Are Down Jackets Really Warmer?

by Jessica Willingham

Here comes the cold, and as a result, coat season, too. No doubt, you've already scouted the 'net for a down jacket or two. They're high priced, puffy, and oh-so-comfy, but I really wanted to know: Are down jackets really warmer? Are they worth your money or are you better off staying warm with a budget-friendly wool coat? I got down to the bottom of the issue and investigated.

I live in Colorado, so coats aren't just a fashion statement here — they're a means of survival. If you live in the north or east, you know that a winter coat or jacket has to withstand freezing (and below freezing) temps, whether you're shoveling the driveway or headed to date night. But are down jackets really the way to go?

In short, absolutely. Down jackets made of goose down (the smaller, fluffier feathers underneath the harder exterior feathers) are pound for pound the best insulation against cold temperatures, according to NY Daily News.

It comes down to how much distance you put between yourself and the cold,” said Pat Slavin, a textile tester for Consumer Reports, according to NY Daily News. “You could also use sawdust or steel wool, but goose down is the lightest and a whole lot more flexible than anything else.”

When searching for a down jacket, Slavin suggests looking for those tire tube-like panels of down for the warmest, coziest coat possible. If you're still confused, REI has made a handy chart of pros and cons for different types of insulated outerwear, including down and synthetic fibers. They ranked down as the fabric with most warmth per weight, whereas fleece is the least warm of the four choices.

Yes, there is a downside — down jackets are expensive as can be. According to ABC News, your average down jacket can cost anywhere from $150 to more than $1,000 — so, pretty pricey. But you should know that not all down jackets are created equal. There's a reason the best down jackets (see: Canada Goose) are really expensive — they not only will last you forever, but they also come with a lifetime guarantee, says ABC News. Even though they might make you feel like you're sporting a Michelin Man costume, it'll keep you super warm (forever!). It's all in the design!

While down coats are an investment, they'll last for decades. Here are few of my top picks for down coats this season.

1. Canada Goose Lorette Down Coat with Coyote Fur

Canada Goose Lorette Down Coat with Coyote Fur, $950, Bloomingdales

Fur is an excellent insulator, and a close second to down, but it still doesn't take the cake. This long jacket is great for biting, cold commuters.

2. North Face Women's Destiny Down Jacket

North Face Women's Destiny Down Jacket, $230, The North Face

Not quite as much coverage to this jacket, but still an excellent buy for the quality. I love this for winter sports like skiing or snow boarding.

3. Patagonia's Lightweight Fiona Down Parka

Patagonia's Lightweight Fiona Down Parka, $349, Patagonia

I love this utilitarian coat that is guaranteed to keep you toasty.

Image via Pexels