Best Packable Down Vests For Travel & Hiking 2019

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When it comes to versatile and lightweight travel clothing down vests are one of my favorite pieces of gear to pack for any trip.

A packable down vest paired with a lightweight rain jacket is the ultimate weapon against cold and wet weather when traveling or spending time outdoors.

If you’re not already savvy with down feather filling it provides excellent insulation that gives great warmth even in the coldest temperatures. Moreover, these vests can be compressed and folded to a very small size making them extremely packable.

Down feathers are also one of the lightest insulation materials, making the vest extremely lightweight and the perfect piece of travel gear and most of all, easy to carry while traveling.

Comparison of the Best Down Vests

NameImageWeightFill PowerPriceOur Rating
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Vest
5 oz800See It4.5
Arc'teryx Cerium LT Vest
5.8 oz850See It5
Patagonia Ultralight Down Vest
6.3 oz800See It5
REI Co-op Down Vest
7.5 oz650See It4.5
The North Face Nuptse Down Vest
16.2 oz700See It4
Patagonia Down Sweater Vest
9.8 oz800See It4
Marmot Zeus Down Vest
10.1 oz700See It4
Outdoor Research Transcendent Vest
9.4 oz650See It4.5
Mountain Hardwear Ratio Down Vest
10.3 oz650See It4
Rab Microlight Vest
10.9 oz750See It5
32 Degrees Nano Light Packable Down Vest
n/a650See It4
Eddie Bauer Downlight StormDown Vest
n/a800See It4
KUHL Spyfire Down Vest
n/a800See It4.5
Columbia Voodoo Falls 590 Turbodown Vest
16 oz550See It3.5


Why Are Down Vests Ideal for Traveling?

For traveling, I’ve found down vests are a great choice for any trip during fall, spring, or even winter when layering with an outer shell (check out some of my favorite lightweight rain jackets here).

Down vests standout because they are incredibly warm, lightweight, and versatile. You can pack them on almost any trip that may encounter cooler temperatures, involves time up in the mountains or higher latitudes.

Plus, they are super packable that they barely take up any space in your luggage.

Quick Guide: How Choose Which Down Vest to Buy

Down vests are available in different volumes and quality of down, which means you can get a vest suited for just cool or downright cold temperatures.

The best part is that per ounce down typically provides greater warmth than synthetic insulation types.

Being packable and lightweight, it also means that they are an easy piece of gear to fit in your bag and carry along on just a short outing.

A good down vest has the following features:

  • Lightweight: Lightweight = easier to carry and less of a burden.
  • Warm: More down fill power means more warmth.
  • Packable: They are packable and have high portability.
  • Pockets/hoods: These extra features can prove to be very handy for storage and keeping you extra warm.

The following things should be avoided while buying a down vest as it greatly decreases the performance:

  • Low quality fabric: If the fabric is of low quality it may not be very durable and a hole in a down vest means losing feathers. Look for a vest constructed with rip-stop fabric.
  • No warmth when wet: The biggest flaw of down insulation is that it loses its insulating capacity when wet, however, some chemically treated types of down fill can solve this issue but it may make you spend some more money.

That being said, below I’ve chosen some of what I think are the best down vest available on the market. For sure you can find a vest that is the right fit for your type of travel.

Down Vest Reviews – Men’s & Women’s

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Vest

The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Vest is one of the best down vests on the market. They are extremely lightweight and perfect for layering. They also have great down fill power, so they are super warm in even the coldest seasons.

Down filled vests are also incredibly packable. This makes it easy to store them in a backpack during a multi-day hike when their extra insulation is not needed. To make it even easier to take this down vest anywhere, it can be compressed into its own pocket for easy storage.

As for pockets, there are two zippered hand pockets for a bit of warmth or to store your gear. It also has a high-quality build, so this vest has everything you need. It even has great reviews from the users. Ideal vest for any type of use, this packable down vest comes in both men’s and women’s sizes.


