The 3 Best Down Jackets Brands For Winter [2020 Reviews]

These 3 Exceptional Products Make Our List Of Best Packable Down Jackets

In this side-by-side product review and comparison, Outside Pursuits leads you through everything you need to know in order to pick the best down jacket for your specific needs and winter weather conditions.

We’ll take a look at what makes a great down-filled jacket and what to avoid. Also see How To Choose The Best Down Jacket  later in the article. So, what is the best down jacket?

Quick Answer: The 3 Best Down Jackets Reviewed

Best Men’s Down Jackets

  1. Arcteryx Cerium SV Hoody – Men’s Down Jacket
  2. North Face Novelty Nuptse Jacket – Men’s
  3. Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded Jacket – Men’s

Best Women’s Down Jackets

  1. Arcteryx Cerium SV Hoody – Women’s Down Jacket
  2. North Face Novelty Nuptse Jacket – Women’s
  3. Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded Jacket – Women’s

Best Down Jackets

 Arcteryx Cerium SV HoodyNorth Face Novelty Nuptse Jacket
Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded Jacket
editors choice
Mens
Womens
Down Fill Power
850
700
750
Insulated Hoodie Built-InYesYesYes
Customer Reviews Rating4.6 / 5.04.4 / 5.04.1 / 5.0

Also see: Down Jackets Comparison Table and YouTube Video Review


 Best Down Jacket Reviews

down jackets editors choice

Men’s Arcteryx Cerium SV Hoody Down Jacket at a Glance:

  • Shell Fabric: Nylon
  • Down Fill Power: 850-fill goose down
  • Weight: Lightweight (415 g / 14.6 oz)
  • Fit: Regular Fit, Hip Length, Centre back length: 63 cm / 24.8 in, Centre back length: 69.5 cm / 27.4 in
  • Layer: Performs as mid-layer or standalone
  • Pockets: Internal zippered security pocket with stuff-sack; two down-lined zippered hand pockets
  • Activity: All-round
  • Weather: Severe weather
  • Care: Machine wash in warm water; tumble dry on low. Do not iron or use fabric softener.
Arcteryx’s Cerium technology has an incredibly high warmth to weight ratio. This lightweight down jacket will keep you insulted on long outdoor adventures in the roughest winter conditions, without weighing you down and adding to your load. This is the best packable down jacket in our opinion – it compresses down smaller than you can imagine.

Arc'teryx - Men's Cerium SV Hoody - Triton

The lightweight fabric allows for full range of motion, so this is one of the best winter jackets for winter mountaineering. We love the full coverage of the StormHood™ design – when ice-cold winds start to chill your face, just pull on your hood and Arcteryx’s No Slip Zip™ and Cohaesive™ cordlock adjusters ensure your skin stays protected throughout the storm.

This down jacket can really be worn in any situation. If you intend on wearing it in rain, just make sure you wear an additional waterproof shell overtop – this was meant for rugged winters, not April rainfalls!


down jackets editors choice

Women’s Arcteryx Cerium SV Hoody Down Jacket at a Glance:

  • Shell Fabric: Nylon
  • Down Fill Power: 850-fill goose down
  • Weight: Lightweight (395 g / 13.9 oz)
  • Fit: Trim fit, Hip Length, Centre back length: 68 cm / 26.8 in
  • Layer: Performs as mid-layer or standalone
  • Pockets: Internal zippered security pocket with stuff-sack; two down-lined zippered hand pockets
  • Activity: All-round
  • Weather: Severe weather
  • Care: Machine wash in warm water; tumble dry on low. Do not iron or use fabric softener.
Just like the men’s version of this jacket, the women’s offers full movement thanks to its lightweight and streamlined design. It hugs a bit tighter than the men’s version, which, in our opinion, is ideal for snowstorms and winter blusters.

Arc'teryx - Women's Cerium SV Hoody - Purple Reign

The jacket might feel soft, but it is highly durable. It’s made with wind resistant and moisture-resistant technology, and build-in elastic cuffs that make sure your arms and mitts never slip out of place. Like the men’s version, it is compressible, making it one of the best packable down jackets for women we’ve found.


