11 Best Down Jackets: Compare, Buy & Save

best down jacket

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A down garment is a seriously awesome piece of outdoor gear to own. A good goose or duck down jacket packs super compact, layers nicely and is of course incredibly toasty depending on the fill power. It’s the kind of garment that takes up next to no space in your pack, yet has you more than covered when temps drop.

We’ve tracked down and compiled the top-performing down jackets on the market and also included a few synthetic-down options that we found worthy. Read through our top picks and find the best down jacket for your lifestyle and outdoor endeavors! Stay warm, stay dry, and stay outdoors!

What Are The Best Down Jackets?

rab microlight summit down jacket Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 750 fill power goose down is SUPER warm
  • Elastic wrist cuffs
  • Great full enclosure hood
Price: $211.22 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
mountain haardware down jacket Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 800 fill power down
  • Weighs just 8 ounces
  • Close to body fit for easy layering
Price: $244.98 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
sierra designs dridown hoodie Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Excellent price point
  • Elastic cuffs eliminate draft
  • 800 fill power DriDown
Price: $169.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
patagonia nano puff Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Primaloft Gold Eco insulation retains 98% of its insulating ability when wet
  • Super compressible and ultralight
  • Sharp looking aesthetic
Price: $289.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
columbia heatzone 1000 down jacket Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 1000 TurboDown Wave insulation
  • Super water resistant
  • 4-way stretch fabric
Price: $299.90 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
marmot tullus down jacket Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 600 fill power down
  • Special treatment for water resistance
  • Elastic-bound cuffs and hem
Price: $200.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
columbia down jacket Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Nice quality polyester, synthetic down
  • Great price point
  • Machine washable
Price: $92.11 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Premium 850 fill-power down
  • Down Composite Mapping™ strategically uses Coreloft™ synthetic insulation in moisture-prone areas
  • Remarkably lightweight at just 10.8 ounces
Price: $304.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
northface thermoball Amazon Customer Reviews
  • PrimaLoft synthetic-fiber clusters
  • Packs down into its own hand pocket
  • Highly water resistant
Price: $195.00 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
eddie bauer down jacket Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 650 fill power, premium down
  • Great budget option
  • Excellent customer satifaction
Price: $69.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Black Diamond Vision Down Parka Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 800-fill, RDS-certified Allied HyperDRY® goose down insulation
  • Ultralight nylon ripstop shell utilizing revolutionary Japanese Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) reinforced durability.
  • Underarm gussets for increased range of motion
Price: $180.52 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Rab Microlight Summit Jacket

    Pros:
    • 750 fill power ethically-sourced european goose down is exceptionally warm
    • Hydrophobic down developed in conjunction with top water-proofing brand, Nikwax
    • Great full enclosure hood that can be worn over a helmet
    • Elastic wrist cuffs and hood cinches allow you to really eliminate drafts
    • Stuff sack is not as water resistnant as the bag itself
    • A real alpine jacket up for whatever you put it through
    Cons:
    • Expensive option, but well worth the cost
    • Limited color selection
    • Design of the hood brim includes some extra fabric (to fit over a helmet effectively) that is a bit awkward, but it's barely noticeable

    The Microlight Summit Jacket by Rab is a high performance 750 fill power, goose down jacket that is remarkably warm and effective at shielding against the elements.

    This is one of the best down jackets for truly rugged outdoorsmen and women who have a need for super reliable, superior equipment in the field. If you’re looking for the best of the best, this is a jacket that should be on your radar.

    Rab recently sent me a Microlight to field test, and I’ve found it to be exceptionally warm and water-resistant as well as a low profile enough to do anything active!

    This jacket is built with hydrophobic down insulation, so it doesn’t wet out like a lot of other performance down jackets. It’s treated to absorb less water than regular down and also to retain its loft in wet conditions. The Microlight will also dry out quicker than standard down in the event of an intense downpour – it’s what you pay for when you buy Rab.

    The goose down insulation employed here is furthermore fluorocarbon-free and ethically sourced which is totally awesome!

