Best Women’s Synthetic Down Jackets in 2024

Find the best women’s synthetic down jackets including lightweight, packable, vegan-friendly down alternatives for cold temperatures.

Here are the best synthetic down jackets for women in 2021 including lightweight, packable, vegan-friendly down alternatives for cold temps.

When it comes to staying warm in cold weather, one of the most important layers is an insulated jacket.

In the past, traditional down (feather) jackets ruled the market, but thanks to advances in fabric technology, synthetic insulation is now another top choice.

Synthetic down jackets offer warmth and breathability at a more affordable price – plus synthetic holds up better against wet weather.

In this blog post, we’ve rounded up the best women’s synthetic down jackets from our all-women team of experienced hikers who understand the unique needs and challenges faced by women when selecting gear for outdoor adventures.

We hope you find the best down-alternative jacket for your money that will keep you warm no matter where you’re going or what outdoor activity you’re pursuing!

Best Women’s Synthetic Down Jackets at a Glance

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Patagonia Nano Puff Hoodie

Bearfoot Theory Reader Favorite

Key Features

  • Weight: 10.8 ounces
  • Insulation: 60-g PrimaLoft Gold Eco 100%
  • Outer fabric made from recycled ripstop polyester

Where to shop

  • What we like: versatile for day-to-day wear and outdoor activities, tried & tested jacket that has been on the market for years, packs down into its chest pocket & easily compressible
  • What we don’t like: I’ve had issues with the zipper not zipping smoothly

The Patagonia Nano Puff Hoodie is one of my personal favorite women’s synthetic down jackets and also the most popular jacket among Bearfoot Theory readers. The Nano Puff was one of the first-ever synthetic jackets on the market and it continues to be a best-seller year after year – with good reason. The Nano Puff is the perfect crossover jacket – easily worn around the campfire, tossed in your pack for a hike, or just running errands around town. It’s lightweight, highly compressible, and gets the job done in all but the coldest of weather. It’s also the perfect layering jacket underneath an outer shell because of how thin it is.

While I’ve found the Nanopuff to be very durable, standing up to my dogs jumping on me and resting against rocks on the trail, some people report that the Nano Puff is susceptible to tears and snags. So take caution if you are wearing this jacket on overgrown hikes or while climbing. I’ve also experienced some issues with the zipper not zipping properly. Luckily Patagonia has a great repair policy and fixed the zipper for free. The Nano Puff also comes in a non-hooded version.

Read our full review of the Patagonia Nano Puff.

A woman wearing the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket in Joshua Tree
BFT Contributor Linda wearing the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket (hoodless version) in Joshua Tree

Arc’teryx Atom Heavyweight Insulated Hoody (FKA Atom AR)

Bearfoot Theory Team Favorite

Key Features

  • Weight: 13.9 ounces
  • Insulation: 60g Coreloft

Where to shop

  • What we like: durable against harsh use, sleek design, zipped hand and chest pockets, extremely comfortable liner and shell fabric, cinched hood keeps you warm and protected in windy conditions
  • What we don’t like: expensive investment, not the most breathable jacket, not designed to pack down into its pocket, and doesn’t come with a stuff sack

Note: The Atom Heavyweight Hoody was previously named the Atom AR Hoody.

A versatile synthetic down jacket that works great as a layer or as an outer shell, the Arc’teryx Atom Heavyweight Insulated Hoody is warm, breathable, and wind and rain-resistant. This is my personal favorite synthetic down jacket that comes with me on most adventures.

Thanks to the redesigned Tyono™ 30 face fabric, the Atom Heavyweight 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 synthetic down jacket is designed to stand up against scrapes and scratches in the backcountry.

a woman smiling on top of a Colorado 14'er wearing Arc'teryx Atom LT Insulated Hoodie
Wearing an older version of the Arc’teryx Atom Heavyweight Insulated Hoody hiking Handies Peak in Colorado

Arc’teryx Atom Insulated Hoodie

Best Synthetic Down Jacket for Summer Day Hikes

Key Features

  • Weight: 10.9 oz
  • Insulation: 40g Coreloft Compact (core only)

Where to shop

  • What we like: one of the most lightweight jackets on our list, can be worn on longer hikes without overheating, zippered hand pockets, holds up well against the wind, breathable fabric
  • What we don’t like: expensive investment for limited warmth, not designed to pack down into its pocket and doesn’t come with a stuff sack

The Atom Insulated Hoodie is a great addition to Arc’teryx’s super popular Atom series. This is the most lightweight Atom jacket available, a full 3oz lighter than the Atom Heavyweight above. The standard Atom has moderate insulation in the core with fleece on the sides and minimal to no insulation along the arms. It provides a little bit of warmth without being overkill and is great for windy days and mild climates.

