Best Packable Down Jacket – Women’s Edition 2024

From ultralight models for alpine use to heavyweight winter warmers, our list of the best packable down jackets for women has something for everyone!

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Written by: | Reviewed by: Kieran James Cunningham
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With a multitude of women’s packable, lightweight down jackets available today, finding the right one can be challenging! The ideal option will vary depending on the specific activities and weather conditions you need them for. Whatever your requirements, down jackets are revered for their comfort and remarkable warmth-to-weight ratios among hikers, campers, climbers, and mountaineers alike.

So how to find the perfect packable, lightweight down jacket for you? We reviewed the top models on the market with the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2 topping our list, closely followed by the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody, Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket, Outdoor Research Illuminate Hoody, Columbia Voodoo Falls 590 TurboDown, Feathered Friends Eos – Women’s, and the REI Co-op Stormhenge 850.

Following the reviews, you’ll find expert advice on the key design elements that make one down jacket a better pick for your particular needs over another, such as warmth, weight, comfort & fit, compressibility & packed size, shell fabric durability, water resistance, other features, and sustainability standards.

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woman snow shoeing in down jacket

Packable Women’s Down Jacket Recommendations

  • Editors Choice:  Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2
    “A featherweight hooded jacket with a performance-oriented design yet sleek enough for everyday wear.”
  • Best Value:  Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket
    “A tough, weather-resistant jacket that offers impressive warmth for the weight.”
  • Best Budget:  Columbia Voodoo Falls 590 TurboDown
    “A burly, no-nonsense kinda down jacket that’s a little on the heavy side but a solid performer in every other metric.”
  • Best Hybrid:  Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody
    “An intelligently designed down jacket that uses synthetic insulation in areas prone to getting wet and premium plumage where warmth is needed most.”
  • Best for High-Output Activities:  Outdoor Research Illuminate Hoody
    “This lightweight, form-fitting down jacket offers a little more breathability than most others in its weight class.”
  • Best Warmth-to-Weight:  Feathered Friends Eos – Women’s
    “Made with 900-fill premium down insulation, the Eos offers the best coziness per ounce of all the options in our review.”
  • Best for Wet Conditions:  REI Co-op Stormhenge 850
    “A highly versatile jacket that uses a waterproof shell and hydrophobic insulation to provide outstanding all-weather performance.”

Further Reading: If you’re not sure a down jacket is what you’re after then check out our guide to the best hiking jackets.

What Are The Best Down Jackets for Women?

The following list contains our editor’s choice winner, the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2, and the selection of our favorite packable down jackets for women catering to a variety of outdoor activities and weather conditions.

  • Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2
  • Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody
  • Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket
  • Outdoor Research Illuminate Hoody
  • Columbia Voodoo Falls 590 TurboDown
  • Feathered Friends Eos – Women’s
  • REI Co-op Stormhenge 850
Mountain Hardwear Women's Ghost Whisperer/2 Jacket for Climbing and Backpacking | Ultralight, Insulated, and Water-Resistant

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2

Editor’s Choice

Providing substantial warmth, minimal weight, and compact packed size, the MH Ghost Whisperer 2 stands out as exceptional and earns our editor’s choice award.

The warmth-to-weight ratio of this ultralight down coat is outstanding. It weighs a mere 7.8 oz and compresses into a compact bundle comparable in size to a 24-ounce beer can. Despite its small size, it provides ample extra warmth for three-season and winter adventures across most parts of the globe. 

The GW2 also makes very few compromises as compared to its heavier, midweight competitors. It boasts robust water resistance, a tough, ripstop outer shell, zippered handwarmer pockets, and an elasticated, down-filled hood.

This isn’t the warmest jacket in our review, so if insulation’s your primary concern you’d be better off with a beefier insulator like the FF Eos or REI Stormhenge, both of which are bona fide winter jackets that prioritize warmth above all else. But if you’re in the market for a packable jacket that’s good for summer nights at camp or hiking in cool temps, the GW2’s a great choice!

