The cold winter months are unforgiving. If you’re not wearing the right winter gear, you’re putting yourself at risk. Protect yourself from exposure with the best down jackets for winter. The down jacket was developed for use in an Everest expedition, so you know that it’s designed to withstand extreme cold. The puffy look was so absurd and novel that it soon caught on and people have been wearing them for superior heat retention ever since.
A down jacket or a puffer jacket has a distinct puffed up silhouette. It’s a padded quilt that you wear to keep you warm. In a sense, you’re basically wearing a sleeping bag.
That may have sounded outlandish in the past, but the same heat retaining technologies and designs used in sleeping bags are used in down jackets today. You’ll find that most have a synthetic polyester or nylon outer layer that encloses natural goose or duck down feathers. There are also down jackets that utilize synthetic insulators to maintain warmth.
The insulation provided by either natural or synthetic materials or the combination of both is remarkable. You’ll be able to keep warm even in the coldest climates with heavier duty jackets, or you can opt for lighter jackets that offer relatively less heat retention. Your choice of jacket will really depend on your personal needs and preferences. Take a gander at our list of the top down jackets for winter and choose the one that best fits your lifestyle.
The Arc’teryx brand of performance outdoor gear and apparel hails from Canada. The brand is named after Archaeopteryx, the first feathered and winged dinosaur that’s believed to be the transitional stage of dinosaurs into birds. This echoes the brand’s working vision of creating evolution in the field of mountaineering. The brand’s vision is deeply married to the mountainous Canadian region it originated from. The founders believe that had they been living anywhere else, Arc’teryx wouldn’t have been established.
The Arc’teryx entry on this list is a lightweight hoodie or hoody as the Canadian brand spells it. Compared to others on this list, the Cerium is a little underinsulated. It only has 1.7 ounces of 850 fill power down enclosed in its shell. It does, however, utilize Coreloft down in strategic points around the jacket for additional insulation. It works well as a mid-layer in extreme cold weather conditions but may work as a standalone jacket on fairly cool days. After all, you’re not buying this jacket to wear it alone on your expedition to conquer Mt. Logan during a blizzard. You’re buying it for the svelte silhouette it gives you.
Foehn is a rock-climbing outfitter from Quebec, Canada. When it’s from the True North, you know that it’s going to be warm and tough. Even their name evokes feelings of warmth. Foehn may not be as big or as well-known as the previous company on the list but what they lack in funds or resources, they make up for with sheer grit. They launched their first line of products early in 2018 with the help of a fully funded Kickstarter campaign. They have since added a few more products in their catalog and now have an apparel line that blends style and function seamlessly.
The Robson is Foehn’s entry on this list of the best down jackets for winter. It distinguishes itself right off the bat by being a pullover. You don’t have the zipper running down the middle of this jacket. What you have instead is a side zipper to allow you entry. This style decision adds a little urban flair to this strong offering. The exterior is a tough yet stretchy Japanese fabric that’s waterproofed with a DWR coating. Inside, it’s filled with 800-fill responsibly sourced down.
The Rab brand is the brainchild of a Scottish climber who wanted to make gear and expedition wear that will be able to perform in actual mountain conditions. The products are marketed as being made by climbers for use by climbers. This makes the brand authentic. Since the early 1980s, Rab has been producing high-performance mountaineering gear to protect self-styled mountain people against the tough elements of the outdoors. In particular, they have made impressive insulated jackets, like their entry on this list.
The Rab Neutrino Pro is an exceptional winter gear made for a high-performance, heavy-duty use in actual mountain climbs. As such, it’s filled with a lot of down for maximum cold climate insulation in this shell. With this on, you’ll feel the warmth as provided by 8 ounces of 800 fill power down. The exterior is their own proprietary 20D Pertex Quantum Pro outer shell that’s made durable enough for the toughest mountain weather.
The North Face is one of the world’s most well-known high-performance brands of climbing gear and winter wear. The brand started out as a small husband and wife venture that sold climbing equipment in San Francisco in the late 1960s. Ever since their humble beginnings, The North Face has been championing high performance gear for serious outdoor explorers. Because of their passion and commitment, they have sponsored a multitude of expeditions in running, snowsports, and climbing. Through research and development, they have also developed technologies and designs that improve upon existing products.
The North Face starts of this list with a strong entry. The Summit L3 Down Hoodie is part of their Summit line of products, the apparel and equipment line that are designed for professional climbs. While it may simply be a mid-layer for extreme cold insulation, it is effective as your outerwear for everyday use. It comes in a classic design, complete with a snug hoodie. It’s filled with lightweight 800-fill down enclosed in a ripstop shell layer coated with DWR for reliable waterproofing.
