Choose the Best Packable Down Jacket for Travel

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Carrying a packable down jacket has long been a favorite practice for active travelers and backpackers alike. These miracle coats have the ability to pack down to the size of a water bottle, while also keeping you exceptionally warm and dry in the most extreme of climates. 

They also add little to your overall pack weight while giving you the best warmth-to-weight ratio on the market.

There are no other materials available today that can match down’s natural capabilities which is why these jackets are so sought after. However, not all pack-able down jackets are the same. There are many factors that go into making the perfect down jacket.

Here are a few things to consider before you purchase.

Top 6 Packable Down Jacket List

PRODUCTDESCRIPTION 
Best Packable Down JacketsWomen’s Outdoor Research Transcendent
-650 Down Fill
-Water Resistant
-Wind Resistant
-Adjustable Hood
-Left Handed pocket doubles as Stuff Sack
-Internal Front Stormflap
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Best Packable Down JacketsWomen’s Mountain Hardwear Hooded Ghost Whisperer
-850 goose down insulation
-Low profile quilted construction
-Attached Hood
-Jacket stows easily in zip hand pocket
-Full zip front closure
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Best Packable Down JacketsWomen’s Patagonia Sweater Jacket
-800 fill down insulation
-Adjustable hem
-Contoured fit
-Zipper closure
-Ripstop fabric
-Packs into own internal stuff sack pocket
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Best Packable Down JacketsMen's Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hood
-850 goose down fill
-Moisture resistant outer face
-Lightweight
-Two hand pockets with zippers
-Full front zip with chin guard
-Wind resistant
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Best Packable Down JacketsMen’s Patagonia Sweater Jacket
-800 fill down
-Special quilted construction
-Water repellent outer finish
-Spandex binding on cuffs
-Two front/side pockets
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Best Packable Down JacketsMen's Black Diamond Cold Forge
-PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Down Blend
-Durable water resistant coating
-Insulated wind flap
-Zip hand warmer pockets
-Adjustable hood
-Lightweight stretch cuffs
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Quick Answer-Best Packable Down Jacket

Spirit Island, Jasper National Park, Canada
Spirit Island in Jasper National Park, Canada

Packable Down Jacket Portability

When discussing how to find the best packable down jacket, portability is key. Whether you are an active traveler or backpacking the Pacific Crest Trail, you want a down jacket that can be easily packed into your backpack or luggage while taking up minimal space.

The best down jackets generally come with two options of portability: stuff sack or pocket pouch.

A stuff sack is an external carrying case that your jacket can be rolled into and compressed down further with a drawstring. These are great for packing down your jacket to its smallest size before throwing it into your backpack.

The only drawback to this portable option is the sack is just one more item to keep track of and it adds weight no matter how minimal.

That is why down jackets that pack down into a pocket pouch are the top choice of ultra-lightweight backpackers. This option allows you to roll your jacket into either a side or chest pocket.

These tend to have the highest level of compression ability and eliminate the potential of losing the one thing that gives the jacket the most portability.  

Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
Photographing the Perito Moreno Glacier

Packable Down Jacket Warmth

It is difficult to gauge the exact warmth of the down jacket mainly because everybody regulates body heat differently. So instead of a warmth rating, we need to look at the down fill power.

Fill power is the measure of how many cubic inches of loft a single ounce of down covers and loft is the amount of air an insulating material can trap.

So, for example, a rating of 800 fill means that a single ounce of down will have 800 cubic inches of loft. The majority of down jackets have a fill power between 550-900, although you can find some super high-end options that have a fill power of 1000.

Quality down jackets will have a fill power of 800 or 850, while more affordable jackets will have a fill power of approximately 650-750. Deciding on what fill power is necessary will rely directly on the types of conditions you will be utilizing your jacket in.

If you plan on thru-hiking in the mountains, skiing or mountaineering you will want a minimum fill power of 800, but if you are just looking for a warm travel jacket that takes up minimal space you can stay in the 650-fill power range.

Cerro Toco Summit, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Summit of Cerro Tocco in the Atacama Desert, Chile

Shell Fabrics

The shell or external fabric of a down jacket is almost as important as the down itself. A good shell fabric should be able to keep out the elements such as light rain while being tough enough to prevent tearing or stretching after extensive use.

