Winter hiking, the time of summit stops for tea from a Thermos flask and late afternoons settling by a fire in a cosy pub. The time when you need to think more carefully about bringing the right kit, and in particular, the right insulated jacket. Now, we're fans of both down and synthetic fill insulation – each type has its benefits – however, in this instance we're specifically looking at the best down jackets 2018.
All of the items here were included in our Summer and Winter Outdoor 100s, our guides to each season's 100 finest gear releases, so you can be sure that they'll offer reliable performance when it comes to insulation, quality of materials, and weather protection.
Our team tested most of these down jackets out on the western edge of the Brecon Beacons, while some were taken to the mountains above Chamonix in the Alps and even to Iceland. What we were inspecting was insulation performance, quality of materials, protection from the wind and the ability to withstand light rain.
Each review details the important bits and specifications but for more detailed information just click on the 'Read More' link and you'll be taken to the specific review of the product on our site.
We've tried to give you enough information to help you make the right decision on your next purchase, however, if you want more detailed information on what to look for when choosing a down insulated jacket then it's worth heading over to our the buyer's guide.
Bear in mind that all of the items in this list of the best quality down jackets are available in both men's and women's versions.
Best Down Jackets 2018: Mountain Equipment Skyline
"... a well-thought through, cleverly designed down jacket that provides warmth, comfort and crucially, a whole lot of convenience."
MATERIALS: 700 fill power down fill, DriLite Loft outer
USE FOR: Mountain walking and mountaineering, winter climbing, alpinism.
As well as making quality down sleeping bags, Mountain Equipment also really know how to put together a down jacket. The Skyline, brand new for Autumn/Winter 2017, is filled with 180g of 700 fill power down that's ethically sourced and fully traceable. Its outer fabric has a 20 denier strength which is enough to withstand plenty of wear and tear on the hill, and it's given a durable water repellent finish that'll keep the insulation underneath dry in any light rainfall. As you'd expect from Mountain Equipment there are loads of features that help to make the jacket suitable for climbing; things like the harness-compatible handwarmer pockets, and glove-friendly zip pulls, and the hood which is big enough to be worn over a helmet.
DriLite Loft 20D outer fabric / 180g Pure Down with minimum 90/10 700 fill power / stitch through baffles / elastane hood / 2-way YKK zip / two handwarmer pockets / elastane cuffs / stuffs into an inner mesh pocket.
Best Down Jackets 2018: Rab Valiance
“Rab have become renowned over the past 30+ years for making outdoor gear at the top end of the market, and the Rab Valiance is a shining example of their credentials."
MATERIALS: 800 fill power hydrophobic down, Pertex Shield outer
USE FOR: Alpine climbing and mountaineering
But there's plenty to talk about in regards to the insulation as well. It uses 160g of 800 fill power, quality European goose down that's treated with Nikwax for added moisture protection, and it's all housed in box wall baffles. If you're not familiar with this, it's the best form of construction for heat retention and prevention of cold spots as it creates a buffer between the outer lining and the inner.
The Rab Valiance has two comfy handwarmer pockets, and a big, helmet-compatible hood, plus it comes with a stuff sack. Easily earns its place in our list of the best down jackets 2017/2018.
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
Best Down Jackets 2018: Columbia 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."
MATERIALS: 700 fill power goose down, recycled polyester fabric
USE FOR: UK hillwalking
Like London buses eh? Here's another waterproof down jacket, this time from Columbia. It's really, really white, right? But there's a reason for this, an environmental one at that.
It's actually completely un-dyed, meaning that in its production process, this jacket saves 51 litres of water compared to standard, dyed jackets.
Other environmentally-friendly touches include the use of 100 per cent recycled polyester and a fluorocarbon-free waterproof membrane.
Onto the insulation. It's a 700 fill power goose down so expect a decent bit of thermal efficiency. This is further enhanced by the technique of bonding the down baffles together rather than stitching them – this means less gaps for heat to escape. The same technique is used with the Rab Valiance.
OutDry waterproof membrane / 700 fill power ethically sourced goose down / recycled polyester fabric / two zipped handwarmer pockets / adjustable hem / elasticated cuffs / fluorocarbon-free
Best Down Jackets 2018: Rab Zero G Jacket
"One of the most insulated down jackets in the world. Made with high quality European goose feathers, the Zero G jacket has an astonishing 1000 fill-power down."
