As the temperature starts to drop, it’s time to start breaking out the cold weather gear. From wool hats to down jackets to thermal underwear, the key to staying warm in the winter is layering. A down vest is a great option to keep your core warm. But how do you find the best down vest for you?

One of our big goals here at The Adventure Junkies is to help make your life easier when it comes to gearing up for the outdoors. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to choose a down vest and show you our selection of some of the best models.

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QUICK ANSWER – THE BEST DOWN VESTS

  1. Arc’teryx Cerium LT
  2. Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer
  3. Patagonia Down Sweater
  4. North Face Nuptse
  5. 32Degrees Weatherproof Packable
  6. Outdoor Research Transcendent
  7. REI Co-op
  8. KUHL Spyfire
  9. Columbia Sportswear Big Flash Forward
  10. Eddie Bauer Downlight

 

 

 

DOWN VESTS REVIEWS

ARC’TERYX CERIUM LT

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Perfect as a mid-layer around town or for outdoor activities

WOMEN’S VERSION: Arc’teryx Women’s Cerium LT

DOWN FILL: 850-fill European white goose

FEATURES: Water repellent finish, full front zip with chin guard, zippered hand pockets, packable, elasticized hem

PROS: Excellent design and fit

CONS: Expensive

 

 

 

MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR GHOST WHISPERER

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Around town and cold weather outdoor activities like climbing

WOMEN’S VERSION: Mountain Hardwear Ratio 

DOWN FILL: 800-fill power Q.Shield down

FEATURES: Highly compressible and packs into its own pocket, easy single-pull drawcord hem, zip pockets, built-in carabiner loop to attach stuffed jacket to harness

PROS: Lightweight, warm, and low-profile

CONS: Not as warm as other down vests

 

 

 

PATAGONIA DOWN SWEATER

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Layering for winter sports

WOMEN’S VERSION: Patagonia Women’s Down Sweater 

DOWN FILL: 800-fill goose down

FEATURES: 100% recycled outer polyester fabric and liner, contoured fit, internal zippered chest pocket, Zippered handwarmer pockets

PROS: Great lightweight down vest with a contoured slim fit stylish on and off the slopes

CONS: Down feathers might leak

 

 

 

THE NORTH FACE NUPTSE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Layering around town

WOMEN’S VERSION: The North Face Women’s Nuptse 

DOWN FILL: 700-fill power goose down

FEATURES: Internal zip chest pocket, zippered hand pockets, hem cinch cord, stows in chest pocket, zip-in compatible with complementing North Face garments

PROS: Flattering relaxed fit that keeps you warm

CONS: Bulky fill

 

 

 

32 DEGREES PACKABLE

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Small budgets

WOMEN’S VERSION: 32 Degree Women’s Packable 

DOWN FILL: 650 fill power down

FEATURES: Standing collar, zip front closure, zip pockets, packable into pouch

PROS: Great quality for a small budget

CONS: Not as much down as other name brands

 

 

 

OUTDOOR RESEARCH TRANSCENDENT

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon | REI

BEST FOR: Layering when the temperatures start to drop

WOMEN’S VERSION: Outdoor Research Aria

DOWN FILL: 650-fill power goose down

FEATURES: Brushed tricot collar lining, internal front stormflap, zippered Napoleon pocket, two zippered hand pockets, drawcord hem

PROS: Compact, lightweight, and great for most outdoor activities

CONS: Fits slender frames better than wider frames

 

 

 

REI CO-OP

rei

Check out the latest price on:
REI

BEST FOR: Layer for winter hiking

WOMEN’S VERSION: REI Women’s Co-Op Down Vest 

DOWN FILL: 650-fill power down

FEATURES: Nylon shell with water repellent finish, packable into left-hand pocket, zip hand pockets, full-length front zipper

PROS: Non-bulky warm vest at a budget-friendly price

CONS: Loose down feathers and is not slim fit

 

 

 

KUHL SPYFIRE

kuhl

Check out the latest price on:
REI

BEST FOR: Men who work outside in the cool weather

WOMEN’S VERSION: KUHL Spyfire 

DOWN FILL: 800-fill power goose down

FEATURES: Outer fabric is downproof and water repellent, larger baffles on front and back for warmth, reinforced shoulders and collar, elastic binding on armholes, zip chest and hand pockets

PROS: Warm, packable, and fits well

CONS: Not puncture resistant

 

 

 

COLUMBIA SPORTSWEAR BIG FLASH FORWARD

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Warmth and style on a small budget

WOMEN’S VERSION: Columbia Sportswear Women’s Flash Forward 

DOWN FILL: 650-fill power down

FEATURES: Zippered hand pockets, binding at arm holes and hemline, standing collar

PROS: Great fit at a budget-friendly price

CONS: Average quality down

 

 

 

EDDIE BAUER DOWNLIGHT STORMDOWN

eddie

Check out the latest price on:
Eddie Bauer

BEST FOR: Men who want lifetime quality and warmth

WOMEN’S VERSION: Eddie Baur Women’s Downlight StormDown 

DOWN FILL: 800-fill stormdown

FEATURES: Tricot-lined zip hand pockets, packs into left-hand pocket, windproof 50% recycled 20D ripstop fabric

PROS: Great mid-weight layer with a classic fit with lifetime guarantee

CONS: Fit is not designed for slender bodies

 

 

 

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COMPARISON TABLE – THE BEST DOWN VESTS 

PICTURE
DOWN VEST
DOWN FILL
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
DOWN VEST
DOWN FILL
PRICE
RATING
Arc'teryx Cerium LT
850
$$$
5.0
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer
800
$$
4.5
Patagonia Down Sweater
800
$$
4.5
North Face Nuptse
700
$$
4.5
32Degrees Weatherproof Packable
650
$
4.5
Outdoor Research Transcendent
650
$$
4.5
rei
REI Co-op
650
$$
4.3
kuhl
KUHL Spyfire
800
$$
4.2
Columbia Sportswear Big Flash Forward
650
$
4.0
eddie
Eddie Bauer Downlight
800
$$
4.4

 

 

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST DOWN VESTS

DOWN FILL POWERS

Every down vest has a special fill power that often ranges from 500 upwards to 900 fill. These numbers reference the volume or a number of cubic inches one ounce of down occupies. The higher the number, the more loft the vest has meaning it will be warmer. The highest available down fill is 900, but most down vests will be between 650 and 800 fill.

 

BOX BAFFLE DESIGN

There’s a reason why every down vest or jacket is quilted. Without the stitching, the down feathers would fall to the bottom leaving you cold.

Sewing box baffles into a vest is the best way to optimize the loft and the warmth of the down fill. Box baffles are three-dimensional cubes of rectangles sewn into the top layer of the vest.

Alternatively, some companies utilize the sewn-through method where the outer material is sewn directly to the inner lining.

Box baffle construction sometimes makes vest heavier and more expensive, but the advantage is the vest will be much warmer. The best down vests will feature box baffles or a mix of box baffles and sewn-through baffles.

 

FIT

Why do you want a down vest? For extra warmth for winter hiking or to wear around town? Down vests used to be bulky and not very stylish, but with recent technology changes, down vests have retained their warmth, but reduced their bulk. Down vests have become stylish. If style and fit are important to you, look for a low profile down vest with fun colors.

Top 10 Best Down Vests – Hiking Clothes for Summer, Winter, Fall and Spring – Hiking Outfits for Women, Men and Kids – Backpacking Gear For Beginners
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