The Best Down Vests for Hiking in 2019


Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Vest

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Vest

It is very likely that you will encounter challenging weather conditions while you are hiking, trekking or mountaineering. Therefore, you should choose clothing for your outdoor adventures with great caution. Hiking vests are becoming increasingly popular as they keep your torso warm while providing good freedom of movement, which is of great value for any active person. Insulated hiking vests are also up to 33% lighter than corresponding jackets and usually less expensive. The advantages are thus many although the missing sleeves can become a problem in very wet or windy conditions, without an additional rain jacket.

Hiking vests utilize either synthetic or down insulation. Both insulations have advantages and disadvantages. Down insulation provides a better warmth-to-weight ratio than synthetic insulation, is lighter and compresses better (garments with down insulation pack very small). The biggest downside of down insulation is that it loses its warmth if it gets wet. Synthetic insulation, on the other hand, provides warmth even if it becomes wet, is cheaper but weighs more and offers inferior compressibility.

Since hiking vests are anyway not the best option for wet conditions, we decided to only list products that utilize down insulation in this article. We selected the best five down vests for hiking to make your buying decision a little easier. We only listed high-quality products from reputable brands. If you are undecided whether to buy a down vest or a down jacket, also check out our review of the Best Down Jackets.

We regularly update our reviews and selections to always recommend you the best products on the market.

1. Buying a Down Vest for Hiking– What is important?

Down Fill Power:

The down fill power tells us how much warmth the down provides for its weight. The higher the number, the more warmth it provides. Note, however, that a garment with down fill power of 600 can still be warmer than a garment with down fill power of 800, if it contains a bigger amount of down. Down vests for hiking usually have a fill power between 600 and 800. For more information about insulation materials read our article Comparison of Mid-layer Materials. If you want to learn more about down fill power, check out this article on Wikipedia.

Type of down:

There are generally two types of down; regular down and hydrophobic (treated) down. Hydrophobic down differs from regular down by providing better warmth if it gets wet. However, the hydrophobic treatment does not completely eliminate the fact that down loses its warmth when it gets wet, but merely decreases the loss.

Weight:

Lightweight gear puts less strain on your muscles than heavy gear. Therefore hiking, backpacking and mountaineering gear is usually very light. Down vests are typically super lightweight, and this is one of their biggest advantages in comparison to jackets. Learn why you should use lightweight gear for hiking in our article Why hike lightweight.

Pockets:

A hiking vest should have pockets that can be easily accessed when you are carrying a backpack or wearing a climbing harness. Therefore, the pockets are usually bigger and placed higher than on down vests for casual wear.

Cuffs:

Hiking vests are in comparison to jackets inferior in retaining warmth as the warmth escapes through the arm holes. However, many vests have elastic cuffs around arm holes to increase the warmth withhold.

Expert Selections
We only list top-tier products. Read how our selections of best hiking products differ from others here.
Links
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2. The Best Down Vests for Hiking Review

The Best Down Vests for Hiking

The Best Down Vests for Hiking

The Best Down Vests for Hiking – List

  1. Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Vest
  2. Arcteryx Cerium LT Vest
  3. Patagonia Down Sweater Vest
  4. Outdoor Research Transcendent Vest
  5. The North Face Nuptse Vest

Comparison

Feature/Product Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Vest Arcteryx Cerium LT Vest Patagonia Down Sweater Vest Outdoor Research Transcendent Vest The North Face Nuptse Vest
Weight5.0 oz.5.8 oz.9.8 oz.9.4 oz.1 lb.
Weight (Metric)142 g165 g277 g267 g460 g
Fill Power800850800650700
Type of DownQ.ShieldArc'teryx Down with DCM, CoreloftGoose DownGoose DownGoose Down
Outer Layer MaterialNylon 10DAiretica Nylon 20DRecycled PolyesterPolyester 20D RipstopNylon 50D
Pockets22333
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Vest

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Vest

1. Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Vest

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Everyday use

The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer is extremely light and thus best for those who want to eliminate any excess weight on their demanding trips and expeditions.  Furthermore, it can be compressed in its own pocket to save much needed space in a backpack. The outer layer is made of superlight 10D nylon and the insulation layer uses an extraordinary 800 fill power Q.Shield down. The Q.Shield down is treated with permanent water repellency and thus resists moisture longer as well as dries faster than regular down. In addition, it also provides warmth even when wet which does not apply to regular down. The outer layer is water-resistant and windproof in order to increase the protection against natural phenomena. Additionally the vest is equipped with a toggle hem, two zippered pockets and a carabiner loop for easy attachment when packed. The zippered pockets are placed higher to allow easy access when you are using the hipbelt of your backpack. All in all, the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer is a great option for hiking, mountaineering and trekking.

Women's Version: Available - Mountain Hardwear Women's Ghost Whisperer

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Weight
  • Hydrophobic down
  • Well-placed pockets
  • Compresses into its own pocket

Cons:

  • Price

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Arcteryx Cerium LT Vest

Arcteryx Cerium LT Vest

2. Arcteryx Cerium LT Vest

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Everyday use

The Arcteryx Cerium LT is another extremely light vest which provides superb performance on demanding hiking and mountaineering trips. It has an outer layer made of DWR (Durable Water Repellant) treated Airetica Ripstop Nylon that offers great protection against wind, rain and abrasion. The extremely sophisticated insulation layer is made of a mixture of 850 white goose down and CoreLoft synthetic fibers. The CoreLoft fibers are known for retaining warmth even when wet. Furthermore, they are ere extremely light and quick drying. The insulation layer is made utilizing the Down Composite Mapping method to strategically redistribute the goose down and CoreLoft fibers – CoreLoft fibers are placed in areas that are most exposed to moisture such as shoulders and sides. Due to these materials, the Arcteryx vest offers excellent weather protection. It is also equipped with corded zipper pulls and two well-placed zippered pockets, and comes with a stuff sack for easy storing. The Arcteryx Cerium LT is a great option for those who need a high-quality insulation garment for their challenging adventures.

