Best Down Jackets 2023 - Outdoors Magic

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Down and Insulated Jackets

Best Down Jackets 2023

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.

How We Tested These Jackets

All of these items were used out in the field by our team of testers who you can see in all of the pictures within this round up. The locations we tested them included Snowdonia, the Brecon Beacons, the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands and we were out using them from early autumn through to late spring.

On selection, any products that had expensive price tags needed to have the quality to back up the cost. Any low budget items needed to have the kind of performance that’s needed when out in the hills, when cold and potentially wet conditions are expected.

We assessed these based on warmth-to-weight, build quality in relation to the price, durability, features and also on eco-friendliness.

The Best Down Jackets Tested In 2023

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.

  • Best Overall Down Jacket: Rab Mythic Ultra Jacket

  • Best Ultralight Down Jacket: Arc;teryx Cerium Hoody

  • Best Budget Down Jacket: Montane Featherlite Down Jacket

  • Best Waterproof Down Jacket: Rab Valiance

  • Best Down Jacket for Everyday Use: Fjällräven Expedition Pack Down Anorak


Best Overall Down Jacket

1. Rab Mythic Ultra Jacket

Our tester Becky using the Mythic Ultra in the Lake District during a hike along the Cumbria Way.

Price: £380
Weight: 537g
Best for: Climbing, hiking, backpacking
Key attributes: Sustainably made, innovative, highly functional

Boasting the highest warmth-to-weight ratio in the entire Rab collection, the Rab Mythic Ultra is one seriously well-made jacket that’s designed to insulate in some very cold conditions. All the design details are there for those who want something to back them up on any alpine missions above the snowline, there are some admirable efforts around sustainability and, well, it just looks pretty smart too

You can expect a bunch of recycled materials, including Pertex’s 100% recycled fabrics on the inside and outside. The down all meets the Responsible Down Standard, and Nikwax’s Hydrophobic Down treatment is applied here to help the fill repel moisture. It’s a solution that’s completely water-based and earth kind.

Our tester Becky using the Mythic in the Lake District's mountains. Photo: Joe Whitmore

There’s a clever baffle construction too including stitched-through baffles on the arms where more articulation and dynamic movement is required and box wall baffles on the body where maximum loft and warmth is wanted. It’s clever stuff and it works excellently. What’s more, the box wall baffles are all offset, further reducing the chance of any cold spots.

In terms of features you’ve got a two-way zip so it can be worn while belaying, it comes with a little stuff sack that can be clipped onto a harness, the hood’s large and adjustable and can be worn over a helmet (or under one) and the arms are articulated so that you can reach up without the hem lifting up over your waist.

Full Specifications

100% recycled Pertex fabric / RDS-approved 900 fill power down / Nikwax Hydrophobic Down treatment / stitched-through and box wall baffle construction / Thermo Ionic Lining / two-way zip / stuff sack included / helmet-compatible hood / articulated arms /

Selected for our Green Gear Guide 2023 – Here’s our full Rab Mythic Ultra Jacket Review



Best Ultralight Down Jacket

2. Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody

Price: £350
Weight: 335g
Best for: Hiking, backpacking, climbing
Key attributes: Lightweight and highly packable, high-spec fill

What was once the Arc’teryx Cerium LT is now the Cerium Hoody. There are a couple of updates, with new colourways, different ingredient fabrics and perhaps most notably a new liner that’s derived from natural materials (castor bean oil).

Those into their alpine climbing will appreciate the impressive warmth-to-weight ratio the new Cerium offers – it should fit the bill for lightweight backpackers too.

It’s mainly stuffed with 850 fill power responsibly sourced down but there’s also synthetic fill strategically placed in areas that are more prone to moisture, including the cuffs, shoulders and armpits.

Expect a little stuff sack that’s stowed in the breast pocket, two deep handwarmers and hem and hood adjustment. The hood is helmet-friendly too.

As for the fit, we’d call it slim or athletic. It’ll fit over a midweight fleece but anything chunkier will be a bit of a squeeze. It’s also pretty short on the hem but the articulation at the armpits prevents said hem from lifting when you’re reaching up.

Top quality design, as you’d expect from the Canadian brand.

