The Best Packable Down Jackets For Travel in 2019

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What To Pack For Scotland - Down Jacket

With cold weather on its way, it’s time to throw our favorite travel item in our bags, the packable down jacket. We’re obsessed with packing the best down jackets we can into our luggage. So, we dove head first into winter weather gear and tried out a bunch of packable down jackets.

Scouring down jacket reviews online is time-consuming and can be a drag. We’ve taken the time out of the equation and hand-picked the best down jackets on the market for travel and life.

Winter wear for travel is about being functional, lightweight, and comfortable. In travel you have a limited amount of luggage space with airlines strict weight allowance, it’s important to save weight and packing space wherever you can.

We need to make sure our outerwear is packable and can fit in a carry on bag. It’s perfect to throw in a day bag and we made use of ours in climates all around the world.


Best Packable Down Jackets


Best Overall Packable Down Jacket

1. Patagonia Down Sweater ($230)

Weight: 13.1 oz.
Fill: 3 oz. of 800-fill down
Pros: Amazing quality and warmth.
What we don’t: Fit not as nice as Arc’teryx.

This was the first down jacket Natasha ever bought and it became a staple of her wardrobe. It does come with a higher price tag, but we love the Patagonia brand. In addition to being a great sweater the jacket shell is made from 100% recycled polyester and the fill is traceable goose down.

We love the look of this jacket and it does a wonderful job at keeping you warm. There is a lightweight version of the jacket, but it has an even higher price tag and the shell is less durable. However, the lightweight version does compress better due to a 15-D shell. The shell of the down sweater is 20-D and the fill is 800-fill power goose down.

The down does a good job at handling wet conditions due to the DWR treatment it receives. This provides a hydrophobic quality to the down.

The Down Sweater has a comfortable design and fits that is well suited for city wear and weekend trips. This is Tasha’s jacket of choice. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that is highly rated in down jacket reviews as well.

I personally love the versatility of it. When combined with an outer shell you’re sure to be warm no matter what the temperature is outside.

It’s an easy pick for the number one down jacket and edges out the Cerium hoody below because of its price point. The cerium is a superior jacket, but not $150 better!

Men’s Version HereWomen’s Version Here


Best Overall Packable Down Jacket

2. Arc’Teryx Cerium LT Hooded Jacket ($380)

Weight: 10.8 oz.
Fill: 3.4 oz. of 850-fill down
Pros: Market leading product with great insulation
Cons: Tight fit and high price

Arc’Teryx is Canada’s answer to Patagonia in the United States and they sure deliver. The Northern neighbors have brutal winters and they’re very much into winter weather activities with some of the best alpine sports in North America. It’s a pricey brand like their competitor, but they deliver a quality product.

The Cerium is a great looking lightweight down jacket. A sleek design and an exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio make the Cerium LT a winner. You can wear the jacket as a mid layer or a standalone. With the only drawback being durability in regards to branches or sharp points.

It’s filled with a high-quality 850-fill-power down. The shell is rated 10-D which makes for an incredibly light outer layer at only 10.8 oz in total weight. If we’re only judging packing power in regards to jackets the Cerium takes the cake.

I love the high tech design feature of composite mapping. Arc’teryx has effectively added a small amount of Coreloft synthetic insulation to areas prone to moisture. The synthetic material is vitalized around the shoulders, collar, cuffs, and most importantly underarms.

Their well loved by outdoor enthusiasts and they put them to the test on a daily basis. Shouldn’t be much of a surprise they have a loyal client base. For the more active travelers, the Cerium jacket would be a solid choice for their winter wear.

Men’s Version HereWomen’s Version Here


Best Budget Packable Down Jacket

3. REI Coop Down Jacket ($100)

REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket

Weight: 10.5 oz.
Fill: 650-fill down
Pros: Light, warm, and feel for an unbeatable price.
Cons: Loose fit around cuffs and waist

The most affordable jacket on this list. REI has designed a great jacket that is perfect for casual use and cool climates. It’s a down jacket that only costs $100 which is about as inexpensive as they come. When REI first released this down jacket it flew off the shelves and has been in high demand ever since. Its closest competitors in quality come in at about double the price.

The jacket is incredibly lightweight at only 10.2 ounces and packs up well. Its warmth may be its only downfall, but the 3 ounces of 650-fill-power down will keep you warm in cool climates.

When it comes time to move to the next destination the jacket packs up into the left pocket and occupies minimal space in your luggage.

A nylon shell is lightweight and has some water resistant capabilities. It has a water-repellent finish that should handle light rain, snow, and wind.

