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Best Down Jackets for Hiking 2023

The Best Down Hiking Jacket

Do you need a reliable jacket for your next hiking trip? A down hiking jacket may be just what you need. So, if you're wondering what makes a good down hiking jacket or important factors to consider when buying one, read on to discover everything you need to know about down hiking jackets.

What is a Down Hiking Jacket?

When it comes to outdoor activities, having the right gear can make all the difference. One of the most vital pieces of gear, especially in colder temperatures, is a down hiking jacket. These jackets are designed to provide warmth and protection while giving maximum mobility to those exploring the outdoors. 

At its core, a down hiking jacket is a type of insulated coat that is designed to be worn during outdoor activities in cold weather. It's called a down jacket because it uses down feathers from geese or ducks to provide insulation. These feathers are incredibly light and fluffy, making them an excellent insulator while still allowing for mobility.

Down jackets provide exceptional insulation, even in extremely chilly conditions, while still remaining lightweight and portable. This characteristic makes them a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts and hikers that need reliable warmth without the added hassle of carrying heavier winter jackets or coats. Some down jackets are even designed to be packable, so hikers can add or remove layers from their backpack throughout the course of their hike.

The Different Types of Down Hiking Jackets

One of the best things about down jackets is the sheer variety of styles and designs, each suited for different situations and outdoor needs. Here are some of the different types of down hiking jackets available:

1. Lightweight Down Jackets

If you're looking for a down hiking jacket, lightweight models are a popular choice. These jackets are designed to provide warmth without being bulky, making them ideal for hiking and backpacking, where you need to move around easily. They are also great for layering, as they can be worn under a shell or rain jacket to provide extra insulation. And going with a lightweight down jacket means they can be added to your pack, just in case you need the added warmth along the way.

2. Expedition Down Jackets

Expedition down jackets are designed to provide maximum warmth in the harshest of weather conditions. These jackets are typically bulkier and heavier than lightweight models, but offer superior insulation and protection in extreme temperatures. They often feature a robust shell to provide additional protection against blowing wind and snow, and may also have a detachable hood to help protect your head and face.

3. Hooded Down Jackets

Compared to a traditional down hiking jacket, hooded down jackets are great for providing extra warmth and protection against wind, snow, and rain. They can be made with a detachable or fixed hood, to suit different needs and preferences. A detachable hood gives you greater flexibility for your specific trail needs and provides greater comfort in varying of weather conditions.

4. Water-Resistant Down Jackets

Water-resistant down jackets are designed to protect against light rain and snow. This feature is achieved by applying a waterproof coating or DWR (Durable Water Repellent) treatment to the jacket shell. Water-resistant down jackets are ideal for those who are frequently outdoors in damp conditions, as they help to prevent your insulation from getting wet.

5. Synthetic Down Jackets

Finally, synthetic down jackets are designed with man-made materials that mimic the properties of natural down. These jackets typically have a more affordable price point and are easier to care for than traditional down jackets, while still providing the warmth you need in a hiking jacket. They may also be more resistant to moisture and may dry more quickly than natural down.

If you're looking for the right down hiking jacket for you, be sure to consider factors like warmth, weight, design, and insulation. It's important that you choose a jacket that meets your specific needs and budget, but also provides your body with the warmth and protection it needs in cold weather conditions.

9 Factors to Consider When Choosing a Down Hiking Jacket:

A down hiking jacket is essential for those outdoor enthusiasts venturing into cold conditions. The right down jacket protects hikers from the harsh winds, rain, and snow that they might encounter in their excursions, but the wrong one could lead to overheating, discomfort, and a terrible hiking experience. Here are a few factors to consider before purchasing a down hiking jacket.

Warmth

When buying a down jacket, the first thing you should think about is the warmth it provides. Down jackets are insulated with the soft feathers of ducks or geese. The down feathers have natural insulating properties and trap the heat produced by the body to keep the wearer warm. The warmth provided by the jacket is measured in fill power - the fill power is the volume occupied by an ounce of down in a jacket. A higher fill power means a warmer jacket. Typically a fill power rating of 550 or higher is considered good for hikers. The fill power rating may vary depending on the weather conditions you plan to hike in and the insulation requirements.

