Best Down Jacket for Winter Hiking
If you are traveling in cold climates, skiing, or planning a high-altitude hike, a good down jacket is your best option for keeping you warm. I know there are scores of models available on the market, but they aren’t created equal, especially when it comes to key features like compressibility, fill power, warmth level, fill weight, fit, and comfort, to name just a few.
Whether you are mid-summer hiking or mid-winter is snowshoeing, adequate warm layers will be necessary for around camp or when the weather closes in.
Thankfully, down jackets exist so we can spend time in the chilly outdoors in relative comfort. Down and synthetic jackets are lightweight, packable, and highly efficient at trapping body heat. For those reasons, they’ve become our most beloved pieces of clothing for hiking and everyday wear.
This guide shares tips on how to choose the Best Down Jacket to suit your needs. Whether you are looking for the Best Overall, Best Lightweight, or a Best Value Down Jacket, we have put together a few pointers and key features on some of our favorite down jackets to help you make an informed choice.
We’ve spent countless hours scouring specs and testing jackets in the cold to bring you this list of best down and synthetic jackets on the market. Let’s start
Mammut Men Broad Peak Light Down
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast who spends any time in colder conditions, chances are you view a down jacket the same way you do a comfortable pair of jeans. It is a downright essential part of your wardrobe, and you can’t imagine how you’d ever get along in life without it.
The Broad Peak is perfect for throwing in your pack for colder days or as an emergency layer as it’s so light you barely notice it until you need it, and then it’s worth its weight in gold!
As its name implies, the Broad Peak Light is a lightweight insulating layer for outdoor athletes. To that end, it weighs in at a mere 245 grams (8.6 ounces), which means it won’t weigh you down or take up much room in your bag.
Inside, the Broad Peak Light is stuffed with goose-down feathers with an 850 fill power rating.
On the outside, it is made up of Pertex Quantum materials, which are both wind and water repellent. This combination has proven to be surprisingly effective in all kinds of weather, ranging from wildly changing temperatures to steady rains and high winds too.
- It’s lightweight
- It has pockets on its side
- The jacket can get stowed in its pocket for convenient transport
- This compressible down jacket delivers warmth on chilly mornings
- It has elastic cuffs and a sealed hem that helps on windy afternoons
- This jacket has a high warmth to weight ratio for cold weather pursuits
- It comes with wind and water-repellent fabric material that offers weather protection
- Incredibly lightweight
- Built for outdoors athletes
- Form-fitting cut
- Not as warm as some other jackets due to lightweight
Mountain Hardwear mens Ghost Whisperer
Whether you’re making a 4 a.m. summit push, ripping skins on bone-chilling dawn patrols, or standing at belay while your buddy figures out the crux moves, the Mountain Hardwear Men’s Ghost Whisperer Hooded Down Jacket will fend off the cold without adding a bunch of weight to your load.
With 800-fill down and a weight of only 8 oz, the Ghost Whisperer is the lightest in its class, and it utilizes Q.shield treated Goose Down down that maintains impressive loft, even when wet, to keep you warm and cozy.
The insulated hood warms your noggin while maintaining a low profile, and the durable design lets you pack it in one of its hand pockets and throw it in your pack without it taking up a bunch of space.
- It’s an elastic hood
- It has two zippered hand pockets
- It is made of high-quality material
- This is an 800-Fill RDS-certified down insulation
- Excellent warmth-to-weight ratio
- Highly compressible
- Packs into its pocket
- Wind/weather-resistant (DWR finish)
- Layers easily
- No hood adjustments
- No chest pocket
- Less durable than other jackets
- The slim design isn’t for everyone
Eddie Bauer Men’s Downlight Hooded Jacket
Eddie Bauer’s “Downlight StormDown Hooded Jacket” has 800 fill power and weighs 17oz. It has two zippered external pockets, which are fleece-lined, and it can pack into either of those pockets. Sorry music lovers, there’s no chest pocket.
The hood, wrist, and hem are all non-adjustable elastic. As far as fit and aesthetics go, this jacket gets the nod; it gets fitted well and has a longer length than the Big Agnes.
Nothing is dangling with the non-adjustable openings, giving the jacket a nice clean look at the expense of functionality in the field.
