This article features lightweight down parkas (usually, full-zip jackets with hoods, a longer hem, and box-baffled construction) appropriate for winter backpacking, snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, mountaineering, and other cold-temperature activities.
What is the best down parka? The answer: it depends, of course.
I researched over 50 models and selected 12 to use over two years of outdoor activities that including lightweight backpacking, alpine climbing, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, and multi-sport expeditions.
The objective of this article is to give you some education about down parka design and performance that will help guide your decision-making process when selecting a winter-worthy parka.
Summary of Products Featured in this Review
Patagonia Grade VII Down Parka - $900/24.1 oz
The Patagonia Grade VII Down Parka is the highest performing parka in this review. Its unique for its attention to detail, exhaustive feature set, durability, baffle design, and unmatched warmth-to-weight ratio. This parka earns our Highly Recommended rating for expedition use in extreme cold.
Nunatak Kobuk - $575/19.8 oz
Known for its customizability, the Nunatak Kobuk has a high warmth-to-weight ratio that will appeal to those who want to save weight and don't need a parka as warm the others in this review. This parka earns our Recommended rating for mild winter use.
- Learn more at Nunatak USA.
Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Parka - $450/21.6 oz
Probably the best all-purpose parka in this review, the Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Parka is warm for its weight, feature-rich, and a great value at this price. This is the parka I wear most often. This parka earns our Recommended rating for all-around versatility.
Montbell Frost Line - $289/20.4 oz
The Montbell Frost Line is my recommendation if you're on a budget. It's not the warmest parka at this weight, but it's by far the best value here. This parka earns our Recommended rating for its value.
- Learn more at Montbell USA
Feathered Friends Hooded Helios Jacket - $359/17.1 oz
The Feathered Friends Hooded Helios Jacket is probably the warmest down parka on the market that uses sewn-through baffles. Warmth is going to be very difficult to beat at this weight, but the parka has a short length, so it's best for users with shorter torsos. This parka earns our Recommended rating for winter backpackers with shorter torso lengths.
Feathered Friends Khumbu Down Parka - $599/34.6 oz
If absolute warmth, a voluminous expedition cut, and durable waterproof fabrics are required for you to stay comfortable while stationary for long periods of time in frigid conditions (mountain guides and people who work outside come to mind), then the Feathered Friends Khumbu may be for you. This parka earns our Recommended rating for professionals who work outside in extremely cold conditions.
Other Jackets Featured in this Review
- Mountain Equipment Lightline - $250/26.0 oz - the lowest price option in this review.
- Western Mountaineering Snojack - $825/28.8 oz - Similar to the Feathered Friends Khumbu, but shorter.
- PHD Hispar K - $875/22.6 oz - Very high-quality materials from a UK-based premium manufacturer.
- Arc'teryx Firebee AR - $950/23.4 oz - Impeccable attention to detail and construction quality, and the most durable parka in this review.
- Rab Neutrino Pro - $375/21.1 oz - Sewn-through like the Feathered Friends Helios, but with a longer cut and more durable fabric.
- Goosefeet Custom - $560/21.2 oz - Smaller cottage brand manufacturer offers custom fit and feature set (build to order), high-quality ultralight materials.
Member's Only Content
Login as a Premium or Unlimited Member to read the comprehensive Performance Assessment and Author Commentary sections of this review:
- Review Context
- Down Parkas Defined
- A Down Parka is a Good Investment When...
- I Love Down Parkas!
- Some Rules of Thumb I Learned While Testing Down Parkas
- Material Characteristics of Down Parkas
- Types of Down
- Fill Power
- Fill Weight
- The Truth About Treated Down
- Shell Fabrics: Windproof vs. Waterproof
- Down Parka Specifications Table
- Down Parka Performance Assessment
- Fill Volume
- Baffle Design
- Test Results
- Comfort Features
- Features Assessment
- Water Resistance
- Keeping Your Parka Dry
- Detailed Product Assessment and Author's Recommendations
- The Future of Down Parkas
- Excluded from Testing: Other Products
Member's only version is 9,800+ words and includes 40 (Forty!) photographs.
Product Review DisclosureUpdated September 15, 2018
- How we acquired these products: Product(s) discussed in this review were either acquired by the author from a retailer or otherwise provided by the manufacturer at a discount/donation with no obligation to provide media coverage or a product review to the manufacturer(s).
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