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From brisk days to the biting cold, if you’re hiking in the cool seasons, you’ll need to layer up. One of the best ways to add a layer of warmth without too much weight is by donning a down vest. Down vests are a great layer to have as they focus all their warmth on where you need it most – your core. Let’s face it ladies; we do tend to run cold, so finding the best down vests for women is certainly a must.

However, with a broad range of features and prices, finding the down vest that’s right for you can be a confusing process. That’s why we put together this helpful guide. We’ll give you the lowdown on down and share our top recommendations for the best down vests for women.

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

 

Quick Answer - The Best Down Vests for Women

  1. Patagonia Down Sweater
  2. Arc’teryx Cerium LT
  3. The North Face 1996 Retro Nuptse
  4. Outdoor Research Transcendent
  5. Patagonia Bivy Hooded
  6. Cotopaxi Fuego
  7. Columbia Lake 22
  8. Outdoor Research Plaza
  9. Rab Microlight

 

Comparison Table - Best Women's Down Vests

PictureNameHoodWeightPriceRating
Patagonia Down SweaterNo7.8 oz.$$4.6
Arc’teryx Cerium LTNo6 oz.$$$4.2
The North Face 1996 Retro NuptseYesN/A$$5.0
Outdoor Research TranscendentNo7.9 oz.$5.0
Patagonia Bivy HoodedYes23.6 oz.$$4.7
Cotopaxi FuegoNo7 oz.$3.0
Columbia Lake 22NoN/A$4.8
Outdoor Research PlazaNo15 oz.$$4.3
Rab MicrolightNo8.5 oz.$$4.9
PictureNameHoodWeightPriceRating
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Women's Down Vest

Patagonia Down Sweater

Specs
  • Fabric: Recycled Ripstop Polyester
  • Weight: 7.8 oz.
  • Fill Power: 800-Fill Goose Down
  • Insulation Type: Down
  • Hood: No
Features
  • Water-Repellent
  • Durable
  • Quality, Lofty Down
  • Comfortable

BEST FOR: DAILY USE

The simple and sleek Patagonia Sweater Vest is a primo cold buster you’ll want to add to your insulation arsenal. This down vest sports an attractive trim fit that’s both warm and packable. The vest compresses down into a pocket making it a go-to staple you can have on hand anytime. 

Packed with 800-fill goose down, the Patagonia Down Sweater features an incredible amount of toasty insulation that will keep your core warm while effortlessly regulating your body temperature. That is, as long as conditions are mild. The durable shell of this down vest will serve you well in repelling light moisture and breezy weather, but the moment inclement weather strikes, you’ll want to reach for your rain jacket.

Arc’teryx Cerium LT

Specs
  • Fabric: Nylon
  • Weight: 6 oz.
  • Fill Power: 850 Fill-Power European White Goose Down And Coreloft 100 Synthetic Insulation
  • Insulation Type: Down/Synthetic Blend
  • Hood: No
Features
  • Lightweight
  • Water-Repellent
  • Quality Construction
  • Internal Zippered Pocket To Secure Small Items

BEST FOR: FRIGID ALPINE HIKES

Ultralight hikers, eat your heart out with the mouthwatering warmth-to-weight ratio of the Arc’teryx Cerium LT. This down vest practically radiates heat with its lofty fill power that optimizes insulation at a ridiculously light weight. By strategically placing the down throughout the vest, Arc’teryx was able to maximize warmth around your core. Then, they cleverly utilized synthetic insulation in specific areas more apt to moisture to keep you dry – like sweaty armpits. 

Pop up the high collar and cinch down the hem cord at your waist to seal in the heat. With premium-quality like this, you’ll find the price to match. However, if you’re an avid hiker looking to stay warm and active, you’ll appreciate every last pricey plume.

The North Face 1996 Retro Nuptse

Specs
  • Fabric: Recycled Polyester Taffeta
  • Weight: N/A
  • Fill Power: 700-Fill Goose Down
  • Insulation Type: Down
  • Hood: Yes
Features
  • Packs Into Chest Pocket
  • Vintage Design
  • Hood Stows In Collar
  • Moisture Protection

BEST FOR: CASUAL DAY HIKES

If you’re nostalgic for a time when vests had large baffles (the squishy squares that hold the down in place) and the bulk to match, you’ll appreciate The North Face 1996 Retro Nuptse throwback. Loft is not a problem with this super plush old-school style vest. The wide baffles provide stellar warmth, leaving you to feel like you just wrapped up inside a cozy blanket. Combine that comfort with the durable, water-repellent exterior and stowable hood and you have the ideal layer for hiking on a cold day. While minimalist and agile hikers may argue this vest is too hefty, those who prefer to wrap up in something big and cozy will appreciate the heavier relaxed fit.

