9 of the Best Down Jackets for Men

Searching for a down jacket? It can be hard to know where to start – we all have different budgets, body sizes and do different activities. The best down jackets for climbing Kilimanjaro will be different from those you’d use on a day hike.

Ladies: See our guide to down jackets for women.

At the end of the day’s exertion, as the temperature drops, you need something that keeps you warm and cosy before bed. If you are heading up Kilimanjaro, or Mt Kenya or to Everest Base Camp, a high-quality men’s down jacket will ensure you don’t get cold, both on and off the trail.

We’ve narrowed it down to nine of the best down jackets for men. After taking an in-depth look at each of them, our buying guide will walk you through down jacket ‘essentials and extras’ features to help you make the best choice for your needs.

Quick Look, Our Recommendations:

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

Best Down Jackets (for Men) Reviews

We’ve reviewed nine highly-rated down jackets for you to consider for your next adventure. All these down jackets will keep you warm when hiking in winter and on the often bitterly cold mountain slopes.

Mountain Hardwear Men’s Ghost Whisper Hooded Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded Down Jacket - AW16 - Small - Blue

If you’re looking for the best lightweight down jacket, the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer is one of the lightest out there.

Mountain Hardwear claims that the Ghost Whisperer is the world’s only true 7 denier by 10 denier fabric, and still boasts an impressive 800-fill power duck down.

It has elastic binding on the cuffs and allows for hem adjustment.

This minimalist model is well-suited for active sports in cold weather, it might not be quite as warm as some of the heavier jackets on the market. You can easily layer it for more warmth and to protect that thin denier shell fabric.

  • Down: 800 fill-power, Q. Shield down
  • Shell Fabric: Nylon
  • Weight: 7.7 oz. / 219 g.
  • Sizes Available: S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • Active fit: fit is trim but loose enough to layer
  • Center Back Length: 28 in / 71 cm

What We Like

  • Quilt pattern keeps down in place to more effectively trap heat throughout the jacket
  • Truly lightweight – this is the lightest jacket we reviewed – and can be easily layered or covered with a shell
  • Elastic binding on cuffs to keep in heat and keep moisture out
  • Two hand pockets, with one doubling as a stow pocket for easy and convenient storage
  • Built-in carabiner loop allows the stored jacket to be attached to a harness or pack
  • Interior toggle hem to adjust the fit and keep in warmth

What We Don’t Like

  • Very low denier and weight can sacrifice durability
  • Loft feels a little thin
VIEW ON AMAZON


Arc’teryx Thorium AR Hoody

Arcteryx Mens Thorium AR Hoody - Odysseus - L

The Arc’teryx Thorium Hoody is a tougher, more heavyweight down jacket with more storage. It has four pockets, but still fits into a stuff sack.

The hood uses synthetic insulation, to make it waterproof.

Down Composite Mapping addresses the flaw in most down jackets where they leak heat from seams and at joints.

Arc’teryx addresses this by combining down with synthetic insulation, which is less likely to move out of place. The added synthetics seal in more warmth, but also add weight, and make the jacket less compressible.

While some might prefer an all-down jacket, Arc’teryx holds its weight with this one.

  • Down: 750 fill power, European gray goose down
  • Shell Fabric: 100% Polyester
  • Weight: 1 lb 5.7 oz / 615 g
  • Sizes Available: S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • Athletic Fit
  • Center back length: 31.8 in / 81 cm

What We Like

  • Down Composite Mapping uses both down and synthetic insulation to cover areas where heat often leaks out
  • Shell fabric is durable with a DWR finish to repel moisture
  • StormHood with synthetic insulation
  • Two zippered hand pockets
  • One internal zippered pocket, including a stuff sack
  • One internal dump pocket

What We Don’t Like

  • Construction is a little bulky, which could restrict movement or detract from style
VIEW ON AMAZON


The North Face Nuptse Jacket

Mens North FACE Nuptse Jacket Monster C759-X3C

The Nuptse is a standard choice with mid-range fill power and a strong and treated shell fabric.