  • Fill power: 800 q shield down fill
  • Weight: 5 oz
  • Shell Material: Whisperer (nylon ripstop)
  • Pockets: 2 hand pockets
  • Features: Stuffs into hand pocket, low-profile quilt pattern, interior toggle hem, built-in loop
  • Best For: Alpine climbing
  • Read More Reviews & Buy It Here: [  Men’s |  Women’s ]

Arc’teryx Cerium LT Vest

The Arc’teryx Cerium LT Vest is an easy to pack vest that is lightweight as well. It stuffs easily into it’s own zippered pocket when not in use, so you can carry it with you wherever you go. And you’ll want to carry it since this packable down vest is made for any type of use.

The high fill power provides great warmth and comfort. It even uses Down Composite Mapping combined with strategically placed Coreloft insulation in the areas prone to moisture. This keeps you dry even in damp weather.

One thing that should be noted is that some people had issues with the size as the vest seemed slightly smaller for some users. But there are both women’s and men’s down vests available, with three colors each to choose from.

  • Fill power: 850 European white goose down fill
  • Weight: 5.8 oz
  • Shell Material: Airetica Nylon, DWR treatment
  • Pockets: 2 zippered hand pockets
  • Features: DWR finish, stuffs into hand pocket, adjustable drawcord hem
  • Best For: Hiking, climbing, outdoors, all-round use
  • Read More Reviews & Buy It Here: [  Men’s |  Women’s ]

Patagonia Ultralight Down Vest

This Patagonia outdoor vest really lives up to its name. It is a lightweight vest, weighing in at just over 6 ounces. Since it is great for all types of general use and outdoor adventures, you’ll easily fit it into your budget.

On the Patagonia Ultralight Down Vest 800 down fill provides enough warmth for most temperatures. This down vest for hiking also uses variegated channels for stability and side panels to help the vest hold its shape. Other features include a drawcord hem for locking out the cold, two zippered hand pockets, and a handy stuff sack for quick storage.

Patagonia’s lightweight packable down vest is recommended for hiking and camping but is also sleek enough for hitting the city. Very versatile and stylish in use.

  • Fill power: 800 down fill
  • Weight: 6.3 oz
  • Shell Material: 100% rip stop nylon with DWR treatment
  • Pockets: 2 zippered hand pockets
  • Features: Lifetime warranty, DWR finish, drawcord hem, stuff sack
  • Best For: Hiking, Camping
  • Read More Reviews & Buy It Here: [  Men’s  |  Women’s ]

REI Co-op Down Vest

If you need decent gear but are on a budget, this REI down vest is a great option. It has a low price tag without skimping on quality. The shell is durable nylon with a DWR finish, so it keeps you dry in light rain and snow. It is also wind-resistant for extra warmth.

The inside is ripstop polyester for added strength. The 650 down fill is lightweight but thick enough to keep you warm in most temperatures. When not in use, this cheap down vest has its own stuff sack to make storage a breeze.

There are REI women’s vest and REI men’s down vest options available, so everyone has the right fit and size for the most comfortable trip possible. There are also a wide variety of colors, making this the best down vest in terms of personal style.

Tech Specs

  • Fill Power: 650-fill-power down
  • Weight: 7.5 oz
  • Shell Material: Nylon with DWR treatment
  • Pockets: 2 zippered hand pockets
  • Features: DWR finish, stuffs into hand pocket
  • Best For: Hiking, Casual
  • Read More Reviews & Buy It Here: [  Men’sWomen’s ]

The North Face Nuptse Down Vest

The The North Face Nuptse Vest is ideal for layering under a shell. It works great with “The North Face” equipment. The fill power is on the lower side but using it as a layer can compensate for this. Another drawback is that it is not as lightweight as some of the other down hiking vests mentioned above.

But this North Face 700 fill down vest is still worth a look. It is versatile, making it a great addition to your hiking, camping, or backpacking gear. This light down vest is also great for casual trips around town.

Another great feature of the Nuptse down vest is the media compatible internal chest pocket that also doubles as a stuff sack. There are also two zippered pockets to warm your hands or carry a few extra items you don’t want to leave behind.

  • Fill power: 700 down fill
  • Weight: 16.2 oz
  • Shell Material: Nylon plain weave
  • Pockets: 2 zippered hand pockets, internal chest pocket
  • Features: Stuffs into internal pocket, hem cinch cord, media compatible
  • Best For: Backpacking, hiking, casual
  • Read More Reviews & Buy It Here: [  Men’s |  Women’s ]


Arc’teryx Cerium SL Vest

The Arc’teryx Cerium SL Vest may be the best lightweight down vest available, weighing only 4.1 oz.

