9 of the Best Down Jackets for Men 2018

A reliable jacket is key when you're preparing for any hike. Harsh conditions and unexpected surprises are always easier to deal with when you have a reliable source of warmth.

It's a plus if your jacket is water-resistant, durable, and has enough space to hold your personal items. There are tons of jackets on the market now - how can you find a high-quality down jacket with everything you need?

At the end of the day's trekking, as the temperature drops rapidly, you need something that keeps you warm and cosy before you retire to your bed. If you are heading up Kilimanjaro, or Mt Kenya or to Everest Base Camp, choosing one of these jackets will ensure you don't get cold, both on and off the trail.

To help you out, we've reviewed nine of the best down jackets for men. After taking an in-depth look at each of them, our buyer's guide will walk you through down jacket 'essentials and extras' features to help you make the best choice for your needs. 

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*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.

What are the Best Down Jackets for Men?

We’ve reviewed nine highly-rated down jackets for you to consider for your next adventure. All these down jackets will keep you warm whilst hiking in winter and on the often bitterly cold slopes of Kilimanjaro or Everest Base Camp.

If you’re looking for a lightweight 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 it still boasts an impressive 800 fill power.


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

While it 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

  1. Very low denier and weight can sacrifice durability
  2. Loft feels a little thin

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


The hood uses synthetic insulation, which not everyone will like, but makes it waterproof.


Down Composite Mapping is another great feature. Every down jacket leaks heat from some areas, along certain seams and at the joints. 

Arc’teryx addresses this flaw 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 might make the jacket less compressible. However, it can still fit into a stuff sack.


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

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

Overall Outdoor Research’s Transcendent Sweater 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

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

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

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

The Neutrino Endurance 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

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

Our Choice

Top Pick: RAB Neutrino Endurance

Budget Buy: Outdoor Research Men's Transcendent Sweater

For an extra warm, high quality down jacket with nearly all the features, we chose the RAB Neutrino Endurance 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 Sweater, which was not only one of the cheapest 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.

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

Warmth

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

While shopping you’ll often come across something called “fill power” or “fill rate”. This 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.

Although you might also see people talk about a jacket having high or low loft, you can get the clearest picture idea of a jacket’s warmth by its fill rate.

Fill rates range from 400 to 900 fill. A higher fill rate requires less down for more warmth, giving you a lighter jacket.

Higher fill rates like those in the 800 to 900 range are pricier. A jacket with low fill can be just as warm but will be heavier. On average 750 fill suits most purposes.

The jackets we review all fall within 650 to 850 fill, being the most appropriate for winter hiking and the higher altitudes of Kilimanjaro or Everest Base Camp.

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.

Treated Down

Hydrophobic down has been treated with a water repellent substance(3). It can withstand damp weather and dries faster when it does get wet. Q. Shield Down is a common type of hydrophobic down.

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

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 design of the material also affects its warmth. “Sewn through” and “box baffle” are the most common manufacturing methods. Sewn through is the most common for manufacturers, as it is cheaper. It involves stitching directly into the insulation of the jacket.

Box baffle, on the other hand, keeps each segment of down in a separate compartment. A box baffle design is more likely to be warmer, however, it might also be can be heavier and more expensive to make. A sewn through jacket is normally cheaper and lighter.

Weight

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.

The denier of the shell fabric also makes a difference with lower denier meaning less weight. So for a lighter jacket, remember high fill power, low denier.

Some people don’t mind or even prefer a heavier jacket and in that case, we’d suggest a higher denier fabric for more durability.

Compressibility

If you’re set on a down jacket, you’ve already chosen great compressibility. Down contains a lot of air and can be stuffed without damaging the insulation or compromising its shape.

However, 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.

The denier of the jacket’s shell fabric will also influence compressibility.

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.

Features

The most prominent feature is a jacket’s pockets. You should consider how much you want to carry and how many pockets you’ll need. Is it important for your pockets to be zippered?

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.

Hoods are another important feature. Do you need something that gives you as much coverage as possible?

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.

Adjustment features can result in a better jacket and are key to keeping out the cold. Most jackets have draw cord or similar adjustment at the hem.

Cuffs almost always have elastic, but adjustable bands can keep you warmer and make it easier to take on and take off gloves.

Even hoods feature draw cords or wire peaks which can be bent to your preference.

These are just a few of the features to consider when buying a down jacket, although many of these come down to personal preference. For us, warm hand pockets are a must.

Style

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!

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