15 Best Down Jackets for Thru-Hiking for 2022

A guide to ultralight down jackets for thru-hiking.

Updated on February 5th, 2022

When looking for the best down jacket, there are many things you need to take into consideration such as the fill weight and fill power, whether it has a Durable Water Repellant (DWR) coating, or whether the shell is made from ripstop nylon. 

We've tested and compiled a list of the best down jackets in terms of warmth, weight, and packability. We also guide you through the different things to consider in your search and give our recommendations.

Lastly, we unpack the differences between down and synthetic, how to wash and care for down jackets, and where down comes from. Let's dive in.

Brand Model Price Weight Fill Power Fill Weight Denier
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer $300 7.2 oz 2.65 oz 800 7D x 10D
RAB Microlight Jacket $250-300 14 oz 4.4 oz 750 N/A
Arcteryx Cerium LT $349 9.9 oz 3.6 oz 850 10D
Feathered Friends Eos $389 10.6 oz 3.7 oz 900+ N/A
Outdoor Research Helium Down Hoodie $279 15.4 oz 3.2 oz 800 15Dx30D
Mammut Broad Peak Light $279 8.6 oz 2.46 oz 800 N/A
Forclaz Trek 100 by Decathlon $79.99 10.2 oz 3.8 oz 800 N/A
Patagonia M's Down Sweater $229 13.1 oz 3 oz 800 N/A
Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Jacket $275 14 oz N/A 800 20D
Montbell Plasma 1000 $329 4.8 oz 1.6 oz 1000 7D
Uniqlo Ultralight Jacket $69.90 8.3 oz N/A 640+ 20D
REI Magma 850 Down Hoodie 2.0 $219 13.75 oz 4.2 oz 850 N/A
L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down $249 12 oz 3.75 oz 850 N/A
Western Mountaineering QuickFlash Jacket $375 8 oz 2.5 oz 850 12D
Eddie Bauer CirrusLite Down Jacket $120 9 oz N/A 650 20D

Best Down Jacket Models

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer

ultralight down jackets - mountain hardwear

Price: $300

Weight: 7.2 oz

Fill weight: 2.65 oz

Fill power: 800-fill 

Shell material: Whisperer 7D x 10D Ripstop Nylon

Why we like it: It’s the perfect blend of ultralight and long-lasting durability

The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer is a daaarn light (and warm) jacket that folds up into its own pocket. The jacket's small baffles and trim, athletic fit make it perfect for layering and stowing on the go.  The hooded version is one of the lightest hooded down jackets available.

Don’t be fooled by its ultra-light design, this jacket will certainly keep you warm. When it comes to down material, it also has a more durable design and it holds up better than most in light amounts of precipitation. The fit runs slim, especially across the waist, so if you like some extra room in your jacket, best size up.

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ultralight down jackets - rab microlight jacket

RAB Microlight Jacket

Price: $250-300

Weight: 14 oz (Large)

Fill weight: 4.4 oz (Large)

Fill power: 750 fill European goose down with Nikwax hydrophobic coating

Shell material: Pertex Quantum Microlight

Why we like it: Perfect option for chilly, damp environments

The Rab Microlight is warm and windproof thanks to its 750-fill down and Pertex outer shell. With YKK zippered hand pockets and chest pockets, the Rab Microlight is excellent for storing small items that are easily accessible. It also has an attractive design that you can wear on the trail or a night on the town.

The Nikwax Water-Resistant Treated European goose down maintains its loft even when exposed to moisture. When the temperature drops it will keep you toasty in temps in the low double digits, and the jacket's drawcord hem and inner wind flap along its zipper work well in blocking cold breezes. The jacket has an athletic, flexible shape, although the fit runs snug for most, especially on the sides and armpits.