The Blackyak company is another that’s named after a robust animal – the Yak. The Yak is a native of the Himalayan regions, so they’re pretty acclimatized to high altitudes as well as extreme cold environments. This is the image that the founder of Blackyak wants to capture. Being an active mountaineer, the founder of Blackyak created this Korean brand as an answer to his own needs. To date, Blackyak has made many strategic partnerships in Asia and Europe.
The Bakosi is a well-designed action jacket. This Blackyak offering features “intelligent insulation” design that utilizes different insulation materials at strategic parts of the jacket. The different materials used are goose down, PrimaLoft Gold, and Polartec Alpha. The jacket’s silhouette as well as the baffling lines and design features are very sporty. There are underarm gussets to allow maximum mobility of the arms while active. There are also areas that are made with insulated stretch fabric, inlcuding the fleece hood and the back panel.
Patagonia is an outdoor sports wear brand that was established by an American mountaineer and businessman in 1973. It adopted as its logo, the mountain outline of Mt. Fitz Roy, an ultra mountain between Argentina and Chile. The brand makes hiking clothes as well as sleeping bags and even packaged camping food. Aside from mountaineering, the Patagonia brand has also developed products for other sports such as surfing.
The Patagonia Down Sweater Jacket on this list is a lightweight classic. It features a 20 x 30D ripstop polyester that’s completely made out of recycled material. It is coated with a DWR finish for reliable water-repellency. The insulation is achieved with the use of 800-fill power goose down. It has elastic cuffs for comfort and insulation.
Jöttnar is a British company that draws inspiration from the brutal mountains of Norway. Being former Royal Marine Commandos, the two founders are some of the world’s toughest people. What they experienced in their former military profession made them realize that there is a need for tougher gear and apparel. The two commandos were not only tough as military men; they were also avid mountain climbers as well. So, they created their own gear and decided to “conquer giants.” They probably mean the Scandinavian mountains, but seeing as they’re commandos, it wouldn’t be surprising if their mountain gear is tough enough for battling actual ice giants from Norse mythology.
The Fjörm is a giant itself. It’s Jöttnar’s best and warmest jacket, being their benchmark for comparison to other jackets. For maximum warmth, it’s filled with 275 grams or about 9.7 ounces of 850 fill goose down; that’s their size Medium. With oversized baffling, this jacket is certainly built with a robust silhouette. The ripstop outer shell is water repellent as well as the DownTek down it’s stuffed with.
Norrøna is a Scandinavian brand right out of Norway. The company has been run by two Jørgen Jørgensens since its founding in 1929, the founder himself and his grandson who was named after him. The brand specializes in cold climate wear and mountaineering gear. Norrøna pioneered the use of vivid and flashy colors, but this approach has since been imitated by many outfitters. They were also the first ones to introduce the funnel tent for mountaineering use. They also pioneered the use of Gore-Tex in Europe. Gore-Tex has since become a leading material in heavy duty mountaineering gear.
The Norrøna entry on this list is the Lyngen. Utilizing 850 fill power down, this Norrøna entry is incredibly warm. This jacket was built with high-performance materials for the extremely demanding sport of ski touring.
The aptly named Outdoor Research brand was founded by a nuclear physicist who just also happened to be an avid mountaineer. As the story goes, the founder saw how frostbite got to his climbing partner’s feet. This urged the man to create better mountaineering gear, creating the company in the process. The brand is known for producing tough equipment that’s tested in real-world conditions by real mountaineers.
The Transcendent is the Outdoor Research entry on this list. With 3.5 ounces of 650 fill power down, it’s comfortably warm. Its design incorporates large baffles that point down at the middle, creating a more modern look. Adding to the comfort factor, the hand warmers are lined with fleece. It’s a welcome feature that many will love come cold winter days. While not as heavy-duty as other jackets filled with higher fill power down, the Transcendent is a decent jacket that’s sufficiently warm for urban wear.
REI is an American outdoor company that specializes in camping gear and other outdoor sports oriented apparel. REI appropriately stands for Recreational Equipment Incorporated. The brand has been around since the 1930s and shows no signs of slowing down. REI is not only strong retail-wise, but they have been successful in their strategy to diversify in non-retail means. Instead of purchasing or creating retail subsidiaries, REI has opted to expand in more experience-based endeavors. REI has been offering guided adventure tours and classes in the hopes of creating more outdoor enthusiasts that hopefully become their future retail customers.