It uses a baffle construction to trap more heat. Its unique features are the extra layers of fabric for more warmth around the shoulders and the YKK zipper

The shoulder layer can also help provide padding for those carrying a backpack.

The YKK zipper allows the Nuptse to be zipped into not only any compatible 3-in-1 Northface shell but into most shells that have the YKK zipper.

It is a puffier jacket, so a shell might be unnecessary except for severe conditions or to protect the down from moisture.

  • Down: 700 fill power, goose down
  • Shell Fabric: Nylon (DWR treated for water resistance)
  • Weight: 22.93 oz / 650 g
  • Sizes Available: S, M, L, XL, XXL, 3XL

What We Like

  • Uses high-loft baffles to trap heat
  • Shoulders have two layers of taffeta
  • Internal chest pocket which doubles as a stuff bag
  • Two zippered hand pockets
  • Hem cinch-cord for adjustment
  • YKK zipper allows it to be zipped into any North Face 3-in-1 shell and fits into some other 3-in-1 shells

What We Don’t Like

  • No hood
  • Can feel a little bulky
VIEW ON AMAZON VIEW AT REI


Outdoor Research Men’s Transcendent

Outdoor Research Men's Transcendent Down Jacket

Overall Outdoor Research’s Transcendent is a cheaper choice, and its features and quality are scaled back accordingly.

It has a relatively lower fill power at 650 fill and no hood. The collar is lined to provide more warmth on your neck.

The material feels tough, but there is plenty of space within the arms for movement.

The zippers are durable as well. It still has hem adjustment and cuff binding.

Be aware that the down is not treated, so it’s less water resistant than other jackets. This jacket is the second lightest on our list, well-suited for those looking for a light quality jacket on a tight budget.

  • Down: 650 fill power, goose down
  • Shell Fabric: 100% polyester with 100% nylon lining
  • Weight: 13.0oz / 369g
  • Sizes Available: S, M, L, XL
  • Standard Fit: loose for comfort

What We Like

  • Lightweight and Breathable
  • Brushed-Tricot-Lined Collar
  • Drawcord Hem for easy adjustment
  • One zippered chest pocket
  • Two Zippered Hand Pockets, one of which doubles as stuff sack
  • Stretch binding on cuffs to keep in warmth
  • Internal Front-Zip storm flap

What We Don’t Like

  • No hood, but it does have a lined collar
  • Has a lower fill power
  • No hydrophobic down coatings
VIEW ON AMAZON VIEW AT REI


Mountain Hardwear Nilas Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Nilas Jacket - Men's Shark Medium

The Nilas by Mountain Hardwear was originally designed for and used by speed climber Ueli Steck, giving you some idea of its intended use.

It has high fill power and hydrophobic down.

This jacket has the standard storage space and a full range of adjustment on the hood and hem.

An additional feature is the thumb hole cuffs, giving you a little more coverage on your hands and preventing the sleeves from riding up.

However, the thumb hole cuffs can run a bit small, not fitting quite around the base of your thumb. Many people have found that the zipper does catch, so if you’re on the impatient side, this might not be the right choice.

Otherwise, the Nilas is a sturdy, high-quality jacket that scores high in heat retention.

  • Down: 850 fill power, Q. Shield down
  • Shell Fabric: 15d nylon
  • Weight: 1 lb. 10 oz. / 729 g.
  • Sizes Available: S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • Active fit: fit is trim but loose enough to layer

What We Like

  • Baffled down construction for even all-over warmth
  • AirShield™ 15D 2L shell fabric is durable and wind-resistant
  • Insulated hood
  • One-handed hood and hem drawcords for quick fit adjustments
  • Elastic cuffs to trap heat
  • Thumbhole cuffs for more coverage without compromising movement

What We Don’t Like

  • Zipper catches on storm flap
  • Zippered pockets not easy to handle with one hand
  • Thumb holes might be small for some
VIEW ON AMAZON VIEW AT BACKCOUNTRY


Mountain Hardwear Kelvinator Hooded Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Kelvinator Hooded Jacket - Men's Shark / Titanium Large

The Kelvinator also runs on the cheaper end of the scale and has medium range fill-power as a result.