Weight Ratio

The weight of the jacket is another important factor to consider when buying a down hiking jacket. As hiking involves a lot of physical activity, the jacket should be lightweight and not add any extra burden on the hiker's body or pack weight. . Jackets with higher fill power will weigh less, but it will be more expensive. Fill power ratings of 800 or higher may cost more but will be much lighter than one with a fill power rating of 500.

Weather Resistance

The down jacket should be weather-resistant and protect the hiker from harsh weather conditions. Look for a jacket with an outer shell made of waterproof or water-resistant material to keep the hiker dry in case of rain or snow. Windproof properties are also a must-have, in order to resist the wind chill factor. A good down jacket should come with a DWR (durable water repellent) coating on the exterior to keep it dry and prevent the down from clumping up.

Different Types of Weatherproofing Features

There are different types of weatherproofing features available in down jackets, and you can experiment to find what works best for you. Some jackets come with a breathable membrane that allows sweat to escape while keeping the interior dry. Others will have taped seams that are designed to prevent any water from seeping through. A good quality jacket may even come with concealed zippers or stitching holes, which completely eliminates any chance of water entering the jacket.

Durability and Materials

The durability of the jacket is also important to consider. After all, if you're making the investment to buy a high-quality jacket, you want your jacket to last. High-quality materials should be used in your down jacket to stand up to the rigors of long hikes. The materials used in the jacket's construction should be strong enough to resist any abrasions or punctures from outdoor elements such as rocks or thorns.

Denier Rating and its Importance

Denier rating is another term you may come across when buying a down jacket. Denier simply means the thickness of the threads used in the construction of the fabric. The higher the denier rating, the stronger the fabric will be. If you're purchasing a jacket for hiking, a denier rating of 30D or higher is considered ideal, as it provides durability and can resist tears or damage from rough objects like tree branches, stones, and ice.

Shell Materials and Their Resistance to Tears

Shell materials play an essential role in the jacket's overall durability and resistance to tears. Materials that can withstand abrasions and punctures from harsh outdoor elements are used to make most outer shells. Jackets with synthetic shells are more durable than those with natural fibers. Nylon and polyester are two popular synthetic materials used in the construction of down jackets. Both materials are durable and lightweight, providing excellent resistance to tears.

Packability and Compressibility

Packability and compressibility are important features to consider when purchasing a down hiking jacket. The jacket should be easy to pack in a backpack and not take up too much space. In addition, it should be able to compress properly, allowing maximum space utilization when packing. The compressibility of the jacket is determined by its fill power rating. Jackets with higher fill power ratings tend to be more compressible.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Shopping for the Best Down Hiking Jacket

When looking for the perfect down hiking jacket, buyers can make purchasing mistakes that can lead to discomfort or even danger during outdoor activities. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when buying a down hiking jacket:

Mistake 1: Ignoring the fill power

The fill power of a down jacket indicates how well it insulates the wearer. A higher fill power number means a warmer jacket. However, many buyers ignore this important factor when selecting a jacket. If you're focused on the jacket's price or appearance, you may not think of how well the jacket will actually perform in cold weather.

To avoid this mistake, buyers should research different fill powers and determine which one suits their needs best. Although it will cost a bit more, a jacket with a higher fill power will be lighter and will give you better insulation. It's important to invest in a quality jacket with the appropriate fill power for your outdoor activities.

Mistake 2: Not considering the jacket's weight

A down hiking jacket needs to strike a delicate balance between warmth and weight. A jacket that is too heavy will weigh the wearer down, making it difficult to move around and enjoy outdoor activities. However, a jacket that is too light will not provide enough warmth in cold weather.

When choosing a down hiking jacket, buyers should consider the weight of the jacket as well as its insulation. A lightweight jacket will be less cumbersome and will usually pack away nicely. Heavier jackets may provide more warmth but may be too bulky for some wearers. Buyers should try on different jackets to determine which one feels comfortable and provides sufficient warmth.