Full Specifications

Men’s XS-XXL, women’s XS-XL / 850 FP goose down and CoreLoft synthetic insulation / Arato 15 nylon shell / articulated construction / insulated StormHood

Here’s our review of the previous version, the Arc’teryx Cerium Jacket



Best Value Down Jacket

3. Montane Featherlite Down Jacket

OM tester Jordan wearing the Montane Featherlite during an autumn in Snowdonia.

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.



Best Waterproof Down Jacket

4. Rab Valiance

Former OM staffer Giles trialling the Rab Valiance in cold north Wales conditions.

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



Best Everyday-Wear Down Jacket

5. Fjällräven Expedition Pack Down Anorak

Becky with the Expedition Pack Down Anorak in the Lake District.

Price: £360
Weight: 518g
Best for: Camping, hiking
Key attributes: Responsibly sourced down, recycled fabrics, PFC-free

This is a light and packable down layer specifically designed for women. It offers excellent warmth for weight, thanks to its high-quality 700FP down fill, so it is suitable for multi-activity cold weather use. It works well as a standalone outer layer in cold, dry conditions, with a fit that will accommodate layers underneath. Having said that, it’s not so bulky that you couldn’t also wear it underneath a shell if required too.

The shell material and inner lining in the new series are both made of 100% recycled nylon, and the face fabric is also finished with a PFC-free water repellent treatment. This ensures added resistance to moisture without the need to resort to environmentally harmful chemical compounds.

Similarly, the 700-fill power down is guaranteed to be 100% traceable and ethically produced. In fact, the Fjällräven Down Promise is recognised as one of the best in the outdoor industry.

The anorak design is actually very practical. Obviously, you sacrifice the slight convenience of a full-length zip, but in return you get extra insulation around the torso for additional core warmth, plus a useful central kangaroo-style dump pocket. There’s a cosy baffled hood and an extended hemline for full coverage too.

Full Specifications

700-fill power traceable down / multi-activity compatible / 100% recycled nylon shell and inner lining / PFC-free water-repellent face fabric / repairable design / kangaroo-style front pocket / loose fit / half-length front zipper / side zipper / single-layer stitch-through baffles / extra insulation on elbows and shoulders / two hand pockets / pack into kangaroo pocket / baffled hood / extended hemline.

Selected for our Green Gear Guide 2023 – Here’s our full Fjällräven Expedition Pack Down Anorak review



Best of the Rest


6. Haglöfs Nordic Expedition Down Jacket

OM editor Will looking alarmed but warm and comfortable, using the Expedition Pack Down during an evening in the mountains of Wales.

Price: £483
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. 



7. Jöttnar Fenrir

Our tester Jackson using the Fenrir in the Cairngorms of Scotland.

Price: £335
Weight: 390g
Best for: Hiking, alpine climbing
Key attributes: excellent warmth to weight, good wet weather performance

This jacket was first released over half a decade ago and it’s become a mainstay in Jöttnar’s line. We actually had one of the first ever models that was produced and it still continues to be worn by our team. In fact, while the fabric might’ve got a little bit grubby over the years the down is still amazingly lofty. 

Jöttnar, in case you’ve not heard of them before are a UK-based brand that was founded and continues to be run by two former Royal Marines, both of which have a background in Scottish winter climbing. They know what tough weather is and they know what kind of kit is required for it. And this really shows in their product design.
Expect an impressive thermal efficiency, thanks to the premium goose down fill that, with its 850 fill power rating, keeps the jacket’s weight down to just 300g (men’s medium).

Then there’s the wet weather performance. Not only does the Fenrir have an impressive hydrophobic down treatment but they’ve also strategically added synthetic insulation in the cuffs and on the collar – the parts of the jacket that tend to be exposed to the most moisture. 

We found that the fit is ‘athletic’ without feeling too tight or restrictive and it’s cosy without feeling bulky when worn under an outer layer. It was true to size. 

Full Specifications

Sizes: Men’s S-XL; women’s XS-L / 850 fill power goose down / DownTek hydrophobic treatment / RDS certified / Two handwarmer pockets / Cinch toggled hood / stretch cuffs / stuff sack supplied. 

Check out our full Jöttnar Fenrir review.



8. Filson Featherweight Down Jacket

Andrew Price using the Filson Featherweight in Bannau Brycheiniog National Park.

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.

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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



9. Klättermusen Liv

Will using the Liv during our Green Gear Guide product testing.

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.

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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



10. The North Face Summit L6 Down Belay Parka

The Summit L6 doing its job during one of our colder test trips.

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.



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.

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