The REI Magma 850 Down Hoodie 2.0 is a superb entry on this list. It is stylish, highly functional, and lightweight too. This REI hoodie features different baffling sizes in different parts of the jacket for strategic insulation. As its name clearly states, this winter jacket is stuffed with 850 fill power down that’s enclosed in a ripstop nylon outer layer. This outer shell also utilizes Pertex technology to make it tough enough to resist abrasions. It is also coated with DWR for effective water resistance. Built for more than casual wear only, this REI Magma Hoodie is designed for active outdoor sports.
The Mountain Equipment brand is a UK brand that specializes in…-mountain equipment! While their name could use a little work, their products certainly are top-of-the-line. The brand has been around since the early 1960s, and ever since, they have been part of major climbs and expeditions all over the world. These include record setting Arctic and Antarctic expeditions. If their products are tough enough to go to the poles, you know they’re tough enough for daily winter wear.
Unlike most other lightweight down jackets, the Lightline’s shell is made out of a thick and heavy-duty 40D DRILITE fabric. This fabric makes the Lightline absolutely windproof and very water resistant. This tough exterior encloses 700-fill power down. The Lightline provides excellent protection from the freezing cold and is exceptionally warm even in the coldest conditions. It comes with a removable zip-off hoodie for added versatility.
The Mammut company is a Swiss brand that produces specialized trekking and mountaineering gear and apparel. It has been in operation since 1862 and is currently the world leader when it comes to mountain climbing ropes. The company’s logo is that of a Mammoth (Mammut in Swiss), a prehistoric pachyderm that had adapted to extreme cold climates. This logo symbolizes the tough quality of the brand as well as the ruggedness of their products.
The Broad Peak IN Pro is a jacket designed with the extreme mountaineer in mind. The “Pro” refers to the “professional” – as in professional mountaineer. With this proud name, it’s no wonder that the technologies that are incorporated into it are all geared toward heavy-duty use. The outer layer is a Pertex Quantum fabric for superior water repellent ability. This shell is also very lightweight, allowing stuffing of 850-fill power goose down for improved heat retention. The underarm areas also feature gussets for maximum mobility while out on a climb.
The Mountain Hardwear brand was founded in 1993 by a group of outdoor enthusiasts who knew that they could do better. They started the company developing products that are better than what was available back then. The goal was not solely commercial success; the brand’s vision and mission was the creation of outdoor gear and apparel designed with heavy-duty performance in mind.
The Ghost Whisperer Hood/2 is Mountain Hardwear’s entry on this list. It’s not clear why it’s named the way it is, but it does sound very cool. Except for its name, the Ghost Whisperer Hood is pretty warm. It is filled with 2.8 ounces of 800-fill power down. This results in superb heat retention that’s impressive in the lightweight category. Its main hook is that the ripstop outer shell is made entirely of recycled materials. It’s also treated with DWR coating for water proofing
Montbell is a brand that was created in Osaka, Japan in the 1970s. The brand had always been at the forefront of industry innovations. They developed new tent designs as well as experimented with revolutionary materials, such as 3M’s Thinsulate and DuPont’s Kevlar and Nomex for other outdoor gear. The products were well-received in the outdoor sports community. This opened the doors for international shipping. Today, Montbell has major operations all over the world.
The Montbell Plasma 1000 Parka is an outstanding entry on this list of the best down jackets for winter. The baffles feature S-shaped or zig-zagged baffle stitching in a sewn-thru construction method. The outer fabric is a soft 7D ripstop nylon made under their Ballistic Airlight proprietary technology. This tough and waterproof shell encloses within its baffles, 1000 fill power down they call “EX Down.” It comes from water birds that live in areas with seasonal climates that go in the temperature extreme ranges. This high fill power provides unrivaled heat retention.
The Feathered Friends brand started with just a few pieces of camping and outdoor gear and apparel hand sewn by its founder with the use of an industrial-grade sewing machine. Since 1972, the brand has been producing their high-performance products the same way, by hand. They are based in Seattle and are continuously inspired by the nearby North Cascade Mountains. While a few of the companies on this list carry a brand name based on animals, this is the only time that a brand paid homage to the goose from which they get their goose down.
The Eos is Feathered Friends’ entry on this list of high-quality winter jackets. The outer shell fabric is made of Pertex Quantum, a wind-resistant, water-resistant, and breathable soft fabric. This outer shell is stuffed with 900+ fill power goose down. It’s lightweight, but it’s also very warm for its weight. It’s also packable. They recommend it for cold morning walks and as a middle layer for when the winter really sets in.