6 Of The Best Packable Down Jackets

Nothing screams versatility like a great down jacket.

Whether you are heading into the mountains, off on your travels or are looking for something light, warm and comfortable, we have taken a look at the best packable down jackets to save you the time.

And when we say packable, it is a pretty big understatement, as the heaviest jacket we feature weighs in at a feather-light 17 ounces.

One of them even folds up into its own pocket. How cool is that?

Mountain Hardwear Mens Ghost WhispererMountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer
RAB Microlight JacketRAB Microlite Alpine
The North Face Morph Down Jacket
Arc'teryx mens Cerium Lt HoodyArc’teryx Cerium Hooded Jacket
Rokka&Rolla Women's UltraRokka&Rolla Ultralight Hooded Packable Puffer Down Jacket
Cotopaxi Fuego Down JacketCotopaxi Fuego Down Jacket

Why do I need a down jacket?

If the weather is both dry and cold, these jackets make an excellent outer layer. Down is not actually the feathers of a duck or goose, but rather the soft, fluffy stuff up against the body.

It provides excellent insulation while remaining breathable, so any perspiration that transpires under your jacket will find a way out.

Down jackets tend to be made with a nylon exterior, adding a certain protection against the elements, although they will never be completely waterproof.

If you are heading out in cold, wet weather, the down jacket is compact and therefore perfect to downgrade to a mid-layer.

In these instances, I would recommend a light base layer (maybe a merino thermal top), followed by the down jacket with a light Gore-Tex-clad outer shell over the lot.

The unbelievable warmth-to-weight ratio of these jackets make them an ideal companion for travel, or for those heading off to explore the great outdoors.

What to look for in a down jacket

  • Down fill power: This is such a commonly misunderstood term. It has nothing to do with the weight of the down, but how fluffy it is.

    The higher the number, the stronger and larger the clusters of down, therefore allowing the jacket to trap more warm air through the combination of down and air voids.

    Jackets with a higher down fill number have better warmth-to-weight ratios.
  • Weight: If you are planning on taking that jacket on an ultralight backcountry adventure, then weight is a massive thing to consider.

    The lightest jacket on this list is just 8 oz, and would blow away in a gentle breeze.
  • Hooded: This is a personal preference of mine. I love a jacket with a hood, especially one that is filled with lovely soft down that feels divinely warm when wrapped around your head.

For can find all the information you could ever need on down fill by watching this YouTube video:

Should I buy a down or synthetic jacket?

I have mentioned that down jackets are not waterproof. I have not yet told you how much it sucks when they become wet all the way through. It sucks big time!

All that aforementioned breathability goes out the window and you will be left with a heavy, cold and soggy jacket that firmly traps the moisture in. This is the only downside of the down jackets.

The synthetic insulated jackets do not represent the same warmth-to-weight ratio as their down counterparts, which means you need a lot more mass of the synthetic stuff to make it as warm as a down jacket.

They do, however, breathe a lot better in wet weather conditions and dry a lot faster, too, but I would not base your choice on this. No jacket, whether down or synthetic, is designed for the wet weather.

Due to the durability and lightweight nature of down jackets, I would choose them over their synthetic rivals for any kind of trip.

Here are 6 of the Best Packable Down Jackets:

1. Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer

The guys at Mountain Hardware have come together to produce the aptly-named Ghost Whisperer, because at a ridiculously light 8 ounces, this jacket is probably even lighter than a ghost.

And the out-of-this-world silver that wraps around the arms definitely lends it a paranormal feel.

This jacket is so incredibly compact and lightweight that it can be folded up and stored inside its own pocket.

It is made of a nylon exterior that repels the water and is completely windproof, while the ultra-lightweight nature of this jacket makes it a useful traveling and trekking companion. The elastic cuffs, too, help to keep the weather out when it turns nasty.

Weight: 8 oz

Down Fill: 800

Pro:

  • The lightest jacket in its class.

Con:

  • Slim fit, not ideal for larger frames.

