Reviews You Can Rely On

How We Tested Down Jackets for Men

Friday April 12, 2024
down jacket men - it's important to have a warm jacket to wear on chilly winter hikes.
It's important to have a warm jacket to wear on chilly winter hikes.
Credit: Sam Schild

Our process begins by field testing the jackets, having the same adventures that you will — whether that be climbing, running errands, skiing, sledding with kids, backpacking, or going to an outdoor winter festival with the family — all while evaluating each model and noticing what works and what fails. We brought multiple jackets on the same adventure to compare them side by side, and we lent out our test products for further input. Our friends' feedback helps confirm ours. To make the best comparisons we can, we also expand our field testing to conduct side-by-side controlled tests and add in some key lab tests.


We conducted most of this metric's testing in the field by wearing the jackets side-by-side in cold temperatures and on days with icy windchills. We used them as our only warm layer with just a T-shirt underneath to feel drafts that got through. We also wore them with baselayers and midlayers underneath to see how they function as part of a layering system.

We gauged our warmth scores by walking, hiking, running, scrambling, climbing, and generally playing outside. From the sandstone of the Flatirons to the granite of Boulder Canyon, the down jackets were tested to see how they faired during early morning hikes in the mountains, afternoons heading to the gym, and late evenings around town, and chilly ice climbing belays. We systematically examined how each jacket performed in action and while stationary.

down jacket men - a quality hood will greatly increase a jacket's warmth.
A quality hood will greatly increase a jacket's warmth.
Credit: Sam Schild


To evaluate the fit and comfort of each model, we noted how the lining material felt on our bare skin. We compared the fit and feel fresh out of the package and after a reasonable break-in period. We noted if we sensed any oddness in the material, the patterning, or the features like the zippers, hoods, and pockets and how they felt against the skin and while used. We checked to find any distinctive tightness while moving and any areas where the jacket felt too loose and bunchy. We also evaluated aspects that might be impacted by different body types.

We had numerous testers of various body types wear each jacket. We also wore them side-by-side, noticing the differences in fit for each. In particular, we paid special attention to the length of sleeves and hemlines and whether any constrictions were felt in the shoulders, upper back, and chest, especially when moving the arms to the sides and overhead. We tested each jacket with other layers underneath, as well as under a shell jacket.

down jacket men - our group of male testers wore these jackets on real-world missions...
Our group of male testers wore these jackets on real-world missions to see which were comfortable for what body types.
Credit: Sam Schild


To accurately compare portability, we measured each jacket on our independent scale immediately upon taking it out of the package. In instances where stuff sacks were included in the purchase, we included them in the overall weight of a jacket. We also included our testers' perceived weights of each jacket while worn.

We scrutinized how packable each jacket was while assessing portability. We stuffed each coat into its provided stuff sack or pocket (or both) and then compared the size of each, and measured them. The shape of the compressed jacket and how easily it compressed was also considered.

down jacket men - measuring the weight of every jacket in our home testing facility.
Measuring the weight of every jacket in our home testing facility.
Credit: Sam Schild

Weather Resistance

When wet, down compresses, losing its insulation capabilities. Fighting against the weather is the first step in keeping you warm while wearing a down jacket. So, we examined every model's resistance to light rain, snow, and wind and whether there are features that protect against inclement conditions.

To test these jackets for water resistance, we waited until the end of our testing period so we could get a better idea of which products had a more resilient DWR coating. All DWR coating degrades with time and wear. We tested them head-to-head by spraying each with a spray bottle. We scrutinized each jacket to see how well they resisted soaking up water, and then we rubbed the water with our hands to simulate movement during an activity.

Testing the water resistance of a down jacket.
Credit: Sam Schild

We examined how quickly and easily they dried out. We looked at the features of each jacket and how they added or detracted from its overall water resistance. We graded based on the performance of the DWR and gave bonuses to those that had special features and hydrophobic down.

We also tested each jacket's wind resistance using a fan set to high. We draped each jacket over the fan and felt how much wind passed through. We then assessed how each jacket performed in wind resistance in real-world scenarios by wearing them outside in windy conditions.

We tested every jacket's wind resistance in the lab, as well as in the field.
Credit: Sam Schild


We examined the breathability of each jacket in the field by wearing them during strenuous activities. We noted which ones got too hot the fastest and which ones seemed to dump heat the best. We also examined all the ways in which you could manually vent heat while wearing them. We looked for two-way zippers, armpit ventilation, how easy it is to push up the sleeves, and anything else that would aid in breathability.

down jacket men - we wore these jackets during strenuous activity to assess...
We wore these jackets during strenuous activity to assess breathability.
Credit: Sam Schild