8 Best Packable Down Jackets Compared & Fully Reviewed
A packable down jacket is a wonderfully versatile piece that complements any active lifestyle. These lightweight jackets have become commonplace for fall commuters and around town wear. They are also exceedingly helpful to have on hand for weekend warriors and backpackers alike. Lightweight down jackets serve as an excellent insulating mid-layer for snow sports and cold hikes. They also make the list of essential gear for any backpacker. Their lightweight and packability make them an easy item to have on hand in the case of inclement weather as they do not add much weight or bulk to your pack.
A quality down jacket should provide warmth, be somewhat durable and include key features of a regular jacket, while still remaining lightweight and compressible. Outdoor apparel companies have risen to the challenge with innovative technology to improve function and cut weight. We have come up with the top 8 jackets worth considering as an addition to your wardrobe.
- Patagonia Down Sweater
- Great Warmth
- Rab Microlight Alpine
- DWR Coating
- Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody
- Fitted Silhouette
8 Best Packable Down Jackets
1. Patagonia Down Sweater
Patagonia leads the field in sustainability and responsible material sourcing with 100% traceable down in this sweater. This means the company has gone through extra lengths to ensure the geese are never force-fed or live-plucked. The shell reflects efforts for sustainability as well with 100% recycled polyester ripstop.
This sweater has a fill power of 800 and users find it provides reliable warmth as a midlayer in very cold temperatures. In moderately cold weather, the DWR (durable water resistant) coating and combination of 20D and 30D polyester ripstop do an adequate job of blocking the wind when worn as a regular jacket.
According to Patagonia’s website, this jacket weighs in around 12.2 ounces for women and 13.1 ounces for men. The heavy zippers and thicker fabric add a bit of weight to this down sweater but it remains mid-range for weight when compared to similar models. However, it does come in an ultralight version as well, weighing 8.2 ounces for women and 9.5 ounces for men. This jacket stuffs into an interior chest pocket.
This down sweater relies on heavier zippers that have a wicking storm flap through the body and comforting fleece lining areas around the face. Two zippered pockets are insulated to warm hands and the internal zippered pocket doubles as a stuffsack. Elastic cuffs and a pull-cord hem that can be pulled from the pocket helps to cinch this jacket down and keep cold air and snow out.
The down sweater is neither loose nor snug. There is a bit more space through the torso and sleeves than more fitted jackets. However, users find the jacket maintains good range of motion when layered over another sweater but it does not feel too baggy when worn with a thin base layer.
Price will range between 200 and 300 dollars on this high quality jacket. It is a great value for the weight-to-warmth ratio and you can feel good about supporting Patagonia’s responsible practices.
Great warmth-to-weight ratio
Stuffs into interior pocket
100% Global traceable down standard (cruelty-free)
Durable 20Dx30D polyester ripstop shell
Soft lining around face
2 zippered, handwarmer pockets
Slightly larger when compressed
2. Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket
Unlike most down jackets, the Rab Microlight will put up a fight against moisture. The tight knit trademarked Pertex shell and Durable Water Resistant (DWR) coating prevent water from soaking in through the outside. While 750 fill power Nikwax-treated down repels water and dries quicker than untreated. While the jacket may feel less lofty than others, the 100% Responsible Down Standard down and windbreaker shell provide substantial warmth.
The Rab Microlight is one of the heavier jackets on this list weighing in at 12.7 ounces for women and 15.1 ounces for men. While it may not be your top choice for a long backpacking trip, users still find it to be lightweight and convenient for packing into the included stuffsack.
The flexible wire brim built into the helmet-compatible hood provides extra protection against rain to keep vision clear. The jacket also has a zippered interior chest pocket, two zippered handwarmer pockets and an adjustable cord at the hem.
This jacket has less loft and appears and feels less puffy than you may be accustomed to for down. Some users find it is tighter through the chest and shoulders with sleeves tha run a bit longer; hitting mid-hand rather than at the wrists. Be aware that Rab is a British company and uses UK sizing so you may need to order up a size.
