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Best Packable Down Jackets Reviewed

last updated Apr 25, 2019
A packable down jacket is a wonderfully versatile piece of apparel that complements any active lifestyle. These packable down jackets 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. A quality down jacket should provide warmth, be somewhat durable and include key features of a regular jacket, while still remaining lightweight and compressible. Check out our buying guide below to see our top picks, fully reviewed, to help you find the right jacket for you.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 17 hrs of research

icon
Patagonia Down
97.4/100 our score
Materials
97
Brand
98
Style
98
Water Resistance
97
Portability
97
Patagonia Down
Why is it better?

Great warmth-to-weight ratio

100%  Global traceable down standard (cruelty-free)

Recycled materials

Durable 20Dx30D polyester ripstop shell

Soft lining around face

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Patagonia Down
Test Winner: Patagonia Down
Amazon Link
Researched Sources
5
Researched Sources
Reviews Considered
200
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
17
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
21
Products Evaluated
Last Updated:
By Brian Price:

In this update, we added the REI Co-op 650 and the Mountain Hardwear Stretch Down Hooded jackets to our buying guide. Both of these are great options for around town or stashing away for when you need an extra layer. We also answered some questions from our readers in the FAQ section and gave you some great tips on maintaining a down jacket so it lasts.

Sorting Options
Materials Brand Style Water Resistance Portability Water Capacity By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
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#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97.4
Materials
97 %
Brand
98 %
Style
98 %
Water Resistance
97 %
Portability
97 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.07.19)
Backcountry Link
$134.98
See Deal
Amazon Link
$228.95
Ramseyoutdoor
$279.00
See Deal
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96
Materials
97 %
Brand
96 %
Style
96 %
Water Resistance
96 %
Portability
95 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.07.19)
Amazon Link
$206.21
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95
Materials
95 %
Brand
95 %
Style
93 %
Water Resistance
96 %
Portability
96 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.07.19)
Backcountry Link
$224.97
See Deal
Gear Coop
$349.00
See Deal
Amazon Link
$379.00
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93
Materials
94 %
Brand
96 %
Style
90 %
Water Resistance
88 %
Portability
97 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.07.19)
Amazon Link
$259.95
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.4
Materials
88 %
Brand
86 %
Style
85 %
Water Capacity
85 %
Portability
88 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.07.19)
Backcountry Link
$99.97
See Deal
Outdoor Research
$119.40
See Deal
Amazon Link
$225.00
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.2
Materials
83 %
Brand
86 %
Style
86 %
Water Resistance
86 %
Portability
85 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.07.19)
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81.8
Materials
83 %
Brand
83 %
Brand
83 %
Style
80 %
Portability
80 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.07.19)
Backcountry Link
$209.97
See Deal
Gear Coop
$243.00
See Deal
Amazon Link
$349.00
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
73
Materials
75 %
Brand
75 %
Style
70 %
Water Resistance
70 %
Portability
75 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.07.19)
Backcountry Link
$104.99
See Deal
Amazon Link
$181.27
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
71.6
Materials
75 %
Brand
75 %
Style
75 %
Water Resistance
75 %
Portability
58 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.07.19)
Amazon Link
$178.71
Backcountry Link
$179.99
See Deal
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
70
Materials
70 %
Brand
70 %
Style
50 %
Water Resistance
70 %
Portability
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (21.07.19)
In Depth Review Top 10
  • Patagonia Down Patagonia Down
  • Rab Microlight Rab Microlight
  • Arc'teryx Cerium LT Arc'teryx Cerium LT
  • Marmot Quasar Marmot Quasar
  • Outdoor Research Transcendent Outdoor Research Transcendent
  • Arc'teryx Thorium AR Arc'teryx Thorium AR
  • Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer
  • Marmot Ares Marmot Ares
  • Mountain Hardwear Stretch Down Hooded Mountain Hardwear Stretch Down Hooded
  • REI Co-op 650 REI Co-op 650
Table of contents
  • Criteria Used for Evaluation
  • Other Factors to Consider
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Sources
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10 Best Packable Down Jackets

