Top 12 Best Down Vests for Men and Women – Plus How to Choose

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Down Vests are one of the latest trends amongst travelers and hikers looking for a stylish, yet practical piece of clothing to pack in their bags, and a good down vest can come in handy in a wide variety of situations.

The best down vests are somewhat of a halfway point between a full-on down jacket, giving you much more freedom. They can be a great accessory to keep you warm in cold conditions when you really just need one more added layer, or they can work as great items of clothing to wear when it’s not too cold, and yet it’s not too hot.

The best down vests are versatile, made from lightweight material and are designed to last in the extreme outdoors if you look after them correctly. While the best down vests may not be cheap, they should be seen as an investment in quality equipment.

To help you decide which are the best down vests for you, here’s our guide to the best products on the market.

Top 5 Best Down Vests

Eddie Bauer Stormdown Vest
- Come's in Men's and Women's
- 800 fill StormDown
- Stows easily - packs into left hand pocket that has carabiner clip-in loop
- Windprood 20D Ripstop polyester shell - StormRepel DWR finish sheds moisture so it doesn't soak in
- Average weight: Reg 7.36 oz
** Best OverAll Down Vest **
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Columbia Lake 22 Down Vest 
- Come's in Men's and Women's
- Water-resistant protection
- 650 fill
- Stows easily - packs into left hand pocket
- Average weight: Reg 8.8 oz
** Best Wet Weather Down Vest **
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The North Face Nuptse 2 Vest
- Come's in Men's and Women's
- 700 fill goose down
- Stowable in internal, secure-zip chest pocket
- Average weight: Reg 8.36 oz
** Best Down Vest For Camping **
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Patagonia Down Sweater Vest
- Come's in Men's and Women's
- 800 fill down
- Internal zippered chest pocket converts to stuffsack with a carabiner clip-in loop
- Average weight: Reg 7.56 oz
** Best Down Vest For Hiking **
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Marmot Zeus Down Vest
- Come's in Men's and Women's
- 700 fill
- Water-resistant ripstop fabric
- Stuffs into its own pocket
- Average weight: Reg 7.23 oz
** Best Quality Down Vest **
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Quick Answer: Best Down Vests

Things to Consider When Choosing A Vest

Down vs Synthetic

Best Down Vests

The age-old question of using Down vs Synthetic products when traveling and hiking will always be a question with no correct answer, as it depends on many factors such as budget, requirements, weather conditions etc and will always, ultimately come down to personal preference.

Down products essentially make use of the feathers taken from duck or geese, to create a warm, insulated product that traps warm air between the feathers in much the same way the animals themselves keep warm.

Synthetic products make use of artificial materials – usually polyester or similar – to create a similar effect.

There are several different types of synthetic and down used to create many different products on the market today. There are very distinct advantages and disadvantages to both materials.

The best down vests will be much lighter and will keep you much warmer than synthetic vests, which are always bulkier and heavier.

Down vests will compress much smaller than any comparable synthetic products, allowing you to carry the vest around without it taking up too much packing space or adding considerably to the overall weight of your gear.

Wet Weather Performance

Trekking in Kyrgyzstan

Down though, performs extremely poorly in wet weather. The down feathers used to create the vest will absorb water at an alarming rate if exposed to rain or snow, rendering it useless incredibly quickly.

While they are perfect in conditions when you know it won’t rain, ultimately you will need to wear the down vest as a layer beneath a waterproof raincoat. For summer conditions though, a down vest can be the perfect piece of clothing.

Down products also need to be cared for and looked after properly. If they are, they can last a lifetime, but you can’t simply throw the best down vests into a washing machine and hope for the best, you need to treat them with different products and wash them very carefully.

Synthetic products can perform much better in the rain, and are much, much easier to look after, however, most products will inevitably be much heavier to carry around and perhaps not quite as soft and as comfortable.

The biggest advantage is the synthetic ability to repel water to a much higher extent than down, while they are also much cheaper to purchase.

As technology and synthetic production advances ever onwards though, you can expect synthetic to match down in the future, but this is still a long way off.

Ultimately, down vests, as long as they are looked after and kept out of the rain, are much better at keeping you warm and keeping your gear light.

Down Options

Best Down Vests

There are several different types of down filling available, which will have different qualities, prices, and warmth to weight ratios.

The best quality on the market is Goose Down Fill, which is also the most expensive. This makes use of fine goose down and will be the lightest and warmest of the best down vests you can buy.

Another popular down option is the use of Duck Down Feathers, which are generally much cheaper but also heavier and not quite as insulating in comparison to goose down. Some products labeled as Down make use of a mixture, so check the composition of the vest before purchasing.

More commonly, you can purchase down products with water repellent treatment allowing them to perform reasonably well in wet conditions. It still won’t be as waterproof as a synthetic vest, however. 

Synthetic Options

Mural in Juneau, Alaska

As with down, there are also many different synthetic material options available on the market. The range is greater than with down and if you opt for synthetic over down, then ensure you are purchasing a good brand, with a good reputation for quality.

Many companies have their own trademarked synthetic fills, ranging from such different materials as Thermolite, Thinsulate and many more similar brands.

Warmth Rating

One of the most important deciding factors when choosing the best down vests may well be the overall warmth rating. Down products are generally labeled and rated through a fill number.