Men’s North Face Novelty Nuptse Jacket at a Glance:

  • Shell Fabric: 100% nylon plain weave
  • Down Fill Power: 700-goose fill down, certified by the Responsible Down Standard (RDS)
  • Weight: 850 g (30 oz)
  • Fit: Standard fit, center back 27”, length from center back 27”
  • Layer: Outer layer or standalone
  • Pockets: Stowable internal chest pocket, covered zip-secure hand pockets
  • Activity: All-round
  • Weather: Severe weather
  • Care: Machine wash
If you can’t tell from our specifications, there is nothing novel about this jacket, except for the fun prints and color options it comes in. If you find hoods annoying, this is a great jacket – it doesn’t have a hood, but a nice high neck line and extra warmth with double-layer taffeta on the shoulders.

If you already have a wardrobe full of North Face products, it’s hard not to continue buying the line, 1) for the amazing product quality and 2) because of how seamless the products integrate with one another. This down jacket has zip-in-compatible integration with complementing garments from The North Face®.


Women’s North Face Nuptse Jacket at a Glance:

  • Shell Fabric: Nylon, recycle polyester
  • Down Fill Power: 700-goose fill down, certified by the Responsible Down Standard (RDS)
  • Weight: 870 g (30.68 oz)
  • Fit: Standard fit, center back 27”, length from center back 27”
  • Layer: Outer layer or standalone
  • Pockets: Secure-zip hand warmer pockets, internal chest pocket
  • Activity: All-round
  • Weather: Severe weather
  • Care: Machine wash
Like the men’s version, there is no hood, but a high, soft-brushed collar you can zip up or snap down. Typically, many women’s down jackets can look bulky or shapeless – but this jacket has a nice streamline silhouette.

We love how eco-conscious this winter jacket is: the exterior is made of recycled polyester taffeta, and the interior is Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certified. Finally, you don’t have to sacrifice warmth, weight, and quality for an environmentally-friendly down jacket! You can buy this jacket and feel good about its minimal environmental footprint.


Men’s Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded Jacket at a Glance:

  • Shell Fabric: Synthetic stretch welded fabric
  • Down Fill Power: Q.Shield™ DOWN 800-fill RDS Cert/Fluorine Free
  • Weight: 1 lb 2 oz / 507 g
  • Fit: Active; Center Back Length: 28 in / 70 cm
  • Layer: Standalone, mid-layer
  • Pockets: Zippered hand-warmer pockets, outer chest pocket
  • Activity: Any mobile outdoor activity
  • Weather: Winter weather
  • Care: Machine wash, tumble dry
This is one of the best winter jackets for men who are concerned about chemicals in their clothing. The down insulation is completely fluorine free, which is quite rare. The exterior fabric has great stretch, and the jacket is just as warm at the others we’ve reviewed.

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Down

Just note, this is the heaviest of the ‘best down jackets’ we’ve reviewed. Whether this matters to you or not is dependent on your lifestyle. For instance, if you’re keen on finding a packable down jacket, or an ultra-light down jacket, this isn’t the winter coat for you.


Women’s Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded Jacket at a Glance:

  • Shell Fabric: 100% Polyester
  • Down Fill Power: Q.Shield® DOWN 750-Fill
  • Weight: 15.5 oz / 438 g
  • Fit: Standard; Center Back Length: 25 in / 64 cm
  • Layer: Standalone or outer
  • Pockets: Zippered hand-warmer pockets
  • Activity: Skiing & snowboarding
  • Weather: Rain & snow
  • Care: Machine wash, tumble dry
There are a lot of excellent ladies down jackets on the market – but very few that are water-resistant inside and out. Mountain Hardwear’s patented Q.Shield Down fibers are infused with permanent water repellency technology, keeping you completely insulated and dry.

This is the only women’s down coat we’ve found that has water repellent down fill, making it a great choice if you want to stretch this coat across seasons. We recommend only doing this if your fall/spring is exceptionally cold.