But even with that low weight, it still provides you with great warmth, thanks to the good down fill power. The wind resistant fabric keeps you safe from the chilly air and the DWR finish repels water to keep you dry in light rain or snow.

The low profile collar is insulated and the rear hem is elasticized to seal out any cold drafts that could sneak up under your down vest for men and women. There is a chin guard to protect you from the front zipper.

These are great men’s and women’s down-filled vests, with the only drawback being that they do not have hand pockets. But there is one zippered chest pocket for your smaller items.

  • Fill power: 850 down fill + synthetic insulation
  • Weight: 4.1 oz.
  • Shell Material: Wind-resistant Arato-7 polyester
  • Pockets: 1 zippered chest pocket
  • Features: Chin guard, insulated collar, DWR finish, stuff sack
  • Best For: All-round, climbing, backpacking
  • Read More Reviews & Buy It Here: [  Men’s |  Women’s ]

Patagonia Down Sweater Vest

These Patagonia down vests for men and women use recycled material, making it eco-friendly. The price is also low when compared to some other of the best down vests, which makes it more affordable for those on a budget.

It includes great features, like the internal pocket that doubles as a stuff sack, the moisture wicking interior storm flap, the zipper garage for chin protection, and the elastic armholes to lock in your body heat.

The performance of this hiking vest with pockets is great since it works in a large range of temperatures. From summer to skiing trips this down vest for travel is the perfect addition. Overall, a versatile and well-priced vest.

  • Fill power: 800 down fill
  • Weight: 9.8 oz
  • Shell Material: Recycled polyester shell with DWR treatment
  • Pockets: 2 zippered hand pockets plus one internal
  • Features: DWR finish, zipper garage, adjustable hem, interior storm flap, stuffs in internal pocket, carabiner clip-in loop
  • Best For: Everyday, camping, travel, backpacking
  • Read More Reviews & Buy It Here: [  Men’s |  Women’s ]

Marmot Zeus Down Vest

The Marmot Zeus Down Men’s Vest is a medium to light weight vest with a good amount of down fill. The Women’s down vest version is called the Marmot Jena Vest. It is ideal for use in medium to low temperatures, but is not made for extremely low temperatures. This men’s down vest is great when used for layering under a shell. This makes it a good vest for general, everyday use.

For features, this outdoor men’s vest includes a high protective collar and an elastic drawcord hem to keep the cold air from seeping underneath and chilling you on the inside. There are two zippered hand pockets, which double as a stuff sack for easy portability.

The polyester ripstop fabric keeps tears from spreading if you should run into some rougher surfaces. Though not the most lightweight packable down vest around, the Marmot Zeus model is worth checking out.

  • Fill power: 700 down fill
  • Weight: 10.1 oz
  • Shell Material: Ripstop polyester, DWR treatment
  • Pockets: 2 zippered hand pockets
  • Features: DWR finish, stuffs into pocket, elastic drawcord hem
  • Best For: Camping, hiking, travel, skiing
  • Read More Reviews & Buy It Here: [  Men’s |  Women’s ]

Outdoor Research Transcendent Vest

The Outdoor Research Transcendent men’s goose down vest has lower fill power than some other models but still gives you a comfortably warm layer when the temperature drops. It is great for cross-country treks or those nights gathered around the fire at camp.

The polyester ripstop shell has an inner nylon taffeta lining. These insulated vests also have a brushed tricot-lined collar and the same inside the pockets for a soft, comfortable feel against your neck and the backs of your hands. Plus they provide you with a bit of extra warmth.

The best down vest should also have a few extras. Outdoor Research’s outdoor vest for men includes an internal front storm flap to keep out the wind, a carabiner loop, and a key clip to make sure you don’t lose your keys on the trail.

Tech Specs

  • Fill Power: 650 goose down fill
  • Weight: 9.4 oz
  • Shell Material: Polyester ripstop
  • Pockets: 2 zippered hand pockets, 1 chest pocket
  • Features: Stuffs into right hand pocket, carabiner loop, key clip, elastic drawcord hem, brushed tricot-lined collar, water and wind resistant
  • Best For: Outdoors, hiking, camping, travel
  • Read More Reviews & Buy It Here: [  Men’s |  Women’s ]

Mountain Hardwear Ratio Down Vest

This Mountain Hardwear vest is another general purpose vest designed for everyday use. It is good for hiking and backpacking.

