An Ultralight down jacket is on the gear list of many outdoor adventurers. Although not as warm as heavier down parkas, most of us – with a proper layered system – will never need the warmth of a 600g+ Down jacket. If you are not going to do high summits or polar expeditions and you don’t live in a particularly cold country like Canada or Norway, ultralight down jackets might be for you.
Where ultralight down jackets shine is when you need to pack small and light. There simply nothing better than goose down for warmth to weight ratio. Sure, synthetic is making progress but the newest best synthetic fillings only come close 600-fill-power down and are heavier.
If you adventures take you to wet places you should consider ultralight down jackets filled with hydrophobic or waterproof down. Waterproof down absorb around 30% less water that un-treated down. This results in faster dry times and more loft under wet conditions.
Price is often what sets ultralight down jackets from their synthetic counterparts. Down is expensive, specially if you are looking for premium down with a 650+ fill-power. There are few options however in the range 650 fill-power that are truly great for their price point. Scroll down the page to find out more, particularly brands like Alpkit and Cumulus.
The best ultralight down jackets for winter
Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoody
Patagonia’s Ultralight Down Hoody is a classic. 800-fill-power European goose down. Pertex Quantum Y yarn shell, Bluesign certified, with DWR treatment. Micro-baffle variable construction. This is a great option for the environmentally conscious. Certainly not the cheapest ultralight down jacket on the market but Patagonia’s commitment to the planet commands a premium. 297 g (10.5 oz). $330 / £280 /330€.
Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody
Available in a lot of colours, this ultralight down jacket from OR is perfect for winter’s cold. Polyester 20D ripstop shell, nylon, 44D embossed taffeta lining and 650-fill-power goose down. Not the best quality down but also much cheaper than the Patagonia. 435g (15.4 oz). $200 / £160 / 200€.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Hooded Jacket
The Ghost Whisperer Down Hooded Jacket from Mountain Hardwear is another classic that has been around for years and keeps scoring awards. The latest iteration comes with Q.Shield® Down, Mountain Hardwear’s version of the hydrophobic down fill. 800-fill-power down, Whisperer 7D x 10D Ripstop shell. 219 g (7.7 oz). $350 / £230/ 320€.
Montane Featherlite Down Jacket
Montane stepped-up its game recently with the addition of HyperDRY hydrophobic down in most of its range of down products. The Featherlite comes with a Pertex Quantum shell, 150g of 750+ fill-power down. 419g (15 oz). $200 / £160 / 215€
Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket
Reviewed a few year, this ultralight down jacket is a reference in our closet. The Microlight Alpine comes with Pertex Microlight outershell and 140g of 750FP Goose down with Nikwax’s fluorocarbon-free hydrophobic treatment. 430g (16 oz). $264 / £160 / 230€.
Cumulus Incredilite Endurance
Cumulus is one of those small brands with a small but very well designed collection. Their Incredilite Endurance ultralight down jacket is in a class of its own. It uses Pertex Endurance on the outside, making the shell waterproof to a column of 1000mm. Pertex Quantum on the inside. The Incredilite is filled with 115g of 850FP Polish Goose down. 330g (11.6 oz). 175€.
Gear startup Jöttnar is making waves with its well crafted collection of jackets. The Fenrir down jacket uses 30 Denier rip-stop nylon for the outershell and 112g of 850FP fluorocarbon free, PFOA free and PFOS free Goose down. The down is provided by DownTek. 380g (13.2 oz). £200.
Arc’Teryx Cerium LT
Westcomb Chilko Sweater
Westcomb also has an option in the ultralight down jacket section. The Chilko does not have a hood thought. Pertex Quantum 20D on the outside and 900FP (!) White Goose down. 255g (9 oz). $250.
Alpkit Filoment Jacket
Another small brand from the UK making great products. The Filoment down jacket is not as high-spec’d as some other from the list but for the price it’s definitely a bargain. 120g of 650FP down filling. 325g (11.4 oz) £99.
There are indeed a lot of options in the ultralight down jacket segment. And wide range of prices too. Finding the perfect balance between price and quality is tough. As a rule of thumb, premium quality down, above the 650 mark, is always going to be expensive. This is not to say 650FP down is bad. It is actually perfectly fine for most winter trips below the tree-line and further with good layers underneath. Better down will give you better warmth for weight and better compressibility.