What’s the best packable down jacket? I hear you ask.
What is a packable down jacket? I hear others ask.
Lucky for you all I’m doing this article to answer both those questions and then some.
Down jackets can also be called “puffer jackets” and they’re a rather useful item of clothing due to several interesting properties they possess.
They can keep you warm, they’re lightweight, they can be used well with other layers, AND…
Stuff them into your pocket (or their own carry sack) and you’re good to go with a backup jacket you can whip out whenever the weather turns bad.
They’re awesome, basically. And here’s a review of the very best options on the market today.
A buyer’s guide and FAQ section will follow. Please note that men and women’s jackets are included.
Let’s get DOWN…
- TOP 15 Best Packable Down Jackets 2020
- Camel Crown Women’s Packable Down Jacket
- Hard Land Men’s Packable Down Jacket
- Hawke & Co Men’s Packable Down Puffer Jacket
- Rokka&Rolla Men’s Packable Puffer Down Jacket
- Jack Wolfskin Women’s ICY Creek Jacket
- Rab Women’s Microlight Alpine Jacket
- Tommy Hilfiger Men’s Packable Down Jacket
- Helly Hansen Women’s Vanir Icefall Down Jacket
- Marmot Men’s Tullus Hoody Winter Puffer Jacket
- Mountain Hardwear Men’s Ghost Whisperer Jacket
- Patagonia Men’s Down Sweater Hoody
- The North Face Women’s Thermoball Full-Zip Jacket
- Marmot Men’s Quasar Nova Down Jacket
- Arc’teryx Women’s Thorium AR Hoody
- Arc’teryx Men’s Cerium LT Hoody
- What to Look for When Purchasing a Packable Down Jacket
TOP 15 Best Packable Down Jackets 2020
Camel Crown Women’s Packable Down Jacket
Review: We start as ever with the budget end of the down jacket market – but a quality piece of kit regardless and one that garners a lot of good reviews and praise.
This Camel Crown is extremely easy on the pocket, but it offers a water and stain repellent 1005 nylon outer shell, while being filled with ultra-soft humanely sourced natural fiber filling (80% duck down, 20% feather) for warmth and comfort on cold winter days.
It features a windproof hood, an easy pull front zipper, elasticized cuffs and an adjustable drawstring hem, and is super lightweight and breathable. Internal and external pockets are offered, while the whole garment can be packed down into its own carry sack for ultimate portability.
For the price, it could well be the best lightweight packable down jacket available.
- Outstanding price.
- Loads of features.
- Super lightweight.
- You might need something more heavy-duty for really cold temperatures.
Hard Land Men’s Packable Down Jacket
Review: A budget offering for the men now with this Hard Land packable down jacket. Again, it’s made from a water-repellent 100% nylon outer shell, while the inner workings comprise of 90% down, 650 fill power.
It features plenty of storage options with five pockets in total, including a very large internal compartment for storing your valuables.
There’s an adjustable, draw-string waist and hood, and it will keep you warm in temperatures just below freezing. For anything lower, simply layer up with extra clothing underneath.
This jacket can also pack into one of its own pockets which you turn inside out for ultimate portability and convenience.
- Excellent price.
- Packs into its own pocket.
- Good storage options.
- Choice of colors could have been better.
- Sleeves run long for some.
Hawke & Co Men’s Packable Down Puffer Jacket
Review: A packable effort from Hawke & Co here that is super-budget friendly while being practical at the same time.
It’s made from 100% nylon with the option to machine wash (which is always handy).
There’s a channel-quilted zip-front design with standing collar and zippered hand pockets, while the interior fill is a combination of 90% duck down and 10% feather to keep the heat well and truly in.
The jacket can fully pack down into its own pocket and it comes in an excellent choice of colors for those who are especially fashion conscious.
- Great price.
- Simple, no-nonsense design.
- Great choice of colors.
- No hood.
- Not as heavy-duty as other brands.
Rokka&Rolla Men’s Packable Puffer Down Jacket
Review: A quilted winter jacket from Rokka & Rolla here that is made from 100% nylon for the out water-resistant and windproof shell, with a 90% white duck down and 10% duck feather insulation that will keep you seriously warm and toasty in most situations.
It’s extremely soft next to the skin while being highly breathable and lightweight, while it can be cleverly packed down into a travel pillow via a pouch located in the collar.
It’s possible to machine wash the garment for easy care, and bonus features include a standing collar with front zipper closure, on-seam zippered pockets and comfortable elastic cuffs.
- Excellent price.
- Packs down into a travel pillow.
- Choice of two-tone colors available.