The best hiking vest also has good fill power and works well enough even when wet. Water resistant material proves to be a great feature, with the Q Shield down retaining its heat and staying lofty for extra warmth.

The large quilted channels trap even more of your body heat, so you won’t get a chill during your travels if the temperature drops. There are a couple of handwarmer pockets on this Mountain Hardwear down vest to keep your hands toasty or to hold a few essentials during your travels.

These men’s and women’s outdoor vests are good for general use but not recommended for extremely low temperatures.

Tech Specs:

  • Fill power: 650 down fill
  • Weight: 10.3 oz
  • Shell Material: Hi five ripstop nylon
  • Pockets: 2 zippered hand pockets
  • Features: Water-resistant
  • Best For: Backpacking, hiking
  • Read More Reviews & Buy It Here: [  Men’s |  Women’s ]

Rab Microlight Vest

Goose down vests for men and women, like the Rab Microlight Vest, are warm enough to use alone or great for layering with other gear for those icy alpine temperatures. This one has decent fill power and uses lightweight material to keep from weighing you down during your adventures.

The Lycra bound armholes of the best down vest from Rab hold tight to your shoulders, but still give you the room you need to move comfortably. The hem drawcord locks in your body heat and the slim fit reduces the bulk when maneuverability is essential.

The best down vest for women and men is also portable. Since the chest pocket of the Microlight doubles as a stuff sack, you can tuck this away into your pack or under the seat of your car until you need it.

Tech Specs

  • Fill Power: 750 European goose down fill
  • Weight: 10.9 oz
  • Shell Material: Pertex Microlight (nylon)
  • Pockets: 2 zippered hand pockets, plus chest pocket
  • Features: Stuffs into chest pocket, hem drawcord, weather-resistant, insulated zip baffle, chin guard
  • Best For: Outdoors, hiking, travel, climbing
  • Read More Reviews & Buy It Here: [  Men’s |  Women’s ]

32 Degrees Nano Light Packable Down Vest

You don’t need to spend a fortune when cheap down vests offer the same quality as the pricier models. The 32 Degrees Nano women’s and men’s down filled vests have decent fill power, durable weather-resistant material, and are lightweight, making them a great addition to your outdoor gear.

These outdoor vests for men and women come with their own handy packable bag to store your vest when you’re not wearing it. This also makes it easy to travel with since the small bag can fit almost anywhere.

The stand-up collar protects your neck from those icy winds and there are two zippered hand pockets to keep your fingers warm on those cool days. For the picky travelers, there are a wide variety of colors available to meet your specific tastes.

Tech Specs

  • Fill Power: 650 down fill
  • Weight: N/A
  • Shell Material: Nylon and polyester
  • Pockets: 2 zippered hand pockets
  • Features: Water-resistant, stuff sack
  • Best For: Everyday, outdoors, hiking
  • Read More Reviews & Buy It Here: [  Men’sWomen’s ]

Eddie Bauer Downlight StormDown Vest

Men’s lightweight outdoor vests need to be versatile enough for any type of weather. The [easyazon_link keywords=”Eddie Bauer Downlight StormDown Vest” locale=”US” tag=”downvests-20″]Eddie Bauer Downlight StormDown Vest[/easyazon_link] vest is warm enough to withstand lower temperature.

You can layer it comfortably over midweight layers, thanks to its classic design, or wear it on its own when the weather warms up but still warrants a layer of insulation.

The high 800 fill StormDown insulation is light and ultra-warm but is compressed enough to keep the bulk to a minimum. The shell of these men’s down vests is durable polyester ripstop for long-lasting wear. It also has a DWR finish to repel moisture, keeping you dry even in damp weather.

As well as the two hand pockets, there is also a zippered chest pocket with a media port, so you can listen to music without any cords dangling in your way. There are also StormDown women’s down vest sizes available.

