Best Down Vests For Hiking To Keep You Warm

These are the best down vests to wear hiking or outdoors. When the heat dissipates, the air becomes crisp, and you find yourself in that perfect middle ground weather. You know it’s down vest season. We love to pull out a comfy vest for either technical or casual occasions every spring and fall.

It’s a terrific mid-layer piece of clothing that provides core warmth on a brisk morning without overpowering you with heat when the sun starts to shine. Down vests are stylish, practical, and versatile, with the ability to go from the city streets to the country trails. Furthermore, when traveling or hiking, a down vest consumes less room in your bag. Oh, and they’re cheaper than buying a down jacket if you aren’t going to brave cold temperatures.

If you are looking to add a down vest to your wardrobe or backpacking list, here are a few great options to look at, along with a few things to consider before you buy. 


The Best Down Vests


Patagonia Down Sweater Vest

Best Down Vest Patagonia Sweater Vest
  • Price: $179
  • Weight: 9.8 oz
  • Category: Performance/Casual

Pros

  • Warm
  • Quality
  • Style
  • Pockets
  • Slim Cut

Cons

  • Expensive

Patagonia makes one of our favorite packable down jackets, so it’s no wonder they make one of the best down vests. The down vest uses 800 fill down and their new recycled polyester for the shell.

The result is a down vest that will keep you warm and do decent job fighting moisture. We also find Patagonia’s nylon material to be extraordinarily comfortable without the obnoxious crinkly/swishy sounds cheaper down items make.

With its wide range of colors and appealing brand name, the down vest feels at home in the mountains, the beach, or city streets. The only drawback to the garment is the high price tag that comes with Patagonia vests. It’s also not the warmest down vest on this list, but it remains slim fit and attractive by doing so.

Shop For Patagonia Down Sweater Vest


United By Blue Bison Puffer Vest

United By Blue Bison Puffer Vest
  • Price: $188
  • Weight: N/A
  • Category: Casual

Pros

  • Ethical Down Alternative (Bison Hair)
  • Quality
  • Warmth
  • Stylish

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Price

This is the best puffer vest and a close second for the best down vest, even if it is not technically a down vest. United By Blue is a company that has pledged to remove a pound of plastic from the ocean for every item sold. Given the popularity of saving our oceans, their product line continues to grow, and the Bison Puffer Vest is one of our favorite additions. Instead of finding “ethical down,” they sought out different natural products and landed on bison hair.

Bison hair is considered a waste product by the ranching industry, and it has excellent natural properties such as water resistance and warmth. Bison do live in pretty extreme places. It also uses recycled polyester and features a two-layer shell fabric for exterior waterproofing. The vest is extraordinarily comfortable, and it’s the most stylish one on this list with a rugged retro look.

Shop For Bison (Best Puffer Vest)


REI CO-OP Down Vest 2.0

  • Price: $80
  • Weight: N/A
  • Category: Casual

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Warm
  • Value

Cons

  • Not As Warm As Patagonia
  • Loose Fit

The REI Co-op Down Vest 2.0 is perfect in its simplicity. With a down fill of 650, it’s warm enough for crisp temperatures and frosty mornings. This down vest doesn’t bombard you with fancy features or hefty price tags.

It’s stylish without being overbearing and has all the essentials that make an excellent down vest, such as hand-warming pockets and soft-to-the-touch nylon shell fabric. While it may not be perfect for extreme outdoor sports, it has everything you need for simple trail hiking or tooling around town in the spring or fall months. 

Shop For REI co-op Down Vest

Women

Men


Arc’teryx Cerium LT Vest

Arc’teryx Cerium LT Vest
  • Price: $249
  • Weight: 6 oz
  • Category: Performance

Pros

  • High-End
  • Excellent Performance
  • Sharp Look
  • Ultralight Weight

Cons

  • Price!
  • Made For Active Use

If you’re looking for a down vest at the highest end of the market, look no further than the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Vest. This down vest screams quality with its 850-fill goose down, Coreloft synthetic insulation (to prevent dampness in sweat-prone areas), and ridiculously softshell fabric and internal lining.

This vest also includes a chin box collar that prevents cold winds from hitting the back of your neck, along with a durable, water-repellent finish that will keep you and the down filling dry in light rain and dew. While other vests may have more features, none can compare to the quality of the Arc’teryx Cerium. It’s the best down vest on this list, but like most Arc’teryx products, they come at a premium, hence taking the number six spot.