    The hood is designed to be fitted over a helmet and the elastic wrist cuffs are easily pulled up snug. The waistband can also be cinched tight as well as the hood itself making for a jacket that truly eliminates cold drafts.

    The Microlight furthermore packs super tight and compact when you need to store it – Rab even includes a tiny stuff sack that the jacket easily squeezes into.

    There’s plenty of sizing and a few sharp colors to choose from, so you can select the option that suits you best! Despite being a high-performance outdoor jacket, the overall aesthetic of the Microlight has a great casual look that can be worn anywhere. 

    Follow this link for women’s sizing!

  2. 2. Mountain Hardwear Men’s Ghost Whisperer Hooded Down Jacket

    Pros:
    • 800 fill power down
    • Weighs just 8 ounces and stuffs into its own pocket
    • Close to body fit for easy layering underneath a shell
    • Very effectively designed hood
    • Water repellent treatment
    • Machine washable
    Cons:
    • Expensive option
    • Some might not like the aesthetic of the horizontal baffles - it's a matter of preference
    • No chest or sleeve pocket

    Here’s another excellent choice of top quality down jacket if you’re working with a more generous budget. The Ghost Whisperer Hooded Down Jacket by Mountain Hardwear is an 800 fill power, hydrophobic down jacket that’s geared towards adventure athletes and those who just prefer to stay really, really warm. 

    This unit is renowned for its incredible light weight at just 8 ounces and its impressive ability to compress into the included stuff sack. You’re paying for both incredible warmth and packability with this one.

    The Ghost Whisperer’s exterior is built from 70D ripstop nylon, so it’s about as tough as a down jacket of its weight can get. The material is also a great wind-blocker and coupled with the elastic cuffs and adjustable waist-band will ensure no chilly drafts invade your space.

    This unit has been built with a tight-to-body fit so it’s perfect for layering underneath a shell or wearing as your outer layer based on the conditions. It’s a super versatile option that will outperform most of the market in a wide variety of contexts. 

    There is a great array of color choices for this model jacket so you can find one that truly suits your style. There is also a limited lifetime warranty for the Ghost Whisperer, a true sign of a quality product. No doubt an impressive demonstration of outdoor apparel engineering from Mountain Hardware. 

    Follow this link to women’s sizing.

    VideoVideo related to mountain hardwear men’s ghost whisperer hooded down jacket2018-12-23T15:47:46-05:00

  3. 3. Sierra Designs Men’s Whitney DriDown Hoodie

    Pros:
    • 800 fill power DriDown is treated to be highly moisture resistant - up to 10 times more so than untreated down
    • Two zippered hand warmer pockets, within kangaroo pocket
    • Elastic cuffs and bungee drawstring cinch eliminate draft
    • Excellent price point
    • Great color selection
    Cons:
    • Some might not like the aesthetic of the horizontal baffles
    • Arms might run a bit short if you're particularly lanky
    • Hood does not cinch super tight

    Here’s a killer price point down jacket from Sierra Designs that’s no doubt one of the best value options on the market. The Whitney DriDown Hoodie is an 800 fill power, full-feature down jacket available in both men’s and women’s sizing with a price tag you just can’t beat.

    Sierra Designs recently sent me out a DriDown Hoodie to test, and I’ve certainly been impressed by the fit, feel and warmth it provides. This one definitely seems like it should have a higher price tag. 

    This jacket is built with 40D shadow rip polyester on the exterior and a nylon liner. It’s pretty darn tough for how lightweight and compressible it is – no easy feat.

    The 800 fill power DriDown employed as insulation has been treated to be highly water and moisture resistant. It’s a very well reviewed insulation that’s trusted in the field by all sorts of outdoorsmen and women.

    Features include elastic cuffs, an adjustable cinch-waist, zippered hand warmer pockets, insulated chest pocket, and even an inside kangaroo pocket! Sierra Designs has stacked the Whitney DriDown Hoodie with everything you’d want in a hooded down jacket! It’s only drawback is that it’s slightly over 18 ounces – a small price to pay compared to only slightly lighter, far more expensive alternatives.

