The best winter down jackets (2022)

Unrivalled warmth to weight ratio, compressible, breathable, and long-lasting. We test and review the best winter down jackets.

Hiker on a mountain wearing a down jacket

by Ben Weeks |

Down jackets are a winter staple for hikers and non-hikers alike. But they do vary a lot in terms of performance and design. A down jacket designed for everyday winter wearing differs considerably to one designed for alpine trekking, for example.

Down insulation works by creating air pockets and trapping your body heat. It's extremely effective at doing so and, if cared for correctly, lasts a very long time.

We've put together this guide that explains what to look for in a down jacket and test and recommend a few of the best. In this way, you'll be able to work out the best down jacket to suit your requirements.

What to look for in a down jacket

Down vs synthetic: Down or synthetic? That’s the dilemma. Down has a superior warmth-to-weight ratio, but struggles when it becomes damp unless it has a hydrophobic treatment. Synthetic insulation offers better value, easier maintenance and performs better than non-treated down when damp. For ethical reasons, make sure goose or duck down adheres to the Responsible Down Standard.

Fill weight: Fill weight is the amount of down in a jacket (or sleeping bag), measured in grams. The higher the fill weight, the warmer a jacket will be. This means that it’s important to check both the fill weight and fill power. A jacket with 650 fill power down can still be as warm as one with 900 fill power down if the 650 jacket has a higher fill weight (i.e. more down).

Fill power: Fill power is a rating system for down that measures compressibility and loft (fluffiness) – and gives an indication of its insulating properties (i.e. how effectively it creates that insulating air pocket). A higher fill power indicates better quality down and a greater warmth-to-weight ratio.

Outer fabric: Down jackets usually have a nylon outer fabric with some having durable water repellent (DWR) finish to some degree. But most are not waterproof. But there are down jackets that are waterproof - either with a waterproof outer fabric or designed as a 3-in-1 jacket with a removable down inner jacket and waterproof outer shell.

Zip: Two-way zips are a better for hiking because they allow the jacket to be opened from the bottom as well as the top. This gives more room at the bottom and is therefore more comfortable when sitting down.

Baffles: To stop the down insulation from clumping together at the bottom of the jacket, down jackets have baffles - closed sections to trap the fill inside pockets. There are two types: box-wall and sewn-through baffles. Box-wall baffles are better for warmth because they allow the down to loft well. The trade-off is that it's more expensive because it requires more fabric and heavier too. Sewn-through baffles are usually used on lighter down jackets and is easier and cheaper to make, but they don't allow the down to loft to its full potential.

Down care and maintenance

Down can last a very long time if cared for. You shouldn't need to wash your down jacket too often but when you do, use a specific down wash, not your usual laundry detergent. We recommend Grangers Down Wash Concentrate. It's a water-based solution, you get 12 washes per 300ml bottle, it's very effective at cleaning down without damaging it, is bluesign approved, and comes in a bottle made from Ocean Waste Plastic.

The best down jackets

Rab Infinity Microlight

Verdict: The newest version of a longstanding Trail favourite, this is a warm, cosy and well-cut puffer that won’t collapse into a soggy mess even if you need to stick it on in clag or light drizzle.

Trail mag Editor Oli Reed wearing Rab Infinity Microlight
©Photo: Live For The Outdoors/Tom Bailey

If there is such a thing as a modern classic in outdoor kit, Rab’s Microlight jackets have a good claim to the title. We reckon the new Infinity Microlight is probably the best one yet, featuring a Gore-Tex Infinium face fabric and 700 fill power recycled hydrophobic down insulation. It’s a consummate all-rounder for the hills and mountains, being warm, packable, and more weatherproof than most down puffers.

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More recommended winter down jackets

Berghaus Tephra Reflect 2.0

Berghaus Tephra Reflect 2.0
Amazon

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Features 3/5 | Fit 4/5 | Comfort 4/5 | Performance 4/5 | Value 4/5

Overall score 76%

The obvious talking point about the Tephra Reflect 2.0 is its reflective technology – an integrated silver lining, woven into the jacket, which bounces your body heat back to you, providing a 20% warmth boost according to Berghaus’ gear boffins. The heat boost is certainly noticeable, with the jacket feeling toastier than expected considering its lightweight build.