Down Jackets Comparison Table

Best Men’s Down Jackets Down Fill Power
Insulated Hoodie Built-InSpecial FeaturesCustomers Rating
Arcteryx Cerium SV Hoody – Men’s Down Jacket850YesInternal zippered security pocket with stuff-sack; two down-lined zippered hand pockets4.6 / 5.0 Stars
North Face Novelty Nuptse Jacket – Men’s700YesStowable internal chest pocket, covered zip-secure hand pockets4.3 / 5.0 Stars
Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded Jacket – Men’s750YesZippered hand-warmer pockets, outer chest pocket3.7 / 5.0 Stars
Best Women’s Down Jackets
Arc'teryx Cerium SV Hoody Women's850Yes Internal zippered security pocket with stuff-sack; two down-lined zippered hand pockets5.0 / 5.0 Stars
North Face Novelty Nuptse Jacket – Women’s700Yes Secure-zip hand warmer pockets, internal chest pocket5.0 / 5.0 Stars
Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded Jacket – Women’s750YesZippered hand-warmer pockets4.0 / 5.0 Stars

How to Choose the Best Down Jacket

Do you enjoy adventures in the outdoors, even when the temperature is below zero? If you do, you probably already know how crucial a good down jacket is. There is no type of winter coat that offers better insulation, ease of movement, or comfort.

If you’re new to sub-zero escapades, buying a down jacket can be a little bit intimidating. There are a lot of specifications to consider: from down fill power, to weight, to fit.

If you’ve read our reviews and still can’t decide which down jacket is right for you, you might need some down jacket education. We’ve created a buyer’s guide to help you uncover the perfect down jacket qualifications for your next purchase.

The Difference of a Down Fill Jacket vs. Synthetic Fill Jacket

To start off nice and easy, we’ll describe what a down jacket is: it’s a warm winter jacket with an insulated interior. When we use the term “down jacket,” we mean the real deal – plumage that comes for a goose, duck, or a combination of the two.

down filled jackets

We like genuine down fill jackets better than synthetic because they offer greater warmth for the weight, better breathability, and are easy to compress and compact for travel. Duck and goose feathers are truly one of the best insulators for trapping warm air and retaining heat.

Synthetic down fill jackets are heavier than down fill, for the same level of warmth and insulation. They don’t offer the same level of breathability and can’t compress nearly as well, but they do have their benefits.

They can be more durable and resistant to cuts in the fabric and generally have better water resistant properties. Plus, they tend to be more hypoallergenic than down fill jackets and are less expensive.

However, down fill jackets maintain their warmth and shape for up to 20 years, whereas synthetic fill jackets are typically good for 5 to 10 years.

Feather Quality

As mentioned, down jackets are either insulated with goose feathers, duck feathers, or a combination of both. In general, goose feathers are larger, loftier, and softer than duck feathers, making them a better insulator and more expensive jacket.

You’ve probably heard of Canada Goose – one of the best down jacket brands around. Their products are of the highest quality, and come with an incredibly high price point, too (ranging in the $1,000s!). They are revered for their goose down insulation; the very best you can find.

In our opinion, goose feathers, duck feathers, or a combination of the two are all fantastic insulators and lead to an excellent, long-lasting, warm down coat.

Down Fill Power

You’ve probably noticed that we include “Down Fill Power” as one of the specifications when we review a goose down jacket. Down Fill Power is a measure of the loft of the down fabric and its insulating capabilities. Basically, the higher the down fill power number, the more insulating a down jacket will be.

Best Down Jacket

There’s a lot of science behind it – the more air pockets in the down, the better at insulation the jacket will be. Companies go through rigorous testing to understand their products down fill number. Typically, an ounce of down is compressed by weight in a glass cylinder, and its ability to loft or expand back is how the down fill power is determined.

To keep it simple, reference our down fill power chart when searching for the warmest winter jacket:

Down Fill Power

Level of Insulation

500 – 600Warm, lightweight, and durable. Good for winter weather on a day-to-day basis.
600 – 700High warmth to weight ratio; lightweight insulation for cold winter weather.
700 – 800Outstanding warmth to weight ratio; high loftiness and compressibility.
800 – 900The highest quality and warmth to weight ratio commercially available. Highly compressible, ultralight, and amazingly warm.


Hoods and Pockets

Don’t get caught up only focusing on the fine details – pay attention to the functionality of the jacket as well.

Hoods are an important feature to consider. They generally keep you warmer and save you the hassle of packing winter hats on your expedition.

If you find hoods annoying, you’ll likely save a few bucks on your down jacket. Just remember, you need to keep your head warm somehow – whether it’s a hood, earmuffs, hat, or balaclava.

If you plan on wearing a helmet on your outdoor adventures, keep it in mind when looking at down jackets with hoods. You’ll want a high down fill power (700+) to ensure your hood is very compressible and can easily fit under your helmet.

