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19 Necessary Down Jackets to Feather Up for Winter

Science is forever trying to catch nature. Look at the feathers on ducks and geese. For all the brilliant methods of insulation humankind has devised, we still don’t have anything that allows us to survive in freezing temperatures day after day, drift on icy water, survive blizzards, and still be light enough that we can soar on the capricious winds. The good news is, where the world of invention has failed us, nature provides by allowing us to use the down from our fine feathered fellows to make jackets which can do most of the things listed above, all in a packaging that compresses down tight for easy transport from ski slope to hockey rink to our mountainside bivouac.

Though innovation might not be able to match evolution, it can enhance it. Today’s down coats are constantly being given new treatments to reduce wetness and water retention, as well as increasing breathability so that you can stay warm and dry. Even if you long ago swore off down, or have always been a feather devotee, it’s worth looking at the 19 best down jackets around right now, just in case.

REI Co-Op Down Jacket

via switchbacktravel.com
via switchbacktravel.com

While most down jacket buyers are hunting for heavy duty, that isn’t everyone with a yen to get the best. For a low price that should appeal to the casual cold adventurer, the Co-Op is an impressive down sweater that’s easy to layer and provides as much warmth as similar 650-fill items that double-down on the price tag. Purchase: $49

Isaora Microlight IR Down Jacket

via shopify.com
via shopify.com

Putting more down into a jacket isn’t always the key to making it warmer. Sometimes it takes a little know how to primp your winter wear. The Microlight’s down is treated with Celliant, a mineral concoction that uses your body heat to create infrared heating that helps keep you cooking even as a HyperDry treatment evaporates any moisture that seeps beneath the micro ripstop shell. Purchase: $135

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer

via switchbacktravel.com
via switchbacktravel.com

Light and tight, the horrible name is easily the worst thing about this piece of outerwear from the MH mavens. The hydrophobic down is Q Shield DWR infused, and then covered over with 7D X 10D ripstop fabric that’s tough enough for most conditions. You will find more raw heat in bigger packages, at the loss of portability. Purchase: $160+

Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody

via bikepacking.com
via bikepacking.com

This wins the award for IT-factor, as it’s just fun to wear. Not thick enough to act as a jacket alone in the dead of winter, it’s better as an active coverup or for tossing on during a few flurries. The 15D shell isn’t ideal for resisting tears, but you’ll still reach for it again and again because it feels so damn good. Purchase: $227+

Arc’teryx Thorium SV

via evo.com
via evo.com

Bearing a seriously beefy build, the Thorium SV is no small wonder, though it manages to keep a trim, athletic cut, even if it is extremely dense. A combination of 750-fill down hits high, with Coreloft synthetic insulation coming in low to cover the most precious spots. That extra heft means more comfort when the cold comes calling, and more durability during tough play dates. Purchase: $249+

Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket

via outdoorprolink.wordpress.com
via outdoorprolink.wordpress.com

Alpine hikers and mountaineers will want to see if they can bear this juggernaut, as it’s made for heading right into the teeth of a cold front with a laugh and a wink. The 800-fill European goose down is heavy, though it’s not for lack of proper care. Hydrophobic treatment allows it to dry fast and keep its powdery fluff long after lesser coats have turned damp and heavy. Purchase: $270+

Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket

via featheredfriends.com
via featheredfriends.com

This one is a damn contender. Made by a ma-and-pop shop in the pacific northwest, you’re getting Made in the USA quality, 900+ fill goose down, and a lifetime warranty meant to live through every kind of weather you can imagine. Purchase: $289

Montbell Mirage Parka

via coldthistle.blogspot.com
via coldthistle.blogspot.com

Don’t be mislead by the name. This isn’t a great top layer, since the 7D shell is paper thin and hangs up on every snaggletooth branch in the woods. On the flip side, it’s an incredible 900-fill midlayer that is a scant 13 ounces, giving it one of the best fill-to-total weight ratios in the business. Purchase: $309