It feels a little bulkier, but this offsets its comparatively lower fill power to still maintain warmth.

The elastic banding around the hood doesn’t always hold up against strong winds, but the draw cords at the hem are more effective.

This jacket is lightweight, but larger and might be difficult to layer.

The stitch through construction is touted as making it easy to compress, but with no baffle construction, the down is more likely to shift, possibly creating cold spots.

  • Down: 650 fill power, Q. Shield down
  • Shell Fabric: 100% 20d nylon Ripstop
  • Weight: 1 lb / 480g
  • Sizes Available: S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • Active fit: fit is trim but loose enough to layer

What We Like

  • Stitch-through quilting means it’s easy to compress down and pack
  • Elastic on cuffs and around the hood seal in warmth and block out wind
  • Dual hem drawcord for quick adjustments
  • Two zippered hand pockets

What We Don’t Like

  • No inner pocket
  • No draw cord or snap on hood
  • A little bulky
VIEW ON AMAZON


RAB Neutrino Pro Jacket

RAB Neutrino Pro Jacket - Men's Black Large

The Neutrino Pro from RAB is a premium-quality down jacket.

It has high quality hydrophobic down that is on the warmer end of the scale but remains light.

The baffle construction helps keep down in place, important as this jacket even has down in its hood.

It has various adjustments, including helmet and a waist drawstring.

This jacket has additional features to keep you even warmer including the down-insulated hood and hand-warmer pockets.

Although the stuff sack is separate rather than doubling as a pocket, there are compartments that easily fit a phone and essentials.

  • Down: 800 fill power, European goose hydrophobic down
  • Shell Fabric: 30D nylon
  • Weight: 22.4oz / 635g
  • Sizes Available: S, M, L, XL, XXL
  • Regular fit: versatile, not closely fitted to allow for layering and multi-seasonal use

What We Like

  • Stitch-through baffle construction for added warmth & no cold spots
  • Water-resistant Outer Shell with Pertex Endurance
  • Pertex Quantum inner for comfort
  • Down filled hood, helmet compatible, flexible polymer wired peak, Velcro-free hood roll down system
  • 2 YKK VISLON AquaGuard zipped hand-warmer pockets
  • 1 YKK zipped internal pocket

What We Don’t Like

  • Stuff sack included but separate
  • Waist drawstring can be delicate
  • Zipper can be stubborn
VIEW ON AMAZON VIEW AT BACKCOUNTRY


Marmot Men’s Quasar Nova Jacket

Marmot Men's Quasar Nova Jacket, Black, Large

The Quasar is another very lightweight jacket – the third lightest on our list.

It allows for great range of movement and can be easily carried in its own pocket stuff sack.

It also includes that carabiner loop to attach to a harness or pack.

However it faces problems similar to the Ghost Whisperer with such a low denier, compromising durability.

The down is not treated, so you should be careful to avoid damp weather and bring a reliable shell.

  • Down: 850 fill power, goose down
  • Shell Fabric: 100% 10d nylon
  • Weight: 13.1oz / 371.4g
  • Sizes Available: S, M, L, XL
  • Regular Fit: relaxed shoulder, straight hem

What We Like

  • Ultralight 10 Denier Pertex Quantum Fabric
  • Loop to clip to harness or daypack
  • Attached Hood with Peripheral Cord Adjustment
  • Free-moving, underarm design, adjustable hood.
  • Elastic draw cord hem and bond cuffs to keep the heat in
  • Packs into its own pocket

What We Don’t Like

  • Low denier compromises durability and seems to lose feathers a little more easily
  • Down is not treated/water-resistant
VIEW ON AMAZON VIEW AT REI


RAB Infinity Endurance Jacket

Edit for June 2019: this jacket is no longer available, we’ve left this review in case you find it on ebay or other second hand sites.

Rab Infinity Endurance Jacket - Men's Ebony X-Small

The Infinity Endurance has strong fill power, plenty of storage and a mid-range weight.

