L to R top: The external material is attractive, but not as weather-proof as the smooth face of something like the Marmot Fordham or the Editors' Choice Arc'teryx Camosun. Its stylish looks are ready for chilly jaunts around town, and you'll look good no matter what harsh weather conditions come your way. Down Fill Power and Fill Weight — As we discuss more in our Buying Advice article, higher down fill power numbers denote higher quality down feathers.
Insulated & Down
Hooded Waterproof Wind Protection. Get complete coverage on the coldest days of fall with this fill goose down insulated parka featuring a water-repellent finish, removable hood, and bungee-cord-cinch waist for additional warmth when you need it.
Insulated Recycled Content Hooded. Standard fit Attached, adjustable hood zippered handwarmer pockets Ribbed cuffs and hem.
For full-coverage during winter's worst, shield yourself in this weatherproof hooded parka that's insulated with responsibly sourced fill goose down insulation for reliable warmth. When the rain just won't stop, don't let that keep you from hitting the trails. Layer up with a waterproof jacket that's lightly insulated for added warmth on cool, rainy days. Layer for the campsite with this warm full-zip fleece that offers heavyweight warmth.
Keep on trekking with the heavyweight warmth of this comfortable pullover fleece that's finished with a half-length front zipper for improved ventilation on steep trail sections. Cold fall hikes will be a thing of the past with this lightweight recycled polyester fleece featuring stylish colorblocking, and a full-length zip for easy on-off.
Men's Retro Nuptse Vest. Built for mountain- and city-life, this retro Nuptse vest that has a boxy silhouette, original shiny ripstop fabric, iconic oversize baffles and stowable hood will keep you warm and dry when it gets cold and wet. Men's Retro Seasonal Nuptse Vest. Men's Stretch Down Vest.
Down vest for lightweight warmth that won't hold you back. Slim fit Exposed, reverse-coil, Zippered hand pockets Hem cinch-cord Stows in hand pocket. An ace layering piece for cold days, this Sherpa fleece vest keeps your core warm while leaving your arms free to pop tents and gather kindling.
Layer with confidence on the near-frozen trails with our top-shelf, 3-in-1 jacket offers a suite of technical features.
Suitable materials will last longer, and you will get more bang for your buck. Insulation materials vary in both price and durability. Goose down insulation keeps its loft and insulating value much longer than synthetic insulation does. Within down insulation, the rating systems describe weight and insulation value, not durability. More expensive down is warmer per weight, but it won't necessarily last longer than less expensive down.
Finally, good weatherproofing is costly. Sealed seams, tight pockets, and protected zippers take effort, design, and pricy materials. If you really want and need to guard against wet and wind, you will pay for it.
Warmth is the most important metric we used to rank each competitor and is a factor of how much insulation is in a jacket, regardless of if its down or synthetic insulation. That said, down fill feels warmer than synthetic The more insulation a jacket contains, the warmer it is.
We looked at the insulation quality fill weight and quantity fill weight of each jacket and then compared it to the jacket's cut and length to gauge how the insulation is distributed. If two jackets have an equal fill weight of 10 ounces, but one has a waist-length hem while the other has a mid-thigh length hem, they are not equally warm.
The most useful measurement for warmth is, of course, comparative testing in actual conditions. We spent a lot of outside comparatively test, swapping jackets among the test team and comparing notes.
The top-scoring Arc'teryx Camosun features high-quality, fill down. Such lofty, efficient down keeps the jacket's weight down and its packable size small.
This low number should not dissuade shoppers though. Using heavier, lower quality down brings the cost down and a casual parka like this doesn't need to be as light and compressible as more technical options that need to fit in your backpack. The Canada Goose Expedition Parka is filled with average quality fill down , but it has so much of it that it's the warmest model reviewed.
It's also pretty bulky. The second warmest jacket earns a Best Buy award. The North Face McMurdo is nearly an expedition parka, with the price tag of a casual jacket.
It offers the best value in our test. The Patagonia Jackson Glacier also kept us warm in most wintry conditions. The Woolrich Bitter Chill deserves mention for being on the warmer side of the fleet.
The Woolrich is the warmest non-down insulated piece reviewed. Woolrich insulates the Bitter Chill with a lofted batting that blends wool and synthetic fibers.
Overall, jackets with synthetic insulation are not as warm as the down models. The Arc'teryx Fission SV provides less insulation than most of the down models reviewed.
This is likely because the garment has less insulation overall, though it did reinforce the idea that if you are looking for warmth, opt for down. REI's jacket is a down-insulated layering piece that has insulating value a little below that of the Arc'teryx Fission. The fleece jackets are the least insulating products reviewed.
