The 10 Best Down Jackets of 2021

Stay warm even in the chilliest climates with these top puffies

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The first down puffies were made for mountaineers. But nowadays, everyone wears down jackets. And for good reason. The way feathers trap body warmth makes down sweaters and puffies softer, lighter, and warmer than synthetic insulation. 

“There is nothing comparable to down as far as the weight to warmth ratio," says Tahoe-based former World Champion Freeskier Kyle Smaine. "When you’re backcountry touring, a down jacket packs smaller than any other layer of the same warmth, saving room in your pack.“

The perfect down jacket will be suited to the times and places you’ll wear it. For technical pursuits, a jacket with the highest fill power will be the lightest and warmest. If you’ll get sweaty or wet, choose a jacket that repels moisture. And make sure to pick one with the features and storage you need. 

Laura Akita, Global Category Manager at The North Face says when choosing a down jacket, keep in mind there are different tools for different jobs. “A great city down jacket and one for the backcountry are extremely different things," Akita notes. "Identify what you want the jacket to do for you. If you’re in a city and want a jacket to wear to and from the job in Denver, you want to prioritize warmth and wind protection, and maybe waterproofing because the jacket is your outer layer. If you’re looking for a down jacket for backpacking, a light jacket you can layer might be your best bet.”

For Smaine, a down jacket is a four-season wardrobe essential. “There are probably only three weeks in Tahoe you won't want a hoodie or jacket, so I always have a down jacket or sweater in my car, and one in my backpack.”

Smaine wants his jacket to have a hood. “Living in Tahoe versus somewhere colder, it’s often too warm to hike in a down jacket. I pack one that will keep me warm while I stand around, and for that, I want a hood.”

Smaine also wants a puffy with stretch. “When I’m bending down to buckle my boots at the top of the lift, having stretch in my jacket’s shoulders is key. I don’t want my jacket to ride up making me stand up to adjust it before I bend over again to finish buckling.”

Jackets with lower fill power will be a little bit heavier, and typically also more affordable. We recommend buying a jacket with down that’s been certified responsibly harvested. While all down is a by-product of the food industry, we support the humane treatment of animals. 

And, while the warmth of down is hard to pass up if you live where it really is wet all the time, be sure to get a jacket with down and fabric that repels water, and possibly consider a “synthetic down” instead. “Down is an extremely efficient insulator,” Akita points out. “But when it gets wet it can’t trap air. So, if you live in a wet environment, including a place with high humidity, a synthetic fill jacket may be a better option.”

These are the best down jackets currently on the market.

The Rundown
The Ora hits a sweet spot for backcountry functionality.
While Bass Outdoor’s Glacier Trek Packable Down may be no-frills, it’s warm, comfortable, moto-styled, and uses RDS-certified down.
One of the lightest technical down jackets you can buy.
Its generous baffles are filled with high-loft, 800-fill, RDS-certified down.
A fully waterproof jacket on the outside and a down puffy on the inside.
The pullover uses the lightest fabric in Patagonia’s line, making it extremely packable, and so low bulk I barely knew it was on.
A down jacket made for rugged use, hard work, and anything else you need to do.
The shiny Bulo Point combines 700-fill power RDS-certified down with water-resistant fabric and Columbia’s most advanced lining.
Made with 100 percent recycled fabrics and 100 percent upcycled 750-fill down, it has features not usually found in a mid-layer.
Norona’s Trollveggen is a superlight, highly compressible down sweater with pockets.

Best Overall: Black Crows Ora Micro Down Jacket

Black Crows Ora Micro Down Jacket
What We Like
  • Stand up neck

  • Harness compatible pockets

  • Stuffs for storage

What We Don't Like
  • Not stretchy

A heavyweight down sweater or lightweight down parka, Black Crow’s highly packable, compact, double-layer Ora Micro Down Jacket is made with windproof and poke-proof fabric inside and out. It was as suited to wearing solo as it was to layer under a shell. Warmer than a standard down sweater, but not as hefty as a belay parka, the Ora hits a sweet spot for backcountry functionality. I wore it over a sweater to hit the town and under a shell for carving blower pow. For storage, it was stuffed into an internal oversized zip pocket, which had a hang loop. Another internal pocket was big enough to store goggles on the skin track or chair lift, and harness compatible handwarmer pockets stashed everything else.