While it’s not the lightest jacket, it doesn’t have too much bulk – adding points for movement and style.

The hood is helmet-compatible and can be adjusted with its wired peak and drawcord.

The Pertex Endurance outer coating and hydrophobic down work especially well to repel water.

The main drawback is the weakness of the outer fabric, which is relatively easy to snag and tear.

RAB consistently makes high-quality products and you’ll certainly be warm on the slopes with this one!

  • Down: 850-fill power, hydrophobic European goose down
  • Shell Fabric: Nylon
  • Weight: 575g
  • Sizes Available: S, M, L, XL, XXL

Regular fit: versatile, not closely fitted to allow for layering and multi-seasonal use

What We Like

  • Pertex Endurance outer coating to keep it water resistant
  • Pertex Quantum GL fabric & Quantum Inner
  • Helmet compatible hood with a wired peak and drawcord for adjustment
  • Two zippered hand-warmer pockets
  • One zippered chest pocket
  • One zippered internal security pocket
  • Stitch-through baffle construction for increased durability and warmth

What We Don’t Like

  • Fabric is thin and easy to tear
  • Does not stuff into a pocket
VIEW ON AMAZON


Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Jacket

Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded Jacket - Men's Black Large

If you want a greater range of motion from your down jacket then the StretchDown from Mountain Hardwear delivers.

Stretching your arms far forward normally has the back of your jacket pull tight, limiting your reach. This jacket moves and stretches as you do, making it great for higher intensity activities like climbing.

The baffles are welded which not only allows for that stretch but the lack of stitching allows for better insulation, and more warmth.

The down is only 750 fill power which means they’ve had to use quite a bit of it to make the jacket as warm as it is and that comes at a bit of a weight cost.

It weighs around 1 lb and isn’t quite as compressible as we would like. The cold weather performance makes up for this though and the fit is really comfortable.

It also comes with dual-sided hem adjustment cords that allow you to seal in the warmth. There are also plenty of pockets and the inner drop pockets are ideal for stashing gloves.

If you need even more stretch then go for the StretchDown DS which uses a grid pattern baffle design for an even greater range of motion.

What we like:

  • Good stretch offer great mobility
  • Plenty of well located pockets – hand warmers, outer breast pocket, inner drop pockets
  • No-stitch welded baffles – better insulation
  • Tough, durable outer shell fabric

What we don’t like:

  • A little too heavy for ultralight use
VIEW ON AMAZON VIEW AT REI


Our Choice

For an extra warm, high quality down jacket with nearly all the features, we chose the RAB Neutrino Pro Jacket. It’s easily one of the warmest jackets we reviewed at 800 fill-power, has the down-insulated hood, and hand warmer pockets.

The Neutrino doesn’t compromise in durability either, with 30d shell fabric, but remains lightweight. The wire peak and drawstrings secure the hood well and the cuff bonds are easy to adjust.

The only downside is the stuff sack, which is separate as opposed to doubling as a pocket.

Our budget buy was the Outdoor Research Transcendent, which was not only one of the more affordable jackets we reviewed but one of the lightest. It’s easy to carry and easy to layer with other jackets or shells.

All of the down jackets we reviewed would be suitable for trekking above 10,000ft.

A Little About Down Jackets

If you’re here, chances are you’ve already chosen to go with down, rather than synthetic insulation. In case you haven’t, this is why we prefer down to synthetics.

In our opinion, any hike in winter or at an altitude above 10,000 ft will require a good down jacket.

Down jackets are made with the down – the soft underside – of ducks or geese. Down fluffs up to trap air in between the loft to retain heat. Since down itself is very light and has little structure, feathers are also used in down jacket insulation to help the down keep its shape.

Goose down is generally better than duck down since geese produce bigger down clusters which trap more air(1). Though Goose down is more expensive.

Down vs synthetic insulation for jackets

Is a down jacket better than a synthetic jacket? It’s hard to give a simple yes or no, definitive answer.