Mistake 3: Choosing a jacket without a hood

A hood provides essential warmth and protection from the elements during outdoor activities, keeping your head dry. However, many buyers choose a jacket without a hood because they don't want to obstruct their vision or feel constricted.

To avoid this mistake, buyers should look for a jacket with a removable or adjustable hood. This allows the wearer to remove the hood when not needed or adjust it to fit their head comfortably.

Mistake 4: Overlooking the importance of waterproofing

A down jacket that is not waterproof can become wet and heavy in rainy or snowy conditions. Wet down loses its insulation properties and can even become dangerous if the wearer is exposed to the elements for too long.

When choosing a down hiking jacket, buyers should look for a jacket that is waterproof or has a water-resistant coating. This will ensure that the jacket stays dry in inclement weather and continues to provide insulation.

Mistake 5: Choosing a jacket that doesn't fit properly

A down hiking jacket that doesn't fit properly can be uncomfortable and even dangerous during outdoor activities. A jacket that is too small will restrict movement and make it difficult to layer clothing underneath. A jacket that is too big will not provide sufficient insulation and may expose the wearer to cold temperatures.

When choosing a down hiking jacket, buyers should experiment with sizes and styles to find a jacket that fits their body comfortably. The jacket should allow for movement, provide insulation, allow for easy layering and protect you from the elements.

Mistake 6: Not reading reviews or doing research

Lots of buyers rush into a purchase without researching different brands or reading reviews, which can be a big mistake. A lack of research can lead to disappointment and ultimately, be a waste of money.

Before buying a down hiking jacket, buyers should look up different brands and read reviews from other customers. Research and reviews are often an indicator of the quality of the jacket and how it performs in different weather conditions. Reading reviews can also help buyers avoid purchasing a jacket with known issues or defects.

Avoiding these common mistakes will help buyers choose the right down hiking jacket for their needs. By considering the fill power, weight, hood, waterproofing, fit, and doing research, buyers can find an outstanding down hiking jacket to keep them comfortable during outdoor activities.

Down Hiking Jackets from Stio

Before you hit the trails on your next big adventure, you'll need to have the right gear to keep you warm and comfortable on your trek. At Stio, we have a wide selection of down jackets designed for every body. And since our products are born and tested in the mountains, you know our products are made for whatever trip you have planned. Here are a few of our favorite recommendations:

1. Men's Skycrest Insulated Snap Shirt

The Men's Skycrest Insulated Snap Shirt is perfect for anyone who wants a stylish button-up that's also ultra comfortable. It's made with recycled polyester and insulated with 650-fill power down, providing unmatched warmth and comfort. Whether you're hiking in the mountains or taking a stroll through the park, this jacket will keep you warm and stylish.

2. Women's Hometown Down Hooded Jacket

This jacket is designed for women who are looking for comfort and style. It's made with recycled materials and insulated with 650-fill power down, providing an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio. The jacket also features an adjustable hood, a two-way front zipper, and zippered hand pockets to keep your hands warm on chilly days.

3. Men's Hometown Down Hooded Jacket

If you're after a classic look for your next hike, the Men's Hometown Down Hooded Jacket could be the perfect fit. Made with Pertex® Microlight fabric, this jacket is lightweight, breathable, and water-resistant. This jacket is insulated with 650-fill power down, providing warmth without extra weight. It also features an adjustable hood and elastic cuffs and hem for a snug fit.

4. Women's Pinion Down Jacket

For women who want a stylish and functional jacket, the Women's Pinion Down Jacket is another great option. Made with recycled materials and insulated with 650-fill power down, this jacket provides excellent warmth and comfort. It also features an adjustable hood and cuffs, and zippered hand pockets to secure your belongings.

5. Men's Pinion Down Jacket

Just like the Women's Pinion Down Jacket, the Men's Pinion Down Jacket offers both functionality and style. It is made with recycled materials and insulated with 650-fill power down, ensuring unparalleled warmth for colder climates. The jacket also features elastic cuffs and a hem and zippered hand pockets to stash your essentials.

