As the temperature outside tends to fall, it is high time to break out the cold climate gear. Right from choosing wool hats to thermal underwear, it is highly important to stay warm during this period of season. This is where down vest plays the role of keeping you comfortable and warm.
The choice of down vest is varied since it ranges from casual to performance with a wide collection of insulation types. Hiking vests comes in both synthetic as well as down insulation and each of them are having its own advantages and disadvantages and hence choose the one according to your personal needs.
Quick Comparison: Top Hiking Down Vests
- Patagonia Down Sweater Vest - Men's
- The North Face Nuptse Vest
- REI Co-op Down Vest - Men's
- Outdoor Research Men's Transcendent Vest
- Eddie Bauer Men's MicroTherm StormDown Vest
**Below, you'll find our expert's reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
Things to Consider While Choosing Hiking Down Vests
Choosing the right down vests are the best and wise options as they may fill your trip with happiness and comfort all through. Picking those models which are lightweight and versatile will be always better while you plan your outdoor adventures.
A packable down vest together with a rain jacket which is light in weight will be the ultimate weapon for you during chilly and wet weather conditions. In this piece of writing, we will walk you through the different factors which should be considered while choosing your down vest.
Also we have listed some of the top brands and the most rated ones so that you can very well narrow down your selection and pick the best one out in the market according to your budget.
Down Fill Power
The down fill power denotes the amount of warmness down used in a vest offers for its weight. Higher the number, higher will be the insulation offered.
On the other hand, it is important to keep in mind that, at times a vest which is having 600 down fill will be far better than a vest with down fill 800, if it holds more down. Those down vests which are used for hiking purpose usually fall within the range of 600 to 800.
The weather protection of a vest is determined by evaluating many factors such as the shell, thickness, coating and above all the material used for its manufacturing.
Majority of the synthetic as well as down vests are having nylon or polyester shells which will perform a good water repelling at light to even moderate wind and also during precipitation.
However, there is certain mid-range as well as high-end range vests which is treated with DWR and hence helps water to bead up and then roll off the vest rather than soaking it.
The merino wool does an excellent job by repelling the moisture content naturally; however, it will soak over time.
Box Baffle Design
Without the right kind of stitching, the down feathers will fall towards the bottom, thus reducing all the warmth feeling and leaves you in cold. Incorporating box baffle design in your vest is the best way for optimizing warmth and loft of the down fill.
The box baffles are those 3 dimensional cubes of rectangles which are sewn on the top most layers of the vest. These designs at times make the down vests feels heavier and are comparatively expensive as well. The best quality and top rated ones will contain box baffles or even a mix of baffles together with the sewn-through baffles.
Breathability is one such factor which varies with vest to vest. However synthetic insulation is better to down. Majority of the hikers make use of down vest with better breathability as they are right fit for high-output activities such as backcountry skiing or even worn as outer layer during cool weather hiking.
Merino wool is yet another choice which offers good breathability. They tend to be thinner and provides less warm when compared to synthetics. The fleeces which are light in weight are yet other better options as they offer good ventilation.
The vests are not having hundreds of variations while considering the pockets. The hiking vests should be chosen such that it should contain pockets which could be easily accessible while you carry a backpack or wearing other gear.
Make sure that the pockets of hiking vests are bigger and are rightly placed higher when compared to casual vests. There are certain vests which has got chest pockets stitched on the upper left while some others comes with interior pockets which may double as a stuff sack for the purpose of storing.
The vests used for hiking purpose are always in comparison to the jackets inferior in offering warmth since warmth escapes easily via arm holes.
On the other hand, majority of the down vests out in the market are coming with elastic cuffs which are placed around the arm holes for increasing the warmth withhold.
Regardless of the type of fabric chosen for the down vest, it is always important to have one which is as strong as possible. This is where ripstop fabric marks its traits. Both the polyester as well as the nylon can be ripstop, meaning that if you get some tears or holes in the fabric, then it won’t be spreading any farther.
This in turn will make the repairing work easier. Also while placing the order, ensure that the zippers are not placed too close to the fabric of your coat. If there is not enough spacing between them, then there are high chances that the zippers will get caught there, thus damaging the zipper, fabric or even both.
Since the choice of vests in the marketplace is wide and there are different brands marketed, it would be a hard time to settle on a particular model for the price you are spending on. For clearing this issue, you should consider the purpose of the vest, its usability, and the features which you need for meeting your adventurous requirements.
The ripstop fabric are expensive than the regular material but polyester is cheaper when compared to nylon. The extra features present in the down vests will also add to the price.
How to Clean and Wash Down Vests?
Cleaning and maintain your down vest is the most important factor you should take care for increasing its life. The first thing to check for is the directions which are listed on the tag within the vest.
This will give you a clear picture on how to clean it without damaging your fill. You need to check the instructions even if you are machine washing your down vests.
The next important factor is to find out the detergents which are used for down products. It will clearly let you know from the label whether that particular liquid is safe to use on down or not. Make sure that you don’t apply fabric softener or any kind of bleach on your down vests as they may spoil the performance.
Place the vest inside the machine and set it to gentle cycle and use only cold water. Once the running is over, take out the vest. You can air dry the vest by either laying it flat or by hanging it based on the availability of the space you have.
If needed, you can also place it inside a drier and use no heat or low heat. Don’t ever iron the vest as this may result in irreparable damage.
Review of Some of the Best Hiking Down Vests
The Patagonia Down Sweater Vest have got a legendary benchmark owing to its remarkable features and comfort. During winter seasons, this can be used as the best midlayer, however it is also best suited to pack along on a summer adventure trip.
The price is comparatively cheaper and comes with a dependable construction, quality down as well as reasonably light in weight. The warmth and the lightweight are the two most important factors which makes it the best pick among the hikers.
It can be well used as an outer shell since it comes with a windproof fabric and hence keeps you warm even in the worst climatic conditions.
Both the interior lining together with the shell is having a nice hand feel. The top portions of the zipper are covered with some amount of fleece which makes it even more comfortable against your face while the collar is up.
The DWR coating will help to shed the snow and the light rain, thus maintaining the soft feel of the fabric.
The North Face Nuptse Vest is comparatively heaviest and weighs around 3 times more when compared to the lightest models. However, it is stylish in nature and is more appropriate for your everyday use. In addition to this, the product is available in 8 different colors.
Owing to the thick insulation layer, this down vest offers great warmth although it makes use of just 700 fill goose down. The outer layer of the vest is designed with a robust 50D nylon and this will provide extra weather protection and also extreme abrasion resistance.
The vest has got two zippered hand pockets - a hem chinch-cord as well as an internal chest pocket. This is the best and the most stylish piece of insulation clothing which will meet your everyday requirements.
Choosing the best down vest will be a great addition for all seasons. They are versatile and offer you the best and the most comfortable layering piece for your outdoor activities.
Since they are light in weight, you don’t need to worry about the bulky fabric which restricts your movements. They provide incredible warmth, thus offering better insulation during your chilly days.
Media compatibility is yet another remarkable feature which the down vests offer. In order to add an additional soundtrack to the outdoor adventures, a pocket which is media compatible is a must. So choose accordingly!
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