A great down jacket is essential to just about any active winter wardrobe. A warm insulated jacket offers the most warmth for the amount of coverage you get, is easily compressed, and can fit stuffed in a tight carry on bag.
The best down jackets for travel come in a variety of styles from down seaters to heavier winter weight styles.
No matter the price range you will be a to find a good amount of options for your next winter destination.
Searching for the best down jacket options out there can become overwhelming, that's why we have put together a comprehensive buying guide. Below is our take on the best down jackets for travel focusing on warmth, weight, shell fabrics and more.
Comparing all the jackets available on the market can be a handful. We are going to break down what exactly is offered this winter for the best travel down jacket.
You want your down jacket to be lightweight, functional, and most of all comfortable. It's already hard enough to pack light as is, no need for your jacket to add even more bulk to an already tight travel bag.
During travel you never know what type of climate changes you may face, so you want your jacket to be portable for your day bag as well as carry on.
The down clusters traps heat while still maintaining breathability, the fill hinders any damage that might occur while stuffed away in your luggage.
Down only makes up a bit of the material needed to insulate a jacket leaving room for another type of filler, allowing the jacket to remain mostly lightweight as compared to fleece or synthetic fabrics.
Fill power is just as important to maintaining warmth as the insulation. Fill power is needed to maintain warmth levels since not as much down is needed in more lightweight jackets.
Jackets receive warmth ratings, a higher rating means it is likely lightweight due to less down and uses less space to keep you warm.
Your average rating is somewhere between 400 to 600 with more higher end jackets ranking in at just around 800.
Jackets with at least a 550 rating are going to function well because they are lighter in weight and pack on the warmth.
Removing or adding layers is very important when traveling considering you don't know what changes in weather might occur. Try on your jacket with another layer like a sweater as this will ensure you are comfortable with or without the need of another layer.
Packable down jackets are unique in a sense because you don’t have to have a bulky fit to maintain warmth or compromise your comfort in any way while traveling.
Of course there can be a downside to ripstop fabrics that cause the moisture to trap close to the body. Frequent sun exposure over time is also known to loosen the durability to its outer shell.
The alternative would be to opt for a slightly thicker fabricated jacket that isn't too heavy, jackets rated around 750 can provide thickness that will last years down the line without sacrificing its performance in the long run.
Over time even the most high quality down jackets will lose some down.
You should never expect to lose a large amount of down which is a sign of a bad quality down jacket. To keep your down in place companies like to opt for a down proof coating, this can prevent the jacket from spilling down over time.
With jackets that are lightweight it is a crucial aspect to include a down bag because the thinner the fabric the more likely it is leak down.
Jackets will stay as good as new once down proof coating is affixed to the back panel of the jacket and inner down is used to bind any extra layers of fabric. Maintaining the down fabric in the utmost condition will ensure its longevity and prevent you from having to purchase a jacket every year.
On the higher end of the jacket spectrum you are likely to come across more luxurious accessories.
The ability to customize those options to your liking will come at the higher price point as well. Depending on your lifestyle you may want the option to add on extras such as cuffs, different inner linings, and more ventilation.
One detail that companies typically cannot skimp on is the zippers. Nobody wants to fumble around with zippers that break and don't zip after a few wears. Lightweight jackets are unfortunately more prone to breakage because they have smaller teeth, making them hard to zip up and own. .
When you invest in a nice down jacket you will notice that the zipper teeth are much larger, this is to ensure that your zipper will not break over time.
Typically the YKK brand of zipper will last and is known to be reliable in the quality down jacket department.
The standard rating in the down jacket community includes ratings to determine the fill power that you can get form any jacket. This rating is a range from 500 to about 800 fill.
500 to 600 fill is where you would typically find more budget friendly options.
Lower rated fill power jackets may not offer as much warmth for more seasoned outdoors peoples but would be perfect for the winter night out on the town.
You want to look for a fill power in the 800 range if you plan to do more hardcore outdoors activities such as skiing or hiking. You will likely pay more for this type of jacket but you won't be disappointed in its premium performance for your outdoors activities.
As opposed to fill power fill weight is a metric used to determine how much fill in ounces that a jacket may have. Obviously, the heavier the jacket the wearmer the jacket may be.
Finding a balance between fill weight and power is important because you don't want to wind up with a jacket that is too heavy and won't pack into your luggage or worse keeps you too warm.
Fill weight only makes up the weight of what the jacket is filled with. Many companies use add on materials that may make your jacket heavier.
Zippers and hardware contribute to the jackets overall weight. Consider this when choosing the perfect down jacket. The best jacket will remain lightweight as well as offer a good fill and remain packable.
