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The 8 best down jackets to keep warm in 2023

Looking for serious warmth from a lightweight jacket? Our pick of the best down jackets for men and women have got you covered

The best down jackets are key to any layering system. Ever heard of the onion method? It’s the best way to stay warm in cold weather and involves carefully layering up (like an onion) to trap heat and stay cosy. The best down jackets offer the almost perfect combination of being both lightweight and extremely warm, and are ideal worn over a base layer and under a waterproof jacket in bad weather, or on their own as a warm outer layer on cold, drier days.

Most insulated jackets on the market use either traditional animal down or a synthetic insulation to trap in warmth. Animal down offers a brilliant warmth to weight ratio, but doesn’t insulate when wet. Cheap down can sometimes also be harvested unethically – if you’re buying a down jacket, choose a reputable brand and check where the down is sourced from. Synthetic down (such as Primaloft) rivals animal down for warmth and also still retains some insulating properties when wet. We’ve included great options using both down and synthetic insulation in our roundup.

We’ve included down jackets here for men, women and every budget – so, whether you’ve got £50 or £500 to spend, you’ll find something here that fits the bill.

Not sure what to look for? Take a browse through our choice of the best down jackets below and check out our buying guide at the bottom of the page, where we’ll explain all the key features to look out for.

The best down jackets: At a glance

How to choose the best down jacket for you

What are down jackets made from?

Down jackets usually use duck or goose down (the fluffy stuff found under a bird’s feathers) to create a stuffed middle layer known as “loft”, an incredible insulator that traps heat. “Down” is a bit of an umbrella term, which also encompasses insulated jackets that use synthetic down instead of animal down.

Down is typically white or grey and an individual piece of down looks like a blob of tiny little fibres, all somehow joined in the middle and radiating outward. Lots and lots of these little blobs are clustered together form millions of tiny air pockets, which is what provides the heat insulation.

Natural down or synthetic insulation?

The main differences between jackets stuffed with down and synthetic insulation are that down is usually lighter, can feel bulkier and is warmer. If you want a mid-layer for high-intensity activities such as hiking and skiing, where you’ll heat up pretty fast, a synthetic jacket is probably a better option. If you’re looking for a seriously warm jacket for very cold weather, go for animal down. There is, however, an animal-welfare issue with the production of some down jackets – if you’re keen to buy an ethical down jacket, we’ll cover everything you need to know a little further down the page.

You’ll see jackets filled with natural down labelled with “fill power”, which is a measure of the fluffiness of the loft. The higher the number, the better quality the down (and, usually, the lighter the jacket); we’d recommend plumping for something with 700 fill power or above.

Are down jackets waterproof?

Most are completely useless when wet and this means they can quickly turn from heat-retaining lifesavers to water-logged lumps in heavy downpours. On a day in the hills with changeable weather conditions, you don’t want to worry that a sudden downpour could catch you and reduce your comfy jacket to a feathery pulp. The solution is to either pack a waterproof shell to pop over the top or pick a down jacket that can withstand a sudden shower (or, ideally, both).

Down jackets are increasingly water-resistant so they’ll withstand light rainfall without losing too much heat. We’d also recommend regularly using something such as Nikwax Down Proof to re-waterproof your jacket. If you want a jacket that’ll keep you warm even when it gets wet, synthetic insulation is far more water repellent than animal down.

What’s the deal with ethical down?

The cheapest down is harvested from live (and sometimes force-fed) animals, which is cruel and unnecessary. You’ll see other down jackets labelled “humanely harvested”, which means the down is a byproduct of food production. Ethically traced down is more expensive.

Synthetic down jackets avoid the problem altogether. Traditionally they haven’t been as good as those made with animal down, but this is improving rapidly. If you’re in the market to buy one good-quality jacket, we’d recommend picking something using either synthetic insulation or a company using humane, traceable down. Patagonia has a great track record of ensuring its down is ethically sourced, and Canada Goose’s down is humane and traceable.

Are there any other features I should look out for?

Useful design elements to look out for include a hood and a drawstring waist, which are both useful for retaining body warmth. If you don’t need a hood, bear in mind that most manufacturers will have a hoodless version in their range that will save you a few quid. It’s also worth checking how many external and internal pockets there are before you splash out.