This jacket runs just under 300 dollars. The effort put into waterproofing will not replace your rain shell but it can extend the life and warmth of your jacket if you frequently find your down getting saturated.
Pyrex shell blocks wind
Hydrophobic Down repels moisture
Wire rimmed, helmet-compatible hood
Good for climbing
Responsible Down Standard certified
Fits is not for everyone
Heavier in comparison
3. Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody
Down composite mapping strategically places real down around the core and hood with synthetic Coreloft material around the shoulders, underarms, collar and cuffs. The use of synthetic Coreloft filling in areas most prone to getting wet reduces the chances of moisture penetrating the down and compressing it. Reviewers do not report much difference in warmth between this jacket and those of full-down. It provides good warmth as a mid-layer for outdoor sports or as an around-town jacket.
The shell is made of a combination of 20D and 10D ripstop nylon fabrics to find the proper balance of heavy durability and lightweight packability.
At 10.8 ounces, it is not the lightest weight option for down jackets. However, it still cannot be considered heavy, especially when taking into account the warmth and insulation it provides with only 10.8 ounces of material. It comes with a 0.21 ounce stuff sack that can be tied inside the pocket of the jacket.
This jacket features a hood and insulated hand warmer pockets.
The Cerium LT hoody runs small and has a fitted silhouette that fits easily under shells and backpacks. It is a bit shorter through the torso than others on this list.
The Arc'teryx name carries with it a reputation for high quality design, reliable performance and clean lines, and, with that, a higher price tag. The strategic use of synthetic Coreloft extends the life of this jacket so it should last a few more seasons than a budget brand. A few reviewers note some feather shedding but most find it to be on par with other quality down jackets.
Down composite mapping improves durability without sacrificing warmth
Insulated zippered pockets
20x10 denier ripstop nylon
Responsibly sourced down
Users note feather shedding
Not 100% down
Shorter through the torso
6. Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Hooded Jacket
Mountain Hardwear uses patented Q-shield technology to infuse down with water repelling properties. This hydrophobic down does not get weighed down as easily when exposed to moisture and will retain its heat better than regular down. To maintain a lightweight, this jacket uses a tight weave of very light 7D x 10D nylon ripstop for the outer shell. Despite the thin feel, users find this jacket performs and blocks wind and light moisture just as well as some mid-weight options and much better than its fellow lightweights.
This Mountain Hardwear jacket weighs in at just 7.8 ounces according to their website. Users report the outer shell does feel very delicate but seems to be more durable than one would think. The ultralight zipper does reduce weight but a few users find it a bit too flimsy at times. Ultimately, the jacket packs down very small into its own pocket and adds minimal weight to your pack.
Despite its light weight, this jacket manages to include zippered pockets, an insulated hood and an adjustable cord at the hem.
The fit is described as form-fitting. It runs a bit tighter across the chest and shoulders with some more room through the torso.
This Mountain Hardwear jacket falls in the more expensive price bracket of 300-400 dollars. While it is more expensive, it does offer an excellent performance and surprisingly good durability for its lightweight.
Hydrophobic down performs well in wet conditions
Packs into its own pocket
Third party Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certification
Large zippered pockets
Great warmth-to-weight ratio
4. Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Hoodie
Some reviewers describe this jacket as more of a heavy sweater. With 650 fill power, it provides less warmth than some of the more expensive jackets. However, thicker 20D polyester shell and 44D nylon lining provide more substantial protection from the wind than flimsy alternatives. Down is certified according to the RDS.
With the hood, a mens large weighs in around 15.4 ounces. It packs into one of the two zippered hand warmer pockets to a fairly small size. Most users are impressed the packability and do not seem to notice the extra few ounces.
This jacket features a fully adjustable hood, drawcord hem, two zippered hand pockets and one zippered chest pocket.
This jacket has a slim fit that is roomy enough to accommodate a sweater and streamlined enough to fit under another jacket making it an ideal midlayer.