  • PROs

    • Ultralight
    • Water-resistant
    • Ripstop nylon fabric
    • Tiny packed size
  • CONs

    • Not as warm as heavier models
    • Hood isn’t adjustable

Bottom-Line: If you’re looking for the lightest and most compact insulating down layer out there, the Ghost Whisperer’s the choice for you!

Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody Women's | Lightweight Down Hoody for Cool, Dry Conditions

Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody

Best Hybrid

The Cerium LT is the priciest down coat on our list, but given the properties of its trademarked down and targeted insulation, this hybrid-insulated jacket is certainly worth the extra cost.

The Cerium uses 3.35 oz of 850-fill-power down and 100g of Coreloft insulation to combine the coziness of high-fill-power down with the enhanced wet-weather performance of synthetic insulation. While this hybrid construction is a selling point in itself, it’s how the insulation is used that sets it apart…

Arc’teryx constructed the Cerium LT with something they call “Composite Mapping”, which is a fancy way of saying they distribute different types of insulation in such a way as to make the best use of their strengths. 

This means that all the cozy plumage is used in areas that require the most heat (your core, chest, back, and head), and the Coreloft in areas most likely to get wet (the shoulders, collar, underarm, and cuffs). Pretty genius, right?

And there’s a lot more to love besides…

The Cerium is also the third lightest model on our list after the MH Ghost Whisperer and FF Eos, uses an articulated construction for uninhibited movement, has a DWR coating, and boasts among the most impressive feature sets of all the packable puffer jackets we’ve reviewed.

Specs

  • Type: Lightweight
  • Weight: 9.9 oz
  • Fill: 3.35 oz of 850-fill down & 80/100g Coreloft
  • PROs

    • Lightweight
    • Articulated construction
    • High down fill-power
    • Intelligent “Composite Mapping”
    • DWR coating
  • CONs

    • Pricey 
    • Not the most durable

Bottom-Line: A super-pricey but exquisitely cozy, lightweight down jacket that offers robust weather protection and all full complement of comfort- and convenience-enhancing features.

RAB Women's Microlight Alpine Down Jacket for Hiking, Climbing, & Skiing

Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket

Best Value

The newest version of Rab’s Microlight Alpine Down series is poised to be just as popular as its predecessor, boasting an excellent warmth-to-value ratio.

Made with 700-fill down insulation and a burly 30D nylon shell, the Microlight Alpine isn’t the most packable down jacket in our review. At 15 oz, it’s also far from the lightest. 

Nevertheless, we found it to offer almost the best warmth for your buck and we were especially impressed by its hydrophobic Nikwax finish and Pertex Quantum jacket shell. Together, these provide the Microlight with enough water and wind resistance for it to serve as a standalone jacket in light rain and heavier snowfall. 

Specs

  • Type: Midweight
  • Weight: 14.6 oz
  • Fill: 5.1 oz of 700-fill-power down
  • PROs

    • Slim, anatomical fit
    • R.D.S-certified
    • Very warm for the price
    • 2 x handwarmer + 1 chest pocket
    • Adjustable hood with wired peak
  • CONs

    • Larger packed size than other jackets in midweight class

Bottom-Line: A slightly bulky down jacket that offers a little more weather protection than the best of its competitors. 

Outdoor Research Women's W's Illuminate Down Hoody, sand/slate, XL

Outdoor Research Illuminate Hoody

Best for High-Output Activities

The OR Illuminate is the ideal jacket if you need a lightweight, breathable standalone outer layer for cold-weather outdoor activities, such as hiking, snowshoeing, ski mountaineering, or other winter sports

This is the only down jacket on our list that doesn’t have a DWR finish. This omission, however, combined with the thin face fabric, makes the Illuminate just a little more breathable than its peers. This “pro” may have been inadvertently gained, granted, but we found that it makes the Illuminate a far better performer, and less stuffy when we’re hiking hard. 