PRICE: £375 (SRP)
WEIGHT: 310g (medium)
MATERIALS: 1000 fill power goose down, 7D Pertex Quantum GL inner and outer
USE FOR: Mountain walking and mountaineering, winter climbing, alpinism.
1000 fill power is a rating you really don't see very often, put simply, it's the mark of some extremely high quality down fill, so you can be absolutely guaranteed that this jacket will keep you very, very warm. Rab have put some thought into keeping the weight low as well, for example, they've used a superlight, 7 denier Pertex Quantum material for the outer shell.
The Zero G has big handwarmer pockets that can be accessed even when a harness is worn, a comfy down filled and elasticated hood with a flexible polymer peak and comfortable stretch cuffs. As is normally the case with Rab jackets, it has an athletic trim, and long arms to suit climbers.
It's also worth mentioning that the down is all responsibly sourced from Europe.
Pertex Quantum GL 7D inner and outer lining / 130g of 1000+ fill power RDS goose down / Down filled hood with polymer peak / 2 YKK Conceal handwarmer pockets / stuff sack.
Best Down Jackets 2018: OEZ Zenon Ultra LT Down
“If you’re looking for a lightweight jacket that’s going to keep you warm, but won’t break the bank, the OEX Zenon Jacket is definitely worth taking a closer looking at."
PRICE: £130 (with GoOutdoors membership card)
MATERIALS: 800 fill power down, 7D x 15D Mini Ripstop nylon
USE FOR: UK hillwalking, layering in colder weather
Quality down can be expensive, however, as the OEX Zenon proves, this doesn't necessarily always have to be the case.
This isn't a down jacket for expeditions, and it's not designed to be, instead it's a great option to keep in your rucksack on winter walks to pull out just in case you need that extra bit of warmth, and thanks to its micro baffle construction and close, athletic trim, it's also a great option to wear underneath a coat as a cosy midlayer.
The down fill is ethically sourced and it has a hydrophobic treatment to help it repel water. There's also a water repellent 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 loft.
7D and 15D Mini Ripstop nylon outer / fluorocarbon-free DWR coating / ethically sourced hydrophobic down (800 fill power, 90g) / YKK zipped pockets / hem adjustment / two handwarmer pockets / stows away in its own pocket / available in men's and women's versions.
Best Down Jackets 2018: Berghaus Ramche Micro Down
“When you’re on an expedition involving ice climbing or Alpinism this lightweight Berghaus jacket is going to deliver next-level warmth."
MATERIALS: Nikwax hydrophobic down, nylon outer
USE FOR: UK hillwalking and climbing, suitable as a midlayer in colder temperatures
Last year from Berghaus we saw the Extrem Ramche 2.0, a high-level mountaineering jacket that provided bucketloads of insulation. This year they've launched a slimmed down version of it, one that's better suited as a midlayer or for simpler stuff at lower levels and less extreme temperatures.
Like the Extrem Ramche 2.0 it's filled with Nikwax Hydrophobic down, so you won't need to worry about a bit of rain affecting the down performance. In fact, Berghaus say that the insulation will be able to perform for up to 16 hours when wet.
One of the most interesting things about the Ramche Micro Down is its internal lining that's able to reflect heat back to the body, supposedly increasing the temperature inside the jacket by 10 per cent.
Nikwax Hydrophobic Down (fill power unknown) / internal reflective mesh / nylon shell fabric / semi elasticated hood / elasticated cut / elasticated cuffs / two zipped handwarmer pockets / internal storage pocket.
Best Down Jackets 2018: Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody
“The deceptively warm Cerium LT Hoody pretty much nails the optimum balance between lightweight packability and useful insulation levels. It’s beautifully made too with a sublimely athletic fit."
MATERIALS: 850 fill power down, zoned CoreLoft synthetic, 10 denier nylon shel
USE FOR: hillwalking, alpine climbing and mountaineering, backpacking
This warm and cosy jacket from Vancouver-based climbing 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 (second to the Rab Zero G). This down is body mapped throughout the jacket to provide extra heat where you need it most, and you can really feel the difference this makes. Don't expect to notice any cold spots.
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.
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, plus it's adjustable meaning it's something you can really bolt down in if necessary.
850 fill-power European white goose down / Coreloft 80 (80 g/m²) insulation / Durable Water Repellent finish / elastic cuffs / adjustable insulated hood with drawcord / Arato 10 – 100% nylon fabrics / two hand-pockets with zippers / comes with stuff-sac.