Best Down Jackets For 2020 | The Best Insulated Puffers You Can Buy - Outdoors Magic

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Down and Insulated Jackets

Best Down Jackets For 2020 | The Best Insulated Puffers You Can Buy

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 external 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 feathers found under the tougher outer feathers found on 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 1000 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 made ineffective when it gets wet, and 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 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 2020

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.

  • Arc’teryx Cerium LT Jacket – Best Down Jacket On Test
  • Jöttnar Fenrir
  • Berghaus Tephra Stretch Reflect Down Jacket
  • Filson Featherweight Down Jacket
  • Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket
  • Montane Quattro Fusion
  • Klättermusen Liv
  • Rab Neutrino Pro
  • Fjällräven Expedition Pack Down Hoodie
  • Mammut Whitehorn IN

 

BEST BUY: Arc’teryx Cerium LT

Price: £320
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

Get the latest price at:
arcteryx.com

Jöttnar Fenrir

Price: £295
Weight: 300g
Best for: Climbing, mountaineering
Key attributes: Clever climbing-friendly design, lofty insulation value

This jacket has an excellent warmth-to-weight-ratio thanks to its combination of premium goose down (850 fill power rating) and a lightweight but durable ripstop nylon shell. This dynamic duo keeps the jacket’s weight down to just 300g altogether.

Then there’s the wet weather performance. Jöttnar have added a hydrophobic treatment to the shell to makes the jacket 10x more water repellent. It works well, but requires a bit of looking after to make sure it lasts. We’d suggest using a solution by Grangers, Storm or Nikwax when washing the jacket to make sure the treatment doesn’t degrade.

Of course, in really wet weather, even hydrophobic down suffers, and that’s why Jöttnar have decided to supplement it with synthetic insulation in the parts of the jacket that are particularly vulnerable. That’s at the cuffs and on the collar – those bits that tend to stick out of your waterproof jacket.

Full Specifications

Men’s S-XL, women’s XS-L / 850 Fill Power goose down, in a premium 93/7 down/feather ratio / 120g/m2 synthetic fill in cuffs and neck / windproof, micro rip-stop, nylon with water repellent outer layer / 30 denier / synthetic weight: 100g/m²

Check out our full Jöttnar Fenrir Jacket review

Get the latest price at:
jottnar.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

Get the latest price at:
berghaus.com

Filson Featherweight Down Jacket

Price: £295
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

Get the latest price at:
blackleaf.com

Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket

Price: £195
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

Get the latest price at:
rab.equipment

 

Montane Quattro Fusion

Price: £240
Weight: 472g
Best for: Climbing, hiking, backpacking
Key attributes: Breathable, flexible

There’s a whole lot going on both inside and outside of this jacket by Montane. First you’ve got the down, which, with its high fill power, provides thermal efficiency at a light weight with plenty of comfort as well.

Then there’s the intelligently placed Polartec Alpha Direct fleece across the back, hood, forearms and lower side panels. It’s a fabric we’ve tested in plenty of other jackets over the last year or so and we can 100% vouch for it. It brings thermal regulation, comfort and a very decent moisture wicking performance.

For the shell, the Quattro boasts two different types of Pertex, each bringing particular qualities – like extra ventilation, or extra durability – to where they’re specifically needed. Finally, all of this is topped off with an eco-friendly water repellent coating. Very impressive indeed.

 

Full Specifications

Men’s XS-XXL, women’s UK 8-18 / 800 FP goose down / Pertex shell fabrics (Quantum Pro with Diamond Fuse and Quantum Air), Polartec Alpha Direct fleece

Check out our full Montane Quattro Fusion review

Get the latest price at:
montane.co.uk

Klättermusen Liv

Price: £350
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.

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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

Get the latest price at:
klattermusen.com

Rab Neutrino Pro

Price: £290
Weight: 605g
Best for: Climbing, mountaineering, alpinism
Key attributes: Warm, water-resistant

If you want one down jacket that’ll do pretty much everything in sub-zero conditions, the Rab Nebula Pro ticks the boxes. First and foremost, it’s reassuringly warm, with a pleasingly dense feel to the 800 fill power down.

The water-resistant Pertex Quantum Pro fabric is deceptively tough and shrugs off encounters with the odd sharp shrub, and while it’s not super lightweight, our 605g medium test jacket never felt like a burden.

It’s versatile too. Right at home on a belay at the bottom of an icefall; during an evening in a Scottish winter bothy; or on a gentle plod to the pub in a deep mid-winter cold snap.

Full Specifications

Men’s XS-XXL, women’s UK 8-16 / 800 FP RDS-certified hydrophobic goose down / Pertex Quantum Pro Shell

Check out our full Rab Neutrino Pro review

Get the latest price at:
rab.equipment

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

Get the latest price at:
fjallraven.com

 

Mammut Whitehorn IN

Price: £199
Weight: 623g
Best for: Hiking, climbing
Key attributes: Eco-friendly, reverse-able

This is one of those really lofty and snug down jackets, featuring a 650 fill power dock down topped off with 200g/m2 of Mammut Ajungilak synthetic fill across the shoulders. There are some great green creds here as well, in fact this item made it into our Green Gear Guide specifically for that reason. The down, for instance, is sourced via Re:down, the synthetic fill is all recycled and so is the polyester used for the Pertex Quantum Eco shell fabric.

 

The jacket looks good as well, with an eye-catching retro styling. Unusually, it’s also reversible, and the two different faces offer slightly different looks as well as features. One side has two zipped hand pockets and standard baffles, while the other has a smooth face with two buttoned hand pockets and a zipped chest pocket. Given that wearing either option means you end up with the other set of pockets on the inside, this actually offers a fair amount of storage. The drawback of the reversible design is that it means the main zip has no storm flap, but this is only a minor niggle.

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Other features are fairly simple. You get a stand-up, padded collar, elasticated cuffs and a hem drawcord to lock in warmth. There is no hood. The jacket sits nicely on the hips and we’d describe the cut as regular – nicely tailored but not too slim fitting.

Full Specifications

Sizes: S-XXL (men’s),  XS-XL (women’s) / filled with 82 g 80/20 recycled down from Re:Down with 650 cubic inch fill power on body / 200 g/m² recycled Ajungilak® OTI™ Element in shoulder area / Pertex® Quantum material with PFC free DWR treatment, made from recycled yarn.

Check out our full Mammut Whitehorn IN Jacket review.

Get the latest price at:
mammut.com

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