The Best Women’s Down Jackets of 2018

Hunting for a women’s down jacket? We can help. We evaluated over 80 of the market’s best models and purchased the top 10. Armed to the teeth, we put each contender through a series of head-to-head testing during the coldest months. Our testers traveled as far as Antarctica, putting each model to the ultimate test. We combined overall experiences with specific and exhaustive tests to fully examine the differences between the contenders. We obsessed over performance in heat-trapping ability, how well they repelled wet winter weather and their level of durability. We also scored each competitor according to their relative weight and compressibility. No matter what type of winter you live in or plan to travel to, our comprehensive review helps you ignore the marketing and guides you to the right product for the conditions.

 

Best Overall Women’s Model Arc’teryx Cerium SV Hoody – Women’s

 

Down fill: 850 fill power goose down, with Coreloft synthetic insulation | Weight: 10 oz

Incredibly light
Compact
Very warm
Packs a separate but attached stuff sack
Glove-friendly hood and hem adjustments
Expensive
Lighter weight fabrics can be fragile

The Arc’teryx Cerium SV Hoody is a mind-blowing contender. It was by far the warmest jacket in this review, puffing up to twice the loft of the average competition—but packing down just as small. The ultrawarm collar ensures this is a severe-weather-ready model and makes it feel more like an expedition parka than a lightweight down jacket, without the bulk and weight. This was the only jacket in this review that we could take ice climbing as our only warm jacket—the others were nowhere near warm enough. We loved everything about this jacket—the shape was slim and athletic, and it allowed excellent freedom of movement when we made some climbing moves in it. This is much more expensive than most of the jackets in this review, but as we know, you often get what you pay for. This model will have a happy home in our quiver of insulating layers for many years to come.

Top Pick Ultralight Competitor Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Hooded – Women’s

 

Down fill: 800 fill power Q.Shield down, and Responsible Down Standard certified | Weight: 4.5 oz

Incredibly light
Compact
Warm for its size and weight
Packs into its pocket
No way to cinch the hood
No chest pocket

The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer was finally ousted this year from our Editor’s Choice award by the Arc’teryx Cerium SV Hoody. However, it is still a clear award winner, earning our Top Pick as Best Ultralight model. It is one of the warmest jackets we tested for its incredible light weight. It is made of highly compressible 800-fill down, and impressively durable for rugged outdoor use—we even rock climbed in it when late fall temps dropped in the desert. This is a great stand-alone layer for moderate temps and is easy to layer when you’re out midwinter; this makes it hard leave behind on any adventure, urban or outdoors. The jacket is styled for the avid outdoors person and looks sleek and stylish if that’s your jam. It stuffs into its hand pocket and has a loop that is easy to clip to a harness. This was our favorite for sunset ascents of desert towers when speed and low weight are critical to getting to the rappels before dark—and you still want to look sharp for those beautiful sunset summit shots. If you’re looking to ditch the hood, this hoody is also available in the Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket – Women’s.

Best On a Tight Budget REI Co-op Magma 850 – Women’s

 

Down fill: 650 fill power down, Responsible Down Standard certified | Weight: 6 oz

Inexpensive
High-quality materials and manufacturing
Very lightweight
Easy to layer under shell
No hood
Harder to dress up

The REI Co-op Magma 850 is a phenomenal jacket, especially for the price. The Magma is a very close competitor for the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer, and we suspect that if it came in two options—one with a hood—it may have given the Ghost a run for its money. This jacket is very lightweight and slim, making it easy to layer underneath a hard shell or larger down jacket; because of this, it’s a highly versatile jacket. You’ll find yourself reaching for it as extra insulating during the harsh winter months, and during midsummer milder adventures when you don’t need as much insulation. It’s so light, durable, and compact that you’ll be stoked to have it with you all year round, and for the price, that makes it a phenomenal value.

Top Pick for Poor Weather and Rough Use Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket – Women’s

 

Down fill: 750 fill power European Hydrophobic goose down | Weight: 9 oz

Durable
Weather resistant
Athletic cut
Good movement
Versatile
Hand pockets flare out when unzipped
Separate stuff sack is easy to lose

The Rab Microlight Alpine is one of the most durable pieces we’ve ever reviewed. Now, with a few detail-oriented updates, it’s even more comfortable and functional than before. With the new polymer (instead of wire) hood brim, you don’t look ridiculous when you forget to bend it into shape. The folks at Rab have also updated the jacket’s fit, expanding the chest box and tapering the sides. This makes the jacket a little less boxy, which helps it transition from mountain to town activities. In this year’s round of field tests, we noticed a lot of compliments around town, as well as in the mountains. It is sleek and sharp. This jacket is a bit heavier for its size, but it seals out weather so well we think it’s worth the few extra ounces. We love the slightly longer arms, and the taper ensures the sleeves stay out of your way, even when rock climbing. The Microlight is light and compressible with 750 fill power hydrophobic down and stands up to light rain and wet snow better than most with its Pertex exterior. We appreciated the new stuff sack, which makes it easy to travel with, but we would have preferred it if it were girth hitched to the pocket so it won’t fall out when we open the pocket. As a reliable all-around performer, the Rab jacket earns our Top Pick for Weather Resistance and Durability. This contender will be reliable from town to summit. This great hoody is also available in a jacket! If you’re looking to ditch the hood, check out the Women’s Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket.

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