You Said It: Our Community’s Favorite Down Jackets
At Backcountry we’re serious about down jackets. Most of us live in them for six months of the year, and at peak season we have over 400 styles to choose from on our site.
To make sure we’re pointing you towards the down jacket that’s best suited to your needs, we talk to designers and manufacturers, pore over catalogs and technical specifications, and we put them to the test every time we head to the mountains or commute to the office on a chilly day. Point being, we work hard to make sure we’re getting it right.
But despite our best efforts, there’s no better source of unbiased, uncensored gear knowledge than what you’ll find in the reviews left by members of the Backcountry community. These folks know what works and what doesn’t, and they’re not afraid to voice their opinion. We singled out the down jackets that are the highest rated and most often reviewed, and read all the comments with hopes of answering this one question: Why does the community love these down jackets more than any of the others?
Women’s Patagonia Down Sweater
With over 90 entries, the Women’s Patagonia Down Sweater is the single most reviewed down jacket we sell. In all of those reviews, there are two words that dominate the text: “love it.” The only common complaint was that the fit seemed a little boxy. Fortunately, Patagonia designers took note and the 2014/15 version of the Down Sweater has a more fashionable fit and a little extra length. The shell is made entirely from recycled polyester and the goose down is responsibly sourced so you can feel good about where the feathers are coming from. It packs up small into its own pocket and doubles as a pillow on long travel days. Top comments included, “I love it so much I bought it in three colors in three months,” “I can wear it out to dinner or camping,” and “so cute, so warm, and no Michelin Man look.” The verdict is in; you simply can’t go wrong with this jacket.
Women’s Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hooded Down Jacket
The Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hooded Down Jacket is a hybrid in more ways than one, and that cross-functionality struck a chord with the community. Like other quality down jackets, the Cerium has a DWR-treated shell fabric, weighs under 9 ounces, and uses 850-fill European goose down. But the Cerium differs with strategically placed synthetic insulation in the shoulders, collar, and hem—the areas that are most likely to get wet. And while the Cerium will perform for the most serious skiers and climbers, Arc’teryx upped the ante with a flattering fit and unique colors. One reviewer said, “highly functional, but also very cute, which are words that often don’t go hand-in-hand.” Regarding the fit another reviewer commented, “I have a problem, a jacket problem. I tried this baby on and just had to buy it. Something about the fact that it fit like a glove—which coats rarely do.” Make no mistake, the Cerium is pricey, but a number of reviewers went out of their way to say that the feel, look, and performance are in line with the price tag. “If you’re on the fence about making this investment,” as one reviewer wrote, “hop off that fence immediately and get into one of these Ceriums! …When it comes to this particular jacket, you’re not going to have any regrets.”
Women’s Marmot Ama Dablam Down Jacket
With its unique hexagonal quilting, the Marmot Ama Dablam Down Jacket certainly stands out from the pack. In terms of warmth, it’s a step up from down sweaters and ultralights, but it doesn’t look like it. The hexagonal shapes help to evenly distribute the down for a more flattering and streamlined fit, giving you all the warmth you expect from a big puffy, without the big, puffy look. With the stylish fit, it’s no surprise that number of reviewers found it to be a great jacket for cold days in the city. But looking good doesn’t mean it won’t perform out in the mountains. Combined with the sleek profile, the Angel Wing Movement allows this jacket to keep pace even while bouldering on a chilly day. The Ama Dablam also has some extra length in the torso, making it a favorite with taller reviewers who have had trouble with jackets being too short in the past. One reviewer, who bought the jacket for his girlfriend, said, “my girlfriend is 5’11” and built like climber and the medium fits like a dream.This is an excellent down jacket for those interested in something more substantial than a ultralight down jacket, but not interested in looking like the Michelin Man.”
Men’s Backcountry Hadron Down Anorak
The Backcountry Hadron Down Anorak has become a cult classic. With its Pertex Quantum shell fabric, DWR finish, and quality 850-fill goose down, the Hadron delivers on the two most essential features of a good down jacket: low weight and big warmth. Community members have called it a “bomber piece” and said that it “exceeded expectations.” The anorak style cuts down on zippers (and the associated weight) and allows it to be, as one reviewer put it, “the perfect addition to a layering system.” The anorak also allows for the large kangaroo-style front pocket, a feature that’s raved about over and over again in the reviews. But here’s the real kicker: at under 10 ounces, the Hadron is in the same weight class as the famed Patagonia Ultralight, but it only costs half as much—a fact that dirtbag skiers and climbers can readily appreciate.
Men’s Patagonia Ultralight Down Hooded Sweatshirt
The Patagonia Ultralight Down Hooded Sweatshirt is a favorite in the Backcountry offices, it’s a favorite of the community, and, really, it’s a favorite with a lot of people who live in the mountains. Phrases like “I live in it,” “never leave home without it,” and “it’s quickly becoming the favorite piece of clothing I own,” come up more than once in the reviews. The slim cut allows the Ultralight to fit more like a sweater than a jacket, and reviewers really appreciate that. The 10D nylon rip-stop with a DWR finish is the lightest shell fabric in the Patagonia line, but it’s remarkably durable considering how light it is. One globetrotting reviewer wrote, “This is my second of these. I’ve really punished my first in Patagonian, Scottish, and Norwegian winters and it’s still going strong into its second year. Great for traveling light into cold climates.” The jacket weighs in at only 9.3 ounces, for context that’s only a touch heavier than a single cup of water. For a layer of warm 800-fill European goose down you won’t even notice—on your back or in your pack—this is the gold standard.
Men’s Outdoor Research Incandescent Hooded Down Jacket
While scouring reviews to distil why the Outdoor Research Incandescent Hooded Down Jacket had generated so much stoke, we started to notice a recurring theme. The Incandescent seems to be the perfect in-between down jacket option; as one reviewer said, “this is the right balance when an ultralight down is not warm enough but an expedition weight parka is too warm or too bulky.” The increased amount of high-quality down in the jacket definitely takes it a step beyond ultralight jackets and down sweaters in terms of warmth, but reviewers appreciated the relatively trim fit and low profile—trim enough to wear even on a chilly pitch of rock climbing. The light Pertex shell fabric helps keep the total weight to under 18 ounces, the jacket can still be stuffed into its own pocket to take up minimal pack space, and the two-way zipper makes it easy to use a belay device while wearing the jacket. Outdoor Research decided to go easy on the bells and whistles and give backcountry skiers and climbers exactly what they need in a down jacket—and the stack of shining reviews proves that it has succeeded.
While these are our Community’s favorite jackets, we have many more options to choose from. If you’re uncertain as to where to start, check out this video to help you sort through your options: