Cold weather is on its way and before long, everyone will be curling up by the fire and sipping hot chocolate. Though, while it would be amazing to spend the entirety of winter hunkered down by the fireplace, unfortunately, there exist jobs and other responsibilities which force us to step outside our cozy confines. When we do, it’s imperative to have a warm jacket capable of keeping cold air out and stopping us from shivering and cursing at the sky.
Besides, if you’re the outdoorsy type, you have hobbies to get back to. Just because it’s chilly outside doesn’t mean you’re going to stop hiking, biking, camping, or any other outdoor activity you love. In fact, some of the best winter pastimes, like skiing, snowboarding, backcountry touring, alpine climbing, and snowshoeing, involve getting out in the snow — thus, require bundling up and facing the elements.
Whether you’re planning to sleep in the woods for several days, or simply want to keep warm while waiting for the bus, you need a dependable down jacket or synthetic alternative. Here are our picks of the best down jackets for every occasion.
Planning to brave the cold weather to do some winter camping? Often, this means seeing your breath while sitting around the campfire. If you don’t want the frigid air to ruin the fireside jams, check out Outdoor Research’s Incandescent jacket. This 800-fill parka with Pertex Quantum GL fabric offers a remarkable combination of extreme warmth at a fantastically light weight. Plus, the shiny fabric makes you easier to spot in the dark when you’re walking back from the bathroom.
Designed specifically for outdoor pursuits, this long-beloved puffy was updated for 2017 with a slightly longer waist and given a halo adjustment in the hood for a more customized fit.
If you’re searching for the perfect mid-layer to round out your ski setup, look no further than Arc’teryx’s Cerium LT. This ultra-warm 10.8-ounce puffy jacket is equipped with the company’s patented Down Composite Mapping system which places different types of down technologies in different parts of the coat. It boasts 850 fill-premium down around the core, upper arms, and hood where you want maximum warmth but uses Coreloft synthetic insulation in the spots that tend to get wet such as the cuffs, collar, shoulders, and armpits.
The Arato 10 nylon shell and insulated StormHood give the jacket supreme warmth while still maintaining ultra-breathability. The perfect layer under your shell — or standalone puffy — to wear around the lodge during apres.
If you’re hiking up snowy hillsides or trekking across frigid ridgelines, you want a jacket that’s light, moisture-resistant, and highly breathable. Most of all, it has to be able to keep you warm in the harshest of environments. Fjallraven’s Keb Lite Padded Jacket is the exact version of puffy coat for the job. Composed of 100 percent synthetic down, it’s lighter and more breathable than most goose down jackets. It can be worn as a toasty liner under a shell if you’re anticipating rain, or as a standalone jacket in dry, blustery conditions.
On top of its technical features, the clever design places the hand pockets a touch higher than normal to make them accessible from the ventilation slots of an outer shell. The Keb Lite is one of the best puffy jackets out there for getting your winter trek on.
If you’re a ride-or-die cyclist who gets out there in the rain, sleet, and hail, Pearl’s Izumi is one of the best choices for those days that are dry but cold-as-hell. The secret weapon to this jacket is its blend of materials, offering 133g Primaloft Gold insulation around the front and back core area while keeping the arms and upper chest free of bulk while you ride. The soft-shell fabric blocks wind at high cycling speeds and it also has reflective features that give you lowlight visibility when riding in traffic. A drop-tail hem, two hand pockets, and a bonus security pocket on the chest complete this killer jacket’s list of awesome features.
For those burly mountaineering types who not only spend time in the mountains but also climb them, Mountain Equipment’s Skyline hooded jacket is an essential piece of winter gear. The beastly Drilite Loft 20D outer fabric is 100 percent waterproof and extremely water resistant with 90 by 10 700-fill pure down that provides exceptional heat under the iciest, most bitter conditions.
The jacket is covered in stitched-through baffle construction with an adjustable elastane-bound Mountain HC hood, adding to the warmth. Despite these heavy duty features, the coat maintains a minimalist, lightweight design, packing down to a ball that fits in its inner mesh pocket.
