Down fill is warm enough that ducks and geese can swim in freezing water and light enough that they can fly. It’s those two qualities that also make it arguably the best form of insulation yet devised for outdoor apparel. Down’s warmth, low weight and ability to compress make it the perfect material for activities like skiing, mountaineering and backpacking (it’s also great for just cruising around the city, too).

Advances in chemical treatments also mean that down jackets are more resistant to down’s mortal enemy, moisture, than ever before. From lifestyle wear to burly mountaineering layers, down jackets are lighter, tougher and more water-resistant than ever.

What to Know Before You Buy a Down Jacket

An Intro to Down

Down is found in layers underneath the rougher outer feathers of ducks and geese — it’s what keeps them warm while floating around all winter, so, naturally, it will keep us warm too. Despite that, moisture is the undoing of down, causing it to clump up and lose its heat-retaining qualities. It also should be noted that while large-scale efforts have been made by big brands such as Patagonia and The North Face, not all down is ethically sourced, and animal cruelty does happen.

Fill Powers Decoded

Down fill powers are numerical ratings that usually range anywhere from about 450 to 900. This number comes from a standardized test in which an ounce of down is compressed in a graduated cylinder and then measured for volume in cubic inches; that volume is the fill rating. An ounce of 900-fill down occupies more space (and thus traps more air and provides more warmth) than an ounce of 600-fill down. The two samples weigh the same, but one takes up more space and can trap more air, which means more warmth.

What this boils down to is the idea that a higher fill power means more warmth for less weight. It’s important to note that two jackets or sleeping bags may have different fill ratings while providing the same amount of warmth — the difference is that whichever has the higher rating will pack down to a smaller size because less material is needed to get the same amount of warmth. High-down fill powers tend to come with a heftier price tag, so consider what you’re going to use a product for when getting into those loftier feathers.

How To Wash Your Down Jacket

Most people take their down jacket for granted, expecting it to perform the same year after year without any maintenance. Over time though, down becomes compacted and dirty, which inhibits its loft and makes the jacket less warm. To clean your jacket, revitalize its warmth and get it ready for all your adventures, follow our simple guide.

Put your jacket into a washing machine without an agitator.

It is easiest to do this at a laundromat, but if your home washer is of the large, front-loading variety, feel free to toss it in there. If you use a washing machine with an agitator, you run the risk of tearing open your jacket or clumping the down in large balls inside — so avoid agitators at all costs.

Wash with Nikwax Down Wash.

Though there are other good down washes out there (namely Grangers), we recommend using Nikwax’s Down Wash. Add the down wash directly into the washing machine, using about three ounces. Follow the directions on the care label of your jacket for specific temperature and cycle settings.

Switch your jacket to the dryer and add tennis balls.

Move your jacket over to the dryer, but before you turn it on, add in a package of new tennis balls. As the drier spins, the tennis balls will bounce around inside the drum, breaking up any clumps of down and helping dry the jacket completely. This also helps to restore the loft in the down feathers. As for dryer settings, low heat for a long period of time is the name of the game.

Pause the dryer and manually break up any clumps.

Every twenty minutes or so, pause the dryer and manually work out larger clumps of down. While the tennis balls work well to help break up clumps, you’ll need to put some extra effort in to break them up completely.

Tumble dry until the jacket is completely dry.

Dry the jacket until it is dry the entire way through. Not only does moist down function terribly as an insulator, but it’s also prone to mold, which will lead to a stinky jacket.

This definitive guide provides information on the best down jackets available based on features like weight, fill material, durability, water resistance and price. These 13 options cover every activity, from walking your dog on frigid January mornings to conserving warmth and energy at Camp Four. Below them, you'll also find info on understanding down jacket specs and how to care for these unique garments.

New and Upcoming Releases

Our recommendations are based off real-world testing. Here's a snapshot of new and unreleased down jackets our testers are considering for future updates to this guide.

Arc'teryx Cerium Hoody: Redesigned for Fall 2022, the ever-popular Cerium Hoody has a reduced carbon footprint while maintaining the premium performance that makes it one of our top picks for fall and winter. The Dope Dyed Face Fabric and biopolymer liner are less resource-intense, and the Down Composite Mapping strategically places synthetic insulation for moisture-prone areas.

          Artilect M-Divide Fusion Stretch Hoodie: New for Fall 2022, Artilect's newest down jacket pushes innovation in the category, thanks to its innovative fill. The M-Divide Fusion Stretch Hoodie integrates revolutionary Allied Feather and Down ExpeDry Ultra Dry Down, featuring FUZE technology: gold nanoparticles applied to down clusters that create an active-drying chemical-free alternative to hydrophobic-treated down. With this jacket, Artilect is the first brand in the world to combine these technologies.

