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Down and Insulated Jackets

Best Down Jackets For 2021

For ultimate warmth without the weight, you can't really beat a good down jacket

For lightweight and efficient insulation, you can’t beat a good down jacket – get the right one and it will end up accompanying you on every outdoor adventure throughout the year.  The purpose of this article is to help you work out what’s the best down jacket for you, and see what options (that we rate) are out there.

Down jackets are useful for hiking as their warmth-to-weight ratio tends to be much better than any other alternatives. By and large, they’re nearly always lighter than knitted or padded wool jackets, polyester fleeces, and jackets that use synthetic fills, though the gap is starting to narrow here as explained in our list of the Best Synthetic Insulated Jackets.

Also known as quilted jackets, or puffer jackets, down jackets are normally worn as an outer layer over a t-shirt or long-sleeve baselayer on mild and dry days. When it rains, it’s useful to have a waterproof layer that can fit over your jacket comfortably. On very cold days, some down jackets can be worn over a number of layers as part of an insulation system.

What’s The Best Down Jacket?

The best down jackets will strike a perfect balance between warmth, weight, breathability, packability and wet weather performance. A good down filled jacket will also have a long lifespan and ideally won’t cost you an arm and a leg either.

Down itself is a layer of fine plumage found under the tougher outer feathers of ducks and geese. The best down insulation tends to be goose down as it’s more thermally efficient than duck down. Because of this, goose down is usually more expensive.

The age old question: choose down or synthetic insulation? Left is down, right is synthetic.

If you’re looking to buy a down jacket, it’s worth checking the fill power when measuring the quality of down insulation. The higher the number, the better the quality. The best down jackets tend to have a fill power of over 750. A fill power of 900 or higher is premium.

The best down jackets usually have a box wall baffle construction to lower the risk of heat escaping through any stitching. That said, this design does usually result in a slightly puffier and heavier jacket than down jackets with stitched-through baffles.

Down can be rendered ineffective if it gets wet, as its loft collapses, reducing its insulating power. Therefore waterproof down jackets or water resistant ones are extremely useful. Some will come with a durable water repellent coating (DWR) to repel water, but you can also add this yourself. Nikwax, Grangers and Storm Care make treatments that can be applied at home.

For more on what makes the best down jacket, including the synthetic jackets versus down jackets question, plus our guide to ethical down, check out our full down and synthetic jackets buyer’s guide.

The Best Down Jackets Tested In 2021

Here’s our pick of 10 best down jackets, all of which we’ve tested over the last year. These are all available in men’s and women’s versions but if you’re looking for a women’s specific option, check out our list of the best down jackets for women.

  • Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket – Best down jacket tested
  • Arc’teryx Cerium LT Jacket
  • Mountain Equipment Triton Jacket
  • Haglöfs Nordic Expedition Down Jacket
  • Berghaus Tephra Stretch Reflect Down Jacket
  • Filson Featherweight Down Jacket
  • Montane Featherlite
  • Klättermusen Liv
  • Rab Valiance
  • Fjällräven Expedition Pack Down Hoodie
  • The North Face Summit L6 Belay Parka

 

BEST BUY: Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket

Price: £200
Weight: 466g
Best for: Climbing, hiking, backpacking
Key attributes: Lightweight, water-resistant, sustainable

Rab’s flagship mid-range down jacket is one of the most versatile puffers around, suitable for everything from cold-weather climbing to long-distance backpacking, as well as general everyday winter wear. The latest version also has more impressive eco credentials than ever, thanks to a fully recycled face fabric and lining, plus 700 fill power recycled goose down insulation.

Compared to many down jackets, it offers superior moisture resistance too, making it ideally suited to damp British winters. The face fabric has a long-lasting DWR (durable water-repellent) treatment, while the down fill is hydrophobic, using a technology powered by Nikwax. 

