Winter-Ready: The Best Down Jackets In 2022
When the temperature drops there’s nothing like having a great down jacket in the closet. Down has been the go-to insulation for winter jackets and coats for generations because of its incredible warmth to weight ratio. Every conceivable type and style of down jacket is available today from the simplest generic models to those emanating from the world’s best-known fashion houses.
A down jacket can serve as an outer layer or mid-layer and is one of the best options for staying warm when the mercury drops. I’ve been using down jackets for insulation for years while skiing, hiking, climbing, simply walking around town and so much more. These jackets are a favorite companion of mine. In this guide, we’ll look at best sellers, tested favorites, and overall the best down jackets the market has to offer. And in the buyer’s guide below, we’ll dive into tech specs and features like shell fabric, fill power, whether you need a durable water repellent coating, hand pockets, and more that can help you pick the best down jacket for your needs.
- Editor’s Choice: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2 Jacket
- Most Versatile: Black Diamond Access Down Jacket
- Bet Pullovers: Big Agnes Cora Pullover
- Best for Hiking: Outdoor Research Women’s Helium Down Hoody
- Packed With Features: Backcountry TEO Down Jacket
- Best for Hunting: SITKA Kelvin Aerolite Jacket
- Best Synthetic Insulation Jacket: Columbia Frost-Fighter Insulated Jacket
- Best Midlayer: The North Face Thermoball Full-Zip Jacket
- Most Colorways: Tommy Hilfiger Packable Down Jacket
- Inclusive Sizing: Eddie Bauer Men’s CirrusLite Down Jacket
- Budget Buy: Goodthreads Men’s Down Puffer Jacket
- Best Mobility: Marmot Men’s Zeus Jacket
- Fashion Forward: Calvin Klein Men’s Down Puffer Jacket
- Town-to-Trail: REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0
- Splurge-Worthy: Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie
The Best Down Jacket
When it comes to warmth to weight ratio, the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2 takes the cake. This hooded jacket is so warm, I often need to wait for the chilliest days or when I’m in the snow to wear it. This jacket is so light, you may forget you’re wearing it. I’ve spent many days in the snow all over the PNW in this down sweater. When I need top-tier warmth, this is the jacket in my arsenal that I turn to. From skiing to chilly bouldering and freezing hikes, the Ghost Whisperer does it all. The only downside is the exterior isn’t quite as durable as I would like, but there are tradeoffs in everything. My partner also owns this same jacket and we regularly match when it’s cold out.
The 900 fill RDS certified down is incredibly warm and further housed in the fully recycled face and trim ripstop fabrics. The hem is adjustable and the front of the jacket features two incredibly spacious hand pockets, great for small valuables or handwarmers, and one of the pockets doubles as a stuff sack for portability. Another thing I love about this jacket is the small details, the first baffle of each sleeve boasts synthetic insulation, allowing it to retain more warmth when wet. These small details, sustainability and high quality allow this model to top our list of the best down jackets.
800 fill weight RDS certified down
Fully recycled face and trim fabrics
Optional adjustable hood
- BrandMountain Hardwear
- ModelGhost Whisperer 2
- Weight6.9 Oz
Of all the jackets in my wardrobe, the Black Diamond Access Down Jacket is the longest-standing down sweater. It’s been in my arsenal so long, I have two versions of the same jacket. I got my first Access jacket in 2017, since then these jackets have skied, climbed, painted and more. I have a red version I like to wear for outdoor adventures, the color being a safety piece, and a black version for chilly winter days and activities close to home. The versatility of this jacket is what makes it one of the best down jackets on the market.
Now for the nitty gritties, this down sweater hoody features a 700-fill weight RDS down fill for warmth, all contained in a nylon ripstop shell. There are three total pockets: two hand pockets and another zippered chest pocket for storage. This jacket also packs into its own adjustable hood instead of a pocket like many of its counterparts. Additionally, there are elastic cuffs and hem. Last but not least, I love the variety of colorways this jacket is available in, there are new options each year too.
700 fill weight RDS down
Nylon ripstop shell fabric
Elastic hem and cuffs
Large hood without cinch cord
- BrandBlack Diamond
- ModelAccess Down Jacket
- Weight12.13 Oz
The Big Agnes Cora Pullover is an excellent mid-layer option for big days outside. This model takes a stark departure from the typical zippered down jacket and offers a pull-over alternative with a warm kangaroo pocket for your hands, 850 fill down, and a zipper for ventilation. Elastic and drawcord cuffs and hem keep heat trapped in.