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The best down jackets you can buy in 2023

1. Patagonia Nano Puff jacket for men and women: The best insulated jacket for the ethically minded

Price: £190 | Buy men’s | Buy women’s from Patagonia

The Nano Puff is jam-packed with smart features: it’s stuffed using a water-repellent PrimaLoft Gold synthetic filling that’s partly made from recycled materials, and it performs brilliantly in pretty much any condition – the synthetic filling retains heat very well even when wet, unlike down.

The polyester shell is tougher than that of most other insulated jackets, yet the Nano Puff is still lightweight and compresses neatly into its own chest pocket for easy portability. It gets top marks in the ethical stakes: no down is used and Patagonia promotes fair labour and environmental responsibility in its factories.

It certainly helps that the Nano Puff’s styling is spot on too: it looks and feels fantastic, and the slim, comfortable fit really hits the mark. A hooded version is also available.

Key specs – Fill power: N/A; Main material: PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco; Weight: 284g; Water resistant: Yes; Pockets: 3

Buy men’s from PatagoniaBuy women’s from Patagonia

2. Napapijri Alvar Short Jacket for men and women: The best insulated jacket to wear in the city

Price: £265 | Buy men’s | Buy women’s from Napapijri

Napapijri has been making Arctic-ready jackets for 30 years, so knows a thing or two about keeping your core cosy, and its Alvar jacket is the perfect mid layer.

This jacket is stuffed with synthetic insulation that’s lightweight but traps in warmth quickly, while the water-resistant outer material repels rain.

We like the high-cut neck, which adds warmth and feels soft against your face. It’s good as a standalone jacket in autumn or under a waterproof shell in winter, and the sleek and simple cut is smart and flattering.

The neutral colourways available for both men and women and the fact that this style is reversible make this jacket stylish enough to wear daily on your commute in the city as well as for weekends in the country.

Key specs – Fill power: N/A; Main material: Synthetic; Weight: 440g; Water resistant: Yes; Pockets: 5

Buy men’s from Napapijri Buy women’s from Napapijri

3. Rab Microlight Alpine ECO jacket for men and women: The best down jacket for climbers

Price: From £120 | Buy men’s | Buy women’s from Cotswold Outdoors

Every peak-obsessed British climber with a rope on their back can be found sporting a grimy but much-loved Rab down jacket. Rab was founded in Sheffield, one of the spiritual homes of UK climbing, and the company has applied its know-how to creating lightweight down layers, which are perfect for popping on and off quickly when climbing or wearing under a waterproof shell on winter hikes.

The new incarnation of the popular Microlight is made with recycled materials and is a good all-rounder from the Rab stable – it’s light, warm, very breathable and available in a clutch of different colours. And if you’re in the market for ethically sourced animal down, Rab is a good brand to shop with.

We’d recommend that women try both the men’s and women’s versions to see which cut fits best, as in our experience the men’s version makes for a brilliant unisex jacket.

Key specs – Fill power: 700; Main material: recycled hydrophobic down; Weight: 413g; Water resistant: Yes; Pockets: 3

Buy men’s from Cotswold OutdoorsBuy women’s from Cotswold Outdoors

4. Dare2B Striking down jacket for women: The best down jacket under £100

Price: From £89.95 | Buy women’s from Dare2B

Meet one of our favourite affordable all-rounders: the Dare2B Striking is a great middleweight jacket you can wear over base layers or under coats as you fancy.

This design has a great hood, good pockets and a slim cut that’ll stop you feeling too bulked out if you use it as a midlayer, and as an added bonus it’s made from fully recycled materials, with the equivalent of 19 plastic bottles saved in the construction of each Striking jacket.

The three neutral colours look good with everything, and if you want more coverage a long version of the coat is available, as well as kid’s sizes.

Key specs – Fill power: N/A; Main material: synthetic; Weight: 400g; Water resistant: Yes; Pockets: 2

Buy women’s from Dare2B

5. Canada Goose Hybridge Down hooded coat for men and women: The best luxury option for cold conditions

Price: £850 | Buy men’s | women’s from Canada Goose

Eye-wateringly expensive it may be, but the Hybridge is a plush and high-performing down coat, so you do get a lot of bang for your buck. If you can afford to spend serious money, it’s an excellent choice that should last you forever if you take good care of it.