- No hood to speak of.
Jack Wolfskin Women’s ICY Creek Jacket
Review: Trusted German outdoor specialist Jack Wolfskin offer this attractive down-alternative jacket for women at a very reasonable price considering the brand.
It’s windproof and water-resistant, with synthetic down-filled insulation. It’s highly breathable and portable as all puffer jackets should be, and it offers excellent wicking performance to keep moisture away from your skin.
It has the added advantage of being able to zip into a compatible jacket for extra layering.
However, it’s perfectly suitable to wear on its own as a good hiking option. For similar choices, check out these winter hiking jackets for lightweight apparel that won’t restrict you when you’re on the trails.
- Name to trust.
- Quality materials.
- Nicely designed and fitted.
- Can run a little small – so watch your sizing.
- Not strictly a “packable” down jacket.
Rab Women’s Microlight Alpine Jacket
Review: With inner insulation made from 750FP R.D.S. Certified European goose down and a Pertex Quantum DWR outer shell (durable water repellent), this packable jacket will keep you warm and dry when you’re out on the slopes or trails.
It incorporates a lycra-filled hem and cuffs, with a comfortable chin guard at the hood when you zip it all the way up for added protection.
Featuring two zippered hand pockets and one zippered chest pocket, the jacket also comes with its own stuff sack for maximum portability.
It’s super lightweight and breathable, and not only that it’s one of the more stylishly cut puffer jackets out there.
- Stylish and functional design.
- Premium materials and construction.
- Excellent choice of vibrant, funky colors.
- None to speak of – let me know if you find one.
Tommy Hilfiger Men’s Packable Down Jacket
Review: It’s not often we feature the likes of Tommy Hilfiger on a travel and outdoor blog, but here they are and quite deservedly so.
As you’d expect from the high-end fashion brand, this is a stylish piece of apparel carrying their signature logo. It’s made from 100% nylon outer shell, a channel-quilted zip-front design featuring side-entry hand pockets and down feather padding.
There’s a standing collar, it’s machine washable and it comes complete with its own drawstring bag for packing the jacket away when you’re on the go.
There’s a definite bargain to be had here from a household name.
- Excellent price for what you get.
- Stylish design and manufacture.
- Name to trust.
- Jaw-dropping choice of colors.
- No hood.
Helly Hansen Women’s Vanir Icefall Down Jacket
Review: Norwegian outdoor specialists Helly Hansen produce some excellent apparel for mountain and sea adventures, so you can bet your bottom dollar they’re going to be able to withstand the elements.
This is a lightweight construction and 40 denier down-proof fabric so the feathers don’t go walkabout. It’s filled with 85% Allied down and 15% European goose down, with PrimaLoft Silver water-resistant insulation for extra warmth and protection.
It’s stylish, functional and practical, with years of testing gone in to producing the model you see today.
With a DWR coating and excellent windproofing, you’ll barely feel anything but protection when you’re out on snowy slopes or windy hikes.
- Top quality make and manufacture.
- Beautiful design.
- Tough and durable.
- No stuff sack.
- Very limited choice of colors.
Marmot Men’s Tullus Hoody Winter Puffer Jacket
Review: Hailing from Colorado, Marmot must surely know a thing or two about outdoor wear. Thankfully, they do, and this Tullus winter puffer is no exception.
It’s made from a 100% nylon outer shell which is windproof and water-resistant, and boasts insulation from 600 fill power down to keep you warm and dry in any conditions. The attached hood with the elasticated binding is ideal for extra protection against the elements, and it features zippered hand warmers and elastic-bound hem and cuffs for added weatherproofing.
It’s machine washable and tailored for a more athletic fit, ensuring you look good as well as feel good in the cold.
- Quality name and manufacture.
- Stylish, practical design.
- Super warm and lightweight.
- Tapered fit.
- There have been reports of feathers escaping…
Mountain Hardwear Men’s Ghost Whisperer Jacket
Review: Mountain Hardware claim to have the lightest, fully-featured down jacket in the world with this rather evocatively named Ghost Whisperer model.
It’s a bold claim, but one they might actually be able to back up with its 100% polyamide shell, a 10 denier ripstop material and Q-Shield waterproof down at 800-fill.
It features a fully integrated, draw-string hood, elasticated cuffs and waist hem, and is machine washable.
Couple this with a pair of the best hiking pants for winter at that link and you’ll have an excellent combination of lightweight portability and protection.
- Ultra lightweight.
- Stylish design.
- Choice of colors.
- Not as rugged as it could be.