The Rab Microlight Alpine now has a shell made from recycled materials and a fill made from regathered down. Photos: Chris Johnson

It’s pretty well kitted out in terms of features, with an adjustable hood, hem drawcord, two zipped handwarmer pockets and then a large internal zipped pocket that’ll hold an OS map or a pair of gloves. The Microlight Alpine also has a stuff sack for added packability. As for the fit and cut, it’s the same classic Rab design with an athletic profile and slightly long arms with articulation at the armpits so you can reach up while climbing without the hem rising.

Full Specifications

Men’s XXS-XXXL, women’s UK 8-18 / 700 FP Nikwax hydrophobic P.U.R.E. recycled goose down / Recycled 30D nylon Pertex Quantum, 50g/m², with DWR / Lining: Recycled 20D nylon, 38g/m

Selected for our Green Gear Guide 2021 – Here’s our full Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket Review

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Arc’teryx Cerium LT

Price: £340
Weight: 305g
Best for: Hiking, backpacking, climbing
Key attributes: Lightweight and highly packable, high-spec fill

This cosy jacket from mountaineering brand Arc’teryx uses a thermally efficient down with a fill power of 850 – that’s one of the highest ratings out of the jackets featured here. This is all body-mapped throughout the Cerium; meaning more insulation in the places that it’s needed, like on the kidneys, and less in places where you don’t need it, like at the armpits. It’s a useful technique for improving the warmth-to-weight ratio of a jacket. You can really feel the difference this makes. 

Arc’teryx have also thrown in a synthetic fill called CoreLoft in areas that tend to be more exposed to moisture. If it gets damp, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that this synthetic insulation will continue to provide warmth.

Finally, if you like an athletic cut then you’ll certainly appreciate the body hugging feel of the Cerium LT and the hood also has a close fit as well.

Full Specifications

Men’s XS-XXL, women’s XS-XL / 850 FP goose down and CoreLoft synthetic insulation / Arato 10 nylon shell / articulated construction / insulated StormHood

Check out our full Arc’teryx Cerium Jacket review

BUY NOW: ARCTERYX.COM

 

Mountain Equipment Triton Jacket

Price: £270
Weight: 640g
Best for: Climbing, mountaineering
Key attributes: wet weather warmth, climber-friendly design

The Mountain Equipment Triton has been around for a number of years now, but with this new model they’ve actually switched nearly all of the materials to recycled ones. 

The outer fabric is a recycled and fully taped 50 Denier DriLite 2-layer material with a water resistant coating that’s free from any nasty eco-hazardous PFCs.

The down fill they’ve used here is recycled as well. Housed in stitched through baffles, it brings an impressive 700 fill power rating to the table. Not bad at all.

As you’d expect from a Mountain Equipment product, the Triton is designed with climbers and mountaineers in mind. So you get a two-way zip (making it harness-friendly) a large helmet compatible hood with toggled adjustment and then glove-friendly cuffs with hook and loop adjustment (also known as Velcro). Loads of pockets as well by the way, including two YKK zipped handwarmers, a napoleon chest pocket and valuables pockets on the inside chest. 

It’s a tad overkill for a country walk, but if you’re venturing out into extremely harsh conditions and are going to be stuck in them all day, this is the kind of jacket that’ll be bang up for the job. 

Full Specifications

Available in men’s (S-XXL) and women’s (8-16) versions /  recycled 2-layer / Drilite 50D fabric with PFC-free DWR / 192g of recycled down with a minimum content of 700 fill power / stitched-through narrow baffle internal construction / optimised down distribution and fill weights using a baffle-by-baffle approach / adjustable Mountain Hood / 2-way YKK® moulded Aquaguard® centre front zip with internal storm.