Inadvertent perks aside, this lightweight jacket is a good option in its own right. It’s made with 800-fill RDS feathers, weighs just 10.6 oz, packs into a tiny bundle, has a plethora of pockets, and is very fairly priced. 

Specs

  • Type: Lightweight
  • Weight: 10.6 oz
  • Fill: 800-fill down
  • PROs

    • Affordable
    • Lightweight
    • More breathable
    • Warm for the weight
    • 2 x handwarmer + 2 x interior pocket 
  • CONs

    • Elastic cuffs
    • No DWR finish

Bottom-Line: What the Illuminate Hoody lacks in water resistance it makes up for with its well-thought-out design, uber-handy features, and less daunting price point.

Columbia Women's Voodoo Falls 590 Turbodown Hooded Jacket

Columbia Voodoo Falls 590 TurboDown

Best Budget

The Voodoo Falls 590 deserves a place on your shortlist if you’re seeking added warmth for shoulder season or winter adventures and don’t mind carrying a bit of extra weight for that comfort.

This option provides as much in the way of coziness as many down jackets on this list that cost twice as much (or even more). The trade-off for this favorable warmth-to-$ ratio is the jacket’s 20.8 oz weight and bulkier packed size, though neither of these drawbacks is likely to prove a deal-breaker if trying to stay warm in colder temperatures is your chief concern. 

Compared to the other heavyweight in our review, the REI Stormhenge, the Voodoo Falls is a lot less packable and offers less weather resistance. It’s also, however, a fraction lighter and costs around a third less.

Specs

  • Type: Heavyweight
  • Weight: 20.8 oz 
  • Fill: 590 TurboDown™ Insulation (40 g Omni-Heat synthetic insulation and 550-fill goose down)
  • PROs

    • Affordable
    • Warm
    • Water-resistant
    • Omni-Heat thermal layer reflects body heat for added warmth
    • Interior pockets and zippered hand pockets
  • CONs

    • Heavy
    • Not the most packable down jacket out there

Bottom-Line: A cheap jacket that’s a touch on the heavy and bulky side but a great option for winter adventures nonetheless.

Feathered Friends Eos

Feathered Friends Eos – Women’s

Most Compressible

The Eos is a highly compressible, down sweater hoody designed for technical pursuits in the high alpine. It is still, however, every bit as comfortable, cozy, and stylish as models designed for less high-octane pursuits.

What we love most about the Eos is that it takes up very little space in a backpack when not in use, and yet delivers all the warmth of a winter jacket when deployed. While the price tag may be a little off-putting for some, compared to other down jackets in its performance class, the Eos is a bit of a bargain. 

Compared to the winner of our review, the MH Ghost Whisperer, the Eos is a little heavier and pricier, but has a similar packed size and is also a much warmer jacket.

Specs

  • Type: Ultralight
  • Weight: 9 oz
  • Fill: 2.8 oz of 900-fill down
  • PROs

    • Ultralight
    • High-quality insulation
    • Pertex Quantum nylon shell
    • Tapered fit
  • CONs

    • Pricey (but worth it!)

Bottom-Line: The Eos uses the highest-quality materials of any on our list and consequently offers the best ratio of warmth to weight.

REI Co-op Stormhenge 850

REI Co-op Stormhenge 850

Best for Wet Conditions

The REI Stormhenge is a puffer jacket that provides the warmth of a high-end insulating layer along with the waterproofing features of a raincoat.

But how the heck, we hear you ask, does it do that?

Well, for starters, the weirdly but also appropriately named Stormhenge uses 850-fill insulation that’s DWR-treated to provide added water resistance. On top of that, it boasts a 2-layer, waterproof-breathable shell with fully sealed seams that provide robust weather protection. 

As far as non-standard features go, they don’t get much better than that!