Shop For Arc’teryx Cerium LT Vest


Cotopaxi Fuego Down Vest

  • Price: $150
  • Weight: 10 oz
  • Category: Performance

Pros

  • Style
  • Performance
  • Value
  • Warmth
  • Company Ethos

Cons

  • Colors Can Be Polarizing

The combination of style, performance, and value makes Cotopaxi’s Fuego Down Vest an excellent purchase and one of the best down vests. It features a 20 D shell with some outstanding colorways that match current trends very well. The attractive retro looks combined with actual performance like a premium 800-fill down for one of our favorite down vests.

It provides a lot of warmth, four pockets, and a drawcord to tighten the hem, all of which are features we appreciate in a down vest. Best of all, it’s lightweight at only 8 ounces and can stuff into its pocket for easy storage when outdoors.

Cotopaxi stands behind their “61 years” guarantee for good, which claims their products are suitable to last for at least 61 years. After testing out this jacket, we can attest to that. We also love that Cotopaxi gives back to some of the world’s poorest communities, improving health, education, and livelihoods.

Shop For Cotopaxi Fuego Down Vest

Women


Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Vest

Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Vest
  • Price: $150
  • Weight: 8.5 oz
  • Category: Casual/Performance

Pros

  • Style
  • Warm
  • Lightweight
  • Packs Down
  • Color Choices

Cons

  • Outside Button Pockets
  • 650 Fill Power Down

Outdoor Research is one of our favorite companies for the value and quality of their gear. The Transcendent Vest is a staple in our wardrobe and is one of the best down vests for women and men. It has a 20D ripstop nylon shell that does excellent weather resistance and can sustain some abuse.

The insulation is responsibly sourced 650 Down that helps retain your body heat. At the price point, competitors like the Fuego above offer a superior 800 Fill Power Down.

The wide quilting and balanced down fill manage to expand fast and compress easily. So far, we’ve had no issue with the filling clumping or moving around. It also comes with features such as hem drawcord, internal chest pocket, key clip, and front hand pockets. We’re not huge fans of the button front pocket, but it does allow you to secure the pockets and adds a lovely accent.

Shop For Outdoor Research Transcendent Vest


Columbia Delta Ridge Down Vest

Columbia Delta Ridge Down Vest
  • Price: $100
  • Weight: N/A
  • Category: Casual

Pros

  • Unique Style
  • Wide Range of Sizes
  • 650 Down Fill
  • Lightweight
  • Warm

Cons

  • Boxy Fit

Columbia always manages to pack a lot of value into their products, and they’ve certainly done so with the Delta Ridge Down Vest. The vest features Columbia’s Omni-Heat reflective interior designed to retain heat through metallic dots. The vest baffles have a unique design, and they are thermally quilted to save weight and allow for natural movement.

It does move effectively with the body, but the vest has a boxier cut than performance-orientated vests. A stand-out feature of the Delta Ridge Down Vest is the price tag.

Shop For The Columbia Delta Ridge Vest

Women

Men


The North Face ThermoBall Eco Vest

The North Face ThermoBall Eco Vest
  • Price: $149
  • Weight: 13.3 oz
  • Category: Casual

Pros

  • Synthetic Down
  • Slim Cut
  • Stylish
  • Compressible

Cons

  • Heavier

We’ve excluded most synthetic down vests, but we’ve included The North Face’s Thermoball Eco Vest for some variety. It’s the closest synthetic down we’ve had experience with, and it offers some excellent warmth. Since it is synthetic, it is a perfect option for those opposed to the use of down feathers. Granted, the vest is not as warm as many other down vests on this list.

The vest now uses 100% recycled materials throughout the jacket, including the shell fabric, lining, and down insulation. It’s a pretty revolutionary vest, and it performs amicably. The vest feels durable, and it has a slim design that’s not as “puffy” as down, so it makes an excellent layer option for activities.

Shop For The North Face ThermoBall Eco Vest


Feathered Friends Helios Vest 

Feathered Friends Helios Vest
  • Price: $250
  • Weight: 10 oz
  • Category: Performance

Pros

  • Uber Warm
  • Solid Construction
  • Feathered Friends
  • Warmth to Weight

Cons

  • A Little Too Much

If warmth is more important to you than weight, you may want to think about the Feathered Friends Helios Down Vest. This hardcore down vest features 4.8 ounces of 850-fill down, Lycra armholes, and hem, as well as an insulated draft tube behind the zipper. It means that frigid air has no chance of making it through this beast of a vest.

