Best Budget Down Jacket for Backpacking

It’s tough to beat a great down jacket, whether it’s for casual use or tearing around the backcountry. This cozy insulation type offers the best warmth-to-weight ratio on the market and packs down smaller than synthetics for easy storage.

The good news is today, there are plenty of synthetic down jackets that are just as good (if not better) than the real thing while being completely vegan and cruelty-free.

The best synthetic down jackets for outdoor women are lightweight, packable, comfortable, super warm, and ideally made from recycled materials. They’re also built to last through all your outdoor pursuits, and they’re even form-flattering so that you won’t look like the Michelin man.

Whether you’re looking for hooded or hoodless styles, men’s or women’s jackets, layerable or deep-freeze types, there is a down jacket that suits your needs.

Advances in chemical treatments also mean that down jackets are more resistant to down’s mortal enemy, moisture, than ever before. From lifestyle wear to burly mountaineering layers, down jackets are lighter, tougher, and more water-resistant than ever.

Best Budget Down Jacket for Backpacking

It’s all too easy for us fur-less, featherless humans to start to feel like popsicles when we venture out into the cold. Thankfully, down jackets exist so we can spend time in the chilly outdoors in relative comfort. Down and synthetic jackets are lightweight, packable, and highly efficient at trapping body heat.

These 15 jackets are perfect for every activity, from walking your dog on frigid January mornings to conserving warmth and energy at Camp.

This review of the best down jackets is the culmination of years of experience using different down jackets in various settings, scenarios, and big mountains. Down jackets are very activity-specific, and you’ll need to find the right one to suit your purposes.

1

Mountain Hardwear mens Ghost Whisperer

Mountain Hardwear mens Ghost Whisperer/2

The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 is one of the lightest, fully-featured down jackets on the market. Despite hitting a sub-9-ounce weight (for the men’s hoody model), Mountain Hardwear managed to retain pockets and fit adjustments—not to mention impressive warmth.

As with any lightweight gear, there are inherent sacrifices, but we’re happy to report that it has confidently withstood a range of hiking, biking, and casual outings with minimal complaints.

The lightweight insulated jacket impresses with its excellent thermal performance, whether you’re hillwalking, ski touring, or mountaineering.

The goose down used has a fill power of 800 cu in and is certified under the sustainable Responsible Down Standard.

The outer material is made of recycled synthetic fiber, which got certified according to the bluesign standard and is produced in a highly sustainable way.

Thanks to a water-repellent DWR finish, the outer material and the down get protected against moisture absorption.

The two zipped pockets on the front are easily accessible, even with a climbing harness on. Elasticated cuffs and a drawstring in the adjustable hem allow for a comfortable fit when mountaineering.

When not in use, the Ghost Whisperer/2 Hoody down jacket from Mountain Hardwear can get stored in the front pocket to save space.

Features

  • Made of 100% Nylon
  • Pull-On closure
  • It’s hand wash only
  • Ultralight 100% recycled ripstop shell fabric with DWR finish
  • 800-fill Allied RDS-certified down insulation
  • Two zippered hand pockets
PROS:
  • Ultralight
  • Excellent warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Highly compressible
  • Packs into its pocket
  • Wind or weather-resistant (DWR finish)
  • Layers easily

CONS:
  • Expensive
  • No hood adjustments
  • No chest pocket

 

2

Eddie Bauer Men’s Downlight Hooded Jacket

Eddie Bauer Men's Downlight Hooded Jacket

Whether you’re hiking or climbing, mountaineering or other, the polyester shell has a StormRepel Super DWR to prevent light moisture from soaking into the fabric.

The 800 fill StormDown insulation gets treated, which allows it also to resist moisture while maintaining warmth. Pack it, wear it, tackle the mountains.

The Eddie Bauer First Ascent Men’s Downlight Storm down Hooded Jacket is a down jacket for cold-weather activity. Ultralight, warm, and ready for the outdoors

It has two zippered external pockets that are fleece-lined, and it can pack into either of those pockets. The hood, wrist, and hem are all non-adjustable elastic.

As far as fit and aesthetics go, this jacket gets the nod; it comes fitted well and has a longer length than the Big Agnes. Nothing is dangling with the non-adjustable openings, giving the jacket a nice clean look at the expense of functionality in the field.

