If you’re looking for the best down jackets for backpacking, the first thing you should know is that real goose down is not always the best choice. Though it can sometimes be a good option if it's extra cold outside or if the jacket has an exceptionally slim design, generally speaking, down is not ideal, as it can be heavier and stays wet longer.
Unlike with regular camping, you have to carry your belongings when you're backpacking, so it's important for your jacket to be as lightweight as possible, as well as small and packable. Not only that, but the material also needs to be quick-drying so you can weather the elements and still be dry when it's time to hit the trail again. That said, real down jackets do tend to be a lot warmer, so they can sometimes make sense for cold-weather backpacking or wearing inside a lower-profile jacket.
Another important feature to consider is the exterior material. Because you're constantly brushing up against trees, foliage, and other elements, it's critical for the fabric to be tough and durable (preferably with a blend of ripstop nylon or polyester). You'll also want it to be coated with some sort of DWR or other water-resistant treatment.
With all of that in mind, take a look at this list of the best down jackets for backpacking. I've included a mix of real and synthetic options, so you can find the one that's best for you.
1. The Best Overall
Patagonia Women's Nano Puff Insulated Jacket
What makes it great: This synthetic down jacket makes a great choice for backpacking excursions due to its impressive warmth-to-weight ratio. Although it's slightly heavier than Patagonia's similar Micro Puff jacket, it's warmer and thus a better overall selection for deep wilderness treks. It's made with top-grade PrimaLoft filling that feels soft against your skin and stays warm, even when wet. The tough polyester shell is exceptionally durable, and it has waterproof DWR treatment, too.
As for other details, the zippers are strong and the baffling is horizontal to prevent the loft from bunching up. The jacket also has a handy, anti-chafe flap under the chin and plenty of pockets, cords, and drawstrings.
What fans say: "Best Jacket ever. Keeps you warm in negative degree weather and isn't too bulky, lasts forever and is super cute. So worth the price."
- Available sizes: Small - Large
2. The Best Value
Eddie Bauer Women's CirrusLite Down Jacket
What makes it great: Not only is this versatile women's puffy jacket offered at a more affordable price than many of its kind, but it comes in tons of colors and sizes, too (including plus, petite, and tall). Although it's made from real goose down, it's nevertheless ultra-lightweight and super packable, with ethically sourced RDS feathers. The exterior is 100 percent nylon, and it has a weather-proof DWR coating to repel moisture. Constructed with a slim, low-profile design and an extra high neck, this jacket comes with a convenient travel pouch, making it super packable.
What fans say: "Love the color and fabric. It looks like a much more expensive jacket and is still packable in its pouch for travel. I plan on taking mine to Ireland with me next month. I've been wearing it around home- Wisconsin, and its been keeping me warm this winter! I'd highly recommend this jacket!"
- Available sizes: X-Small - XXX-Large
3. The Best Splurge
Mountain Hardwear Womens Ghost Whisperer Insulated Down Water Repellant Jacket with Hood
What makes it great: At just 8 ounces, this real down jacket is pretty much the lightest puffy coat you will find. It feels breezy and bulk-free, yet it keeps you remarkably warm. This is due to the cozy, 800-fill down that's been treated with a water-repellent solution. It's perfect for backpacking because it's so compact and takes up hardly any space in your bag. The outside is made from sturdy, ripstop nylon that's fully snag-proof, even when rubbing against camp chairs or tree branches. While it does cost more than the competition, if you do a lot of backpacking, it's worth the investment.
What fans say: "Perfect jacket for ultralight backpacking ... This coat is so lightweight and thin that you could probably easily ignore the fact that you're wearing a jacket. As soon as you put it on and zip it up, you will see that the insulation is incredible. This is perfect for layering up while in the mountains, or having a jacket on a cold day."
- Available sizes: X-Small - X-Large
4. The Best For Cold Weather
Outdoor Research Women's Transcendent Down Hoody
What makes it great: This thicker puffy jacket is made from real goose down that's extra warm, making it an excellent choice for winter excursions or backpacking in places like the desert where it gets exceptionally cold at night. Relatively lightweight and filled with responsibly sourced down, it's covered in a water-resistant, wind-proof fabric that won't rip or tear. On top of features like pockets and storm-flaps, it has a cozy, built-in hood that offers an extra layer of warmth. As a bonus, it stuffs inside one of the inner pockets, making it impressively packable, too.
What fans say: "Lightweight and seems very durable. My girlfriend loves it."
- Available sizes: X-Small - X-Large
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