The Nikwax-treated Hydrodown performs excellently even if damp, but the 600 fill power is the lowest on test. That’s a little disappointing, but reflected (no pun intended) in the competitive price tag. The fit and cut are relatively athletic, but ultimately Berghaus has kept things simple with this jacket.

The Tephra 2.0 is warm, comfy and lightweight (just 380g), with good features including two handwarmer pockets, a phone-sized internal zippered pocket and wrist cuffs with stretch binding. The lack of a hood might be a deal-breaker for some, but you could always just wear a woolly hat – and sometimes multiple hoods can be quite annoying and fiddly when you’re wearing a hard shell. The outer’s DWR coating copes well with light drizzle.

Sizes Men’s XS-XXXL, Women’s sizes XXS-XL | Weight 380g (men’s S)

Montane Flylite

Montane Flylite

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Features 4/5 | Fit 4/5 | Comfort 5/5 | Performance 4/5 | Value 4/5

Overall score 84%

This no-frills, minimalist jacket strikes a fine balance between price, warmth, weight and packability. It’s competitively priced, providing superb bang for your buck. Warmth-wise, it’s filled with 115g of RDS (Responsible Down Standard) approved, 90/10 duck down (90% down, 10% feathers) with an impressive 750 fill power. The HyperDRY down is water-resistant, thus retaining its insulating properties when wet better than regular down.

It isn’t the thickest or warmest jacket, but does provide a good level of warmth for most conditions, works perfectly as part of a layering system, and the baffle layout – a series of narrow chambers Montane calls ‘nano baffles’ – works well. The figure-hugging cut suits fast-paced activities. At just 350g, the Flylite is lightweight and compact too, packing away neatly into the right-hand pockets. The hood isn’t adjustable, but its pre-adjusted design seems spot-on, and the cuffs are pre-elasticated too.

You get three zippered pockets (two external, one internal), a cinchable hem drawcord and the front zip has an integrated stormflap. The shell is a 20-denier ripstop nylon with a DWR coating.

Sizes Men’s S-XXL, Women’s XS-XL | Weight 350g (men’s M)

Jack Wolfskin Mountain Down Jacket

Jack Wolfskin Mountain Down Jacket

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Features 4/5 | Fit 4/5 | Comfort 5/5 | Performance 4/5 | Value 4/5

Overall score 84%

Designed in partnership with the mountain guides of Alpine School Innsbruck, this jacket has a sporty cut and a very lightweight build, making it well-suited to high-intensity adventures. The insulation used is a 90/10 mix of white duck down and feather, all from RDS-approved sources, with an impressive 700 fill power. It is stuffed into lined, narrow baffles, which – unlike some larger jackets – don’t feel excessively bulky or cumbersome. Instead the jacket provides excellent warmth for the minimalist weight (the second lightest on test) and feels comfortably snug in-use, with alpine-like style and performance.

The hood is delightfully warm, courtesy of excellent baffles, and is adjustable for a fine-tuned fit. The thin 15-denier Stormlock shell is windproof and water-repellent, as expected, but won’t provide as much durability or abrasion-resistance as heavier-duty jackets. You also get two zipped pockets, a hem cinch, soft fleecey material around the chin, plus stormflaps and a sturdy toggle on the main zip. It also packs down into its own pocket to an impressively dinky 25x15cm. Not the warmest or cosiest jacket out there, but for the weight it’s difficult to complain.

Sizes Men’s S-XXXL, Women’s XS-XL | Weight 318g (men’s M)

Columbia Grand Trek

Columbia Grand Trek

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Features 4/5 | Fit 4/5 | Comfort 3/5 | Performance 3/5 | Value 3/5

Overall score 68%

The Grand Trek jacket features thermal reflective tech that Columbia calls Omni-Heat technology. A shiny, silver, metallic-like lining – akin to an emergency foil blanket – covers the inner, reflecting back your body heat for a very welcome temperature boost.

The baffles are shaped in a grid of squares, rather than the usual horizontal lines, and this adds to a contemporary, street-ready look. Other nifty features include a drawcord-adjustable hood, a cinchable waist hem, twin zippered hand pockets, and Velcro-adjustable cuffs. Better still is the OmniTech shell, which feels genuinely tougher, stronger and more weather-resistant than many others.

However, the Grand Trek does have flaws. It’s way too heavy for the warmth you get and the reflective lining feels a little plastic-like, meaning the jacket scores pretty poorly in terms of comfort. Moreover the down insulation isn’t as well-padded or lofty as you’d expect – and, in some ways, it wears more like a soft shell than a classic down jacket. But, as with all products, it’s worth trying first. If the regular fit suits your body shape, the thermal reflective technology is a quirky option.