I wore the standard Atom while backpacking in Sequoia National Park and also while at the beach on the California Coast. The hood isn’t insulated, but it helps block the wind well. Because it’s not that warm, I wouldn’t rely on it for cold nights, but because sometimes I’ll layer it under a heavier jacket when I’m hanging out at camp in the evenings. There is also a hoodless version available.

a woman smiling wearing Arc'teryx SL Insulated Hoodie with mountains in the background and a backpacking pack
Wearing the Arc’teryx Atom Insulated Hoodie (Color: Black) in Sequoia National Park

Enlightened Equipment Torrid APEX Jacket

Best Ultralight Synthetic Jacket for Backpacking

Key Features

  • Weight: Starting at 7.75 ounces
  • Insulation: Climashield APEX
  • Made in USA

Where to shop

  • What we like: very lightweight synthetic down jacket, can be customized to your personal needs with 16 color options and 3 different weights of fabric, zippered and insulated hand pockets
  • What we don’t like: basic fit construction, small hood, custom jacket takes 8-10 weeks to arrive, not ideal for daily wear

Enlightened Equipment makes super high-quality gear and their Women’s Torrid APEX Jacket is no outlier. It offers warmth, wind-resistance, and moisture-repellency all in one ultralight package. The reason why we love this jacket is that it’s half the weight of other synthetic jackets on this list, making it a standout for ultralight backpacking and thru-hikes where every ounce counts. Under $200, it’s also one of the best-value synthetic down jackets on the market for how lightweight it is.

For fit, the APEX synthetic down jacket is designed to be slightly oversized to accommodate layers and it has raglan-style sleeves which creates a wider underarm area to allow for maximum movement. Reviewers note that that fit can feel odd – it’s not tapered or tailored and doesn’t have all the bells and whistles as other synthetic jackets out there. While this jacket wouldn’t be our first choice for everyday wear, it’s a top performer if weight is your #1 priority.

REI Co-op Flash Insulated Hybrid Hoodie

Best Budget Synthetic Down Jacket

Key Features

  • Weight: 12.7 ounces
  • Insulation: 60g PrimaLoft Silver Eco Insulation

Where to shop

  • What we like: holds up well against windy and wet conditions, packs down small into its left-hand pocket, versatile for everyday wear and outdoor adventures
  • What we don’t like: jacket runs short – if you have a long torso, this may not be the jacket for you

The REI Co-op Flash Insulated Hybrid Hoodie is a great basic synthetic down jacket that is lightweight, super compact, and versatile enough for the trails or city wear. The 60g Primaloft Silver Eco synthetic insulation is made from 100% postconsumer recycled content in a Fair Trade Certified™ factory, which promotes safe working conditions and sustainable livelihoods. The ripstop nylon shell has been treated with DWR to repel rain and this jacket holds up well in wet weather. We recommend using it as a standalone jacket for cool days on the trail or out in town.

Cotopaxi Teca Calido Reversible Hooded Jacket

Best Eco-Friendly Synthetic Down Jacket

Key Features

  • Weight: 13.2 oz
  • Insulation: 60g recycled polyester

Where to shop

  • What we like: most sustainable option (100% repurposed fabric, 100% recycled polyester insulation), fully reversible (color block to solid), packs down into chest pocket, zippered hand pockets
  • What we don’t like: runs small (order a size up to be able to layer!)

If you are looking for an eco-friendly women’s synthetic down jacket, look no further than the Cotopaxi Teca Calido Hooded Jacket. The outer shell is made of 100% repurposed fabric and the insulation is from 100% recycled polyester – plus Cotopaxi is a Certified B Corp and gives back 1% of its annual revenue to fight world poverty.

The jacket itself is fully reversible, with cute color blocking on one side and solid color on the other. With tons of pockets (on both sides of the jacket), it’s extremely functional and a great value buy that colorfully stands out among the sea of women’s synthetic down jackets.

