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Best women’s down jackets and puffers 2022: insulate your winter walks

Collage of the best women's down jackets
(Image credit: Future)

The best women’s down jackets really come into their own when the winter winds start to roll in. Whether you’re heading into the backcountry for an adventure or just heading to the shops during the festive season, you need something that’s going to keep you toasty.

Designed with the female form in mind, the best women’s down jackets are typically filled with either down, a natural occurring product that comes from ducks or geese, or synthetic polyester. This fill is designed to trap heat and keep you cozy even in the dead of winter.

Natural down has the advantage of a high heat to weight ratio and it compresses better than synthetic polyester, making it the go to for backpackers seeking a packable jacket. The best down jackets and puffers for serious adventures are usually natural down jackets.

However, synthetic jackets are generally cheaper and are a viable alternative if you’re not looking to splash the cash. There’s no doubt some form of puffer is among the hiking essentials, but your decision on the type that’s best for you will depend on where you plan to go with your jacket and what you plan to do. With plenty of choice within our selection, we’re confident you’ll find the best women’s down jacket here.

Most versatile women's down jackets

Rab Infinity Microlight women's down jacket

(Image credit: Rab)
A stylish and warm down jacket that even fends off light rain, perfect for frigid hikes, damp, chill mornings at camp, cold days on belay and urban adventures

Specifications

Fill: 700FP recycled down
Sizes: Women’s XS - XL US / 8 - 16 UK, Men’s S - XXL
Weight (men's size M): 452g/15.9oz (Size M)
Colors: Ultramarine, bering sea, deep heather, black, chlorite green, deep ink, firecracker

Reasons to buy

+
Warm with 700FP down
+
Windproof and water resistant
+
Adjustable hood with stiffened peak
+
Three zipped pockets
+
Lightweight and packable with stuff sack
+
Recycled down
+
Comfortable with stretch panels

Reasons to avoid

-
Leaks a little down

Typically, the main argument against down for outdoor adventures is that it doesn’t insulate when wet, but Rab has eliminated that issue by using a water resistant and windproof Gore-Tex Infinium outer so you can still wear this on damp days and stay cozy. This down jacket is filled with 700FP down making it great for adventures as cold as 32F/0C and if you are hiking in it and getting sweaty, it’s breathable too. It’s also ideal for when you stop moving and cool down, hanging out at camp, on belay or even around town when the sun dips down.

The draw cord hood stays up on gusty days with a soft chin guard to protect your skin when it’s fully zipped, while elasticated cuffs and a draw cord drop hem seal out cold drafts. Its stylish, non-bulky cut will please anyone who wants to wear it around town, but there’s plenty of room to move in it too. Rab’s commitment to sustainability shines through with the use of recycled down and if you want to hop on a plane with it, it packs down fairly small into the stuff sack provided. Competitively priced compared to other down jackets we’ve tested, we can’t find anything not to like about this jacket and think you’ll find use for it in every season.

Read our full Rab Infinity Microlight Down Jacket review

Montane Fireball women's down jacket

(Image credit: Montane)
An insulated mid-layer that offers a good weight-to-warmth ratio

Specifications

Fill: 60g/m2 Clo Vivo Extreme Eco (55% recycled)
Sizes: 8 / 10 / 12 / 14 / 16
Weight: 345g / 12oz
Colors: Uluru Red / Black / Astro blue

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Mid-layer warmth

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Fit can be small

The Montane Fireball jacket is a midlayer insulated jacket, which means you might typically wear it over a base-layer and under a waterproof jacket. It also offers good warmth as a stand-alone jacket on warmer weather days if you are heading out on trails or into the hills. It’s a useful jacket for trail runners and walkers, because you can stuff it into a small space in a pack and pull out when you need a bit of extra warmth, for example at higher altitude or when stopping for a breather or a bite to eat. Montane has created the jacket with 55% recycled Clo Vivo Extreme Eco synthetic insulation with the aim of maximising warmth and breathability yet still keeping the product lightweight.

The insulation is also designed into the ‘under helmet’ hood. This means you have a warm and insulated hood that can be useful whether you need to wear a helmet or not. The outer and inner fabrics are a two-way stretch fabric. Montane calls this material Featherlite Air Nylon, which is aimed at giving a good level of additional breathability, as well as  freedom of movement when running or hiking. The addition of a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) treatment to the outer fabric provides protect against light rain but this does not mean it will be waterproof in heavier or consistent downpours.

The design incorporates articulated arms so that you can reach higher without losing warmth at the wrists. Low build elasticated cuffs keep down the weight of the jacket without compromising on usefulness. There are some useful extra features including two hand-warmer zipped pockets, an external zipped chest pocket and an adjustable hem with cinchable drawcord.

Down jackets for mountaineering

Jottnar Fenrir women's down jacket

(Image credit: Jottnar)
Beautifully made, light and very warm, the Fenrir is a very versatile bit of kit for mountain lovers

Specifications

Fill: 850 fill goose down
Sizes: XS–L
Weight: 250g / 8.8oz
Colors: Aegean blue / Black / Dark Ink

Reasons to buy

+
Brilliant warmth-to-weight ratio
+
Lovely fit
+
Works well under backpacks

Reasons to avoid

-
High price tag

Jottnar’s outdoor pieces are designed with mountaineers in mind and named after mighty Norse gods, and the tough Fenrir (a mythological wolf) is one of the brand’s standout down jackets. 

We tested the Fenrir over a year of hiking and mountain adventures and found ourselves reaching for this versatile mid layer again and again. It’s lightweight and packable, squishing down into its own stuff sack for easy transportation, but offers fantastic warmth thanks to animal down that meets the Responsible Down Standard. 

The Fenrir works both as a mid layer under a waterproof shell and as an outer jacket on cold-but-dry days. The fit is perfect; the jacket is not restrictive anywhere and allows good freedom of movement. An adjustable hood keeps your face and head cosy, and a dropback hem warms the lower back and stays put when the Fenrir is worn with a backpack. The outer material is also water-resistant enough to bead off light rain. Well worth the spend if you get outside all winter long.

Fjällräven Expedition Pack Down jacket

(Image credit: Fjällräven)
With great comfort, warmth and timeless looks, Fjällräven’s Expedition is a wear-anywhere packable jacket

Specifications

Fill: 700 fill power goose down
Sizes: XXS–XL
Weight: 435g / 15.3oz
Colors: Navy / Dandelion / True Red / UN Blue / Black

Reasons to buy

+
Warm
+
Comfortable
+
Smart retro-inspired looks 

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn’t pack down as small as other packable designs

Most of Fjällräven’s down jacket offerings are huge coats designed for Arctic conditions – this Expedition Pack Down model is far more slim, packable and versatile. We tested it out when hiking in the Dolomites (you may also want to check out our look at the Best Women’s Hiking Boots) in both sun and snow, and really rated its reliable warmth and great fit, which makes it comfortable to wear mile after mile.

Like all outdoor clothing from Swedish brand Fjällräven, whose motto is ‘functional, durable, timeless’, there are good eco credentials here. The down used is ethically sourced and the outer material is fully recycled. The waistband is easy to adjust with a cord hidden inside the pocket, and we also like the adjustable hood, which is warm and flattering, and the handy inner pocket for stashing your phone. 

While the Expedition doesn’t pack as small as some other jackets on this rundown of the best women’s down jackets and puffer jackets, you can squash it to the size of a large pencil case, so it’s still easily transportable in your backpack. We also love the retro looks of the jacket, which are inspired by Fjällräven’s first down coats designed in the 1970s. Colorways range from sunshine-bright yellow or red to more toned-down navy or black.

Lightweight synthetic down jackets

Finisterre Nimbus women's down jacket

(Image credit: Finisterre)
This good-looking – and fully recycled – insulated number is perfect for spring

Specifications

Fill: Recycled synthetic down
Sizes: 8–16
Weight: 400g / 14oz
Colors: Baltic Blue / Black / Rust Red/ Sunset / Kingfisher Blue / Spectrum

Reasons to buy

+
Smart looks and colorways
+
Great fit
+
Recycled materials

Reasons to avoid

-
No zipped pockets
-
Not warm enough for mid winter

The Nimbus is Finisterre’s bestselling women’s insulated jacket, and for good reason. There’s lots to like here, not least the jacket’s smart looks and earthy colorways. The Nimbus is slim-fitting and bulk-free, but it’s not as warm as more padded jackets, making it best suited for use as a light jacket on spring walks or for wearing under a shell on coastal hikes. 

This jacket is firmly in the casual camp, but the lack of bulk coupled with a great cut makes the Nimbus work brilliantly over a fleece or sweater and under a waterproof for daily wear. There are other nice design touches here, such as a fleece-lined collar and an adjustable hood, and the Nimbus packs down into its own chest pocket, ideal for carrying with you on walks or on the commute, but it’s a pity the pockets aren’t zipped. 

In line with Finisterre’s ocean-loving ethos, the filling, material and zip are all recycled, which definitely gets our vote.

Winter synthetic down jackets

Helly Hansen Odin Stretch Insulator down jacket

(Image credit: Helly Hansen)
A bulk-free mid layer that goes effortlessly from city to countryside

Specifications

Fill: PrimaLoft Gold Active+ synthetic insulation
Sizes: XS–XL
Weight: 460g / 16.2oz
Colors: Skagen Blue / Ice Blue / Raspberry / Melon / Royal Blue / Nightshade / Blue Tint / Black

Reasons to buy

+
Slim looks
+
Great for layering

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as stretchy as its name attests

If you hate the Michelin-man puffy looks of most insulated jackets, you’ll love Helly Hansen’s sleek Odin. Popular with ice climbers and hikers alike, this light jacket has insulation but no quilting, allowing for easy layering without any added bulk or restriction of movement. 

We’re not sure the jacket is stretchy enough to deserve its Stretch title, as the only give is in the small panels under the arms. That said, these insulation-free sections do allow for better unimpeded movement of the arms when you’re climbing or scrambling. 

On test we rated the soft fleecy inner lining, which feels comforting in the cold, plus the easily adjustable waist and comfy high neck. The outer material is also waterproof enough to repel light rain and snowfall. We tested out the black version of the Odin, which is easy to wear everywhere from city streets to hillside trails.

Best women's down jackets: Keela Talus

(Image credit: Keela)
A tough external shell makes the warm Talus hardier than your average jacket

Specifications

Fill: Primaloft Gold
Sizes: 8–20
Weight: 500g / 17.6oz
Colors: Marine / Dark Purple / Deep Blue / Red

Reasons to buy

+
Helmet-compatible hood
+
Stretchy side panels

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the warmest jacket on test 

The Talus is the workhorse of our round-up of the best women’s down jackets and puffer jackets. Its ripstop outer material is far more resistant to tears and scratches than most down jackets (which can often rip at the slightest brush with a thorn) and you can tell this jacket was designed in Scotland, where four seasons in a day are likely – we found it water-resistant enough to put up with sudden rain, and it still offers warmth when damp, and dries quickly. 

It’s also windproof enough to cut chill, making it a great standalone jacket on warmer days. Flexible, fleece-lined panels run all the way up the inside of the arms and offer great freedom of movement; coupled with a lighter dose of synthetic insulation, these make the Talus ideal for sports. 

A reinforced peaked hood keeps water and sun out of your eyes and is also compatible with a helmet. The Talus’ fit runs small, and we’d advise going up a size if you want to wear more than a base layer underneath.

Down jacket for belaying

Patagonia Women’s DAS Light Hoodie down jacket

(Image credit: Patagonia)
A reliable, packable jacket that’s best suited for alpine environment where every gram counts

Specifications

Fill: 65-g PlumaFill 100% recycled polyester
Sizes: XS / S / M / L / XL
Weight: 270g / 9.5oz (small)
Colors: Stellar blue / Smoulder blue / Classic navy / Purple / Paintbrush red

Reasons to buy

+
Very lightweight
+
DWR keeps light showers off 
+
Warm
+
Fair Trade Certified sewn
+
Recycled fill

Reasons to avoid

-
Hard to stuff back into its own pocket 
-
Not very roomy 
-
Zip can feel be a bit fiddly

The Patagonia Women’s DAS (‘Dead Air Space’) Hoodie Light is an ultralight hooded jacket for keeping warm when you’re playing in the mountains in spring, summer and autumn alpine conditions, whether you’re moving fast up a slope or hanging at the bottom of the crag belaying a buddy. The Pertex Quantum material provides a decent level of abrasion resistance when worn as an outer later, alongside windproof nylon. It’s a versatile jacket which can also stretch to use on milder winter days when worn as a midlayer, as its construction mimics that of down (although the fill is recycled synthetic fibres). 

However, it really comes into its own as a great, light, super packable jacket for cold draughty belays, where pack size and weight are major concerns. Being a Patagonia product, the green and ethical credentials are particularly transparent and highend, with the brand using Fair Trade Certified materials in factories that pay a fair wage.

