Best Down Vests of 2018 (Buying guide + Best Products)

Talk to any hiker, mountaineer or a trekker today and they will all tell you about the kind of weather they get exposed to every time they are out there doing what they love the most. Other than temperature going really crazy hot, at times, it just falls below zero and if you are not properly dressed, you are in a lot of problems. It is because of this that you find most of these outdoor enthusiasts buying down vest jackets. These kinds of vests are becoming quite popular and that is because of a number of reasons. They come with great insulation that offers the much needed warmth.

These kinds of outdoor clothing are relatively lightweight and they can keep your torso warm while giving you impressive freedom of movement. So if you are an active hiker, trekker or just any other outdoor enthusiast, buying the best down jacket is what you should be doing real soon. If you are not familiar with these kinds of vest, here is everything you need to know.


  1. Arc’teryx Cerium LT
  2. Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer
  3. Patagonia Down Sweater
  4. North Face Nuptse
  5. 32Degrees Weatherproof Packable
  6. Outdoor Research Transcendent
  7. KUHL Spyfire
  8. Columbia Sportswear Big Flash Forward
  9. Eddie Bauer Downlight

What is A Vest Down Jacket?

First, before we even dig dipper into this piece of clothing, it will make a lot of sense if we first familiarize ourselves with it. A down jacket is basically a sleeveless down jacket which has been expertly insulated with the soft and warm under features often harvested from geese and duck. As you might all know; down is one of the best insulators out there. Its fluffiness creates million of tiny air pocket which can effectively trap warm air and most importantly retain air for a considerable length of time. In short, a down vest is a down jacket without the sleeves.

Technically, a down fill of jacket can be categorized into three categorized; goose down, duck down or a combination of the two. Each one of these comes with its own striking difference. For example, Goose down is regarded as the warmest and lightest. On the other hand, duck down jackets, or a jacket with a combination are often the less expensive.

How To Choose The Best Down Vest For Your Next Outdoor Activity

As with any other major purchase you make today, you can just pop into a store near you and pick a product you first see. The industry is packed with down jacket vests and if you don’t know what to look for, you may end up going home with a wrong choice. If you want to strike a perfect balance between prices, features, you just need to know what to go for and what to avoid. At the end, you need something that will suit your needs.


How the jacket has been built is important and must be considered, as well. Currently, pretty much like down jackets, there are different types of construction for down vest jackets. You may want to take a quick look at each one of them as that will determine what you need and what you are likely to take home. You need something that comes with plenty of benefits and one that will not give you any kind problem in the long run.

In any case, you need to check Down Fill Power. It is important you do this for that will give you a clear picture of how much warmth the down used in a vest provides for its weight. Normally, the higher the number, the better the kind of insulation you are going to get. Mostly, hiking vest that often come with a high fill are lighter than those with a low. However, be ready to pay extra amount of money for they are quite pricey. An additional construction feature, buyers are always advised to pay attention to the shoulder construction. If possible go for a design that comes with double layer Taffeta on the shoulders. Taffeta is said to give greater volume.

Type Of Down

As when you are buying your down jacket, you also need to consider the type of down your down vest jacket comes with. There are two major types; hydrophobic and regular down. These two come with some striking differences. For example, unlike regular down, hydrophobic down provides decent warmth even when wet. However, it does not eliminate the fact that down vest loses its insulation when wet but rather reduces the loss.


The amount of weight your vest comes with it is critically and must be considered at all times. After all who would want to go hiking with something that is extremely heavy? The obvious answer would be no one. Any outdoor enthusiast wants a light bag. We mean one that you can maneuver through those rocky places without any problem. So when buying a down vest jacket, make sure you go for one of the lightest.

Yes, these types of vests are known for being extremely light and this is probably one of the biggest advantages in comparison to down jackets. In any case, if you are looking for down vest jacket that offers great performance while at the same time being light, it will make sense if you go for one that comes with a fill power over 800. You will love it.

Warmth and Comfort

If you love winter hiking, pretty much like any other person out there, you would want something that provides great warmth, but at the same time be still comfortable wearing it. So before you make your choice, it will make sense if you judge how well the vest does its intended designed purpose. So other than just looking for great warmth, you may want to go for something that comes with great comfort. Ideally, before you have it packed, it won’t hurt if you try it before you get out of that store. That will give you first-hand experience on how comfortable the vest would be out there.


