’t quite have the trim cut seen with the Cerium LT. This helps to keep the Patagonia Sweater stylish and versatile.
We like the small touches like the fleece lined zipper top to improve comfort when the jacket is zipped all the way up with the collar up.
Non-Down Alternative: Rab Cirrus Flex 2.0 Hoody
Fill Rating: Not Listed
Pros: Breathable, versatile, warm, great for damper conditions, no animal products
Cons: Not as warm as other options
If you are looking for a water-resistant jacket that utilises synthetic insulation without reducing quality and efficiency, the Rab Cirrus is the one to choose. This jacket is a slim, active fit and has stretch panels in the sides to give ventilation and freedom of movement, making it ideal for climbers and walkers. However, the panels aren’t as effective as other options for keeping warmth in so this is perhaps not your best bet for spending time in the mountains.
The synthetic insulation means the Cirrus Flex will still keep you warm even in damp conditions, this is where the synthetic insulation alternative excels compared to down. One of the great things about this jacket is that virtually everything is recycled so if you are looking for a more sustainable option that is kind to the planet as well as our feathered friends, this is the one to choose.
The hood on this jacket is low profile and fits snugly around the face. The brushed chin guards help to keep in warmth when the collar is pulled up. The Rab Cirrus Flex 2.0 Hoody also packs into its own pocket offering excellent portability.
Fill Rating: 550
Pros: Breathable, large pockets, room for layering, elasticated cuffs
Cons: Heavier than other options, no interior zipper pocket
The North Face Aconcagua Down Jacket is an affordable option that provides decent warmth. At 540g it is one of the heavier options on our list. However, if you aren’t worried about packing light this is a very comfortable jacket.
If you are looking for a relaxed fit rather than an athletic or slim fit then go for this one. The Aconcagua offers enough room for a good base layer underneath. We love the tightly sewn baffled construction as it is durable and helps to keep the insulation well distributed to trap heat and avoid cold spots.
The zipper handwarmer pockets are large and useful but unlike most of the jackets listed, the Aconcagua does not have any interior pockets.
Using responsibly sourced down with a 550 fill power, this is one of the lower ratings so this is not the warmest jacket but still does a good job with layering. This insulated jacket is ideal for hiking but also suits other activities and casual wear around town too.
Fill Rating: 600
Pros: Adjustable hood and hem, sustainable, cord port in the pocket
Cons: Heavier, the zipper is not as durable as other options, separate stuff sack
The Kathmandu Eqip is a slightly heavier jacket that offers a range of features to help ensure warmth and comfort even in wet weather. The Eqip has the same fill rating as the Heli but is heavier so is better able to handle colder, wetter weather.
We like that both the hood and the hem are adjustable for a comfortable fit. Although most of the jackets listed, including the Summit Down, can be packed away into their own pockets, the Kathmandu Eqip comes with a separate stuff sack. Some people find a separate stuff sack is better but it is easier to misplace too. Although, the interior storage pocket is a perfect place to keep the sack safe while wearing the jacket.
One of the unique features of this down insulated jacket is the cord port that lets you use headphones while your device is stored safely in the interior pocket. The only thing we would change about the Eqip is the zipper as it’s not as strong and easy to use as some of the other jackets.
This is a great option in terms of sustainability as the outer fabric is recycled Pertex Quantum Eco and the duck down is responsibly sourced. The design and style of the Eqip are great too. We particularly like the design detail on the interior lining, it resembles the topographic lines on a map and is a great reminder that this jacket is made for adventures.
Fill Rating: 700
Pros: Ideal for wet weather, lots of features, good value, recycled materials
Cons: Doesn’t compress very well
The Rab Microlight Alpine ECO Jacket is one of the top choices for wet weather as it utilises several weather-resistant technologies that help to keep you dry. This includes the DWR outer and the recycled 700 fill power hydrophobic down.
With a fill power of 700 and a weight of 470g, this is a relatively lightweight down jacket that offers plenty of warmth. As well as offering excellent water resistance, this Rab uses recycled materials making it one of the more sustainable options too.
The fit of this hooded down jacket is slim but still offers enough space for wearing a layer underneath without limiting movement. One thing to keep in mind with the Rab Microlight Alpine is the compressibility isn’t great, particularly compared to the Summit Down and Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody which both pack down very small.
If you don’t mind the additional bulk of this jacket, it comes with a range of beneficial features including micro baffle construction, an adjustable hood, adjustable hem, a fleece chin guard and zippered hand pockets. The Rab Microlight Alpine Eco is also harness compatible and comes with a stuff sack.
Fill Rating: 700
Pros: Comfortable, stylish, warm
Cons: Heavy, difficult to pack away
If you are looking for an urban down jacket, the 1996 Retro Nuptse is great. It is styled like the popular streetwear puffer jackets of the 1990s with a boxy cut and relaxed fit.
The best thing about this jacket is how comfortable it is. At 720g this is the heaviest jacket on our list, this is certainly not the one to choose for mountain hikes or climbs but it will keep you warm and comfortable in town.
There is a hood that can be conveniently stowed away but it is incredibly lightweight and is not insulated so won’t provide warmth in cold, rainy weather.
While this jacket can be packed into its pocket, it is not an easy task. The effort is far more than it takes to pack away The North Face Summit Down Hoodie, or any of the other jackets on this list for that matter.
This is a jacket that perfectly blends comfort, style and nostalgia. It is great for keeping warm but the heavyweight and difficulty packing it away means this isn’t going to be the jacket for a lightweight mountain adventure.