Features

  • Made of 100% polyester
  • Responsible Down Standard (RDS)-certified down insulation
  • Low-Profile Insulated Hood: Super warm, with stretch binding for a great fit
PROS:
  • Great quality for the price
  • Packs into its pocket
  • Hood & hem adjustments
  • Wind or weather-resistant (DWR finish)
  • Layers easily
  • Durable

CONS:
  • Heavy for backpacking
  • Bulkier than other jackets

 

3

Columbia Mens Powder Lite Hybrid Jacket

Columbia Mens Powder Lite Hybrid Jacket

Powder Lite Hybrid Hooded Jacket from Columbia is perfect when you want to hit the hills with confidence in a sleek light hooded jacket designed to smooth your every move.

It comes in the perfect lightweight material for added warmth in your springtime adventures, while zippered pockets and a drawcord waist keep everything where it belongs—men’s sizes.

Snow-day outings got made for jackets like this! Featuring synthetic down insulation, thermal reflective lining, and water-resistant fabric, the Columbia Powder Lite Hybrid Jacket will always have your back.

The interior lining consists of our metallic dot pattern designed to retain heat while the breathable fabric dissipates moisture.

The Powder Lite Hybrid Hooded Winter Jacket is a water-resistant fabric made, insulated, and takes advantage of our thermal reflective lining.

Features

  • Water-resistant fabric keeps moisture at bay while Thermarator synthetic insulation offers cozy warmth
  • Omni-Heat Thermal Reflective technology in the lining helps regulate your temperature with little silver dots that reflect and retain the warmth your body generates
  • Hybrid construction features non-insulated sleeves for enhanced mobility
  • Drawcord-adjustable hood
  • Zippered hand pockets
  • Drawcord-adjustable hem fine-tunes the fit and helps seal in warmth
  • Closeout

 

4

The North Face Men’s ThermoBall Eco Insulated Jacket

The North Face Men's ThermoBall Eco Insulated Jacket

The North Face Thermoball insulated jackets have long been dominating the mid-layer game for adventurers of all kinds, and the Thermoball Eco Hooded Jacket is here to continue this legacy with a recycled twist.

This jacket comes in classic, matte, and print varieties; this jacket boasts a DWR coating on all styles to fight off light precipitation and ThermoBall Eco insulation in the body and sleeves to boost warmth.

This recycled insulation offers an impressive loft even when wet to ensure that no matter the weather or conditions, you can focus on the task at hand.

To further keep you prepared and focused, The North Face included secure zippered pockets, a pre-tensioned hood, and a hem cinch-cord.

Features

  • ThermoBall Eco insulation provides warmth even when wet
  • Attached, pre-tensioned hood with partial elastic binding
  • Exposed VISLON center front zipper
  • Internal, secure-zip chest pocket; covered, secure-zip hand pockets
  • It stows in its hand pocket
  • Internal elastic-bound cuffs
  • Hem cinch-cord
  • Slim fit
  • Classic, matte, and print fabric options available
PROS:
  • Lightweight and packable on cold hikes
  • An attached hood with partial elastic binding and elastic-bound cuffs help keep out the cold
  • Ahem cinch-cord offers a custom fit around the waist
  • Windproof and water-resistant

CONS:

 

5

MARMOT Mens Guides Down Hoody Winter Puffer Jacket

MARMOT Mens Guides Down Hoody Winter Puffer Jacket

When the weather’s so cold that skiers flee the resorts, you slide a ski shell over the Marmot Men’s Guides Hooded Down Jacket and enjoy the solitude of the winter wonderland.

The 700-fill down insulation keeps you nice and toasty on those chilly chairlifts, and the Down Defender treatment helps the insulation retain its loft, so you stay warm if it gets wet.

Polyester ripstop wraps up this wonderful warmth with durability that won’t let feathers poke out. Both the interior and exterior have a water-resistant coating to keep you doubly protected against wet weather.

On the mountain, winter can be harsh, so why not bring along the lightweight warmth provided by 700 fill power down. Worn alone or under a shell, it brings the heat.

The down insulation gets treated with Down Defender water repellent for enhanced wet-weather performance. Hiking, backpacking, or even on belay, this jacket will combat cold temperatures, so you don’t have to go it alone.

Updated with Marmot’s treated water-resistant down, this hoody offers improved protection and an extra layer of insurance for unexpected conditions.

When paired with a waterproof shell, this hoody forms an impervious thermal mid-layer and makes a brilliant cold weather jacket in drier conditions.

Updated with Marmot’s treated water-resistant down, this hoody offers improved protection and an extra layer of insurance for unexpected conditions.

When paired with a waterproof shell, this hoody forms an impervious thermal mid-layer and makes a brilliant cold weather jacket in drier conditions.