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Arcteryx Cerium LT down hoody

Arc'teryx Cerium LT

Price: $349

Weight: 9.9 oz

Fill weight: 3.6 oz

Fill power: 850 fill European goose down

Shell material: Arato 10D

Why we like it: Best for high-output activities thanks to synthetic fibres in moisture prone areas

This thing is puffy! The Cerium earns praise for its great warmth to weight ratio and its trim, athletic fit. The lightweight coat keeps you warm in mild temperatures and toasty in the winter under a shell. To combat down's vulnerability to wetness, Arcteryx has placed Coreloft synthetic insulation in moisture-prone areas such as the armpits.

The jacket has an impressively minimal and breathable design for the level of heat retention it provides, and its hood is a nice addition for extra warmth. The outer fabric of the jacket is thinner than some, so beware of tearing if worn alone. But overall, this is a great mid-layer piece that’ll have no trouble keeping you warm.

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ultralight down jackets - feathered friends eos

Feathered Friends Eos

Price: $389

Weight: 10.6 oz

Fill weight: 3.7 oz

Fill power: 900+ fill RDS  goose down

Shell material: Pertex Quantum brushed nylon with DWR

Why we like it: The warmest, puffiest jacket in our review

Cottage company Feathered Friends manufactures their gear in Seattle, WA and is known for outstanding down quilts, and their down jackets are no different. Not skimpy at all, the Eos is filled with a whopping 3.7 ounces of 900 fill goose down. Because of its warmth, the Eos is exceptional as a stand-alone jacket and can be layered when the temperature plummets.

Updated for winter 2021, the jacket now features a zip chest pocket and drawstring hood so you can cinch it up on those extra cold days. As with the previous version, it still features the non-snagging zipper, durable fabric, elastic drawcord hem, its own stuff sack and has the ideal sleeve length (a common problem on puffy’s). It has a slightly relaxed fix but still works great for layering.

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Outdoor Research Helium Down Hoodie

Outdoor Research Helium Down Hoodie

Price: $279

Weight: 15.4 oz

Fill weight: 3.2 oz

Fill power: 800 fill RDS goose down

Shell material: ertex Quantum Diamond Fuse 15Dx30D and Pertex Shield 2.5L

Why we like it: The most durable and protective option

Outdoor Research took the classic down jacket and made their own. The shoulders, hood and upper sleeves use Pertex Shield 2.5L waterproof breathable material so if you are caught in the rain, you will be protected. Additionally, the new Pertex Quantum Diamond Fuse is extremely durable for the weight which gives you a peace of mind.

The jacket has 2 big pockets on the inside, 2 hand pockets and a chest pocket. It also stuffs into the hand pocket. While this jacket does weight a bit more than some others in this review, the added protection of the durable fabric and waterproof sections attest to the thought Outdoor Research took in designing this jacket.

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ultralight down jackets - uniqlo ultralight jacket

Mammut Broad Peak Light

Price: $279

Weight: 8.6 oz

Fill weight: 2.46 oz, 28%

Fill power: 800 fill goose down

Shell material: Pertex Quantum Material

Why we like it: The best jacket for year-round outdoor pursuits

Made with Mammut’s special soft, wind and water-repellent Pertex Quantum material, this down jacket is one of the warmest on our list. It’s impressively weather-resistant (for down) with a straightforward, ultra-warm design making it a suitable match for 4-season hikes, or any skier looking for a midlayer while hitting the slopes.

It’s also one of the best options for mountaineers because of its dual climbing and backpack harness-friendly zipper pockets. It comes in an athletic/trim fit with a longer, elastic-banded waist and a double-zipper system. The jacket packs down into its own left front pocket, coming out no larger than a water bottle.

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ultralight down jackets - uniqlo ultralight jacket

Forclaz Trek 100 by Decathlon

Price: $79.99

Weight: 10.2 oz

Fill weight: 3.8 oz, 29.5% (L)

Fill power: 800 fill RDS duck down

Shell material: Nylon

Why we like it: Unmatched value for 800 down fill

Made for tackling cool weather in the mountains, this versatile well-priced down jacket is a steal. It’s another one that packs into its own pocket and can be smooshed down into the size of a grapefruit. Note it is a bit snug around the chest... kind makes you feel like a fat-guy-in-a-little-coat.

