- Orolay Thickened Down Jacket (Women’s)
- Tommy Hilfiger Packable Down Jacket (Men’s Regular + Big & Tall Sizes)
- Amazon Essentials Lightweight Water-Resistant Packable Down Jacket (Men’s)
- Tommy Hilfiger Short Down Alternative Jacket With Zip-Out Fleece Hood (Women’s)
- Eddie Bauer CirrusLite Down Jacket (Men’s)
I run cold, and when I get chilly, I’m not fun to be around. Even for myself. It’s hard for me to enjoy what’s going on around me when I feel chilled to the bone, and while I appreciate that shivering has its purpose, it gets old quickly. When I’m traveling, especially, I take my responsibility to pack thoughtfully, and in a way that supports staying warm if I’m going to be in a brisk environment, very seriously.
Of course, wearing a massive coat through the airport can feel awkward, and packing one in your luggage can be burdensome. Maybe a down jacket is your best bet. The best down jackets pack light and, thanks to the soft down and feathers within, will keep you warm wherever you go. Here, we suggest some of the best down jacket options available on Amazon and provide a brief buying guide to inform your down jacket-buying endeavors.
The Best Down Jackets
Maybe you want the look and warmth of a down jacket, but you’re really uncomfortable with the implications of buying down. There are wonderful down alternative jackets, and this sporty option from Tommy Hilfiger is one of them.
This jacket comes in an array of women’s sizes and seven classic colors. It has a zip-out fleece hood that gives it a hoodie-layered-under-jacket look and is perfect for staying comfy, especially during travel in cooler climes.
The jacket has two buttoned pockets. Zippered pockets might be better for keeping small items safe and secure, and unfortunately, the jacket doesn’t have interior pockets, elasticized sleeves, or built-in cuffs. It also doesn’t come with a packing pouch or bag. That said, nearly 100 reviewers give it an average 4.6 out of 5 stars, and many rave about the fit and warmth -- no feathers needed!
- Zip-out fleece hood
- Down alternative filling -- no ducks or birds harmed in the jacket’s making
- No interior pockets
- Doesn’t come with a packing pouch or bag
- Sleeves aren’t elasticized; no built-in cuffs
- 2 snap-closure pockets
- Hemline hits at the hip
- Available in 7 colors
- Brand: Tommy Hilfiger
- Material: Polyester
- Available Sizes: Women’s X-Small to X-Large
This Eddie Bauer jacket is a number one best seller in Amazon’s men’s big and tall down and parka outerwear category, but it comes in regular men’s sizes, too. It’s similar to our Honorable Mention jacket, but it’s made with Responsible Down Standard- (or RDS-) certified down (more on that in our buying guide below).
Beyond the RDS-certified down, this jacket, which comes in four colors, has a slew of standard down-jacket features: two zippered hand pockets, an interior pocket (without a zipper), and elasticized sleeves. The product description and a few questions answered by buyers indicate that it comes with a packing pouch, though a few reviewers say they didn’t receive theirs.
Also, note that while this jacket has an average 4.4 out of 5-star rating from over 1,600 reviewers, many people note that it is not warm or insulated enough for those who run cold or plan to wear their down jacket in very chilly areas.
- Elasticized sleeves keep the wind out
- Filled with Responsible Down Standard-certified down
- Comes with a matching bag for easy packing
- No hood
- May shed feathers
- Not as warm as some buyers expected
- 2 hand pockets + 1 interior pocket
- Hemline hits at the hip
- Available in regular + tall sizes
- Brand: Eddie Bauer
- Materials: Nylon, down
- Available Sizes: Men’s Small to X-Large Tall
Down Jackets Buying Guide
Down is one of the best-insulating materials by weight, so it makes sense that down jackets of all different styles are exceedingly popular. That said, there are a few things worth considering as you shop down jackets, and perhaps decide whether you really want down in the first place.
Is It Ethical Down?
Most down jacket manufacturers will list the down-to-feather ratio, which could have a big impact on the warmth and feel of your jacket (more down means a warmer, lighter, fluffier jacket that may be more expensive, whereas more feathers may mean a more affordable jacket, but it could be heavier and not insulate you quite as well). But they won’t necessarily indicate whether their down is ethically sourced.
Down isn’t just tiny feathers. It’s actually a different type of protective covering that keeps birds insulated and warm, and it usually grows on their bellies, under their feathers and close to their skin. Down is typically collected from birds (most often geese) who are killed for food consumption. However, sometimes it’s taken from living birds, which is extremely painful and unhealthful. Some farmers also force feed their birds to get them bigger, and downier, faster.
Recently, certain brands have agreed to use only Responsible Down Standard-certified or Global Traceable Down Standard-certified down. These indications on any jacket mean the down (and feathers) within were collected “from birds that are free from unnecessary harm, including no live plucking, no force feeding, and respect for the Five Freedoms (PDF) of animal welfare: freedom from hunger and thirst; from discomfort; from pain, injury or disease; to express normal behavior; and from fear and distress,” according to a New York Times’ Wirecutter resource on ethical down.
Note that ethical down still necessitates the killing of birds. The only way to get down without harming or killing a goose or duck is to collect down and feathers from its nest while it’s molting, which results in very little usable material.
For these reasons, you may want to prioritize purchasing ethical down or skipping down entirely, opting for outerwear like the women’s Tommy Hilfiger jacket we’ve included in our roundup, which uses a down alternative.
Closure And Length
Beyond your jacket’s down content, or lack thereof, you’ll want to consider how it’s going to keep the cold and elements out. Some of the jackets on our list have elasticized sleeves, whereas others have built-in cuffs (my personal preference). Most of these jackets hit at the hip, which makes them less bulky and easier to manage from a packing and lugging perspective. But longer down jackets, like our top pick, the Orolay Thickened Down Jacket, will keep you warmer as they have more material and the wind and chill are less likely to make their way up to your midriff.
Note that the best down jackets zip up rather than buttoning alone, as button-only closure is more likely to let the cold air and wind through to your torso.
Pockets make a big difference. They’re both a place to keep your stuff, and, if they’re big enough and positioned properly, a cozy place to tuck your hands when the wind gets going or it’s just plain cold out. Jackets like our top pick from Orolay have a lot of pockets, and some are zippered, so you can store your things securely. Our Honorable Mention and Also Consider choices have hand pockets (which zip shut) and interior pockets (that don’t).
If you like a down or down-alternative jacket like our Tommy Hilfiger women’s pick, which doesn’t have any large or zippered pockets, make sure you have a backpack or other bag in which you can carry your things, and are comfortable wearing gloves to keep your hands warm if you need to.
Not everyone wants their jacket to have a hood, which is why a detachable hood, like the one on our Tommy Hilfiger women’s pick, is so nice. That said, some down jackets have hoods that are permanently attached or no hood at all. Take your style into account as you choose a down jacket. Do you really need a hood, or would you rather wear a hat? If the hood is permanently attached, will that irritate you while you wear the jacket or create packing problems?
A Final Note On Down
Down and feathers tend to shed. If this is a worry for you, read product reviews to see if shedding is a real problem for a given down jacket. And, if you are totally against having to reach for the lint roller to get down off your clothing, know that a down alternative might be better for you.