Skip to search results

Tips for Buying Women's Down Jackets

When the weather takes a turn for the cooler, it's time to step up your insulation game. A down coat is the perfect companion for chilly conditions. But how do you choose? There a few things to keep in mind when choosing a women's down jacket.

Down is nature's best insulator. Duck and geese plumules provide exceptional warmth without weight or bulk. Down is ultralight, ultrawarm and ultrapackable. To start your search for the best coat for you, look at the fill power of each lightweight down jacket. Ranging from 450 to 900, fill power is the volume in cubic inches that one ounce of down fills. The higher the quality of down, the higher volume it lofts.

You might wonder why there aren't temperature ratings on packable down jackets like there are in down sleeping bags. A jacket found to be warm at a given temperature in dry, windless conditions isn't going to keep you warm at the same temperature in whipping winds or damp weather. As you can't account for variables like wind, rain, humidity, exertion levels and personal metabolism, manufacturers leave out temperature ratings.

If you're considering heading into damp weather, look into water-resistant down. A polymer treatment helps this down handle wetter conditions and is just as light as typical down. You also might want to look for a "body-mapped" design. In jackets with this design, there is varied insulation and shell material, depending on where it sits on the body. With features like stretch side panels, less bulky insulation on the sides and windproof front panels, you can get a jacket that works exactly for your needs.

Last, consider the features in each jacket you're interested in. You can save weight with a hoodless jacket, but perhaps you want a helmet-compatible hood if you're a climber. Look into the adjustment features. You can get a customized fit if you use hood adjusters, hem drawcords, two-way front zips or rib-and-stick tabs at the cuffs. Make sure you have the right pockets for your needs as well. Choose pockets that are hipbelt compatible if you'll be wearing your jacket with a pack, music pockets for headphone compatibility or security pockets for safer travel.

Choose your jacket from our most popular brands: The North Face, Patagonia or Columbia.