While it may not be best for climates with a light chill, it is perfect for the extreme cold when you still want the mobility of a vest over a jacket. It is slightly heavier than most down vests, weighing in at approximately 11 ounces, but when arctic weather hits, you will be more than pleased with your investment and willing to carry the few extra ounces! 

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Montbell Plasma 1000 Vest 

Montbell Plasma 1000 Vest
  • Price: $230
  • Weight: 3.1 oz
  • Category: Performance

Pros

  • Exceptionally Lightweight

Cons

  • Expensive

The Montbell Plasma 1000 is one of the most popular vests in the climbing community. Why? Because this vest weighs in at only 3.1 ounces, that’s less than a standard deck of cards! However, just because it is incredibly lightweight doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice warmth.

This vest comes with 1000-fill down, which is the highest fill you can currently get. It’s important to note that the weight sacrifices had to come from somewhere, so the shell fabric is not as durable as most, with only a 7d rating. 

Shop For Montbell Plasma 1000 Vest


Kuhl Spyfire Vest

Kuhl Spyfire Vest
  • Price: $199
  • Weight: N/A
  • Category: Performance

Pros

  • Hooded Version Is Unique
  • Warm
  • Very Lightweight
  • Slim Cut
  • Innovative Design

Cons

  • Expensive

It would be a shame to talk about down vests without mentioning at least one made from goose-down feathers. While duck down is more abundant in the marketplace, goose down has an inherent advantage; the feathers are more significant, which gives them more lift and the ability to trap and redistribute more air.

This gives goose-down vests a much higher loft than those made of duck-down. The Kuhl Spyfire is one of the leaders when it comes to backing goose-down vests. You can expect the same standard bells and whistles, such as DWR-treated outer fabric, elastic armholes, and zippered hand and chest pockets, with the added warmth of the 800-fill goose down internal stuffing.

Shop For Kuhl Spyfire Vest


Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2 Vest 

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Vest
  • Price: $225
  • Weight: 5.6 oz
  • Category: Performance

Pros

  • Great Warmth
  • Super Lightweight
  • Excellent Design
  • Slim Cut

Cons

  • Thin Shell Fabric

The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer was one of the first of its kind to perfectly deliver a warmth-to-weight ratio that many have mimicked since. This ultralight down vest weighs in at approximately five ounces and compresses into its pocket for maximum portability and space reservation.

While the shell fabric is relatively thin, it did not skimp on overall quality. The 800-fill down features Q.Shield technology that resists moisture and maintains loft. It also features a toggled hem that blocks out drafts and a quilt pattern with heat-trapping channels. With the immense quality and features supplied by this down vest, it’s easy to see why it is a crowd favorite among backpackers and hikers.

Shop For Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2 Vest 


Eddie Bauer Downlight Vest

Best Down Vest Eddie Bauer
  • Price: $125
  • Weight: 12 oz
  • Category: Casual

Pros

  • Value
  • 800 Fill Down
  • Warmth
  • Casual Style

Cons

  • Quality

Eddie Bauer is a famous clothing manufacturer well-known in the industry for the comfort and style of its pieces. Naturally, this has carried over to their down vest. However, they also added key features to set them apart from the pack outside of these many attributes.

The audio port in the internal chest pocket is a big one. It’s the perfect spot to house and protect your music player whether climbing, hiking, or going to the grocery store. It also comes with many sought-after features of a down vest, such as a durable polyester shell, a DWR (durable water-resistant) finish, and 800-fill insulation with a universal fit. Honestly, what more do you need out of a down vest? 

Shop For Eddie Bauer Downlight Vest

Women

Men


Amazon Essentials Vest

Amazon Essentials Vest
  • Price: $30
  • Weight: N/A
  • Category: Casual

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Decent Looks

Cons

  • Amazon
  • Cheap Quality
  • Fast Fashion in Outdoor Apparel
  • Okay Warmth

Another great intermediate down vest is the Amazon Essentials Vest. This fantastic little vest is also simplistic in design, with puffy nylon. For optimal portability, it packs into its front pocket and can be tucked away in your backpack. It is decent enough that it never looks cheap, and the nylon external shell fabric will protect it against rips, tears, and abrasions.

It has a quilted pattern to maximize heat distribution and is categorized as medium weight in the realm of ounce counters. It’s a cheap “down” vest for those that don’t need extreme protection from the elements or don’t want to spend much. I suggest you spend the extra $40 and get the REI Down Vest for a much higher value.

REI is a well-run company with excellent company standards and a goal to be climate neutral in the next year. Amazon isn’t even in the same realm.

Shop For Amazon Essentials Vest

Women

Men


Before You Buy One of These Best Down Vests

consider the basics…

Spray-Lakes-Alberta-

Fill

The down fill power refers to the measure of loft in a down product. It can be broken down, with the fill number representing the number of cubic inches one ounce of down occupies. The higher the fill number, the less down is needed for the same warmth index. In the same stroke, the higher the fill number, the warmer you’ll be.

You will likely see down vests’ fill range from 600-900. Anything below 600 is generally too little for the intended purposes, and anything above 850-900 is a bit of an overkill. That doesn’t mean that a 600-fill vest is automatically less warm than an 800-fill; instead, it takes more down to achieve the same warmth, making it much heavier.


Shell Fabrics

The shell fabrics of a down vest refer to the outer material that protects the internal down. This is important because if you have a shell fabric that doesn’t protect against moisture or rips, it won’t be long before your down vest is rendered useless. The standard go-to shell fabric is ripstop nylon with a waterproof treatment. This fabric is lightweight, reasonably durable, and extremely easy to find. The added waterproof treatment adds another layer of protection to prevent your down from losing its loft – and, therefore, its heat-trapping abilities in a moisture-rich environment. 


Portability 

Whether you’re stuffing your down vest into your suitcase or adding it to your backpacking gear list, portability/compressibility is vital. When traveling overseas, you don’t want a bulky down vest taking up half your carry-on.

Similarly, if you are backpacking, you don’t want something that takes up the tiny bit of valuable space you have left. A down vest with maximum portability will compress down into its pocket to the size of a softball. This will give you the total amount of space possible while keeping the vest out of your way until needed. 


Important Features of Best Down Vests

Banff in the Winter
We literally took this photo after pulling over for just a few minutes. It won’t be hard to get beautiful photos here!

These days, all outdoor garments come with many features that can seem overwhelming and, frankly, sometimes just plain unnecessary. So, let’s boil it down and look at some of the essential features you should consider when buying a down vest. 


Pockets

These seem like they should come standard issue on a down vest, but you would be surprised how many don’t include them. The best down vests not only have pockets at the hip to help warm your hands when you are just not ready to bust out the gloves but also at the chest to carry additional items like your phone, keys, wallet, or GPS. They can also serve as a compression sack – as we discussed previously. 


Elastic Armholes and Waistband

This may seem unnecessary until a stiff breeze hits you and that air creeps in through these points of weakness. The whole purpose of a down vest is to keep your core nice and toasty, which it can’t do if cold air can enter and heat has a chance to escape. The waistband does not have to be elastic, however. Some other options you may see are a drawstring or toggled hem, which are just as helpful. 


Down Composite Mapping

Composite Mapping is synthetic insulation strategically placed throughout the vest in areas prone to be exposed to moisture, such as the armpits and the back of the neck. This prevents the down from getting wet and losing loft, keeping you dry and warm when enjoying the great outdoors. 


Durable Water Repellant Treatment

Water is the Achilles’ heel of any down vest. That’s because once the feathers become saturated, they lose their loft, and therefore the heat-trapping capabilities. Also, once wet, down never fully gets back to its original capabilities. That’s why some form of water-resistant treatment is necessary on all down vests. The Durable Water Repellant treatment (or DWR) is among the most commonly used.


Baffled Design

You’ll rarely find a down vest without a baffled or quilted sewing pattern, but if you do, stay away from it. The baffled design creates heat channels to further capture and distribute the warmth over the entirety of the vest.

Outside of this, the baffles also prevent you from losing all your down if one section of the vest becomes ripped. Imagine trying to gather a million dandelion puffs and stuff them back into your vest; that’s what it would be like without the baffling design. 

About Cameron

Cameron Seagle is one of the principal writers and photographers for The World Pursuit. He is a travel expert that has been traveling the world for the past six years. During this time he established a passion for conservation and environmental sustainability. When not traveling he's obsessed with finding the best gear and travel products. In his free time, you can find him hiking, mountain biking, mountaineering, and snowboarding. His favorite countries are Ireland, Scotland, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Japan.

You can learn more about Cameron on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

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