A down hoodie or lightweight down jacket is a hiking and backpacking essential during spring and autumn when nighttime temperatures stay cool. Our preference is to use jackets that have hoods because we think that’s a must-have layering feature for hikers and backpackers. This lets you use them in camp or for extra warmth at night under a quilt or sleeping bag. Here are jackets we recommend across a variety of price points. Be sure to check out our feature recommendations below, so you choose the right jacket for your needs.
|Make / Model||Weight||Fill Power||Fill Weight||Hood Control|
|Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie||15.1 oz||800||3.0 oz||1-Way|
|Arcteryx Cerium LT Down Hoodie||10.9 oz||850||3.6 oz||1-Way|
|Outdoor Research Helium Down Hoodie||15.5 oz||800||3.8 oz||1-Way|
|LL Bean Down Sweater Hooded Jacket||14 oz||850||NA||None|
|Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer 2 Hoody||8.8 oz||800||3 oz||None|
|Montbell Ex Light Down Anorak||7.6 oz||900||3 oz||2-Way|
|Feathered Friends EOS Jacket||10.6 oz||900||3.7 oz||None|
|Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket||14 oz||800||NA||None|
|Rab Microlite Alpine Jacket||16.5 oz||700||5.4 oz||1-Way|
|Fjallraven Expedition Pack Down Hoodie||15.5 oz||700||3.9 oz||2-Way|
1. Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie
2. Arc’teryx Cerium LT Hoody
3. Outdoor Research Helium Down Hoodie
4. LL Bean Ultralight 850 Down Sweater Hooded Jacket
5. Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer /2 Hoody
6. Montbell Ex Light Down Anorak
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7. Feathered Friends EOS
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8. Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket
9. Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket
10. Fjallraven Expedition Pack Down Hoodie
Down Hoodie and Jacket Buying Guide
Down Hoodies, Jackets, Sweaters, Anoraks, and Parkas
Manufacturer product names are very inconsistently applied when it comes to lighter-weight down hoodies and jackets. In general hoodies, sweaters, anoraks, weigh close to or slightly over one pound. Look for ones with hoods, as they provide the most head and neck insulation. When it comes to jackets, some are lightweight and some are heavier and meant for winter use in harsh conditions. You really have to look at the overall jacket weight to determine which is which. Anything up to or slightly over 16 oz will be good for transitional weather in spring or autumn down to freezing by itself or layered under a shell, while heavier jackets will be more appropriate for winter use. Parkas are almost always intended for very cold winter conditions.
Sewn Thru vs Baffled Construction
With very few exceptions, lightweight down jackets and hoodies have what is called a sewn-through construction rather than a box baffled one, because it is less expensive and labor-intensive to manufacture. With sewn-thru construction, the front and back of the jacket are sewn together creating a pocket that prevents the down insulation from shifting. However, warm air can leak through the needle holds resulting in a slightly cooler jacket. This is not the case with a box baffled design, which is more prevalent on premium down parkas intended for colder temperatures.
The hoods on many lightweights or ultralight down hoodies and jackets are quite rudimentary, with elasticized hood openings that may be too large to prevent cold drafts from entering around your ears. It really depends on the size of your head and the specific jacket. Hoods that are 1-way adjustments have volume controls in the back that let you shrink the size of the hood to provide a better fit. Hoods with 2-way adjustability go one step further and add neck cords that allow you to size the opening to just fit your face and block out any drafts. This level of function is pretty rare on lighter weight down jackets and hoodies, though.
Down Fill Power
Down fill powers, such as 700, 800, 850, or 900, measure the effectiveness and compressibility of down insulation – the higher the better. Now 900 or 950 fill power down is primo stuff and can really add a lot of cost to a jacket, while keeping it very lightweight since it takes less down by weight to keep you warm. You can achieve the same amount of warmth with a lower grade of down like 800 or 850, but it takes more of the stuff to keep you warm and adds a bit of weight to the jacket.
Down Fill Weight
The fill weight of a down jacket or hoodie measures the amount of down that it has been insulated with by weight. While this can be informative, the actual warmth of a jacket is a function of the amount of insulation it has and its design, which makes it somewhat hard to compare different jackets that are styled differently.
Some manufacturers use down in their jackets that has been coated with a chemical formulation, called DownTek or Nikwax, to make it more resistant to moisture and so it dries faster when it gets damp or wet. Honestly, the jury is still out on whether these treatments make any difference to the insulation performance of the down. Some manufacturers believe it degrades down’s insulation value and others use it because it’s considered a desirable feature by prospective customers.
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