I loved using this pullover as a cozy camp midlayer as an outer layer for snowy hikes. Since this is down, it loses some performance when wet but the DWR coating helps repel water. I liked being able to vent with a simple pull on the buttons as temperatures changed and I moved in and out of the sunshine. For more top-quality options like this, check out our guide to the best running jackets.
850 fill down
DownTek water-resistant down
Kangaroo pocket with hidden phone pocket
- BrandBig Agnes
- ModelCora Insulated Pullover
- Weight6 Ounces
The Outdoor Research Women’s Helium Down Hoody was the first down jacket I ever owned. I got mine back in 2017 and it lasted me a wonderful three years until I retired it. It was still plenty functional but I had acquired other down jackets and decided that this one should go to someone who needed it. The only flaws were some down feathers escaping and some stains that were entirely my bad. I loved the slim fit of this jacket and it was my cold weather companion for all my hiking and climbing trips and travels from 2017 through 2020.
For hikers and general recreation in cold temps, this jacket is ideal. The 800 fill-down works exceptionally well to keep you warm in cold temps but you’ll want a shell layer in heavy rain or snow. We love the nylon ripstop lining and shell and no snag webbing behind the zippers.
Responsibly sourced down
Blusign approved materials
External chest pocket
No snag zippers
- BrandOutdoor Research
- ModelHelium Down Hoody
The TEO Down Jacket combines the functionality of synthetic insulation with the lightweight and dependable nature of down for a jacket that is durable and up for nearly any adventure, but especially backcountry skiing. When wearing the TEO, it feels like a durable and ready-to-perform jacket. It’s quite a bit heftier than the Ghost Whisperer but I love the ability to use this jacket even when it’s a bit wet out as is normal in the PNW. In places where sweat is common like underarms or back, synthetic insulation is present to maintain functionality. There’s RDS down throughout the hood, shoulders and lower back. I’m a huge fan of this design and think that if you’re willing to take on the extra weight, this jacket is absolutely worth it.
I’ve noted the insulation differences that really make this jacket stand out and the durability, but there are a few more features we want to share. There are two hand pockets for small valuables or a beacon, an adjustable hood, and an internal zippered chest pocket. Overall, this jacket is perfect for backcountry snow adventures but I also wore it hiking, camping and climbing and it performed well.
Adjustable, ventilating hood
Elastic cuff and hem
One internal and two external pockets
Compressible design, packs into its own pocket
- ModelTEO Down Jacket
- Weight11 Oz
We love STKA gear. While these high-quality pieces are crafted with anglers and hunters in mind, we find they are versatile enough for a huge range of outdoor sports and the Kelvin Aerolite Down Jacket is no exception. The 100% synthetic Primaloft insulation keeps you warm even when it’s damp outside, unlike traditional down. Morning dew or an afternoon rainstorm can come as a surprise, especially if you’re out on a multi-day trip.
This jacket is built for the outdoors and the 20 denier face fabric is treated with a DWR coating for additional weather protection. We love this model for hunting, hiking, and hanging out around camp.
20 Denier polyester face fabric
100% synthetic Primaloft insulation
Zippered chest pocket
Gusseted stretch cuffs
Low-profile fitted hood
- ModelKelvin Aerolite Jacket
- Weight16 Oz
The Frost Fighter Insulated Jacket by Columbia is about what you’d expect from a company with so much outdoor experience. Being based in the PNW means their gear has to withstand the elements here. It’s understated but effective, handsome without being garish, and well-made from the stitching to the tough, easy-to-use zippers. The standing collar protects your neck from wind and the whole thing drops easily into your washing machine.
This jacket features 100% synthetic insulation, and a ripstop exterior for added durability. The Frost Fighter also features Columbia’s Omni-Shield technology for added water and stain resistance. A great everyday down jacket you’ll find yourself wearing everywhere and a great addition to our best down jackets guide. Be sure to combine it with some cool Gore-tex boots from our list.
