Also scoring a 9 out of 10, cue the Patagonia Down With It Parka, which is insulated with fill-power recycled down.
However, down has one critical Achilles heel—it cannot get wet. When it does, the feathers get matted together and the jacket, sleeping bag, vest, or whatever the item is, loses its warmth.
This is because down traps heat in the air pockets between the down feathers. Most outdoor enthusiasts accept this risk and choose to take good care to keep their down items dry on their adventures, but if you spend a lot of time out in wet climates, you might consider synthetic insulation, at least for some of your insulation pieces—the synthetic fibers have more structure and retain warmth even when wet.
Another way to manage the risk of down getting wet is to encase it in waterproof fabric, or at least materials coated with a durable water repellent finish DWR.
Arc'teryx uses a clever Down Composite Mapping technology where they integrate Coreloft synthetic insulation in high-risk areas such as cuffs, shoulders, armpits, and hoods. In previous reviews, these jackets stayed wetter longer because the synthetic insulation would absorb water which would then leak into the down and the shell fabric.
In this round of testing, however, even dripping ice climbs couldn't manage to get the Cerium's cuffs wet which is one of the areas most prone to moisture. Most of the jackets in this review are treated with a DWR durable water repellent coating on the exterior fabric to prevent water from soaking through the material and dampening the down.
It is important to note, however, that these jackets are not designed to be remotely waterproof, so if you will be out in the rain, be sure you can fit your rain or hardshell jacket over your down jacket to ensure those feathers stay dry and lofted. The KUHL Spyfire took an interesting approach using DWR coated soft shell over the shoulders, which we found very effective for beading up and shedding light rain. The North Face Aconcagua was a top performer when it came to water resistance.
Not batting an eye, it has an oily feel that allows water to bead up and roll right off. We appreciated this when we got caught in storms, and the chill started to creep in. The Arc'teryx Cerium SV and LT both earned the same score when it came to water resistance, and did a spectacular job of protecting us from the elements. It was our favorite model to wear on winter vacations to our favorite snowy wonderlands—especially great for those traveling from warmer climates and who therefore are not as acclimated to the cold.
We especially liked the Cerium SV for ice climbing, winter backpacking, and long backcountry ski tours. One of the most intriguing aspects of this review was the continued opportunity to test out some jackets with treated hydrophobic down: Water repellent fabrics still seem to make the most difference in a down jacket's water resistance. We took all of these jackets ice climbing and ski touring to test the water resistance.
Dripping ice climbs offered an excellent real-world opportunity to observe the jackets' water repelling abilities. In the end, most jackets performed to our expectations, with the Marmot Quasar Nova falling behind significantly with how easily the shell material wet out and soaked through to the down.
The jackets in this review use sewn-through baffle construction instead of box-baffles, which are usually reserved for expedition parkas. The sewn-through design is less expensive to produce, lighter and improves ease of movement. Several companies vary the sizes of its baffles to maximize mobility and insulation.
We were very impressed with this solution. Under the arms, they place smaller baffles which eases movement of the arms and torso. Smaller baffles, however, also means more stitches, and therefore reduces its warmth. Since these smaller baffles are only under the arms, the area is often protected from the wind and otherwise covered by the arms themselves. Overall we felt that the fit and the design of the sewn baffles are the primary components of style.
No matter what, puffy down jackets make a woman look, well… puffy. But some look better than others. The shape of the jacket also contributes to Style points. But style cannot trump function, in our reviewers' opinions. In this review, we appreciated the style of the KUHL Spyfire which was an impressive blend of style while remaining adequately "mountain ready".
However, as you know, style is subjective - and if you don't like the look of a particular jacket, you might not be inclined to wear it. So do yourself a favor and peruse the metrics for a model that performs according to your wants and needs, and satisfies your personal taste.
We hope we've been able to help you narrow down your top choices and make a final selection of a jacket for your wintertime activities. Check out the related articles below for more winter inspiration! Properly caring for down jackets is very important. Over time the down will get covered in dirt and oils causing it to lose its loft and therefore lose its warmth. To clean your jacket, we recommend using a specialized cleaner such as ReviveX Down Cleaner or a similar product from Nikwax to safely clean the down and restore its loft.
