The Best Packable Down Jacket – Women’s Pick of 2020

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Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody

Best Packable Down Jacket for Women

Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody Women's

The Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody either tops or sits near the top of our list in almost every major category. For one, this down jacket skirts the line between weight and warmth better than most with a list-leading 850 fill power down.

However, even with that excellent down fill, the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody only comes in at 9 ½ oz, tied for second-best on our list. Even better, this down jacket also offers one of the best lids with a down-insulated storm hood that cinches in the back.

The Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody also scores high in water resistance, where it pairs a solid DWR with strategically placed synthetic insulation to reduce water absorption. While not the strongest we found, this down jacket is made of 10D Arato nylon that works well, especially given its weight.

Beyond these baseline qualities, the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody also comes with three pockets, including a chest pocket and a drawcord hem, making it great as a top-layer jacket for milder weather.

Bottom Line: While there are some other options in the running, the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody tops our list with no significant flaws and excellent all-around performance.

Introduction

Keeping warm on the trail or while travelling has never been easier with our guide to the Best Women’s Packable Down Jacket.

Brian Connelly
Brian Connelly
Last Updated: August 10, 2020

Looking for the Best Packable Down Jackets for Women?

You’re in the right place! In this guide, we will be covering the following:

    • Identify which features are important to consider
    • Reviews of 9 of the best packable down jackets (womens models)
    • Our unbiased #1 pick for the best packable women’s down jacket

When planning for the weather on your adventures, choosing a great mid-layer is probably the most important. If you’re looking for something to keep you warm, then the choice usually boils down to either a fleece or a lightweight down jacket.

While both can offer excellent warmth to weight ratios, keeping you snug in cold weather – thanks to their water-resistant coating, a great women’s down jacket is the better option when light rain (or snow) is on the cards.

We put together our list of the nine best packable down jackets for women in 2020, highlighting what jacket is best for which situation. We also provide a thorough buyer’s guide to understanding the nuances between the different features that make a down jacket better for one purpose or another.

Key Features to Look for When Choosing Puffy Jackets (Womens Models)

Warmth (fill type & power)

For down jackets, there are a couple of qualities surrounding its fill to consider, most notably the fill’s type and power. For the type, you can classify the fill as actual down or synthetic, but the down can further be separated into standard and hydrophobic down.

Best Hiking Jacket Banner
Best Hiking Jacket Banner

Down type can also be differentiated by its sourcing with ethical and sustainable down becoming more popular. A down fill of equal amounts is always warmer than synthetic fill, but it is often significantly more expensive.

A down’s power refers to how much air sits between an ounce of feathers with more air, represented by a higher fill number, offering better insulation.

woman snow shoeing in down jacket

Weight

As with all outdooring gear, weight weighs heavily when choosing a packable down jacket with down jackets often coming in close to hardshell weights. Your down jacket’s weight is more or less critical, depending on the outdooring situations you expect to use it for.

If you use the down jacket for more casual situations or to wear in milder weather, the weight is likely not as big of a deal– especially since down jackets rarely push one pound. On the other hand, if you intend to use your down jacket as a mid-layer, especially for extended or challenging situations, your jacket’s weight becomes increasingly important.

Fit

Depending on the situation, the fit of a women’s down jacket might be as crucial as its warmth and compressibility. Because down jackets are not usually the most waterproof, they are often used as a middle layer.

In cases of heavy rain, an outer rain jacket can be thrown on top. This obviously necessitates a fairly snug fit to ensure you can easily slip your waterproof jacket on over the top.

On top of that, down jackets generally see a lot of use while climbing, which means they need superior mobility. As such, qualities like raglan sleeves for extra shoulder room and an athletic fit increase the jacket’s mobility and make it easier to layer.

Compressibility & Packed Size

Despite their puffy appearance due to the air in between the feathers of a down jacket, these jackets often compress impressively. The more your down jacket can compress, generally, the smaller its packed size, though this depends on what it packs into.

Down jackets usually pack either into one of their own pockets or a separate stuff sack, the volume of which ultimately determines the packed size.

It is worth noting that given down jackets are often used as an outer or mid-layer, it is less likely that you need to pack it. Unless the weather turns unseasonably warm and you use a light jacket or none at all, you will usually wear the down jacket rather than not.

Durability

Down jackets are not traditionally known for being one of the more durable types of outdooring jackets, though some manufacturers make it a point to buck this trend. That said, the preference to favor packability and a lightweight design limit how durable a down jacket can be.

Whereas other types of outdooring jackets use high-end ripstop materials, down jackets, tend to employ low-grade versions of those materials. For example, a 20D (denier) nylon material used for the outer shell is relatively durable for a down jacket when hardshell jackets often use 50D or higher.

