Best Lightweight Down Jackets for Outdoor Women in 2020

This post is sponsored by REI

When it comes to staying warm in cold weather, one of the most important layers is a down jacket. The best down jackets for outdoor women are lightweight, comfortable, super warm, and ideally made in the most environmentally friendly way possible. They’re also built to last through all your outdoor pursuits, and they’re even form-flattering so you won’t look like the Michelin man. A versatile addition to your cold-weather gear, down jackets are essential on cold winter hikes, underneath your ski jacket, when traveling in cold climates, and while relaxing by the campfire.
In this blog post, we’ve rounded up the best lightweight women’s down jackets, plus everything you need to know about down, including insulation properties and environmental standards. With this information, we hope you find the best down jacket for your money that will keep you warm no matter where you’re going or what you’re doing.

Here are the best lightweight down jackets for outdoor women in 2020!

Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie

*Eco-Friendly* Patagonia is one of the more expensive brands in the outdoor market, but their products are made to last with environmentally-responsible materials. The down in this Down Sweater Hoodie is ethically-sourced as part of the Traceable Down Standard (TDS), guaranteeing the animals were not live-plucked or force-fed in order to collect the down. This standard puts animal welfare and consumer assurance standards first. Aside from their stewardship, this is a solid down jacket for all your winter warmth needs. It’s actually one of my favorite down jackets because it’s lightweight, windproof, and the shell is made of 100% recycled polyester. It’s frequently available at a discounted price from REI’s used gear site, which saves you money and reduces waste.
Here are some of the Patagonia Down Sweater features: 

  • Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Insulation: 800-fill Traceable Down goose down
  • Certified by the Global Traceable Down Standard (Global TDS)
  • Wind-proof and water-resistant shell made from 100% recycled materials
  • Zippered hand and chest pockets
  • Price: $$$

Patagonia Down Sweater // Need a new down jacket? Here are the best down jackets of 2020, plus everything you need to know about down, so you invest in the best one for your money.

Check price: REI

REI Magma 850 Down Hoodie 2.0

*Eco-Friendly* REI’s Magma 850 down hoodie is a super lightweight packable down jacket. Thanks to the Pertex® ripstop technology, it has an abrasion-resistant shell. Yep, abrasion-resistant – that means you can save that emergency duct tape for when you really need it because this down jacket is designed to stand up against scrapes and scratches in the backcountry. The down is certified Responsible Down by REI’s ethical standard and is treated with their Durable Water Repellant to resist moisture. This is one of the best packable down jackets for women available.
Here are some of the REI Magma 850 Down Hoodie features: 

  • Weight: 11.5 ounces
  • Insulation: 850-fill goose down (bluesign® approved)
  • Certified by Responsible Down Standard (RDS)
  • Treated with Durable Water Repellant
  • Packs down into its left-hand pocket
  • Zippered hand and chest pockets
  • Price: $$

REI Magma Down Hoodie // Need a new down jacket? Here are the best down jackets of 2020, plus everything you need to know about down, so you invest in the best one for your money.

Check price: REI

Rab Valiance Down Jacket

*Waterproof Option* The Rab Valiance Down Jacket is built tough for the winter adventurer. Whether you’re skiing, snowboarding, or just out in the elements, this is a fully waterproof down jacket that will keep you warm and, most importantly, dry. Box-wall construction keeps the jacket close to your body leaving little room for rain, snow, and wind to penetrate. It’s one of the more expensive jackets on this list, but if it’s within your price point or you catch it on sale this is worth the investment, especially if you want something waterproof.
Here are some of the Rab Valiance Down Jacket features: 

  • Weight: 1 lb 5.8 ounces
  • Insulation: 800-fill-power European goose down
  • Certified by Responsible Down Standard (RDS)
  • Rab fluorocarbon-free hydrophobic down developed in conjunction with Nikwax®
  • Waterproof shell: Pertex® Shield fully taped outer shell
  • Insulated helmet-compatible hood
  • Packable with an included stuff sack
  • Price: $$$$

Rab Valiance Down Jacket // Need a new down jacket? Here are the best down jackets of 2020, plus everything you need to know about down, so you invest in the best one for your money.

Check price: REI

Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Jacket

*Budget Option* The Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Jacket is a quality down jacket at a more affordable price. There aren’t many bells and whistles, but it’s lightweight and can be layered with a base layer or outer shell. Weighing in at less than 12 ounces, this is one of the best lightweight down jackets for backpacking. And, at less than $200, you can’t beat the price.
Here are some of the Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Jacket features:

  • Weight: 11.5 ounces
  • Insulation: 650-fill water-resistant goose down
  • Certified by Responsible Down Standard (RDS)
  • Outer shell made with Ripstop polyester
  • Packs down into its own pocket
  • Price: $

Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Jacket // Need a new down jacket? Here are the best down jackets of 2020, plus everything you need to know about down, so you invest in the best one for your money.