The best women's down gilet

Nobis Lily women's down gilet

(Image credit: Nobis)
A smart and versatile gilet that warms up the torso without restricting movement

Specifications

Fill: Duck down
Sizes: XXS–XXL
Weight: 290g / 10.2oz
Colors: Black / Navy / Burgundy

Reasons to buy

+
Versatile
+
Breathable

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey

One way to keep your torso warm without overheating when you’re out getting active is to pick an insulated bodywarmer rather than a jacket. The Nobis Lily is our top choice if you’re in the market for a gilet (insulated vest) – it’s so light you’ll barely notice you have it on, but it does a brilliant job of warming you up without weight and still lets the body breathe, thanks to warm duck down sourced from Canada as a by-product of the poultry industry. 

Ideal for keeping warm without hindering movement, it’s very easy to layer with, and we found it ideal for fast-paced activities where you work up a sweat but are still likely to feel the cold as soon as you stop, such as snow sports. Whether or not you like the look of a gilet, the simple Lily is very easy to wear anywhere. A pity it’s so expensive – one to snap up in a sale.

Hybrid down jackets

Salomon Transition Hooded Down jacket

(Image credit: Salomon)
A jacket as warm and snug as your duvet, but best for casual cold weather wear

Specifications

Fill: 600 fillpower down and synthetic insulation
Sizes: XS–2XL
Weight: 513g / 18oz
Colors: Winetasting / night sky / black/ icy morn

Reasons to buy

+
Comfort
+
Responsibly sourced down

Reasons to avoid

-
Not adjustable at the neck

Salomon’s snug Transition Down may be as close as you’ll come to wrapping yourself in your favourite duvet. If comfort is top of your shopping list, pick this hooded jacket. The Transition Down mixes animal down and synthetic insulation – the down used is responsibly sourced, and each jacket comes with a number you can check on www.trackmydown.com to see the material’s provenance and ethical credentials. This is coupled with synthetic insulation in areas likely to get wet in sudden rainfall – a clever touch (because down’s downfall is that it doesn’t perform well when wet). 

This cosy coat didn’t prove very breathable on test and it feels rather bulky under waterproofs, but we rate it for more casual use such as cold weather camping and winter walks. We definitely recommend picking a size up from your usual, especially if you want to layer up base layers or fleeces underneath, as the waistband is rather slim-fitting. There’s a nicely designed hood that can be tightened, but we would have liked the jacket to be adjustable around the neck too, to further trap warmth.

Down jackets for night adventures

Proviz 360 Reflective women's down jacket

(Image credit: Proviz)
This highly reflective jacket is warm, comfortable and ideal for nocturnal adventures

Specifications

Fill: Down
Sizes: 6–18
Weight: 600g / 21.2oz
Colors: Silver

Reasons to buy

+
Extremely reflective
+
Great hood
+
Very comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
No info on the origin of the down

Stay bright and visible at night in this (literally) eye-catching down jacket. We’ve been wearing Proviz’s excellent reflective shell cycle jackets for years, so we were pleased to see a warmer down jacket added to the brand’s line-up. 

The reflective outer material is coated in thousands of tiny beads that bounce back light and make you very visible in any light source (such as car headlights), ideal for anyone out exploring at night. In daylight, the 360 jacket is a smart silver/grey. 

The jacket also stood out on test for its comfortable long and boxy cut, which keeps more of your torso warm and allows for easy layering. The jacket is insulated with real down (of unknown provenance, sadly, as it’s always better to know whether down has been sourced ethically) and while it’s not super lightweight or breathable at 600g, it does instantly trap heat and warm you up in chilly conditions. Save it for being seen in the bitter cold rather than for more aggressive hikes and cycles.