Patagonia Men’s Down Sweater Hoody
Review: Californian company Patagonia are never too far away from outdoor apparel reviews, and this is a quality piece of kit that easily gets in here.
It’s made from a tough new shell fabric with an updated ripstop pattern, and 100% recycled polyester fabric with a DWR finish. As is the company’s mantra, it’s made from an ethically sourced, traceable goose down, which is a warm and toasty 800-fill.
There’s a single-pull adjustable hood, center-front Vislon zipper with wicking interior storm flap and zipper garage at chin. Nylon bound elasticated cuffs keep the wind out, while handwarmer pockets ensure your digits aren’t going to fall off.
Two internal zippered pockets for your valuables also offer the ability to stuff the jacket down on itself. I’d say this is the best packable down jacket for hiking around.
- Loads of quality features.
- Ethical company and sourced insulation.
- Name to trust.
- Choice of colors would have been a great option.
The North Face Women’s Thermoball Full-Zip Jacket
Review: This versatile sports puffer jacket is a thing of beauty from The North Face – but then we’ve come to expect nothing less.
Okay, so it’s not actually a down garment, but it is their warmest synthetic variation, which offers a super-lightweight loft, while being contoured to fit the body and keep heat in.
It has internal elastic cuffs, secure-zip hand pockets, a hem cinch cord and is constructed from a tough and durable 15 denier nylon ripstop exterior.
The Thermoball can be stowed in its own pocket.
The North Face also make some outstanding cold weather sleeping bags, too – so check that link if you’re going camping in the winter.
- Excellent build quality from the market leaders.
- Stylish design.
- Versatile use for any outdoor activity.
- Choice of colors.
- No hood!
Marmot Men’s Quasar Nova Down Jacket
Review: I’m including another Marmot entry here because this is a beautifully styled puffer with a super-tough and durable exterior.
It’s made from 20 denier woven baffle fabric with an excellent 800-fill power goose down insulation that will keep you warm and dry no matter the conditions.
It features zippered handwarmer pockets and a zippered chest pocket, elasticated cuffs and draw-string hem.
But the jacket really comes into its own with its ability to retain warmth. The special construction of weaving two lightweight fabrics together keeps the heat in tight. This will keep you snug as a bug in a rug, and it all packs down into its own pocket for ease of transport.
- Stylish design.
- Super warm and comfortable.
- No hood option – again.
- Only available in black.
Arc’teryx Women’s Thorium AR Hoody
Review: This Canadian company just keeps going from strength to strength with their world-class outdoor gear and apparel – made by climbers for climbers.
This is packed with a very warm 750-fill European goose down in a 100% nylon weatherproof outer shell.
It’s versatile enough to be used in a variety of outdoor activities, although jackets at this end of the scale are usually geared towards more extreme conditions.
The Thorium is a great mid-layer when it comes to lower temps, but can easily be layered up should the need arise.
- Top quality construction.
- Name to trust.
- Super warm.
- No choice of colors.
- Not as packable as thinner models.
Arc’teryx Men’s Cerium LT Hoody
Review: Arc’teryx naturally bring up the rear with a slightly different design for the men with this Cerium down hoody.
Packed with 858 European goose down, it has a durable water repellent finish to help keep water from the fabric surface.
The outer shell is 100% polyamide, while like the Thorium it can work well as a standalone or as a mid-layer in colder climes. The Cerium is probably one of the warmest packable down jackets on the market, built to last and to withstand more challenging conditions and weather systems.
It also features an adjustable drawstring in the lined storm hood, a front zipper with chin guard and an adjustable hem with drawcord.
In my mind, it’s simply the best packable down jacket there is.
- Name to trust.
- Outstanding build quality.
- Stylish design.
- Boring colors.
What to Look for When Purchasing a Packable Down Jacket
There are a few things to take into consideration when you’re looking to pick up a packable down jacket, so below you’ll find a buyer’s guide and FAQ section to help you make a decision.
You’ll find that the vast majority of down jackets are made with an outer shell of 100% nylon.
Of course, this isn’t always the case and it could be a polyester blend or a combination of several different materials.
Ideally though, you should be looking for something that is tough and durable – something with a strong ripstop fabric prevents against tears and any other cosmetic damage.
Aside from the durability of the fabric, you also need to look at…
At the very least, a down jacket needs an outer shell that is DWR treated.
This stands for Durable Water Resistant.
It means that it should keep moisture off the fabric – but it’s not going to withstand a torrential downpour if one occurs.
Down jackets are widely used in snowy conditions, such as when you’re on-piste skiing or snowboarding and you’re not likely to get a monsoon drenching.