Mountain Hardwear StretchDown RS Hooded Jacket

via moosejaw.com
via moosejaw.com

Serious athletes should consider plunking down the cash for this slim pick. Instead of stitched and sealed seams, Mountain Hardwear has built in more flex for a greater range of movement without sacrificing the ability to keep water from soaking into the 750-fill Q.Shield down lurking under the surface. Purchase: $320

Outdoor Research Incandescent Hoody

via outdoorresearch.com
via outdoorresearch.com

You can easily wear this for ordinary days, but it truly shines when you take it out with your mountaineering gear, thanks to the smart zipper that allows easy access to your equipment and climbing harness. Soft to the touch yet fully windproof, the Pertex Quantum GL fabric is as savvy as it is stylish, with that 800-power down stealing center stage. Purchase: $325+

Canada Goose Hybridge Lite Hoody

via nordstrom.com
via nordstrom.com

The story with the Hybridge isn’t the 800-fill Hutterite down, but the glorious stretch panels under the arms that drop off excess heat and wetness. This added bit of comfort allows for a simpler transition from a hard day on the slopes to a long night at the chalet, toasting your runs with a stellar single malt scotchPurchase: $473

Kjus 7Sphere Down Jacket

via gearpatrol.com
via gearpatrol.com

A dream come true for layerers, the svelt 7Sphere spreads its down through several baffles to prevent bunching, and even has the rarest of features to be found in a down jacket: vents. Cover it with a shell or take it on the road alone, the mix of duck and synthetic down will never disappoint during any heavy action. Purchase: ~$534

Nau Copenhagen Recycled Down Trench

via outdooraesthetics.org
via outdooraesthetics.org

Never has sustainability felt so good. Organic cotton and recycled ripstop poly form the outer shell, while the down is 650-fill, recycled, extending the life cycle of the down and keeping you warm in the meantime. The matte look is winter chic and cut long to offer coverage for your suit or tuxPurchase: $545

Aether Loft Jacket

via aetherapparel.com
via aetherapparel.com

Real riders will recognize the Aether name, though they might well wonder what it’s doing on a list of down jackets. 800-fill goose meant for motorcycling in below freezing temperatures is the answer. Lots of storage and loads of wind-cutting action make this the cold weather choice for those who prefer to ride or die whatever the weather. Purchase: $575

Fjallraven Polar Parka

via youtube.com
via youtube.com

That D-Ring mounted dead center ain’t for looking purdy, but for acting as a latch point in blizzard conditions. It’s  700-fill down put into a broad body to accommodate interior layers, coupled with a kangaroo pouch and all the trimmings you’ll need for search and rescue when hell freezes over. Purchase: $600

Aether Tromso Jacket

via gessato.com
via gessato.com

Named after a Norwegian city that is famed for its brutally cold winters, the Tromso is an 800-fill coat with a low profile that doesn’t skimp on warmth retention. 2L canvas on the exterior adds sea-grade waterproofing that simultaneously cuts wind down to the barest breeze. Featured to the hilt, it’s not to be missed. Purchase: $750

Fjallraven Arktis Parka

via fjallraven.com
via fjallraven.com

For those of us who spend our winters in hibernation, the Arktis has everything we need to keep us warm while we sit perfectly still. G-1000 and G-1000HD pieces add lots of water resistance, and the multitude of pockets are suited for a thermos (pardon: flask), phone, and places for all your EDC necessitiesPurchase: $850

Canada Goose Expedition Parka

via parkasg.ca
via parkasg.ca

Though this parka gets a bad rap as a choice for spoiled rich kids, it’s still the same arctic survival overcoat it always was. Intended for survival at 20 below on the Fahrenheit scale and literally built with the intent of working at the McMurdo station in Antarctica, wind, weather, water, and bombproofing come standard. Purchase: $877

Moncler Montgenevre Quilted Down Jacket

via lyst.com
via lyst.com

It’s hard to suggest spending this much on a jacket, but when you don this down delight, it becomes all to clear where your money went. The exterior is 100% wool that is buttery soft with a 90% down/10% feather fill that traps heat like an airlock. Truly heaven sent. Purchase: $1,465

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