Are you seeking the best packable down jacket? A packable down jacket is a jack of all trades, capable in the mountains, the road, or hanging around town, and it’s why I’ll never stop wearing one. With cold weather on its way, it’s time to throw my favorite clothing item in our bags, the down jacket.
I am obsessed with packing the best down jackets I can into my luggage. That only compounded when we picked up hiking, scrambling, skiing, and mountaineering. Now we spend well over half our year in a down jacket. Packable down jackets are about being functional, warm, lightweight, and comfortable. On top of that, we need to ensure the outerwear can fit in a carry-on bag or backpack.
Naturally, I wanted the best down jacket possible. So I scoured down jacket reviews online and got my hands on every jacket I could try. With that knowledge, I’ve hand-picked the best down jackets for outdoor sports, travel, and life.
Best Packable Down Jackets
Arc’teryx Cerium Down Hoodie Jacket
Best Overall Packable Down Jacket
- MSRP: $400
- Weight: 11.8 oz.
- Exterior Material: Nylon (Arato 15)
- Fill: 4 oz. of 850-fill down
- Superior Warmth
- Athletic Fit
- Packable Sack
The Arc’teryx Cerium Down Hoodie Jacket is an excellent packable down jacket. It has a sleek design and an exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio. Yet, what stands out about the Cerium is how it manages to supply everything you could want and remain an attractive jacket. It looks and feels as premium as you’d expect from a $400 jacket.
Of course, the price point is detracting. The other drawback is the durability due to the thin denier shell. However, we’ve had ours on plenty of craggy peaks in the Canadian Rockies, and they still look great. That exterior shell is rated 15-D, making the jacket incredibly light, and the premium down inside supplies the warmth.
Warmth is exceptional thanks to 4 ounces of high-quality 850-fill-power down. 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. It is on the shoulders and underarms to fight off precipitation and sweat. It is easy to pack down to the size of a water bottle with the stuff sack in the breast pocket.
The Cerium is well-loved by outdoor enthusiasts, who put them through the wringer daily. It shouldn’t be surprising they have a loyal client base. The Cerium jacket would be a solid choice for the more active users. It has become my go-to down jacket and what we use for sports in the Canadian Rockies. It’s easily the best down jacket, but you’ll have to pay for that performance.
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Patagonia Down Sweater
Best Packable Down Jacket For Travel
- MSRP: $279
- Weight: 13 oz.
- Exterior Material: (NetPlus)Recycled Ripstop Polyester
- Fill:5 oz. of 800-fill down
- Wardrobe Staple
- Casual Use
- Roomy fit
The Patagonia Down Sweater has a comfortable design and is well-suited for city wear and weekend trips. In addition to being a great down jacket, the shell is 100% recycled polyester, and the 800-fill-power goose down is traceable. What stands out about the Down Sweater is its versatility and price.
The down jacket uses a nylon 20-D shell on the spec side of the things, and the insulation is 5 oz of 800-fill power goose down. The down does an excellent job of handling wet conditions due to the DWR, which provides a hydrophobic quality. It’s also very good at providing warmth.
It’s been Patagonia’s best-selling product for years because it feels equally at home in the mountains and city while not breaking the bank. It’s an easy pick for a down jacket, and we love the color choices. The Arc’teryx Cerium above is a superior jacket, but hard to say it’s $150 better! Patagonia’s Down Sweater is easily one of the best packable down jackets on the market and the most versatile.
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REI Coop Down Jacket 2.0
Best Budget Packable Down Jacket
- MSRP: $99
- Weight: 10.8 oz.
- Exterior Material: Recycled Nylon
- Fill: 3.3 oz of 650-fill down
- Excellent Price
- BlueSign Approved
- Loose Fit
The REI Coop Down Jacket 2.0 is the most affordable packable down jacket on this list. It’s about as inexpensive as they come in the down jacket world. 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 lightweight at only 10.3 ounces and packs up nicely. Warmth is its only downfall, but the 3 ounces of 650-fill-power down will keep you warm in cool climates. It’s not the warmest jacket on this list, but it gets the job done, especially at the price point.