Two zippered pockets
- Weight1 Pounds
The North Face has been making some of the best winter jackets, gear and coats around for the better part of 30 years and this Thermoball Full-Zip Jacket is another proud addition to their product lineup. It features a 100% ripstop nylon shell, Thermoball™ insulation, and zippered hand pockets. It’s stylish, sleek, and warm. This lightweight jacket will serve you well whether you wear it to the office, school or to do some cross-country skiing.
We love the tight grid pattern that ensures the down doesn’t move around much and leaves you with hot and cold spots. This model is also machine washable for easy cleaning (see our care guide down below). Make sure you also check our selection of top denim jackets for more great jackets like this.
Polyester and nylon construction
Two hand pockets
Tight grid pattern
- BrandThe North Face
- Weight12.8 Ounces
TH is littered all across Gear Hungry, because to date, they’ve never failed to pack value and superior quality. Available in over thirty unique colorations, this comfortable Packable Down Jacket does its best to retain a slim look, while protecting you from the coldest of nights. The 100% nylon shell is weather-resistant, and you even get a drawstring bag to pack the jacket in, keeping it safe from harm when you’re traveling down the hiking trail the next morning. Side entry pockets and a warm standing collar add even more to love, while the quality build keeps this machine washable, and retains its shape every single time.
100% down feathers fill
100% nylon shell fabric
Over 30 colorways
- BrandTommy Hilfiger
- Weight1.14 Pounds
If you’re looking for an affordable down jacket that’s still super high-quality, this Eddie Bauer Jacket is perfect. With its Nylon shell and 650 fill premium down insulation, it’s just as warm as the expensive down jackets we’ve featured. It has a StormRepel DWR water-resistant finish that stops water from soaking into the fabric. Obviously, this isn’t as effective as fully waterproof fabric, but it’s better than standard polyester or cotton. It’s available in five colors and nine different sizes, so it should be easy to find your perfect fit.
Since this jacket has no hood, it makes a great mid-layer while the high neckline traps heat. There are hand pockets on either side of this everyday wear down jacket, perfect for small valuables and EDC items.
StormRepel DWR treatment
650 down fill
Two zippered pockets
- BrandEddie Bauer
It’s pretty hard to find a budget-friendly quality down jacket. But the Goodthreads Men’s Down Puffer Jacket is as close as they come. It might not be as high-quality as the Eddie Bauer or Columbia jackets on this list but we still think you’ll be pretty impressed with it. The shell is made from 100% polyester, making it wind and water-resistant, and it comes with two zippered hand pockets plus a front center zip. We also like the fact that it’s available in seven attractive colors.
If you need a jacket for chilly city days but don’t want to break the bank, this model is a great choice and a surprisingly warm jacket. No, it’s not as durable as the more expensive models, but it’s comfy, warm and weather-resistant, and comes with an attractive price tag.
80% down, 20% feather fill
Two zippered pockets
- Weight14.71 Ounces
If you’re looking for a premium cold-weather jacket, you can always trust Marmot. With over 40 years of experience, they’ve created an amazing reputation for making some of the best jackets in the business. The Marmot Men’s Zeus Jacket is no exception. With an exterior made from ultralight, water-resistant fabric, and an 800-fill power goose down filling, it’s super warm and weighs little. Unlike cheaper ultralight jackets, it doesn’t let any wind through the zip, thanks to the built-in wind flap. You’ll also notice that you get a full range of motion in your arms because of the angel-wing movement.
This jacket stuffs into its own pocket for excellent portability and features two zippered hand pockets and an internal drop-in pocket. We love that this insulated jacket goes from city to slopes with ease.
800 fill power down insulation
Durable water repellent exterior
Built-in angel-wing movement
Internal drop in pocket
Wind flap on the zipper
Two hand pockets
- Weight15.2 Ounces
The Calvin Klein Men’s Down Puffer Jacket is one of the most stylish ways to keep yourself warm this winter. The exterior is made from 100% polyester, making it water-resistant and wind-resistant. Underneath that, there’s an outer shell filled with a down alternative that’s warm and lightweight. Then, underneath that, there’s a detachable bib for extra warmth. That’s three layers in one coat for plenty of warmth.
While very stylish, some users mentioned this jacket wears out quickly, so you may need to be gentle with this one. For this reason, we highly recommend it for cold city and countryside walks and commutes when you want to stay stylish, but not for highly active endeavors.