If you are seeking a quality midlayer to add to your outdoor wardrobe, the value of this sweater is unbeatable. It can frequently be found for less than 200 dollars and the more durable shell prevents snags and shedding so you can enjoy your down layer longer.
More durable shell
3 storage pockets
Stuffs into pocket
Not the best stand alone jacket
5. Arc'teryx Thorium AR Hoody
Similar to the Cerium, the Thorium features down composite mapping to place natural 750 fill down in the areas you need the most warmth and synthetic Coreloft in zones more prone to moisture. With a 40D Nylon exterior and DWR coating, this jacket provides more protection against wind than any other on this list. Users find this jacket to be the best for all-around use and most closely takes the place of a heavier parka.
Despite its strong exterior and more substantial feel, the Thorium maintains a light weight of 14.5 ounces with the hood. It remains quite a bit larger than the Cerium when packed into its stuffsack but is more manageable than a parka.
This jacket shares the same insulated hood and zippered hand pockets as the Cerium.
It has a bit more bulk than the lighter weight jackets but it remains fairly streamlined. Users find it an excellent fit as an outer shell but can also successfully layer it under a waterproof layer for more extreme conditions.
Like most Arc’teryx gear, the price runs a bit high. However, this All Around jacket runs slightly lower in cost than its more popular brother. Users find it a worthy investment for a jacket that can be worn daily with the convenient option to pack it away.
40D shell protects from wind
Great All Around Jacket
Down composite mapping improves durability without sacrificing warmth
Insulated zippered pockets
Responsibly sourced down
Not 100% down
Larger size when packed
8. Marmot Ares Jacket
The Marmot Ares has a fill power of 600 which is quite a bit lower than other similar jackets. The down is treated with Down Defender to improve water resistance and warmth in wet conditions. The shell is polyester mini-ripstop with a DWR coating, they do not report a denier amount. Overall, users find this coat functions well in moderate cold and blocks the wind pretty well.
Marmot does not certify their down through an independent third party but reports sourcing according to their animal cruelty policy which means they buy from farms that never live-pluck.
Weighing in at 15.5 ounces, this jacket is a bit heavier than the competition especially when considering it does not have a hood. It does pack down fairly small into one of the zippered pockets and is easy to travel with.
This jacket does have 2 zippered pockets, one of which doubles as a stuffsack. The hem has a drawcord that can be adjusted conveniently through the pockets. Some users love this feature as they do not need to take hands out into the cold. Others would prefer unobstructed space in the pockets.
This jacket has an athletic fit with Angel Wing design to allow for improved range of motion through the arms and shoulders.
At less than 200 dollars, this is an excellent budget option. This jacket does not excel in any one category but provides practical features as well as reasonable warmth and packability.
2 zippered pockets
Packs into pocket
Lower fill power
7. Eddie Bauer Evertherm Down Hooded Jacket
The Evertherm jacket consists of 30g of RDS certified Thindown dispersed through the jacket to provide a solid and compact layer of warmth. The Nylon shell is treated with Eddie Bauer’s Stormrepel Super DWR coating for extra water resistance. Users find it blocks the wind very well and provides excellent insulation, particularly during activity.
Without the hood the Evertherm jacket weighs 9.12 ounces. It folds to a very small size but does not include a stuffsack. This jacket has been tested by alpine climbers and has proven to be reliable, lightweight and versatile.
This jacket features 2 zippered hand warmer pockets and 1 zippered chest pocket.
The fit is described as classic. It is loose enough to layer under and slim enough to be worn under a heavier coat. This jacket lacks the fluffy silhouette of most down and is becoming a favorite among alpine climbers as it stays out of the way of packs and gear.
At less than 300 dollars, this is a great value for an alpine-tested layer.
Consistent insulation throughout
Not many reviews
The Metrics We Used to Determine the Best Down Jackets
There is a lot of technology that goes into keeping down jackets warm and light. We broke it down by the following criteria to help you determine the best option for you.