1. Patagonia Down

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
97.4
Patagonia Down
Amazon Link
Materials
97
Brand
98
Style
98
Water Resistance
97
Portability
97
best offer for today
more shops
Amazon Link
$228.95
Backcountry Link
$134.98
See Deal
Ramseyoutdoor
$279.00
See Deal
Pros:

Great warmth-to-weight ratio

100%  Global traceable down standard (cruelty-free)

Recycled materials

Durable 20Dx30D polyester ripstop shell

Soft lining around face

Cons:

 Slightly larger when compressed compared to the other best packable down jackets

The Patagonia Down Sweater is a versatile piece that functions as an excellent mid-layer for snow sports and also provides enough wind and water resistance for around town wear or to have on hand for weekend hikes. It tops our best packable down jackets list for its impeccable design and high quality, responsibly sourced materials.

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Materials & Warmth

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 nor live-plucked. The shell reflects efforts for sustainability as well with 100% recycled polyester ripstop.

This sweater has a fill power of 800; users find it provides reliable warmth as a mid-layer 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.

Packability

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.

Features

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 stuff sack. 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.

Fit

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 a good range of motion when layered over another sweater but it does not feel too baggy when worn with a thin base layer.

Value

The 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 when compared to the other best packable down jackets.

2. Rab Microlight

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
96
Rab Microlight
Amazon Link
Materials
97
Brand
96
Style
96
Water Resistance
96
Portability
95
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$206.21
Pros:

Uses hydrophobic nylon

Durable

Repels moisture

Cons:

Heavier in comparison

This down jacket by Rab is a warm, comfortable, and easily packable jacket to choose from the best packable down jackets options. The brand is a little lesser known, but that does not take away from its quality, durability, and effectiveness.

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Materials & Warmth

This jacket uses Nylon Ripstop fabric on the inner part and Pertex microlight on the outer part of the jacket. It has 750 FP goose down and is designed to protect you from the wind and the cold.

Packability

The Rab Microlight is one of the heavier jackets on this list, weighing in at 15.4 ounces. 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 stuff sack.

Features

This jacket is one of the most durable selections from the best packable down jackets list. It utilizes Hydrophobic down, so you don't need to worry if it gets wet. This one will keep you warm and wick away moisture at the same time.

Fit
This jacket fits well and the sizes run true to size.

Value

At around $200, this jacket is pricey but worth it if you are looking for a durable, waterproof, comfortable, and packable option from the best packable down jackets list.

3. Arc'teryx Cerium LT

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
95
Arc'teryx Cerium LT
Amazon Link
Materials
95
Brand
95
Style
93
Water Resistance
96
Portability
96
best offer for today
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Amazon Link
$379.00
Backcountry Link
$224.97
See Deal
Gear Coop
$349.00
See Deal
Pros:

Down composite mapping improves durability without sacrificing warmth

Fitted silhouette

Great midlayer

Hood

Insulated zippered pockets

20x10 denier ripstop nylon

Responsibly sourced down

DWR coating

Cons:

More expensive

Users note feather shedding

Not 100% down

Stuff Sack

Shorter through the torso

This jacket from Arc'teryx tops most lists of the best packable down jackets. The unique and careful combination of materials finds an excellent balance between functionality and packability. The strategic use of synthetic down in some areas improves durability without sacrificing anything in weight or warmth, which is a great option as the best packable down jacket women's wear too.

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Materials & Warmth

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 portability.

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.

Features

This jacket features a hood and insulated hand warmer pockets.

Fit

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.

Value

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.

4. Marmot Quasar

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
93
Marmot Quasar
Amazon Link
Materials
94
Brand
96
Style
90
Water Resistance
88
Portability
97
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$259.95
Pros:

Innovative design

Low profile 

Consistent insulation throughout

Lightweight

Cons:

A bit pricey

This Down jacket by Marmot is one of the more stylish best packable down jackets options that are available in several color options. This one will keep you warm and comfortable without sacrificing style and color choices.