Rab Nebula Pro Synthetic Insulated Jacket

Best Synthetic Down Jacket for Extreme Cold Weather

Key Features

  • Weight: 1 lb 4.8 oz
  • Insulation: 53g/m² recycled 30D nylon

Where to shop

  • What we like: warmest synthetic down jacket on our list but still relatively lightweight, zippered hand pockets, not a ton of bulk for how insulated it is
  • What we don’t like: much heavier and bulkier than other jackets on the list, 1-season use

If you are looking for the best cold weather synthetic jacket, look no further than the Rab Nebula Pro Synthetic Jacket. It’s perfect for hiking in temperatures below 30F and it keeps you super warm without that heavy-jacket feel.

If you typically avoid cold weather, this jacket may be overkill. But you can’t beat the warmth-to-weight ratio if you’re looking for a cozy, winter synthetic down jacket!

Patagonia Radalie Insulated Jacket

Best Synthetic Jacket for Wet Climates

Key Features

  • Weight: 15 oz
  • Insulation: 150g Thermogreen polyester fibers

Where to shop

  • What we like: DWR water-resistant finish, stand-up collar offer extra warmth, handwarmer pockets
  • What we don’t like: not fully waterproof

While not fully waterproof, the Patagonia Radalie Insulated Jacket is designed with a DWR water-resistant finish, making it a great choice for drizzly or wet climates. It also has a lot of other great features to keep you warm like a stand-up collar to protect your next, handwarmer pockets, and insulated zippers to prevent rain and cold from seeping through.

If you want a fully waterproof set-up, pair this – or any jacket on this list – with a lightweight rain shell.

Down vs Synthetic Jackets: Benefits of Alternative Materials

You may have heard that goose or duck down is the superior material when it comes to warm outdoor gear. Many jackets, sleeping bags, camp booties, and other gear essentials are filled with down insulation because it is warm, light, and packable.

However, there are instances where synthetic materials have several advantages over down.

1. Synthetic down doesn’t absorb moisture as rapidly as down

When down gets wet, its ability to keep you warm is drastically reduced. Some companies combat this by treating the jacket shell with a water-resistant coating, but this isn’t a fix-all solution.

Synthetic down jackets, on the other hand, perform much better in rain and snow and will continue to provide warmth even if damp or wet.

2. Synthetic down jackets dry faster than down

When down gets wet, it takes a long time for it to dry and the overall insulating properties of the jacket actually substantially decrease. On the other hand, when synthetic down gets wet, it dries out much faster without any long-term negative insulating effects.

A woman smiling wearing a buff and taking a selfie during Everest Base Camp trek
wearing The North Face Thermoball Jacket (regular) in Nepal

3. Synthetic down can be more affordable

Down jackets can cost upwards of several hundred dollars while basic synthetic down jackets tend to be more affordable. Of course, some synthetic insulating down jackets are still quite pricey, but they’re also as high-performing (if not more) than their down counterparts.

4. Synthetic down doesn’t aggravate allergies

For some people, down can aggravate allergies. This is because dust mites love to hide out in down feathers and they can provoke a number of allergy symptoms in some people including sneezing, coughing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and more.

Switching to a synthetic down jacket can eliminate these allergy symptoms.

5. Many synthetic down jackets are made with recycled materials

We try to be as eco-conscious as we can and one of the best ways to support a more sustainable apparel industry is by buying products that utilize recycled materials (when you need new gear). Many synthetic down jackets like the Cotopaxi Teca Calido Reversible Hooded Jacket are made from post-consumer recycled fibers. Utilizing recycled materials prevents materials from going into a landfill and reduces the need to manufacture new fibers, which is often energy and water-intensive.

6. Synthetic down is vegan-friendly

I’ve made the switch to a plant-based diet, and since have learned about the ethical concerns around using animals to produce outdoor gear. That’s why we’re doing our best to recommend vegan-friendly products whenever possible.

I hope this post on the best synthetic down jackets for women helps you find the best jacket for your favorite cold-weather activities – maybe we’ve even convinced you that a synthetic vs down jacket is the best way to go!

Which of these women’s synthetic down jackets would be your top pick? Let us know in the comments below!

Bearfoot Theory | Discover the best women's synthetic jackets ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. From breezy trails to high-altitude ascents, our curated list ensures every hiker stays warm, dry, and prepared for every adventure. Dive into our blog post and gear up for your next trek with sustainable and high-performance choices

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  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.

  2. Super site! I am Loving it!! Will return once more. I’m taking your sustenance in addition. Thanks the best women heated jackets

  3. Very helpful. After watching an undercover video clip of the absolutely inhumane manner in which down is plucked from live geese, I can no longer buy down products. I learned that, despite claims to the contrary, most down comes from these facilities.

    So thank you, thank you!