To quantify the quality of down, manufacturers use fill power as their measurement. Fill power reflects the amount of loft the down has. Down with higher fill powers have more loft, or cover more area, than lower fill powers. Therefore, with a high quality down, you get more fill (and warmth) with a lower amount of down, bringing down the weight of your jacket. Premium down (800 fill power and higher) is typically reserved for high-performance jackets where keeping weight down is important.
Unfortunately, like many animal byproducts, the collection of down from birds can be an ugly and inhumane process. Some practices include live-plucking birds for down and force-feeding to produce products like foie gras. That is why many companies like Eddie Bauer, Mountain Hardwear, The North Face and Outdoor Research choose to acquire third-party certifications for their down. The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) is an independent and voluntary global standard that follows the down from the farm to the product to ensure birds are treated humanely. This means they are never live-plucked or force-fed. Rab also certifies their down through the independent European Down and Feather Association Codex which ensures geese are never live-plucked.
Patagonia created their own Traceable Down Standard, which is said to be highest in the industry. And others, like Marmot and Arc’teryx, make efforts to source their down responsibly but do not acquire the third party certification.
The shell and lining for down jackets are typically made from ripstop polyester or nylon. Finding the proper shell weight and construction poses a challenge to companies as the shell needs to be durable but also lightweight. Thread weight can be measured by its denier with lower deniers reflecting lower weights. These low-denier threads will create lighter jackets but will also be less durable.
Moisture is the biggest threat to your own apparel. Once moisture penetrates to the down it can begin to clump and will lose some of the lofts that keeps you insulated. Most companies work to repel water from the outside with Durable Water Resistant coatings while others add another layer of protection by treating the down itself to prevent it from absorbing water. Even the jackets with the best water protection are not waterproof. So, if there is a good chance of getting wet you will want to layer items under a waterproof shell to preserve the longevity of your down.
Whether you climb mountains or just do some hiking or skiing on weekends, packability is a convenient feature for any down jacket. For people planning long treks, every ounce will count and you may want to consider jackets that are more compressible (higher fill power) and lighter weight (lower denier and zipper weights. The weekend warrior may opt for a slightly heavier option for improved durability and abrasion resistance. Styles that pack down into a pocket are generally preferable to stuff sacks as you cannot lose the pocket!
Many down jackets take a minimalist approach when it comes to pockets, hoods, drawstring cords and zippers to save on weight. The importance of these features will vary based on what you are using the jacket for, so, consider what is worth the extra weight.
Packable down jackets are great items to have in any active wardrobe due to their versatility. Many people love wearing them around town in the fall or on quick errands in colder weather. They are also very useful as mid layers while skiing or hiking on the weekends. It is ideal when you can find a jacket that works well in all situations and this typically comes down to fit. As a standalone jacket, you want something that has a flattering fit and not too much loft. However, it also needs to be able to accommodate a sweater or baselayer and remain streamlined enough to fit under a waterproof shell when using it for winter sports.
Down jackets can be quite expensive but really are a worthwhile investment for any active person. Unfortunately, to maintain a lightweight, many shells are made with thinner materials that do not resist abrasions as well as you would hope. We looked for jackets that provide a good value and will hold up reasonably well when cared for appropriately.
Q: How do I care for my down jacket?
A: To properly care for your jacket follow manufacturer instructions. You can wash and dry some down jackets but be sure to follow instructions carefully and use detergent intended for down. Avoid storing for long periods in the stuff sack and make sure it is completely dry before storage as this can decrease loft.
Q: What should I do if my down jacket gets wet?
A: Dry it! Contrary to common belief, down will not be ruined when it gets wet. It will, however, lose its insulation abilities when it is soaked and clumped together. Down jackets can be washed and dried on the very low heat. So, if your jacket is wet, carefully follow manufacturer instructions to dry it.
Q: How do I find the perfect down jacket for me?
A: What is the perfect down jacket for one, might be different for another. When picking the perfect jacket for you, make sure to look at features like Fill power, Water resistance, Fit, Shell etc. What environment will you be using it in? What level of comfort do you want? These are all personal preferences, so make sure to find the perfect one, for just you!
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