          Jack Wolfskin Pack and Go Down Jacket: At just under $200, Jack Wolfskin's new down jacket is an affordable and streamlined pick for the rapidly-approaching colder weather. Featuring a packable design, the Pack and Go Down Jacket is filled with RDS-certified down, and the sustainable Texashield Ecosphere Pro shell fabric is windproof, water repellent and highly breathable.

          Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Hoody

          Best Overall Down Jacket
          Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Hoody


          • Unique baffling traps warmth

          • Collar can be a little scratchy

          We consider our list of the best down jackets of the year to be exhaustive, but throughout the year, we tested many more that you won’t see here. Down jackets have existed as functional outdoor protection for decades, and while the central concept that guides their design — ultralight warmth — hasn’t changed over the years, companies are still finding new ways to make them more functional than ever.

          Mountain Hardwear is one of those companies. Instead of adhering to the iconic horizontal baffle design, it used a meandering pattern and a woven construction to disperse the down throughout the coat, thereby increasing durability and stretch while minimizing cold spots. The StretchDown Hoody also uses a stretchier shell fabric that’s less shiny than traditional down coats, making it more approachable for those trying to avoid looking too “outdoorsy.” The sum of all these features is a down jacket with a vast range of applications. Mountain Hardwear may have built it for rock climbing, but the StretchDown Hoody can function anywhere. Plus, with a price tag that’s less than $300, it’s also very affordable.

          • Weight: 20.45 ounces
          • Fill Material: RDS-certified, bluesign approved down insulation
          • Fill Power: 700
          • Shell Material: Durable Stretch Woven ( 87% Nylon, 13% Elastane)
          • Waterproofing: N/A

            Arc'teryx Cerium LT Jacket

            Best Upgrade Down Jacket
            Arc'teryx Cerium LT Jacket

            • Soft face fabric combines comfort and durability

            • Price will be prohibitive to some

            This 850 fill-power down jacket boasts plenty of loft and a clever touch: Down Composite Mapping, a.k.a. synthetic insulation in places likely to get damp. The two types of insulation add up to a jacket that's not only light and warm but not prone to slow you down if you get hit with some showers. Heck, the whole package is less than 10 ounces. That's right, it's 6 ounces less than our editor's choice, with a bit more fill-power (and a lot more price).

            Articulated seams and zippered pockets round out the features, and everything is shrouded in a 10-denier nylon shell that's tough and durable. All those qualities help to justify this jacket's price. But what you also get is Arc'teryx's inimitable sleek, minimalist style. While the look is not for everyone, it does enable you to wear this jacket just about anywhere and not feel out of place.

            For those looking for a hooded option, check out the Cerium LT Hoody.

            • Weight: 9.8 ounces
            • Fill Material: Responsibly sourced down and CoreLoft synthetic insulation
            • Fill Power: 850
            • Shell Material: Arato 10-denier nylon
            • Waterproofing: DWR

              REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0

              Best Budget Down Jacket
              REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0
              $69.93 (30% off)

              • Warmth for a bargain

              • Not as plush as more expensive competitors

              The middle ground between price and quality is a small plot, but REI figured out how to land there with its 650 Down Jacket 2.0. For only $100, this jacket is lightweight and provides plenty of warmth for use as a mid-layer on colder days and an outer layer when it’s slightly more temperate. The jacket is relatively unadorned – it has two zippered hand pockets and two interior drop-in pockets, and that’s it for features. For even more warmth and a more technical set of features, upgrade to REI’s Magma 850 Down Hoodie 2.0, which is an equally good deal at $219.

              • Weight: 11 ounces
              • Fill Material: RDS-certified down
              • Fill Power: 650
              • Shell Material: Recycled nylon taffeta
              • Waterproofing: DWR

                Cotopaxi Solazo Down Jacket

                Best Vintage-Inspired Down Jacket
                Cotopaxi Solazo Down Jacket

                • Made of responsibly-sourced materials

                • No hood

                There’s nothing quite like the nostalgia that comes from seeing an old-school down jacket. Winters past come to mind, with fond memories stirred out of a deep slumber. If you’re looking for a blast from the past that makes use of all of the modern innovation of today’s outerwear, look no further than Cotopaxi’s Solazo jacket. This retro puffer is filled with 650-fill responsibly-sourced goose down and is ideal for commuting to work, weekend camping or winter trips. Zippered pockets keep things toasty and safe, and an internal zippered chest pocket keeps essentials close by.