Tech Specs

  • Fill Power: 800 Stormdown fill
  • Weight: N/A
  • Shell Material: Polyester ripstop
  • Pockets: 2 zippered hand pockets and 1 zippered chest pocket
  • Features: DWR finish, windproof, stuffs into left hand pocket, carabiner clip-in loop, drawcord waist, media compatible
  • Best For: Climbing, Mountaineering
  • Read More Reviews & Buy It Here: [  Men’s |  Women’s ]

KUHL Spyfire Down Vest

The best vest for men needs to be strong enough to withstand vigorous use, whether for work or play. The KUHL Spyfire outdoor vest for men has a high filament nylon shell that is soft to the touch but incredibly strong. The DWR finish keeps you dry. There are also reinforced shoulders to protect against sharp ski edges or the rubbing of backpack straps.

For comfort, the high fill power keeps you extra warm. as do the larger baffles on the front and back of this lightweight down vest. But to keep you from overheating, there are stretch-knit panels under the arms to release heat when you start to work up a sweat.

The best down vest also needs some storage. The Spyfire has 4 outer pockets and one internal mesh pouch. A reflective ribbon keeps the zipper from catching on the fabric while keeping you visible.

Tech Specs

  • Fill Power: 800 goose down fill
  • Weight: N/A
  • Shell Material: High Filament Nylon
  • Pockets: 2 zippered hand pockets, 2 zippered chest pocket, inside mesh pocket
  • Features: DWR finish, reinforced shoulders and collar, reflective ribbon
  • Best For: Skiing, Backpacking, Hiking
  • Read More Reviews & Buy It Here: [  Men’sWomen’s ]

Columbia Voodoo Falls 590 Turbodown Vest

The fill power on this model may not make it the lightest down vest available, but it is still great for cool temperatures or when layered with other garments.

Even on its own, this men’s and women’s hiking vest will still lock in your heat, thanks to the Omni-Heat thermal reflective shell, the armhole binding elastic, and the drawcord hem.

The fabric is also water-resistant, so it will repel light rain or snow, though may not stand up to heavy moisture. These women’s and men’s down vests also have a couple zippered hand pockets plus an interior security pocket, so you should have room for all your smaller essentials.

If variety is your thing, the best down vest will give you plenty of color options, and this one has quite a few for both genders.

Tech Specs

  • Fill Power: 550 down fill
  • Weight: 16 oz
  • Shell Material: Omni-Heat Reflective Polyester
  • Pockets: 2 zippered hand pockets, interior security pocket
  • Features: Water resistant, drawcord adjustable hem
  • Best For: Trail
  • Read More Reviews & Buy It Here: [  Men’s |  Women’s ]

Buying Guide – Find The Best Down Vest for Travel & Outdoors

Why Get and When to Use a Down Vest?

There are a few reasons to get yourself the best down vest you can find. They can be used in cooler temperatures when traveling outdoors and a regular t-shirt or sweater just isn’t warm enough. When winter comes, they are excellent for layering with your other cold weather gear.

These warm vests for men and women give you some insulation without adding too much bulk. They lock the heat in at your core while still giving you the maneuverability you need when skiing, hiking, or chopping wood.

But these aren’t just for outdoor sports. A down vest for travel is a great option. Rather than wearing your bulky coat on a long car trip or when doing some shopping around town, you can wear the best lightweight down vest for extra comfort without overheating.

Understanding Down Fill Power Ratings – Weight vs. Warmth

When we talk about down fill power, this refers to the measure of loft in the down vest. The measure is in numbers, like 650, 700, or 800 fill power. The higher the number, the greater the fill power. This means the down will trap more air, giving you more insulation.

But just because your vest has a high fill power, it doesn’t mean you have the best down jacket in terms of warmth. A hiking vest with 650 down fill can be warmer than one with a higher number if it contains more down. The extra down adds more weight, making it a heavier vest and adding more warmth.

Benefits of Down Insulation

There is one main benefit to using down insulation when compared to synthetic insulation. That is the warmth to weight ratio. Down keeps you 3 times warmer than synthetic insulation, but is much lighter.

Down can also be compressed, making the best down vest less bulky to wear. They are even packable, allowing you to squeeze them down to a small size for storage during travel. This way, you can have that extra layer when you need it, or store it in your pack when the day warms up.

The downside of a men’s and women’s down vests is the fact that they don’t handle moisture well. When down gets wet, it can’t provide you with the same amount of warmth as when dry.

