What’s the Best Down Jacket for Women 2018?

Whenever I plan a high-altitude climb of a peak like Kilimanjaro or a winter hiking trip, I feel a little conflicted.

I can’t wait to breathe the crisp air and get back to nature, but I really don’t like how cold it gets. As a woman I always seem to feel the cold more than the guys I hike with.

Choosing one of the best down jackets has been a crucial part of keeping me warm whilst I enjoy the views. 

Quick Comparison:

Below, you'll find our detailed reviews and a buyer's guide, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer reviews on Amazon

Selecting the best down jacket isn’t as simple as it sounds though. Once you start looking at the different terms and specifications that manufacturers use to describe their jackets you can quickly feel a little out of your depth.

We’ve put together a guide that cuts through the jargon and clarifies the things you should look out for when buying your down jacket.

Down jackets

What’s the upside of Down?

Staying warm is all about isolation and insulation. You want to stop the cold wind from coming in and you want to prevent your body warmth from getting out.

Down is an excellent insulating material. Pound for pound it insulates far better than an equivalent amount of synthetic materials do.

Down isn’t actually feathers but is the "fluffy" stuff under the feathers of ducks or geese.

The loose structure of the down traps air and prevents heat loss without adding to the weight of the jacket.

Not all down is the same though. Here’s what to look out for:

Fill Power

down jackets for women reviews

Fill power, sometimes simply referred to as “Fill” is a measure of the loft, or "fluffiness", of the down(1).

This figure gives you an idea of the warmth-to-weight ratio as well as the compressibility of the jacket.

The higher the fill power of the down the more warm air it is capable of trapping.

A jacket that uses a high fill power down needs less of it to provide the same amount of warmth as a jacket with lower fill down.

If you want a super lightweight down jacket that will still keep you warm then be prepared to pay for something in the 800 – 900 fill power range.

If you want to save some money and don’t mind a heavier, bulkier, jacket then you can look in the 500 – 600 range.


When you’re hiking or climbing storage space is precious. Higher fill power is more compressible and will be easier to squeeze into your pack.

Some of the best down jackets will be able to fold up into their own pockets. Getting one with a carabiner loop also makes it easy to store on the outside of your day pack.

Water Resistance

If down gets wet it loses all of its insulating properties. Make sure that the outer shell of the jacket has waterproof - or at least water resistant - properties.

The best insulated jackets will have the shell fabric treated with Durable Water Repellent (DWR) which prevents the water from soaking in.

It’s also a good idea to choose a jacket with hydrophobic down.

This means that the down has been treated so that it repels any water that manages to get through the shell.


insulated jacket for hiking

The shell of a down jacket is normally made from a synthetic material.

“Denier” is a unit of measurement that refers to the thickness of the individual synthetic fibers.

A higher denier figure means thicker and more durable fibers were used.

This results in a more durable material but also a heavier material.

The challenge is to have a material that is both light and durable. There will always be a trade-off between weight and durability so your choice depends on your application.

If you want something super-light then look at the lower denier fabrics. If you tend to be a little rough on your clothes or if you’re going to be walking through some brush then choose something with a higher denier.

Environmental Responsibility

If you enjoy hiking or climbing then you no doubt have a great appreciation for nature and the need for ethical treatment of animals.

Some suppliers of down source their product in ways that are cruel to ducks and geese.

This has led to reputable manufacturers being very specific about their down being traceable to ethical sources.

Some manufacturers will also indicate that their down is certified to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS)(2).

If you buy a jacket with these certifications then at least you know that there was no live-plucking or force-feeding involved in making your jacket.

​Revealing the best down jacket for women:

We’ve reviewed 5 of the best down jackets for women and highlighted the pros and cons of each option.

These jackets are all great products but take note of the different features to see which one will suit your needs.

If you want a lightweight jacket that still feels like it has some substance to it then this is a great choice.

It has mid-range fill-power and a simple but elegant design.

It only has a few pockets and it’s a snug fit so don’t expect to be able to store too much in it.

The goose down body, diamond baffles and synthetic side panels do a good job of sealing in the heat.

This jacket doesn’t have a hoody but it does have a brushed collar lining that helps to keep your neck warm. The material has some stretch in it for improved mobility.

It’s described as “Active Fit” which means that it’s going to be fitted and your regular size may feel too snug.

Considering that you’ll be wearing some layers under this jacket consider choosing a size that is one up from what you would normally wear.

What We Like

  • Down: 550 fill-power, Q. Shield down
  • Shell Fabric: polyester-blend

  • Zip hand pockets

  • Internal elastic cuffs
  • Has diamond-shaped baffles to eliminate cold spots

  • Uses streamlined synthetic insulation down the sides for improved mobility
  • Cozy brushed collar lining

What We Don't Like

  • The “black” jacket is more of a metallic grey and not a true black
  • A little heavy

Rab Continuum Hoodie - Women's

This is RAB’s lightest down hoodie for women.

It’s been designed to provide warmth in a low-bulk jacket for fast and light activities.

The 850 fill-power goose down provides excellent insulation while the Pertex Quantum GL fabric they’ve used for the shell minimizes the overall weight.