The truth is that there are pros and cons for both types and the conditions you’ll be using the jacket in, budget and personal preference all come into play.

Down Insulated Jackets

Down jackets have been around for ages and are often the go-to choice for adventure hikers that want maximum warmth in a lightweight jacket.

Most will have a baffled design and puffy look. These jackets will either be filled with duck down, or goose down feathers.

Goose down has a higher fill power than duck down and is the more expensive option.

Synthetic Insulated Jackets

These jackets use synthetic materials, normally polyester, to provide the insulation. You’ll see proprietary names like Ventrix, Apex, Polartec Alpha, etc…

Different manufacturers will have their own clever designs and shapes they spin the insulation into to provide the loft they’re after.

Some of these come in sheets while others try to imitate the shape of down feathers. These are more often the choice of hikers that have a requirement for better wet weather performance or who want to save a few bucks.

So let’s look at some pros and cons:

Down

Pros:

  • Compressibility – Down jackets compress right down for great packability and puff right back up again when you take them out.
  • High warmth to weight ratio – The high loft that down offers means they’re a lot lighter for the same amount of warmth that you get from synthetic options.

Cons:

  • Expensive – Down is your most expensive option and the price increases as the fill power goes up too.
  • Poor moisture performance – When down gets wet it clumps, loses its loft and takes a long time to dry. (There are some hydrophobic treated down options available now.)
  • It’s an animal product – The down is harvested from animals which means you’ve got ethical and responsible sourcing considerations that you don’t have with synthetics.
  • Baffles – Down tends to shift easily so these jackets normally have baffles sewn into them to keep the down in place. The stitching lines between each baffle leaves you with a small piece of jacket with no insulation and little holes where wind could get through.

Synthetic

Pros:

  • Cheaper – A lot less expensive than down jackets.
  • No Baffles – These jackets, especially those using sheets of insulation, are normally a one piece design with no baffles. This means you get all over insulation with no stitching holes where wind can get through.
  • All weather performance – Insulation doesn’t clump when it gets wet and continues to offer good insulation.

Cons:

  • Not as compressible – Takes up more room in your pack.
  • Lower warmth to weight ratio – You’ll need more insulation to provide the same amount of warmth a high fill power down jacket offers. This means the warmer synthetic jackets can be pretty heavy.
  • Durability – Synthetic fibers break down and lose loft over time leaving you with a jacket that isn’t as warm as it was when you first bought it.

If you’re only ever hiking in dry environments, travel super light and have a bigger budget then a down jacket is a good option.

For more weather versatility at a lower price, synthetic jackets are a good option, albeit at the cost of weight and packability.

How to Choose a Down Jacket

There are many features to look at when choosing a jacket, some more crucial than others. We’ll help you narrow down to the essential features. We’ll address:

  • Warmth: fill power
  • Durability: water resistance, treated down, DWR, denier, and construction
  • Additional: weight, compressibility, features, and style

Keeping you warm

One of, if not the most important factor you’ll be considering is warmth. Down already provides more warmth than synthetic insulation, but to understand why requires you to understand “fill power”.

Fill power: How this affects Warmth

Fill is a measurement of the amount of loft, or puffiness, the down has. The higher the fill, the fluffier the feathers are and the more volume they occupy. More volume means more trapped air and more warmth.

The fill power figure tells you how much volume, in cubic inches, one ounce of the insulation takes up. This gives us a great way to compare the warmth and weight we can expect from a jacket.

A 900 fill jacket will need less down than a 700 fill jacket to provide the same amount of insulation. A higher fill rate requires less down for more warmth, giving you a lighter jacket.

The words “fill power” or “fill rate” measures the volume of the down and how much air it can trap in its “loft”(2). The more air down can hold, the better it can keep you warm.

Fill Rate

So is a higher fill jacket warmer than a lower fill one?

Well, not necessarily.

It depends on the amount of insulation they’ve put into it. The fill weight refers to how much insulation has been used in the jacket.

If you’re looking for a warm jacket but want something really light then you’ll need to pay more for a high fill power jacket.