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. It has a water-repellent finish that should handle light rain, snow, and wind.
This is an excellent choice if you’re looking for an affordable, no-fuss jacket that will handle travel, light winter sports, and cool days. It’s a lightweight, packable down jacket under $100; tough not to love that price point.
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Feathered Friends EOS Down Jacket
- MSRP: $409
- Weight: 10.6 oz.
- Exterior Material: Pertex® Quantum®
- Fill: 4.0 oz. 900+ Fill
- Superior Warmth
- Company Ethos
- Bulky Fit
If you need a warm jacket, it’s tough to do better in weight vs. warmth than the Feathered Friends EOS Down Jacket. This down jacket features 4 ounces of 900-fill down with a down hood and an insulated draft tube behind the zipper. The jacket design effectively retains your heat.
While it may not be best for climates with a light chill, it is perfect for cold weather. Our only gripe with the jacket is the slightly bulky fit. It also has a very technical appearance and isn’t as appealing for wear around town. However, for the price, it’s tough to beat the warmth and weight.
When it comes down to packability, this down jacket comes with a nylon stuff sack that is about the size of a Nalgene water bottle. The stuff sack is great for packing down the jacket, attaching the bag to the outside of a hiking backpack or harness, or slipping it into your luggage or backpack.
Feathered Friends is in Seattle, Washington, and produces every jacket upon order. Their goal is to make ethical down garments for those who seek out the best performance. Be warned; it takes up to a week to receive the down jacket, if not longer. However, you’re supporting a passionate outdoor business. Also, you can only order their jacket through their online store (they ship internationally) or in Seattle.
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Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2
- MSRP: $350
- Weight: 8.8 oz.
- Exterior Material: 7D & 10D Nylon
- Fill: 3.0 oz. 800-fill down
- Slim Fit
- Weight to Warmth
Mountain Hardwear’s Ghost Whisperer 2 can take you from the airport to the backcountry. It has less warmth than the competitors but features a slim cut in an ultralight package. The lightweight nature is due to a 7D ripstop nylon shell and 3.0 ounces of 800 fill-power down.
The 800-fill power down has Q.Shield moisture-resistant hydrophobic down. Water-resistant down combined with Mountain Hardwear’s ripstop nylon does a great job protecting from elements like wind and light precipitation.
With darker, more subtle colors, a slim cut, and the classic puffed ribbing, it’s a sharp-looking jacket. While this packable down jacket won’t replace a heavyweight jacket, it is exceptional in its ability to compress. Despite that, it is an excellent jacket for standalone winter travel gear. It’s a perfect option for those obsessed with as light gear as possible.
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Stio Pinion Down Jacket
- MSRP: $285
- Weight: 12 oz.
- Exterior Material: Pertex® Quantum
- Fill: HyperDRY™ Down
- Sustainable Design
Stio has excellent down jackets in their clothing line at a great value. The Pinion Down Jacket has quality Bluesign 800-Fill down throughout, and the baffles keep the down fill in place.
It features an exterior Pertex Quantum Shadow Ripstop shell that holds up well to the elements and offers a lot of performance. We also love that it’s a small brand based in Jackson Hole, where the garments are designed (not manufactured).
The down jacket does come with a few drawbacks. Most notable is the fit. While its slim fit works well for us, it won’t fit larger body types. It’s a well-rounded down jacket perfect for walking around town, mountain sports, or the airport.
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Cotopaxi Fuego hooded Down Jacket
- MSRP: $275
- Weight: 14 oz.
- Exterior Material: 20D Giant-Ripstop-Nylon
- Fill: 800-Fill-Power Down
- Solid Features
- Packable Stuff-Sack
- Brand Ethos
- Color Combinations
- Insulation vs. weight
The combination of style, performance, and value makes Cotopaxi’s Fuego Down Jacket an excellent purchase. It features a 20-D shell with unique colorways that match current trends well. The attractive retro looks combined with actual performance, like a premium 800-fill down for one of our favorite down jackets for women.
