It’s time to ditch synthetic down and buy a real down jacket. When it starts to get cold outdoors, but you still desire to go hiking, having the lightest weight down jacket that is warm is essential. A packable jacket that keeps you warm is necessary when spending time outdoors during the colder months. Down is more cost-effective and is guaranteed to keep you warmer and have a lighter weight.
How To Choose the Lightest Weight Down Jacket
Advantages to a Down Jacket
Down has fibers that create airspaces in the jacket that traps in body heat and makes the jacket overall more compact when traveling. This airy construction of the jacket makes it the lightest weight down jacket. A synthetic jacket will tend to be heavier, not compress, and will not provide the same warmth as a down jacket.
Due to the down jacket’s airy design, it can easily be compressed to a fraction of its original size and tucked away in a backpack when not in use. When you are ready to wear the jacket, it will fluff back up and regain its heat-trapping ability. A synthetic jacket does not compress easily, unlike a down jacket.
Down jackets can be packed away and used over and over again. The down fibers do not damage easily by being compressed, making them last a long time. Synthetic fibers break down more quickly and lose their ability to trap heat over time.
A Water Repellent Coat
A down jacket may lose its power to keep you warm if it gets wet. Investing in a jacket that has a water-resistant shell can ensure your down jacket will last longer.
Fill power refers to the amount that the down will expand and its ability to keep you warm. Ideally, you want to look for a jacket with 30% or more down of the jacket’s total weight. The higher the fill power, the warmer the jacket will keep you.
Types of Down: Duck vs. Goose
Duck down has gained popularity over recent years as it is cheaper, easier to get, and holds up better when wet. However, duck down has a lower fill power than goose down, making the overall jacket heavier.
Goose down is of higher quality. It has a higher fill power keeping you warmer than duck down and creating a lighter weight jacket. However, goose down is not as easily accessible and is the more expensive option out of the two.
Different compartments, also called baffles, allow down jackets to evenly distribute the down. The size of the baffles can determine the insulation of the jacket. The larger the baffle, the more insulated the jacket will be, creating more warmth. Smaller baffles distribute down more evenly creating a lighter weight jacket.
Pockets are an excellent way to store things during your hike that you will need easy access to. Pockets are also suitable for required extra warmth while hiking or if you forgot your gloves.
Hoods can be filled with down and provide an added layer of warmth to your head. However, this adds weight to the jacket, and most people may opt to wear a hat covering their ears. Another option is choosing a jacket that has a removable hood. A removable hood allows you to have a more versatile jacket.
Having a cinch cord around the waist or on the hood can add warmth or cooling when needed to the jacket. A cinch cord also gives the jacket a better fit. Having this feature on your jacket will add more weight, so it all depends on if this is a necessity for you or not.
Most lightweight down jackets can be stuffed into one of the pockets for easy storage. A stuff sack is a great way to store the jacket when not being used.
Choosing the right lightweight down jacket all comes down to the buyer’s need. It can depend on the price, the insulation of the jacket, and personal preferences. This guide can help determine your jacket needs based on the activity you need a lightweight down jacket for.
Written By Mallory Rossitto