A down jacket is the quintessential outerwear for cold weather. If you’ve gotten sticker shock shopping for down jackets and wonder why people choose them over lower-priced synthetic jackets, here are a few reasons to become a down lover.
- Warmth: Down is nature’s way of keeping geese warm, and it has proven very effective over the millennia. By trapping body heat, down provides maximum warmth in winter weather.
- Weight: Down is very lightweight, so it won’t slow you down whether you’re hiking to a mountain peak or running to the grocery store. Down jackets are also very compressible, making them convenient for travel.
- Comfort: Down is soft, flexible, and breathable, making it a popular material for bedding as well as clothing. If you are looking for a jacket to wear on a regular basis, down can be much more comfortable than many synthetic jackets.
- Style: Down jackets can be stylish as well as functional. I use a down jacket that extends to right above my knees. This extra length makes a huge difference in keeping my whole body warm. Plus, the length and flare at the waist gives the coat a dressy appearance–even if my attire underneath is casual.
- Bulkiness: While down is very compressible, it can still be bulky to wear. Make sure that your down jacket is roomy enough to wear a thick sweater or other layers underneath as well.
- Cost: Down can be much more expensive than synthetic materials.
- Not waterproof or windproof: While down is resistant to water and wind, it will not keep you as dry and warm as a hardshell jacket. Down doesn’t dry quickly either, so if you plan to wear your down jacket in rainy conditions it is best to use an umbrella or a waterproof layer over your jacket.
Here are a few considerations if you’re shopping for a down jacket:
- Insulation: Down’s warmth is measured by fill power. Higher fill power corresponds to a higher ability to insulate. Also, down with a higher fill rating requires less down, which means less bulk and weight. Jackets with a fill rating of 700-900 provide maximum warmth with the least bulk. Jackets with lower ratings can still provide significant warmth, but might be bulkier to compensate for the lower insulating capacity. Higher fill power also means the jacket will be more resilient when compressed, and therefore last longer.
- Length: Do you want a jacket that ends at the waist, above the thighs, above the knees, or longer?
- Hood: Do you expect to be caught in the rain or cold without a hat or umbrella? If so, a hood is a must-have.
- Price: What is your budget for a jacket? Down jackets are pricey, but it’s possible to find good deals if you take the time to search, or are willing to go with a lower fill rating.
A down jacket is a great way to stay warm and stylish in cold weather. Down is not ideal for all conditions, but if you are looking for maximum warmth and comfort, a down jacket may very well become your favorite wintertime accessory.