If you’re looking for an affordable no-fuss jacket that will be able to handle travel, light winter sports, and cool days then this is a great choice.

Men’s Version HereWomen’s Version Here


Best Ultralight Packable Down Jacket

4. Mountain Hardwear Hooded Ghost Whisperer

Weight: 7.7 oz.
Fill: 2.8 oz. of 800-fill down
Pros: Solid amount of features and warmth
Cons: Lightweight sacrifices zipper quality and hems

This lightweight jacket is one of the best options on the market, and one of my personal favorites. The jacket is lightweight, has a minimalist design and is styled for the active traveler.

Although the jacket is made with a thin 7D ripstop nylon fabric it still effectively maintains body temperatures in low temperatures. The 800-fill power down is treated with Q.Shield moisture-resistant hydrophobic down. Water resistant down combined with Mountain Hardwear’s ripstop nylon does a great job at fighting the elements like wind and light precipitation.

The jacket is the lightest one of this list at 10oz and does so with a great design.  Mountain Hardwear has forgone cinch waists, multiple pockets, wrist straps, and no reinforced areas in an attempt to reduce weight.

While this jacket won’t replace a heavyweight jacket it is exceptional in its ability to compress. Fitting this outerwear in your carry on luggage will be a breeze. This jacket like many on this list is best used when layering or for active wear in cold environments. Despite that, it is an exceptional jacket for stand-alone winter travel gear.

Men’s Version HereWomen’s Version Here


Best Packable Down Jacket

5. Cotopaxi Fuego Light Down Jacket

Weight: 7.7 oz.
Fill: 2.8 oz. of 800-fill down
Pros: Solid amount of features and warmth
Cons: Lightweight sacrifices zipper quality and hems

Natasha just got the Fuego Light and absolutely loves it. First off, style-wise, she thinks it’s cute and slimming for women. It’s incredibly lightweight and packs up well making it a great jacket to travel, hike, and camp with.

The secret to it being so lightweight is the 950 fill goose down with Polartec underarm insulation. The Polartec Alpha insulation makes the jacket packable, fast drying, and easy to care for. This nice mix of materials keeps the heat in while still releasing it where you don’t need it (i.e. underarm). Although the jacket is light it is still made out of heavy-duty 20D ripstop nylon and elastic binding at the arm cuffs and hem.

Natasha personally loves how well this packs up while still being warm enough to handle winter conditions. If you’re looking for a more heavy duty option from Cotopaxi their regular Fuego Down Jacket is made out of 800 fill responsibly sourced goose down and has a hood attached.

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

Men’s Version HereWomen’s Version Here


Best Heavyweight Packable Down Jacket

6. Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket ($375)

Weight: 22.4 oz.
Fill: 8.8 oz. of 800-fill down
Pros: Super warm!
Cons: Heavy jacket for anything considered packable

This U.K. based company has been creating some exceptional outdoor gear. With almost 8 ounces of 800-fill-hydrophobic-down, this jacket is likely the warmest on this list. However, it remains competitive in pricing to other lightweight jackets mentioned.

The shell is made from a 30D Pertex shell that leaves it lighter in weight and offers good weather resistance. The tough shell and 8 ounces of down make this jacket our heaviest pick. So expect it to occupy more space in your luggage.

In mild temperatures, the warmth of the jacket may be too much especially if you’re an active traveler. However, for those spending time in cold cities and frigid temperatures you’re guaranteed to stay warm.

It’s an exceptionally warm and great piece of winter gear for travelers headed to cold environments. Maybe not the most veratile option on this list, but a great option for sure!

Men’s Version HereWomen’s Version Here


Best Alternative Down Jacket

7. Outdoor Research Transcendent ($200)

Best Packable Down Jacket

Weight: 13.1 oz.
Fill: 4.1 oz. of 650-fill down
Pros: Quality jacket for the price
Cons: Lacks premium feel and doesn’t pack as well as competitors.

This jacket is a great alternative to the Patagonia Down Sweater we picked as our number one. It comes in at a lower price point too so if you’re looking to save a few bucks this is a great option. The jacket provides plenty of warmth with 4.1 ounces of 650-fill down.

I love the soft fleece-lined hard warmer pockets and the fact they now use responsibly sourced down. The materials in the jacket feel great and it does pack down small enough to fit in your luggage. At just under $200 it’s a pretty great value with high quality feel.

