A few of the best ultralight down jackets

Posted on: May 2, 2018, by :

Uniqlo has built up quite a reputation for themselves by offering higher quality at better prices than the vast majority of standard fashion brands, in far more sizes and colors than pretty much anyone else, and their wide selection of down jackets is no exception. Sizes range from XS to XXXL, with plenty of colors, in hooded and regular versions.

Its sized to provide a slim fit, and has no pockets or other features of any kind. Just a jacket to keep you warm, and not weigh you downat all.

This is especially helpful on multi-season trips, multi-elevation trips, or mostly-warm trips that might include thatone eveningof unusually frigid temperatures that come out of nowhere. It would also be great for warm-weather hiking, where the minimal weight wont hold you back, and the minimal warmth is all you need.

Montbells down jackets are all pretty light to begin with (and they have quite a few others not listed here that are worth checking out), but heres where they really push the limit. By using 1000 fill power goose down, and some of the lightest nylon anywhere to be found, theyve managed to build a down jacket as light as a t-shirt.

This is the budget pick. It may not have the specs of the gear listed above, but its 70% cheaper. I was surprised as well. Ive been using one of these lately, and its surprisingly good, especially for such a tiny a price.

Arcteryx generally gets extra points for a casual appearance and decent colors, and this is probably the most normal-looking down jacket on this list (though other companies make other jackets that look nice too; its just that the ultralight ones sometimes look a little odd).

But the real attraction is the water-resistant treatment added to the down, which allows it to keep its loft and warmth, even when wet. This improves on the one and only technical weakness of down, which is its wet weather performance. Its not a magic bullet thatll handle a downpour, but itll help keep you a little cozier if you get caught in unexpected showers.

It looks like this one has been discontinued, but you can still get ahooded versionof it.

The Patagonia Ultralight Down Jacket. Still pretty light despite the generous number of pockets.

The Ex Light uses 900 fill power goose down, which is still spectacularly light, to achieve a down jacket that weighs as much as aslightly largert-shirt. But that extra weight makes it $70 cheaper, which is quite a big deal.

Well, I hope these suggestions will help you stay warm and cozy without requiring any sort of physical exertion of any kind on your part. Theyre spectacularly useful in certain very specific situations, though if you go a little heavier (and, really,justa little), you can actually get a full-featured, mid-weight jacket (a few favorites of which Ive listedhere), but this list was just meant to highlight the lightest of the ultralight down jackets to be found. Theyre so light you wont even notice them. And sometimes, thats exactly what you might need.

Alright, time for the picks. These are the most gravity-defying items I can find, coming in under 10 ounces (or about 300 grams), for those who absolutely need it. Many of these jackets also come in hooded versions and vests, but Im just comparing the standard jackets in mens sizes to provide a good side-by-side comparison.

Though it still manages to keep things incredibly light, it actually uses a slightly lower fill power, and a slightly tougher fabric than some of the others. It also has three pockets, which is nice for those who enjoy such things.

The problem Ive encountered with these types of buckle closures is that eventually either side…

So if anyone hasnt told you already, goose down is absolutely the best way to pack a super-warm jacket into a tiny package. Its the warmest and most compressible  clothing material that humanity seems to have discovered thus far, which is why it makes such a spectacular cold-weather jacket for ultralight backpackers.

Ive only included goose down jackets on this list, as theyre the absolute lightest around, but all of these brands have equivalent jackets made of synthetic materials that are definitely worth checking out, as theyre usually cheaper, and can withstand some rain.

This was the king of Montbells ultralight lineup until they subsequently developed the Plasma pictured above. But youd need a scale to figure out which one is heavier.

On a minor note, it uses a left-handed zipper. Just so you know.

Its designed to be a replacement for a mid-layer, such as a fleece jacket, rather than providing outerwear protection, so it would be a good idea to wear another layer on top if its raining or youre hiking through spiky bushes. But if youre the most weight-obsessed ultralight adventurer on the planet, this is the winner.

Wear some Patagonia to stay warm inPatagonia. And, you know. Elsewhere too.

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But, as with all things Arcteryx, its also the most expensive. Check for sales.

Easy enough to source nylon webbing and quick-release buckles from ebay. Choice of widths and…

4) Patagonia Ultralight Down Jacket

The jacket only uses 640 fill power down, but it uses the European scale to measure fill power, which gives it a rating more like 700 or higher. The fill is also composed of 10% feathers, rather than consisting purely of down. This means it wont be as warm or as compressible as some of the super-high-tech options listed above, but the price might make those extra ounces worth it for you.

Welcome to the wonderful world of the ultralight down jacket. Rather than using goose down for snowy winters, several companies have been pushing the ultralight boundaries to make jackets as light as a t-shirt, but as warm as a light fleece, allowing you to pack even lighter and smaller than ever before. For the weight-obsessed minimalists and scrawny weaklings alike, this can be incredibly helpful.

Get it formen, or check out thewomens selection, which has several styles.

I really enjoyed this article. Im interested in backpacks for hiking rather than the travel…

Aside from that, it uses ultra-thin fabric, 850 fill power goose down, and has two hand pockets, while still weighing in at some impressively low numbers:

Hmm…I like to keep my passport up front, as its usually too large to sit…

And I generally try to find the most normal-looking clothing I possibly can, so I can make use of high-tech gear in casual situations, but thats not what this list is about. I wanted to compile the absolute lightest, for those who needed the very best.

This is the king of the ultralight world at the moment. If theres a lighter down jacket out there, its probably doll-sized.

This one has an interesting mix of goose down in the main compartments, and synthetic insulation in the shoulders, collar, and hem, where theyre most likely to encounter some rain. Im not sure how critical this would be, but the jacket is still plenty light anyway.

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So this one is just about the lightest I can find that isnt from Montbell, and it has some extra features to take it beyond basic minimalism. Its what you might prefer if you want something just slightly more full-featured.

But goose down isnt just for winter adventures. Sure, you can stuff gobs of goose down into a jacket all day long and youll have a glorious Antarctic parka, but if you use just alittlegoose down, youll have awarmjacket, ideal for mild weather in spring or fallexcept itll weigh practically nothing and stuff down so tiny that itll practically disappear.

It also comes in a womens version, whereas the Plasma is unisex, whichwell, that just means men.

But the real setback is the price. At $200 to $300 each, these arent cheap, especially as theyre intended to replace a mid-weight fleece, which you can probably find for about $30. These are really just for the people who need absolute minimalism, and are willing to pay for it. A mountain rescue team, for example.

Keep in mind these items are designed to replace a mid-weight fleece, rather than provide winter warmth, though you could certainly combine them with other layers to provide year-round functionality. Theyre also quite thin, so handle with care.

I tried to do this with elastic shoelaces for a while, but I didnt quite…

Minor update,regarding repairs: So you can obviously tape over any damage to the fabric with a piece of tape, and if youre going to do that, Id recommend taking a look atTenacious Tape Tattoos. This is a permanent repair tape, but cut into fun shapes, like wildlife and other things like that, so a repaired jacket wont look shabby, but downright adorable. The company sent me a few samples, and Im looking forward to adding them when the time comes.

Though not quite as gravity-defying as other options, it still weighs practically nothing, and Patagonias ironclad guarantee means itll last forever. Besides, this is meant to be a little tougher and more full-featured than simply going for maximal minimalism.

Ironically, ultralight down jackets are at their best when yourenotusing them. Since they pack down to nothing when not in use, theyll be a lot less annoying than heavy jackets you have to haul around the whole time.

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