Down jackets have become a staple of winter wardrobes, but lightweight down jackets are also perfect for chucking on during crisp spring, autumn, and even summer evenings.
What you need to know before buying a down jacket
Down is usually sourced from geese and is rated on fill power - essentially how fluffy it is and therefore how much warmth it can trap. The ratio of feather to down is listed as 90/10 where 90 would be the percentage of down and 10 is the percentage of feathers.
Another important thing to look out for when buying a down jacket is how the down was sourced. The Responsible Down Standard or RDS is the most recognised qualifier of a sustainable, humanely sourced raw material.
The best down jackets
Rab Microlight Alpine down jacket, £200
Fill power: 700FP
The Rab Microlight Alpine Down jacket is widely recognised as one of Rab's most popular down jackets, and is often used as a benchmark for comparing other jackets in the same category. Despite having a fill power of 700, which is not the highest available, this jacket is still capable of providing ample warmth for chilly winter days. The jacket is made of 100% recycled Pertex Quantum outer material, which effectively blocks wind while remaining highly breathable.
The combination of the thin layer of down and Pertex Quantum material makes the Microlight Alpine a comfortable jacket to wear, especially when you're on the go. The jacket is equipped with two zipped hand pockets and an additional chest pocket for stashing more items. The excellent hood is filled with down, has a wired peak and adjusters, and fully protects your head. Further adjusters at the hem help to seal out any drafts, while the elasticated wrists provide a comfortable fit. The Microlight Alpine can be compressed easily, and fits into a small stuff sack.
Overall, the Rab Microlight Alpine Down jacket is a fantastic jacket that provides an excellent balance between warmth, weight, and cost.
Patagonia Women's Down Sweater Jacket, £250
Fill power: 800FP
The Down Sweater jacket is made from 100% post-consumer recycled nylon ripstop and insulated with 800 fill power down certified by Responsible Down Standard. The design and high-quality fill provide warmth without weight, and the elastic cuffs and adjustable drawcord hem help to seal in heat.
The jacket has two zipped hand warmer pockets, an internal zipped pocket, and internal dump pockets for additional storage. Handily, the jacket comes with a repair patch for quick fixes on the go.
For those looking for a well-made, sustainable option, the Patagonia Down Sweater is a solid choice.
Berghaus Sabber Down Jacket, £200
Fill power: 600FP
A big, chunky, quilt-like down jacket for the depths of winter. The Sabber is a lifestyle down jacket that’s built to look good and keep you toasty warm. It only has a 600 fill power down, but has a lot of it. This makes the jacket chunky to wear - a look that some people prefer - and of course incredibly warm. Berghaus' kit is always durable thanks to excellently put-together garments and the Sabber jacket has Ripstop outer material to fend off nicks and scrapes.
The North Face Aconcagua women’s down jacket, £200
Fill power: 550FP
This windbreaker down jacket is intended for use while out hiking but looks good enough for everyday use, especially in the shady blue colourway. It mixes synthetic insulation in areas at the highest risk of getting wet, with 550-fill power RDS goose down in the body. The fill amount is trim enough for high-paced activities but still plentiful enough to keep you warm on cold winter days. The North Face’s proprietary Windwall outer fabric stops icy blasts in their tracks and the highly functional hood keeps your head warm throughout the day.
Mountain Equipment Lightline Down Jacket, £240
Fill power: 700FP
Mountain Equipment calls this a ‘technical duvet’, and we think that sums it up perfectly. Make no mistake, this is one warm down jacket. With 296g of 700 fill power 90/10 down you will be kept warm in the coldest conditions. Factor in an extended cut and you have a recipe for complete toastiness. The totally windproof 40D outer fabric is highly water resistant so will deal with light rain, and the adjustable cuffs and hem drawcord allow you to seal out draughts effectively.
Fjern Aktiv down jacket, £200
Fill power: 700FP
The Fjern Aktiv down jacket is a highly versatile insulated layer that is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who demand a lot from their gear. The jacket features a lofty 700 fill power down, which provides ample warmth in frigid conditions, making it a reliable standalone jacket. Its lightweight and packable design also makes it an excellent choice for layering during active alpine pursuits.
The jacket's Nylon ripstop outer and down-proof finish ensure durability and longevity, while the insulated and adjustable hood offers extra protection and warmth. The down-filled hood comes with a high collar for added face protection and comfort. The internal hood adjusters provide a streamlined finish and flexible fit, ensuring the jacket sits comfortably and securely on the head.
The Aktiv down jacket also features YKK zipped hand pockets, doubling up as a stuff sack. The stretch elastic cuffs and hem offer a flexible fit although we found the cuffs a bit tight.
Overall, the Fjern Aktiv down jacket is an excellent choice for those looking for a high-quality insulated layer that offers warmth, durability, and versatility. The only minor downside is the weight, with the Aktiv weighing in at 465g (size M).