At first glance, the jacket may not appear super “puffy” or “lofty,” especially in the sleeves, but it holds its own in warmth keeping hikers well-insulated down below freezing. The company offers an excellent 1-year, “no questions asked” warranty on all their products and an even longer warranty in case of any manufacturer defects.

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ultralight down jackets - uniqlo ultralight jacket

Patagonia M’s Down Sweater

Price: $229

Weight: 13.1 oz

Fill weight: 3 oz

Fill power: 800 fill power

Shell material: recycled polyester ripstop shell

Why we like it: The classic, timeless Down Sweater will never go out of style and has the design that’s stood the test of time.

The poster child for down jackets and one of the longest-running companies in the game, this puffy sweater-style jacket is a favorite for backcountry adventurers and urbanites alike.

It has interior and exterior zippered pockets, one of which doubles as a stuff sack with a clip. The front zipper on the jacket has a storm flap to protect against wind and light precipitation, and the bottom hem tightens with a drawcord. The jacket is designed with recycled materials, traceable down, and an environmentally friendly DWR finish that all comes together to create a semi-slim fit, leaving a comfortable amount of room for layering.

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ultralight down jackets - uniqlo ultralight jacket

Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Jacket

Price: $275

Weight: 14 oz

Fill weight: N/A

Fill power: 800 fill RDS goose down

Shell material: 20 Denier Ripstop Nylon

Why we like it: Fun, retro colors blend urban style with outdoor performance

This 3-season jacket comes offered in a variety of cool, retro colors, and an updated athletic fit design that provides a good range of motion and breathability. It also has a newly improved, snag-resistant zipper along with an adjustable drawcord hem.

The jacket features cool additions like ultra-soft fabrics, elastic binding (for extra protection against the cold), fleece-lined pockets, water-resistant down, stash and zipper pockets, and a zippered neck that sits comfortably at the jawline—for extra protection. It compacts down into itself by way of a pocket, and the Fuego design is available in a vest, hooded or non-hooded version.

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ultralight down jacket montbell plasma

Montbell Plasma 1000

Price: $329 

Weight: 4.8 oz

Fill weight: 1.6 oz

Fill power: 1000-fill

Shell material: 7D Ballistic Airlight rip-stop nylon

Why we like it: The most ultralight down jacket available

With 1000 fill power down, the Montbell Plasma has the highest fill power and the lightest weight on our list. It is highly compressible and minimal in design. The outer fabric is made from a whisper-thin 7D ripstop nylon, and there are no interior or exterior pockets. There is no hem adjuster so you may lose some warmth through the bottom of the jacket if the fit is not snug.

The fit is unique because it feels more like a sweater than a jacket, making it a comfortable wear alone, or an easy piece to layer underneath of a shell. It’s best suited for most 3-season hikes. Admittedly, it feels a bit too thin and might the be the BEST for warmth though.

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ultralight down jackets - uniqlo ultralight jacket

Uniqlo Ultralight Jacket

Price: $69.90

Weight: 8.3 oz

Fill weight: N/A

Fill power: 640+ fill goose down

Shell material: 20D nylon

Why we like it: Simply put, the most affordable down jacket available

The Uniqlo deserves mention for its meager price tag. It is warm, has deep pockets, and uses a DWR treated fabric to protect against moisture. To reach this low price point, some features, like an adjustable hood and hem, were not included on this budget jacket.

The jacket runs true to size with paneling along the back of the waist for a more natural, slimming, fit. It’s easy to pack and take on the go with a built-in bag that it compresses into. The Uniqlo is perfect for 3-season wear in temperatures falling between 20-50F, and it’s a great lightweight choice for outdoor adventures, city dwellers, or travel. 