Well-suited to more moderate climates, The North Face Arrowood Triclimate is durable, versatile, and affordable, but not incredibly warm. Insulated with synthetic fleece, it just doesn't stack up to the rest of the field, which may be just what you're looking for if you live in a warm climate. When we talk about weather resistance, we're talking about wind and water. These jackets are thick enough to cut the wind, so you just need to look out for drafts.
Longer jackets or those with ribbed hems will protect you from below. Inner cuffs and hoods will also keep warm air in and cold out. That leaves us with water. Water-resistant outer fabric helps keep you and your jacket's insulation dry in wet winter weather.
All of these models have some type of water resistance, from basic nylon with a durable water resistant DWR coating to a fully waterproof membrane layer with taped seams. These strategies provide varying degrees of protection. If your winter precipitation tends to fall as rain or wet snow instead of the West's dry powder, consider a winter jacket with a waterproof outer shell, like The North Face Arrowood Triclimate with its DryVent fabric or the Arc'teryx Fission SV that uses Gore-Tex.
These waterproof and breathable fabrics shed water faster and for much longer than a DWR treatment alone. If a jacket has an inner waterproof membrane, you can be sure the outer face fabric is treated with DWR. This knocked the jacket down in the ratings. If you wear your jacket in lower temperatures where it tends to snow instead of rain, and if that snow is relatively dry you know who you are , then the competitors with DWR treatments such as the Canada Goose Expedition Parka , Patagonia Jackson Glacier , or the REI Co-op Down Hoodie are adequately protected.
It's not incredibly water-resistance due to its untaped seams, but it's warm enough to excel in genuinely sub-freezing conditions. Luckily, in those temperatures, precipitation is always solid, and the compromised weather protection isn't a problem.
However, in our testing, the outer fabric to soaked in more snow and water than the others, making it a bit heavy and uncomfortable. This is the cost of style. The external material is attractive, but not as weather-proof as the smooth face of something like the Marmot Fordham or the Editors' Choice Arc'teryx Camosun. We dig the Haglofs Torsang Parka's weather protection.
This is a fully waterproof, taped-seams rain shell with light insulation. It isn't warm enough for many winter climates, but the wet and sleety corners of North America are just the place for it.
In terms of weather protection, it is similar to the Editors Choice and the Patagonia Tres. Wintertime is uncomfortable enough. Don't put on an uncomfortable winter parka, too. Most of the models we reviewed work hard to make braving the cold and wind more forgiving. We found a general correlation between cost and comfort. More expensive jackets use softer materials and more thoughtful tailoring to achieve maximum comfort.
A parka's cut has a significant impact on its comfort. A meticulously designed jacket like the Arc'teryx Camosun Parka fits most bodies better than a generic square-cut design. A longer hem, which many of these parkas use, also keeps the waist from riding up and exposing you to drafts. A notable exception is our Best Buy Marmot Fordham. Despite its bargain price, every tester who tried on the Fordham was impressed to find that it's more comfortable than the competition.
There is also something of a correlation between comfort and warmth. The biggest jackets we tested are the warmest, but they are also the most confining. Lots of insulation and an extended cut keep the heat in and make for a large package. This bulky package limits your range of motion, also impeding your comfort.
The more comfortable parkas reviewed, like the Arc'teryx Camosun , also have elastic rib knit cuffs, which seal out drafts and snow. Unless you cinch them down around your gloves, velcro-closed cuffs aren't as protective and comfortable as the elastic versions. The rest employ velcro cuffs. We love the cozy feel of fleece lining, especially when it lines pockets and chin covers. When cinched tight, it works as intended to hold in warmth, making you feel like you're at home in front of the fire, albeit with some tickles to your cheeks.
The soft, down-sweater style construction of the OR Whitefish is far more comfortable than it appears. It looks like a rigid "barn coat" style jacket. However, the construction is tailored and materials selected such that you have all the range of motion you need and a light feeling sort of insulation.
Hoods, multiple hand warmer pockets, two-way zippers, and cuff closures work together to protect you from frigid environments. A hood is mandatory in nasty winter weather, and while it is not a substitute for a warm hat, it certainly makes life a lot nicer.
Ideally, these hoods will be highly adjustable to allow for a customizable and secure fit. The best hood in our test is found on the chart-topping Canada Goose Expedition. The hood is warm, large, and can be cinched down securely and comfortably. The stiff brim also keeps the hood almost out of your field of view. This is unfortunate, as the latest hood is compromised enough that warmth and weather protection suffers.
