Best Down Jackets For Women 2019 | Top 7 - Outdoors Magic

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Down and Insulated Jackets

Best Down Jackets For Women 2019 | Top 7

From lightweight down options for fast and light excursions to bombproof ones for seeing seeing out the coldest of weather, here's our pick of the best down jackets for women out there in 2019

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.

No PFC’s to be seen! This is a hugely exciting breakthrough in environmentally-friendly outdoor gear. Photo: Chris Johnson

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

  • 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
  • Columbia OutDry Ex Eco Down
  • Rab Valiance Jacket

Arc’teryx Thorium AR Hoody

Weight: 420g
Price: £270
Fill Power: 750
Packability Rating: 4/5
arcteryx.com

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.

Best for: A straightforward, highly functional insulated jacket for year-round use that won’t break the bank.
Fave feature: Cut lower at the back to keep your bum warm!

Full Specifications

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

Salewa Ortles 2 Medium Down Jacket

Weight: 477g
Price: £270
Fill Power: 750
Packability Rating: 4/5
salewa.com

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.

Best for: Anyone and everyone from ice climbers to alpine mountaineers, from hill walkers to regular folks just looking for a stylish warm winter jacket for the school run or dog walks.
Fave feature: Elasticated cuffs and high collar hood provide additional warmth in a storm. Oh and the bright red colour is definitely a plus!

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

 

Mammut Broad Peak IN Hooded Jacket

Weight: 330g
Price: £269
Fill Power: – 800
Packability Rating: – 5/5
mammut.com

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.

Best for: Fast and light mountaineers and budding alpinists.
Fave feature: Love how it packs down into it’s own pocket so easily and securely.

Full Specifications

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

 

Mountain Hardware Stretchdown DS Hooded Jacket

Weight: 466g
Price: £220
Fill Power: 800
Packability Rating: 0/5
mountainhardwear.com

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!

Best for: Fans of high-tech jackets looking for a style departure with maximum stretch
Fave feature: Soft, stretchy and technical – proof that comfort doesn’t require compromise.

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

 

Salomon Haloes Down Hybrid Hoody

Weight: 300g
Price: £160
Fill Power: 700
Packability Rating: 4/5
salomon.com

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.

Best for: Heart racing, high output adventurers
Fave feature: Keep flappage to a minimum with the simple but effective Smart Closure system.

Full Specifications

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

 

Columbia OutDry Ex Eco Down

Weight: 306g
Price: £175
Fill Power: 700
Packability Rating: 2/5
columbia.com

Columbia were one of the first brands to remove PFCs in their outdoor clothing – and this was initially done through the production of the OutDry Ex Eco waterproof fabric, which was described as “the industry’s first high-performance waterproof and breathable rainwear technology without PFCs.”

For those who don’t know, PFCs are chemicals used in our outdoor gear to make them water and stain-resistant and non-stick. There’s one issue with PFCs, however, as they have extremely high global warming properties – 5000 – 10,000 times that of carbon dioxide.

The secret is in the inside-out waterproof construction Columbia have developed. They’ve toughened up their waterproof membrane and put it on the outside rather than sandwiching it between two fabrics like most waterproof systems. By doing so, there’s no need for a protective outer fabric which normally requires a Durable Water Repellent treatment (PFCs alert) to keep it from getting saturated.

Now onto this particular jacket, the OutDry Ex Eco Down. This is not only completely waterproof and breathable, but it’s also insulated with 700 fill power, ethically-sourced goose down.

Its useful features include a bonded visor, adjustable hem and cuffs, underarm venting to keep you comfortable as you go and two zipped handwarmer pockets.

Best for: A eco-friendly and weatherproof jacket that’ll see off the worst of weather.
Fave feature: PFC free.

Full Specifications

OutDry waterproof membrane / 700 fill power ethically sourced goose down / recycled polyester fabric / two zipped handwarmer pockets / adjustable hem / elasticated cuffs / fluorocarbon-free

Read our full Columbia Outdry Eco Ex Down Jacket review

 


Rab Valiance Jacket

Weight: 615g
Price: £300
Fill Power: 800
Packability Rating: 2/5
rab.equipment

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.

Best for: Winter weight belay jacket, cosy summertime jacket.
Fave feature: Cut lower at the back to keep your bum warm!

Read our full Rab Valiance Jacket review

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

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