If you’re ok with something a little heavier with the same warmth then you can save a few dollars by opting for a lower fill power option.

To give you an idea of the weight difference that you can expect, a 550 fill jacket will be 40%-50% heavier than an 800 fill jacket to provide the same warmth.[1]

Estimated temperature scale

People experience cold and warmth differently so it’s hard to be definitive about what jacket to wear in a specific temperature range. As a rough guide you could use the following as a reference:

  • 35F – 60F – Ultralight jackets (2oz – 4oz fill weight)
  • Below 35F – Mid to heavy weight (4oz to 6oz fill weight)

Durability

A warm jacket isn’t worth the buy if it won’t last long. To measure durability, we look at water resistance, fabric strength or denier, and construction.

Water Resistance

Down will never be waterproof. When down becomes wet, it clumps together and loses significant loft. That means you’ll get a whole lot colder.

While your outer layer, or shell, might be water-resistant, the material of a good jacket should always be breathable so perspiration can escape.

Moisture will also be able to penetrate the fabric; down jackets are not completely waterproof. If your shell fabric gets torn, your down will lose loft even faster.

Fortunately, down can be treated to make it more resistant to water. This is also called hydrophobic down.

Hydrophobic down & DWR for those damp days…

One of the big downsides of down insulation is that when it gets wet it’s pretty much useless and it takes forever to dry again.

Not getting it wet in the first place is your best bet, which is why a decent DWR coating on the outer fabric or wearing a rain shell is important.

But if you get caught out in some heavier rain you’re bound to get some water seeping in, especially through the baffle stitching.

There’s been a lot of development in treating down to make it hydrophobic so that it maintains its loft a bit better when it gets wet.

Different manufacturers will claim their proprietary treatment method is special but essentially it comes down to applying a DWR coating to the down before putting it in the jacket.

So does it make a difference?

Hydrophobic Down vs Regular Down

Stand in the rain for an hour with a regular down jacket and it’ll lose pretty much all of its loft, and insulation ability. A hydrophobic down jacket in similar conditions will fare a lot better but will still lose some loft.

The real benefit of hydrophobic down is in the recovery time. The DWR coated down dries out and regains its loft a lot faster than regular down will.

Hydrophobic down doesn’t perform nearly as well as synthetic insulation does when wet but it is an improvement on the already great natural properties of down insulation.

Durable water repellent (DWR)

Most outdoor wear also comes with a durable water repellent(4) (DWR) coating. This is typically for shell fabric, but if you see DWR, know that this means water-resistant, but most likely will not be completely waterproof.

Fabric Denier: Outer Shell Durability

The shell fabric will affect water and wind resistance as well as breathability and durability. Most are made from nylon or a nylon cotton blend for better breathability or elastane for better stretch.

For better durability look out for a ripstop nylon material and pay attention to the denier. A higher denier means a higher thread weight and more durability. Increased durability comes at a weight cost.

You may see some jackets advertising the “denier”(5) of their fabric, shown as a number value followed by a lowercase d, like 70d. This simply refers to the thickness of the fabric.

The number provided is the thickness of a single strand of fabric. For outerwear, 40d to 80d is typical.

The lower the denier, the lighter the fabric. If you’re looking for a lightweight jacket, lower denier is preferable, but be aware that you might get less durability.

For those looking for something a little more sturdy, 70d to 80d is a reasonable range.

Construction

The tendency down has to shift over time means that you need some construction design elements to keep things in place.

Baffles are compartments created in the jacket construction that keep the down from migrating and leaving empty pockets without insulation.

These baffles are created in a few different ways with more to consider than just the aesthetics.

Sewn-through design – These baffles are made by sewing straight through from the shell material to the lining of the jacket.

This leaves you with stitched areas that have no insulation and the stitch holes can allow some wind and moisture to get through. The narrower the baffle sections, the more of these seams you’ll have that leak heat.

Welded or bonded baffles – By welding or gluing the seams between the baffles, instead of stitching them, you eliminate those small stitch holes and you’re less likely to get wind and water coming in.