The kind of material that has been used is king. As a matter of fact, it is one thing that can make or even break the whole purchase. With that in mind, you may want to check different fabrics and what advantages each one comes with it. You just need to settle for the best.

Although we have seen a great number of materials being used in the recent past; nylon and polyester are two major one. They are widely used and you won’t miss to see a vest that comes made of any of the two. When we look at the two, it is important to note that Polyester comes with high durability. A vest made from polyester can withstand repetitive movements. Nylon on the other hand is regarded one of the thinnest and flexible fabrics you could go for today. Nylon is super great when it comes to maintaining an excellent amount of toughness.

Water resistance and Waterproofing

One of the biggest reasons why most outdoor enthusiasts go for a down vest is because other than the comfort they come with, these types of vest can also protect you from rain. With that in mind, you may want to check the kind of technology that has been used. The vest must come with excellent waterproofing or repelling features. The choice you make must be able to protect you from being soaked in water. It must also be able to dry real fast. It cannot get better than that.


As simple as it may sound, the design and the number of pocket your vest comes with is important. This simple feature comes with great benefits. In any case, most down vests come with two pockets on the front and occasionally one in the inside. However, make sure they are all zippered as that will e nsure your items are safely locked in the inside. Additionally, make sure they are quite accessible. You need something that you can get your camera out with so much ease.


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  • Lightweight
  • Warm
  • Low Profile


  • Not as warm as other down vests

Bottom Line: The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer is a pleasantly light vest which is suitable for people who want to get rid of any excess weight while, going about those physically demanding trips.

Coming fully made of superlight 10D nylon and a great insulation layer that uses 800 fill power Q Shield down, the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer is a great choice for those serious winter hiking. Also, this vest comes treated with permanent water repellency. It can resist moisture with ease and takes a reactively shorter period to dry. Seen as effort by designers to make sure you remain protected all times, the outer layer is fully water resistant and windproof. With it, you will never have to worry about any natural phenomena. This vest, pretty much like the rest, does come equipped with zippered pockets. They have been placed a little bit higher for easy access.



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  • Great Lightweight down vest
  • Contoured slim fit
  • Stylish


  • Down feathers might leak

Bottom Line: The Patagonia Down Sweater is one of the heaviest down vest jacket you can buy today, making it the best for below the zero weather conditions. It also comes with great looks. You will look super stylish in it.

Joining the rest weighing around 100 grams, we could say the Patagonia Down Sweater is heavier than most vest in our list. However, that weight comes with plenty of benefits. This vest provides better warmth, thanks to its super thick insulation layer. The outer layer has also seen a lot of work go into; it comes made of recycled polyester. The down that has been used comes from geese. At the end, while this vest lacks rain protection, it does great when it comes to protecting you from wind.


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  • Excellent design and fit
  • Well placed pockets
  • Warmth
  • Stuff sack included


  • Pricey

Bottom Line: The ARC’TERYX CERIUM LT is a impressively light down vest that does its job so well. It provides great performance and excellent protection against wind, rain and abrasion as well.

ARC’TERYX is well known when it comes to creation of the best hiking from products. From sleeping bags to hiking shorts, their name is known virtually everywhere. Being one of the biggest players, there is no way one of their own down vests was not going to feature in our list. The ARC’TERYX CERIUM LT is currently regard one of the most lightweight down vest and all that thanks to its great design. The outer layer is just out of this world. It comes made of Durable Water Repellant treated Airetica Ripstiop Nylon. It is unlike anything you have seen before for it provides great protection against wind. The insulation layer is also worth mentioning. It is made of 850 white Goose down coupled with CoreLoft synthetic fibers.


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  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Great for most outdoor activities


  • Fits slender frames better than wider frames

Bottom Line: The Outdoor Research Transcendent doesn’t provide as much warmth as other vest, but for its weight and features, we say it is a pretty remarkable down vest.

The Outdoor Research Transcendent does not offer as much insulation as we would want it to, but it is extremely lightweight in nature. The best part, other than just it outstanding low weight, it comes with other great features. The way the internal front storm flap has been designed makes it so great. It keeps out daft. The vest is also water resistance. It allows moisture to bead off. 

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