I loved the cuff, hood, and hem binding which kept the weather out without feeling confining. The high collar, which stands up when unzipped and when zipped, blocked the wind and kept snow out more like a shell jacket. Chevron baffles and logo-printed liner and pockets earned this jacket some style points while being on point but not obnoxious with branding. 

Sizes: S-XL (Men’s), XS-L (Women’s) | Material: Pertex Quantum Eco | Insulation: RDS Duck Down | Weight: 11.6 ounces (m’s M) | Impact: Made in European factories with eco-friendly Xpore; traceable RSD (Responsible Down Standard) Certified

Best Budget: Bass Outdoor Glacier Trek Packable Down Jacket

Bass Outdoor Glacier Trek Packable Down Jacket
What We Like
  • Price

  • Modern styling

What We Don't Like
  • Women’s only

  • No internal pockets

Buy this jacket for wearing around town, for travel, and for hiking and camping. The fabric was soft against my skin, the zipper didn’t chafe, and it was warm solo or under a shell. While Bass Outdoor’s Glacier Trek Packable Down Jacket may be no-frills, it’s warm, comfortable, moto-styled, and uses RDS-certified down. Alternating quilting patterns and long knitted cuffs made the jacket feel youthful and fun. So did contrasting zipper pulls and a cinch cord at the waist. Handwarmer pockets hold your stuff. So do internal stuff pockets. But there are no internal or chest zippered pockets.

Sizes: XS-XL (Women’s) | Material: Nylon | Insulation: 746-fill RDS down | Weight: 16 ounces (Women’s S) | Impact: RDS-certified down

Best Lightweight: Crazy Levity Jacket

Crazy Levity Jacket
What We Like
  • Insanely light

  • Tough and packable

What We Don't Like
  • Not widely available

One of the lightest technical down jackets you can buy, the stretchy and warm Crazy Levity uses glue, not stitching in its baffles to keep down from migrating. Each of the sustainably-sourced, cruelty-free white goose feathers is also moisture-repelling and quick-drying, treated with an eco-friendly repellent for the same waterproofness the down had when it was on the goose. The 950/1000-fill is body-mapped for warmth and breathability. The jacket is so light, I worried it was fragile. But in the month I wore it, I never saw a feather poke through the stretch elastic 7D ripstop shell or liner. Compressed, it was about the size of an orange, and perfect for fast and light adventures.

Sizes: XS-L (Women’s), S-XL (Men’s) | Material: Full stretch 7 Dernier Ripstop | Insulation: 950 fill-power down | Weight: 6.1 ounces (Men’s) and 5.4 ounces (Women’s) | Impact: The company is committed to engineering fast and light apparel, resulting in the use of less material in its products and less waste. 

Best for Extreme Cold: Mountain Hardwear Phantom Down Parka

Mountain Hardwear Phantom Down Parka
What We Like
  • Spacious stuff pockets

  • Highly compressible

What We Don't Like
  • Too warm for most days

The jacket I kept in my backcountry ski pack all winter, the Phantom, was made for frosty belays and sub-zero skin track transitions. Its generous baffles are filled with high-loft, 800-fill, RDS-certified down. Both skiing and climbing, the hood fit over my helmet. And when I wasn’t wearing a helmet, the back of the head drawcord lets me adjust the hood to cover my ears, not my eyes. The hand pockets didn’t interfere with a harness, and the two-way zipper let me unzip from the bottom to feed rope. A drawcord hem sealed out the breeze on bitter days. It was extra insurance my skins would stay in the oversized stretchy internal stuff pockets. And when it was cold enough, I left the phantom on to ski down. A massive chest pocket held a phone, food, and more. And you get all that for just over a pound.