You still end up with flat spots between each baffle where you have no insulation.

Box baffle – Instead of pinching the outer shell to the inner lining to create the baffle a box baffle has a thin perpendicular wall between the two layers.

Imagine the jacket constructed of little boxes, rather than little pillows with flat ends. You still get the baffles that keep the down in place but the lining is completely insulated from the shell.

The down is also compressed less in a box baffle. This means you get more loft, no cold spots and a much warmer jacket.

The more complex construction makes these jackets heavier and more expensive. They’re also puffier and don’t compress as much as a sewn-through design.

Weight

Whether you’re wearing it or stashing it, you have to carry your jacket and every ounce counts. Fortunately down has a great warmth to weight ratio and there are some really warm down jackets in the 8oz – 10oz range.

If you’re looking for ultralight options it’s important to understand that you will be paying a lot more for a lot less. The shell material and zippers will be less durable and you’ll have less pockets, draw cords and other features.

When you’re hiking long distances, every ounce you carry counts. When considering weight, fill-rate is important. A higher fill-rate will be lighter without sacrificing warmth.

How Compressible is the Insulated Jacket?

When you’re not wearing your jacket you want to be able to stash it easily. Down is highly compressible and a number of the better jackets can be stuffed into one of their own pockets.

The thickness, or denier, of the shell will affect the compressibility as will the fill power.

The higher the fill power, the smaller you’ll be able to compress the jacket and the faster it will puff back up again when you take it out.

Some down jackets still include a mix of synthetic insulation. This doesn’t mean they’re inferior – this is often done to increase warmth and cover cold spots where heat can escape – but it can make the jacket harder to stuff.

Some jackets can be stuffed into a reversible pocket, which doubles as a stuff sack. This way you never have to worry about losing, or remembering to bring a separate sack.

Pockets, hoods & other Features

Features

Here are a few features you’ll want to make sure your down jackets has.

Hood – An integrated hood offers extra warmth, comfort and versatility, especially if you don’t like wearing a beanie. The extra cost, weight and bulk mean this shouldn’t necessarily be your default choice though.

Zippers – Heavier duty zippers are easier to operate and are more durable. If you want to shave a few ounces a lighter zipper is an option but some of the ultralight ones can be really flimsy. It’s also worth noting the side the zipper is on. Some jackets use European-style left-handed zipper which can take some getting used to.

Stuffable/Clippable – At some point it’s going to be too warm to wear your jacket and you’ll need to carry it. Ideally you want one that stuffs into one of its own pockets or at least comes with a stuff sack. If it has a clippable loop then you’ll be able to save some space in your pack by attaching it to the outside.

Draw cords – Allows the bottom of the jacket to be cinched around your waist and prevents heat from escaping.

Pockets

  • Handwarmer pockets – Preferably zippered with insulation on the outer layer but not the inner layer. That way your hands can be up against your warm body.
  • Internal/external chest pockets – Great for storing your phone or other items you need periodic easy access to.
  • Internal stash pockets – Normally bigger, unzippered drop pockets which work well for holding things like your gloves.

Style – Style is very much about aesthetics and personal preference but some stylistic features have practical considerations too.

  • Length – Carrying a pack? Will the jacket be long enough to secure under pack strap?
  • Baffles – Narrower baffles means more cold spots without insulation.
  • Collar height – How tightly and high do you want to be able to cinch the collar?
  • Shoulder seam location – A rolled forward seam looks less symmetrical but reduces pack strap chafing.

Do you want pockets that are lined for extra warmth? Most men’s jackets also have an inner pocket, and sometimes a larger inner mesh pocket.

When climbing, inner pockets aren’t just convenient, but can be used to keep supplies like gloves or water bottles warm using body heat.

Can the hood be adjusted for optimal warmth?

Do you still have enough range of motion with the hood? Most of the jackets we review include hoods, but for some people, a beanie and lined collar are enough.

Ethics – How Is Down Harvested?

