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. Compared to its synthetic counterpart, down insulation performs best in cold, dry environments.

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 We Tested

collage of a man wearing different down jackets while camping
Hayley Helms

To get a gauge for how a down jacket will perform, it's got to be taken out into some of the coldest, dreariest weather conditions imaginable. In giving our selection of puffers a pass, we took them out during mid-winter in the Sierra Nevadas, into the Rockies and mountainous terrain of Colorado wore them through the city streets of Brooklyn and zipped them up against the chill of the PNW. During testing, we kept a few factors in mind: fill power, feature functionality and of course, aesthetics. After testing over 30 down jackets, these 14 made our list.

Patagonia SugarDown Hoody

Courtesy
Best Use of Natural Materials

Patagonia SugarDown Hoody

patagonia.com
$329.00

  • Majorly advances material innovation
  • Shell material is quiet and soft

  • Materials haven't been tested for as long as traditional fabrics
  • Weight: 11.6 ounces
  • Fill Material: RDS-certified down insulation
  • Fill Power: 800
  • Shell Material: Biobased polyester derived from sugarcane
  • Waterproofing: PFC-free DWR finish
  • Pockets: 3

    Innovation can take many forms, and Patagonia's latest foray lands on the sweet side: its newest down jacket is the brand's first fully biobased insulation piece, with a shell made entirely from sugarcane. (No, it's not sticky.) If anything, the face fabric is an improvement from traditional synthetic materials: our tester found it to be silkier, smoother and less shiny than standard down jackets. Along with the sugarcane shell, this jacket's trims are made mostly from castor oil and plant-based nylons, and it's filled with 100 percent Responsible Down Standard 800-fill power down. The Sugardown Hoody weighs in at slightly less than 12 ounces, placing it on the lighter end of the down jacket scale. Our tester found the Sugardown Hoody to be just as comfortable and efficacious in guarding against the cold as any other comparable style and more comfortable than downmarket options. If you're concerned with your environmental impact and want to purchase products that align with your values, the Sugardown Hoody is right up your alley.

    Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Hoody

    Best Overall Down Jacket

    Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Hoody

    mountainhardwear.com
    $275.00

    • Unique baffling traps warmth

    • Collar can be a little scratchy
    • 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
    • Pockets: 4

      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.

          Arc'teryx Cerium Jacket

          BEST UPGRADE DOWN JACKET

          Arc'teryx Cerium Jacket

          arcteryx.com
          $375.00

          • Soft face fabric combines comfort and durability

          • Price will be prohibitive to some
          • Weight: 10.6 ounces
          • Fill Material: Responsibly sourced down and CoreLoft synthetic insulation
          • Fill Power: 850
          • Shell Material: Arato 10-denier nylon
          • Waterproofing: DWR
          • Pockets: 3

            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 Hoody.

                REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0

                Best Budget Down Jacket

                REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0

                rei.com
                $99.95

                • Warmth for a bargain

                • Not as plush as more expensive competitors
                • Weight: 11 ounces
                • Fill Material: RDS-certified down
                • Fill Power: 650
                • Shell Material: Recycled nylon taffeta
                • Waterproofing: DWR
                • Pockets: 3

                  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.

                      Mission Workshop D21 Down Jacket

                      Best New Staple Style

                      Mission Workshop D21

                      missionworkshop.com
                      $415.00

                      • Ideal fit: Not too roomy, not too fitted

                      • Zippers are a little scratchy on the hand pockets
                      • Weight: 0.99 pounds
                      • Fill Material: Downlite recycled down
                      • Fill Power: 750
                      • Shell Material: Bluesign® approved 100% Nylon Pertex Shell
                      • Waterproofing: PFC-free DWR treatment
                      • Pockets: 5

                        Mission Workshop's brand-new down jacket is a departure from its cyclist-inspired apparel, but it's a welcome one. Recycled materials, a matte finish and unique construction helped this jacket quickly become one of our tester's favorites. He basically lives in the Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody, so this style was a bit of a departure for him — it's roomier than the Cerium LT, which is helpful for layering, but not as bulky as the Cotopaxi Solazo. The D21 has excellent and intuitive pocketing, and the fitted hood cinches down easily to trap heat. The face fabric stands up to abrasive environments and doesn't have that weird, shiny sheen of other down jackets — plus, it's made with Bluesign-certified nylon fabric.

                        Our tester didn't love the bulky YKK zippers, especially on the hand pockets, but he did appreciate the rubber, Mission Workshop-branded zipper pulls: they're easy to find in a pinch and make it a breeze getting the jacket on, and they're a pleasing tactile experience, as well. The stitching and clean lines of the D21 help it stands out in a sea of puffy jackets, and overall, that's what our tester liked most: it may look like just another black down jacket on the surface, but slip it on, and you'll see the difference right away.

                        Snow Peak Takibi Down Jacket

                        BEST FIRE-RESISTANT DOWN JACKET

                        Snow Peak Takibi Down Jacket

                        $489.97

                        • Aramid fabric resists flame without adding tons of chemicals

                        • Limited stock
                        • Weight: 2 pounds
                        • Fill Material: Recycled Washable Down Green Down
                        • Fill Power: 700
                        • Shell Material: 100% Aramid; Lining: 100% Polyester
                        • Waterproofing: Water-resistant fabric
                        • Pockets: 5

                          Have you ever wished that your puffy could resist fire, as well as wind and weather? Trust Snow Peak to deliver the jacket we didn't know we needed until we saw it: the Takibi Down Jacket. Made with aramid fibers (short for aromatic polyamide, a class of heat-resistant and strong synthetic fibers used in military and aerospace applications) the Takibi Down Jacket provides protection against embers without a gnarly chemical coating. The tech may be invisible on this jacket, but the style certainly is not. Snow Peak is known for its minimal yet striking apparel (and camp gear, for that matter) and the Takibi Down Jacket continues to hold that banner aloft. The button closure, dual oversized side pockets and elastic cuffs provide visual interest as well as utility. If you're interested in trying this puffy out, Snow Peak recommends taking your normal size for the best fit.

                          Cotopaxi Solazo Down Jacket

                          Best Vintage-Inspired Down Jacket

                          Cotopaxi Solazo Hooded Down Jacket

                          cotopaxi.com
                          $240.00
                          • Weight: N/A
                          • Fill Material: Responsibly-sourced goose down
                          • Fill Power: 650
                          • Shell Material: 20D giant-ripstop nylon
                          • Waterproofing: DWR
                          • Pockets: 3

                            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 innovations 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.

                                Montbell Plasma 1000

                                Best Ultralight Down Jacket

                                Montbell Plasma 1000

                                montbell.us
                                $329.00
                                $263.20 (20% off)

                                • Feather-light with ample warmth

                                • On the pricier side of the jacket spectrum
                                • Weight: 4.8 ounces
                                • Fill Materials: Power EX Down
                                • Fill Power: 1000
                                • Shell Material: 7-denier Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon
                                • Pockets: 1

                                  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.

                                      Rab Positron Pro

                                      Courtesy
                                      Best Heavy Down Jacket

                                      Rab Positron Pro

                                      backcountry.com
                                      $429.95

                                      • Like a sleeping bag for your upper body

                                      • Too warm for temperate environments

                                      • 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
                                      • Pockets: 2

                                        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.

                                            Norrøna Falketind Down750 Jacket

                                            Norrona
                                            Best Down Jacket for Packing

                                            Norrøna Falketind 750 Down Jacket

                                            Norrøna norrona.com
                                            $349.00

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

                                            • Not as widely available as more well-known brands
                                            • 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
                                            • Pockets: 3

                                              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.

                                                  Arc'teryx Therme SV Parka

                                                  Courtesy
                                                  Best Down Jacket for Cities

                                                  Arc'teryx Cerium SL Hoody

                                                  arcteryx.com
                                                  $359.00

                                                  • Low-profile style works in any environment

                                                  • Fitted look won't work for every aesthetic
                                                  • Weight: 2 pounds, 5.8 ounces
                                                  • Fill Material: Responsibly-sourced down and Coreloft synthetic fill blend
                                                  • Fill Power: 750
                                                  • Shell Material: 2L Gore-Tex material
                                                  • Waterproofing: DWR
                                                  • Pockets: 4

                                                    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 Therme SV Parka doesn't have a technical look like some of its most popular shells and jackets, it is, like most Arc'teryx products, delightfully uncomplicated, with no wasted materials. The Therme SV combines street-ready, slick styling with warmth protection mean to stand up to even the most severe weather.

                                                        Black Diamond Vision Down Parka

                                                        MOST DURABLE DOWN JACKET

                                                        Black Diamond Vision Down Parka

                                                        blackdiamondequipment.com
                                                        $465.00

                                                        • Unique coating makes face fabric much stronger

                                                        • Too bulky for minimalists
                                                        • Weight: 1 pound, 4.5 ounces
                                                        • Fill Material: Goose down
                                                        • Fill power: 800
                                                        • Shell Material: 20D nylon liquid crystal polymer ripstop
                                                        • Waterproofing: DWR
                                                        • Pockets: 3

                                                          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.

                                                              Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Light Pullover

                                                              Courtesy
                                                              Best Down Pullover

                                                              Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Light Pullover

                                                              mountainhardwear.com
                                                              $240.00

                                                              • Quarter-zip style maximizes no-nonsense comfort

                                                              • Zipped fully, collar can be scratchy
                                                              • Weight: 14.7 ounces
                                                              • Fill Material: Responsibly-sourced down
                                                              • Fill Power: 700
                                                              • Shell Material: 86% Nylon, 14% Elastane
                                                              • Waterproofing: DWR
                                                              • Pockets: 2

                                                                Like our best overall pick, this 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.

                                                                    Lifelabs MegaWarm Jacket

                                                                    LifeLabs
                                                                    Warmest Down Jacket

                                                                    Lifelabs MegaWarm Jacket

                                                                    lifelabs.design
                                                                    $699.00

                                                                    • Sustainably manufactured

                                                                    • A little long for fans of the more cropped look
                                                                    • 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
                                                                    • Pockets: 4

                                                                      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.

                                                                      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.

                                                                      Nobis Una Ladies Performance Puffer: New for FW 2022/23, Nobis designed a streetwear-ready down puffer style jacket that's just at home outdoors as it is traipsing down the street to your local happy hour spot. The Una is packed with Canadian Origin White Duck Down insulation and features a down-proof lining, technical taffeta fabrication with DWR coating at the torso, stretch Ripstop with DWR coating at the shoulders and hood (which is removable) and a two-way, center-front zipper. At $895, consider this your investment piece for the new few seasons.

                                                                              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.

                                                                              Jack Wolfskin Passamani Down Hoody W: Ideal for humid winter weather and high-output activities like skiing or winter running, the women's Passamani is made with RDS-certified, hydrophobic down, and features recycled, Bluesign-certified materials. It's wind and water-resistant, and breathable enough for days on the go.