Sizes: XS-XL (Women's), S-XXL (Men's) | Material: Ultralight diamond ripstop shell fabric with DWR finish | Insulation: 800-fill RDS-certified down | Weight: 1 pound 3 ounces (Women’s), 1 pound 4 ounces (Men’s) | Impact: RDS-Certified Down; Fluoride Free

Best for Waterproofness: Marmot Women's WarmCube Cortina Jacket

Marmot Women's WarmCube Cortina Jacket
What We Like
  • A shell and down puffy in one

  • Oversized internal stuff pockets

  • Jacket doesn’t use RDS-certified down

A fully waterproof jacket on the outside and a down puffy on the inside, Marmot’s Kaprun and Cortina use WarmCube, square baffles that prevent down from migrating better than tubular baffles without losing loft. On the inside of the jacket, down is sequestered in fabric cubes, each stuffed with 800-fill, body-heat trapping down. Between each cube, air channels trap body-warmed air to keep you toasty. On the outside, a two-layer waterproof breathable shell covers the down. It’s 20K/20K waterproof and 100 percent seam taped.

On warm days I unzipped the pit zips to vent my core, and I took off the helmet-compatible hood. On cold days the hood made this jacket feel like a cozy sleeping bag with its brushed inner collar. On face shot days, the zip-off powder skirt kept cold and snow out. So did the thumbhole cuffs. The jacket had plenty of pockets, including oversized mesh inner pockets big enough to hold cold-weather mitts, an internal zip pocket, and a pass pocket. (Check out the men's version—the Kaprun—here.)

Sizes: XS-XL (Women's), S-XL (Men's)| Material: Two-layer polyester | Insulation: 800-fill down | Weight: 2 pounds 6 ounces | Impact: No planet friendly materials or processes

Best for Layering: Patagonia Men's AlpLight Down Pullover

Patagonia Men's AlpLight Down Pullover
What We Like
  • Nearly hardware-free

  • Legit eco story

  • Warm and weightless

What We Don't Like
  • Men’s has a neck

The ultimate layering piece, Patagonia’s collarless, light, and warm Alp Light Pullover is part of a new collection the brand calls Alpine Downlab. The pullover uses the lightest fabric in Patagonia’s line, making it extremely packable, and so light and low bulk I barely knew I had it on. The pullover, which was more like a down sweatshirt than a jacket, is body-mapped. Different quilting patterns give more warmth and more freedom of movement as each zone requires. The soft-to-the-touch fabric was super quiet, both when I wore this jacket solo, and when I wore it under a shell.

It’s also fully post-consumer recycled, made from old fishing nets, which helps reduce ocean pollution. A quarter-zip made it easy to get on and off, and because there are no pockets, Velcro, or other things to get caught, it never got hung up when I was layering. It added warmth almost without weight. If you want a piece with a hood, check out the jacket version of the same, or buy men’s. Only women get the collar-free option. 

Sizes: XXS-XL (Women's) | Material: NetPlus, a 100 percent recycled post-consumer recycled nylon | Insulation: 800-fill-power Advanced Global Traceable Down | Weight: 6.4 ounces (Women’s); 7.9 ounces (Men’s) | Impact: 100 percent post-consumer recycled nylon, fair trade certified sewn, PVC-Free DWR, 800-fill-power Advanced Global Traceable Down

Best for Hard Use: L.L. Bean Men's Upcountry Waxed Cotton Down

L.L. Bean Men's Upcountry Waxed Cotton Down
What We Like
  • Zips and snaps

What We Don't Like
  •  Zipper was fussy

A down jacket made for rugged use, hard work, and anything else you need to do, this L.L. Bean jacket has weather-repelling waxed cotton on the outside, and quick-dry hydrophobic DownTek down in the inside, with brass hardware closures. Cut to below the hip, the relaxed fit was as comfortable hiking around in the woods as it was loading a truck with firewood and running errands. The more I wore it the better it looked, even as the jacket was put to the test in the wind, rain, mud and cold, hauling brush, cleaning trail, and more.