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Haglöfs Nordic Expedition Down Jacket

Price: £660
Weight: 850g
Best for: Winter climbing
Key attributes: Premium 800 fill goose down, bluesign approved fabrics, award-winning climbing-friendly design

Haglöfs’ new Nordic Expedition Down Jacket doesn’t disappoint, thanks to its mix of the brand’s own Mimic synthetic insulation and premium 800 fill power goose down. This fill is also hydrophobic and the face fabric utilises a three-layer waterproof construction across the shoulders, torso and arms, with a moisture vapour transmission rate of 10,000g/m2/24hrs. Put simply, this means that although the jacket is well insulated, it shouldn’t get too stuffy in those winter months when trapped moisture vapour can be dangerous.

We’re particularly impressed by the eco credentials of the Nordic Expedition as it’s made from bluesign approved fabrics, the down fill is certified by the Responsible Down Standard and the DWR treatment is PFC-free. What’s more, Haglöfs as a brand is a leading member of the Fair Wear Foundation and is a certified climate-neutral company.

The most striking element of the jacket’s design, however, are the straps placed across the front panel. Designed to help improve ventilation, these straps let you open up the main zipper without sacrificing too much in terms of rain and wind protection. You’ll also find a unique (and very handy) waterproof drop seat in the rear, a helmet-compatible hood and a two-way main zip. 

Full Specifications

Bluesign approved fabrics / Responsible Down Standard approved / PFC-free DWR treatment / premium 800 Fill Power goose down / Mimic Platinum insulation / 3-layer zoned waterproof-breathable face fabrics / hydrostatic head: 15,000mm / moisture vapour transmission rate: 10,000g/m2/24hrs / front panel straps / helmet-compatible hood / two-way main zip / ISPO gold winner / Scandinavian Outdoor Award winner / climate neutral-company.

Selected for our Green Gear Guide 2021/22 – Here’s our full Haglöfs Nordic Expedition Down Jacket review. 

MORE INFO: OUTDOORSMAGIC.COM

 

Berghaus Tephra Stretch Down Jacket

Price: £170
Weight: 499g
Best for: Hiking, climbing
Key attributes: Flexible and breathable, layers well

This Berghaus down jacket has an athletic, close fit meaning most waterproof jackets will fit comfortably over it when necessary. Due to its breathability, we’d say it’s one of those jackets to call upon when you want a bit of warmth when you’re climbing or hiking uphill – basically when you’re working hard. It’s also one that you can wear just wear day-to-day when it’s a bit brisk.

There are a lot of clever things about this mid-weight down jacket. First of all, it has a reflective lining that supposedly makes the inner climate 20% warmer. Then there are the stretchy panels at the armpits for added flexibility, and a Pertex Quantum outer fabric for complete windproofing. The down fill itself is 600 fill power, ethically-sourced and comes pre-treated with Nikwax for water resistance.

Full Specifications

Men’s XS-XXXL, women’s UK 8-18 / 600 FP Hydrodown / Pertex Quantum shell

Check out our full Berghaus Tephra Stretch Reflect review

BUY NOW: BERGHAUS.COM

 

Filson Featherweight Down Jacket

Price: £340
Weight: 544g
Best for: Camping, field, everyday
Key attributes: Warm, durable

Filson’s roots go right back to the Yukon Gold Rush during the mid nineteenth century, and these days they still retain a kind-of American frontier style. And we like it.

Related: Best Headtorches For Hiking

All of their range is designed to be extremely durable and long-lasting, and this, with it’s super tough ripstop nylon shell protective overlays, is no exception. Under this tough exterior is an ethically-sourced 850 fill power goose down, all formed into huge baffles for proper warmth.

Smaller things worth noting include the cotton moleskin-lined handwarmer pockets which have popper closures, the two-way adjustable main zip and the small zipped pocket on the inside, which is ideal for storing a phone in to defend its battery life from the cold outside.