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REI Magma 850 Down Hoodie 2.0

REI Magma 850 Down Hoodie 2.0

Price: $219

Weight: 13.75 oz

Fill weight: 4.2 oz

Fill power: 850 fill goose down

Shell material: Pertex Quantum Diamond Fuse

Why we like it: A premium down jacket at an affordable price point

REI does a fantastic job pairing premium materials with affordability. The Magma 850 Down Hoodie 2.0 is no different. The use of 850-fill hydrophobic treated RDS down and the new Pertex Diamond Fuse fabric is top notch and looks the part.

With a bit of a longer cut it works great as a standalone jacket and has a large helmet compatible hood for those brisk shoulder season adventures. It also stuffs into its own pocket so you don’t have to worry about tossing it in your pack. The fit of the jacket is a bit unique, with a lot of room in the shoulders. If you are looking for a trim-fit consider sizing down.

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L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down

L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down

Price: $249

Weight: 12 oz (size M)

Fill weight: 3.75 oz

Fill power: 850 fill power RDS certified DownTek down

Shell material: Pertex Quantum

Why we like it: With PFC-free down coating and recycled nylon L.L. Bean focused on sustainable products from the ground up

L.L. Bean focused on using the sustainable products during every stage of creating the Ultralight 850 Down Jacket. With environmentally friendly PFC-free coatings on the water resistant down, to using the Responsible Down Standard.

It is a standard fit and will work for just about anyone and allows for some layering underneath. Also, it is the only jacket that is available in “tall”, which is 2” longer in the torso and 1” longer sleeves. And at a price of $249 it uses some of the best materials around and stuffs into its own pocket.

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Western Mountaineering QuickFlash Jacket

Western Mountaineering QuickFlash Jacket

Price: $375

Weight: 8 oz

Fill weight: 2.5 oz

Fill power: 850 fill goose down

Shell material: 12 denier nylon

Why we like it: Incredibly warm for the weight and made in the U.S.A.

Western Mountaineering has been making down products for decades in their factory in the U.S.A. Their experience shines through with the QuickFlash Jacket. Using exceptionally premium down fill and face fabrics they have created an ultralight down jacket that shines in shoulder season activities or cool summer nights.

We were surprised the jacket didn’t have zippered pockets, but they were filled with down on both sides which was a thoughtful addition. The fit was slightly boxy which gave it more of a relaxed fit and we do wish there was a waist cinch to trap in the heat. If a hood isn’t important to you, this is a fantastic option.

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Eddie Bauer CirrusLite Down Jacket

Eddie Bauer CirrusLite Down Jacket

Price: $120

Weight: 9 oz

Fill weight: N/A

Fill power: 650 fill RDS Down

Shell material: 20-denier nylon

Why we like it: Best option for an affordable casual jacket

Eddie Bauer worked to create the most affordable down jacket they could and ended up with a great jacket for the price. There is no stuff sack, stuffable pocket or fleece lined zipper by your face, but it is a no frills jacket that works great for casual everyday wear. Although the Forclaz 100 does offer substantially better fill power and warmth (albeit a bit heavier), the fit of the CirrusLite takes the cake.

Not everyone needs an ultralight, high fill-power jacket and Eddie Bauer seems to understand that. If you are looking for a casual fitting, DWR-coated down jacket that will work for trips around town and the occasional hike look no further.

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Down Jacket Considerations

FILL POWER: KEEP IT ABOVE 700

Fill power is a measurement of the loft, or fluffiness, of the down material. Specifically, it is the amount of space (cubic inch) an ounce of down will occupy at its maximum loft. This commonly advertised value can range from 300 to 900. The higher the number, the more loft the down will have and the better it will be at insulating. A higher fill power will require less down to keep you warm which is why most ultralight jackets use at least 650 down and heavier entry-level down jackets use 300 to 500 down.

down jacket fill power Montbell EX Light Down Anorak

TOTAL WEIGHT: LESS THAN 12 OUNCES (FOR LIGHTER WINTER ACTIVITIES)

Down jackets should be lightweight and packable, that is one of the reasons you are willing to cough up the extra money, so make sure it is not bombarded with clunky zippers, heavy fabric, etc.