If you need something that will stand up to serious wet weather, then check out these awesome rain jackets for hiking instead.
But for down jackets, a DWR coating is preferable – and they should almost certainly be windproof.
Most of the jackets I’ve included in this review are genuinely filled with natural down – with one or two exceptions of synthetic materials just to give you more of a choice.
You might notice that each jacket that is filled with a natural down has something called a “fill power rating.”
To put it simply, this represents how fluffy the jacket is and measures the amount of “loft” within the garment. In laboratory conditions, how much the fill will “bounce back.”
The higher the fill-power, the more loft the down has.
And that means it’s likely to be better quality and keep you much warmer.
Look for jackets with a higher down-fill power for extra protection.
However, the trade-off is – they might not be the most packable or portable as a result.
Layering and Weight
Jackets that have a lower fill-power are usually (but not always) lighter in weight and designed to be used with layering.
In other words, using more clothing to keep yourself warm and dry.
Other down jackets – such as those at the upper end of the price range – can be used in colder conditions as standalone garments.
Many products are versatile enough to be used in a variety of ways and combinations. Just make sure they’re light enough and they don’t fit too snug to restrict your movements.
Just consider what you’re going to be using it for and in what sort of environment – and it will help you make your choice much easier.
Packable down jackets can come with a number of extra features to try to entice you to part with your hard-earned cash.
It just depends on what you need and what your preferences are.
First of all, take a look at what’s happening at the collar, cuffs, and hem. Are they elasticated? Is it a drawstring? What about velcro?
Each will offer their own differences when it comes to keeping the elements at bay.
How about the pockets? Where are they place? Are they practical? Is there enough of them?
In my mind, there is nothing worse than a jacket without decent pockets – both for men and women.
Finally, THE HOOD! Call me old fashioned, but I think a winter jacket should either have a permanent hood attached, or at least a removable/stowable version.
It’s up to you, though – that’s just my two cents.
Another thing you’ll notice is how much cost varies between both the different jackets, and the sizes and colors.
This is due to availability, supply and demand.
Always buy the best you can afford – but that doesn’t mean breaking the bank here. You can get some top-quality garments at budget prices if you just do a little digging.
Again, think about what you’re going to be using it for – and how much you’re going to be using it.
There’s no point spending $350 + if the jacket is only coming out once a year.
Do Packable Down Jackets Keep You Warm?
Yes, is the short answer – but some will keep you warmer than others.
As I highlighted above, the higher the “fill-power” the warmer the garment is likely to keep you.
Natural down jackets are built to keep you warm – if it works in the animal kingdom – it’ll work for you, too.
Are the Lightweight Down Jackets Warm?
Lightweight down jackets will be warm up to maybe three seasons. Anything more than this I would either strongly advise a heavier duty coat, or to at least layer up with more garments for warmth.
The good thing about lightweight down jackets is that they’re built for just that.
The manufacturers know they’re not going to be used as a standalone in sub-zero temperatures, and they adapt them accordingly.
How do You Pack a Packable Down Jacket?
It depends from jacket to jacket, as different products will have different packing instructions.
You should simply refer to them to be able to pack your jacket properly.
For the most part, however, you simply fold the garment in on itself and stuff it into either one of its own pockets, or an attached, dedicated stuff sack.
It’s pretty simple, so don’t get your feathers in a twist about it.
But for those who need more of a visual guide to packing a down jacket, please feel free to refer to the helpful video below.
Are Natural Down Garments Ethical?
Purchasing a natural down jacket that is filled with ethically sourced feathers is a concern for many outdoor enthusiasts – and rightly so.
It’s nice to have the peace of mind knowing that no feathered friends were harmed in the production of a down jacket.
At least, if you’re not a duck hunter that is.
If you are concerned about the source, check with the manufacturer. Most of the big outdoor companies are dedicated to bringing you the best outdoor products while supporting a sustainable environment.
In fact, it’s hard to find one that doesn’t have its own environmental protection charter. And that can only be a good thing.
How do I Care for a Down Garment?
A very good question indeed – because it is entirely possible to ruin a natural down jacket (or other down product for that matter) with mistreatment and the wrong care.
I always say you should refer to the manufacturers instructions, but for an added bit of help, watch the video below. It’ll explain it better than I ever could.
Don’t forget to look at these great winter hiking boots if you’re getting kitted up for the outdoors this season. The chill is just around the corner after all.
Hopefully, you’ve had enough information and some top choices here to find the best packable down jacket for you.
Please feel free to download my eBook on solo travel safety while you’re visiting, and let me know any comments or questions you might have in the section below.
Stay safe and warm out there people!
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