Down alternative insulation
Attached zip out hidden hood
Polyester shell fabric
Two zippered hand pockets
- BrandCalvin Klein
- Weight3.33 Pounds
The REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0 is an excellent budget-friendly down jacket. It’s not the lightest jacket on our list, but it combines 650 fill power and some decent features in a surprisingly low-cost package. This jacket is great for chilly walks, hikes or commutes. The 650 down fill is warm enough for day-to-day use, just remember to pop a layer underneath.
Some features we love are the tight but unrestrictive fit, stretch cuffs, bluesign materials, DWR coating, and hand pockets for keeping your mitts toasty. This model is also certified to the Responsible Down Standard, which ensures the down feathers that fill this jacket come from animals that have not been subjected to unnecessary harm. You may also be interested in some of the cool trucker jackets from our list. Be sure to browse them.
650 fill weight
Bluesign and Responsible Down Standard Certified
Crafted in a Fair Trade certified factory
Packs into its own left-hand pocket
- BrandREI Co-op
- Model650 Down Jacket 2.0
- Weight11 Ounces
Rounding out our list of the best down jackets is the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie. This hooded down jacket is highly adjustable, featuring an adjustable hem, adjustable hood, and elastic cuffs to ensure a snug fit to keep heat in. The 800 fill weight down is more than enough to keep you toasty, even in less than ideal conditions.
The 100% recycled ripstop polyester shell features a DWR coating, making a windproof and water-resistant barrier against bone-chilling winds as well as light snow and rain. One of our favorite features on this hooded jacket is the interior zippered chest pocket that doubles as a stuff sack. Regardless of the numerical position of this Patagonia down sweater hoody, we think it’s one of the best down jackets available on the market.
Responsibly sourced 800 down fill
Windproof and water-resistant shell
Adjustable hem and hood
Two handwarmer pockets
Internal chest pocket
Packs into its own pocket
- ModelDown Sweater Hoodie
- Weight15.1 Ounces
Why Trust Us
I remember the first time I saw a high density of puffy jackets was at the Flash Foxy Women's Climbing Festival. I was a new climber and outdoor enthusiast and I had lived in Texas most of my life; you rarely saw down jackets there, nor did you need them much. After a few really chilly days, I realized how wonderful puffy jackets are and got one for myself. I have spent many of the years since that day in a down jacket for skiing, climbing, hiking, exploring and day-to-day life since I live in Portland now. Portland is likely second only to Seattle when it comes to the number of dark puffy jackets per capita. You can trust me to have been obnoxiously hard on gear and that any gear tested here at GearHungry has been put through the wringer.
Who This Is For
This guide is for anyone looking for a down jacket as an outer layer or as a mid-layer to stay warm in cold weather. A hooded down jacket can drastically improve your comfort in cold temperatures, without weighing you down. If you're going on a trip to a cold place, or live in one, a down jacket could be the ideal item of clothing for you.
How We Picked
Selecting the best down jackets started with tried and tested favorites that have been in our quiver for years. From there, we added in newer tried and true favorites. Then, we looked at best sellers and the top-reviewed models from online retailers.
How We Tested
The tested down jackets on this list have been in all kinds of environments and conditions. From snow to drizzle, rain, high desert and more, these jackets have been everywhere. They have traveled to multiple states but the bulk of testing occurred in Oregon and Washington, with some days spent in Texas, the Southeast, California, Utah, Nevada, Southern France and The Alps as well. These jackets have gone hiking, camping, rock climbing, skiing, and exploring, and kept me warm while commuting. In short, they've been everywhere. It is worth noting that some jackets got years' worth of testing, and others were tested for about two months.
Features To Look For In Down Jackets
Size - The size of a jacket ranges from how it fits on you to how puffy it looks. Part of the reason we chose this lineup of jackets is because they offer a wide variety of sizes, and all have a form-fitting appeal. Some models may offer inclusive sizing, but not all, so make sure you double-check whether your favorite jacket is available in your size.
Weight - You’ll most likely be using these while camping or hiking, so the weight factor is huge here. Since down and feathers don’t traditionally weigh a lot, you’ll see a lot of lightweight warmth here. If you’re grabbing these for casual use when you go to work or head out of the house, the weight shouldn't concern you as much. For hikers, climbers, skiers and mountaineers, weight matters more. Specifically, warmth to weight ratio is key. You want your down fill to be as warm as possible while remaining as lightweight as possible.