Full Specifications

Men’s XS-XXXL, women’s XS-XL / 850 FP goose down / 100% nylon ripstop + 59% nylon/41% cotton overlay / Two-way front zipper closure with zipper garage and full inner storm flap / Interior hanging zipper pocket and Moleskin-lined kangaroo handwarmer pockets

Check out our full Filson Featherweight Down Jacket review

BUY NOW: FILSON.COM

 

Montane Featherlite Down Jacket

Price: £155
Weight: 375g
Best for: Climbing, hiking, backpacking
Key attributes: Excellent warmth-to-weight ratio

This is currently available at Webtogs for just £155. That’s great value for a jacket of this quality. 

It’s a down puffer that nails the whole warmth-to-weight ratio thing, weighing just 375g but bringing plenty of thermal efficiency to proceedings thanks to its 140g of duck down with a decent 750 fill power rating. With that in mind, we reckon backpackers are going to love this. It’s that warmth at camp at the end of the day or the thing you whip out at lunchtime when you’ve stopped on a summit to eat your sandwiches.

There are some decent eco efforts on show here from Montane as well. The shell fabric, for instance, is made by Pertex using recycled materials and the whole item is completely free from any PFCs – meaning it’s not going to cause any water pollution. You can also count on all of the down being sourced ethically – in fact if you buy this jacket you actually get a code that lets you trace the down yourself.

The hood fits comfortably under a climbing helmet, it’s adjustable and comes with a nice little peak to keep the rain off your face. Other features include zipped handwarmer pockets, a chest pocket and there’s a little stuff sack which compacts the jacket down to no bigger than a beer can. 

Full Specifications

Available in men’s (S-XXL) and women’s (8-16) versions / Pertex Quantum Eco 100% recycled nylon outer with DWR /  120g (UK 12) of 90/10 water resistant fluorocarbon-free duck down at 750+ fill / PEAQ Down lining Responsible Down Standard (RDS) and Track my Down.

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Klättermusen Liv

Price: £290
Weight: 469g
Best for: Climbing, hiking, backpacking
Key attributes: Warm, sustainable

This is one of those classic all-rounder down jackets, the kind of thing that’ll suit anything from mountaineering and climbing to hiking and backpacking. Basically, it’s made for any pursuit where you want a top notch warmth-to-weight ratio. That comes from the premium 800 fill power down, generous fill weight and excellent down-to-feather ratio of  93% goose down to 7% feather.

The face fabric is made from 100% recycled Polyamide and no nasty eco-hazardous PFCs are present in the durable water repellent coating and impregnation. On top of that, the down is all certified by the Responsible Down Standard and comes with bluesign approval to boot.

Perhaps best of all, and this is where this jacket has a real edge, Klättermusen have gone for a box wall construction. This style of baffle structure tends to make for a much warmer jacket than one with a ‘stitched-through’ method as the chances of warm air escaping through the seams are minimised. The downside with box wall constructed jackets is that they tend to be heavier than ones with stitched through seams but this is by no means a heavy jacket.

Related: Best Headtorches For Running

The zip is an unusual offset design, which adds comfort around the neck and throat. The handwarmer pockets are comfy, though they’re not particularly backpack or harness-friendly. There’s one more pocket on the inside of the jacket that’s quite large, big enough to fit an OS map, and this doubles as a stuff sack.

Full Specifications

Unisex XXS-XXL / 800 FP RDS-certified, bluesign approved goose down / 20 denier 100% recycled polyamide with shoulder reinforcement

Selected for our Green Gear Guide 2021 – Here’s our full Klättermusen Liv review

BUY NOW: KLATTERMUSEN.COM

 

Rab Valiance

Price: £320
Weight: 750g
Best for: Hiking
Key attributes: Warm, waterproof

Impressive and effective, the Rab Valiance is a heavy-duty down jacket for winter adventures. It’s a jacket that’s not completely unlike a down sleeping bag with arms on each side. It’s that snug. And it’s also completely waterproof as well – something you don’t see very often with down jackets.

The outer shell is made from a durable Pertex Shield which uses a PU laminate along with taped seams to provide full rain protection. Underneath there’s a high-quality 800 fill power goose down which has a Nikwax hydrophobic treatment. 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 will keep on insulating.