Though an extra feature, a stuff sack helps ensure that your down jacket is more packable, it also protects down jackets from scraping against anything while clipped to your pack.

Water Resistance

Unlike many types of outdooring jackets, most down jackets will not use high-end shells to repel significant amounts of water. You should still look for a down jacket that comes with a Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating for light rain.

While all outdooring jackets should protect against the weather at multiple levels, this is arguably more important for down jackets. This is because if your down in the jacket gets wet, it can take significantly longer to dry than other types of outdooring jackets.

It is important to remember that unlike many other types of outdooring jackets, down jackets are not meant to provide top-tier waterproofing. Instead, packable down jackets should resist a moderate amount of water, relying on a suitable hardshell when the weather gets bad.

Other Jacket Features 

Any additional features are best understood as circumstantial and heavily dependent on where you wear the down jacket. For example, if your down jacket serves as your top layer, a hood might be more important both for keeping your head warmer and protecting against any light rain you encounter.

If you use your down jacket in colder climates, cinches at the cuffs and hem become more important to keep out cold air. After that, pockets are always handy for storing your phone, map, or hands on freezing days.

Best Packable Down Jackets For Women Reviewed: The Results

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer

Best Warmth to Weight

Mountain Hardwear Women’s Ghost Whisperer Down
  • WARM, COMFORT, LIGHTWEIGHT, DURABILITY: With 800-fill down and a weight of only…
  • WINDPROOF AND WATER REPELLENT: The Ghost Whisperer fabric’s super-tight weave is…
  • FIT: Alpine fit means a trim, close to body fit perfect for layering under a…
  • FUNCTION: Low-profile quilting holds the 800 fill power goose down in place….
  • LIMITED LIFETIME WARRANTY: Limited Lifetime Warranty covers defects in materials…

The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer jumps off the page for us as a mid-layer down jacket thanks to its incredibly low weight of only 6 ½ oz, which is almost 50-percent lighter than the next closest competitor. On top of that, this down jacket also has a great fit, which works well under a hardshell without restricting your mobility.

Even better, it is also one of the most compressible jackets that we came across and packs smaller than any other product on our list. The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer provides excellent waterproofing with its DWR finish and NIKWAX hydrophobic down.

The 800 fill down combined with an internal hem cinch and raglan sleeves will keep you warm in cold weather. The only real issue with this down jacket is the thin, lightweight material is not as durable as some of the other options making its high price all the more costly.

  • PROs

    • High-quality lightweight jacket
    • Has great waterproofing
    • Is highly compressible
    • Has a good fit
  • CONs

    • Is a more expensive jacket
    • Not the most durable
Bottom-Line: When cutting weight is a top priority, the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer does not give up much in the process, especially when used as a mid-layer.

Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody

Best All-Around Down Jacket

Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody Women’s
  • CERIUM LT HOODY – Efficient and versatile, and providing exceptional warmth for…
  • ARC’TERYX ESSENTIALS – Versatile high performance designs for diverse activities…
  • CERIUM – Streamlined, minimalist and lightweight technical down insulation. High…
  • DOWN INSULATION – Highly efficient natural insulation that compacts well and…
  • LIGHTWEIGHT – High performance, minimalist design that is durable for its…

The Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody ran away with our best all-around down jacket label, thanks largely to its impressive warming ability. This product tops our list with a list tieing 850 fill down, but then complements that superior insulation with a hem drawcord and raglan sleeves to prevent wind from seeping in.

To continue offering superior protection, the Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody provides some of the best waterproofing we found with a good DWR. In addition, Coreloft synthetic insulation at the shoulders and pits helps prevent this model from getting wet inside and out.

Despite the exceptional fill and warmth provided, the Arc’teryx Cerium Hoody still works well as a mid-layer thanks largely to the second-lowest weight we reviewed at only 9 ½ oz. Even better, it is also more durable than many of its competitors, with 10D Arato nylon layered to prevent abrasions.

  • PROs

    • Is highly compressible
    • Awesome warmth
    • Has great waterproofing
    • High-quality lightweight jacket
  • CONs

    • Is a more expensive jacket
    • Leaks more feathers

The North Face Summit L3 Hoodie

Warmest Packable Down Jacket

The North Face Women’s Summit L3 Down Hoodie
  • SHINY MATERIAL Summit Series represents the worlds finest alpine equipment and…

While a down jacket is often expected to provide exceptional warmth in the coldest climates, some do better than others. The North Face Summit L3 Hoodie tops our list in this regard with a second-best 800 fill power down rating.