The best way to determine the shell fabrics’ durability is by looking for its denier. The denier of a fabric is the unit of measurement for the linear mass density of the fibers.

A higher denier will give you better protection against abrasions but will also be heavier. A good middle-ground for a packable down jacket is 10-20D. These are strong fabrics that withstand the elements without adding too much weight to your pack.

Nylon: Ripstop nylon is probably the most used shell fabric for pack-able down jackets. This material is lightweight in nature while also being great at wicking away moisture and preventing tears during normal use. It is also a very affordable fabric that can bring down the cost of an otherwise expensive down jacket.

Polyester: Polyester is another popular shell fabric in down jackets. It is easy to recycle and is slightly tougher than its nylon counterpart even with the same denier rating. However, polyester can be slightly heavier and doesn’t always have the same moisture-wicking abilities as nylon.

Best Packable Down Jacket
Patricia Lake, Alberta, Canada

Packable Down Jacket Weight

What draws people to down jackets most often is their warmth-to-weight ratio. The loft of the down means that less material needs to be used in order to achieve the warmth needed for even the coldest of climates. That means that just because a jacket is heavier does not mean that it has the most insulation.

Packable down jackets are designed to be lightweight and this consideration transfers to everything from the zippers used to the outer fabric. The best packable down jackets are generally going to hover around 10oz in weight. These are mostly for things like backpacking or mountaineering where every ounce matters.

On the other hand, down jackets that are meant more for bumming around town are going to be heavier because of the style. The zippers are going to be more elaborate, the quilted pattern more stylish and the pockets more plentiful.

If this is your intended use, the fill-power should be your first concern and weight isn’t likely to matter that much.

Waterfall in Iceland
Chasing waterfalls in Iceland

Water Resistance

The Achilles heel of a down jacket is water. When exposed to heavy rains, the down becomes devoid of the loft needed to trap your body heat and therefore a useless piece of fabric.

Not only that, but once wet down will take ages to dry out and get back to its original form. The more your jacket is exposed to water the more the down will degrade over time. That is why it is so important that a down jacket has some form of water protection.  

There are two prominent ways that manufacturers have tried to circumvent this weakness. The first is the development of hydrophobic down. Hydrophobic down is simply regular down that has received a durable water repellent, or DWR, treatment.

This helps the water to bead off of, rather than being absorbed by the down feathers. You might also see this labeled as a Q.Shield treatment, which is basically the same thing with a different name.

The next step of protection is making sure that that same treatment has been applied to the external shell of the jacket. This will prevent moisture from penetrating the core in the first place, making it the first line of defense against the elements.

This water barrier can also be achieved after purchase by a product called Nikwax. Nikwax is both a cleaner and waterproofing agent for down jackets.

While it is not as water repellent as a DWR treatment it can be applied to a down jacket that may be losing some of its moisture-wicking ability over multiple uses.


Packable Down Jacket Recommendations

Best Packable Down Jacket

Patagonia Men’s Down Sweater Jacket

Patagonia is one of the best-known brands in outdoor wear and with good reason. Their quality products stand the test of time and conform to the perfect balance of comfort and function.

The Patagonia Down Sweater is no exception with it’s 800 fill traceable goose down interior and 20-D recycled polyester outer shell you are getting an eco-friendly jacket that will keep you exceptionally toasty in any environment.

This jacket also comes in a more lightweight and compressible form with a 15-D shell that is perfect for those long-distance hikes through varying altitudes and weather conditions.

SPECS:

  • Weight 13.1 oz
  • 3 oz of 800-fill traceable goose down
  • 20-D ripstop polyester shell and lining
  • Water-resistant DWR treatment
  • 2 zippered hand pockets
  • Special quilted construction
  • Spandex binding on cuffs
  • Two front/side pockets

Check Men’s Patagonia Down Jacket price at Amazon


Best Packable Down Jacket

Arc’teryx Men’s Cerium LT Hood

The Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody is the perfect minimalist lightweight jacket with a high degree of durability. These jackets are built with outdoor enthusiasts in mind.

Whether you are backpacking, skiing, mountaineering or just taking a stroll through the city in Winter, this jacket will keep you warm and comfortable without sacrificing on style.

The ripstop nylon shell will prevent tears while also wicking away moisture, while the 850-fill goose down insulation will trap in your body heat keeping you warm in some of the coldest conditions.