Filling - The filling is either going to be goose down, duck down, or a blend with some feathers possibly thrown in there. If you look at some of our picks, they have a small percentage of duck feathers mixed in, giving comfort without reducing your fill power. We discuss fill power down below.
Warmth - We’ve chosen down specifically because of how much body heat retention it offers. Jackets don’t keep you warm; they insulate you and hold onto your body heat that you naturally produce. Warmth comes down to the filling, the shell material, and everything else in between. The more pockets you have, the more it may affect your warmth rating, depending on how much they cut into the down material. Warmth to weight ratio is key and one of down's top selling points. The best, warmest jacket will offer exceptional fill power, reflective materials, a slim fit design, and an adjustable hem, hood and cuffs.
Shell material - We’re looking primarily at nylon, which offers some of the best benefits: water resistance, proper heat retention, and a general comfortable feeling, even for those of you who are particular about the materials of your coats.
Pockets - These jackets are designed for heat retention, so we’re not really looking at having a lot of pockets as a huge plus, though it can be convenient. Depending on how big the pockets are, less down may be used between the lining of the pocket and the lining of your jacket. This could minorly impact your warmth, so it’s best to keep these pockets closed when not in use. Hand pockets can keep your hands warm, especially when gloves aren't available.
Compressibility - Packing this up and heading down the hill? Puffy jackets take up a lot of space, but with down jackets, you’re able to compress them down super small. Stuff them in a stuff sack that they come with, or find other ways to compress it in your external frame backpack, or whatever else you can think of. Many down jackets can also pack into their own pockets or the hood for extra packability.
Design - These jackets traditionally have a slim-fitting design to avoid the extra-puffy look of jackets and coats that we were all blighted with during adolescence and childhood. Most jackets are either going to come with a couple of side-access pockets, or potentially a few chest zipper pockets. We’re focusing on heat retention first and foremost, but added design elements are always nice. The ability to pack a puffy jacket into i's pocket is often beneficial as well.
Color - If you’re going to be hiking while the sun’s up, even if there’s persistent snow on the ground, heat can still penetrate the color of your jacket. As with most things, a black jacket is far more susceptible to absorbing heat from sunlight, while colored jackets offer different levels of protection. If you plan to spend many days on big adventures in the backcountry, a red, pink, orange or other bright-colored lightweight down jacket could be used as a signal if you need help. Bright colors also show up best when taking photos, but a more neutral color is likely to match with more clothing if you're merely roaming around the city.
Water resistance - This usually comes down to the shell materials. Since we’re primarily dealing with nylon as it’s the best heat shield to keep your body warm, nylon has a certain waterproof ability to it. Some coats might come with additional coatings, but these can often be damaged during washing and drying. It’s best to rely on the waterproof level of the actual base material. Generally, as it gets wet, down's performance decreases so if you're worried about precipitation, add a rain shell on top of your puffy jacket.
Hood - Not all insulated jackets come with an attached hood, but the ones that do are usually adjustable and often sport specific. The hood is usually not included in the fill power rating, since hoods are done a little more thinly than the rest of the jacket. Most manufacturers will state this on their sales page, so you won’t be left with any nasty surprises if you go for a hood, but find it’s not as warming as the rest of the jacket. If you'll be climbing or biking in your new down jacket, ensure there is an adjustable hood or a helmet-compatible hood for your sport.
Fit - Most down jackets try to maintain a slim look. Everyone had that super-puffy coat when they were a kid, the one that they didn’t like. Down jackets have compressibility options, so even if they look a little fluffier on the marketing imagery, it compresses a little bit from your body pressure inside of the jacket (on slim-fitting only). You want to ensure the cuffs and bottom hem of the jacket are close to your body so air can't escape and, as mentioned, that the hood can fit over a bike or climbing helmet if you need one.
Down Jacket FAQ
Q: What is a down jacket?
A: Down jackets are insulated coats with a unique filling: duck or goose under, or feathers. Some brands use a unique blend of the two to give you a very specific feeling, giving their brand a unique identity. For them, it’s not just a down jacket: it’s their down jacket and one that you’ll remember for ages.