6. Women's Second Light Jacket

The Women's Second Light Jacket is perfect for those who want a lightweight and versatile jacket. Made with 800-fill power down and Pertex® Quantum fabric, this jacket is warm, durable, and windproof. It also features elastic cuffs, a drawcord hem, and a zippered chest pocket for extra storage.

7. Men's Second Light Jacket

The Men's Second Light Jacket is similar to the Women's Second Light Jacket in terms of its lightweight and durability. This jacket is insulated with 800-fill power down, ensuring superior warmth without the added weight. The jacket also features elastic cuffs, a drawcord hem, and a zippered chest pocket for extra storage.

8. Women's Environ Insulated Jacket

The Women's Environ Insulated Jacket is perfect for those who want a jacket that is both warm and functional. This jacket is made with a combination of recycled polyester and spandex and is insulated with 800-fill power down. It also features elastic cuffs and a drawcord hem, and zippered hand pockets to store your gloves or phone.

9. Men's Environ Insulated Jacket

The Men's Environ Insulated Jacket is similar to the Women's Environ Insulated Jacket and is designed for those who want comfort and function. The jacket is made with a combination of recycled polyester and spandex and is insulated with 800-fill power down. It comes with elastic cuffs, a drawcord hem, and zippered pockets.

All of these high-quality jackets and are available for you to explore on Stio.com. With plenty of colorways and styles available, you're sure to find the right down jacket for you.

How to Maintain Your Down Hiking Jacket

In order to keep your down hiking jacket performing at its best, it's important to take proper care of it so that it can continue to keep you warm for many outdoor adventures to come. Not sure how to maintain your hiking jacket? Start with these five simple tips.

1. Cleaning Your Down Hiking Jacket

One of the most important things you can do to maintain your down hiking jacket is to keep it clean. Over time, dirt, oil, and sweat can accumulate on the jacket's surface, which can clog the down and reduce its loft. This, in turn, can decrease the jacket's insulating properties and make it less effective at keeping you warm. To prevent this from happening, it's important to clean your down hiking jacket regularly.

The first thing to keep in mind when cleaning your down hiking jacket is that it is not like a regular jacket or clothing. Down jackets are sensitive to detergents and harsh chemicals, so you need to be careful about what you use. The best way to clean a down jacket is to use a mild detergent that is designed specifically for down products. These detergents are formulated to be gentle on the delicate materials that make up the jacket while still being effective at removing dirt and grime.

To clean your down hiking jacket, start by filling a large sink or bathtub with warm water. Add the down detergent to the water and mix it in well. Then, submerge the jacket in the water and gently agitate it by hand. Be careful not to rub or twist the jacket, as this can damage the delicate down. Once you've thoroughly cleaned the jacket, drain the soapy water and refill the sink or bathtub with clean, warm water. Rinse the jacket several times in the clean water, making sure to remove all traces of detergent.

When you're done rinsing the jacket, gently press out any excess water. Do not twist or wring the jacket, as this can damage the down. Instead, press down on the jacket to remove the water and then hang it up to air dry. Make sure that the jacket is completely dry before storing it, as any residual moisture can cause the down to clump and lose its loft.

2. Storing Your Down Hiking Jacket

Proper storage is another important factor in maintaining your down hiking jacket. When you're not wearing the jacket, it's important to store it in a dry, cool place where it won't be exposed to direct sunlight or heat sources. Exposure to sunlight and heat can cause the down to break down, reducing the jacket's insulating properties.

When storing your down hiking jacket, you should also be careful about how you store it. Store the jacket loosely, as compressing it can damage the delicate down fibers. You can also hang the jacket up in a closet or on a hanger, but make sure that it's not hanging in direct sunlight or near a heat source.

It's also a good idea to store your down hiking jacket in a breathable storage bag. This will help to protect the jacket from dust and moisture while still allowing it to breathe. Avoid storing your jacket in plastic bags or containers, as these can trap moisture and cause the down to deteriorate.

3. Repairing Your Down Hiking Jacket

Even with proper care, down hiking jackets can become damaged over time. Snags, tears, and holes can all compromise the jacket's insulation and make it less effective at keeping you warm. If you notice any damage to your jacket, it's important to repair it as soon as possible.