It is also extremely lightweight and is able to be compressed down and stuffed into the jacket’s super thin stuff sack located inside the interior chest pocket.

SPECS:

  • Weight 10.8oz
  • 3.4oz of 850-fill down
  • Ripstop nylon shell
  • Chest pocket stuff sack
  • Down composite mapping design
  • Water-resistant DWR treatment
  • Two hand pockets with zippers
  • Full front zip with chin guard
  • Wind resistant

Check Men’s Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hood price at Amazon


Best Packable Down Jacket

Black Diamond Men’s Cold Forge

Quickly deployed on north-facing rock routes, blustery alpine ridgelines and cold mornings in camp, the Black Diamond Diamond Forge Hoody is a highly pack-able insulation piece featuring 700-fill, RDS certified down that is DWR-treated for added weather resistance.

Featuring a climbing helmet-compatible hood for added coverage and gusseted underarms for added range of motion when climbing in cold conditions, the Forge also has single-pull cord adjusters on the hood and the hem to seal out chilly air.

When the sun hits or it’s time to climb, the Forge stows inside its chest pocket and clips to your harness with an integrated carabiner clip loop.

SPECS:

  • PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Down Blend
  • Durable water-resistant coating
  • Insulated wind flap
  • Zip handwarmer pockets
  • Adjustable hood
  • Lightweight stretch cuffs

Check Men’s Black Diamond Cold Forge price at Amazon


Best Packable Down Jacket

Mountain Hardwear Women’s Hooded Ghost Whisperer

The Mountain Hardwear Hooded Ghost Whisperer down jacket is by far the lightest and most compressible jacket currently on the market. These jackets are the perfect choice for the active traveler that wants to save space and overall pack weight while on the move.

While you will be sacrificing slightly on the hems and zippers to achieve the minimal weight this jacket is still highly durable and an exceptional piece of stand-alone winter travel gear.

It’s quilted design and attached hood help to trap your body heat and it is snug fit keeps it there.

Specs:

  • Weight 7.7oz
  • 2.8oz of 800-fill down
  • 7-D ripstop nylon shell
  • Q.Shield moisture-resistant hydrophobic down treatment
  • Packs down into hand pocket
  • Attached hood
  • Low profile quilted construction
  • Full-zip front closure

Check Women’s Mountain Hardwear Hooded Ghost Whisperer price at Mountain Hardwear.


Best Packable Down Jacket

Patagonia Women’s Down Sweater Jacket

Patagonia is one of the best-known brands in outdoor wear and with good reason. Their quality products stand the test of time and conform to the perfect balance of comfort and function.

The Patagonia Down Sweater is no exception with it’s 800 fill traceable goose down interior and 20-D recycled polyester outer shell you are getting an eco-friendly jacket that will keep you exceptionally toasty in any environment.

This jacket also comes in a more lightweight and compressible form with a 15-D shell that is perfect for those long-distance hikes through varying altitudes and weather conditions.

SPECS:

  • Weight 13.1 oz
  • 3 oz of 800-fill traceable goose down
  • 20-D ripstop polyester shell and lining
  • Water-resistant DWR treatment
  • 2 zippered hand pockets
  • Special quilted construction
  • Spandex binding on cuffs
  • Two front/side pockets

Check Women’s Patagonia Down Jacket price at Amazon


Best Packable Down Jacket

Outdoor Research Women’s Transcendent Jacket

The Transcendent series has been a long-time puffy favorite for climbers, backpackers, mountaineers, and everyone else who spends extended time outside. So we took what you loved – and what you asked for – to create the dramatically redesigned Transcendent Collection.

Injected with even more fill power of responsibly sourced down insulation, the new Transcendent has fresh, modern design lines and colors, trusted lightweight weather resistance, and all of the feature-packed details adventurers rely on to excel in their sport.

Even if you haven’t quite loved your last puffy to death yet, we promise that the new Transcendent will make you reconsider retirement and upgrading to the latest and greatest.

SPECS:

  • 650 Down Fill
  • Water-Resistant
  • Wind Resistant
  • Adjustable Hood
  • Left-Hand pocket doubles as a stuff sack
  • Internal Front Stormflap

Check Women’s Outdoor Research Transcendent price at Amazon


South Coast Iceland

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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Choose the Best Packable Down Jacket for Travel



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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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