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Warmth & Materials

This is an 800 fill goose down jacket so it is designed to keep you incredibly warm, which makes it a great choice from the best packable down jackets list. It's woven fabric provides a seamless fit and you will find this jacket to be both comfortable and incredibly warm.

Packability

This jacket is ultra light and designed to be packable. It's functional, mobile, and warm--what's not to love?

Features

This jacket features 2 zippered handwarmer pockets and 1 zippered chest pocket.

Fit

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.

Value

A little on the pricey, but not out of the ordinary for a down jacket.

5. Outdoor Research Transcendent

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
86.4
Outdoor Research Transcendent
Amazon Link
Materials
88
Brand
86
Style
85
Water Capacity
85
Portability
88
best offer for today
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Amazon Link
$225.00
Backcountry Link
$99.97
See Deal
Outdoor Research
$119.40
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Pros:

Less Expensive

More durable shell

3 storage pockets

Stuffs into pocket

Good midlayer

RDS Down

Cons:

Not the best stand alone jacket

Affordable quality design with a more durable lining and ample storage space. It remains very lightweight and packs down well considering it features a thicker shell and lining, 3 zippered pockets and a fully adjustable hood. This jacket is not super warm on its own and does not offer much in the way of water resistance but is an excellent piece for layering when compared to the other best packable down jackets.

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Materials & Warmth

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.

Packability

With the hood, a men's large weighs in around 15.4 ounces. It packs into one of the two zippered handwarmer pockets to a fairly small size. Most users are impressed by the packability and do not seem to notice the extra few ounces.

Features

This jacket features a fully adjustable hood, drawcord hem, two zippered hand pockets, and one zippered chest pocket.

Fit

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 mid layer.

Value

If you are seeking a quality mid layer 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.

6. Arc'teryx Thorium AR

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.2
Arc'teryx Thorium AR
Amazon Link
Materials
83
Brand
86
Style
86
Water Resistance
86
Portability
85
best offer for today
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Pros:

40D shell protects from wind

Great All Around Jacket

Down composite mapping improves durability without sacrificing warmth

Hood

Insulated zippered pockets

Responsibly sourced down

DWR coating

Cons:

More expensive

Not 100% down

Stuff Sack

Larger size when packed

The Thorium has many of the key features that make the Cerium a fan favorite such as the down composite mapping. The thicker 40D Nylon ripstop exterior makes this version a bit warmer for everyday wear. It is on the expensive side but it finds its niche as a solid cold weather city jacket that can still be packed for weekend adventures.

Read more

Materials & Warmth

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 the 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.

Packability

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 stuff sack but is more manageable than a parka.

Features

This jacket shares the same insulated hood and zippered hand pockets as the Cerium.

Fit

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.

Value

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 a convenient option to pack it away.

7. Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
81.8
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer
Amazon Link
Materials
83
Brand
83
Brand
83
Style
80
Portability
80
best offer for today
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Amazon Link
$349.00
Backcountry Link
$209.97
See Deal
Gear Coop
$243.00
See Deal
Pros:

Hydrophobic down performs well in wet conditions

7.8 ounces

Packs into its own pocket

Third party Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certification

Large zippered pockets

Great warmth-to-weight ratio

Cons:

Flimsy zipper

Delicate fabric

If you are looking for a lightweight option with all the warmth and features of the regular jacket, look no further than the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer. Weighing in at just 7.8 ounces, this jacket features hydrophobic down and a very tight but lightweight nylon weave to maintain its warmth through wet conditions. The price is a bit high, but you cannot do much better for good weight-to-warmth and certified responsible down.

Read more

Materials & Warmth

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.

Packability

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.

Features

Despite its lightweight, this jacket manages to include zippered pockets, an insulated hood and an adjustable cord at the hem.

Fit

The fit is described as form-fitting. It runs a bit tighter across the chest and shoulders with some more room through the torso.