It’s one of the heavier down jackets on this list despite the 800-fill goose down. The Polartec Alpha insulation makes the jacket packable, fast-drying, and easy to care for. This excellent 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 has heavy-duty 20D ripstop nylon and elastic binding at the arm cuffs and hem.
Cotopaxi stands behind its “61 years” guarantee for good, which claims its products are suitable 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.
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Rab Neutrino Pro Jacket
Best Winter Down Jacket
- MSRP: $385
- Weight: 1lb. 5.3 oz.
- Exterior Material: 20D Giant-Ripstop-Nylon
- Fill: 7.5 oz. of 800-Fill-Power Down
- Premium Features
- Exceptional Warmth
- Heavy Jacket
- Lacks Versatility
- Difficult To Pack
This U.K.-based company has been creating some exceptional outdoor gear. With almost 8 ounces of 800-fill-hydrophobic-down, this is the warmest down jacket on this list. However, it remains competitive in pricing compared to other lightweight jackets mentioned.
The jacket uses a 30D Pertex shell that leaves it lighter in weight and offers good weather resistance. The rugged shell and 8 ounces of down make this jacket our heaviest pick. So expect it to occupy more space in your luggage. It’s for harsh winter and mountain conditions. You won’t want this if you casually stroll around on a mild winter day.
The jacket’s warmth may be too much in mild temperatures, especially if you’re active. It’s an exceptionally warm and great piece of winter gear for those in cold environments. Maybe not the most versatile or packable down jacket on this list, but an excellent option for the right person!
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Fjallraven Expedition Pack Down Hoodie
- MSRP: $385
- Weight: 1lb. 1.3 oz.
- Exterior Material: Recycled Nylon
- Fill: 3.9 oz. of 700-Fill-Power Down
- Premium Quality
- Excellent Fit
- Decent Performance
- Heavier For Lightweight
The Fjallraven Expedition Pack down jacket is a high-quality and versatile option for casual use and most adventures. It has 700-fill down for warmth and synthetic insulation in the shoulders for extra weather resistance and toughness. It also has a hood and an athletic fit that is less baggy than many other options.
While it doesn’t offer as much warmth as some top picks from brands like Arc’teryx and Patagonia, it is durable and suitable for extended periods of wear while hiking and snowshoeing. It’s not as light or packable as other options, limiting its backcountry appeal, but it has attention to detail and a premium look. A non-hooded version is also available for $250.
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Outdoor Research Cold Front Down Hoodie
- MSRP: $229
- Weight: 1lb. 4.7 oz.
- Exterior Material: 30D Ripstop-Nylon
- Fill: 5.3 oz. of 700-Fill-Power Down & 150g VerticalX ECO
- Super Comfortable
- Great Value
- Nice Features
- Lacks Premium Feel
The Outdoor Research Coldfront Down Hoodie is a good value for its price. It has a mix of down and synthetic insulation and a durable shell, making it suitable for everyday use and casual winter adventures. It’s not the highest-quality or most technical jacket on the market, but it provides good warmth with 5.3 ounces of 700-fill down and additional synthetic insulation at the shoulders and cuffs.
It also has features like fleece-lined handwarmer pockets, snug-fitting cuff gaiters with thumb loops, and branding on the sleeve. It is heavier than the previously available Transcendent jacket. Still, the increase in fill power and down and the addition of synthetic fill and a more durable shell make it suitable for both front- and backcountry use. It may not pack down as small as other options, but it offers a good balance of price and warmth.
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Arc’teryx Atom Hoody
Best Wet Weather Down Jacket
- MSRP: $259
- Weight: 13.2 oz.
- Material: Polyester/Elastane
- Style: Synthetic Down Jacket
- Weather Resistance
- Durable Shell
- Synthetic Down Not As Warm
- Air Permeable
Arc’teryx makes this list of hiking jackets a lot, but it does carry a big reputation for a reason. One of their best-selling jackets is the Atom LT, a tremendously lightweight and warm mid-layer jacket. They’ve taken the stance that it’s not broken, don’t fix it, and the jacket has remained the same for years. The Atom delivers everything you want in a mid-layer between warmth, mobility, and fit.