The Best Women's Down Jackets of Displaying 1 - 5 of Updated October It's that time of the year; it's time to bundle up and hunker down - or set out on some exciting winter adventures! This fall, we thoroughly analyzed each model in our current fleet and added in the Cerium LT from Arc'teryx, an excellent lightweight version of the Cerium SV, a previous Editors' Choice winner. On that topic, the Cerium SV was knocked down to a Top Pick winner after several more months of testing revealed long-term durability issues with the ultralight fabric.
It's still a big-time favorite, but not an everyday wearing type of jacket, and is more suited for the rugged adventurous type. See all prices 4 found. See all prices 3 found. Feeling hip and functional with a stylish and affordable down jacket in the Pacific Northwest the Magma. We extracted a small sample of DownTek treated hydrophobic down from one of our test jackets.
We evaluated the look and feel of the treated down and sprayed it with water to see what happened. A sample of DownTek treated hydrophobic down after being sprayed with water. Notice how the water is beading up on the down rather than soaking into the fibers.
Taking a break from climbing in the midwinter sun in the cozy and durable Rab Microlight. Down is the ultimate in insulation: A lightweight down jacket is a must in every outdoors woman's quiver. Here we are getting all lifestyle-y in the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody on the sea ice of Antarctica.
The hood fits comfortably over a helmet when rock climbing and the overall design of the Microlight Alpine kept us toasty. The Arc'teryx Cerium SV Hoody was super warm by itself, but also allowed us to wear extra warm layers underneath for those extra cold days. And it's lightweight, to boot! Shoveling is hard work in a cold place: Keeping warm with hot tea and the Marmot Quasar Nova Hoody on an early season ice climbing trip.
The Ghost Whisperer was the most compressible jacket in this review. The Rab,second from the top right in orange, was a decently compressible jacket. The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer packs down so small you barely notice it clipped to the back of your harness. Stylish and durable, Canada Goose makes a nice jacket.
Want to browse for more packable down jackets? Find lots of options here. When Ma Gert took over Columbia Sportswear, she was serious about both fashion and function.
That philosophy shows in this long puffer that protects you from seriously cold conditions. It battles arctic air with fill-power goose down-which is super warm, soft and packable. Columbia makes great outwear for women to prep you for the weather from head to toe.
Check it out here. Unique angular styling, lots of contrasting zipper details and huge cozy pockets set this fun puffer jacket apart from most. Its modern look fits great on nearly all body types, especially if you carry a bit of extra padding in the hip area.
Side zippers make it especially comfy for riding in the car or on the chairlift. The faux fur-lined hood is soft against your face when the weather is harsh. Browse more styles here. Welt style zipper pockets keep your hands and keys out of the weather, and the back features an elastic draw cord that gives the long puffer jacket a whole lot more style and shape. The wide lapel collar is stylish and makes this long down coat wearable over business or evening wear in even the coldest weather.
Find more of them here. Calvin Klein strikes a nice balance with this sharp little pea coat. Slightly dressy, completely playful. Double-breasted styling with big shiny silver buttons elevates its fancy tendencies. The belt can be worn traditionally, tied in the front, or more playfully, swung over to the side more like a sash.
The stand up collar can be worn closed or open and folded down. Plus this cutie comes in five different colors from, all perfect wardrobe neutrals, and at this terrific price, why not get more than one? Slip it on with some world-famous Calvin Klein jeans and some tall boots for a super stylish look.
This great looking double-breasted pea coat from Tommy Hilfiger is the perfect grab and go jacket for every woman. Made from a wool and polyester blend, this great pea coat hits just below the hips for a little better protection for your tush during wind and weather.
It features figure flattering princess seaming with a contrasting buttonhole at the deeply notched collar. Vertical welt pockets fall right at the waist to keep hands comfortable and cozy. The added partial belt band in back gives this jacket some added flair.
Pair it with a Tommy Hilfiger scarf and hat for a cute, buttoned up look. But London Fog has answered the challenge with this warm and cozy, super stylish plus size pea coat. Double breasted styling flatters fuller figures, whether you leave it open and casual or buttoned up against the weather.