L.L. Beans says the DownTek 650-fill repels 33 percent more moisture and dries 66 percent faster than standard down and that this is the lightest version of this jacket it has ever made. Not once did it wet out, even when we were working in the woods. Plus, we loved the pockets. The jacket has snap cargo pockets, side storage pockets, and fleece-lined high handwarmer pockets as well as an inside pocket to stash a phone.

Sizes: XS-XL (Women's), S-XXL, Regular and Tall (Men's) | Material: Waxed cotton | Insulation: DownTek 650-fill down | Weight: 2 pounds, 10 ounces (Men’s small) | Impact: RDS down, recycled polyester

Best for Urban Adventures: Columbia Men's Bulo Point Omni-Heat Infinity Down Jacket

Columbia Men's Bulo Point Omni-Heat Infinity Down Jacket
What We Like
  • Eye catching

  • Packs in an included stuff sack

What We Don't Like
  • Short cut isn’t as weather protective

A good down puffy is a mountain town staple. It’s also an urban essential. And this jacket looks the part. Short and sassy, the shiny Bulo Point combines 700-fill power RDS-certified down with water-resistant fabric and Columbia’s most advanced lining, which reflects body heat with a dense pattern of shiny gold dots that won’t trap moisture. On blustery days, I cinched the hood down with the drawcord. When I was hitting my favorite hangouts, I removed the hood and left it home. Cinch the hem, and it makes this cropped jacket even shorter. For travel, it packs into an included stuff sack. And on the chilliest days, I especially appreciated the thumb-loop cuffs.

Sizes: XS-XXL (Women’s), S-XXL (Men’s) | Material: 100 percent Recycled Polyester, 100 percent Nylon Shell | Insulation: 750 fill RDS certified down | Weight: 1 pound, 9 ounces (Women’s M) | Impact: RDS Certified Down and recycled polyester

Best Eco-Friendly: Jones Re-Up Down Puffy

Jones Re-Up Down Puffy
What We Like
  • Exceptional use of eco materials

What We Don't Like
  • Men’s only

  • Runs small

Designed for skiers, Jones’ Re-Up walks the talk, with eco-friendly materials that lessen this jacket’s contributions to climate change. The jacket, which Jones says is the first puffy in the world made with 100 percent recycled fabrics and 100 percent upcycled 750-fill down, has features not usually found in a mid-layer. Dual oversized stuff pockets inside hold skins or a sandwich close to your body where they’ll be warm, and the jacket stuffs into the interior phone pocket for storage inside your pack.

All zippers, including the inside pocket, have glove-friendly zippers. And the handwarmer pockets don’t have zippers, so I actually used them to warm my hands instead of using them for storage. The jacket slides under a shell, which is why it’s hood-free with elastic cuffs and no waist cinch. There’s nothing to snag when you layer. All of this is why it's a layer I now either carry or wear all winter.

Sizes: XS-XL (Men’s) | Material: 100 percent recycled Downproof Nylon 20D with PFC-Free DWR | Insulation: upcycled 750-fill down | Weight: 11.4 ounces (Men’s M) | Impact: Bluesign certified 100 percent recycled fabrics and 100 percent upcycled down, PFC-Free DWR

Best for Packability: Norrona Trollveggen Superlight Down

Norrona Trollveggen Superlight Down
What We Like
  • A four-season layer

  • Ultralight

  • Eco-friendly materials

What We Don't Like
  • No phone pocket

I wear a down sweater all year long. This one is my new favorite. It’s a layer to take the chill off any day, anywhere. Norona’s Trollveggen is a superlight, highly compressible down sweater with pockets. Sewn from a high-tech, windproof, feathery but strong 100 percent recycled 7D nylon, the jacket’s baffles are filled with RDS-certified 850 fill goose down. The slim-fit jacket is cut longer in the back for extra weather protection. And though it’s a slim fit, it had more room in the chest than similar layers. It’s minimalist but has plenty of pockets, including two hand-warmer pockets and a packable pocket. Minimalistic cuff closure and an elastic bottom hem hold in the heat.