It has a drawback; the outer shell is excellent at letting heat escape, but it also means that wind cuts through the jacket. Altogether this is an ideal jacket for those who enjoy sports outdoors in cold weather, like hiking, climbing, backpacking, ski touring, or snowboarding.
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Helly Hansen Lifaloft Insulator Jacket
- MSRP: $200
- Weight: Unavailable
- Material: Polyamide
- Style: Synthetic Down Jacket
- Synthetic Down Performance
- Excellent Fit
- Active Performance
A synthetic down jacket like the Helly Hansen Lifaloft Insulator is excellent for warmth in various environments. The jacket has an outer shell of Polyamide, which provides excellent protection against wet weather. Insulation in the jacket is synthetic and placed throughout the jacket with a waffle pattern.
It keeps the insulation evenly distributed across the body and will supply warmth even when wet. While Lifaloft does not perform as well, goose down still supplies plenty of warmth while remaining lightweight. It has a beautiful fit that is flattering as a jacket and is slim enough to work as a mid-layer. The best use for the jacket is for sports in cold weather, like snowshoeing or skiing.
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Common Questions About Down Jackets
Are Down Jackets Warm?
Yes! Down jackets are very warm for their weight. In particular, they are for active use in cold temperatures or casual use in more mild temperatures. If you plan on standing around in temperatures below zero, a packable down jacket will leave you a little cold.
However, most down jackets can be combined with a shell jacket to form a robust jacket that is the warm, and weatherproof jacket. That’s why we reference layers a lot in this article, as it’s how we use our down jackets the most.
How Cold Can You Wear A Packable Down Jacket?
A packable down jacket’s ideal temperature range is around 30-50 Fahrenheit ( 0-10 Celcius) degrees. However, when combined with a shell jacket or thermal layers underneath, they can be comfortable below freezing.
This does not consider the heat your body produces when you’re active. I’ve spent a day out splitboarding in -14C (7F) with nothing more than a synthetic down and the thermal layer underneath.
How To Pack A Down Jacket?
To pack a down jacket fold the arms in first, then roll the jacket upwards and tuck the body of the jacket into the hood. If you have a stuff sack, use the stuff sack to pack down a bit smaller. Do not store your jacket long-term packed away as it creates lumps and bends in the insulation. It is essentially crushing and breaking the feathers.
The stuff sack or pack method is for travel only. The jackets should be hung somewhere cool and dry for long-term storage, like a closet.
How to Wash a Down Jacket?
Use a front-loading washing machine to wash a down jacket, as the agitator of a top loader can damage the down feathers. Set the machine to cold, add a downwash (Nikka Down Wash), and set to a delicate wash.
After the first cycle, it may be a good idea to do a second wash for a thorough rinse. After the rinse cycle, please place it in a tumble dryer on low heat. You have the option to add tennis balls to help fluff the down feathers, nothing heavier as it can damage the down.
What to Look For in a Packable Down Jacket
The majority of these jackets have a very similar look. Regarding style, you won’t have to lose too much sleep over what option to choose. A well-fitted jacket will look sleek and streamlined. It will also move well in cold weather activities.
Even if you can’t, head to your local outdoor store and try on some jackets. If you can’t find some of these jackets, order them online and return the ones that don’t fit. Check the return policy first (REI has a great one)!
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 uses many inferior fibers, and you will have a tough time fitting in your backpack. It is where quality fill materials come into play.
There is a large category of down jackets that are for harsh winter conditions and mountaineering. These down jackets tend to be puffier and much more prominent. That’s why they’re not on this list, as they don’t serve as great versatile, packable travel jackets.
Warmth is one of the greatest strengths of a down jacket. The benefit of down insulation is its ability to expand and retain body heat – effectively keeping you warm. The only problem with buying jackets is the lack of a clear rating system.
Body warmth is probably the most critical aspect of a down jacket. When it comes to measuring warmth, you can look at two measurements fill power and fill weight.
Then you have the exterior fabric, which does an adequate job at blocking out the wind that will trap body heat and keep you warm. That shell exterior can be a downside for high-energy activities as it can easily trap heat and moisture. So finding the right balance is in art and why most companies seem to have settled on a lightweight nylon exterior — most commonly 20D nylon.