Not all ventures outside involve trekking off into the wilderness for days on end. Sometimes, you just need to stay warm while walking around town, hanging out at the park, or watching a sporting event from a chilly set of bleachers. Typically, for these excursions, you want to stay warm but also look good. For those scenarios, check out the Trid LP from KJUS.
This snazzy jacket is full of 70 by 30 730-fill premium goose down with a chic face fabric made from a blend of virgin and cashmere wools. Storm System membrane keeps it extra warm and a layer of DWR (durable water repellent) helps shed water if it gets misty out. Add to that its handwarmer pockets, an adjustable waistline, and a detachable waterproof hood and you’ve got an exceptionally cozy, stylish piece of winter apparel. The one drawback to this jacket is that it’s rather pricey, to the tune of around $1,500; however, if you can afford it, the coat is worth the extra investment.
You want to keep warm while you’re out and about but you’d rather avoid that “bundled up like a giant marshmallow” look. We get it. You need to check out Maloja’s FoggiaM. This long and tailored 650-fill down jacket offers supreme insulation as well as a layer of DWR to help wick rain and sleet.
It also comes in an array of fashionable colorways including frosted berry, mountain lake, and charcoal. On top of that, the jacket’s cross stretch fabric makes it comfortable, allowing for a full range of movement so you won’t feel wrapped up or constricted. This is the perfect around-town jacket that ensures you stay toasty warm while looking hip, as well.
It’s not reasonable to expect everyone can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on expensive down jackets. Yet, everyone deserves to stay warm and play outside in comfort. If fancy three-figure coats aren’t in your budget, Ibex’s marked-down Wool Are Matrix Hoody is a godsend. Swapping out goose down for synthetic merino wool loft gives it a light feel without compromising quality.
Merino has all the heat-trapping properties of other materials, offering stellar insulation to the wearer. A ripstop exterior shuts out the elements, blasting off wind and rain while its Woolies 3 side panels allow the coat to breathe, offering ventilation and comfort. A great jacket for hiking, climbing, camping, skiing, or whatever day adventure you have in mind.
If you fear zippers and prefer the ease of a jacket that snaps, Mountain Hardwear created a super warm, technical-yet-stylish choice perfect for the snap fan in everyone. Its closure system is a breeze to get off and, as a bonus, you can leave some of the snaps undone for custom ventilation. Mountain Hardware’s Q.Shield Down is some of the warmest down technology on the market and the jacket is also highly compact, packing down into a tiny pocket. The cuffs have a slick reflective trim and the coat manages to look tailored while still maintaining excellent performance standards.
Wintertime doesn’t necessarily mean it’s dumping snow or dropping into single digits every day. Sometimes, the weather falls more into a category of just slightly chilly, making a puffy down vest preferable to a giant parka — and Dakine’s Brightwood is a stellar choice for those days. Aside from delivering Dakine’s hallmark fashionable style, the 650-fill vest is also warm and comfy. With responsibly sourced Allied compressible down and a coating of DWR on the micro ripstop shell, the vest is water-resistant as well as it is warm.
It’s also designed to have a roomy fit, so it’s possible to layer underneath by using the drawstring at the waist to customize the fit. The best part of this vest, however, is that it converts into a storable neck pillow when you’re not using it. Stay warm and know that you always have a travel pillow in your keep.
Patagonia’s MicroPuff is undoubtedly one of the best puffy jackets the industry’s ever seen. It boasts just about every quality you want in a puffy: It’s incredibly lightweight, water-resistant, and highly packable. The patented PlumaFill synthetic insulation stays warm when wet and works with the jacket’s quilting construction to reduce the amount of sticking while maximizing loft.
It’s loaded with quality details such as elasticized cuffs, a wicking interior storm flap on the front zipper, and a shell at the top to prevent chin chafing. Additionally, the jacket even has a pair of cozy handwarmer pockets, one of which doubles as a stuff sack. Whether you’re planning a multi-day backpacking trip, lounging around the ski lodge, or jetting around town doing errands, this jacket can be your trusted outdoor companion.