This model further enhances its warming ability by including more down weight than most competitors. As if that were not enough, the North Face Summit L3 Hoodie also employs larger baffles than the other options we reviewed, which reduces the number of seams and, subsequently, the number of cold spots.

Though the North Face Summit L3 Hoodie might be pricey, you get substantial value thanks to the 10D x 10D nylon fabric whose weave helps reduce abrasions. One thing that surprises is the size and weight of this jacket are a bit on the larger size, but you can still compress it down to a small packable size.

That said, the North Face Summit L3 Hoodie is one of the less water-resistant down jackets for its price range.

  • PROs

    • Amazing warmth
    • Is a more durable jacket
    • Is highly compressible
    • Has numerous features
  • CONs

    • Is a more expensive jacket
    • Not the most water-resistant
Bottom-Line: If you are going to spend more money on a higher-end down jacket, the North Face Summit L3 Hoodie gives you more value than most in the long term.

Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket

Best Down Jacket for Durability

RAB Microlight Alpine Jacket – Women’s
  • Mini-stitch through baffle construction
  • Down-filled helmet-compatible hood with polymer peaked hood
  • YKK front zip and internal insulated zip baffle with chin guard
  • 2 YKK zipped hand pockets /1 YKK zipped chest pocket
  • Lycra bound cuffs /Hem drawcord

The Rab Microlight Alpine does plenty of things well, but its best feature is its long term lifespan thanks to the use of Pertex Quantum fabric. Pertex Quantum protects the Rab Microlight Alpine from abrasions, but it also helps this down jacket resist snagging.

Of course, the Rab Microlight Alpine is not just durable as it also sports a respectable 750 fill power rating to help keep you warm. This model also does a great job of keeping you dry thanks to its solid DWR coating and it hydrophobic down.

Beyond some base qualities, the Rab Microlight Alpine also employs raglan sleeves and a hem drawcord to reduce drafts from getting in. On top of that, this product uses an interesting seam pattern at the forearm to offer better mobility than most, especially for climbing.

The only real problem with the Rab Microlight Alpine is its relatively hefty weight of 13 oz and its merely adequate packability for longer excursions.

  • PROs

    • Is a more durable jacket
    • Great warmth
    • Has solid mobility
    • Has numerous features
  • CONs

    • Is a more expensive jacket
    • Is a heavier jacket
Bottom-Line: The Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket offers plenty of features and an excellent build to provide what might be one of the best single-layer down jackets we found.

Outdoor Research Illuminate Down Hoody

Best Value

Outdoor Research womens Women’s Illuminate Down Hoody
  • Goose Down, Lined Warm, Women
  • 100% nylon 10D shell and 20D lining, 800 fill power, responsibly sourced goose…

Typically, Outdoor Research is at or near the top of the list for outdooring jackets, with the Outdoor Research Illuminate does a great job of balancing high-quality performance at a more reasonable cost. The Outdoor Research Illuminate might be the best value down jacket thanks to its durable 10D nylon shell and 20D nylon lining.

Beyond general value, the Outdoor Research Illuminate also impresses with an 800 fill power down rating, though it does not offer quite as much loft as more expensive options. Still, this is an excellent layering product with enough articulation and mobility to serve as a mid-layer.

Just be aware that the Outdoor Research Illuminate is one of the heavier models on our list at 11 oz. This is also not the best single-layer product for higher elevations due to poor waterproofing.

Thankfully, the Outdoor Research Illuminate comes with more pockets than any other jacket we found, including hand pockets, and an interior media pocket, perfect for smart devices.

  • PROs

    • Is a less expensive jacket
    • Has numerous features
    • Is easy to layer
    • Is a more durable jacket
  • CONs

    • Not the most waterproof
    • Is a heavier jacket
Bottom-Line: When you do not want to spend quite as much as top-tier jackets demand but still want a solid down jacket, the Outdoor Research Illuminate is a great option.

Columbia Voodoo Falls 590 TurboDown

Best Fitting Packable Down Jacket

Columbia Women’s Voodoo Falls 590 TurboDown Hooded Jacket
  • Lining is omni-heat reflective 100% polyester
  • 590 insulation, water resistant fabric
  • Scuba hood. Chin guard. Interior security pocket
  • Zippered hand pockets. Breathable material with little silver dots that reflect…
  • Draw cord adjustable hem

As mentioned in the intro, not all down jackets are meant for the same purpose, and Columbia’s Voodoo Falls 590 is a prime example. This is a great down jacket if you need your jacket to fit well and sit comfortably for casual wear around town or in mild weather.