The idea behind a great down jacket is its compression and ability to pack down. The size difference between these packable down jackets varies from the size of a water bottle to a six-pack. Ultralight jackets like the Cerium LT and Ghost Whisperer offer the best compression and come at a premium price.
With packable down jackets, the higher the fill power, the better the compression. It is among the most notable differences between entry-level and premium down jackets. High-end jackets can pack down amazingly well and bounce back within moments of unpacking.
The fabric also plays a vital role in compression, and thin denier fabrics pack down better than heavy ones or weather-resistant versions like GORE-TEX or Pertex. Along with warmth, genuine down jackets offer superior performance to synthetic down jackets in packability or compression.
It could be the warmest jacket ever, but it needs to move with an active body. The design of the jacket should feel natural and not stiff. That means that the jacket is not all crinkly like the earliest designs and cheaper options. A comfortable jacket is critical if you’re into adventure activities like hiking, mountaineering, skiing, or outdoor recreations.
Build Of A Packable Down Jacket
There is a measurement concerning filling power. These jackets come in as 500-Fill, 700-fill, 800-fill, 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 on a chilly evening, but when it comes to the challenging elements of outdoor sports like mountaineering or skiing, they’ll leave you cold.
High-end jackets come at around 800-fill power, which is 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.
While fill power refers to the quality of the down insulation, 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 the intended activity of the jacket. If the fill weight is too high, your body temperature will likely overheat in high-activity sports.
Fill weight varies a lot from down jacket to down jacket, and many times you’ll get superior performance with better fill power and less weight than vice versa.
While you’d think fill and total weight would be closely linked, this is not necessarily true. Companies use a wide range of materials in the outer shells of jackets and hardware like zippers. We love a jacket that packs good fill weight and remains light in total weight.
The majority of packable down jackets use 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. Other choices include Pertex or GORE-TEX, which are nylon blends that are layered and laminated for superior waterproofing.
The problem with these robust shells is that they tend to trap heat and moisture while adding weight. We use waterproofing to combine our down jackets with a lightweight shell, but a few down jacket options offer it all.
Denier generally ranges from 7D up to 40D. 10D is ultralight and reserved for high-end jackets. At the same time, 20D is more standard but provides a nice blend of toughness and weight. The best way to think of it is the width of the nylon fibers weaved to create the fabric. A higher denier means a more rigid material, but it is heavier.
Other features can include ripstop nylon, a patterned nylon weave designed to stop the nylon from running.
Features To Look For In A Jacket
When determining the style of your new jacket, you should consider its 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 generates to escape.
Many people who use the down jacket for hiking, backpacking, or everyday use opt for the hood. The added warmth is an excellent decision for those chilly days. I use the sweater version as a mid-layer when snowboarding. It is the most popular version as it’s easily the most versatile.
The second area you’re most likely to lose heat is your waist. It is especially true if you’re doing winter sports like skiing, mountaineering, or hiking. A tight-fitting jacket is a key to trapping that much-needed heat inside.
A light, weather-resistant jacket for everyday wear 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 feathers lose almost all their ability to keep you warm once wet.
It is a problem for frequent travelers or outdoor enthusiasts who often end up in wet environments. Due to this, many people opt for synthetic material if they’re worried about getting wet.
In recent years gear manufacturers have begun adding DWR to the down fill. 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. It makes them a severe 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 of a genuine down jacket paired with a waterproof shell for wet days. It adds a lot of versatility to my suitcase, and I can handle just about any environment.
2 thoughts on “The Best Packable Down Jackets For Men & Women + Buying Advice”
While I was in love with Arcteryx for the longest time I’ve come to discover that 95% of their winterwear is made in China or Indonesia. As a result, my recent purchases from them are not quite the same quality they were known for. I’d love to see an article focused on companies with incredible quality, pay a living wage, and are possibly manufactured in North America. Nice photos, btw
That’s why I mention Feathered Friends and note that they manufacture right in Seattle…