Best Down Jackets For Women 2021 - Outdoors Magic

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Down and Insulated Jackets

Best Down Jackets For Women 2021

From lightweight down jackets for fast and light excursions to bombproof ones for the coldest of weather, here's our pick of the best women's down jackets for 2021

A good down jacket is an incredibly useful item for a hiker to have, particularly on any backpacking trips where pack weight is a big factor. Quite simply, you won’t find anything that strikes a better balance between warmth and weight. But not all down jackets are made equal, and that’s why we’ve put together this article. We’re here to help you find the best women’s down jacket for your outdoor adventures.

What you see here is our list of the best down jackets for women that we’ve tested this year. We’ve rated these insulated jackets for their warmth-to-weight ratio, packability, durability and most importantly, their versatility and capability to cope with the ever-changing demands of the average British hill day.

If you’re the opposite gender, you will by now have guessed you’re in the wrong place. Good sir, you need to head over to our round up of the Best Down Jackets For Men.

Whether you’re a fast and light athlete looking for lightweight targeted insulation or a prone-to-the-cold hill walker who needs max warmth at all times, there’s an insulated down jacket for you.

Down filled jackets have come a long way since their production back in the 30s to be used during some of the first trips to the 8,000m peaks of the Himalayas. Whilst they were originally purely built for the sole aim of keeping you as warm as possible, you’re now able to find a jacket which is perfectly designed to keep you comfortable based on the level of activity that you plan on doing.

Related: Best Waterproof Jackets For Women

Related: Best Walking Boots

Given this advancement in down jacket production, there are now a myriad of technologies that come built into modern day options, so you’ll be forgiven for getting a little lost in all of the new tech. Give our Down and Synthetic Jackets Buyers Guide a read to get a deep-dive understanding into all of the features found on various jackets.

What Is The Best Women’s Down Jacket?

The best women’s down jacket will have a good fill power rating and a good wamrth-to-weight ratio, they’ll have water resistant properties and made from good quality durable fabric.

Fill Power: This number gives you an idea on how much a given weight of the down in your jacket will loft. Higher numbers represent warmer (in relation to the weight) down. 750 or so is pretty high quality, 600 or so is medium.

Water resistant down: Also known as hydrophobic down. Water resistant down has been treated with chemicals that makes the down water resistant, so that if it is exposed to moisture it can retain much of its lofting capabilities. Note that this does not make the jacket waterproof.

Fabric: As weight and packability are key for down insulated jackets, many of the jackets tested in this roundup use a windproof fabric as the outer layer. However, we have also chosen to include some heavyweight jackets that use a waterproof layer for that full weather protection. To assess the durability of a jacket, check the denier strength of its outer fabric. Many down jackets will use 15D-30D ripstop nylon.

Best Women’s Down Jackets: Our Top Picks

Here’s our selection of the best down quilted jackets for women, each one fully tested and reviewed by our team of outdoor experts.

  • Dark Peak Women’s NESSH Down Jacket – Best In Test Down Jacket
  • Arc’teryx Thorium AR Hoody
  • Salewa Ortles 2 Medium Down Jacket
  • Mammut Broad Peak IN Hooded Jacket
  • Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown DS
  • Salomon Haloes Down Hybrid Hoody
  • Rab Valiance Jacket

BEST BUY: Dark Peak Women’s NESSH Down Jacket

Price: £175
Weight: 322g
Best for: Winter walking, climbing, snowsports
Key attributes: Superb price, 850 fill power down

The jacket is stuffed full of 90g/m2 850 fill power and responsibly-sourced goose down and weighs only 322g, giving it a fantastic warmth to weight ratio – particularly impressive given the fairly reasonable price tag (£175).

It packs away into its own hand warmer pocket, so you can stash it neatly in the bottom of a rucksack and whip it out as your warm layer, say, when you stop for lunch. The excellent hood has an elasticated drawcord (cinched at the back) enabling adjustment to hug your head – great for keeping the heat in on windy mountain tops – and it can accommodate googles too if you’re skiing. It’s equally good for winter walking or climbing too.

In addition there are two internal stash pockets at waist level and an internal chest pocket that’ll fit your phone, money and/or snacks. There are handy wrist gaiters and thumb loops on the cuffs too, enhancing warmth around your hands.

Full Specifications

Ripstop 10-denier nylon outer and inner shell / Ultra-light (322g) / Dipped hem design / Insulated, helmet-compatible hood / DWR water-resistant coating / 850 fill power, responsibly sourced goose down

Read our full Dark Peak Women’s NESSH Down Jacket 

Get the latest price at:
darkpeak.com

Arc’teryx Thorium AR Hoody

Price: £280
Weight: 420g
Best for: Hiking, mountaineering, climbing
Key attributes: Versatility, packability, lightweight, 750 fill power down

The Thorium AR is an exceptionally versatile down jacket that will work well across the seasons. It’s cosy, hardwearing, light and packable and fit for a variety of mountain missions.