This is marketed as a ‘Performance’ Jacket, and the opportunity to test a stylish, sleek winter jacket is always a treat. The advancements in technology keep getting better and better, and this one seems to hit all the marks.
The Eddie Bauer Downlight StormDown Hooded Jacket is a top contender amongst the high-quality Down jackets on the market. It looks great and perfect for the backcountry, alpine mountains, and every day warm and comfortable outerwear piece.
- It’s durable
- This jacket is windproof
- Made of a hundred percent polyester
- It is Responsible Down Standard (RDS)-certified
- It is super warm, with stretch binding for a great fit
Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody Women’s
It’s funny how the temperature always seems to drop about ten degrees as soon as you gain the summit, and then the winds pick up by a few miles per hour. In moments like these, you’ll be glad you packed your Cerium LT. Insulated with a combination of highly compressible and insulating goose down through the body and water-resistant Coreloft synthetic fill in areas prone to moisture, the Cerium delivers reliable warmth at the most crucial moments of your adventures.
Premium 850 fill-power down is resilient and warm, the Arato 10 shell provides lightweight durability, and Down Composite Mapping strategically places Coreloft synthetic insulation in moisture-prone areas. Articulated construction moves with the body, and the insulated StormHood provides coverage without compromising the range of vision.
- Its fill is 850
- It’s lightweight, compressible, and warm
- It is durable, water-resistant, and wind-resistant
- Elastic cuffs seal out cold drafts and trap warmth
- Jacket stows in the included stuff sack for easy packing
- Lightweight insulation for cold climbing trips and chilly hikes
- This is an insulated hood with elastic binding and adjustable drawcords
- It provides synthetic insulation in areas prone to moisture maintains warmth
- Durable, warm materials
- Packable, easy to travel with
- Great warmth to weight ratio
- Material is slippery, takes some finesse to pack
- The compression sack isn’t built into the jacket (though you can attach the two)
Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody Men’s
The Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody down jacket can get worn as a warm mid-layer under your hardshell or as your outer layer for skiing or snowboarding on a beautiful sunny day. To call the Celium LT hooded jacket, a down jacket is quite right, though, for Arc’teryx used a Down Composite Mapping to ensure optimal performance.
This means that the jacket body gets insulated with high-quality down with a high fill power. The areas where you would usually sweat or those that get exposed to wear, such as the head, under the arms, and around shoulders and cuffs, get insulated with Coreloft.
Coreloft is an insulating material made of polyester that offers excellent moisture management. Thanks to the combination of down and synthetics, this jacket will provide optimal warmth while remaining compressible and packable.
Lightweight, warm, compressible, and versatile are the best characteristics of the Cerium LT Hoody from Arc’teryx.
The combination of 850-fill goose down and strategically placed Coreloft insulation keeps you warm during bone-chilling days in the backcountry. Plus, this super light hooded jacket comes with its stuff sack, so you can easily bring it along on your next ski tour.
- Its fill is 850
- This down jacket is light and compressible
- The jacket stuffs into a pocket for easy packing
- The slim fit makes it easy to throw on under a shell
- It provides core loft insulation for areas prone to overheating
- It’s a durable and toasty mid layer for cool backcountry conditions
- It comes with adjustable and insulated StormHood that protects the head from wind and cold
- Looks Great
- Sizes have shrunk
Lands’ End Women’s Ultralight Packable Down Jacket
This ultralight packable coat spans the seasons. The International Business Times Shop Shop is bringing you great deals on lots of Lands’ End Plus Size Outerwear including Women’s Plus Size Ultralight Packable Down Coat With Hood – Lands’ End – Blue – 2X.
Credit the 800 fill power down for the lightweight, bulk-free warmth. Now add flattering quilt lines that make this coat a stylish accent and a water-resistant finish that causes sprinkles to bead up and roll off. It even packs into its pocket, so it’s easy to bring everywhere.
- Has zipper front
- Has two pockets
- It’s water-resistant
- Has packable design
- It is a long sleeves jacket
- It comes with an attached hood
- Its temperature rating is -10° to +13° Fahrenheit
- Very lightweight.
- Slimming quilt lines.