And speaking of weather, the wool and poly blend fabric will keep you cozy and comfy. Want to see more plus sized pea coats? The wool-blend baby-doll styling features a convertible spread-to-funnel collar, side pockets, and a wide vent at center back. Over-stitched detailing gives it an extra smart look, and the figure flattering seems will make you look great from front to back.
The simple four button closure keeps your jacket in place and the roomy body allows you to easily slip on this cute coat over suits , or jeans and a sweater , with plenty of breathing space. This Solid color fleece pea coat from Aeropostale might be your new favorite casual jacket for walking the dog, or running errands.
Solid fleece construction means easy wash and care. The fold down collar looks cute buttoned and flipped up or worn folded down with a scarf.
Imagine cozying up in this eye catching faux fur coat from Trina Turk. The Makayla faux fur coat features multiple hues from white and tan to black, meaning you can throw it over practically anything and it will look great and keep you warm and toasty. It comes with a cushy hood that will keep your head and ears covered from the weather, and the deep side pockets are easy to slip your hands into on the chilliest days.
Low fill power and sheds feathers. Marmot is known for outerwear, and rain jackets in particular. With fill down, it does have one of the lowest fill powers on this list competitors like the REI Co-op Down Jacket and Outdoor Research Transcendent use fill down.
Aside from price, the Marmot Tullus is pretty bare bones. But if you can find it on sale, the Tullus is one of the cheaper down jackets available from a top brand. Down Sweaters The down sweater is the most casual category of down jacket. But they perform well for everyday use, travel, light adventuring, and layering for winter sports. The temperature range for these jackets depends on factors like layering and exertion, but we find that down sweaters are suitable for approximately 35 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit 2 to 15 degrees Celsius.
Ultralight Down Jackets Ultralight down jackets are designed for backpacking, climbing, backcountry skiing, and other outdoor pursuits where every ounce matters. These down jackets generally have similar fill weights as down sweaters, but are ultralight due their use of premium down fill power , thin shell fabrics denier , and minimalist zippers and pockets. They are high quality jackets in general, and if you are willing to take a little extra care to avoid damaging the shell, we prefer ultralights over down sweaters due to their warmth-to-weight ratio and athletic fit that's easy to layer.
They still look great too, although the designs do have more of a performance cut. They also are far puffier than the other categories with more down, and as a result take up quite a bit more space in your pack. Because of this, we only bring them along if the extra warmth is absolutely necessary.
At the warmest end of the spectrum are heavyweight winter jackets and parkas. It all starts with that lofty and premium warmth that can only be found in a down-filled product. Down insulation functions so effectively because the loose clusters of feathers are great at trapping body heat. But unlike down sleeping bags, which have an official EN rating system that tests and measures their warmth on a concrete scale, down jackets are more like the Wild West.
Below is information that should help you fill in the gaps. Fill Power Fill power fill, fill, fill, etc. The number is calculated based on how much space one ounce of down clusters takes up in a cylindrical tube. This is known as the amount of loft, and the more loft a jacket has, the more body heat it traps and the warmer you will be. Put another way, achieving the same amount of warmth with a lower fill power requires more down, adding weight and bulk to achieve the same comfort goals.
At this level of quality, you reap the highly touted benefits of down insulation: Some high-end climbing brands like Feathered Friends and Montbell use fill down, but that high of a number is a rarity and fill is considered premium. Fill weight is the actual amount of down stuffed into a jacket, measured in ounces. For example, if Jacket A has 6 ounces of fill down and Jacket B has 3 ounces of fill down, you can expect that Jacket A will be significantly warmer we estimate that it would increase comfort levels in low output activities by approximately degrees.
Lower fill power down offers less warmth per ounce, so to compare apples to apples you should use similar fill powers. We find it interesting that fill weight is much less publicized than fill power, which leads to a lot of confusion for shoppers who associate higher fill power as always meaning more warmth. Down Fill and Insulation Explained. Factors like fit, layering, your levels of exertion and circulation, and wind all play a role. Generally, we think of down sweaters and ultralights—which usually have between 2 and 4 ounces of fill weight—as providing solid warmth in conditions ranging from around 35 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit 2 to 15 degrees Celsius with low levels of exertion, such as puttering around a campsite.