Best women's down jackets comparison table
Down jacketPriceWeightStyleBest use
Patagonia Women’s DAS Light Hoodie$329 (US) / £320 (UK) / €350 (EU)270g / 9.5oz (Small) High performance synthetic puffer3-season use: climbing, hiking, alpine mountaineering
Rab Infinity Microlight$280 (US) / £240 (UK)452g/15.9oz (Size M)High performance down jacketWinter and shoulder seasons: hiking, backpacking, climbing, winter and alpine mountaineering
Montane Fireball jacket$260 (US) / £200 (UK)345g / 12ozInsulated synthetic mid layer3-season use: climbing, hiking, trail running
Nobis Lily$450 (US) / £325 (UK)290g / 10.2ozDown gilet (insulated vest)Winter and shoulder seasons: hiking, backpacking, climbing, skiing, winter walking
Jöttnar Fenrir$409 (US) / £295 (UK) / €335 (EU)250g / 8.8ozHigh performance goose down jacketWinter and shoulder seasons: hiking, backpacking, climbing, winter and alpine mountaineering
Fjällräven Expedition Pack Down$373 (US) / £269 (UK) / €310 (EU)435g / 15.3ozHigh performance down jacketWinter and shoulder seasons: hiking, backpacking, skiing, climbing, winter and alpine mountaineering
Salomon Transition Hooded Down$213 (US) / £154 (UK)513g / 18ozHigh performance hybrid down jacketWinter and shoulder seasons: hiking, backpacking, climbing, winter and alpine mountaineering
Finisterre Nimbus$228 (US) / £165 (UK)400g / 14ozLightweight synthetic insulated jacketAll year round: hiking, backpacking, hut-to-hut trekking, climbing
Proviz 360 Reflective$236 (US) / £170 (UK)600g / 21.2ozReflective down jacketWinter and shoulder seasons: hiking, backpacking, cycling, climbing, winter and alpine mountaineering — perfect for us at night
Helly Hansen Odin Stretch Insulator$277 (US) / £200 (UK) / €230 (EU)460g / 16.2ozSynthetic down jacketWinter and shoulder seasons: hiking, backpacking, climbing, skiing, winter walking
Keela Talus$194 (US) / £140 (UK)500g / 17.6ozSynthetic down jacketWinter and shoulder seasons: hiking, backpacking, climbing, skiing, winter walking

How to choose a women's down jacket

1. Insulation

Insulated jackets use either animal down or synthetic insulation to trap in heat and keep you warm. Animal down, usually derived from duck or goose down (down are the clumps of fine feathers found under a bird’s tougher exterior feathers) offers a brilliant warmth-to-weight ratio in dry cold weather, but is useless when wet. Brands using animal down will also list the ‘fill power’ of a jacket, such as 400, 600 or 800. The higher the fill power, the warmer the jacket is likely to be. Animal down was traditionally warmer than synthetic insulation, but synthetic materials are rapidly catching up. Synthetic insulation has other benefits – it still offers some warmth when wet, it dries faster and it can be made using recycled materials.

There’s also an animal welfare issue with the production of some animal down jackets. The cheapest down may be harvested from live animals, a cruel and unnecessary act. You’ll see other down jackets labelled as ‘humanely harvested’, which means the down is a by-product of food production. You can also choose to purchase ethically sourced down (look for the RDS, or Responsible Down Standard, used to denote down obtained from animals that have not been subjected to unnecessary harm) – here's everything you need to know about ethical down for jackets and sleeping bags.

Synthetic down jackets avoid the problem all together, and we’d recommend spending a little more on a jacket that either uses synthetic insulation or humane, traceable down. You can learn more in our Down vs synthetic fibre guide.

best women's down jackets: hiker wearing down jacket

Watching the sunset while toasty in a down jacket (Image credit: Getty)

2. Design features

Many of the best women's down jackets and synthetic insulated jackets aren’t waterproof, so you’ll need to pop a waterproof shell jacket on top in heavy rain, but some are water resistant and will withstand a light shower or snowfall, and are thus a more versatile pick for the ever-changing great outdoors. When rain is forecast, it's worth packing your down jacket into a dry bag when you store it inside your backpack.

We look for jackets with close-fitting hoods, to keep your head warm in windy conditions, and a high neck to protect more of your face. If you want to wear your jacket for climbing or cycling, look for a helmet-compatible hood. We also recommend designs with stretchy or close-fitting cuffs and an elasticated or adjustable waistband, to keep heat in trapped around your body. Zipped pockets and internal pockets for storing your valuables are also handy.

3. Packability

Insulated jackets roughly fall into two categories – lightweight and packable jackets suitable for use as mid layers, and bulky but very warm jackets that double up as coats in dry conditions but which are less easy to pack away. If you need a jacket you can stuff into your daypack (or even your pocket) when you’re out hiking or cycling, pick a packable jacket weighing under 500g that comes with a stuff bag or fits into its own pocket. If you’re after a warm jacket for bitterly cold weather and for sports where you’ll be standing still or cooling off for longer periods of time, pick a larger insulated jacket or coat.

An award-winning travel and outdoors journalist, presenter and blogger, Sian regularly writes for The Independent, Evening Standard, BBC Countryfile, Coast, Outdoor Enthusiast and Sunday Times Travel. Life as a hiking, camping, wild-swimming adventure-writer has taken her around the world, exploring Bolivian jungles, kayaking in Greenland, diving with turtles in Australia, climbing mountains in Africa and, in Thailand, learning the hard way that peeing on a jellyfish sting doesn’t help. Her blog, thegirloutdoors.co.uk, champions accessible adventures.

With contributions from