For quality down vests, this will range from a low rating of say 600 up to the top of the range 900 ratings.

The lower the down fill rating, the less warm it will be. The higher the down fill rating, the warmer you will be. Of course, a warmer rating will cost you more. The best goose down products will have the highest ratings. 

Comfort and Fit

Best Down Vests

It’s not wise to purchase a down vest before physically trying it on for size and fit because different brands have different styles and sizing guides.

Down products aren’t cheap, and down vests are no exception, so with this being an investment, you want a vest that can handle different situations and last over time.

Ideally, you will want your down vest to be baggy and loose, allowing you to add several different layers underneath if needs be. This allows your vest to become more versatile, and to cover a greater range of temperatures and conditions.

You also want to ensure that any vest you buy, you are able to cover with a suitable raincoat if the clouds open up while you are out hiking because you don’t want your down getting wet. For this reason, you won’t want the vest to be too baggy either.

You will also want to consider different aesthetic and comfort qualities of the best down vests too. Well-known brands such as North Face or Mountain Hardware produce their own quality ranges, which are as stylish as they are comfortable, allowing you to wear it out and about rather than just when you’re on an expedition.

You will want to check the number of pockets, whether they are practical for holding what you may need them to hold if the zippers are easy to pull up or loosen.

You can only check minor details like this, by trying the vest on in person and when you are spending a lot of money on a product, minor details can very well be the deciding factor in your purchasing choice.

Best Down Vests – Product Recommendations

There are some great quality products on the market, but there are also a lot of products to choose from. To help you to narrow down your purchase, here are a few of our favorite down vests.

Best Down Vests

Mountain Hardware Vest

Best Down Vests
Best Down Vests

With a name like ‘Ghost Whisperer,’ you can expect Mountain Hardware’s premium down vest to be both compact and stylish.

It is both of these things and much, much more besides. With a huge down fill rating, you are guaranteed to be kept warm while wearing the Ghost Whisperer, while it’s one of the lightest vests for sale on the market.

Given all this quality, it’s also one of the most expensive, but if your budget isn’t a problem and you are looking for future investment, this is a solid choice to make.

Patagonia Down Vest

Best Down Vests
Best Down Vests

Patagonia makes excellent quality down vests, but given both the branding and the high down rating, you aren’t looking at a cheap product.

The Patagonia Down Sweater Vest is compact, lightweight and it will keep you exceptionally warm, while it’s also stylish and good looking enough to wear in the city on a cold day without looking like you’re setting off to climb a mountain.

North Face Down Vest

Best Down Vests

North Face is one of the most reputable and practical brands to choose from when it comes to outdoor equipment.

They offer both value and quality, and while their vests aren’t necessarily the top of the range when it comes to size and warmth rating, they are perfect for those with a mid-range budget, who are after a vest that will last a long, long time.

The Nuptse and Thermoball range are a bit bulkier than say the Mountain Hardware or Patagonia offerings, with a down fill rating of 700. It’s incredibly snug though and is perfect for camping expeditions, while it won’t break the bank. 

The retro look isn’t as sleek as some brands, and the North Face Nuptse range would fall into the more classic vest look in comparison to other offerings from other companies.

Eddie Bauer Down Vest

Best Down Vests
Best Down Vests

Eddie Bauer is the leader in outdoor clothing so naturally, their down vests are some of the best out on the market. Built by outdoor lovers for outdoor lovers to last a lifetime of adventures.

They are not just functional but fashionable. Their vest offers premium ultralight features with a high-mobility fit that truly fits like a jacket or hoodie, minus the sleeves.

Eddie Bauer’s vest is thinner than other down vests out on the market. But their combination of minimal bulk and effective warmth material is what makes the Eddie Bauer vest some of the best down vest on the market.

Marmot Down Vest 

Best Down Vests
Best Down Vests

Marmot down vest is another great choice for adventure loves, designed to be the highest quality performance product by adventure loves from one of the most adventurous places in the wold Juneau Alaska.

They down vest are for those chilly moments where ever your adventures take you from sipping a cup of coffee while out on safari in Africa to gathering firewood while camping in the back county in Patagonia.

Columbia Down Vest 

Best Down Vests
Best Down Vests

Columbia is an industry leader in outdoor appeal and products. They understand outdoor people and the adventures they may take on wearing their vests. This is why Columbia is always pushing the limits with cutting edge technologies.

They offer a great range of down vest that offers their Omni-Heat insulation with their thermal-reflective lining. Their vest is built to retain core body heat and is one of the warmest, softest, and lightest down vest out on the market.

Not only are their vest warm but they are packable into their interior pocket and they are water-resistant.

Not finding what you are looking for? Check out our favorite places to go shopping for travel gear.

  • Shop Columbia – The industry leader in outdoor apparel and products; You can find anything from great jackets, gloves, hats, shirts, and travel pants.
  • Shop REI – They offer some of the best outdoor gear around. We love REI since they have a year Love it or hate it no questions guarantee.
  • Shop Moosejaw – Has a huge selection of outdoor gear at killer prices.

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About David Stock

I have always been an outdoorsman so becoming an adventure traveler was just the next natural step. I love nature, I love to get off the beaten path and I like to explore. I enjoy scuba diving and cars. And yes, Lina and I have a naked dog.

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