PUFFER Jacket COMPARISON TABLE
|Down Jacket||Our Verdict||Weight||Fill Rating||Fill Weight||Denier||Pockets?||Stuffsack?||Other|
|The North Face Summit Down Hoodie||Top Pick||400g||800||Not listed||10D||Yes – hand, chest, internal||Helmet compatible hood|
|Kathmandu Heli Lightweight Down Jacket||Lightweight & Affordable||396g||600||118g||Not listed||Yes – hand, internal||Large pockets|
|Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody||Best for Performance||280g||850||102g||10D||Yes – hand, internal||Separate stuffsack||Packs down well|
|Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody||Best All-Rounder||428g||800||Not listed||20 x 30D||Yes – hand, internal||Adjustable drawcord hem|
|Rab Cirrus Flex 2.0 Hoody||Non-Down Alternative||422g||Not listed||110g||20D||Yes – hand, internal||Side panels|
|The North Face Aconcagua Jacket||Best Relaxed Fit||540g||550||150g||40D||Yes – hand, chest||No||Relaxed fit|
|Kathmandu Eqip Hooded Down Jacket||Best Heavy-Duty||640g||600||180g||Not listed||Yes – hand, internal (& cord port)||Separate stuffsack||Internal stretch cuffs|
|Rab Microlight Alpine ECO Jacket||Most Sustainable||470g||700||153g||20 x 30D||Yes – hand, chest||Separate stuffsack||Harness compatible, ideal for wet weather|
|The North Face 1996 Retro Nuptse Jacket||Best for Casual Wear||720g||700||Not listed||40 x 50D||Yes – hand||Stowable hood|
Down Jacket Buying Guide
Not sure what you need from your new down jacket? This buying guide will help you find the specs that best suit your needs.
The weight of the jacket is important if you are going to be taking it with you backpacking, skiing, mountaineering or climbing but is not as important for day to day use around town. When looking at the overall weight, also look at how much the jacket can compress for when you need to pack it away.
These are the main weight categories for down jackets:
- Ultralight – the ultralight down jacket is ideal for adventure sports from climbing to backpacking or skiing. These ultra-lightweight jackets use premium down and a thinner shell fabric to reduce their overall weight while still maintaining durability and weatherproofing.
- Lightweight – the lightweight down jacket is the most popular category as these jackets are suitable for everyday use and combine warmth and wearability.
- Midweight and Heavyweight – these heavier jackets are best suited to harsh winter conditions. They offer far more warmth than the lighter models but they are also puffier so don’t pack away very small.
The warmth to weight ratio is one of the key considerations of a down jacket. Using down as insulation helps to trap body heat keeping you warm and comfortable. The warmth of a jacket is not always obvious but it can be determined by looking at the fill power and the fill weight:
- Fill Power – this is how the quality of the down is rated. The higher the number the better the down is; for example, 900 fill power is better than 800 fill power. The higher fill power jackets can give you more warmth with a lower weight than lower fill power down. Entry-level jackets offer around 550 – 650 fill power while premium jackets offer around 800 fill power and higher.
- Fill Weight – this is the amount of down the jacket actually has and is important when figuring out how warm the jacket will be. The fill weight is particularly useful when comparing two jackets with a similar fill down rating. By looking at the fill weight you will be able to see which of the two is warmer. However, fill weight isn’t always listed so it may be worth contacting the manufacturer directly for this information if you are stuck deciding between two jackets.
The outer shell durability is measured by Denier, which is the weight of a thread. The denier rating can be a good comparison point as the higher the rating the heavier and more durable the outer fabric is.
The denier rating is where a lot of the ultralight jackets have reduced their overall weight but other factors can include zippers, hoods and fabric choice. The denier rating of down jackets tend to vary from 10D – 50D.
When discussing weight we also consider compressibility. This is how small the jacket can be packed away.
Usually down jackets come with either a separate stuff sack or they can be packed away into their own pocket. Being able to compress the jacket small is essential for packing it away in a day bag or backpack when it is not being worn.
Jackets with a higher fill power are easier to pack down, as are jackets with a smaller denier rating. While convenient, avoid storing your down jacket for a long time as prolonged compression can impact the jacket’s shape and effectiveness.
Baffle Vs Sewn Through
Baffles are the small chambers that hold the down. Each baffle separates the down with fabric so the insulation stays evenly distributed throughout the jacket. Although baffles require more material they eliminate holes in the outer fabric making the jackets more wind and water-resistant.
Sewn-Through jackets are the most common option and this construction is created by stitching through the outer fabric to the inner fabric lining. This creates chambers but is often more compressed than baffles meaning it reduces the optimum loft of the down insulation. Sewn-Through is lightweight but there can be cold spots around the seams.
One of the downsides to using down is that it becomes clumpy and doesn’t insulate well when wet. This is why some people prefer synthetic jackets over down jackets. However, many high-quality down jackets now come with hydrophobic down or have a durable water repellant treatment applied to the outer shell to help make sure they can handle some moisture.
Many down jackets come in a hooded and non-hooded version. The hooded version is generally preferred when hiking and climbing but it is worth making sure the hood can be adjusted and if it is helmet-compatible or not. Having a hood helps to keep you warm and is far more efficient than a hat as it covers your neck as well as your head. A non-hooded jacket is usually lighter and slightly cheaper but is better suited to casual use or use as a mid-layer
The final consideration is the fit of the jacket. The down jackets we have looked at range from slim fit such as the Arc’teryx Cerium LT to a casual fit such as The North Face Aconcagua. The fit of the jacket is important when considering your layering needs and jacket usage.