Value

This Mountain Hardwear jacket falls in the more expensive price bracket of 300-400 dollars. While it is more expensive, it does offer excellent performance and surprisingly good durability for its lightweight.

8. Marmot Ares

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
73
Marmot Ares
Amazon Link
Materials
75
Brand
75
Style
70
Water Resistance
70
Portability
75
best offer for today
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Pros:

Hydrophobic down

Retro styling

2 zippered pockets

Packs into pocket

Less expensive

Cons:

Lower fill power

No hood

Marmot offers a more affordable light down jacket with a fun, retro style that functions well as a light outer layer or mid layer. It has lower fill power than most of the others and lacks some of the technical features when compared to the other best packable down jackets. However, it is a solid, lower cost alternative to the Patagonia Down Sweater.

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Materials & Warmth

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 block 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.

Packability

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.

Features

This jacket does have 2 zippered pockets, one of which doubles as a stuff sack. 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.

Fit

This jacket has an athletic fit with Angel Wing design to allow for improved range of motion through the arms and shoulders.

Value

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.

9. Mountain Hardwear Stretch Down Hooded

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
71.6
Mountain Hardwear Stretch Down Hooded
Amazon Link
Materials
75
Brand
75
Style
75
Water Resistance
75
Portability
58
best offer for today
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Amazon Link
$178.71
Backcountry Link
$179.99
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Pros:

Unique stretch design

Water resistant shell

Comfortable

Made in the USA

Insulation maintains loft when wet

Cons:

Non-technical fit

Doesn't pack down as small as other options

This option from the best packable down jackets list has a unique design with individually insulated chambers that keep the user really warm and cozy. It stretches with your movement so it's great for runners and other athletes. The 750 fill down keeps its insulation when it's wet although the outer material does offer some water resistance.

Read more

Insulation

The chambers are filled with 750 down. It's one of the warmest jackets we tested.

Brand

Mountain Hardwear is a great company and has been making quality outdoor products since 1993. They're known for their tough and durable apparel.

Style

Users felt like this looked good when wearing it around town. Some people were disappointed that it didn't have more of a technical fit.

Water Resistance

The shell material offers the user pretty good protection against moisture. If the insulation does get wet the 750 down still keeps its loft to help you stay warm.

Portability

This one doesn't pack down as small as some other options on the best packable down jackets list, but it can definitely be packed into some pretty tight places.

10. REI Co-op 650

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
70
Materials
70
Brand
70
Style
50
Water Resistance
70
Portability
90
best offer for today
Pros:

Affordable

Packs super small into its own pocket

Good quality materials and construction

Sheds light rain

Windproof

Cons:

No drawstring at hem

This is a great option from the best packable down jackets list that's extremely lightweight and packable since it's designed to be stuffed into its own left-hand pocket. It's one of the most affordable jackets on our list but is still made with quality in mind and has a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Read more

Insulation

The 650 fill down will keep you warm on chilly days by itself. This also makes a great mid-layer for extra cold outdoor adventures. The down conforms to Responsible Down Standards (RSD) and is bluesign® approved as well.

Brand

REI has been making and selling great outdoor apparel and products since 1938. All of the products they make have a 100% satisfaction guarantee and can be exchanged or returned for a refund up to a year after purchase and can be exchanged at any time during the life of the product if there are problems due to materials or workmanship.

Style

It looks like a pretty standard down jacket. Some users missed it having a drawstring at the hem for a custom fit but were happy that a down jacket this nice was available at a low price.

Water Resistance

The nylon shell is treated with a DWR (durable water repellant) finish that is fairly effective at repelling light moisture. It is also windproof.

Portability

One of the most packable jackets on our list, it only weighs 10.5 ounces and conveniently stuffs into its own left-hand pocket.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Insulation

Down is one of the best, if not the best insulators known. Even scientists working in labs haven't been able to create anything that works better at such a lightweight than this natural wonder.