If you leave the removable fur ruff on and don't have to move your head much, the McMurdo's hood effectively seals out the weather. Otherwise, the more sophisticated hoods of the Arc'teryx and Patagonia jackets are at the head of the pack, literally. The Woolrich Bitter Chill has a roomy and cozy hood. Only the interior layers of the 3-in-1 jackets do not come with any hood, meaning that a warm hat is necessary. Insulated handwarmer pockets are an excellent place to keep cold hands or gloves, and most have a fleece-like liner.
The Arc'teryx jackets have the best hand warmers. All of these feature wrap-around fleece lining. This not only means that your hand is insulated while in the pocket, but that there is no draft when the pocket is open. The next best hand warmer pockets, like those on the REI Down Hoody , put the user's hand between the outer insulation and the wearer's body. For us, an ideally fitting jacket is one that mimics the shape of the body, so that it moves as we do, but is also large enough to wear a layer or two beneath.
We try to avoid jackets that are overly baggy in the torso, as we find them to be annoying when we are wearing a pack or trying to look down at our feet when skiing or climbing. There's also the fact that they have more dead space that needs to be warmed up using your body heat. We are also very particular about the length of the sleeves, as well as the shape of the jacket through the shoulders and upper back and chest.
Simply put, we want our jacket to be ready for any activity, and no matter what we are doing — ice climbing, skiing, scrambling — we are likely to be moving our arms about and sometimes swinging them over our head. Some jackets have sleeves that are too short, causing them to ride up above our wrists when our arms are outstretched.
Likewise, we found some the jackets to have constrictive fits around the shoulders, upper back, and chest that impede our freedom of movement, and affect the overall fit. Other areas that we paid attention to the fit were the collar, the hood, and the length of the hemline at our waist. In particular, we loved how the sleeves were plenty long and the cut of the shoulders spacious enough for us to perform any conceivable movement without impingement. While it was big enough to layer beneath, the cut was also sleek enough not to impede our motion.
For us, it fits very close to the body with virtually no dead space. We felt this fit perfectly complemented its lightweight design, as we most often wore it as a stand-alone jacket in cool weather, or as a close to the body warmth layer in frigid weather.
The Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody was among a small handful of other jackets that also fit nicely , offering versatility and a wide range of movement.
Regardless of whether you are hiking, alpine climbing, or skiing, when you are working hard you will likely get too hot to wear a down jacket.
Except when the weather is frigid, or we are doing a lot of hanging out, we typically only wear our down jacket during breaks in the activity, and then take it off and stuff it in the top of the pack again before we get moving. Since a down jacket typically spends so much time in the pack, it is important to consider how easy it is to compress and how small it is once fully packed up.
It is worth noting that down is superior to synthetic insulation when considering compressibility. Every time you stuff a synthetic jacket away, the insulation breaks down and loses its heat retention capacity. Down can handle many more compressions and expansions than synthetic insulation, and is also smaller when compressed and is lighter weight than synthetic materials. The down used in the construction of the jackets reviewed is high quality and resisted degradation throughout testing.
Consequently, the stratifying characteristic for this metric tended to be how small they were when compressed. The jackets with few features, lightweight fabric, and high fill-power down compressed the most, while the jackets with heavy and bulky face fabrics or low fill-power down tended to compress the least.
Some jackets easily fit into one of their own pockets and could be zipped up with an attached clip-in loop. Others included a dedicated lightweight stuff sack that lives in the breast pocket.
Unfortunately, some of the jackets in this review did not have a specialized method of compression, and so to get them as small as possible, we rolled them up inside their hood.
Not surprisingly, the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded was the highest scorer when considering compressibility. It is the thinnest and lightest weight of the jackets we tested, and its high fill-power down means that it easily stuffs into its pocket in a tiny little package that can be clipped and taken anywhere.
Despite offering the most warmth of any jacket we tested, the Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody also stuffs down extremely small, a testament to the fill-power down used inside. The only downside was that it uses a dedicated stuff sack rather than stuffing into its pocket, which adds a tiny bit of weight and bulk, not to mention the possibility of losing the stuff sack.
A handful of other jackets, including the REI Co-op Magma , also stuff down pretty small in their own pockets. With so many companies producing high-quality clothing, it often comes down to the little things that make all the difference when deciding on a jacket. This means a zipper that out-performs another, pockets a few inches higher, or a hem a few inches lower might make or break your choice.
We've tested plenty of jackets that got away with elastic instead of a drawcord in the hood with varying results. However, only one attempted to do away with the drawcord at the waist, and we did not like this design. There are a few things that you can do without, but some features are essential. When testing for features, we first set out to identify each of the features present on a jacket, and then tested them intensively while wearing the jacket out in the field.