For small tears and holes, you can use a down repair patch to fix the damage. These patches are designed specifically for down products and can be ironed onto the jacket to provide a durable, long-lasting repair. For larger tears or damage, you may need to take your jacket to a professional repair shop.

4. Keeping Your Down Hiking Jacket Waterproof

In addition to keeping your down hiking jacket clean and dry, you should do your best to keep it waterproof. Exposure to moisture can cause the down to clump and make the jacket less effective at insulating you from the cold.

To ensure that your down hiking jacket stays waterproof, you can treat it with a water-repellent spray. These sprays are designed to create a barrier between the jacket and water, preventing moisture from seeping into the down fibers. Make sure to choose a spray that is specifically designed for down products, as regular water-repellent sprays can damage the delicate down fibers.

5. Rejuvenating Your Down Hiking Jacket

Over time, down can lose its loft and become compacted, reducing the jacket's insulating properties. To help restore your down hiking jacket's fluffy loft, you can use a down rejuvenator. These products are designed to fluff up the down and improve its loft, making the jacket warmer and more comfortable.

To use a down rejuvenator, simply add it to your washing machine along with your down hiking jacket. Run the washing machine on a gentle cycle and then air dry the jacket as you normally would. The rejuvenator will help to fluff up the down fibers, restoring their insulating properties and extending the life of your jacket.

About Stio

Stio connects you with the outdoors through quality products infused with a mountain soul. Proudly operating from Jackson Hole, WY, we take inspiration from our natural surroundings and put it into every piece of apparel we make. From technical performance to aesthetics, Stio outfits you with exceptional products for unforgettable outdoor experiences.

FAQs

What is a Down Hiking Jacket?

A down hiking jacket is a jacket that is insulated with down feathers. These feathers are taken from the underside of geese and ducks, and they offer exceptional warmth and insulation without adding a lot of weight or bulk. Down jackets are popular among hikers, backpackers, and outdoor enthusiasts because they are lightweight, compressible, and can keep you warm in cold weather conditions.

What is Fill Power?

Fill power is a measure of the quality of down insulation used in a jacket. It refers to the amount of space that one ounce of down feathers will occupy, once they are placed inside a graduated cylinder and compressed. The higher the fill power number, the more warmth and insulation the jacket will provide. Generally, fill power ranges from 400 to 900. Jackets with fill power above 600 are considered to be high quality jackets.

What's the difference between a Down Hiking Jacket and a Synthetic Insulated Hiking Jacket?

While down jackets are popular among hikers and backpackers, they are not suitable for every situation. Down jackets are great for cold and dry weather conditions because they offer exceptional warmth and insulation. However, they are not suitable for wet or humid conditions. When down feathers get wet, they clump together and lose their insulating properties. This is why synthetic insulated jackets are a popular alternative. Synthetic insulated jackets are made from man-made materials and are designed to stay warm, even when wet.

How Should I Properly Clean My Down Hiking Jacket?

Cleaning a down jacket requires a delicate touch as down feathers can be easily damaged and lose their insulating properties. The best way to clean your down jacket is to follow the care instructions provided by the manufacturer. Typically, down jackets can be washed in a front-loading washing machine, but you should use a mild detergent and gentle cycle. Once washed, you should tumble dry your jacket on low heat, and add two to three clean tennis balls to the dryer drum. The tennis balls help to fluff the down jacket and prevent clumping.

What is the Best Way to Store My Down Hiking Jacket?

Proper storage of your down jacket can help to extend its lifespan. You should store your jacket in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight. Do not store your jacket in a compressed state, as this may damage the down feathers. Instead, hang your jacket up on a hanger or lay it flat in a storage bin. You should also avoid storing your jacket in a plastic bag, as this can trap moisture and create a breeding ground for mold and mildew.

How Do I Choose the Right Size Down Jacket?

Choosing the right size down jacket is important for a comfortable and snug fit. The best way to determine your size is to consult the sizing chart provided by the manufacturer. Take your chest, waist, and hip measurements, and match them to the sizing chart. Keep in mind that some manufacturers may have different sizing standards, so it's essential to check their chart carefully.

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