With 750 fill European goose down, the Thorium AR packs a hefty punch on the warmth scale and can be worn as a mid-layer on those mega wild wintry hill days. A great option for winter mountaineers and adventures in the alpine, the Thorium AR does carry a bit of bulk so just make sure there’s enough room under your hardshell if you are considering using it as a mid.

If you’re less in need of a full-on winter mid-layer and simply looking for a quality standalone warm outer to throw on at the summit, the wind and weather resistant Thorium AR will work equally well.

The hardwearing Arato 20 nylon face fabric with DWR finish feels bomber and stands up well in the face of light precipitation.

In terms of features, the Thorium AR is a typical Arc’teryx piece – quality, well-designed, and zero fuss. From the corded zipper pulls that are easy to operate when wearing gloves to the low-profile StormHood with synthetic insulation, the Thorium AR is all about function over flash.

And when the temps go back up and it’s time to return to mid-layers, the Thorium AR packs down into a 2.5L stuff sack that’s attached to the inside of the zipped internal pocket.

Simple.

Full Specifications

Arato 20 nylon face fabric / DWR finish / 750 fill power down / two zipped handwarmer pockets / adjustable hem / elasticated cuffs

Get the latest price at:
arcteryx.com

Salewa Ortles 2 Medium Down Jacket

Price: £270
Weight: 477g
Best for: Hillwalking, climbing, general outdoors use
Key attributes:Athletic fit, bold style, fully-featured, hybrid construction

Born in the Dolomites, Salewa’s mountain heritage is both strong and proven. Designed to be worn either as an insulating mid-layer or a standalone outer, the Ortles 2 Medium Down Jacket is a cracking looking jacket that backs up bold style with quality performance on the hill.

Fit-wise the Ortles 2 Medium Down is ‘athletic’ – ie long and slim – which makes it truly functional as a mid-layer if you’re going down that route of application as it fits easily under a shell without feeling like you’re doing a Michelin man impression. The longer cut ensures the hip and bum area stays warm and dry when swinging tools or striding uphill.

Related: Best Synthetic Insulated Jackets

Tech-wise, the Ortles 2 Medium Down uses 90% 750 Fill RDS (Responsible Down Standard) duck down and 10% TirolWool Celiant insulation. This hybrid construction means that you get max warmth where you need it most (core, arms, back) and warmth without wetting out in the areas that see the most weather action (hood, shoulders, cuffs).

The abrasion-resistant nylon face fabric is light yet durable and more than capable of standing up to light snow and rain showers. We’ve worn the Ortles 2 Medium Down on a variety of hill days and really like the soft, low-profile feel and mega wind-resistant warmth it provides.

When it comes to features, the Ortles 2 Medium Down is packed full of Italian goodness. From the integrated elastic cuffs to the mega warm and easily adjustable hood, everything about this jacket feels like an asset designed to make your mountain adventures easier and more comfortable. Our stand-out fave feature is the incredibly cosy hood with high collar that provides the ideal place to hide on stormy days.

We’re also fans of bright colours on the hill as they definitely increase your chances of being located in an emergency situation so it felt good to be wearing a bold red jacket that would get us the kind of attention we might one day need.

Full Specifications

90% 750 fill Responsible down standard duck down / 10% TirolWool Celiant insulation / recycled polyester fabric / two zipped handwarmer pockets / chest pocket / adjustable hem

Get the latest price at:
salewa.com

Mammut Broad Peak IN Hooded Jacket

Price: £250
Weight: 330g
Best for: Mountaineering, fast and light alpinism
Key attributes: Ultralight, warmth, weather protection

If you’re looking for a mega lightweight jacket with max warmth and weather protection then Mammut’s super slick Broad Peak Hooded Down Jacket will be an ideal fit.

Designed for fast and light mountaineers and aspirational alpinists, the Broad Peak is a low profile, stripped down jacket that packs an incredible 800 fill power in one uber lightweight 330g package. Don’t be fooled by the Broad Peak’s feathery weight however, this is a seriously warm jacket capable of delivering a far superior toast-giving performance than many of it’s more bulky brethren!

The slim profile of the Broad Peak means it functions brilliantly as an active mid-layer insulation piece. It’s all about providing warmth without interfering with the task in hand and features such as the backpack and harness-compatible zip pockets reveal its intent.

When light rain or snow starts to fall, you won’t need to reach for a shell as the Broad Peak’s Pertex Quantum fabric does a quite excellent job of keeping all but the biggest raindrops and most significant of precipitation at bay.

In terms of features, the Broad Peak is low on the ground but that’s the beauty of its minimalist DNA. It just works and the hood is a prime example of this. You can’t adjust it but quite frankly there’s no need to as the elasticated border provides the perfect snug fit.

When it comes to packing it away, the Broad Peak stuffs easily into it’s own side pocket with zip closure and carabiner loop. Clever, efficient and truly fit for purpose.

If you’re looking for a high-end, fast and light technical down jacket with primo Swiss engineering, then get the Broad Peak on your list.