                • Weight: N/A
                • Fill Material: Responsibly-sourced goose down
                • Fill Power: 650
                • Shell Material: 20D giant-ripstop nylon
                • Waterproofing: DWR

                  Montbell Plasma 1000

                  Best Ultralight Down Jacket
                  Montbell Plasma 1000

                  • Feather-light with ample warmth

                  • On the pricier side of the jacket spectrum

                  If you aren’t familiar with Montbell, you should be. They are one of our favorite ultralight brands, making high-quality sleeping bags in addition to down jackets. That reputation held up through testing the Plasma 1000, and we weren’t disappointed. Simply picking up the jacket can be shocking — even the lightest lightweight rain jackets are heavier. Exaggerations aside, when you toss it up in the air it’ll float gently back down like a feather.

                  The secret is high-loft 1000-fill down, which provides more warmth by weight than lower-fill powers. It's been hard to source in the past, but Montbell is now joined in producing a jacket that packs it — not unlike Mountain Hardwear's Ghost Whisperer UL ($375).

                  So despite its lean stature, the Plasma is toasty warm and packs down into a tiny stuff sack that fits in its pocket. We took the jacket on a shoulder season camping trip and were glad we did. It took up virtually zero space in a pack and was warm enough to extend a sunset hike into the dark.

                  • Weight: 4.8 ounces
                  • Fill Materials: Power EX Down
                  • Fill Power: 1000
                  • Shell Material: 7-denier Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon

                    Rab Positron Pro

                    Best Heavy Down Jacket
                    Rab Positron Pro

                    • Like a sleeping bag for your upper body

                    • Too warm for temperate environments

                    Rab begins its description of the Positron Pro with "If you're heading for the likes of the Himalaya…" That should give a sense of what this down jacket is all about: it's ultra-warm and oversized, like a sleeping bag for your upper body. Rab filled it with responsibly sourced 800-fill goose down, packing extra into the torso, upper arms and hood where the extra warmth is needed while reducing it in the lower arms to enable freedom of movement.

                    The jacket's shell is Pertex Quantum Pro with a DWR finish, a highly water-resistant and windproof fabric. The hood and cuffs are adjustable, and it has two hand pockets and zippered internal and external chest pockets. Remember that Rab made this jacket for climbing mountains, so it's really warm and heavier than all the others on this list. If warmth is what you're looking for, though, there's none better.

                    • Weight: 1 pound 10 ounces
                    • Fill Material: Nikwax hydrophobic goose down
                    • Fill Power: 800
                    • Shell Material: Pertex Quantum Pro
                    • Waterproofing: Water-resistant fabric plus DWR

                      Norrøna Falketind Down750 Jacket

                      Best Down Jacket for Packing
                      Norrøna Falketind 750 Down Jacket

                      • Body-mapped insulation makes the most of down and synthetic materials

                      • Not as widely available as more well-known brands

                      While the name might not sound as familiar as Patagonia or The North Face, those in the know will recognize Norrona as being synonymous with performance. The Norwegian company's 750-fill down jacket is a mixture of high-octane 750-fill down (which will keep you warm even in the most frigid conditions) as well as functional details like body-mapped insulation, which places down in the core for extra protection, and synthetic fill in the areas that need the most durability and protection, like the arms and shoulders. The Falketind can be compressed down into its own pocket, making it far easier to stow away compared to its puffy brethren.

                      • Weight: 15.5 ounces
                      • Fill Material: Body-mapped down and synthetic insulation
                      • Fill Power: 750
                      • Shell Material: 100% recycled nylon 20D, 100% recycled nylon 45D
                      • Waterproofing: DWR

                        Arc'teryx Cerium SL Hoody

                        Best Down Jacket for Cities
                        Arc'teryx Cerium SL Hoody

                        • Low-profile style works in any environment

                        • Fitted look won't work for every aesthetic

                        Not everybody is into the look of technical winter gear. The materials that make jackets warm and waterproof are often shiny or brightly colored and covered in pockets and zippers, making wearers look like they’re headed to the mountains when they might just be commuting to the office. And while Arc'teryx's Cerium SL Hoody does have a technical look, it is, like most Arc'teryx products, delightfully uncomplicated, with no wasted materials. How else could the brand have gotten it to live up to the SL (Super Light) in its name, with a weight of just under half a pound?

                        But what really makes the little brother to our upgrade pick a great urban option is another quality: it packs down to about the size of a Nerf basketball (in its own little stuff sack) and is easy to shove into a pack or even a back pocket in a pinch. That means the next time you wander in from the cold to a climate-controlled bar or restaurant, you don't have to tuck it under your arm or tackily tie it around your waist. You can just quickly stash it until the night comes to an end and it's time to step back out onto chilly city streets.

