The 10 Best Men's Down Jackets
10. Arc'teryx Cerium LT
- more padding in moisture-prone areas
- great fit for taller men
- feathers can pop out
|Rating||3.6 / 5.0|
9. Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer
- stuffed collar feels like a pillow
- adjustable toggle hem
- the arms are a bit long
|Rating||4.2 / 5.0|
8. Rab Neutrino Endurance
- 800 fill power goose down
- baffle stitch pattern
- torso area is excessively wide
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
7. 32 Degrees
- safe for the washing machine
- pockets blend in with side seam
- available in only one size
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
6. Marmot Stockholm
- holds heat even when wet
- velcro collar closure
- zippers are prone to sticking
|Rating||4.4 / 5.0|
5. Patagonia Sweater Jacket
- dries very quickly
- attractive contoured cut
- stitching could be stronger
|Rating||3.9 / 5.0|
4. Columbia Frost-Fighter
- stands up well to daily use
- comes in twenty different colors
- not suitable for extreme cold
|Rating||5.0 / 5.0|
3. Tommy Hilfiger Packable
- nylon shell repels water
- pockets are deep
- drawstring carrying bag
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
2. Outdoor Research Transcendent
- discreet chest pocket
- elastic around the cuffs
- material is breathable
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
1. Hawke & Co Puffer II
- material is tear-resistant
- folds into itself for easy carrying
- double extra-large size available
|Brand||Hawke & Co|
|Rating||5.0 / 5.0|
Down With the Thickness
While a great men’s down jacket will turn heads, it’s likely that you want one not just to look good, but to be warm, too. So, when shopping for a down jacket, one of the most important measurements you’ll want to pay attention to is the fill power, which measures the loft of the down and its attendant insulating abilities. Fill power is usually expressed as cubic inches per ounce, which is measured when the down is fully expanded. For example, a down fill rating of 700 means that when an ounce of down is at its fluffiest, it covers 700 cubic inches.
Why is this important? Because down with a higher fill power has more air pockets, which means it will insulate better and keep you warmer. Most men’s down jackets fall somewhere between 500 and 800 fill power, which impacts the price of the garment. The other measurement that impacts price and quality is the fill weight, which tells you how much down is in the jacket. A high fill weight leads to a jacket that’s warmer but heavier and denser, while a fill weight on the lower side gives you one that may not keep you as warm but will compress extremely well for packing.
There are a few other things to think about when selecting a down jacket, as well. If you’re vegan, there are synthetic down jackets available that are just as warm as those made from goose or duck down. This type of down is usually made from ultra-fine polyester fibers that can imitate bird down’s lofty clusters, although you’ll usually need more of it to achieve the same warmth. For this reason, synthetic down jackets are sometimes a bit less compressible.
And don’t forget to look at the outer materials and how well the jacket will stand up to wet conditions. Real down doesn’t dry particularly quickly, so a jacket with a water-resistant shell is a good idea. Or, if you live in a truly wet, cold climate, synthetic down might be the better choice, as it dries much faster. Finally, if you plan to be doing any strenuous activities, look for a shell made from durable nylon that can stand up to abrasions.
Caring For A Down Jacket
Listen up, guys. A down jacket is not the kind of garment you can leave wadded up in the back of your closet during the months when it’s not in use. Not if you expect it to keep you feeling warm and looking hot, that is. After all, a quality winter jacket is an investment, and we want to help you protect it. Luckily, it’s not that hard to properly care for a down jacket. (For those modern men who understand the importance of proper clothing care, we apologize, but read on, because we want to keep your garment game on point.)
Although some down jackets, such as those with silk content, must be dry cleaned, the majority can go right into your washing machine. Choose a gentle cycle and cold water, and go ahead and spot treat any stains with diluted detergent before you throw it in. After it’s clean, you can put it in the dryer, again selecting a low temperature. To help the jacket fluff back up, put a couple of tennis balls in with it — these will help distribute the filling evenly. You might take the jacket out halfway through the cycle and smooth out the filling, too, which will help prevent clumping.
Unless you are doing a lot of sweaty, strenuous activities, you should really only need to wash a down jacket once or twice per season. In the warmer months, hang it on a quality coat hanger. Be sure not to leave it packed away in its stuff sack. Leaving a down jacket compressed for long periods can wrinkle the outer fabric and lengthen the down’s re-loft time.
If you see any feathers poking out, resist the temptation to pull them through the fabric. Instead, gently push them back in so that you don’t risk creating a hole. If you do end up with a hole or tear, you can use fabric patching tape or even duct tape. This type of repair job lends a certain rugged air to the garment, but if that’s not your thing, a qualified tailor might be able to sew the fabric together.
A Brief History Of The Down Jacket
The men’s down jacket was born out of the kind of necessity that usually comes after a near-death experience. Way back in the 1930s, legendary sportsman and designer Eddie Bauer was out on a fishing trip that almost turned tragic. Finished for the day, he and a friend were hiking their way out of the canyon they’d been angling in, when Bauer stopped to rest. He was wet and half frozen, and he reports that a sleepiness began to creep over him — the beginnings of hypothermia. His friend was already some way ahead of him, but Bauer was carrying a revolver, which he fired into the air to alert his companion of his predicament. Alone, Bauer most likely would not have survived, but his friend was able to provide him the help he needed.
Back at the design board, Bauer reflected on stories his uncle had told him about his time in the Russian Army and about the feather jackets they wore to stay warm in the sharp, cruel cold. The prototype Bauer produced used goose down that was held in place with diamond quilting. Working with a friend who was a climber, he perfected the design and ultimately started offering the jacket, dubbed the Skyliner, for sale in 1936. The garment was a smash success and a staple product in the Eddie Bauer line up until the 1980s.
Bauer may have patented the original, but today, a whole host of companies and designers produce down jackets for men in a variety of styles and colors. These jackets may go by different names, including puffer or “puffa” coats, but they all have one thing in common — they can trace their modern lineage back to the Skyliner and the resilience of man against the weather.