Down is warm enough that ducks and geese can swim in freezing water and light enough that they can fly. It’s the best form of insulation yet devised for outdoor apparel. Down’s warmth, light weight and compact-able form make it the perfect material for activities like skiing, mountaineering and backpacking. Advances in treating down 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. These 21 jackets are perfect for every activity, from walking your dog in January to dodging polar bears at the South Pole.
Mountain Hardwear StretchDown RS Hooded Jacket
Best for Freedom of Movement: The StretchDown RS was built to solve the tradeoffs between fit and flexibility that typically plague down outerwear. The jacket’s outer material, Ghost Lite ripstop fabric, is built to stretch and withstand any snags or scuffs. It’s also packed with 750-fill water-resistant Q.Shield down to keep you warm even in moist conditions. Finally, its combination of advanced construction techniques instead of traditional stitched seams also creates a unique sweet spot of toughness and flexibility, though the freedom of movement does come with a noticeable price premium.
The North Face Corefire Jacket
Best For Skiing Light: Down jackets are commonly used in tandem with waterproof shells as warm and light layering pieces. Not this one. The Corefire utilizes Gore-Tex’s Windstopper tech, making it fully windproof and highly water resistant so you can wear your down on the outside. Other features — such as a helmet-compatible hood, underarm vents, internal tech and goggle pockets and a powder skirt — make this the perfect do-it-all jacket for days in the mountains.
Fjallraven Arktis Parka
Best for Keeping Warm Even While Sitting Still: It’s not surprising that a famed Swedish outdoor brand knows a thing or two about building a coat meant for long stints in the cold. The Arktis Parka was specifically designed for maintaining warmth even during low-intensity activities and combines sustainable down with strategically placed G-1000 and G-1000HD reinforcements in the sleeves and rear for added water resistance. There’s also plenty of smart details like a breast pocket big enough for a thermos, an internal zipper pocket for your phone and small external pockets for everyday-carry essentials, as well as a detachable, synthetic-fur-trimmed hood.
Rab Positron Down Jacket
Best for Frugal Expeditions: Rab was started by an English mountaineer in the 1980s with the goal of making practical and technical gear. The Positron represents the culmination of that goal: it’s a no-frills jacket that’s meant to keep you warm and dry colder conditions. Its 800-fill hydrophobic goose down insulation means this jacket won’t quit when wet and box-wall construction ensures the fill doesn’t wander. With a rating for expedition use up to 6,000 meters and a hood that functions over a helmet, this jacket is a beast in the mountains that offers a ton of bang for your buck.
Kjus 7Sphere Down Jacket
Best For Layering: The 7Sphere is a technical layering piece that can be worn with any shell (or strategically paired with other products in the 7Sphere line). The blended duck and synthetic down is spread through vertical baffles in order to provide stretch and mobility while keeping you warm. Ventilation openings — which are rare in down coats — solidify the 7Sphere as one of the more versatile layers we’ve seen.
Patagonia Snap-T Pullover
Best for Casual Days Outside: The pullover style of this classic product minimizes places where wind, rain, or snow can penetrate and ensures that you’ll never have to fumble with a zipper when your hands are freezing. You can sport the classic Patagonia look (which comes in four colorways) as a layer, or on its own thanks to a DWR finish. On top of all that, the use of 600-fill recycled down and Patagonia’s commitment to eco-friendly sourcing of materials will keep your conscience feeling just as warm and cozy as your body.
Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket
Best For Made in the USA Buyers: Feathered Friends was started by a husband-and-wife duo who wanted to make down products capable of standing up to the harsh and fast-changing climate of the Pacific Northwest. The Eos is their take on the classic hooded down jacket. With 900+ fill goose down insulation, it has the highest fill rating of any of the jackets on this list. Throw in a lifetime warranty and you’ve got yourself a high-quality product made right here in the USA.
Montbell Ex Lite Down Anorak
Best for Replacing a Sweater: Montbell added an anorak to their lineup of down coats this year with the goal of creating a lightweight and packable piece for those who believe every gram counts. The EX Light makes good use of a few simple features, including a half zip, an adjustable hem, and an insulated kangaroo pocket in order to maximize versatility without adding bulk, making it a great choice for any winter activity.