down jacket pulled out Unpacking the Outdoor Research Helium Down Jacket

FILL WEIGHT (percentage): AT LEAST 30% OR MORE OF TOTAL WEIGHT

Fill weight is the amount of down (ounces) used in the jacket. Ideally, you want down to occupy 30% or more of the jacket’s total weight. Both fill power and fill weight contribute to the overall warmth of a coat. When comparing jackets with the same fill power, a higher fill weight means a warmer jacket. This feature gets trickier to evaluate when you are comparing jackets with different fill powers. A higher fill power down requires less down for the same amount of warmth, so a 900-fill coat with 3-ounces of down may be warmer than a 500-fill jacket with 5-ounces.

hiker wearing rab microlight down jacketRAB Microlight Jacket

While lighter does sound more attractive, be realistic about what you will be doing in your jacket and where you will be. A jacket with only a couple ounces of down probably won’t be the best choice for leisurely strolls in the frigid winter, but is perfect for shoulder season hikes or evenings at camp on the PCT. On the contrary, a jacket with 5-ounces of down will be overkill for most climates throughout the year

packed down jacket

PACKABILITY: A KEY FEATURE OF DOWN

Down compresses better than any other material, which makes it great for packing away for later. Down will also retain its loft better than any other material and can withstand packing and unpacking countless times without breaking down. Most jackets take full advantage of this by either stuffing into its itself (commonly in a pocket with a reversible zipper) or by coming with a small stuff sack. These are great for temporary storage and can help save space for everything else. Please note that you should not store your jacket stuffed away for any long durations, when at home make sure it is allowed to fully loft.

down jacket bottom pocketREI Co-op Magma 850 Down Hoodie

TYPES OF DOWN: GOOSE VS. DUCK DOWN

While goose and duck down are similar in warmth, compressibility, and durability, they do have their differences. 

Goose: Goose down has been, and still is, considered the higher value. It’s naturally warmer and lighter, and because geese are larger than ducks their plumage is bigger and loftier. Goose down is less available than duck and it’s the more expensive option of the two. 

Hiker wearing mountain hardwear down jacketMountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer

Duck: Duck down has gained popularity in recent years as it’s easier to get, cheaper, and it holds up better than goose when wet. But since goose has a naturally higher fill power, it will always remain lighter than duck, especially the higher in quality you go. However, modern-day technologies have developed a system of sorting, clumping, and weaving bunches of duck fibers together that can make it comparable to goose.   

down jacket draw cord

DWR (Durable Water Repellent): CONSIDER GETTING A DWR COATING

As good as down is, it has an Achilles heel, and that is moisture. Get a down jacket wet from sweat or rain, and it will lose its insulating power. DWR is a water repellent coating applied to the outside of jackets, sleeping bags and other outdoor gear as a first line of defense against moisture. It also is now being used internally to coat down fibers, so they don't lose as much of their loft and dry faster when they get wet. Nikwax, DownTek, DriDown are common brands of hydrophobic down.  

rab microlight jacket bottom part

SUSTAINABILITY: A NOTE ON 'LIVE PLUCKING'

Controversy over how down is collected has led to the rise of Traceable Down and the Responsible Down Standard. Traceable down means the outdoors manufacturer can trace their down from the farm to factory, while the Responsible Down Standard is a voluntary standard that ensures that down-producing ducks and geese are being treated humanely.  Both standards ban the practice of live plucking, which is the injury-causing removal of down from living animals.

hiker setting camp

OUTER MATERIAL: DURABLE, RIPSTOP NYLON. 