The zipped chest pocket and zipped hand pockets provide a moderate amount of storage while not detracting from the appearance of the jacket.

The Pertex Quantum GL fabric is light enough to allow for easy folding and storage in your backpack. 

RAB don’t claim that this jacket is waterproof but they’ve worked with Nikwax to give the European goose down hydrophobic properties. 

It should be fine in heavy mist or light rain but if you expect persistent or heavy rain then you may need a rain shield.

What We Like

  • Down: 850 fill-power, European Goose Down (Hydrophobic)
  • Shell Fabric: Pertex Quantum GL (10D nylon)

  • One zipped chest pocket that doubles as an integrated stuff sack. Two hand pockets.
  • Cuffs have elastic binding to seal around wrists

  • Hoody is helmet-compatible and has a flexible polymer peak
  • Chin guard

  • Hem drawcord

What We Don't Like

  • May be a little light once you get to sub-zero temperatures
  • Cost

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer - Womens

If you absolutely have to have one of the lightest down jackets without sacrificing warmth then this may be the jacket for you.

By using single 7D and 10D strands in the shell fabric instead of pairs of strands, this jacket is far lighter than its competitors.

You wouldn’t want to walk through brush with this light fabric though.

The low profile quilt pattern creates down filled channels that trap heat without significant restriction of mobility.

If you travel light you’re probably pretty picky about what makes it into your pack and what gets left behind.

This jacket has a very impressive pack size and it folds and stores in its own pocket.

What We Like

  • Down: 800 fill-power, Q. Shield down
  • Shell Fabric: 100% Nylon Whisperer 7D x 10D Ripstop

  • Zip hand pockets

  • Internal elastic cuffs
  • This is the lightest full-featured down jacket available

  • Jacket folds down and stores in its own zip pocket
  • Built-in carabiner loop for secure attachment to harness

What We Don't Like

  • It feels like some durability has been sacrificed to make the shell material really lightweight.
  • Feels a little tight when wearing thicker layers under it.

If you want to stay warm without sacrificing style then this is a good option.

We really love how the tapered lines give this jacket a sleek, feminine look and feel.

If you’re going to be carrying a pack then the double layer of panelling in the shoulders will provide added durability from abrasion caused by the backpack.

It’s not the lightest jacket by any means but the sleek 700 fill down pockets result in a really warm jacket without too much bulkiness.

What We Like

  • Down: 800 fill-power, Traceable Goose down
  • Shell Fabric: 1.4-oz 20x30-denier 100% recycled polyester ripstop

  • Polyester shell has a DWR (durable water repellent) finish

  • Has an interior storm flap and zipper garage at chin for next-to-skin comfort
  • Zip hand pockets

  • Internal zippered chest pocket converts to stuffsack with a carabiner clip-in loop
  • Nylon-bound elastic cuffs to seal in warmth

  • Packs into its own pocket

What We Don't Like

  • Shell fabric feels a bit light
  • Heavier/bulkier than necessary

This is one of the lighter 800 fill jackets we reviewed.

It would work equally well on the slopes or as your day to day jacket during the winter. 

The down is highly compressible so the jacket packs down really compactly. This makes it a great option to throw in your pack without sacrificing too much space.

Rain is always a concern with down jackets but the DWR finish on the shell makes any snow or rain drops slide right off. 

The horizontal baffles do a good job of keeping the down in place without detracting from the overall design.

What We Like

  • Down: 700 fill-power, RDS certified goose down
  • Shell Fabric: 65D 315 g/m² 100% recycled polyester

  • Zip hand pockets

  • Velcro adjustable cuff tabs
  • Internal chest pocket

  • Jackets folds down to stow in its hand pocket
  • Hem cinch cord for easy adjustments

  • Zip-in-compatible integration with complementing North Face garments

What We Don't Like

  • In an effort to make the design stylish they may have made the jacket a little short.
  • It’s pretty heavy


Our Choice: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisper

Budget Buy: The North Face Aconcagua Jacket

The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer is a great combination of high fill power down in a lightweight jacket and this makes it our top choice. The high compressibility of this jacket makes it super easy to store.

That combined with the stylish looks and integrated stuff sack clinched the deal for us.

If you don’t anticipate extreme cold then the Aconcagua jacket from North Face is a great budget option.

It only has 2 hand pockets and uses 550 fill down so you probably wouldn’t use this on a long trek at altitude.

With a few layers underneath though, it’ll be ideal for day hikes or skiing as long as the temperature doesn’t drop below zero.

1 thought on “What’s the Best Down Jacket for Women 2018?

  1. Hi, a high-altitude climb of a peak like Kilimanjaro is probably not for me but I do live in an area where it gets cold. Sometimes in January it gets down to 20 degrees below zero, and it seems like the wind wants to blow boldly when it’s that cold.

    I am looking for a good coat for my wife and myself for our winter hiking and your informative website is a huge help in understanding what to buy.

    I think the North Face Aconcagua Jacket is going to be the ticket.

    We are staying warm this winter.

    Thanks, Keith

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