- Very long, lots of coverage.
- The 2-way zipper is difficult to deal with
RAB Neutrino Pro Jacket
If you’re taking on the likes of Toubkal or planning alpine ascents, the Neutrino Pro is the lightweight down-filled mountain jacket that will take you from basecamp to the summit and back.
The Rab Men’s Neutrino Pro Jacket gets built to provide maximum warmth and protection in alpine conditions or extreme cold. It has a weather-protective outer shell and gets insulated with premium water-resistant down insulation.
The exterior of the jacket gets constructed of lightweight Quantum Pro fabric. Though not completely waterproof, the jacket does provide excellent weather-resistance for snow and spindrift and ensures windproof, breathable protection.
Warmth gets provided by lofty 800-fill ethically-sourced goose down. Unlike traditional down, the jacket’s insulation has received a Nikwax treatment that helps it stay dry longer, dry faster if it should become wet, and most importantly, continue to insulate even if it does become damp.
An insulated adjustable helmet-compatible hood extends protective coverage and bolsters warmth. The hood has a built-in brim with a bit of structure to ensure that you maintain a clean line of sight while fending off glare and precipitation.
- Two hand pockets give you quick storage for necessary gear
- It is a light yet super-warm jacket for cold alpine expeditions
- The included stuff sack lets you pack it down and take it anywhere
- With hydrophobic treatment, it ensures that it retains its loft when wet
- The helmet-compatible hood offers protective warmth in cold climates
- Its durable shell protects against whipping winds and moderate snowfall
- This down jacket insulation provides reliable warmth on frozen mountain faces
- Athletic fit
- Warm for weight
- Easy to pack
- Sizing can be difficult
Columbia Delta Men’s Ridge Down Jacket
The Columbia Men’s Delta Ridge Down Jacket is a lightweight puffer jacket for everyday wear in the cold. A water-repellent exterior protects the down from light rain and snow. An Omni-Heat thermal reflective lining adds warmth without the bulk, and stitchless baffles prevent the insulation from shifting around and causing cold spots. Zippered pockets hold onto your phone-wallet-keys trio and also give you a place to stash your hands.
We all need that critical go-to jacket for when the leaves begin to fall, and the Columbia Delta Ridge Down Hooded Jacket fills in nicely with its 650 down and snug, scuba-style hood to fend off winter.
Layer on this classic-style hoodie at home on a snowy winter trail as it is at the office. The Delta Ridge’s causal fit leaves ample room to fit your favorite base layer underneath, and the two hand pockets serve as micro kilns for pocket warmers on those extra chilly winter outings.
- Its fill is 650
- Has zippered hand pockets
- Binding at hem, collar, and cuffs helps seal in warmth
- It’s a water-resistant fabric with heat-seal construction that keeps moisture at bay
- The thermal reflective lining helps regulate your core temperature via tiny silver dots that reflect and retain the warmth your body generates
- RDS certification ensures the down does not come from animals that have been subject to any unnecessary harm, such as force-feeding or live-plucking
- Warm ski jacket
- Windproof and waterproof
- Runs small – go a size up!
Columbia mens Boundary Bay Parka
The Columbia Men’s Boundary Bay Long Jacket is an insulated jacket you can rely upon in changing winter weather. Snow, rain, back to snow, and maybe some sleet, Omni-Tech waterproof, breathable technology keeps you dry from whatever the winter has in store for you.
A 100g Microtemp XF II layer of insulation powers you through the cold temps as well, so you can walk to work, shovel the snow, and explore the city streets without a care in the world. Hood up, hood down, or completely removed, get the look and comfort level you desire.
The Boundary Bay is more a parka than a regular jacket since it is pretty long. It has a waterproof shell made of Omni-Tech polyester, which is also breathable. In addition to that, both the men’s and the women’s jackets get insulated, but with different technologies. The men’s Boundary Bay features microtemp polyester, while the women’s has thermarator polyester.
Both of those are synthetic insulations, and both do a really good job at keeping you warm. This is a pretty versatile jacket – you can wear it in the winter, but since it’s waterproof, it’s also a good choice for spring or fall. Just wear lighter clothing underneath, and you won’t be too warm.