Outdoor Research Transcendent

Specs
  • Fabric: 20-Denier Ripstop Polyester
  • Weight: 7.9 oz.
  • Fill Power: 650-Fill Power Goose Down
  • Insulation Type: Down
  • Hood: No
Features
  • Lightweight Fabric
  • Wind And Water Resistant
  • Snap Button External Hand Pockets

BEST FOR: TOWN AND TRAIL

Flattering and functional, the Outdoor Research Transcendent can take you from trail to town without needing to swap layers. This vest has an attractive color pattern with front snap pockets and a mid-length fit that hugs the curves nicely. 

Inside the lightweight, durable nylon exterior you’ll find a fill power count of 650 which provides just the right amount of loft for the active hiker. Combined with wind and water protection, you’ll be able to keep warm inside and keep the weather outside. While this may not be the most technical vest on the market, it will suit you well on shorter hikes or evening strolls around town.

Patagonia Bivy Hooded

Specs
  • Fabric: Nylon Canvas
  • Weight: 23.6 oz.
  • Fill Power: N/A
  • Insulation Type: Recycled Down
  • Hood: Yes
Features
  • Durable
  • Beefy Construction
  • Adjustable Insulated Hood
  • Attractive Design

BEST FOR: RUGGED TRAIL WORK

Working outdoors in less than ideal conditions requires tough apparel that can take a beating. The Patagonia Bivy Hooded Vest is up to the challenge. This beefy down vest is constructed from a rugged, pliable canvas that repels light rain and wind. Stuffed inside the wide baffles you’ll find 100% recycled down which seals in the warmth while you’re plowing through the trail. 

With western-style yoke shoulders, the Patagonia Bivy Hooded Vest was built to handle heavy loads. Secure your small items in the internal pocket, then block out the weather with the full-length front zipper, metal snap buttons, and adjustable hood. While it would be nice if the side entry hand pockets also had zippers for securing items, you probably don’t want stuff poking you in the belly when you’re working away. If you work hard and play harder, the heavy duty Patagonia Bivy Hooded Vest may be right up your alley.

Cotopaxi Fuego

Specs
  • Fabric: 20-Denier Giant-Ripstop Nylon
  • Weight: 7 oz.
  • Fill Power: 800-Fill Power Goose Down
  • Insulation Type: Down
  • Hood: No
Features
  • Bright And Bold Design
  • Affordable
  • Water-resistant Finish And Down

BEST FOR: FICKLE WEATHER

You can recognize Cotopaxi a mile away with their fun bold and bright designs. If you’re looking to add some flair to your drab cold-weather wardrobe, the Cotopaxi Fuego will heat things up. Zip into this vest and let your core warm up with the lofty insulation. The durable water repellent nylon will fend off any moisture in the air while the dual internal and external zippered pockets protect smaller items. Other than the eye-popping color pattern, another one of the features that will catch your eye is that the premium down is also water-resistant. This adds a bit more peace of mind when you’re out romping in drizzly conditions. 

You may think twice, however, about the flashy color and elastic binding around the hem and shoulders. With regular wear, we’re a tad worried the elastic may stretch. And if you’re not ready to blow your incognito mode, perhaps you may want to go with a more earthy color.

Columbia Lake 22

Specs
  • Fabric: Polyester
  • Weight: N/A
  • Fill Power: 650-Fill Down
  • Insulation Type: Down
  • Hood: No
Features
  • Very Affordable
  • Zippered Hand Pockets
  • Active Fit

BEST FOR: VERSATILITY

If you’re in the market for a functional vest without all the super fancy high-end mumbo jumbo, take a look at the Columbia Lake 22. This down vest has a classic look that is versatile in design. 

Take it on a trek, enjoy an evening saunter, or hang around the campfire. The active fit gives you a full range of motion while the weather-resistant shell and breathable insulation speak to your comfort level. Whichever activity you choose, it will serve you well as an insulating mid or outer layer in chilly temperatures. Semi-fitted and hip length, the Columbia Lake 22 is a solid go-to vest when brisk weather strikes.

