Introduction

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.

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Zeb Engberg eating dinner in a down parka at 17,700 ft. on Cassin Ridge, Denali.

Summary of Products Featured in this Review

Patagonia Grade VII Down Parka – $900/24.1 oz

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Patagonia Grade VII Parka. Photo: Patagonia.

rsz bpl highly recommended

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.

Buy Now at Patagonia or Backcountry

Nunatak Kobuk – $575/19.8 oz

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Nunatak Kobuk Parka. Photo: Nunatak.

rsz bpl recommended

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.

Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Parka – $450/21.6 oz

patagonia fitzroy
Patagonia Fitz Roy Parka. Photo: Patagonia.

rsz bpl recommended 2

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.

Buy Now at REI or Patagonia

Montbell Frost Line – $289/20.4 oz

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Montbell Frost Line Parka. Photo: Montbell.

rsz bpl recommended 1

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.

Feathered Friends Hooded Helios Jacket – $359/17.1 oz

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Feathered Friends Hooded Helios Jacket. Photo: Feathered Friends.

 

rsz bpl recommended 3

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.

Buy Now at Feathered Friends

Feathered Friends Khumbu Down Parka – $599/34.6 oz

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Feathered Friends Khumbu Parka. Photo: Feathered Friends.

rsz bpl recommended 4

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.

Buy Now at Feathered Friends

Other Jackets Featured in this Review

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L to R: Mountain Equipment Lightline, Western Mountaineering Snojack, PHD Hispar K, Arc’teryx Firebee AR, Rab Neutrino Pro. Photo sources (L to R): Mountain Equipment, Western Mountaineering, PHD, Arc’teryx, Rab. Not pictured: Goosefeet Custom Parka.
  • 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.

Review Context

Down Parka Definition

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