- Has adjustable cuffs
- It comes with a hood
- Has zippered hand pockets
- It has a breathable shell Insulation
- It’s made of a hundred percent polyester
- Warm and waterproof
- Good for rough weather
- Men’s version has more pockets than women’s
- You can’t hang it
Columbia Men’s Pike Lake Jacket Coat
The Columbia Pike Lake Jacket is perfect for any outdoor situation; this insulated jacket got made for keeping you warm while out on the trail, thanks to its thermal reflective lining.
Stash your keys, wallet, and phone in its zippered pockets or stow items away in its interior security pocket for extra protection. Designed with water-resistant fabric that shields you from the elements, this versatile piece can get adjusted at the hem and cuffs to create the perfect fit.
This versatile winter jacket maximizes coverage with Omni-HEAT and provides Thermarator™ insulation for ultimate warmth on the slopes.
From the trails to your lodge, the adjustable hood and hem offer your ideal coverage. Simultaneously, the technical features deliver the reliability and durable style needed to dominate your next black diamond.
- Has adjustable cuffs
- Has adjustable storm hood
- It has a two-way center-front zipper
- This jacket has dual entry hand pockets with zip closure
- Versatile jacket
- Plenty of pockets
- Omni-Heat insulation and lining keep you toasty at all times
- One of expensive Columbia jackets
- Has limited color choice
Factors to Consider Before Buying Best Down Jacket for Winter Hiking
Choosing the jacket with the most down fill is the best option for insulation and warmth. A combination of down and synthetic insulation is also an excellent choice, especially for wetter conditions. Down becomes mush when it is wet, and you should choose a jacket with synthetic insulation in places most likely to become affected by moisture.
It is best to look for premium materials when choosing a down jacket. The shell and lining should be durable but lightweight. The fabric should be windproof, with a durable water-resistant (DWR) coated shell and lining. The Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody uses a mix of heavier fabric with ultralight, ensuring durability without extra weight.
Whether you’re hiking in the winter, mountain climbing, or skiing, having the right jacket is always paramount.
One of the best attributes of a down jacket is its ability to seal in warmth and prevent drafts with drawcords in the hood and hem, along with adjustable cuffs. The best down jackets are lightweight while still being incredibly warm and comfortable.
Lightweight jackets are always preferable, especially when climbing or skiing. Generally, down jackets average at 13 oz, although some can be lighter (such as the Cerium LT). The heavier jackets are usually less desirable, especially if you put them in a backpack for later use. They take up too much space and can become burdensome.
4. Warmth and Seasons
A down jacket that allows extra layers and keeps you warm in winter can also get worn on misty summer mornings, which is generally the best choice.
An all-weather down jacket isn’t too difficult to come by, and it tends to offer great value for money. The warmest down jackets are usually the ones with the most fill power, although those with a combination of down and synthetic also offer wonderful warmth.
5. Water Resistance
It is always wise to ensure that any down jacket you choose has a shell and lining coated in a durable water-resistant (DWR). This is important for any winter jacket so that it can easily shed light on rain and snow.
Wet downturns to mush and takes a long time to dry; this would be very uncomfortable on a hike while climbing or skiing. A proper DWR coating will prevent this and save you a lot of grief and discomfort.
6. Is down breathable?
Yes, down is quite breathable but note that a garment’s breathability also depends on the face fabric and the inner layer. The face fabric is usually made of tightly woven nylon or polyester to protect against the wind and rain. This reduces the breathability of the garment to some extent.
Down to feather ratio is the amount of down inside a jacket versus the number of feathers. The higher the number in favor of down, the warmer the jacket. High-quality jackets should have at least an 80-20 down-feather ratio because down does a much better job at trapping air than feathers.
The better the quality of down, the higher the fill power. As less down get required to provide the same amount of warmth, jackets with a higher fill power tend to be lighter and more compressible. Fill power ranges from 400 to 900. For down, outerwear ratings will generally fall between 600 and 800
Hopefully, the information presented here will help when it comes time to purchase a down jacket for winter hiking. By keeping these factors in mind as you weigh all of the options, you’re almost guaranteed to find a jacket that will exceed even your loftiest of expectations. One that will accompany you on many adventures to come.