The bite in the air at the moment is a sign of things to come. One of the most basic and important purchases for the British winter is a good down jacket. Flexible, versatile and able to keep you warm in the toughest of conditions, down jackets are the perfect coats for popping over layers when camping, or alternatively keeping you snug when you stop after a hard days’ hiking or climbing. Many of us have discovered a newfound taste for the great outdoors during lockdown and the good news is that winter shouldn’t be a barrier to getting out and about. With the right coat, you can get your nature fix whatever the weather.
Down or Synthetic insulation?
A lot of ‘down’ jackets you see on the market are actually made of synthetic material specially designed for how the coat is going to be used.
Have a think about how you might want to use your coat. Historically, down jackets were much better and more expensive, but as technology has improved and people have become more cost conscious, synthetic insulation often leads the way in many jackets on the market.
Down jackets have a focus on warmth; they have a much better warmth to weight ratio so are therefore easier to pack down and store. On the other hand, synthetic insulation is more waterproof, tends to be easier to wash/clean and is often cheaper. If you’re going to buying a jacket for casual use only – perhaps to camp or for the odd walk in the countryside, it may be worth your while buying a synthetic option which, because of manufacturing techniques, has some excellent sustainability credentials these days.
Here are our recommendations for the best down jackets on the market at the moment:
Jack Wolfskin JWP Down, £130
Lightweight and warm at an affordable price, the JWP down from Jack Wolfskin is part of the brand’s Pack and Go range – meaning it’s super light and flexible for a range of activities whilst retaining a windproof STORMLOCK construction, high-performance down and a water repellent finish. A great option for everyday wear if you’re not looking for a bulky all-weather option.
Finisterre Nebulus Insulated Jacket, £195
This is a great option if sustainability and recycled materials are at the forefront of your wishlist. The recycled lining is constructed to behave like down, but is an eco-friendly synthetic option which produces Finisterre’s warmest jacket to date. Designed to be worn casually over knitwear, it’s a great daily option which is hard-wearing, breathable and fully weather-resistant. Concealed elasticated cuffs ensure a good fit which is true to size.
Klattermusen Bore 2.0 Jacket, £650
Klattermusen Bore 2.0 is a heavy-duty down jacket designed by the expert Swedish mountaineering brand. This is a jacket to be taken seriously – it has a higher price point than some of the others on the list but would be high up on our list for coping with extreme temperatures and weather conditions. It features 800+ fill down, a down-filled insulated hood and neat little touches like reinforced shoulders and storm flaps over the pockets to prevent a build up of snow and ice.
Decathlon Mountain Trekking Jacket, £79.99
Towards the more affordable end of the list, this Decathlon option still features a rating down to -18C, a completely water-repellent fabric, strengthened shoulder panels and generous ventilation zips to help with airflow. It’s a good jacket for the price – and although it perhaps doesn’t have some of the technical specifications of the more expensive jackets in the list, it could still be trusted to perform in some pretty extreme weather conditions.
Fjallraven Expedition Pack Hoodie Down Jacket, £275
New from Fjallraven, this down jacket harks back to the original jacket released by the brand more than forty years ago. The jacket packs into its own pocket and is made with layering in mind – it’s small enough to put over the top of other mid-layers and has sustainability credentials at its heart – all outer fabrics are made with the ability for repair and the down filling is ethically sourced.
Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket
Fans of down jackets will be no stranger to Rab’s Microlight. One of the brand’s classic down styles has been updated for 2020, and with it comes 100 per cent recycled fabric and recycled down. The down itself comes from discarded pillows and duvets, which are then cleaned, treated and reformed into the coats. Highly packable and lightweight whilst still retaining 750 down fill power, the Microlight retains its position on the list as an excellent and worthy all-rounder for a mix of activities and day-to-day use.
Montane Featherlite Down Jacket
This is a really well-balanced jacket that retains excellent lightweight credentials – the coat itself only weighs 375g and easily packs down. It has an active fit, meaning that it feels supple and flexible so we think it’d be a good option if you’re out walking, trekking or skiing. Again, 100 per cent recycled materials are used and there’s a generous helping of attractive colours to choose from.
Adidas Terrex Insulation Jacket
The Primaloft insulation in the Terrex jacket means that it can be worn easily as a shell or a standalone piece thanks to its water and weather resistant coating. The Terrex range from Adidas features products with adaptability and flexibility at its core, and this jacket is a great example of an all-weather daily insulated coat which we’d be comfortable wearing in a range of conditions.
Jottnar Fenrir Down Jacket
Jottnar are heavy-hitters in the outdoor clothing world when it comes to well-made, sustainable, premium wear. They’re well respected in the industry and with outdoor professionals alike, and the Fenrir is a hydrophobic hooded goose down jacket to use in ultra-cold conditions. A premium down to feather ratio and 850 fill power down means this coat has serious warming potential – and it also has flexibility in mind as it comes with its own stuff sack and multiple pockets that are fully lined, zipped and protected against the elements. If you have a little more money to spend on a jacket that will stand the test of time, this would be our recommedation.
Berghaus Tephra Stretch Down Jacket
Using ‘reflect’ technology, the design of the Tephra jacket is meant to direct body heat back to your core – we liked it because it’s one of the most stretchy and flexible jackets we tested – able to fit snugly and provide enough stretch to continue with day-to-day tasks as well as more active pursuits. It’s a good jacket for the price point and feel durable and well made, and there’s a generous option of seven different colours.
Picture Organic Scape Jacket
This is a clever 2-in-1 reversible jacket and is an ultra-light quilted option from the organic brand Picture. Should be high up on the list for anyone who puts green credentials at the forefront of their buying decisions. It’s coated in durable PFC-free repellent and is made using 100 per cent recycled polyester.
Arc’Teryx Cerium SL Hoodie
A list of insulated jackets wouldn’t be complete without an addition from advanced outdoor wear brand Arc’Teryx. The Cerium jacket will be familiar to anyone who enjoys their products – ultra minimal and lightweight, the coat features primary as an excellent mid-layer for protection against any element. However it easily has enough warming power for you to use as a highly packable and streamlined outer. 850 fill power Goose down and a wind-resistant nylon shell make it a worthy contender for one of the more complete options on this list.