Men’s Version HereWomen’s Version Here


Basics Of A Packable Down Jacket

Fit:

The majority of these jackets have a very similar look. In regards to style, you won’t have to lose to much sleep over what option to go with. I choose to focus on fit instead. A jacket that is well fitted will look sleek and streamlined. It will also move well in cold weather activities. Even if you can’t head to an REI to try on their jacket I’d recommend to order and return if the fit doesn’t work for you.

Size:

A distinct advantage of down jackets is the amount of size they occupy in your luggage. The down filler in these jackets allows them to pack down to a reasonable size. A cheap jacket is packed with too many cheap fibers and you will have a tough time fitting in your carry on luggage. This is where quality fill materials come into play.

There is a large category of down jackets that are made for harsh winter conditions and mountaineering. These down jackets tend to be puffier and much larger in size. That’s why they’re not on this list as they don’t serve as great versatile packable travel  jackets.

Warmth:

This is one of the greatest strengths of a down jacket. Down insulation is great at expanding and holding onto body heat – effectively keeping you warm. The only problem when it comes to buying jackets is the lack of a clear rating system. This is commonplace with many similar products.  Body warmth is probably the most important aspect of a winter jacket. When it comes to measuring warmth you can look at two measurements fill power and fill weight.

Fill Power:

There is a measurement in regards to fill power these jackets come in as 500-Fill, 700 fill, 800-fill, and etc. At a baseline, you’ll find the more budget-friendly jackets with about 500-600 fill power. These jackets are great for running around town or a chilly evening, but when it comes to the hard elements of outdoors sports like mountaineering or skiing they’ll leave you cold.

High-end jackets come in at around 800-fill power which seems to be the sweet spot for performance wear. Premium outerwear like this comes with a higher price to keep you warm in the backcountry. Several of our favorite brands like Patagonia, Arc’teryx, and Mountain Hardwear regularly use this fill level.

Fill Weight:

While fill power refers to the actual quality of the down insulation in a jacket fill weight is the amount. Most jackets will advertise the amount of fill power in ounces. The heavier the weight the warmer the jacket will be. When purchasing you should consider fill weight, fill power, and intended activity of the jacket. If the fill weight is too high it’s likely that in high activity sports your body temperature will overheat.

Weight:

While you’d think fill weight and total weight would be closely linked this is not necessarily true. Companies use a wide range of materials in outer shells of the jackets and hardware like zippers. We love a jacket that packs good fill weight and remains light in total weight.

Shell Fabric:

The majority of packable down jackets are made with a nylon shell. The exterior holds up well to the elements like wind, rain, and cold. It does have a simple measurement number that refers to the weight of the thread used in production. The metric is referred to as denier. Denier ranges generally from 7D up 40D. 10D is ultralight and reserved for high-end jackets. Whereas 20D is more standard, but provides a nice blend of toughness and weight.

Comfort:

It could be the warmest jacket ever, but it needs to be able to move with an active body. The design of the jacket should feel natural and not stiff.

This is really important if you’re into adventure activities like hiking, mountaineering, ski, or outdoor recreations.


Features To Look For In A Jacket

Hood

When determining the style of your new jacket you should consider it’s intended use. Hoods are a great way to stay warm when you wear them. However, when you pull them off your head they tend to pull the neck back allowing the heat your body is generating to escape.

Many people who use the down jacket for hiking, backpacking, or everyday use opt for the hood. The added warmth is a great decision for those chilly days. I use the sweater version as a mid-layer when snowboarding. It happen to be the most popular version to as it’s easily the most versatile.

Cinch Waist

The second area you’re most likely to lose heat around is your waist. This is especially true if you’re doing winter sports like skiing, mountaineering, or hiking. A tight fitting jacket is key to trapping that much needed heat inside.

Waterproof/DWR

For everyday wear, a light weather resistant jacket should do the trick, but if you’re an outdoor enthusiast you’ll likely need a jacket that can fold up to the elements. Down feather lose almost all of their ability to keep you warm once they’re wet.

This is a problem for frequent travelers or outdoor enthusiasts who often end up in wet environments. Due to this many people opt for a synthetic material if they’re worried about getting wet.

In recent years gear manufacterers have begun adding DWR to the down fill in jackets. It’s a process that adds a polymer to the down jacket filling providing hydrophobic properties.

Down feathers unfortunately lose much of their ability to insulate when wet, turning into a clumpy and soggy mess. This makes them a serious liability in wet conditions or if you’re sweating heavily, which is why some prefer a synthetic jacket that continues to insulate when wet.

I like the packability with a real down jacket so instead I travel with a waterproof shell for the really wet days. It adds a lot of versatility to my suitcase as well and I can handle just about any environment.


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