Sizes: XS-L (Women’s), S-XL (Men’s) | Material: 7D 100 percent Recycled Nylon | Insulation: 850 fill down with RDS 2.0 | Weight: 5.8 ounces (Women’s); 7 ounces (Men’s) | Impact: 7D 100 percent Recycled Nylon, RDS 2.0 Goose Down 

Final Verdict

We loved Black Crow’s Ora because even though it’s important to get the right tool for the job, this jacket checks a lot of boxes, and is the right layer for a lot of jobs. Wear it as an outer layer for athletic or social pursuits. Or layer it under a shell when it’s really chilly. It’s got some style, and it’s light and warm. We liked the hood, and while we wished the fabric stretched, the cut was appropriately generous without being baggy, so it didn’t ride up or feel uncomfortable.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do I care for and wash my down jacket?

    Look at the cleaning instructions on your individual down jacket first. But in general, down jackets should be washed at home or at a laundromat on a gentle cycle with a down-specific wash. We like Nikwax’s Nikwax Down Wash Direct. Follow the directions on the bottle. Do not dry clean down.

  • How do I treat my down jacket to be waterproof?

    The best way to add water repellency to a down jacket is with an aftermarket wash-in treatment. We like Nikwax Down Proof. First, wash your jacket or another down item with a down-specific wash, like Nikwax Down Wash Direct, which both maintains the down’s loft and warmth and also restores water repellency.

    Follow that up by washing the clean jacket in Nikwax Down Proof, which coats fabric and feathers with a planet-friendly durable water repellent (DWR). After washing, dry your down jacket in a dryer with tennis balls. See Nikwax’s website or Down Proof bottle for detailed instructions.

  • What is Certified Down?

    According to Daniel Uretsky, the president of ALLIED Feather + Down, “The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) was created out of the necessity for an industry-wide standard for ethically sourced down. The goal of the standard is to provide a mark that gives peace of mind to potential buyers.” 

    “We helped found that standard because we wanted to hold ourselves accountable,” The North Face’s Akita adds.

    With the RDS standard, we know animals are treated humanely and there is no live-plucking. The other most common down standard is the Global Traceable Down Standard (GTDS), which provides assurance that down was harvested without unnecessary pain or harm to the geese or ducks, and that the down is traceable.

    Both RDS and GTDS assume animal welfare including for birds being raised for food—most down is a by-product of the food industry.

  • What do the different fill levels mean?

    "At a basic level, fill power indicates how much of a given volume one gram of down is able to take up,” Akita explains. “The higher the number, the more space a gram of down takes. So, 800-fill down will take up more room than 550-fill down.”

    Akita says the reason we care is because down works by trapping warm air. “It’s not a jacket’s material that keeps you warm,” Akita continues, “it’s how much air you can trap. This is why ducks and geese can stay warm and fly. They effectively trap warm air in the spaces between their feathers at a very light weight."

    For a city jacket, one you’ll wear standing around waiting for a dinner reservation, or walking to work, Akitas says a weightier jacket can feel warm and protected. A 550-fill down jacket, for example, would be a great choice, and less expensive than one with higher fill power.

    “If you’re looking for a packable piece to use in the backcountry, you’ll want a jacket with higher fill power that’s lighter and more compressible,” Akita advises. “It will reduce the weight you have to carry and increase the warmth for that weight."

Why Trust TripSavvy?

Vermont-based writer Berne Broudy tests all the gear she reviews skiing, backpacking, cycling, climbing, kayaking, and more. She writes about technical apparel and adventure destinations for many outdoor and lifestyle publications.

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