More fill will help you move toward the bottom end of the range and less will push you toward the middle. A cozy baselayer can buy you an extra 5 to 15 degrees depending on its thickness and quality. These types of jackets are very popular for three-season alpine use and in cities for everything but the heart of winter. When the mercury drops below freezing, you will be more comfortable wearing a true midweight or heavyweight down jacket for winter.
The fill weight of these jackets should be 4 ounces at the absolute minimum and often is in the range of 5 to 6 ounces or more the Rab Neutrino Endurance and Montbell Mirage Parka. For bitter cold and climbing the highest peaks, an even heavier down parka may be in order. For uses like backpacking, climbing, mountaineering, ski touring, or whenever you have to lug around your own gear, the total weight of your down jacket should play a significant role in your buying decision.
As a result of all the fun tech, they also cost considerably more than your typical down sweater. We keep a close eye on the ratio of fill weight to total weight to see what lengths the manufacturer went to trim weight the shell denier is a good hint too, and more on that below. Three of our ultralight picks have healthy amounts of premium down and are relatively light at around 10 ounces or less for the hooded versions.
Some even opt for a pullover style to cut out half of the zipper. No matter what the manufacturer names a jacket, keep a close eye on fill weight and total weight to make your own determination. Denier D is the measurement of the weight of a thread, and the lower the number the lighter the weight.
A lower denier rating means the material is less durable and more prone to abrasion. Much of the difference in weight of an ultralight jacket is trimmed by using a lower denier fabric for the shell. Other factors like premium down it provides the most warmth for the least amount of weight and ultralight zippers play a role as well, but the shell fabric is most important.
Almost every jacket on this list is made with reasonably lightweight shell fabrics. The thinnest jacket is the Montbell Mirage Parka, which has a very fragile 7D shell, and the thickest is the Mountain Equipment Lightline , which has a 40D shell. If ounces matter and you intend to use the jacket in the backcountry, treat yourself to an ultralight. If most of your use will be in the city, a down sweater is sturdier and should save you money in the process.
Down enthusiasts love its compressibility and for good reason. An ultralight jacket like the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer can be stuffed into its own pocket and end up much smaller than a Nalgene bottle. The tiny packed size means you have little reason to leave it behind, and can fit it easily into either a daypack or overnight backpacking pack. Keep in mind that the higher the fill power the more easily it will compress.
Fabric thickness also plays an important role, and thinner denier fabrics logically pack down smaller. Along with warmth for the weight, compressibility is an area where down absolutely dominates synthetic insulated jackets. Down feathers unfortunately lose much of their ability to insulate when wet, turning into a clumpy and soggy mess. Recently, gear manufacturers have started treating down to make it more water resistant. Another way that gear manufacturers fight moisture is a DWR Durable Water Repellant treatment on the outside on the jacket.
This treatment helps prevent water droplets from forming and entering your jacket—essentially the water has a harder time staying on the fabric and beads up and rolls off instead. Neither a DWR finish nor hydrophobic down will keep your down completely dry, but they make nice lines of defense against light to moderate precipitation. Fit is jacket-specific, but there are two main considerations here. First, down sweaters have a more casual fit than ultralight or performance jackets, including boxier torsos, arms, and hoods when available.
Fit also varies significantly by brand. The Patagonia jackets on the list are surprisingly boxy given their quality and feature sets. Outdoor Research and REI jackets are middle of the pack in terms of fit: Most down jackets on this list are offered in hooded and non-hooded versions. For casual use or as a midlayer for skiing, many people opt for a down vest or go without the hood and carry a separate beanie instead.
However, since down is one of the best materials for lightweight, warm jackets (and sleeping bags, quilts, booties, etc.), we think this is an important metric for judging the quality of a down jacket. Down comes from ducks or geese and is the best insulator for winter coats because clusters trap in heat and offer excellent warmth. You'll also find down and feather blends, which is a less expensive option, or down-alternative, which is made of synthetic fibers that mimic down. Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket (Women's) from $ BUY NOW The Ghost Whisperer has been ranked one of the best down jackets for years now because it's highly technical and won't let you down.