Features

  • 700 Fill Power Down with Down Defender
  • Adjustable Velcro Cuff
  • Attached Down-Filled Hood
  • Drawcord Adjustable Hem
  • Interior Zippered Pocket
  • Wind Flap Behind Front Zipper
  • Zippered Chest Pocket
  • Zippered Handwarmer Pockets

 

6

MARMOT womens Montreal Knee-length Down Puffer Coat

MARMOT womens Montreal Knee-length Down Puffer CoatThat morning walks down to the train station and evening strolls around the park won’t be as cold with the Marmot Women’s Montreal Down Coat.

The 700-fill down insulation works its insulating magic while making sure the jacket feels light as a feather on your torso, and Marmot’s Down Defender treatment resists water so the down won’t lose its warmth when a few snowflakes start to fall.

The polyester shell has a DWR coating that also resists water, and a plush lining slides over your work attire like a glove, and it feels so soft against your skin that you’ll wish you could work in this coat all day.

The Montreal Coat provides ample protection with its tough, water-resistant fabric and new high-quality. What you’ll love most is the numerous cushy linings, handy pockets, and the vibe that’s just right for your busy, modern life.

Features

  • Warm and insulating winter coat for everyday life in the city
  • Down insulation with hydrophobic treatment for reliable warmth
  • Plush fleece-lined torso provides additional warmth
  • Zip-off, insulated hood with a removable faux-fur ruff
  • Microfleece internal cuffs and handwarmer pockets
  • Thigh-length cut provides additional coverage and warmth
  • Women’s knee-length down puffer coat ideal for casual everyday winter wear commuting to work or the store
  • Zip-off hood with removable synthetic fur ruff for a customizable look

 

7

MARMOT Ithaca Jacket Marmot Coat

MARMOT Ithaca Jacket Marmot Coat

Brave the cold in the Marmot Women’s Ithaca Jacket. This warm winter coat is designed to ward off the icy chill of New England winters, but it’ll keep you comfortable and protected wherever snowy weather rears its head.

The shell fabric gets treated with DWR to shed light on precipitation, and the 700-fill down is also treated for water-resistance to deliver reliable warmth in cold, wet weather.

This insulated jacket traps precious body heat with its lofty 700-fill down, meaning you’ll stay nice and toasty in the coldest temperatures of the winter season.

For greater protection from blustery winds, the attached hood features removable faux fur trim that breaks up the breeze from whipping across your face.

Microfleece cuffs maintain a smooth feel against your skin to prevent any scratchiness resulting from layering over sweaters. Multiple zippered pockets handily store all your daily accessories within quick reach, so you can easily grab your cash, keys, and phone.

Features

  • Fabric gets treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish that sheds moisture and resists stains
  • 700-fill-power down has a Down Defender treatment that improves the water-resistance of the down, so it continues to insulate
  • Slide your digits into the handwarmer pockets and store an extra dollar or two in the flapped sleeve pocket
  • Interior zippered pocket stores valuables
  • Zip-off hood with removable faux-fur ruff
  • Soft microfleece-lined internal cuffs

 

8

The North Face Bedford Men’s Down Jacket Winter Parka

The North Face Bedford Men's Down Jacket Winter ParkaYou won’t mind winter weather when you’re making your daily commute in The North Face Bedford Men’s Down Parka. With its HyVent 2L shell, this parka is more breathable than other winter coats but still offers fully waterproof protection plus the cozy insulation of 550-fill goose down.

Features

  • Shell is fully seam-sealed for waterproof protection
  • Fixed hood adjusts with drawstring system
  • Chest pockets with snap closure for storage
  • Bellowed double-entry hand pockets with top snap closure are easy to access
  • Stretch fleece is comfortable and provides an optimal fit
  • Inner pocket for extra secure storage
  • Embroidered logo at left chest and back right shoulder for added style

 

9

Mountain Hardwear womens Ghost Whisperer

Mountain Hardwear womens Ghost Whisperer/2 Jacket

Whether facing dynamic weather on your multi-pitch ascent or backpacking abroad to unknown destinations, the Ghost Whisper/2 will cut weight, save space, and keep you warm and weatherproof.

Weighing sub-eight-ounces, you can easily stuff it into its pocket for compact carry. So pack it up and clip the carabiner loop onto a harness, or throw it in a purse for ultra-portability.

When it weighs next to nothing and compresses down smaller than a roll of paper towels, there’s no reason not to take it on every adventure.

Bring it backpacking, cross-country skiing, camping, and even out for dinner downtown; the Ghost Whisperer/2 will be there when you need it and out of the way when you don’t.