Most down jackets are typically made with high-quality ripstop nylon that resists scuffs, scrapes, and tears. The thickness of this outer material is measured in denier, the weight of a thread. The lower the denier, the lighter and thinner the fabric. The nylon varies from jacket to jacket with ultralight jackets minimizing weight by using lighter denier nylon that requires some extra gentle handling. Most down jackets also have some form of outer DWR treatment to resist moisture.

decathlon down jacket sleeveForclaz Trek 100 by Decathlon

Almost all jackets will have a face fabric, the side facing outwards, somewhere between 7-denier to 20-denier. With 7-denier being the epitome of ultralight materials, so wispy they are usually partially transparent. 20-denier is substantially more robust, however most will fall within the 10-denier to 15-denier range. It is a balance between weight and durability. The benefits of down as a lightweight insulator are lost if extremely thick and heavy fabrics are used, that is why they will always tend to be relatively thin. Unless you are looking for the lightest possible jacket, and understand the precautions that must be taken, stick between 10-denier and 15-denier.

down jacket pulled out

BAFFLE SPACING: CONSIDER SMALL VS LARGE STITCHING GAPS

Down jackets are constructed using compartments called baffles to help evenly distribute the down. Baffle size can also have an effect on the insulating qualities of a jacket. Larger baffles can hold a lot more insulation and have more space for loft, but this space also allows the down to clump together producing cold spots. Smaller baffles are more challenging to construct, but they prevent clumping and provide an even distribution of insulation. Smaller baffle jackets also tend to be less puffy, making them ideal for layering under a shell.

outdoor research helium down jacketOutdoor Research Helium down jacket zipper


HOODED OR NOT:
PERSONAL PREFERENCE

Whether your down jacket has a hood or not is personal preference. Some people like the coverage a hood provides around the head, neck, and shoulders, while others don't want the added bulk and cost associated with a hood. If you opt to go hoodless, you can always use a beanie or balaclava.

down jacket upper pocket

POCKETS OR NOT: PERSONAL PREFERENCE

Pockets are another optional feature on jackets. Removing the pockets sheds some weight, but you might miss that extra storage space or convenient hand holder.

down jacket draw cords

LINING: PERSONAL PREFERENCE

Some down jacket manufacturers add an extra lining to help retain heat or wick away moisture. Linings add weight to a coat so you may opt for a jacket that is not lined and use your own layering system to add warmth or cooling as needed.

arcteryx cerium lt down jacket hoodArc'teryx Cerium LT hood


Why Down Insulation (vs Synthetic)?

Illustration showing down vs synthetic jackets

DOWN INSULATION

Contrary to popular belief, down is not a feather, and it does not have any quills. Down actually is the soft plumage that lies beneath the feathers of aquatic birds like ducks and geese. It is a light and fluffy cluster of natural fibers that provide an extra layer of insulation for the bird on which it is found.  

  1. ULTRA LIGHTWEIGHT: By far the biggest advantage. Down has an outstanding warmth-to-weight ratio because of its unique three-dimensional shape. The arrangement of the down filaments creates airspaces that trap in body heat. This natural airy construction also makes the material light in weight. For the same level of warmth, a synthetic jacket will be heavier than a down coat and won't compress as much.
  2. EXTREMELY PACKABLE: Another huge advantage. Because it is so light and fluffy, down can be compressed to a fraction of its original size, allowing you to squeeze a down jacket into any small nook and cranny in your pack. Once removed from a compression sack, down quickly will regain its loft and heat-trapping ability. You can repeat this cycle of compression and lofting with minimal damage to the down fibers.
  3. LONG LIFE: Down can be compressed over and over again, making it's insulation ability last a very long time. Alternatively, synthetic fibers break down and lose their ability to trap heat. An older 30-degree bag may become a 50-degree bag because of this wear and tear.

hiker in a down jacket

SYNTHETIC INSULATION

Synthetic insulation is designed to mimic the qualities of down that make it such an effective insulator. It uses polyester fibers that are woven together to form heat-trapping air pockets similar to those naturally found in down. Common brand names are Primaloft, Polartec, and Thinsulate. The pros of synthetic insulation are:

  1. INEXPENSIVE: Umm, like half the price. Synthetic insulation can be mass produced making it, often, significantly less expensive than down. Its lower price tag makes it an attractive alternative for people who want warm jackets that won't break the bank.
  2. WATER RESISTANT: Down will lose its loft and ability to retain heat when it gets wet, but that is not the case with synthetics. Synthetic insulation maintains its loft and keeps you warm even when it is wet. It is a must-have if you are backpacking in areas where rainy conditions are prevalent. This is considered to be the "Achilles heel" of down - how vulnerable it is to getting wet.  
  3. WASHABLE: Down is a pain in the butt to wash. It requires using a very specific and expensive type of detergent to wash at home... or needs to be taken to the cleaners. Drying it can be tricky as well because direct sunlight can damage it. However, synthetic is usually much easier to clean and wash like normal clothes. 

packed down jackets

 Left: REI Co-op Magma 850, Middle: RAB Microlight, Right: Outdoor Research Helium.


Wash & Care

Here are 8 tips for maintaining the loft and insulation of your down jacket:

1. Wash Frequency: Once a season is a good rule of thumb, although washing frequency varies by user.

2. Before Washing: Before washing, always fasten buttons, snaps, and close any zippers. Then, before doing anything else, check the manufacturer’s instructions (either on the tag or on the company’s website.) Different jackets have different cleaning rules!

hiker setting up camp

3. Detergent: It’s best to use a special down detergent like Gear Aid ReviveX, Nikwax, or Granger down wash as these are specifically designed to revitalize water resistance and clean without harming loft.

hands in down jacket pockets

4. Removing Stains: For stains, use a little mild soap or water and dab the area with a sponge or dishcloth. To wash the entire garment, you can hand wash it or use a front-load machine. Just don’t use a top-loader, their agitators are too harsh.

wearing down jacket in a camp

5. Drying: It’s okay to throw down in the dryer, just use the lowest heat setting, toss a tennis ball or two in to revitalize the downs fluff, and check on the jacket every 20-30 minutes to ensure it doesn’t overheat.

rab microlight jacket zippers

6. Storage: Just how you shouldn’t store a sleeping bag scrunched up in a stuff sack, the same rule applies with a down jacket. This causes the loft to clump together which leads to spotty insulation and cold spots. Instead, leave the jacket hanging and let it breathe while at home.

down jacket in camp

7. Rain: Down jackets can be worn in the rain if they’re underneath a shell. It’s best to never directly expose them to prolonged moisture as it can cause the down to clump and lose its warmth. Keep this in mind for humid hikes and body sweat, too.

8. Tears: As warm as down jackets are, they’re just as delicate. They aren’t designed to be worn through brush or trees. They’re best for at night around camp where there’s less chance of coming into contact with prickly objects. But in case of a tear, there’s a specific nylon repair tape that’ll patch things up. A strip of duct tape can work too.


Where Does Down Come From?

Minor sources of down come from Canada, Hungary, Greenland, and Iceland, while the largest producer of down in the world is China, accounting for over 80%.

down jacket adjustable hood

Hungarian Down: The title for “the best down” belongs to Hungary, as it’s the largest producer of the highest-quality goose down in the world.

What makes Hungarian down so great? Well, Hungarian geese have adapted over thousands of years to the country’s harsh climate and extensively cold winters. In doing so, their feathers now have impeccable insulation qualities while still being luxuriously fine and soft. Another fun fact about Hungary is that the country’s geese farmers are known for their sustainability efforts and ethical treatment towards the birds. 

hiker wearing down jacket

Eiderdown Down: Another big down producer, Iceland manufactures over 80% of a rare quality down called “Eiderdown,” named after the large Eider duck that nests in both Iceland and Canada. This duck down is durable, breathable, and ultra-soft while its naturally high density provides excellent insulation, making it one of the top-down options in the world.


📸 Some photos in this post were taken by Ross Enlow (@rossaenlow)

Austin Hager photo

About Austin Hager

Austin Hager is a B.C. based thru-hiker, mountain explorer and advocate for mental health awareness. You can find him hiking, climbing or snowboarding throughout the mountains of Western Canada. He is currently working to become a Registered Nurse.

About Greenbelly

After thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Chris Cage created Greenbelly to provide fast, filling and balanced meals to backpackers. Chris also wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail.

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