The most important thing to consider was whether the features present worked well. We would way rather have a simple model with bomber performance, than a jacket full of bells and whistles that don't work. If a jacket's particular features are of interest to you, be sure to read the individual reviews where we give a full breakdown of what features each jacket has, and how well they worked. The top scorers were two jackets whose features worked exceptionally well.
The Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody has dual internal stash pockets, three drawcords for adjusting the hood precisely, and fleece-lined hand pockets, all of which endeared it to our hearts. The Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody, on the other hand, had fewer features that worked just as well.
Our favorites were the hem drawcords that lived inside the hand pockets so they wouldn't dangle below our waist, a soft fleece-lined chin guard on the inside of the collar, and a perfectly fitting hood that can be tightened with a single drawcord.
Although it was a low overall scorer, we thought the dual interior stash pockets and the hem drawcord buckles recessed into the fabric were a nice touch for the Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded jacket.
There are so many insulated jackets available on the market today that choosing the right one can be quite a challenge. The first step is being sure that you would prefer down instead of synthetic insulation. Next, determine what characteristics matter the most to you, and then use this review to help narrow down your search. Our expert reviewers have spent countless days in the mountains wearing and testing these jackets so that they can give you the very best advice.
We hope that you find it helpful, and no matter where you live or what you do, you find a jacket to keep you warm this winter! The Best Down Jackets for Men of Displaying 1 - 5 of Updated April Getting ready for summer backpacking trips and need a warm layer for cold nights under the stars? We've revamped our review to bring you the top 10 jackets on the market today.
We also have two budget recommendations below, and a Top Pick for Wet Weather, because yes, you can wear some down jackets in a drizzle and still stay warm and dry. See all prices 4 found. The warmest in our review. See all prices 3 found. Combination of Pertex shell with DWR coating and Nikwax treated down leads to optimal water resistance.
The Ghost Whisperer moves as you move and was an ideal choice for chilly evening hikes in the fall, as we took here with Chip the dog to the backside of Smith Rock State Park, OR. The North Face Morph Hoodie is a warm down jacket that scored roughly average in our comparative review. Here contemplating testing its water resistance in a cave behind the Cascade Falls.
With its very high quality fill power down, the Cerium LT Hoody had unrivaled amounts of loft and was also the warmest jacket in this review. It uses sewn-through baffles to keep the jacket light. Responsibly Sourced Down In the past few years, most companies have begun using responsibly sourced down. Since down is an animal product — duck and goose feathers — it is important that it is harvested for use in your jacket in a way that does not unduly torture the animal.
Responsibly sourced down described using different terms by different companies means that the down comes as a by-product of the food industry and that the animals were not live-plucked or force-fed, two cruel and unnecessary forms of animal torture.
We have described in each review, as well as in the specs table, whether a jacket contains responsibly sourced down, and most do. While we did not specifically grade or punish for this attribute, we encourage you to hold companies that you buy your outdoor equipment from accountable and consider this aspect of jacket construction before making a purchase.
While it wasn't one of the warmest jackets we tested, for how insanely thin and light it is, the Ghost Whisperer is surprisingly warm! We loved it as an active under layer or as a stand alone when it wasn't too cold out.
We didn't find the Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded jacket to be one of the very warmest in our side-by-side testing. However, when using it as a stand alone warmth layer on this fall hike in the alpine, it was plenty warm enough to keep us comfortable.
A sudden rainstorm during an October climbing trip to Smith Rock proved to be a great chance to test the Down Sweater Hoody against the elements. The down stayed dry and we stayed plenty warm while waiting out the rain. Testing the water proofness of the Columbia Outdry Ex Gold in a very wet early season snow storm.
It certainly keeps the water out and the down inside dry, as claimed. Here you can see the combination of the Pertex Quantum Microlight fabric and the DWR coating working to prevent water from absorbing into the fabric and the down underneath.
A comparison look at the fit and styles of eight of the lightweight down jackets of the other two were tested at a different time and place. From L to R: The Down Sweater Hoody fits nearly perfectly.
It is not too baggy, but also has enough room underneath to layer if need be. You can see how high the collar comes up to cover half the face, and also how the sleeves are perhaps just an inch or so short. Eight of the ten jackets in this year's review, compressed as small as possible for comparison the other two were tested at a different location and time.
Most compressible on the right, least on the left. L to R top: The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer is a super light down jacket that is great for pleasant days like this one below the Three Sisters volcanoes in Oregon, or as a base warmth layer on much colder days.
Shown here on the Morph Hoodie is the hem pull cord that lives inside the front handwarmer pockets, and has a recessed release buckle that lives inside the fabric, and releases by being pinched, as our other hand is doing.
Analysis and Test Results
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