This down doesn’t extend into the helmet however. Instead, Rab have opted to use a synthetic insulation, which interestingly, is called Pyrotec. The hood itself is helmet compatible and it has a useful wire-stiffened peak also. Other features worth noting are the Velcro adjustable cuffs, and the handwarmer pockets that have YKK zip closures.

Full Specifications

Men’s XS-XXL, women’s UK 8-16 / 800 FP RDS-certified hydrophobic goose down / Pertex Shield fully taped waterproof outer / 100% Nylon inner / Bonded narrow box-wall construction / Pyrotec synthetic insulation filled hood / Helmet compatible hood with wired peak / YKK VISLON front zip with internal zip baffle / Two YKK AquaGuard zipped hand warmer pockets / Internal security pocket / Oversize drawcord adjustment at hem and rear hood / Stuff sack

Check out our full Rab Valiance review

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Fjällräven Expedition Pack Down Hoodie

Price: £275
Weight: 490g
Best for: Camping, hiking
Key attributes: Durable, sustainable

This retro-looking down jacket is in fact modelled on a jacket that Fjällräven’s founder Åke Nordin created back in the 1970s. The vintage logo patch is a nod to this heritage. Fortunately, the features are all modern. It’s a fairly high spec, mid-weight down jacket that’ll certainly do the job during an autumn wild camp in the Lake District or as part of a layering system during a Scottish winter.

Fjällräven is one of the leading brands when it comes to sustainability, so this jacket has a fully recycled polyamide face fabric and lining, a fluorocarbon-free water resistant coating and ethically-sourced down fill that’s fully traceable. The main fill used here is 110g of goose down with a fill power of 700, all contained within stitched through baffles. There’s also a synthetic fill at the shoulders, which adds a bit of durability and wet weather reliability.

The hood is very cosy and protective and it holds well thanks to the adjustment tabs at the back and on the chin. There’s also adjustment at the waist, with the pull cords handily located within the handwarmers. Said pockets are zipped and fairly big – big enough to fit an OS map.

Full Specifications

Men’s XS-XXL, women’s UK 8-16 / 700 FP traceable goose down with synthetic fill shoulder panel reinforcement / 100% recycled polyamide face fabric and lining with PFC-free DWR

Selected for our Green Gear Guide 2021 – Here’s our full Fjällräven Expedition Pack Down Hoodie review

BUY NOW: FJALLRAVEN.COM

 

The North Face Summit L6 Down Belay Parka

Price: £720
Weight: 780g
Best for: Climbing
Key attributes: Excellent warmth-to-weight, innovative construction

This jacket is a specialist, highly technical piece of gear. Just by taking a quick look at some of the stats, it becomes evident that it’s not been designed for the mass market. Heavyweight build and 800 fill power down, with an intricate baffle design and strategically placed Futurelight waterproof protection: this jacket has been developed specifically for the coldest climates and the most testing conditions.

The impressive asymmetrical baffle design gives a very close but comfortable fit, one that really helps to maximise heat retention. It allows room for layering without feeling restrictive. One feature that really impressed us was the draught yoke, which covers the neck and shoulders to prevent potential heat loss. Sitting above this yoke is a huge, fully baffled hood that’ll provide bucket loads of insulation even with a climbing helmet under it. You’ll find two huge mesh pockets on the inside of the jacket that’ll work well for glove storage – or even for somewhere to stuff a warm flask. The main zip is two-way, so you can throw the jacket on over a climbing harness and still have clear access to your belay device.

Due to the quality of the down in the jacket it packs really well – about the size of a summer sleeping bag – which means that you can get it into your backpack easily and have it with you on those big adventures. The North Face continue to lead product innovation at the top of the mountain and the L6 is definitely a jacket for serious adventures.

Selected for our Outdoor 100 2021/22. Read our full The North Face Summit L6 Down Belay Parka review.

BUY NOW: THENORTHFACE.CO.UK

 

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