The best down jackets are key to any layering system. Ever heard of the onion method? It’s the best way to stay warm in cold weather and involves carefully layering up (like an onion) to trap heat and stay cosy. The best down jackets offer the almost perfect combination of being both lightweight and extremely warm, and are ideal worn over a base layer and under a waterproof jacket in bad weather, or on their own as a warm outer layer on cold, drier days.
Most insulated jackets on the market use either traditional animal down or a synthetic insulation to trap in warmth. Animal down offers a brilliant warmth to weight ratio, but doesn’t insulate when wet. Cheap down can sometimes also be harvested unethically – if you’re buying a down jacket, choose a reputable brand and check where the down is sourced from. Synthetic down (such as Primaloft) rivals animal down for warmth and also still retains some insulating properties when wet. We’ve included great options using both down and synthetic insulation in our roundup.
We’ve included down jackets here for men, women and every budget – so, whether you’ve got £50 or £500 to spend, you’ll find something here that fits the bill.
Not sure what to look for? Take a browse through our choice of the best down jackets below and check out our buying guide at the bottom of the page, where we’ll explain all the key features to look out for.
The best down jackets: At a glance
- The best insulated jacket for the ethically minded: Patagonia Nano Puff jacket | Buy men’s | Buy women’s
- The best insulated jacket to wear in the city: Sundried Monte Viso down jacket | Buy men’s | Buy women’s
- The best down jacket for climbers: Rab Microlight Alpine ECO jacket for men and women | Buy men’s | Buy women’s
- The best lightweight down jacket: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2 | Buy men’s | Buy women’s
The best down jackets you can buy in 2021
1. Patagonia Nano Puff jacket for men and women: The best insulated jacket for the ethically minded
Price: From £144 | Buy men’s | Buy women’s from Patagonia
The Nano Puff is jam-packed with smart features: it’s stuffed using a water-repellent PrimaLoft Gold synthetic filling that’s partly made from recycled materials, and it performs brilliantly in pretty much any condition – the synthetic filling retains heat very well even when wet, unlike down.
The polyester shell is tougher than that of most other insulated jackets, yet the Nano Puff is still lightweight and compresses neatly into its own chest pocket for easy portability. It gets top marks in the ethical stakes: no down is used and Patagonia promotes fair labour and environmental responsibility in its factories.
It certainly helps that the Nano Puff’s styling is spot on too: it looks and feels fantastic, and the slim, comfortable fit really hits the mark. A hooded version is also available.
Key specs – Fill power: N/A; Main material: PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco; Weight: 284g; Water resistant: Yes; Pockets: 3
Buy men’s from PatagoniaBuy women’s from Patagonia
2. Sundried Monte Viso down jacket for men and women: The best insulated jacket to wear in the city
Price: £50 | Buy men’s | Buy women’s from Sundried
This clever jacket has insulation around the torso but not in the fleece-lined arms, so you get great warmth without restricted movement. The Monte Viso feels rather like wearing a gilet, and looks like a smart bomber jacket – this was our favourite insulated jacket on test when it came to looks, and it’s a great layer to grab in changeable spring and autumn conditions. Five handy inner and outer pockets provide plenty of storage, and our only critique is that the sizing of the Monte Viso is small – our size UK 10-12 tester couldn’t even zip up the medium-sized jacket. Go for at least a size up, or even try the men’s version if you like a boxier fit. If you get the fit right, this is a great quality, versatile jacket for a very pocket-friendly price.
Key specs – Fill power: N/A; Main material: Synthetic; Weight: 440g; Water resistant: Yes; Pockets: 5
Buy men’s from Sundried
Buy women’s from Sundried
3. Rab Microlight Alpine ECO jacket for men and women: The best down jacket for climbers
Price: From £200 | Buy men’s | Buy women’s from Cotswold Outdoors