Canada Goose specialises in warm clothing for extremely cold temperatures and the Hybridge is definitely the thickest and best-padded jacket on our list, working well as a standalone winter jacket and as an outer layer for snow sports as well as under a waterproof coat. The outer shell is effectively water-repellent and the down used is humanely sourced.

Key specs – Fill power: 750; Main material: White duck down; Weight: 650g; Water resistant: Yes; Pockets: 3

Buy men’s from Canada GooseBuy women’s from Canada Goose

6. 66 North Dyngja Jacket for men and women: The best warm down jacket

Price: From £395 | Buy now from 66 North

If you don’t mind splashing your cash and you’re in the market for a really fantastic warm jacket, try 66 North’s chunky, gender-neutral Dyngja for size.

This boxy, retro-inspired insulated coat looks very stylish in the city, but where it really excels is in the cold, when responsibly-sourced duck down gives reliable warmth around the torso even in sub-zero temperatures (we’d expect nothing less from clothing designed in Iceland).

This is our pick of the pack if you want a coat style rather than a mid layer, if you’re planning a trip to Arctic conditions this winter or if you just want to be really warm next time you’re walking the dog on a bitterly cold morning. A long and a cropped version are also available.

Key specs – Fill power: 700; Main material: Duck Down; Weight: 400g; Water resistant: Yes; Pockets: 2

Buy now from 66 North

7. Keela Belay Pro insulated jacket for men and women: The best insulated jacket for staying active

Price: £109.95 | Buy men’s | Buy women’s from Keela

We always rate Keela’s no-fuss outdoor kit, and their Belay Pro Jacket is everything we’d expect from the British brand. This jacket is surprisingly lightweight and packable, but still packs a punch on cold days thanks to plenty of PrimaLoft synthetic insulation. Adjustable cuffs and hem trap in heat well, making the Belay Pro ideal for adding warmth without bulk for climbing, hiking and camping. The black version is smart enough to pop on for the commute, too. The fit is definitely small here – we’d recommend sizing up. You can also choose the ‘Reclaimed’ version of this jacket (, made from fabric seconds – a great way to make your purchase more eco-friendly.

Key specs – Fill power: N/A; Main material: Primaloft Gold; Weight: 580g; Water resistant: Yes; Pockets: 2

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8. Fjallraven Expedition Pack Down Jacket for men and women: The best insulated jacket for versatility

Price: £280 | Buy men’s | Buy women’s from Fjallraven

You can rely on Swedish brand Fjallraven’s beautifully made outdoor clothing, and their deliciously soft Expedition Pack Down jacket is no exception. It may be one of the more expensive jackets on our list, but you’re paying for quality here.

The Expedition Pack is slim-fitting and lightweight at just 355g for the female jacket. It fits easily under a heavier coat or waterproof, packs away into its own pocket, but is still reliably warm when the mercury falls. Internal and external pockets hold all your essentials, and the goose down and feather insulation is ethically sourced and fully traceable.

If you want something for even colder conditions, then a hooded version is also available, and the jacket comes in various primary colours to suit any tastes.

Key specs – Fill power: 700; Main material: goose down; Weight: 355g; Water resistant: No; Pockets: 3

Buy men’s from Fjallraven

Buy women’s from Fjallraven

9. Montane Anti Freeze XT Jacket for men and women: The best insulated jacket overall

Price: £250 | Buy men’s | Buy women’s from Montane

Meet the jacket that ticks all the boxes this year – Montane’s high-performing Anti-Freeze XT. This down-filled jacket is the Goldilocks of our list – it’s lightweight and packable into its own stuff sack when you’re on the go, but still warm and substantial to wear when you cool down. We love the comfy high neck and adjustable hood, and the soft silky lining, which feels lovely to wear all day. The outer material is the double whammy – recycled and water-resistant. A true go-anywhere down jacket you’ll find yourself wearing daily. If you want something a shade less bulky for getting active, the original Anti Freeze is a lighter version of the XT that works well as a mid layer.

Key specs – Fill power: 750; Main material: down; Weight: 480g; Water resistant: Yes; Pockets: 2, zipped

Buy men’s from Montane Buy women’s from Montane