Synthetic insulation, though heavier, stays warm even when it’s wet. This type is also cheaper, so those on a budget may prefer vests that use this type.

What to Consider When Choosing a Down Vest

Type of Use

When it comes to the best down vest, there is one for pretty much every type of outdoor activity you can imagine. They make great insulators for camping, hiking, or backpacking in the spring and fall when a full jacket may be too warm and bulky.

But you can also use your outdoor vest for your favorite winter activities. If you like to ski or do some alpine climbing, you need to move your arms freely. Having a warm down vest on over some lighter layers gives you this ability. And if the day turns icy, you can even throw a coat over top of your vest to keep you extra warm.

For travel by car or plane, a down vest is an excellent choice. You only need the warmth when outside, so if you’re in the car or airport for hours, you won’t overheat, thanks to the lighter layers. These vests even make great everyday wear for running errands or doing some shopping.


Down is the warmest type of insulation around, which is why down vests have become so popular. But they only keep your core warm, while your arms are still exposed to the elements.

That’s why you need to layer your clothing beneath your vest during the spring and fall. The best down vest will lock in your body heat, while still remaining breathable to reduce sweating.

In the winter, you may need thicker layers for your alpine adventures or cross-country ski trips. The vests will give you the range of motion you need while keeping you warm on those cold, snowy days, as long as you’re active. But for standing still or little movement, you may want to upgrade to a full jacket for that extra warmth.

To ensure you have a great warm down vest, make sure it has a high down fill power, plus is made using quality shell materials. Even the design of the collar, hem, and zipper can all add to a vest’s warmth.

Down Fill Power

As we discussed above, the down fill power of both a women’s and a men’s hiking vest refers to how much warmth the down insulation will provide for its weight. These usually range between 500 and 900 down fill.

These numbers aren’t random. They refer to the number of cubic inches a single ounce of down will occupy. Higher numbers will have more loft, which means that vest will be warmer than one with lower fill power.

Down hiking vests usually range between 650 and 800 down fill, though you may find a few that go a bit lower. These are probably best for higher temperatures in the warmer months than for icy winter activities.

Down Type

There are two birds that produce the down used for these types of vests, duck and goose. Though both are great for insulation, goose down has a few added benefits. Since goose down comes from older, bigger birds, their clusters are larger, giving you higher fill power. This also helps the down to be more resilient and much stronger.

Another benefit of goose down is they have less of an odor than duck down. This is due to the difference in the diet of these birds. Of course, duck down is still a quality insulator, but goose down is superior and more highly prized.

There are also other factors for down type though. There is regular down, which has no treatments of any kind. Then there is hydrophobic down, which gives you a decent amount of warmth even if it gets wet. This treatment isn’t perfect, and the down isn’t as warm wet as it is when completely dry. But hydrophobic down does decrease the loss of heat significantly.

Baffle Design

You may have noticed that women’s and men’s outdoor vests are quilted, with seams running across the vest from the collar down to the hem. This isn’t about style, it is to keep the down from dropping to the bottom of the vest and leaving your upper body in the cold. You can read up more here on why down is such a good insulator.

These quilted patterns are called box baffles, and their design is the best way to keep the down in place. This also optimizes the loft as well as the warmth of the best down vest.

Baffles can be used in two different ways. Some of the best vest manufacturers use three-dimensional cubes of rectangles sewn into the outer layer of the vest, while others sew them through to the lining.

Either way, the baffle design gives you a much warmer hiking vest. The downside is that this may raise the price of the vest.


Whether your sport of choice is hiking, backpacking, skiing, or climbing, you need lightweight gear to keep you moving comfortably. The best down vest for women or men is no exception. The lighter it is, the longer you can spend outside enjoying yourself.

This is one of the biggest advantages of a down vest over a bulky coat. It is much lighter to wear while providing you with the insulation you need to stay warm on those chilly days. Even vests with higher fill power won’t add too much extra weight to your back and shoulders. Many models weigh in at less than a pound, so you can’t go wrong with one of these as part of your outdoor gear.


Everyone has their own personal style they want to stick with, and your outdoor gear has to fit in with your tastes or you won’t enjoy wearing it. The best hiking vest companies have taken this into account.