A popular option found in packable down jackets is a nylon shell. Nylon is great for withstanding harsh weather like rain and wind.
Shell fabric is measured by the weight of the thread used during the manufacturing process. This is referred to as a jackets denier which is short will determine how durable your jackets is to the elements.
Depending on what outdoors activities you are into will determine what your needs are form your jacket.
Just because a jacket is warm does not mean it will provide you the level of comfort that you are looking for from a packable down jacket.
You want the jacket to move with the body. Stay away from stiff jackets that constrict.Choosing the ideal fit for your body type as well as wise layering options will contribute to your overall comfort.
As mentioned before denier is the process that measures the weight of your thread. Denier is determined using a range system form 7D to 40D.
The lower end of the spectrum describes lightweight luxurious jackets. Around 20 denier is where you will find your typical down jacket, though 20D is more commonly found it does provide a good balance between weight and overall durability.
One of the main proponents of a packable down jacket is compressibility. This just describes how well a jacket can be packed away. You want a down jacket that can occupy the least amount of space in your luggage .
Jackets that are large in size and puffy will give you the michelin man look, this look is to be avoided for travel because they lack the ability to compress and occupy too much space for travel versatility.
For those who plan to spend the winter trekking through all the elements, waterproof jackets will be your best friend. Unfortunately, down feather jackets are not the best at keeping you warm once wet.
If you find yourself in wet situations when traveling opt for synthetic materials. These materials are better because they don't clump like down feathers leaving you feeling dry.
These synthetic materials are treated with DWR. DWR is a when manufacturers add a special polymer to ensure the fill of a jacket is able to block out water.
By having a waterproof shell you can easily transform your typical down jacket to keep you warm as well dry.
Depending on your needs a hood is absolutely a necessity. Hoods keep you warm and block any unnecessary drafts flowing in through your neck hole.
Layering your hood under your down jacket will give you the option of easily having a hood for your outdoor activities and taking it off if not needed for lighter activities.
Gearing up for your winter travels you never know what weather extremes are in store for you. Preparing for a range of weather scenarios will benefit you during your trip.
Knowing what to pack is key and in any winter traveling scenario and having a high quality packable down jacket will not only save you space in your luggage but it will keep you warm throughout your entire travels.
Down jackets offer you the extra warmth without all the bulk. The insulation made of goose feathers are what provide the warmth but because feathers are so lightweight they can be packed together to keep warm air in.
This stylish parka is made especially for the ladies. The design is form fitting with a range of colorways that will keep you seen while out on the trails.
It does not bulk you up leaving your shape in tack. The outer shell is made of Pertex endurance material, goose down, and an 800 fill. The hood provides extra warmth with the ability to fit a helmet if needed.
This jacket is best suitable for outdoor sightseeing as the jacket can only provide you with average warmth.
What We Liked:
What We Didn't Like:
Wide variety of colorways
Offers moderate warmth
Not overly bulky
Zipper issues on previous models
Leaves your figure in tack
For just under $300 this jacket is very stylish and offers women the shape they typically can lack in down jackets. I love the blue color this jacket comes in.
The fill could be better compared to other jackets on the market, but with that said it it will still provide you with plenty of warmth given that you will be lightly using the jacket for hiking and walking.
This parka style jacket comes in 3 different color options. You could spend all day out in the cold but if you plan to venture out and do some more intense mountaineering activities this jackets fill power only comes in at 600.
A great mid level choice if you don’t plan on experiencing an intense winter.
Due to the lightweight nature of this jacket it is recommended for casual use, if you plan to be out in the extreme cold for a while you may look into more dense jackets.
I personally recommend to use for light hiking trip abroad.
What We Like: This jacket is awesome when it comes to how lightweight it is. Available in a wide range of colors not to mention incredibly stylish due t o its stow away hood feature.
What we don't: May not perform as well in super cold temperatures.
Lightweight and perfect for on the go
Could potentially leave you cold in extreme temperatures
Slim fit with versatile features
May not last for years with a fill power at just around 600
This jacket would suit the novice hiker very well.
With a price point at a little over $300 you wont feel like you have to invest so much in a jacket that you could get use out of even when you are not traveling.
Great for casual winter nights out in the town where you still want to remain warm yet stylish.
The versatility of this jacket is unmatched.
Lightweight in nature so that it can be worn as a midlayer or as a stand alone jacket. Nicely suited for cool and dry conditions where you will experience exceptional warmth given that it barely weighs anything.