    None the less, if every ounce is important to you and you’re working with a bigger budget there are certainly lighter alternatives like the Ghost Whisperer Jacket by Mountain Hardware listed above.

    It’s also worth noting that Sierra Design’s color selection is quite attractive – this unit, in particular, is available in some pretty rad color schemes. 

    All in all, the Whitney DriDown Hoody is perhaps the ultimate option when it comes to performance for the money. No doubt a solid choice from Sierra Designs.

  4. 4. Patagonia Men’s Nano Puff Jacket

    Pros:
    • Primaloft Gold Eco insulation retains 98% of its insulating ability when wet
    • Eco friendly
    • Super compressible and ultralight
    • Nice array of color options
    Cons:
    • Some may not prefer the synthetic insulation - but Primaloft Gold is the best of the best when it comes to synthetics
    • No hood
    • Expensive option

    You very well may have heard of the Nano Puff Jacket from Patagonia if you’re an avid outdoorsman or woman.

    Chances are, you know someone who owns or who’s owned one, and they have raved about its performance, no doubt. I own a Nano Puff and although it’s the oldest and most battle-worn down jacket I own, it’s still one of the warmest and most packable garments in my closet.

    This jacket is wildly popular for good reason. It’s got a sharp look that’s great for both casual and active wear, high quality PrimaLoft Gold Eco Insulation and a great feeling fit that doesn’t hold you back in any way, shape or form. This is a killer all-around synthetic down jacket that is a top performer in a ton of different cold weather contexts.

    Most notable of all, the Primaloft Gold Eco insulation retains 98% of its insulating ability when wet – so if you’re the type of outdoorsman or woman who expects to encounter wetness in the field, this is a great go-to that’s forgiving if you soak it. 

    I personally love the arrangement of the down panels, rather than baffles. I’ve found that the almost quilted style of insulation is even more compressible and stuffable than most down jackets with horizontal baffles. My Nano Puff is the last thing I pack into a fully loaded hiking or travel backpack because I know I can squeeze it on top of everything without fail. It also does fine stuffed in the bottom of my pack.

    There’s, unfortunately, no hood with this model which definitely lowers its overall warmth stats, but it’s still remarkably warm for a jacket of this weight and profile. This is the jacket to consider if you’re looking for a super packable option that still holds its own even in the extreme cold. Add some heavy winds and you might catch a draft through your sleeves and neck opening, so keep that in mind and layer accordingly. 

    There’s a wide selection of color options with this ultra-popular option from Patagonia so you won’t have to settle for an aesthetic you don’t like. All in all a great value jacket despite its higher price tag that you will own for many years of heavy use! 

    Follow this link to women’s sizing.

  5. 5. Columbia Heatzone 1000 TurboDown Hooded Jacket

    Pros:
    • 1000 TurboDown Wave insulation combines 900 fill water resistant down with 100 grams of synthtic OMNI-heat insulation
    • Super water resistant compared to the vast majority of the comptition
    • 4-way stretch fabric makes this jacket an awesome choice for fast paced activities like skiing and hiking
    • Awesome color schemes to choose from
    • Although pricey, this is a really solid value jacket considering what it's capable of
    Cons:
    • Because this jacket is built so lightweight the shell is a bit fragile, be careful not to tear this one
    • Inside lining looks a bit like a space blanket
    • Some sizing/color combinations are fairly expensive

    Here’s a seriously advanced down-synthetic blend jacket from Columbia that is making major waves in the outdoor world. The Heatzone 1000 TurboDown Hooded Jacket is a pretty unbelievable garment that is just as much of a waterproof shell as it is a down jacket.

    It’s obscenely warm, built for fast-paced activity and available in both men’s and women’s sizing! 