These models come in a wider variety of colors, both solid and two-tone for those who like a bit of a mix. These colors can range from darker colors to blend into the shadows when trying to enjoy the natural scenery to bright ones that will be visible to everyone around you.

Since there are both ladies down vests and men’s down vests available in most brands, the styles usually fit the gender as well. You can get a men’s black down vest and a women’s white down vest, or vice versa. Or you can get matching ones with your partner if you prefer to share your style.


As well as being lightweight and warm, the best down vest is also one that is compressible. This makes it easier to pack it for travel, whether you’re going out for the day or spending a week camping in the woods.

That’s why many of these down vests can be packed down into a stuff sack. These are usually included for added convenience. Some manufacturers even use one of the hand pockets as a stuff sack, so you don’t even need to carry the extra bag with you. This way, you won’t lose it on the road.

For campers or backpackers, this is the best option. You can pack your lightweight down vest into a bag or backpack and carry it with you wherever you go. Or if you’re wearing it and the weather warms up, you can quickly compress it, stuff it, and store it away until you need it again.

Outer Shell Material

The outer shells of most of the best down vests around are usually made of either polyester or nylon. Each of these has its own benefits, depending on where you plan on wearing it.

Polyester is quite strong and durable. It resists abrasions, repels moisture, and dries quickly. It also won’t fade, which is important if you are spending a lot of time under the sun.

Nylon is also durable and abrasion resistant, but is also thinner and more flexible, making it a better choice for those who need extra maneuverability. This fabric is also stain resistant, though it fades quickly if exposed to sunlight for too long.

Either of these choices still gives you a great women’s and men’s warm vest for any type of outdoor adventure you plan.


Though the down vests of the past were quite bulky to wear, these days, they have reduced their thickness, making them much more comfortable. There are also different types that fit in different ways.

Some brands have a more boxy type of vest, which makes them easier for those of all body types to find the right size. For those who lead a more athletic lifestyle, there are snugger, more streamlined fits, which hug the natural curves of your body. This gives you more arm room while cutting wind resistance.

Sizing is also something to keep an eye on. One companies best down vest sizes may run a bit smaller than another’s, so be sure to try it on first. You may even want to wear a few layers when you do so, to ensure your new vest will fit over them when the weather cools down.

Pockets & Cuffs

If you plan on wearing the best down vest with a backpack or climbing harness, you need to make sure you have pockets that are accessible. Hand pockets are a given, as it is rare for the best hiking vest to be without them.

But some models also add one or two chest pockets as well, for added convenience. Just make sure the zippers won’t be hidden under any straps, or you won’t be able to get anything out of them.

For a bit of extra storage, there are a few outdoor vests with pockets on the inside as well. Sometimes these are mesh pouches, which are easily accessed. But for security’s sake, a zippered one is the best choice.

A lot of your warmth can escape through your armholes, which is why some brands have added elastic cuffs to this area. They help lock in your body heat, while still giving you great mobility.

Hybrid Vests

Hybrid vests are made to give you a warmer layer to wear out in the cold without adding extra weight you may not want. They usually use down to insulate the vest, but add in some other synthetic materials to increase the warmth in some key areas.

For instance, if you’re a skier riding an icy chairlift, a hybrid may use some down along with a thicker layer of fleece over your back and shoulders to give you an extra warm barrier against the cold surface. The best down vest may also use some thicker layers around the bottom half where cold air could seep underneath the hem.


No matter what type of fabric you have chosen for your down vest, you want it to be as strong as possible. That’s why ripstop fabric is the best. Both nylon and polyester can be ripstop, which means if you get a hole or tear in the fabric, it won’t spread any farther.

This makes it easier to repair since you’ll only be sewing up a small area instead of rushing to fix a larger one before the best down vest becomes completely unusable.

You also want to make sure your zipper isn’t located too close to the fabric of the coat. If there isn’t enough room between them, the zipper could get caught there, damaging the fabric, the zipper, or both.

Other Features

There are a few other features to look for in the best down vest. Though they won’t make or break the vest, they’ll make it more comfortable to wear.

A chin guard is one. This protects your skin from the zipper, so you won’t get caught in it when you open or close your vest. Another is an elastic or drawstring hem. Having a cinch down vest will help lock in your body heat while keeping the cold air out.