Pockets are another functional feature to which you should pay attention. All the down jackets we reviewed have zipper pockets (in our opinion, a necessity), but some have additional hand-warming properties, which can be very desirable.

Most down jackets have at least one internal or external pocket. If you plan on taking valuables (such as your cell phone) out on your mountaineering adventures, we recommend looking for a coat with an internal storage pocket. Some even come with water or moisture repellant lining or a draw-string bag.

Down Jackets FAQs:

Q: Are down jackets good for hiking?

A: Yes, they are – particularly if you’re going to be hiking in high altitudes or particularly cold environments. As down jackets work to fill air spaces with your body heat, they do an efficient job of insulating your body. When you take into consideration how lightweight they are, there’s no other jacket that can warm quite as well. When hiking, there are moments when you’ll want to remove your jacket. As they can be easily compressed, they won’t take up much room, add much bulk, or weight.

Q: Is a down jacket good for snow?

A: They’re also perfect for snowy situations, thanks to how warm they keep us, as well as their water-resistant shells. These shells work to keep moisture out.

Q: What is the best jacket for extreme cold?

A: If we had to choose just one, we would go with the Arcteryx Cerium SV Hoody for both men and women. They’re incredibly well-insulated, cover the body from head to below the hips, and are ideal for even the most severe weather conditions. However, an excellent alternative is the North Face Novelty Nuptse Jacket, which is ideal if you already use other garments from The North Face.

Q: Is 800 fill down warmer than 600?

A: Yes, it is. The higher the fill power is of a down jacket, the warmer it’s going to be. 900 fill down is the highest quality down you’ll find on the market and has yet to be beaten.

Down Jacket Buyer’s Tips:

  1. Make sure to pay attention to “packability”. This refers to how well you can pack your down jacket into your backpack when you’re not using it. If it’s bulky and heavy, it’s going to be a hassle to take along. After all, there may very well be times when you get too hot or the weather gets warmer and you want to take it off. High fill powers, along with thinner materials, simpler designs and less accessories, along with slim fits are going to make for a more compact size and lighter weight in your pack.
  2. Don’t overlook the fit of your jacket. If you’re going to invest money in a high-quality down jacket, it needs to fit you properly. There are certain brands we know to fit bigger or slimmer than others. For example, Patagonia and Columbia tend to be more boxy which don’t typically suit women’s bodies are thinner men as well. In contrast, Arc’teryx and Feathered Friends are more form-fitting. Of course, don’t use this as a rule as each brand also varies depending on the individual model.
  3. Hood or no hood? What are you going to be using your down jacket for? If you’re using it for skiing or snowboarding, you probably aren’t going to want a hood as it can bunch up under your helmet and decrease how well it protects your head during impact. Hoods tend to increase the cost and weight of a jacket slightly, but it will make a big difference in warming your head and neck.

Final Tips for Buying Your Best Down Jacket

  • Be wary of down jackets that go for $100 or less (not on sale!). Goose down and even synthetic down is expensive, and well-made jackets that will truly keep you insulated will be anywhere from $150 – $800, depending on the brand, size, durability, and warranty.

Even when companies claim to have the “best down jacket under $100,” ask yourself, what does that mean? Pay attention to the down fill power, shell fabric, total weight, and recommended weather. You might be shocked at what brands try to market as insulated, winter down jackets.

  • Be warned, down jackets do not perform well in rain or with any prolonged contact with water. Water causes down to lose its loft, and therefore its ability to retain heat.

There are a few down jackets on the market with new water repellant technology that addresses this issue. Our favorite is Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded Jacket. You can also buy a water-resistant shell to layer on top of your down jacket.


Thanks for reading The 3 Best Down Jackets. We hope this article has helped you to discover the best choice for a down-filled jacket to meet your needs and types of winter activities. You might also be interested in our informative article entitled, Winter Clothing Materials and Fabrics.

If you have any questions or comments for us just use this Contact Form.

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Have a great winter season. We hope that your down jacket keeps you active and warm. Enjoy!

YouTube Video Review

 

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Krysha Thayer

Krysha is a passionate freelance writer who appreciates everything outdoors. Living in rural New Mexico, she enjoys everything from hiking to snowshoeing and 4x4 trail riding to international travel. Being able to combine a love for writing with a love for being in the open, outside air is a dream career come true.

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