                        • Weight: 7.6 ounces
                        • Fill Material: Responsibly-sourced down
                        • Fill Power: 850
                        • Shell Material: Arato 7-denier nylon
                        • Waterproofing: DWR

                          Black Diamond Vision Down Parka

                          Most Durable Down Jacket
                          Black Diamond Vision Down Parka

                          • Unique coating makes face fabric much stronger

                          • Too bulky for minimalists

                          Black Diamond emphasizes two things in the Vision: warmth and durability. The former is a given, but down jackets, particularly the lightweight, packable ones, are known for outer shells that are far from tear-resistant. So Black Diamond worked with a company in Japan to create a liquid crystal polymer coating that makes the Vision significantly more durable.

                          The coating works wonders for rock climbers scraping up against granite, but it also comes in handy when you accidentally scuff up against a wall in town or intentionally bash your way through brush on a hike. Oh, and the Vision is warm. Really warm. It’s Black Diamond’s warmest down jacket to date.

                          • Weight: 1 pound, 4.5 ounces
                          • Fill Material: Goose down
                          • Fill power: 800
                          • Shell Material: 20D nylon liquid crystal polymer ripstop
                          • Waterproofing: DWR

                            Marmot WarmCube EVODry Parka

                            Best Waterproof Down Jacket
                            Marmot WarmCube EVODry Parka

                            • Sleek styling and innovative baffling

                            • Not very stretchy

                            In 2019, Marmot achieved furnace-level down jacket warmth in an unconventional way: In addition to employing the horizontal baffles standard to down jackets, it lined the interior with rectangular pods of 800-fill down. The technology is called WarmCube, and it was previously only available in a jacket meant for arctic-type expeditions called the West Rib Parka. (The West Rib earned a spot on a previous iteration of this list.)

                            Marmot has since brought the tech to new designs, like the WarmCube EVODry Parka. This jacket still has those down-filled pods inside, and they're separated by channels that hold warm air, just as they were in the West Rib. But the exterior is a two-layer waterproof shell that can handle snow and rain alike. The baffle-free surface makes this down jacket sneakily stylish and perfect for residents of cities that see their fair share of winter storms.

                            • Weight: 2 pounds 1 ounce
                            • Fill Material: Goose down, synthetic insulation
                            • Fill Power: 800
                            • Shell Material: EvoDry 2L 100% Recycled Nylon Plain weave 3.9 oz/ yd
                            • Waterproofing: Marmot MemBrain Eco 2-layer, DWR (10k/10k rating)

                              Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Light Pullover

                              Best Down Pullover
                              Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Light Pullover

                              • Quarter-zip style maximizes no-nonsense comfort

                              • Zipped fully, collar can be scratchy

                              Like our best overall pick, this brand-new pullover features pockets of down insulation woven from a single stretch fabric, which gives you plenty of room to move despite its half-zip style. That makes it optimal for climbing but also throwing on around a campsite or for a quick hike. As the lightest and most packable of Mountain Hardwear's Stretchdown line weighs less than a pound, making it an excellent travel item as well. Elastic binding at the cuffs and hem seal out cold, and the three-piece hood fits snugly over your dome, keeping your ears warm when the temps drop.

                              • Weight: 14.7 ounces
                              • Fill Material: Responsibly-sourced down
                              • Fill Power: 700
                              • Shell Material: 86% Nylon, 14% Elastane
                              • Waterproofing: DWR

                                Lifelabs MegaWarm Jacket

                                Warmest Down Jacket
                                Lifelabs MegaWarm Jacket

                                • Sustainably manufactured

                                • A little long for fans of the more cropped look

                                Lifelabs released this down-disruptor at the tail end of 2021, and they really brought the heat heading into the new year. The MegaWarm is just that — warm. With the highest rated CLO in the industry at 9.25, (CLO being the numerical system that describes the degree of insulation provided by an article of clothing) the MegaWarm provides more warmth with less fabric. Lifelabs used their patented Warmlife tech, which infuses a tiny amount of aluminum (less than a paper clip's worth) into the shell to reflect 100 percent radiant heat back to the body, using less fabric in the process. It also used "boxed" baffles filled with ethically sourced, 800 fill-power down, finish details like the rib-knit baseball collar and cuffs and a fully taped, waterproof shell to trap and retain heat.

                                The cherry on top of this sustainable, feather-light jacket? Unlike traditional down, it looks sharp as hell.

                                • Warmth rating: 9.25 CLO
                                • Fill Material: Ethically-sourced goose down
                                • Fill Power: 800
                                • Shell Material: WarmLife Twill 2L (100% Recycled Polyester)
                                • Waterproofing: PFC-free DWR