Despite being a really warm jacket, the Stormhenge keeps bulk to a minimum by mapping insulation to the body, using more of it in areas prone to cold spots and less of it elsewhere. 

It’s also one of the most feature-rich jackets on our list, boasting pit-zips for added ventilation, seam-free shoulders to prevent chafing under backpack straps, adjustable cuffs, and zippered hand and chest pockets.

There’s no getting around the fact that the Stormhenge is heavy – it weighs almost three times as much as the winner of our review, the MH Ghost Whisperer, and over an ounce more than the next heaviest, the Columbia Voodoo Falls. As the only waterproof jacket on our list, however, it’s a great choice for anyone who likes to carry just a single outer layer. 

Specs

  • Type: Heavyweight
  • Weight: 22 oz
  • Fill: 850-fill
  • PROs

    • Waterproof!
    • Very warm
    • Pit zippers
    • Adjustable cuffs
    • Water-repellent insulation
  • CONs

    • Heavy

Bottom-Line: Although the heaviest option, the Stormhenge is highly compressible, waterproof, and one of the very few down jackets on our list that is warm enough for winter.

What to Look for When Choosing Down Coats For Women?

We’ve put together a comprehensive overview below of the most important factors to consider when shopping for a packable ladies’ down jackets. 

  • Warmth
  • Weight
  • Comfort & Fit
  • Compressibility & Packed Size
  • Shell Fabric Durability
  • Water Resistance
  • Other Features
  • Sustainability

Warmth

The amount of warmth a down jacket provides depends on the quality of the fill itself. We can gauge the quality of down using two useful metrics: fill power and fill weight.

  • Fill Power – This indicates the volume of 1 oz of fill. While the measurement process is complex, the rule of thumb is that higher fill numbers signify higher quality down. For instance, 850-fill down provides better insulation compared to 750-fill.
  • Fill Weight – This indicates the amount of down used in the jacket. A higher fill weight implies more insulation in the garment. Consequently, a down jacket with 5 oz of fill typically offers more warmth compared to one with only 3 oz of fill.
female hiker in down jacket walking in snowy forest in sweden

Weight

Whether you’re a day hiker, backpacker, ski tourer, or rock climber, weight will always be a key consideration, in particular finding the optimal warmth-to-weight ratio. This involves choosing a down jacket that provides sufficient insulation without adding excessive pack weight when not in use.

As always with outdoor gear, in most cases, trade-offs are to be expected – the warmest jackets out there are typically also the heaviest, while the lightest options are often less durable and provide less insulation. 

Finding the ideal down jacket for you will require assessing your priorities as regards both pack weight and warmth required. Bear in mind, however, that a down jacket’s warmth doesn’t depend solely on the weight alone, but also on the quality of the down. 

The down jackets in our review range from featherweights like the MH Ghost Whisperer 2 (7.8 oz) and Feathered Friends Eos (9 oz) to heavyweights like the Columbia Voodoo Falls (20.8 oz) and REI Co-op Stormhenge 850 (22 oz).

female hiker wearing down jacket

Comfort & Fit

The most comfortable down jackets typically feature an “articulated” or anatomical fit that conforms to your body’s natural contours, allowing for unrestricted movement.

Mobility isn’t critical for casual hiking or relaxing at the campsite. However, if you intend to wear your down jacket for technical hiking, scrambling, or ski touring, then freedom of movement should be a top priority.

The most “mobile” jackets are usually those with a shorter cut around the hips and lower-profile insulation, though this decrease in coverage also results in a drop in warmth.  

Compressibility & Packed Size

Compressibility describes how compact a jacket can become when packed down for storage which determines the packed size when a jacket is stowed inside its own pocket or stuff sack. 

Typically, higher fill power results in greater compressibility for a down jacket. This is because down with a higher fill power requires less raw material to provide the same insulation as lower fill power down.

Having said that, the thickness of the outer shell also influences packability, with low-denier shells, as you’d expect, compacting more easily.  