In fairness, this is also one of the least expensive models that we saw and is close to the best budget option. For that low price, you still get a product that provides a surprising amount of water-resistance thanks to its solid DWR shell and grid baffling.

The inclusion of a scuba hood that keeps its shape in windy conditions combined with a drawcord hem and elastic cuffs also protects you from the wind. On the other hand, even the Omni-Heat reflective shell and Turbodown mix of insulation types do not make up for the lower 550 fill power down rating for warmth.

  • PROs

    • Is a less expensive jacket
    • Has solid waterproofing
    • Has solid wind-breaking
    • Has a good fit
  • CONs

    • Not the warmest jacket
    • Not the most durable
Bottom-Line: The Columbia Voodoo Falls 590 TurboDown jacket works exceptionally well as a casual option that is exceptionally comfortable to wear for nearly any body type.

Marmot Aruna Down Puffer Jacket

Best Casual Packable Down Jacket

Marmot Women’s Aruna Down Puffer Jacket, Fill Power 600
  • Women’s down puffer jacket is ideal for hiking, snowshoeing, and skiing
  • Moisture-resistant Down Defender treatment on 600 fill power down keeps you warm…
  • Zippered handwarmer pockets for added warmth
  • Elastic-bound cuffs and hem for a secure fit and heat retention
  • Attached hood can be adjusted for better facial coverage

The Marmot Aruna may not provide the best performance in extreme conditions, but it is a better option for a casual day around town or in milder climates. A big part of this comes from the fact that this product fits well as a single layer and offers enough room to layer if need be.

Even better, the Marmot Aruna provides surprisingly good waterproofing with a DWR shell further enhanced with a Down Defender hydrophobic down. Elastic cuffs and an elastic hem also help break the wind and prevent it from seeping into the Marmot Aruna.

On the other hand, this model has the second-lowest down fill power rating of only 600 and does not augment it with additional features. This is also the heaviest and one of the least packable down jackets on our list at 13 ½ oz.

Still, the ripstop nylon is more durable than some of the other down jackets that we reviewed in this price range.

  • PROs

    • Is a less expensive jacket
    • Has solid wind-breaking
    • Is easy to layer
    • Has solid waterproofing
  • CONs

    • Not the warmest jacket
    • Is a heavier jacket
Bottom-Line: While not ideal as a top-layer under challenging environments, the Marmot Aruna works well for a casual situation and can also provide good value as a mid-layer jacket.

Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie

Most Ethical Packable Down Jacket

Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie Image

Patagonia made it a point to provide a jacket that offers excellent performance both on the surface and underneath. While many manufacturers scramble to source their down ethically, few have gone as far as the Patagonia Down Sweater, which uses Global Traceable down using the highest standards.

Even better, this down jacket also provides plenty of warmth with a fill power down rating of 800, which ranks near the top of our list. This solid down rating combines with larger baffles and a higher loft that most of the competitors for a toastier feel further increased with a roomier fit.

All of this warmth does not come at the expense of convenience; however, as the Patagonia Down Sweater is also the second-lightest option, we reviewed at only 9 ½ oz. Even more surprising is that this down jacket is one of the more durable we encountered 20 x 30D ripstop nylon fabric.

  • PROs

    • Is made ethically/sustainably
    • Is a more durable jacket
    • Is a warmer jacket
    • Is a lightweight jacket
  • CONs

    • Is a more expensive jacket
    • Shows every stain
Bottom-Line: For feeling good both inside and out, Patagonia’s additional steps and high standards make their Down Sweater ethically will leave you feeling warm all over.

REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0

Best Budget Packable Down Jacket

REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0 Image

Considering how inexpensive the REI Co-op 650 Fill Down Jacket 2.0 is, we are all the more surprised by its specs. While not one of the lightest on our list, this down jacket still comes in at only 10.8 oz.

On top of that, the REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0 also sports a great fit that, combined with the lightweight design, makes it great for layering or being a layer. While not quite reaching the highest standards we found, this down jacket is still one of the more ethically sourced on our list.

That said, this is a fair-weather jacket as the 650 fill power down rating is merely adequate for mild weather. Unfortunately, this modest warmth rating pairs with so-so water-resistance that features a decent DWR but more porous sewn baffles than we would like.

Bottom Line:

The REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0 surprises by providing a decent jacket for a wide range of different situations at such a low price.

  • PROs

    • Is a less expensive jacket
    • Has a solid fit
    • Is made ethically/sustainably
    • Is a lightweight jacket
  • CONs

    • Not the warmest jacket
    • Not that waterproof
Bottom-Line: The REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket 2.0 surprises by providing a decent jacket for a wide range of different situations at such a low price.

Last update on 2020-10-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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