down filled jackets

The 3 Best Down Jackets Reviewed for 2017/18

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.

We’re going to help you out with a review of what we consider to be the 3 best down jackets on the market today, as well as a Buyer’s Guide which breaks down all the details you need to make an informed purchase decision about these innovative products.

For more of our outdoor winter wear recommendations, have a look through these popular Outside Pursuits links:  Best Fleece Jackets, Best Base Layers, Best Beanies.

Quick Answer: The 3 Best Down Jackets Reviewed for 2017 / 2018

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 Rating4.7 / 5.04.4 / 5.04.2 / 5.0

 Down Jacket Reviews

#1 Arcteryx Cerium SV Hoody – Men’s Down Jacket

best down jacket

 

Features of the Men’s Arcteryx Cerium SV Hoody Down Jacket:

  • 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.

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!

#1 Arcteryx Cerium SV Hoody – Women’s Down Jacket

 

Features of the Women’s Arcteryx Cerium SV Hoody Down Jacket:

  • 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.

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.

#2 North Face Novelty Nuptse Jacket – Men’s

Features of the Men’s North Face Novelty Nuptse Jacket:

  • 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®.

#2 North Face Novelty Nuptse Jacket – Women’s

 

Features of the Women’s North Face Nuptse Jacket: 

  • 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.

#3 Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded Jacket – Men’s

Features of the Men’s Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded Jacket:

  • Shell Fabric: Synthetic stretch welded fabric
  • Down Fill Power: Q.Shield™ DOWN 750-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.

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.

#3 Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded Jacket – Women’s

Features of the Women’s Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded Jacket:

  • 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.

How to Choose the Best Down Jacket for You

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 – 600 Warm, lightweight, and durable. Good for winter weather on a day-to-day basis.
600 – 700 High warmth to weight ratio; lightweight insulation for cold winter weather.
700 – 800 Outstanding warmth to weight ratio; high loftiness and compressibility.
800 – 900 The 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 you need to pay attention to. 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.

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 good 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. We hope that this article helped educate you and inform you to make the best down jacket purchase decision of your life. These are the best so you won’t go wrong with any of the brands here.

If you want to make any comments or tell us about a product that didn’t make the reviews then use this contact form.

Have a great winter season and hope a down jacket helps keep you warm. Enjoy!

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About El Tigre

Richard M. aka El Tigre is an avid adventure traveler with extensive trekking experience throughout Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. In 1998 he weathered category 5 Hurricane Mitch on the northern coast of Honduras. He has mountain-biked, hiked and 4x4 toured extensively in Central America, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Mexico. In the summer of 2004 he lived among the Kuna Indians of the San Blas islands in Panama. Today, he manages a real estate investments company based in San Jose, Costa Rica and organizes adventure travel excursions to Costa Rica. He is a motorcycle enthusiast and enjoys sport touring and dual-sport riding. Richard lives in Arizona.