Outdoor Research Plaza

Specs
  • Fabric: Polyester
  • Weight: 15 oz.
  • Fill Power: 600-Fill Down
  • Insulation Type: Down
  • Hood: No
Features
  • Durable Water Repellent Finish
  • Down Certified
  • Stretchy, Breathable Side Panels

BEST FOR: MILD WEATHER

For those days when it’s too warm for a jacket but too cold for a just a long-sleeve, zip into the Outdoor Research Plaza. This soft and cozy down vest is stuffed with a decent amount of loft for your brisk outdoor adventure with one bonus feature added: stretchy side panels. These breathable side panels are designed to move with your body and enhance air circulation when you start to break a sweat. This way, you can move freely and comfortably even as you warm up. The one drawback here is if your activity doesn’t require much exertion or if it’s a particularly frigid day, these side panels allow the cold to seep in.

Rab Microlight

Specs
  • Fabric: Pertex Quantum Nylon
  • Weight: 8.5 oz.
  • Fill Power: 750-Fill European Goose Down
  • Insulation Type: Down
  • Hood: No
Features
  • Moisture-Resistant Down
  • Slim Fit
  • Warm

BEST FOR: MISTY CONDITIONS

If clumped up down drives you crazy, you’ll appreciate the Rab Microlight. The slender and micro-stitched baffles keep the down evenly spread out so it’s not annoyingly balling up in any one place in the vest. Slim fitting and lightweight, the Rab Microlight lets you maintain your pace without feeling bundled down.

As a plus, the down inside the Rab Microlight is treated to fend off moisture so it will maintain loft and insulation even when wet. So go on, scoff in the face of cloudy days and trek above the treeline. The Rab Microlight will keep you warm even when you’re hiking through the clouds.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING DOWN VESTS FOR WOMEN

COST

Down is not cheap. That being said, down vests for women will vary in price with some options being more affordable than others. Typically, the more money you spend, the better the insulation you’ll get. If you’re the type to run cold, it may be worth it to you to invest more money.

 

WEIGHT

Most down vests are exceptionally lightweight, weighing only a handful of ounces. However, there are some down vests out there that tip the scale. If you’re the active type looking to be light and swift on your feet, go with a lighter weight. Meanwhile, if you’re more casual about your activities or prefer the comfort of bulkier layers, a heavier weight will suit you well.

 

FIT

Ladies, we can’t ignore the fact that we not only want functional clothes, but we want clothes that fit well. As no two bodies are alike, the preferred fit of your down vest will be a matter of preference. If you like loose clothing, look for a more relaxed fit. If you prefer clothing that hugs your contours, a slim fit will suit you well.

 

DOWN VERSUS SYNTHETIC

The two types of insulation you’ll encounter when searching for a women’s vest are down and synthetic.

DOWN insulation is comprised of waterfowl plumage. This natural insulation is coveted for being lightweight, breathable, compressible, super warm, and long-lasting. The problem with down is it loses its ability to keep you insulated when it becomes wet and it can be very expensive.

SYNTHETIC insulation is usually made of polyester. This material is quick-drying, durable, typically costs less, and can provide insulation even when wet. The downside is it’s heavier and not as warm or as durable as down.

 

DOWN CERTIFIED

Over the years, there has been a lot of controversy over down products. While we’re not here to take sides, we are here to inform you about important considerations you need to take into account when purchasing a down vest.

If you’re concerned with how your down is sourced, look for down certified vests. Many outdoor manufacturers are turning to sustainably sourced down so this is becoming a more come feature.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

DWR (DURABLE WATER-REPELLENT) FINISH

DWR stands for durable water-repellent finish. This finish causes raindrops to bead up then repel off the material to which it’s applied so you don’t become saturated.

BAFFLES

Seams stitched throughout the fabric to give down structure and keep the insulation in place.

INSULATION

The insulation will tell you precisely what your down vest is filled with to keep you warm. This is where you will find the down fill power.

DOWN FILL POWER

Down fill power refers to the loft or volume of the down. This number references the quality of the down. The higher the number, the better the warmth-to-weight ratio.

FABRIC

The fabric of your down vest will range in material, with ripstop nylon and polyester being the most common. These are both durable and quick-drying which is great for active use.

READ MORE

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