    Columbia’s Omni-TECH technology makes the Heatzone effectively waterproof and breathable. We’re talking really water-resistant. Like go ahead and use it as a ski jacket water-resistant. It’s all in the waterproofing treatment and critically seam-sealed construction.

    The lining is built from Omni-HEAT Reflective 10D ripstop is fairly tough and excellent at reflecting your heat back to you. The lining looks a bit like a reflective space blanket, and the thermal concept is quite comparable. 

    The shell fabrics are furthermore designed for four-way stretch which is not at all characteristic of your typical down jacket so this is a great option for winter athletes and those who plan on being highly active in their down jacket.

    There’s also a great array of pockets including an inner chest pocket, inner torso sleeve for stashing goggles or a hat and even a ski-pass pocket on the sleeve – neat! The hood is designed to fit over a helmet as well so this jacket is up for whatever!

    Columbia’s 1000 TurboDown Wave insulation is the real workhorse behind this jacket. It’s a combination of 900 fill power water-resistant down combined with 100 grams of Omni-HEAT Thermal synthetic insulation. It’s the best of both worlds – the two fills truly work together brilliantly for high water resistance and for eliminating cold spots.

    It’s worth mentioning there are some radical color schemes for the Heatzone that have a unique and sharp look. There are also some more basic, solid color schemes for those that like to keep it simple.

    VideoVideo related to columbia heatzone 1000 turbodown hooded jacket2018-12-24T12:15:40-05:00

  6. 6. Marmot Tullus Hoody Winter Puffer Jacket

    Pros:
    • Moisture-resistant Down Defender treatment keeps the 600 fill power down from clumping up
    • Elastic-bound cuffs and hem eliminate draft
    • Attached hood cinches tight
    • Zippered hand warming pockets
    Cons:
    • 600 fill power is not super warm - this is not a jacket for extreme conditions
    • Limited color selection
    • Complaints about this jacket shedding feathers are fairly common

    Marmot is a great outdoor brand that’s always been worth the cost – the Tullus Hoody Winter Puffer Jacket is no exception. This is a 600 fill power, particularly moisture-resistant down jacket that is both street and trail-ready.

    The fill power is not super high, so don’t expect this jacket to compete with 750 and 800 fill power competitors. Where the Tullus excels is its low weight, breathability, and ability to endure some pretty decent wetness.

    Marmot has applied their down defender treatment to this model jacket making it a superior insulator in wet conditions. 

    Not only is this a great jacket for outdoor excursions, but it also has a pretty sharp look for casual wear as well. This is a great commuter jacket to ensure you stay warm and dry on your way to work or class, and there are five different color choices to choose from.

    Included features include zippered hand warming pockets, an interior chest pocket, elastic cuffs and attached hood with cinch-binding for great facial coverage. Marmot has hit just about all the bases on this one. The fit is more of a normal cut than an athletic one, so it doesn’t form-fit and layer very well compared to a lot of the other jackets on this list.

    This is an excellent three-season down jacket, but if you’re shopping to create a stone-wall defense against the extreme cold look towards the Microlight Summit by Rab or the Ghost Whisperer by Mountain Hardware listed above.

  7. 7. Columbia Men’s Frost Fighter Insulated Puffer Jacket

    Pros:
    • Synthetic down is very well reviewed for both warmth and packability
    • Great price point
    • Machine washable
    • Fairly water resistant
    Cons:
    • Size runs a bit big
    • No hood
    • Limited color selection

    Here’s a lower speed, highly affordable synthetic down jacket from Columbia that is an excellent option if intense, winter outdoor excursionss are not what you’re purchasing for.

    The Frost Fighter Insulated Puffer Jacket might not be real, natural down, but it’s a super toasty and very reasonably priced alternative with insulation that behaves very much the same way as even some of the highest quality down insulators.

    The polyester synthetic down employed in the construction of the Frost Fighter is very well reviewed for its ability to compress and insulate. Columbia has come up with a kick-ass alternative to goose or duck down that is almost as effective at trapping your heat, and far less hard on your wallet.