Women's Version: Available - Arcteryx Women's Cerium LT

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Materials
  • Weather protection
  • Well-placed pockets
  • Warmth
  • Stuff sack included

Cons:

  • Price

Share your opinion and help others!

Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

Where to buy?

Also available at:

REI | Campsaver

 

 

Patagonia Down Sweater Vest

Patagonia Down Sweater Vest

3. Patagonia Down Sweater Vest

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Everyday use

The Patagonia Down Sweater Vest is around 100 grams heavier than the above reviewed Arcteryx Cerium LT and the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer but it also provides better warmth as it has a thicker insulation layer with a similar goose down fill. It is perfect for eco-conscious hikers and mountaineers as it uses recycled materials and traceable goose down – the outer layer is made of 100% recycled polyester while the down used in the insulation layer comes from geese that were treated humanely. The Patagonia Down Sweater vest offers great protection against wind, but it lacks rain/moisture protection in comparison to the vests reviewed above as it does not feature hydrophobic down. However, as vests are typically not worn as an outer layer in wet weather, we don’t see this as a major downside. The west is also equipped with two zippered pockets, one internal zippered chest pocket, a drawcord hem at the bottom and elastic cuffs around the arm holes. It comes with a stuff sack (equipped with a carabiner loop) which allows easy attaching to the climbing harness and other gear.

Women's Version: Available - Patagonia Women's Down Sweater

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Warmth
  • Eco-friendly
  • Stuff sack included

Cons:

  • Pockets placement and size

Share your opinion and help others!

Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

Where to buy?

Also available at:

REI

Video

Outdoor Research Transcendent Vest

Outdoor Research Transcendent Vest

4. Outdoor Research Transcendent Vest

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Everyday use

The Outdoor Research Transcendent Vest has almost the same weight as the Patagonia Down Sweater but as it uses a 650 fill down compared to the Patagonia’s 800 fill down, it provides less warmth. However, the Outdoor Research Transcendent Vest is much less expensive than the Patagonia Down Sweater Vest and thus a perfect choice for trekkers and hikers who want a budget and yet reliable insulation garment.  The outer layer of the vest is made of water-resistant and windproof 100% polyester while the insulation layer uses goose down. The vest features two zippered hand pockets, a zippered napoleon pocket and a drawcord hem at the bottom. The hand pockets could be positioned a little higher to allow easier access when wearing other gear such as for example a climbing harness. The vest can be compressed into the left hand pocket and attached to other gear with a carabiner. The Outdoor Research Transcendent is best for those who want a durable piece of insulation clothing for reasonable price.

Women's Version: Available - Outdoor Research Women's Transcendent

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Compresses into its own pocket
  • Durability
  • Price

Cons:

  • Warmth

Share your opinion and help others!

Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

Video

The North Face Nuptse Vest

The North Face Nuptse Vest

5. The North Face Nuptse Vest

Suitable for:

  • Hiking
  • Mountaineering
  • Trekking
  • Backpacking
  • Climbing
  • Everyday use

The North Face Nuptse Vest is the heaviest product in this review; it weighs almost 3 times more than the  lightest – the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down. However, The North Face Nuptse is also the most stylish product in the selection and thus more than suitable for everyday use.  Additionally, it is available in eight different colors. Because of the thick insulation layer, it provides great warmth even though it uses only 700 fill goose down. The outer layer is made of a robust 50D nylon which offers decent weather protection as well as superb abrasion resistance. The vest is equipped with two zippered hand pockets, an internal chest pocket and a hem chinch-cord. It can be compressed in the internal pocket for easy storing. Additionally, it is compatible with other North Face garments – for example it can be easily attached to a North Face jacket with the front zipper and thus used as an additional insulation layer to it. The North Face Nuptse  is best for those who want a stylish piece of insulation clothing for everyday use as well as for outdoor activities.

Women's Version: Available - The North Face Women's Nuptse Vest

Note: Women's version might slightly differ from the men's version.

 

Pros:

  • Stylish
  • Compatible with other North Face garments
  • Warmth

Cons:

  • Weight

Share your opinion and help others!

Do you have this product? Tell us what you think about it and help others decide what to buy!

Where to buy?

Also available at:

REI

 

3. The most attractive product in the review

Which product do you prefer?
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4. Questions and Answers

What are vests good for?

A vest is a great option for hiking, mountaineering and trekking because it keeps your core warm and provides good freedom of movement. Since vests leave your arms exposed, they are best for dry conditions.

What do you wear under a puffer vest?

Under a puffer vest you can wear a long sleeve base layer made of Merino wool or polyester. If the temperatures are very low, you can also wear a fleece jacket under a puffer vest.

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Post Author

Post Author

Blaz

Outdoor enthusiast with experience in all types of hiking and mountaineering. Hiked in the Alps, Iceland and other countries. In love with via ferrata trails and snow-covered slopes. Check out my hikes.

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