Check price: REI Outlet

Mountain Hardwear Super/DS StretchDown Hooded Jacket

*Stretchy Option* If you’re looking for a stretchy jacket you can move in, the Mountain Hardwear Super/DS StretchDown Hooded Jacket might just be the best down jacket for you. It’s designed to be lightweight, durable, and stretchy enough for you to move freely so you can keep doing all the activities you love even in cold weather. As a versatile option, you can ski, snowboard, climb, and hike in this stretchy down jacket. The zippered pockets are compatible with harnesses and hip belts making it easier to keep moving.
Here are some of the Mountain Hardwear Super/DS StretchDown Jacket features: 

  • Weight: 15 ounces
  • Insulation: 700-fill-power Q.Shield™ goose down (90% goose down/10% goose feather)
  • Certified by Responsible Down Standard (RDS)
  • Treated with Q.Shield™ to resist moisture
  • Stitch-free baffle reduces down migration and cold spot
  • Price: $$$

Mountain Hardwear Super/DS Down Jacket // Need a new down jacket? Here are the best down jackets of 2020, plus everything you need to know about down, so you invest in the best one for your money.

Check price: REI

Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket

*Flexible Option* Another durable, windproof down jacket for alpine sports is the Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket. It’s flexible enough for maximum mobility and light enough to throw in your pack once you work up a sweat. I especially like the insulated brimmed hood design for shielding wind, sun, and snow from the face.
Here are some of the Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket features: 

  • Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Insulation: 750-fill-power RDS approved waterproof European goose down
  • Pertex® Microlight outer shell for lightweight windproofing
  • Insulated hood with peaked brim and helmet-compatible
  • Zippered hand pockets and chest pocket
  • Price: $$$

Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket // Need a new down jacket? Here are the best down jackets of 2020, plus everything you need to know about down, so you invest in the best one for your money.

Check price: REI

REI Co-op Stormhenge 850 Down Jacket

*Waterproof Option* The REI Stormhenge 850 Down Jacket is the ultimate 2-in-1 insulated waterproof jacket. If there’s anything that traditional down is missing, it’s waterproof capabilities, but with the REI Stormhenge, there’s one less thing to worry about. You can blaze the trails confidently knowing you’ll be covered if an unexpected storm rolls through. This windproof, waterproof, super warm down jacket is fully loaded with pit zips, a warm hood, and 2-way zippers so you can trap your heat in or vent some heat out whenever necessary.
Here are some of the REI Stormhenge 850 Down Jacket features: 

  • Weight: 1 lb 6 ounces
  • Insulation: 850-fill RDS approved goose down
  • Down treated with Durable Water Repellant to resist water
  • 2 layer waterproof nylon shell with sealed seams
  • Insulated hood
  • Pit zips for ventilation
  • Price: $$

REI Stormhenge Down Jacket // Need a new down jacket? Here are the best down jackets of 2020, plus everything you need to know about down, so you invest in the best one for your money.

Check price: REI

Flylow Betty Down Jacket

*Eco-Friendly* The Flylow Betty Down Jacket is another quality packable down jacket for women. While it’s not one of the lightest jackets on this list, this is a great option for a windproof, water-resistant down jacket that’s suitable for all your cold-weather needs.
Here are some of the Flylow Betty Down Jacket features: 

  • Weight: 1 lb 2.9 ounces
  • Insulation: 800-fill goose down
  • Shell made with lightweight, 20-denier S/G Lite™ recycled mini ripstop polyester
  • Treated with Durable Water Repellent finish
  • Packs down into its own pocket
  • Contains recycled materials
  • Price: $$$

Flylow Betty Down Jacket // Need a new down jacket? Here are the best down jackets of 2020, plus everything you need to know about down, so you invest in the best one for your money.

Check price: REI

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Shadow Insulated Hoodie

*Eco-Friendly* The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Shadow Insulated Hoodie is another ultra-lightweight packable women’s down jacket. This jacket is an alternative to down as it’s made with synthetic insulation. At less than 11 ounces, it really feels light as a feather so it’s a great women’s down jacket for backpacking. The entire jacket is made with 88% recycled materials and Mountain Hardwear is proud to say that production used 52% less water than that of similar styles from other brands in the industry.
Here are some of the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Shadow Hoodie features: 

  • Weight: 10.5 ounces
  • Insulation: PrimaLoft® Silver Hi-Loft Ultra 80g synthetic insulation (made of 70% recycled materials)
  • Shell made with 100% recycled nylon with CZero PFC-free
  • Treated with Durable Water Repellent (DWR) finish
  • Packs down into its own pocket
  • Zippers made with 48% recycled materials
  • Price: $$

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Shadow Jacket // Need a new down jacket? Here are the best down jackets of 2020, plus everything you need to know about down, so you invest in the best one for your money.