The moisture resistant outer fabric contours with the body leaving you dry and comfortable.
Best suited for mountain hiking and extreme outdoor activity.
What We Like: Provides optimum amount of warmth for even the harshest of winter weather conditions.
What We Don't: May be a little too warm for casual use should mainly be used for extended periods of winter activity.
Keeps you warm in harsh weather
May not perform as well in precipitation
Functionality of wear
Runs fairly small
Extremely affordable jacket that provides versatility and function for long hikes or activity out in harsh winter weather conditions.
You are sure to remain warm and comfortable due to 850 euro goose down. Not only is it super light you can use it as a layering option as well as your outer layer. You may need to size up as this jacket is known to run small.
This jacket weighs in at less than 8 ounces and is a full featured down jacket.
The mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer is unique because it can be compacted into its own pocket for even greater portability potential. All the essentials such as moisture resistance and warmth are found in this jacket.
This jacket is awesome for traveling because its ability to be stowed away once at your destination can be used in cold weather hiking.
What We Like: For those who plan to spend a lot if time hiking and traveling this jacket will stow away easily and still can provide you with well thought out features that will keep you warm and dry.
What We Don’t: Some users report some inconsistency when it comes to fit and durability.
May be only good for short term use
Profesional travellers love it
This jacket is considered an investment but as someone who finds themselves hiking in the winter mountains frequently throughout the season may have to bite the cost of this about $300 jacket.
Those that have taken the plunge really enjoy the packability of this jacket and report that it able to withstand the harsh cold weather.
This jacket is a very chic and stylish option for the ladies who want to look a little more put together.
The packable jacket sports a hood and handy pockets at the front of the coat.
Available in 5 unique color ways providing a fashion statement throughout the winter season.
Use this jacket if you need to look stylish during cold winter days.
What We Like: This is a pretty chic and stylish down option
What We Don't: Not for the winter activity pros
Nice colorway availability
May not last as long as some shedding can occur
Looks good on most body types
Too thin for winter sport performance
You do not have to spend a lot on a good looking down coat. Available at a little under $150 you won't regret your purchase as long as you only need the jacket for light use.
You will stay warm and comfy on chilly nights out and you won't have to worry about bulk while maintaining a stylish look.
This thin and light jacket offered from uniqlo is a fast fashion pick that still may provide buyers with some warmth provided they will wear it casually.
This down coat is available in neutral colors and can be packed away in its own carry on bag making it ideal for travel.
This jacket was made strictly for casual use and should not be used for extended periods of time out in the harsh elements.
Plan to use out for nights out on the town or for business travel to a cold destination.
What We Like: We love that this coat is so travel friendly that is easily the best thing the coat has to offer your average women.
What We Don't: It cannot be used for those who need a true down coat for their extreme winter activities.
Super travel friendly
Not good for wear outside of casual use
Great entry level down option
May leak down feathers
This fast fashion down coat is sure to save you a ton of money at just around 60 dollars.
It is great for casual use and many love it for its awesome convenience when it comes to travel. Unfortunately, the jacket will probably only maintain its quality with light use.
Not suitable for those whose needs go beyond just a coat they wear for a cool night out.
Men need versatile down jackets that are suitable for a range of activities in their active lifestyle.
For backpacking and cool winter hikes men are going to want a jacket that is great at insulation and remain durable through all the snow sports and cool winter hikes.
The patagonia down jacket fully functions as a packable down jacket for portability in snow sporting. It can serve as a mid layer or your outer layer just depending on what your winter activity consist of.
The design coupled with high level wind and water resistance makes this jacket the perfect pick for anything from wearing on a night out to hiking trips.
This jacket is going to suit well as a mid layer down jacket providing trusted warmth in cold temperatures.
What We Like: This jacket comes from a brand you can trust patagonia is known for its honest practices and high quality output.
What We Don't: May be a little bigger when compressed.
Provided incredible warmth
Could lose quality within a few months of use
Honest company practices
May take up more space than needed one packed away
Durable polyester outer shell
For around $200 - $300 you can feel confident that you are receiving a high quality jacket.
You will be able to maintain warmth throughout the season.
Buying from a trusted athletic brand like Patagonia you can be sure you will be getting your money's worth.
A little lesser known brand such as Rab is gaining hype due to its quality high performance down jackets.
WIth this model you can expect durable quality and effective features that will come handy during your winter activities.
This jacket will perform well in wet conditions.
What We Like: You can trust that you won't have to worry about any weather elements with this jacket.
What We Don't: The fit may not be ideal for all
Will keep you dry
Big when packed down
Durable in nature
With a brand like Arc’teryx you can be sure you are getting a carefully crafted jacket with full functioning features that will last you for years.