The materials used in the best packable down jackets play directly to the level of comfort you get when you wear it. 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 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. Since the products on this list focus on packability over maximum warmth most of the products on this list are in the 650-750 fill power range.

Brand

With something as important as staying warm we think it's important to stick with the well-known, highest-quality companies that are making the best packable down jackets.

Using products made in some way from animals require careful consideration for the brand's requirements to ensure humane treatment is maintained. 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 selling the best packable down jackets 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.

Style

There's nothing wrong with staying warm and looking good at the same time.

As with all items of clothing, style preference will come into play as you choose your own packable down jacket. The shell and lining for the packable down jacket 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.

Water Resistance

Light rain or snow that melts and turns to water on your jacket shouldn't slow you down.

Moisture is the biggest threat to your own apparel as well as to your own comfort levels. 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.

Portability

Having a lightweight down jacket with you on winter adventures can literally be a lifesaver so we chose ones that are easy to bring along with you anywhere.

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!

Expert Interviews & Opinions

Most Important Criteria (According to our experts opinion)
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Rate This Criteria as Most Important
There's Nothing Wrong With Alternatives

Whether you're wary of the ethical nature of down products or you have an allergic reaction to the real thing, there's nothing wrong with using a product that contains a down alternative. Synthetic down material is excellent for providing similar benefits to the authentic material, is cheaper, can prevent allergic reactions, and is free of any ethical concerns.

Wash Carefully and Often

Although down jackets and other down-based products are often water-resistant, they still require occasional machine washing. Failing to perform regular maintenance on your jacket in this way can cause its water-protective coating to degrade and eventually ruin it. There should be specific washing instructions on the tag. Be sure to follow them carefully!

Other Factors to Consider

Features

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. These additional features and elements of design can make a big difference to many individuals and can be a deciding factor in what jacket someone ultimately chooses.

Fit

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.

Value

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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. The best packable down jackets can be washed and dried on very low heat. So, if your jacket is wet, carefully follow manufacturer instructions to dry it. A good tip is to put a tennis ball in with the jacket while it's in the dryer. Although it will make a racket (because it's a tennis ball. Get it?) this will help to spread the down back throughout the jacket so you don't wind up with big clumps in some places and no insulation in others.

q: How do I find the perfect down jacket for me?

a:

What is the perfect down jacket for one person might be different for another? When picking the best packable down jackets, make sure to look at features like fill rating, water resistance, fit, shell material, 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 best packable down jackets, for just you.

q: What does "technical fit" mean?

a:

A technical fit means that the best packable down jackets were designed with sporting activities like skiing, snowboarding, mountaineering, and other winter activities in mind. The best packable down jackets with a technical fit typically have features such as drawstrings at the hem to keep out the cold while providing custom comfort, secure but not overly tight wrists (again, to keep out the cold), and a hood with a drawstring around the face and neck as well. All of these things help you to bundle up tight and not let any cold out.

q: What does the fill power rating number mean?

a:

Down is often considered the best insulator is known to man (and woman!) because when its bundled together there are thousands of strands from the feathers that trap and hold the air which creates tremendous insulation. The fill power number calculates the number of cubic inches an ounce of down creates when it's fully expanded. For example, a fill power rating of 700 means that an ounce of down from that best packable down jackets will measure 700 cubic inches when it's fully expanded.

Basically, the higher the number the better insulating the jacket is.

q: What is down exactly and where does it come from?

a:

Down is sourced from bird plumage. It's the small, soft feathers from the underbelly of ducks or geese that lies below the larger tougher feathers.

Sources

  1. Arc'teryx, Arc'teryx, Web Page
  2. CBS News, CBS News, Article
  3. eBay, eBay, Website
  4. Outdoor Research, Outdoor Research, Article
  5. Switchback Travel, staff writer, Best Down Jackets of 2019,
  6. Triple F.A.T. Goose, staff writer, A Guide to Down Jacket Warmth: Fill Power vs. Weight, Website