The reality is that feathers don’t grow on trees, they grow on ducks and geese. As a nature lover you’re more than likely concerned with animals being treated ethically and want to be sure the down in your jacket is sourced in a sustainable, ethical manner. 

Down feathers are either plucked from live birds or harvested as a byproduct from ducks and geese that are slaughtered for meat.

Live plucking is as bad as it sounds and is illegal in the US, Canada and Europe, with the exception of Hungary and Poland.

Down harvested from slaughtered birds sounds like a better option but often this comes from geese that were force fed to produce foie gras.

If you want to use down that has taken the least horrible path to your jacket then check that the manufacturer uses down suppliers certified by the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) or the Global Traceable Down Standard (TDS).

That way you can be sure the birds weren’t live plucked or force fed. Most of the quality outdoor manufacturers like Columbia, REI, Patagonia and The North Face use RDS or TDS certified down.

While there’s a lot of focus on the ethical aspects of down, it does have a lot of positive things going for it too.

It’s biodegradable, renewable and has the lowest carbon footprint of any other fill material, natural or synthetic.[2]

Men’s Down Jacket Style

Fit

Fit is a very personal thing and with varying body types our best advice is to know your measurements and check sizing guides carefully before buying. There are a few factors to consider that can help your jacket fit better though.

Length – Ideally the back of the jacket should cover some of your backside so you can cinch it at your waist rather than above your pants.

If you’re carrying a pack you want to be sure your waist strap isn’t going to come under your jacket bottom and make it ride up.

Some jackets will have a longer back to ensure a better fit when carrying a pack. If your activity will have you reaching overhead or bending forward to grab handlebars make sure your jacket is a little longer than the length you’d normally wear just for walking.

Hood drawcords & elastic – Cuffs and hems should be elasticated to keep warm air in and having drawcords at the waist helps to prevent any cold air creeping in.

Adjustable hood – Most hooded down jackets have elastic around the hood area to keep the hood snugly around your head.

Ideally you want to also have cinching cords that allow for more adjustment of how tight the hood is.

This is especially necessary if you plan on wearing the hood over a climbing helmet at times or if you’re wearing the hood up in high winds.

Although it’s probably not at the top of your criteria, you may also want to think about style.

Chances are a good fit will also look good. Other factors to consider include color, hood shape, bulkiness or “puffiness,” pocket placement, and stitching.

We’ve already gone over stitching functions, but you’ll want to like the way it looks too, even if you are only wearing it out in the bush!

Hood or no hood

If you’re going to be using the jacket as an outer layer and don’t like wearing a beanie then a hood is a good option. The extra warmth can make a big difference when the temperature dips and the wind comes up.

If the jacket will be used as your mid-layer and you plan on wearing a shell over it then choose one without a hood.

Your shell will invariably have its own hood and having your jacket’s hood bunched up behind your neck isn’t great.

A jacket without a hood will also be able to zip a lot tighter around your neck and will do a better job of trapping body heat.

The extra cost and added weight and bulk are also worth considering before opting for a hoodie design.

If you’re not heading into serious cold then a hoodless style will also offer the versatility of everyday wear.

How to wash your down jacket

With time the down feathers in your jacket will eventually become dirty and coated with oils from your skin and perspiration.

As these pack onto the down fibers reducing the loft and along with it the cold weather performance.

Washing a down jacket takes a bit of extra care but there’s no reason not to do it yourself at home if you follow these steps.

  • Put your jacket into a washing machine without an agitator. Using an agitator could tear the stitching on your baffles or cause the down to clump into large balls.
  • Wash with a gentle down wash detergent – Regular detergent will leave a residue on the down and it will reduce the loft. Nickwax Down Wash or Grangers Down Wash are good options. The Nickwax product provides a hydrophobic treatment to the down too.
  • Put your jacket in the dryer. You want to break up the clumped down feathers as it dries. The easier, slightly less effective way is to throw a few tennis balls in the dryer and they bump the clumps as it dries.
  • Pause the dryer and manually break up any clumps
  • Tumble dry until completely dry

Product image credits: © Amazon.com

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