The most packable down jacket in our review? Take a bow, the Feathered Friends Eos, the MH Ghost Whisperer, and Arc’teryx Cerium LT, all of which can be scrunched up to roughly the size of a 24 oz water bottle.  

female hiker on grassy hill in down jacket with poles

Shell Fabric Durability

The durability of the outer fabric, also known as the ‘shell,’ is assessed using denier (D), which reflects the material’s thickness and fiber density.

As a general rule, the higher the denier rating, the more tear-resistant and durable the fabric is. However, some shell fabrics use a “ripstop” weave that makes them tougher, pound for pound, than ordinary weaves. Consequently, a 10D ripstop shell might be as sturdy as a 15 or 20D shell with a standard weave.

Most down jackets use shells made from nylon, which is lightweight, quick-drying, durable, and gentle on the skin. Polyester shells are usually more breathable, but they’re also less durable and don’t feel quite so soft to the touch. 

Water Resistance

The common downside to using feather-filled garments of any kind is that they are not water resistant, rendering their insulation to be ineffective when wet, unlike fleece or merino wool

Gear manufacturers have attempted to address this limitation in various ways, initially by applying DWR (durable water repellent) coatings to the jackets’ shells, and then by using hydrophobic down.

Hydrophobic down is treated with polymer agents that make it more water-resistant. This, however, still doesn’t make these garments as weather-resistant as synthetic down jackets. They also cost significantly more than non-hydrophobic equivalents.

DWR coatings are treatments applied to the shell fabric that cause water to bead up on the surface rather than saturate the fabric. While these won’t keep you dry in a downpour, most are effective enough to see you through shorter and lighter rain showers. In our review, the only down jacket that doesn’t have a DWR coating is the Outdoor Research Illuminate Hoody.

Other Features

A jacket’s features, such as the hood, drop tail, zippers, cuffs, and drawcords, can significantly impact its overall functionality and ease of use. The following list outlines the key features to consider when making a purchase.

  • Hood: The best hoods have wired peaks (“peaked hoods”) that keep rain out of your eyes and cinch cords that let you tighten the fabric over your head to prevent the hood from being blown back by the wind. These cinches also improve peripheral vision by ensuring the hood moves with your head when you turn. 
  • Drop Tail: Jackets with a drop tail are a little longer in the rear than they are at the front. This stops it from riding up your back when you’re hiking, prevents drafts from sneaking in at your midriff, and also provides a little bit of insulation for your butt.
  • Zippers: Look for zippers with toggles that are easy to tug on even when you’re wearing gloves. Two-way zippers are also useful because they allow you to ventilate more easily when need be and provide easier access to a) your harness if you’re wearing one, b) the fly in your pants when it’s time to answer nature’s calls.
  • Cuffs: Velcro or elasticated? In our experience, Velcro cuff closures are a better choice because of their adjustability – they allow you to trap in body heat when cold and ventilate when working up a sweat. 
  • Drawcords: These allow you to tighten the hem at the waist to trap heat and prevent drafts.  

Sustainability

If sustainable, ethically produced gear is a priority for you look for jackets made with bluesign-approved fabrics, RDS (Responsible Down Standard) certification, and recycled materials. 

All of the jackets in this review are made with responsibly sourced down. The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2 and REI Co-op 650 2.0 are also made with recycled fabrics. 

Last update on 2024-03-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Eunice Avatar

Eunice Kryna Verula is a writer by trade and a mountaineer by heart. Experienced with copywriting, design and mountaineering, she’s all about pursuing the highest peaks in the best outdoor gear.

In her quest to bag the 10 highest mountains in the country and Asia, she spends most of her days trekking and learning from seasoned mountain guides deep in the one of the most mountainous regions of the Philippines.

Before heeding the call of the mountains, she graduated Cum laude in Bukidnon State University and taught English & writing. While not in the backcountry she is striving to launch community programs to support local mountain guides and to equip them with proper mountaineering gear.

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