    We’ve included this jacket here for those that need a highly packable and warm down jacket option without the need for a top-quality performance model jacket. This unit is perfect for chilly hiking and fishing trips, hang-outs around the campfire, winter walks on the beach and raw morning commutes. Base Camp Everest? Not the right pick. 

    You can go up against below zero temps in this unit with the proper layering, but it lacks a lot of the features and materials that higher-end down jackets utilize to create a truly cold-invincible garment. There is no hood included with the Frost Fighter which no doubt lowers its heat retention. The cuffs are at least tight to your wrist to eliminate drafts at those points.

    The outer material is a durable ripstop nylon that is highly water-resistant and will hold up nicely in the long run against regular wear and tear. This jacket is also machine washable which is a big perk of the synthetic down material.

    All in all, this is an excellent value jacket for the right cold weather contexts. As long as you’re not planning on conquering the Himalayas in this unit, it will serve you well for many seasons of use.

  8. 8. Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody

    Pros:
    • Premium 850 fill-power down compresses down exceptionally well
    • Down Composite Mapping™ strategically uses Coreloft™ synthetic insulation in moisture-prone areas where you need it most
    • Remarkably lightweight at just 10.8 ounces
    • Arato™ 10 nylon shell provides impressively lightweight durability
    • Articulated build moves nicely with the body for a full range of motion
    • Streamlined fit also works great as a mid layer
    • Nice array of external and interior pockets
    • Wide color selection, and women's sizing available
    Cons:
    • Expensive option
    • While it's exceptionally warm for its weight, this is a minimalist down jacket that will not provide you with thr same level of warmth as more robustly built options
    • Some might not prefer the inclusion of any synthetic insulation - but it's implemented strategically and minimally

    The Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody is a high-performance, super-streamlined, ultralight down jacket option for highly active outdoorsmen seeking a layer or shell that can keep up with their action-packed, cold-weather adventures. 

    If you’re seeking a down jacket that won’t hold you back, nor take up virtually any space in your pack, this is a stellar go-to that won’t disappoint. The Cerium LT Hoody has an articulated build and is designed to be inherently low profile, while also implementing premium 850 fill-power down insulation for a remarkably warm for its weight garment coming in at just 10.8 ounces!

    This option works wonderfully as a mid-layer beneath a shell, so if you’re in the market for some ultra-packable added warmth to be worn underneath your fully weather-resistant gear, the Cerium LT should be on your radar. It also works great as an outer layer, but keep in mind how streamlined of a jacket this is – there won’t be much room for layering up underneath.

    A brilliant feature implemented by Arc’teryx is the addition of Down Composite Mapping™ which strategically utilizes Coreloft™ synthetic insulation in moisture-prone areas where you need it most. Essentially, there is synthetic insulation added to the jacket in the spots that are most susceptible to wetting out – so if you do encounter some moisture the insulating ability of the jacket won’t be compromised.

    Arc’teryx’s Arato™ 10 nylon shell furthermore provides impressively lightweight durability, so the Cerium is far from a flimsy, abrasion/tear-prone garment despite its remarkably low weight.

    A nice array of external and interior pockets, a cinch around the waist for eliminating drafts, and a well designed insulated hood make this a full feature, performance option – the brand has not cut any corners with this one ensuring you have all the essential bells and whistles for whatever it is you’re up to in the field!

    A fairly expensive, yet excellent value option of down jacket for those that refuse to be slowed down by their insulating layers – the Cerium LT is truly up for anything. Make sure to check out the women’s sizing, as well as the highly comparable Cerium SL Jacket if you like the look of this option!

  9. 9. The North Face Men’s Thermoball Full Zip Jacket

    Pros:
    • PrimaLoft synthetic-fiber cluster insulation is equivalent to 600 fill goose down
    • Highly water resistant
    • Packs down into its own hand pocket
    • Wide color/pattern selection
    • Machine washable
    Cons:
    • Not technically real down material
    • Fairly expensive
    • Not suitable for extreme cold temps

    Ok, so this one isn’t technically real down, but just like the Forst Fighter Puffy Jacket by Columbia previously listed, it does an excellent job at mimicking authentic down insulation. The Thermoball Full Zip Jacket by The North Face is an impressively compressible PrimaLoft synthetic fiber jacket that has insulating power about equivalent to a 600 fill power goose down jacket. 

