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.
1. Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie
The Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie is a lightweight down jacket available in both men’s and women’s models. It is lightweight and windproof with a 100% recycled polyester ripstop shell and 800-fill-power goose down. The hood is adjustable (rear-only) so you can shrink its volume to fit your head, with elastic wrist cuffs. It has two zippered side pockets and an internal chest pocket, that’s good to keep your smartphone warm. It stuffs into its chest pocket, making it easy to pack away when not in use.
The Arc’Teryx Cerium LT Down Hoodie is a lightweight down jacket available in men’s and women’s models. It is insulated with 850 fill power down, augment with synthetic insulation in moisture-prone areas. The hood has a rear volume adjustment with a stretch face opening and chin guard, while the wrists close with elastic cuffs. Weighing just 10.9 ounces, the jacket has an internal chest pocket and two zippered side pockets, with a drawcord-adjustable drop-back hem help seal out drafts.
The Outdoor Research Helium Down Hoodie is a lightweight down jacket available in men’s and women’s models. It is insulated with 800 fill power down with a Pertex Quantum shell. In an interesting twist, the hood and shoulders are made with waterproof fabric. There are five pockets, two drop pockets on the inside, two side zippered pockets, and a zippered chest pocket. The hood has a rear volume adjuster, elastic wrist cuffs, and there is a drawcord hem. While the jacket is a bit on the heavy side at 15.4 oz, we like the extra functionality and storage it offers, which lends itself to multiple sports, and urban and backcountry use.
4. LL Bean Ultralight 850 Down Sweater Hooded Jacket
The LL Bean Down Sweater Hooded Jacket is a lightweight down jacket that is available in a men’s model. It is insulated with 850 fill power PFC-free Downtek goose down and has a windproof and water-resistant Pertex Quantum nylon shell is made from 100% recycled fabric. Weighing in at 14 oz, it has three zippered pockets, two on the sides and one over the chest, with a drawcord hem to block drafts. The jacket stuffs into its chest pocket for easy packing.
The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer /2 Hoody is an ultralight down jacket available for men and women. It’s insulated with 800-fill power down insulation and has an ultralight 100% recycled ripstop shell fabric with DWR finish. Weighing 8.8 oz, the first baffle at both cuffs is filled with synthetic insulation to prevent cuffs from wetting out. The hoody has an elastic hood and cuffs with two exterior zippered pockets, an internal drop pocket, and a drawcord hem adjustment.
The Montbell Ex Light Down Anorak is a unisex ultralight down pullover insulated with 900 fill power goose down with a 7-denier ballistic nylon ripstop shell. Weighing just 7.6 oz, it has a fully adjustable 2-way hood and has a fully insulated tunnel pocket to keep your hands nice and warm. While this highly compressible garment packs down small, it will keep you toasty warm when worn by itself or layered under a shell.
The Feathered Friends Eos Down Jacket is an ultralight down jacket available insulated with 900 fill power goose down that’s available in both men’s and women’s models. Weighing 10.6 ounces, the jacket has a low profile non-adjustable hood with a Lycra stretch opening for the face to seal out drafts as well as elastic wrist cuffs. There are also two zippered side pockets and a hem adjustment. A new and improved model is due to drop this autumn that has a drawcord hood face adjustment and a chest zipper.
The Cotopaxi Fiego Hooded Down Jacket is a lightweight down jacket weighing 14 oz and available in men’s and women’s models. It’s insulated with 800 fill power goose down and has a colorful ripstop nylon shell with numerous color combinations available. Elastic binding around the hood and cuffs seal out the cold, while a drawcord waist protects your waist. The jacket has 2 interior stash pockets, 2 zippered hand pockets, and stuffs into a pocket for transport.
The Rab Microlight Alpine Jacket is a lightweight down jacket available in men’s and women’s models. It is insulated with 700 fill power down recycled down, treated with Nikwax hydrophobic fluorocarbon-free treatment, and comes with a soft 30d Pertex Quantum ripstop shell. Weighing 14.6 oz, it has a 1-way adjustable hood (neck toggles) with a stiffened peak, two zippered side pockets, and a large zippered chest pocket. The cuffs are elasticized and the jacket has a drawcord hem adjustment.
The Fjallraven Expedition Pack Down Hoodie is is a lightweight down jacket available in both men’s and women’s models. It is lightweight and windproof with a 100% recycled polyester ripstop shell and 700-fill-power goose down with synthetic insulation over the shoulders to insulate when wet or compressed by a backpack’s shoulder straps. The hood is fully adjustable (neck toggles and rear volume control) so you can shrink its volume to fit your head, with elastic wrist cuffs. It has 2 hand pockets and 1 inside chest pocket, all zippered, and stuff into its chest pocket.
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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