Montbell Alpine Light Down Jacket Women’s
This jacket is the best at providing ample warmth for most outdoor excursions, and it has enough pockets to comfortably tote the necessities of daily life. It’s our go-to insulator for commuting or backcountry adventuring.
Montbell Alpine Light Down Jacket Men’s
Matching the quality and performance of the women’s model, in a taller and slightly broader version, this highly packable go-to insulator continually rose to the task, no matter the context.
For over three years, the Montbell’s Alpine Light Down Jacket (available in women’s and men’s sizes) has been our pick for the best down jacket. This jacket is lightweight but has a high volume of 800-fill-power down, which kept our testers warm. Our testers also appreciated this jacket’s extra luxury features, such as microfleece-lined hand-warmer pockets and collar, a drawcord hem for an adjustable fit, sturdy YKK zippers, an included cinch sack, and large interior drop pockets. The Alpine Light is also wind-resistant and packs down smaller than any of our other picks. And it has a durable water repellent (DWR) coating, which will help keep you dry even when you’re walking through socked-in, super-wet alpine zones. Unfortunately, this jacket doesn’t come in extended sizes.
Our testers found the REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0 (which comes in men’s and men’s tall sizes, and women’s and women’s plus sizes) to be the best low-cost option. Unlike the makers of other budget jackets, REI actually lists down-fill-power numbers—and the 650-fill jacket performs well in moderately cold climates. The jacket also comes in a wide range of sizes, is easy to layer under, and looks attractive. For those who live in climates that don’t require you to look like the Michelin Man to survive, this jacket is perfect for just-in-case scenarios when you need extra warmth. And due to this coat’s sturdy-seeming stitching, we think it should last for at least a few seasons. It also packs down small. The cost savings show up in the form of sometimes-sticky zippers and in the wide baffling (which started shedding down fairly quickly). More susceptible to rips and tears because of its less-durable nylon taffeta shell, this jacket isn’t puppy-proof, but it is capable of brushing against undergrowth and backpack straps without noticeable wear. It also has a DWR coating, which will help keep you dry for a short time, but the jacket is not fully waterproof.
For those who have a tendency to play hard, the Arc’teryx Atom LT Jacket, in women’s and men’s sizes, is up to the task. If you’re allergic to down or prefer to avoid animal products, or if you’re headed to an environment where you’re likely to sweat heavily or hit a spot of damp weather, a synthetic-fill jacket is the right choice. And this one also has a DWR finish to help protect you from light rain. With its ultra-stretch side panels, the Atom complements active motion in all sorts of scenarios, making this coat ideal for alpine climbing and trail running. However, the narrow Arc’teryx fit isn’t right for every body shape, the jacket doesn’t come in a broad range of sizes, and it’s not the warmest option of our picks.
Stio Women’s Hometown Down Hooded Jacket
This down jacket has lots of cozy features—like graduated wrist cuffs and a cinch cord on the hood—that set it apart from the rest. Plus, it feels as soft as butter.
If the outdoors industry were a classroom, Stio’s Hometown Down Hooded Jacket, available in men’s and women’s models, would be that front-row student who throws off the grading curve. Every square inch of it has been carefully constructed with a trifecta of warmth, durability, and performance in mind. The attention paid to finishing details—such as a cinch cord that allows you to adjust the hood to accommodate peripheral vision—truly makes a difference. The coat’s 800-fill-power down keeps you warm on long chairlift rides, when you’re building snowmen, or while you’re watching hockey or figure skating. And the DWR coating helps to stave off most moisture. The true kicker is the jacket’s ripstop nylon fabric, which feels like butter. Sadly, it’s not offered in extended sizes.