You will be getting a lightweight jacket that does not skimp out on durability, weight, and warmth.
Great mid or outer layer for backpacking and other winter activities with extremely cold temps.
What We Like: The streamlined attention to detail makes this an awesome quality jacket.
What We Don't: You will spend a lot for the quality of this jacket.
Strategic placement of down helps maintain warmth
Works great as midlayer option
Feathers may shed with time
Moisture wicking coating
Though this is an investment piece you can be sure that you will have a reliable jacket that performs well.
The use of waterproofing and extra care to detail make this an easy option that will last throughout many seasons of use.
This dapper down jacket is perfect for men who like a little extra style while out during the winter season. Available in unique colors such as bright lime and grey strom.
This jacket will keep you incredibly warm in mild cool weather.
Its unique construction makes this jacket not only functional but will last you quite a while.
Awesome jacket to sport in mild cool temperatures around 30 degrees.
What We Like: A functional yet stylish down option.
What We Don't: May not perform well in below freezing temperatures.
Incredible mobile design
A little pricey
Available in colors that pop
May run small
Since you are going to be spending around $250 for this jacket it may not be the best option for what you get.
The construction and style is good but some customers complain of poor sizing that the jacket may be a little too thin for their liking.
Keep shopping if you need more warmth and features in your down this year.
This is a thrifty pick from outdoor research. You can trust that this jacket will pack in the features, its warm, compressible, and super lightweight.
Stay comfortable in this pack and when you are out and cold this winter easily pack it away when its not needed.
Outdoor professionals say this well as an affordable layering option that provides ample warmth.
What We Like: Great offering of features that are super functional
What We Don't: Unclear if this brand ethically sources its down feathers.
Good performance in wind and rainy conditions
Unclear sourcing of responsible down
Will keep you warm as outer layer or mid layer
You simply cannot go wrong with this jacket its serves perfectly as a midlayer and to your winter outerwear. You get what you pay for at a little under $200 spent.
Expect to get a lot if use out of this jacket. The durable outer layer is shed proof and should last multiple seasons to come.
The warmth to weight ratio of this jacket is one of the best out there.
This lightweight option provides more than enough features and will guarantee to keep you nice and toasty.
Coming in as a super featherweight at only 7.8 ounces no jacket really can come close to the packability this jacket will give you.
Jacket is perfect for staying warm during very cold winter destinations.
What We Like: The warmth to weight ratio this jacket has is unbeatable
What We Don't: May not last through multiple winter seasons.
Weights just 7.8 ounces for great packability
Durability of the zipper is inconsistent
Repels water and wind like none other
On the higher end as far as price goes
Will keep you incredibly warm
This jacket will cost you around $400 and could potentially not last you very long.
The upside is that if you do choose to invest in this jacket you will most definitely be able to take it with your during your winter travels.
You can trust that you will have an option that will provide warmth and keep moisture out.
Hydrophobic down is a very recent addition to down coats that have been added within the last few decades.
It is designed to be able to withstand the elements of harsh winter weather better than traditional down coats.
They are also made to be able to resist water better due to certain technologies that have arose over the years.
Traditional down coats have never really been able to withstand getting wet simply because they lacked current technologies we now have access to.
Every jacket will be different since they are made of different materials and have different finishes.
Be sure that you are aware of what your particular jacket requires of you when it is time to get it cleaned.
A lot of the newer styles are machine washable. To ensure that your jacket will last a while turn your coat inside out while laundering.
Some state that you should air dry or dry without heat. Drying your down in high heat can cause all types of issues like pilling and the loss of down over time.
It is always a good idea to handle your down coat with as much care if you want it to last throughout multiple seasons.
Typically most jackets these days will offer some amount of waterproofing to it jackets.
Depending on the material will determine how it will perform. Some only offer water resistant which means it won't actually dry itself once really wet.
It's always best to check your jacket’s specs because not all down jackets are made to be waterproof.
Down quality or power refers to how packed the jacked is with a certain type of fill.
You will typically find that jackets are packed with some type of goose down.
The power of the fill is how you remain warm, Depending on the company this can be done really well or really bad depending on if the down was packed correctly.
There you have it.
Everything we know about jackets and our picks for the best packable down jackets for travel in 2019.
We hope that this guide helps you keep warm and your bag lightweight.
Where is your next winter travel adventure too?
I have an obsession with travel and caring for animals. When I am not entertaining animals you will find me lurking a market, skateboarding, drinking red wine or eating cheese!