    This one is warm, but not SUPER warm. Similar to the Frost Fighter, if you need something for extreme winter activities and conditions, you’ll want to look elsewhere. For more casual cold weather adventures and commutes, the Thermoball is an awesome choice. 

     A hem-cinch cord and elastic cuffs eliminate chilly drafts, but there is no hood with this unit. If you layer smart, you can really endure some chilly temps with this jacket. The exterior is 15D ripstop nylon, so the Thermoball is tough against water and abrasion. It’s exterior and insulation material also make it quite stuffable for excellent packability – it even squeezes into its own pocket for storage.

    The synthetic insulation and shell of the Thermoball make it a better outer layer in snow or rain than most traditional down jackets because it doesn’t wet out. You can get away with some pretty snowy/rainy conditions in this jacket, and it’s furthermore machine washable.

    Radical aesthetic, impressive resilience against the elements and killer packability – for the right cold weather scenarios, the Thermoball is no doubt a top performer that will turn heads everywhere you go.

    VideoVideo related to the north face men’s thermoball full zip jacket2018-12-23T18:23:55-05:00

  10. 10. Eddie Bauer Men’s CirrusLite Down Jacket

    Pros:
    • 650 fill power, premium down is certified ethically sourced
    • Great budget option
    • Excellent customer satifaction
    • Eddie Bauer gives this jacket a moderate activity temperature rating of -10 degrees F
    • StormRepel DWR finsh is effectively water resistant
    Cons:
    • Limited color selection
    • Lacks elastic cuffs
    • No attached hood

    Here’s a great budget option from Eddie Bauer that will get the job done if your wallet is tight. The CirrusLite might not be the best down jacket for intense outdoor winter adventures, but it’s a very well reviewed (and warm) jacket for casual wear and lighter outdoor excursions.

    This is a 650 fill power, premium down jacket featuring Eddie Bauer’s StormRepel DWR finish to enhance water repellency. For the money, this is an exceptionally tough down jacket that has a plethora of stellar customer reviews.

    People love this one for its affordable warmth – claiming comfortability in temps well below freezing with the proper layers. Eddie Bauer gives this jacket a moderate activity temperature rating of -10 degrees F!

    The CirrusLite has no hood, but a higher than average neck. The cuffs are also lacking elastic closure at the wrists, but the fit/cut is at least designed to accommodate for a mid-layer so there’s no reason you can’t still equip yourself for some extreme cold with this jacket.

    It may lack the features of higher-end, performance down jackets, but the materials used in its construction make the CirrusLite a more than adequate option in all sorts of winter weather and scenarios. For the budget buyer, look no further.

  11. 11. Black Diamond Vision Down Parka

    Pros:
    • 800-fill, RDS-certified Allied HyperDRY® goose down insulation
    • Ultralight nylon ripstop shell utilizing revolutionary Japanese Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) reinforced durability.
    • Two zippered hand pockets, one zippered chest pocket and two internal drop pockets
    • Underarm gussets for increased range of motion
    • Hood and hem feature a single-pull cord adjust for effectively customizing your fit
    • Adjustable climbing helmet-compatible hood
    Cons:
    • Expensive option
    • Limited color selection
    • Cumbersome, extra puffy jacket will not stuff/pack exceptionally well like other down garments - it is a parka after all

    If you’re seeking a down jacket for complete and absolute warmth no matter the conditions and care less about owning a super compressible jacket, the Vision Down Parka by Black Diamond should be on your radar.