Features

  • An ultralight, packable down jacket for backpacking and multi-pitch climbing
  • 100% recycled nylon ripstop shell fabric offers eco-friendly durability
  • 800-fill goose down offers an unbeatable warmth-to-weight ratio
  • DWR finish and hydrophobic down offer water-resistant protection
  • Compressible jacket stuffs into own pocket for convenient carrying
  • Two-zippered pockets secure phone and keys on the hiking trail
  • Elastic hood and adjustable draw-cord hem seal out cold weather
  • Relaxed fit layers effortlessly over base layers or under a rain shell

 

10

RAB Microlight Alpine Jacket

RAB Microlight Alpine Jacket

The Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket is an all-around high-performance down jacket. It is supremely comfortable, lightweight, and packable. For you Americans unfamiliar with Rab, they are a UK-based company well-known for producing high-quality down products. The Rab Microlight is perhaps the best-hooded down jacket for you ladies out there.

The Microlight Alpine down Jacket features 750-fill power European Hydrophobic goose down, which holds up well in light rain. Most down jackets fail immediately as soon as they get wet. Hydrophobic down is certainly very helpful in combatting moisture. Well, in theory, anyway.

The Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket for women wins big in the style department as well. It offers up a slim fit with tapered arms, three zippered exterior pockets, and a down-filled helmet-compatible hood.

There are lighter down jackets for women out there, but few can match the comfort and warmth of the Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket. If you are looking for a jacket that packs down small for your various international backpacking adventures, the Microlight Alpine jacket boasts excellent packability.

Features

  • Mini-stitch through baffle construction
  • Down-filled helmet-compatible hood with polymer peaked hood
  • YKK front zip and internal insulated zip baffle with chin guard

 

Factors to Consider Before Buying Best Budget Down Jacket for Backpacking

The jackets on this list are all made out of either nylon or polyester. Both have resilient, water-resistant qualities that make them favorable for outerwear. They’re both common and suitable for jackets, but you may prefer the look or feel of one over the other. Here are factors we considered

Weight

When preparing to choose a down jacket, bear in mind that a higher fill power number is not automatically warmer. For example, eight ounces of 850 fill down may be similar in warmth to 12 ounces of 650 fill down. What the first does have is a better warmth-to-weight ratio. It is also more compressible as it has less down in it.

Waterproofing

In a heavy downpour, the average down jacket will completely lose its loft. It will become wet and heavy and take a long time to dry out thoroughly.

‘Hydrophobic’ down is down that comes coated with a DWR (durable water repellent). The idea is that hydrophobic down will repel water as effectively as synthetic insulation. This is up for debate, but if you’re traveling in a wet area, it’s prudent to choose a down jacket that has a DWR treatment on at least its face fabric. If budget allows, opt for hydrophobic down as well.

Construction

Baffles are the individual sections of insulation in your jacket. They distribute the down evenly, preventing it from gathering at the bottom. The baffle construction of your jacket can affect how well it performs.

Sizes

The size of the jacket is probably one of your first concerns, especially when buying online. It’s important to check the manufacturer’s measurements against your own and check to see whether reviewers report the fit to be small, large, or true to size.

Down type

Down jackets typically come with either duck or goose down with a specific fill power (see Features Explained). The higher the fill power, the better the insulation.

Some manufacturers use humanely-sourced down while others don’t. If that’s important to you, look for responsibly-sourced or traceable down, which means the animals were never force-fed or live-plucked.

Material

The jackets on this list are all made out of either nylon or polyester. Both have resilient, water-resistant qualities that make them favorable for outerwear. They’re both common and suitable for jackets, but you may prefer the look or feel of one over the other.

Final Thoughts

One way to determine the quality of down is to look at its fill power. Ranging from about 450 to 900, fill power is the volume in cubic inches that one ounce of the down fills up; higher quality down lofts to a higher volume, so a higher spec number indicates warmer down.

A higher rating is better, meaning that it takes less down, less weight, and less space to keep you warm. Typical jackets have a rating between 400 and 600, with luxury products approaching 800 or more. We recommend jackets with a rating of at least 550. To learn more, check out our guide to down jacket warmth.

A down jacket should not be too fitted or too loose. You should allow for adding layers underneath but ensure it’s not too roomy as cold air could get in through the hem and arms.

900 fill down is the highest quality down commercially available and considered the absolute gold standard of insulation—with an unmatched warmth-to-weight ratio; it is highly compressible, ultralight, and amazingly warm.

We hope that our article was of help to you. Feel free to support and also share our post with your friends and family members.

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