Check price: REI

Factors to Consider When Shopping for the Best Down Jacket

What is Down?

Down is the soft plumage underneath the feathers of a goose, duck, or other waterfowl. It’s a popular misconception that ‘down’ refers to the feathers of the bird. Feathers have a hard quill and down is a fluffy cluster of tiny filaments that create air pockets to trap the bird’s heat. It’s what keeps the bird warm while they swim through frigid water (and what keeps us warm in turn). And, since birds need to be light enough to fly but warm enough for cold air and water, down is super light, warm, and breathable. This high warmth-to-weight ratio is what makes it the preferred insulation choice for outdoor adventurers.

Types of Down

There are two main types of natural down: goose down and duck down. The primary difference between the two is cost and warmth potential. Goose down is usually preferred because it produces a higher fill power (more on that down below), but it’s more expensive. Duck down is not as warm because the birds are smaller than geese, so they don’t have the same amount and fill power of down like their goose friends, but it’s less expensive.
Another thing that affects the cost is the demand. Ducks are consumed on a larger scale than geese, so the byproducts of the bird, like down, are more readily available which drives the cost down.

Down Fill Power

The insulation quality of down is measured by fill power, which is how many cubic inches one ounce of down can fill. Basically, it indicates how easily the down can puff back up after being compressed, measuring its ability to trap heat.
A higher fill power number means greater loft and insulation efficiency. The idea is that a loftier down with higher fill power won’t need as much down to fill the space in order to achieve a certain temperature rating. Less down means less weight, so if you’re looking for an ultralight packable down jacket keep that in mind.
Goose down maxes out around 900 fill power, while duck down typically can’t exceed 750- 800 fill power. Most down jackets you’ll see are somewhere between 450 and 900 fill power, ranging from the least to most expensive. It’s important to note that a higher fill power number doesn’t always equate to a warmer jacket because there are other factors that affect overall warmth, like how much down is actually in the jacket (fill weight).

Natural Down vs Synthetic Down Alternatives

So far we’ve been talking about natural down materials which work incredibly well to keep you warm. When taken care of, natural down jackets will last for a really long time. But, the one downside is natural down’s inability to repel moisture. The fill power qualities drastically reduce once the material gets wet and it won’t dry fast. Some companies are combatting this by treating the down with a water-resistant coating, but this isn’t a fix-all solution. If you’re out in a light drizzle, the treated down will stay drier longer but eventually, it will saturate and lose loft, so most down jackets are best for dry conditions (unless you purchase one of the waterproof down jackets from the list above).
That’s where the synthetic down alternative comes in. Made from polyester fibers designed to imitate the fluffy, lofty clusters of natural down, synthetic down jackets are quite warm, water-resistant and will dry much faster than those made with natural down. But, some synthetic insulated products require more material to achieve the same level of insulation, which could make it heavier.
It’s also important to note that animals are affected by the down industry. In order to honor their environmental standards of ethics, REI has adopted the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) for 100% of REI private label down and feathers. This will ensure all down used in their products comes from ethically treated waterfowl. Many other leading outdoor brands have also committed to responsibly sourcing down materials for their products. We value standards like this, so every product on this list meets the RDS. If you prefer not to buy a product with animal byproducts, a synthetic down alternative is a great option, so we included a lightweight synthetic down jacket in the list above.

What’s your favorite down jacket and what activities do you wear it for? Tell us in the comments below!


Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Any purchases you make help to support this blog at no added cost to you. I only recommend products that I stand behind, and if you ever have any questions about any of the products featured on my site, please email me. Thanks! Kristen

Written by Kristen Bor

Hey there! My name is Kristen, and this is my outdoor blog. I discovered the power of the outdoors in my 20s, at the time I needed it most. Now 15 years later, prioritizing that critical connection with nature continues to improve my life. My goal at Bearfoot Theory is to empower you with the tools and advice you need to responsibly get outside.

2 comments on “Best Lightweight Down Jackets for Outdoor Women in 2020

  1. How does the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody Puffy compare to the ARcteryx Atom LT synthetic hoody as far as warmth? I have the Patagonia jacket and love it, but it is really bulky. I’ve tried on the Atom but would like to know if it is comparable warmth to the Patagonia? Thanks.

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