Full Specifications

800 fill power ethically sourced goose down / Pertex Quantum fabric / two zipped handwarmer pockets / adjustable hem / elasticated cuffs / elasticated hood

Get the latest price at:
mammut.com

Mountain Hardware Stretchdown DS Hooded Jacket

Price: £220
Weight: 466g
Best for: Ice climbing, scrambling, climbing, hillwalking
Key attributes: Dynamic stretch, 800 fill power down, comfort, ‘lifestyle’ feel

If you’re looking for max stretch in your insulation piece then the Mountain Hardwear StretchDown DS has to be top of the list. DS stands for ‘dynamic stretch’ and wow, does this jacket move with you. If you’re ice climbing, scrambling or simply repeatedly taking on and off your pack then you’ll really appreciate the freedom of movement the StretchDown DS provides.

Constructed using stitch-free, stretch-welded channels, the StretchDown DS is a departure from the visual norm we’re used to when it comes to insulation pieces. The lack of stitched panels may give it more of a comfy ‘lifestyle’ feel, but this is still a technical jacket designed to perform.

Technical features include cord zippered handwarmer pockets that are easy to operate when using gloves or mitts and the adjustable bungee waist. And on the subject of storage, this is the only jacket we tested that comes with two large internal drop pockets for stashing gloves, hats, snacks and at a push – some lightweight ski touring skins.

With 800 RDS fill power, the StretchDown DS will keep you warm as toast on the hill and the fluorocarbon-free Nikwax Hydrophobic Down does a great job of keeping water at bay and your conscience clear. Pair it with a shell for additional cold and wet weather protection.

Two points to consider. Whilst the non-adjustable insulated hood does a good job of protecting you from the elements when the wind whips up a notch, if you’re looking for a really snug fit around the face you may want to look elsewhere. Likewise, if packability is a priority the StretchDown DS will come up short as it’s hard to compress and there’s no stuff sac. Creative stowing will be required!

Full Specifications

800 fill power ethically sourced goose down / fluorocarbon-free Nikwax Hydrophobic Down / two zipped handwarmer pockets / stitch-free, stretch-welded channels / elasticated cuffs

Read our full Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown DS review

Get the latest price at:
mountainhardwear.eu

Salomon Haloes Down Hybrid Hoody

Price: £160
Weight: 300g
Best for: Fast hiking. climbing, trail running
Key attributes: Active insulation, lightweight, breathable

If you’re in the market for an active insulating mid-layer for high-output mountain adventures then Salomon’s Haloes Down Hybrid Hoody is well worth a look.

Moving at speed in cool conditions requires clever clothing that can adapt to the demands of the activity, the environment and the individual. The Haloes Down Hybrid Hoody is one such intelligent beast that delivers lightweight targeted insulation and breathability where it’s needed most.

With 700 fill power down insulation on the front and shoulders, the Haloes Down protects you from the wind as you’re warming up and keeps you cosy on those chilly descents. When temps go up or it’s time to ascend again, the Smart Skin softshell fabric on the sleeves and back breathes and moves with you so you won’t overheat.

There’s so many well thought out features to admire here including into-the-pocket packability, long elasticated cuffs with thumb loops and backpack-compatible zip pockets. The biggest shout out goes to Salomon’s Smart Closure system however– a simple popper on the chest that keeps the jacket from flapping around when unzipped.

All in all, a very clever and versatile layer for fast hikes and cool dawn patrols.

Full Specifications

700 fill power ethically sourced goose down / recycled polyester fabric / two zipped handwarmer pockets / adjustable hem / elasticated cuffs

Get the latest price at:
outdoorkit.co.uk

Rab Valiance Jacket

Price: £310
Weight: 615g
Best for: Climbing, hillwalking, general outdoors use
Key attributes: 800 fill power down, Pertex outer

Another down jacket that makes use of a waterproof membrane for the ultimate protection against the elements – perfect for a winter weight belay jacket, or really cosy summertime jacket for freezing evenings.

Hiding under the Pertex outer shell is a high-quality 800 fill power goose down which has  been treated by Nikwax. This means that if by some chance any moisture is able to get through the waterproof outer shell, there’ll be no loft lost, and the jacket can keep on keeping you warm.

There’s also a helmet compatible hood with a useful wire-stiffened peak. The down insulation does not extend up into this, instead Rab have used synthetic insulation instead.

Other features worth noting are the Velcro adjustable cuffs, and the handwarmer pockets that have YKK zip closures. These pockets are both easily big enough for any of the usual essentials, so you won’t have problems with storage or access to your pockets even if you’ve got heavy duty gloves on your hands.

Full Specification

Pertex Shield outer / 800 fill power R.D.S certified European goose down / Nikwax hydrophobic treatment / bonded box wall construction / Pyrotec synthetic insulation in the hood / drawcord adjustment at the hem / Velcro cuffs / stuff sack / two handwarmer pockets / YKK Vislon front zip with internal baffle / 2 YKK handwarmer pocket zips

Read our full Rab Valiance Jacket review

Get the latest price at:
webtogs.com

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