Down jackets generally have a slim fit to them and act as a shield from your wrists to your collar, and all the way down to the bottom of your jacket. While most of our body heat leaves through our nose, mouth, and ears, the most vital area where you need optimum body temperatures is in your torso. This protects your organs. Down jackets provide killer insulation, but they’re also excellently portable. Due to the filling, they can have huge fill power (which we’ll get into in a minute), making them portable when not in use. You can stuff them in a drawstring bag, and keep them compressed for travel. Down jackets are not particularly weather resistant though. Some models may feature a DWR coating but down loses its insulation power when wet. In short, down jacket wet weather performance isn't optimal so these jackets should be paired with a rain shell dealing with precipitation worse than light rain and snow.
Q: What is fill power?
A: Without sounding too simplistic, it’s basically how insulating and puffy the jacket is. The more fill power your jacket has, the more insulated it’s going to be. Your body heat doesn’t just stay 100% on-point while wearing these; it still disperses through your torso, but it gets trapped in the down fabric and creates a warm atmosphere within the jacket. Your shell is usually non-conductive, meaning heat isn’t going to penetrate it going outward, and cold isn’t going to penetrate it going inward.
Fill power has a few numbers tossed around, so we broke it down for you:
- 400 Fill Power: lower fill power, decent body heat retention; rated for down to 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 500 Fill Power: good body heat retention; rated for down to 24 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 650 Fill Power: improved body heat retention; rated for down to 18 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 800 Fill Power: advanced body heat retention; rated for down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 900 Fill Power: high fill power, maximum body heat retention; rated for down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep in mind that these ratings involve layers underneath, not the jacket alone. Everything you buy, no matter what industry, has some sort of system worked out to give you a quick reference into just how powerful it is. While fill power isn’t the only thing you should be looking for in a down jacket, it’s extremely helpful. Generally, the bottom line is the higher the fill power, the warmer your down jacket is. Lower fill power means less warmth.
Q: How do you clean a down jacket?
A: We’ll go into greater details on cleaning a down jacket later, but washing it is fairly simple. Be certain to check the tags and brand-specific instructions before handling it, but most can just be put into a washer. That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind to upkeep these jackets and their ideal shape and fit.
If you have an HE washer without that center turbine, you’re putting less stress on the nylon shell, and therefore, keeping the integrity of that down filling much more intact. If you still have a washer out of 1998, just pay careful attention to the next tips.
Always put it on cold, and when available, you should always do a light tumble. High speeds are okay in HE washers, but in a turbine washer, if it whirls around too quickly it could get jammed beneath that bottom plate. Either that, or it could get roughed up by the spirals and put your jacket through hell.
Only wash it when necessary. You don’t have to wash it after every single expedition into the wilderness or each month from heading out. You have layers underneath keeping you warm (and soaking up sweat), so you won’t run into too many cleanliness issues here.
Don’t use chemical-enhanced “wet wipes” or anything of the sort to clean the exterior. Either let it be, or give it a proper wash. Some of those cleaning chemicals stay on your jacket for weeks on end, breaking down the composition and waterproofing of your shell.
Last but not least, ensure that when you toss it in the washer, your arms aren’t twisted all around or half pulled inside-out. You’ll have more spots where a jacket can get stuck on a turbine, and it won’t wash everywhere properly.
Maintaining your down jacket can be fairly simple. Clean it only when it’s dirty, don’t take shortcuts, and be certain to take a second to toss in the necessary detergent. If you’re throwing in dollar store high-abrasive detergent that’s specifically not recommended by the jacket manufacturer, you could be doing more harm than good.
Q: How do you fluff a down jacket after you wash it?
A: You want your down jacket to retain its shape, power, and above all else, be nice and clean. There’s a specific way to go about washing down jackets and even synthetic jackets: we’re not dealing with standard insulation, here. Follow these steps, and you’ll be able to keep this down jacket for years to come.
Wash according to instructions. If the care instructions on the tag require cold only, HE washers, special detergent, or a low spin, you have to adhere to those. These are all lab-tested, meaning they’ve put it through numerous experiments and destroyed plenty of their products in the process. Listen to these directions to avoid destruction.
Take a sneaker and throw it in the dryer. You’re going to need it to knock around the wet clumps of duck and/or goose down, otherwise, they’re going to dry like big balls of fur. A sneaker can help break up those clumps, saving your jacket from cold spots and chances of mildew and mold in insulation clumps.