2. RAB Microlite Alpine

You can expect high quality gear when it comes to RAB, and it is no different with this exceptionally well-made Microlite Alpine jacket.

It is heavier than the others, but not by much, and if the weight is not a pressing issue then this could be an excellent choice for you.

The down is European goose, the quality of which is on the higher side of the industry standard, while the down-filled hood, the lycra-bound cuffs and the highly-compressible nature of this jacket make it great for travelers and alpine mountain climbers alike.

Weight: 17 oz

Down Fill: 750

Pro:

  • The best at handling wet weather

Con:

  • The heaviest jacket in this list.

3. The North Face Morph Down Jacket

If you did not know that The North Face made excellent down jackets, then maybe it is time to crawl out from under that rock and try one on.

This responsibly-sourced goose-filled jacket is highly compressible – it is one of the jackets that folds away in its own pocket – but does not compromise on warmth.

This jacket was designed with outdoor, snow-bound adventurers in mind, although it is supremely comfortable and you will find a use for it in any cold weather environments.

Weight: 12.3 oz

Down Fill: 800

Pro:

  • Comes with a lifetime warranty

Con:

  • Only the upgraded model has a hood

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4. Arc’teryx Cerium Hooded Jacket

This white goose down-filled jacket has been designed as a mid-layer in the colder winter months, but can double up as your main jacket when the weather is dry.

The design is a clever one. The goose down covers all the right areas that require that extra warmth, such as your front, back and arms.

But in those places where moisture tends to build up (under your arms, for instance), the designers have moved to a breathable synthetic material that provides better insulation.

I also really like that the hood is completely insulated with the goose down, meaning it feels amazingly soft on your head while keeping it warm.

Weight: 10.8 oz

Down Fill: 850

Pro:

  • Outstanding insulation

Con:

  • Trim fit, not for bigger frames

5. Rokka&Rolla Ultralight Hooded Packable Puffer Down Jacket

This is an entry-level jacket and could be a good choice for outdoor lovers on a budget.

But the inexpensive nature of this product does not detract from the quality, the designers going with a 90/10 split between high quality white duck down and duck feathers.

The 100% nylon exterior lends the jacket extra resistance to water, while the double-layered shell holds the down in place and keeps the wind away.

A little word of advice about this product: the sizing guide provided by the company is not industry-standard, and the jacket tends to be a lot smaller than people think.

If you are normally a large, consider purchasing the XL version instead.

Weight: 12 oz

Down Fill: 675

Pro:

  • Inexpensive

Con:

  • Sizes are not true

6. Cotopaxi Fuego Down Jacket

Filled with goose down and wrapped up in 20D giant ripstop nylon with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish, this jacket from Cotopaxi is going to keep you warm.

The finish will do enough to keep you dry in light rain, although you will need a waterproof outer shell to keep the elements out completely.

The jacket features a scuba hood, two interior pockets and an adjustable drawcord around the waist to really keep that heat against your body.

The external hand pockets are zippered to prevent your belongings from falling out. The quality of the goose down also adds breathability to jacket, making it a good choice to wear, even when the weather is not too cold.

Weight: 14 oz

Down Fill: 800

Pro:

  • Elastic binding seals out the cold

Con:

  • A little bulky

Conclusion

When looking for a down jacket, we should first consider the fill number to determine the quality. Anything in the 500-600 category could be considered low, while 900 is the absolute highest value, and therefore is the best quality.

All these jackets are light and packable and are ideal to take away traveling, although perhaps consider the lighter options out there if you are heading into the mountains.

Most Packable Jacket: Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer

Best All-Round Jacket: RAB Microlite Alpine

Additional Sources of Information:

https://www.kathmandu.co.nz/summit-journal/expert-advice/what-is-down-fill-power-and-why-does-it-matter

https://www.outdoorresearch.com/blog/article/down-vs.-synthetic-whats-the-difference-between-down-and-synthetic-insulati

A down jacket is what you need for your next adventure. It's light and packable and is ideal when traveling, especially if you're going hiking. #travel

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