Sizes Men’s S-XXL, Women’s XS-XL | Weight 690g (men’s M)

Mountain Equipment Senja

Mountain Equipment Senja

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Features 4/5 | Construction 4/5 | Comfort 4/5 | Performance 4/5 | Value 4/5

Overall score 80%

The Mountain Equipment Senja Jacket is billed as the ‘ideal insulation for trekking and mountaineering in cold conditions’. Second only to the Salewa jacket in this list in terms of warmth, it’s a thick, lofty, well-padded jacket suitable for extreme and sub-zero climes. Wide baffles are stuffed full of 220g of pure down, featuring a solid 700 fill power rating, and the stitched-through baffle construction feels reassuringly premium.

The bulky, plump style works better as a standalone outer rather than a layer, and the durable, windproof and water-resistant Drilite Loft 40-denier outer fabric means it can be used without a hard shell in lighter rain. It’s almost certainly too thick for fast-moving, lighter adventures – the high down content means it weighs in at a relatively hefty 580g – but for slower travel and during the height of winter, the superb warmth will be a godsend.

Despite its thick design, it compresses down neatly into a stuffsack the size of an average sleeping mat, and it’s fully-featured too: you get two zipped hand warmer pockets, an inner security pocket, an adjustable hood with insulated collar, Velcro cuffs that seal out the cold, and twin hem drawcords.

Sizes Men’s S-XXL, Women’s S-XXL | Weight 580g (men’s L)

Fju00e4llru00e4ven Expedition Pack Down Hoodie

Fju00e4llru00e4ven Expedition Pack Down Hoodie

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Features 4/5 | Fit 4/5 | Comfort 4/5 | Performance 4/5 | Value 4/5

Overall score 80%

The Fjällräven Expedition Pack Down jacket feels far loftier, plumper and well-padded than many of its competitors in this list. Consequently it performs better as a standalone outer, rather than as part of a layering system, and the warmth provided is superior. It has more of polar, rather than alpine, feel to it – and that’s ideal if you’re looking for a thicker, warmer jacket that’s reliable in colder climes.

It is pretty heavy however, weighing in at 490g, so won’t suit those looking for an athletic cut and lightweight construction. The insulation is a 90/10 blend of goose down with 700 fill power, complemented by synthetic padding on the shoulders for extra resistance, and the relatively wide, stitched-through baffles do a good job of keeping you warm. The cut is roomy, and the classically-retro look – with a touch of lifestyle flair – is undoubtedly handsome. Ethically, this jacket is top-notch too, with responsibly-sourced down and a 100% recycled polyamide lining. You also get an adjustable hood, three zippered pockets, a soft chin lining, elasticised cuffs, cinchable waist drawcords, and the jacket packs away into the internal pocket.

Sizes Men’s XS-XXL, Women’s XXS-XL | Weight 490g (men’s M)

Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody

Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody

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Features 4/5 | Construction 5/5 | Comfort 5/5 | Performance 4/5 | Value 3/5

Overall score 88%

This jacket uses premium quality 850 fill power goose down to achieve an unrivalled warmth-to-weight ratio. The Cerium LT Hoody – which is Arc’teryx’s second most packable down offering, after the Cerium SL Hoody – weighs in at just 305g (the lightest here), but manages to feel warmer than many of its heavier rivals.

It keeps out the cold effectively, without feeling boxy, and has a streamlined cut that moulds to the body. So-called ‘down composite mapping’ places Coreloft synthetic insulation in moisture-prone areas, making this jacket a high-performing hybrid. The ultralight build, featuring a thin Arato nylon shell, feels vulnerable to wear and tear, but you can’t have everything at this weight.

You still get wind resistance and a DWR-coating in the outer and the features include an adjustable and insulated hood, twin hem drawcords, smooth-lined collar, elasticated cuffs, two-zippered pockets, internal security pocket and stuffsack. It’s eye-wateringly expensive, and the slim fit won’t suit everybody, but none of that matters when the warmth-to-weight ratio and features are this top-notch.

Sizes Men’s XS-XXL, Women’s){:target=_blank :rel=noopener noreferrer} XS-XL | Weight 305g (men’s M)

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