When drying, put the machine on a low heat and tumble setting, and if possible, set it for a ten-minute cycle. This and the sneaker should be the only thing in the dryer, so ample heat can get to the jacket and dry it quickly. If ten minutes isn’t long enough, increase the time in five-minute intervals.
Check the fluffiness level. That shoe keeps banging around to fluff the material, while the heat from the dryer keeps it that way. But the dryer isn’t going to do all of the work for you: you’ll have to fluff it up a little bit on your own, just like you would fluff a pillow.
Hang it upside-down to maintain that fluffiness. This helps it not settle right back into place in the grooves of the shell, so it’ll essentially get a mini fluff when you go to take it off the hangar and flip it the right way.
Apart from this, preserving fluffiness between washes is all about being consistent. If you’re packing your jacket up in the drawstring bag from the campsite, don’t leave it in the bag for weeks before heading back out. While it’s still going to puff up, it’s going to take some time for the down to fill with air again, so it will feel dense rather than fluffy.
Q: Can you dry clean a down jacket?
A: Short answer: it’s not a good idea. You’re technically dealing with organic materials here, and the chemicals that dry cleaners use will do nothing but damage, and potentially accelerate decomposition. Before we get ahead of ourselves, duck and goose down is treated to avoid this from happening, so you could feasibly have your jacket for one hundred years without running into any issues unless you dry clean.
Equipment at the dry cleaners also puts unnecessary stress on the shell, whether it’s nylon or not. In most cases, dry cleaning preserves clothing, but with this specific type of jacket filler, it’s just going to do harm.
Q: Do I need thermals when wearing a down jacket?
A: Your heat retention (fill power) takes into account that you’ll be wearing something underneath, such as a layer of clothes. If you’re not sure what temperature ranges will drop to at night (especially if you like to go remote camping), you’re always supposed to plan for the worst-case scenario. Pack and wear thermals under your jacket to push that heat retention even further.
We personally recommend this set to keep you warm as possible. Down jackets are the perfect addition to your camping and hiking gear to maintain your body temperature out in the wilderness, but they can’t do all the legwork. I learned this the hard way when I first dealt with chilly weather outside of Texas. Layers underneath are the key to warmth.
Q: Are down jackets hypoallergenic?
A: Since you never see the down and it’s kept safe within the nylon shell, most folks will be okay to use it even with pet dander allergies. Occasionally, some down may escape as your jacket is used and you may be exposed to the feathers. If you are concerned, check with your doctor or allergist.
There are non-down jackets, or synthetic jackets, that try to emulate the same benefits and insulation. Our main focus wasn't on these, but Primaloft and other synthetic insulation options can still provide decent insulation, but down is king.
Q: What are the real differences between down filling and synthetic?
A: Synthetic isn’t all bad, but it’s not ideal, either. Down jackets provide better insulation, and since it’s a natural filler, it allows for more breathability. Whether it’s air traveling through the lining of your jacket, or ensuring that you don’t overheat, you get a more versatile and natural insulation with down material.
Synthetic material does tend to cost less. When you’re comparing synthetic and down jackets side-by-side, you really have to focus on the fill power. Some synthetic jackets will use different forms of measurement when defining how insulated or powerful their jackets are, which is why it’s very important to keep your eye on customer reviews here.
Synthetic materials also add more weight to your jacket, so if you’re bringing this along for camping, it’s either heavier on you or an extra bit of weight in your pack. Either way, not the best thing to have. Synthetic also has a very difficult time compressing, usually bustling inside of their drawstring bags. This said, synthetic insulation generally performs better when wet and offers a vegan-friendly alternative for those who want it.
Q: Should the wrist cuffs be tight on a down jacket?
A: To keep you properly insulated, the wrist cuffs should at least be adjustable. If they have a tight fit, that’s better than them being loose. You’re relying on the down filling to maintain and reverberate your body heat, but if it’s just leaking out of your wrist slots like smoke out of a chimney, the insulation will be slightly less effective.
This is also a good time to mention that the bottom of your jacket should either be an equally tight fit or at least have any exposed skin covered by your thermals/bottom layer. These are simple solutions to maintaining your body temperature in harsh conditions if you understand how to insulate yourself.
- What Is Down Fill Power? - REI
- Down Vs. Synthetic Insulation: What’s The Difference? - Columbia
- Love Your Down Coat? Learn How To Wash It. - The Washington Post