A carabiner clip-in loop is handy for those who like to climb. It can be used with a carabiner or a harness, depending on your need. A keyring is also a great addition, so you won’t lose those during your travels.

A stuff sack or stuffable pocket is another great option, to pack your best vest for men and women when you are traveling or the weather becomes too warm to wear it.


With so many different types and brands out there, it may be hard to decide which one is the best down vest for the price you’ll be paying. To determine this, you need to consider what you’ll be using your vest for, how often you’ll wear it, and which features you’ll need to meet your adventurous requirements.

Those hiking vests with higher fill power may offer you more warmth, but this also raises the cost. Ripstop fabric usually costs more than regular material, and polyester is cheaper than nylon. Extra features will also add to the price.

If money is no object, you could pay up to $400.00 for the best down vest available. But for those on a budget, there are still great down vests on the market for a fraction of the cost.

Tips for Caring for Down

How to Wash Your Down Vest

When it comes to cleaning your down vest, you should first look at the directions on the tag inside. These give you the best instructions on how to do so properly without damaging the fill.

But for machine-washable down vests, you should also follow this advice. First, find the right detergent for down products. It will tell you on the label whether or not this liquid is designed to wash down safely. If down isn’t listed there, pick a different detergent. Do not use bleach or fabric softener.

Put your down vest in the washing machine. Set the dial to the gentle cycle, using only cold water. After the machine runs its entire cycle, remove the vest. You can air dry it by hanging it or laying it flat, depending on the space you have available. You can also put it in the dryer, as long as you use either low or no heat. Don’t iron it afterward, as this could cause irreparable damage.

How to Restore Loft in Your Down Vest

Just washing the best down vest can remove the dirt and sweat that may have accumulated and de-fluffed it. After washing it as stated above, putting it in the dryer can help increase the loft. Put it in the dryer, on low or no heat. To increase the fluffing, throw in a couple of dryer balls or tennis balls. This will speed up the process.

If your down vest is still looking a bit thin, check for any tears or holes. Feathers can leak out of these areas, decreasing your vests loft. Replace any feathers you find, then repair the hole using fabric repair tape or fabric glue.

Another way to keep your women’s or men’s lightweight down vest looking great is to store it properly. Though a stuff sack may be included, this is only good for short-term storage. If you keep your vest bunched up all the time, the feathers will stick together.

When you open it up again, there will be thicker spots in some areas and thinner ones in others that let the cold in. So, for longer storage, keep it loose and unfurled.

The Bottom Line

The best down vest can be a great addition to your spring, fall, and winter gear. They are extremely versatile, giving you a great layering piece you can use for outdoor sports, work, household chores, or day to day activities around the city.

Because they are lightweight, you won’t have to worry about bulky fabric restricting your movements. But they are also incredibly warm, giving you the insulation you need to keep from freezing on those chilly days.

For a high fill power, the Arc’teryx Cerium LT Vest has 850 down fill, which is the highest on our list. It is an extra warm vest for all weather wear, with its DWR finish and adjustable drawcord hem adding to its heat-storing ability. It also has a decent price tag, though it doesn’t have the extra features found in some other models.

Media compatibility has become an essential feature to many people, even those who want to spend their time enjoying the real world instead of the one on their screen. To add a soundtrack to your adventures, a media compatible pocket is a must. The North Face Nuptse Down Vest and the Eddie Bauer Downlight StormDown Vest both have media ports in their internal pockets to slip that headphone cord through.

If you are interested in getting yourself one of the best down vests around, but can’t afford a top of the line model, the 32 Degrees Nano Light Packable Down Vesthas the lowest price tag on our list. It doesn’t have a lot of extras but is water-resistant and warm enough for most mid to low temperature days.

You can also read our guides to the top backpacking tents, the best gloves for hiking and other recommended travel products here.

Extra tips on how to maximize your rewards

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About The Author

Rand Shoaf

Rand Shoaf

Introduced to traveling at a young age, Rand has since traveled to over 45 countries. Learning how to maximize credit card sign-up bonuses in college has allowed him to earn millions of travel miles and points. Using the same tips and tricks he writes about here has ultimately allowed him to explore the word for pennies on the dollar.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, and recommendations on this site are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any bank, card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. You can read our advertiser disclosure here.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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