Best Down Jackets For Hiking, Camping and Climbing 2019 | Top 10 - Outdoors Magic

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Down and Insulated Jackets

Best Down Jackets For Hiking, Camping and Climbing 2019 | Top 10

For 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.

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 We’ve Tested In 2019

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
  • Oex Zenon LT – Best Value Down Jacket
  • Columbia OutDry Exo Eco – Best Waterproof Down Jacket
  • Berghaus Tephra Stretch Down Jacket
  • Filson Featherweight Down Jacket
  • Jöttnar Fenrir Down Jacket
  • Montane Quattro Fusion
  • Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown DS
  • Rab Neutrino Pro
  • Mountain Equipment Frostline Jacket

 

BEST BUY: Arc’teryx Cerium LT

Price: £320
Weight: 305g
arcteryx.com

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.

Check out our full Arc’teryx Cerium Jacket review

 

Oex Zenon LT

Price: £85 (with loyalty card)
Weight: 217g
gooutdoors.co.uk

The £85 OEX Zenon isn’t a jacket for expeditions, and it’s not designed to be, instead it’s that handy option to keep in your rucksack on winter walks just in case you might need that extra bit of warmth. Thanks to its micro baffle construction and athletic trim, it’s also a great option to wear underneath another layer, like a waterproof, as a cosy midlayer.

The down insulation is all ethically sourced and has a hydrophobic treatment to help it repel water. There’s also a DWR finish to the outer nylon shell, so you won’t need to worry too much about getting caught out by a shower and the down losing its loftiness. 

Related: Best Waterproof Jackets

When you don’t need it the whole thing can be stuffed into its own pocket to make for a compact package that’ll be no burden in your backpack.

Check out our full OEX Zenon Ultra LT review

 

Berghaus Tephra Stretch Down Jacket

Price: £170
Weight: 499g
berghaus.com

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.

Check out our full Berghaus Tephra Reflect review

 

Filson Featherweight Down Jacket

Price: £295
Weight: 544g
filson.com

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 nothing 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.

Check out our full Filson Featherweight Down Jacket review

 

Jöttnar Fenrir Jacket

Price: £295
Weight: 300g
jottnar.com

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. 

Check out our full Jöttnar Fenrir Jacket review

 

Montane Quattro Fusion

Price: £240
Weight: 472g
montane.co.uk

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.

Check out our full Montane Quattro Fusion review

 

Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown DS

Price: £150
Weight: 423g
mountainhardwear.com

Looks different, right? Well, we can tell you that it feels different as well.

The Stretchdown DS breaks the mould of traditional grid-quilting and instead opts for a pattern of discontinuous lines featuring what Mountain Hardwear describe as “groundbreaking stretch-welded channel construction”. This, they say, makes it capable of trapping slightly more warmth than a standard-stitched coat, and it gives a really body-hugging fit.

The hood which is padded with the same quilting as the rest of the coat to keep your head nice and warm. Photo: Chris Johnson.

What’s more, the outer fabric doesn’t have that thin nylon feel to it. Instead, it’s got a kind-of matte look and feel to it, much like a memory foam pillow actually. 

Related: Best Headtorches For Running

All the essential details are there. Like the cosy handwarmer pockets, and a well-fitting hood which is padded with the same quilting as the rest of the coat. Weight-wise, this one’s on the hefty side at 430g.

Check out our full Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown RS review

 

Rab Neutrino Pro

Price: £290
Weight: 570g
rab.equipment

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 570g 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.

Check out our full Rab Neutrino Pro review

 

Mountain Equipment Frostline Jacket

Price: £180
Weight: 350g
mountain-equipment.co.uk

This is a down jacket that will have your back all-year-round. In winter, its medium-sized baffles allow it to fit comfortably underneath an outer hardshell layer, while it should also fit over any thick baselayers at the same time. Then in warmer months it’s that ideal option to pull out of your pack when the wind picks up or when you’re sat on a summit having your lunch.

There are lighter jackets with higher fill powers, but these usually come with a hefty price tag, and at the relatively fair price of £179.99, the Frostline is a decent compromise.

We should also give Mountain Equipment some kudos for the ethical standards they uphold with their down sourcing. Through their Down Codex scheme, they only use down that’s a by-product of the food and meat industry and never any that’s been live plucked. And the fill is all 100% traceable – you can even check out the provider yourself by entering a unique code found on the jacket’s tag onto the Down Codex website.

Check out our full Mountain Equipment Frostline Jacket review

 

Columbia OutDry Exo Eco

Price: £260
Weight: 460g
columbiasportswear.co.uk

This here is a fully waterproof down jacket – the only one to feature in this round-up of the best down jacket. It also has some great eco creds.

Columbia were one of the first brands to remove PFCs in their outdoor clothing. For those who don’t know, PFCs are chemicals used in our outdoor gear to make them water and stain-resistant and non-stick. The big issue with them is that they have extremely high global warming properties – 5000 – 10,000 times that of carbon dioxide.

The secret to this jacket’s eco-friendliness is the clever material that Columbia have developed. They’ve toughened up their waterproof membrane and put it on the outside of the jacket 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.

Aside from all the sustainability stuff, features of this jacket include a bonded visor, adjustable hem and cuffs, underarm venting to keep you comfortable as you go and two zipped handwarmer pockets. Top notch.

Check out our full Columbia OutDry Ex Eco review

 

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