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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.

For more of our top hiking apparel recommendations, check out the Best Down Vests for Women.

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Quick Answer - The Best Down Vests

  1. Patagonia Down Sweater
  2. North Face Nuptse
  3. REI Co-op Down Vest
  4. Outdoor Research Transcendent
  5. 32Degrees Weatherproof Packable
  6. Columbia Sportswear Big Flash Forward
  7. Eddie Bauer Downlight

Comparison Table - Best Hiking Down Vest

PictureNameFillPriceRating
Patagonia Down Sweater800$$4.5
North Face Nuptse700$$4.5
REI Co-op Down Vest650$$4.3
Outdoor Research Transcendent650$$4.5
32Degrees Weatherproof Packable650$4.5
Columbia Sportswear Big Flash Forward650$4.0
Eddie Bauer Downlight800$$4.4
PictureNameFillPriceRating

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Reviews - The Best Down Vests for Hiking

Patagonia Down Sweater


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Fill: 800
Features
  • 100% recycled outer polyester fabric and liner
  • Contoured fit
  • Internal zippered chest pocket
  • Zippered handwarmer pockets

BEST FOR: LAYERING FOR WINTER SPORTS

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

CONS: Down feathers might leak

North Face Nuptse


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Fill: 700
Features
  • Internal zip chest pocket
  • Zippered hand pockets
  • Hem cinch cord
  • Stows in chest pocket
  • Zip-in compatible with complementing North Face garments

BEST FOR: LAYERING AROUND TOWN

PROS: Flattering relaxed fit that keeps you warm

CONS: Bulky fill

REI Co-op Down Vest


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Fill: 650
Features
  • Nylon shell with water repellent finish
  • Packable into left-hand pocket
  • Zip hand pockets
  • Full-length front zipper

BEST FOR: LAYER FOR WINTER HIKING

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

CONS: Loose down feathers and is not slim fit

Outdoor Research Transcendent


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Fill: 650
Features
  • Brushed tricot collar lining
  • Internal front stormflap
  • Zippered Napoleon pocket
  • Two zippered hand pockets
  • Drawcord hem

BEST FOR: LAYERING WHEN THE TEMPERATURES START TO DROP

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

CONS: Fits slender frames better than wider frames

32Degrees Weatherproof Packable

Specs
  • Fill: 650
Features
  • Standing collar
  • Zip front closure
  • Zip pockets
  • Packable into pouch

BEST FOR: SMALL BUDGETS

PROS: Great quality for a small budget

CONS: Not as much down as other name brands

Columbia Sportswear Big Flash Forward


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Fill: 650
Features
  • Zippered hand pockets
  • Binding at arm holes and hemline
  • Standing collar

BEST FOR: WARMTH AND STYLE ON A SMALL BUDGET

PROS: Great fit at a budget-friendly price

CONS: Average quality down

Eddie Bauer Downlight


View Women's Version
Specs
  • Fill: 800
Features
  • Tricot-lined zip hand pockets
  • Packs into left-hand pocket
  • Windproof
  • 50% recycled 20D ripstop fabric

BEST FOR: MEN WHO WANT LIFETIME QUALITY AND WARMTH

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

CONS: Fit is not designed for slender bodies

LEARN HOW TO CHOOSE HIKING GEAR FOR YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE

 

 

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 down 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.

 

 

READ MORE

For more of our top hiking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

Down Vests for Women | Rain Jackets for Hiking

Lightweight Long Sleeve Hiking Shirts | Shirts for Hot Weather

Softshell Jackets | Fleece Jackets

Hiking Shirts

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