    This parka is warm, and I mean WARM. Black Diamond recently sent me out a Vision Down Parka to field test, and the cold hasn’t gotten to me since! The 800-fill, RDS-certified Allied HyperDRY® goose down insulation lofts remarkably well, and although the jacket is a bit puffier than what I typically like to wear, the warmth it provides is well worth the added bulk. 

    To be clear, this is still an exceptionally lightweight jacket at about 20 ounces, and it still stuffs quite well despite its puffiness. The nature of the 800-fill down allows it to be compressed more than your average down garment – it’s just not quite as ultralight as some more streamlined down jacket options (remember this is a parka!).

    Black Diamond has implemented an ultralight nylon ripstop shell utilizing revolutionary Japanese Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) reinforced durability, so this jacket is built tough against abrasion. The HyperDRY® goose down insulation is furthermore treated to withstand wetness far better than untreated down. The brand has ensured the Vision Parka won’t quit on you if you put it through the normal abuses of active outdoorsmen.

    Two zippered hand pockets, one zippered chest pocket, and two internal drop pockets provide you with plenty of personal storage, while underarm gussets increase your range of motion. The hood and hem feature a single-pull cord adjust for effectively customizing your fit, and you can effectively wear a climbing helmet (or any helmet really) underneath the hood.

    Black Diamond has equipped this option with all the necessary bells and whistles – you get what you pay for with this one. For those seeking a supremely warm option that’s equally suitable for daily commutes as it is mountaintops – the Vision Down Parka is a brilliant no-nonsense choice.

Synthetic vs. Natural Down Insulation

A down jacket is no small purchase - making an informed decision means you ought to understand the difference in insulating ability as well as the pros and cons of both natural and synthetic down insulations.

In general, natural down has a higher warmth-to-weight ratio than synthetic insulation alternatives. Natural down also packs lighter and is more compressible than synthetics. It typically lofts better, longer and is, therefore, longer-lived overall.

Synthetic down might be a bit heavier and less compressible/stuffable than natural down insulations, and may not hold its loft quite as well over time, but it's far more water-resistant than natural down - even if it's DWR treated. Synthetic alternatives will furthermore still insulate you if they get wet.

Buy The Insulation Specific For Your Needs

When buying any down garment, make sure to carefully consider what you need out of your insulation and buy accordingly.

Need something ultralight and particularly compressible for multi-day treks? Natural goose or duck down is the go-to.

Need a down garment that won't betray you if it takes on some moisture in the field? A synthetic or synthetic blend insulation is probably what you want.

Read more about the ins and outs of natural vs. synthetic down here!

Fill Power

Understanding fill power is crucial to choosing the right down jacket, or down garment in general.

Fill power is the measurement of a given down insulation's lofting ability, or how much it "spreads out" or expands. Loft has a lot to do with the insulation's ability to trap heat, so it is directly related to how warm a garment is, but not a direct measure of warmth.

Fill power is calculated by how many cubic inches one ounce of down insulation can occupy, or fill.

More simply described, a 700-fill-power down insulation means that one ounce of that down fills 700 cubic inches of space. Got it?

The main take away here is this: The higher the fill power, the less down insulation is needed to "fill up" the interior insulating space of the garment. Higher fill powers by that reasoning, typically indicate lower garment weight - as well as high quality down overall.

Depending on the intended application of your down jacket, fill power may or may not be of major importance to you. Outdoorsmen seeking truly ultralight and compressible down jackets will, however, definitely want to gravitate towards higher fill powers.

Cleaning And Maintaining Your Down Jacket

Cleaning your down jacket, and down garments in general, requires some special care and treatment.

Best case scenario, you don't want to wash your down garments or sleeping bags at all - even gentle hand washing can affect the lofting ability of the insulation and potentially damage more fragile stitching.

You will, of course, have to clean your down garments and gear eventually, but it's totally worth noting that you should wait as long as possible and wash them as minimally as possible to achieve the longest potential lifespan.

Most importantly - always read the special instructions for cleaning your down and synthetic insulated garments and gear - every type of insulation (and shell) typically requires special treatment.

See Also: 

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