Testing the best lightweight down parka

The Highest Warmth-to-Weight Ratio Down Parkas For Backpacking

When evening temperatures drop below freezing, switch out your sweater-weight puffy for a lightweight down parka for backpacking. The average down parka on this list weighs less than 20 ounces, but gives you the freedom to comfortably hang out in the cold, cook, and do camp chores without retreating into your sleeping bag.

We define a lightweight parka as any puffy jacket weighing 16-24 oz, and that is approximately 2-3 times warmer than the average sweater weight down hoodie. A lightweight down parka is one of the single most important pieces of gear for backpacking in fall, winter, and early spring. Don’t go without one!

This is a data-informed buyer’s guide! Our ultimate truth for assessing the performance of a down parka is the “Uncompressed Down Volume Per Ounce of Total Garment Weight” statistic. This measurement allows us to compare the relative warmth-to-weight ratio of two down parkas, and it is derived by multiplying fill power times fill weight, divided by total garment weight. It quantifies how effectively each lightweight parka is using its mass to insulate.

While you’re here, you may also be interested in our guide to down pants, down booties, down jackets, or non-down ultralight puffy jackets.

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Lightweight Down Parka Comparison Table

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Model Price ($) Weight (oz) Fill Power (in³/oz) Fill Weight (oz) Down Volume (in³) Down Volume Per Ounce of Garment Weight (in³)
Katabatic Tin Cup 299 11.4 850 5.5 4675 410
Rab Mythic Ultra 495 18.9 900 8.5 7650 405
Feathered Friends Helios 469 18.0 900 7.8 7020 390
Feathered Friends Volant 529 25.8 900 11 9900 384
Montbell Mirage 449 13.3 900 5.6 5040 379
Montbell Alpine Down 329 16.0 800 7.1 5680 355
Patagonia AlpLoft 599 24.0 800 10.4 8320 347
Himali Altitude 495 22.0 850 8.0 6800 309
Patagonia Fitz Roy 399 17.1 800 6.3 5040 295
Black Diamond Vision 465 20.0 800 7.3 5840 292
Mountain Hardwear Phantom 450 19.7 800 6.8 5440 276
Marmot Guides Down 275 23.0 700 6.8 4760 207

Best Lightweight Down Parka

Rab Mythic Ultra

Rab Mythic Ultra Jacket

Wow, what an incredible lightweight down parka the Rab Mythic Ultra is, and on so many levels! We’re pleased to recommend it in our top slot. Compared to the entire field, Mythic Ultra comes out atop the heap for the most important stat of all, warmth-to-weight ratio. We can confidently infer this, knowing it has the highest uncompressed down volume per ounce of total garment weight, at 405 in³/oz. Pound for pound, Mythic Ultra is simply the best insulator.

Primarily, that’s thanks to the simple combination of 8.5 ounces of 900 fill power down (most of the sub 20 oz weight class), encased in an ultralight 10d Pertex nylon shell. And measurable stats don’t even account for the additional insulation provided by its thermal reflective lining, and box baffling throughout the torso. What’s more, it’s even made with 100% recycled fabrics and has a full parka-length drape. Incredible design, Rab!

  • Price: $495 | Weight: 18.9 oz
  • Fill Power: 900 | Fill Weight: 8.5 oz
  • Percent Down Weight: 45%
  • Uncompressed Down Volume: 7650 in³
  • Down Volume/Garment Weight: 405 in³/oz
  • Fabric: 10d Pertex Quantum recycled nylon ripstop with heat-reflective liner
  • Pros: Lightweight. Top tier warmth. Top tier warmth-to-weight ratio. Heat reflective liner. Fully baffled at core. Parka length. Sustainable fabric
  • Cons: Modest durability. Expensive. Narrow at the hips.

Editor’s Choice Lightweight Down Parka

Feathered Friends Helios Lightweight Parka

Feathered Friends Helios Hooded Down Jacket

The Feathered Friends Helios is a truly top tier, finely crafted, premium lightweight down parka. Its performance is thanks to an impressive stat line, and confirmed by our field testing. Helios simply has more down fill and higher fill power than average, all while maintaining a below average weight and fairly average price tag given the quality. AKA all up side, no down side.

We love and strongly prefer its envelope-style hand pockets, which are extremely user-friendly (especially with gloves), all without compromising much in the way of security. The only potential area for improvement would be a longer, true-parka-length drape. Nonetheless, we recommend Helios extremely highly, and find it to be a near perfect all-around winter parka for backpacking.

  • Price: $469 | Weight: 18.0
  • Fill Power: 900 | Fill Weight: 7.8 oz
  • Percent Down Weight: 43%
  • Uncompressed Down Volume: 7020 in³
  • Down Volume/Garment Weight: 390 in³/oz
  • Fabric: 20d Pertex Endurance
  • Pros: Lightweight. Top tier warmth. Top tier warmth-to-weight ratio. Envelope pockets. High fill power.
  • Cons: No women’s cut. Non-parka-length drape has potential to ride up.

Warmest Mid-Weight Down Parka

Feathered Friends Volant Down Parka

Feathered Friends Volant Down Hooded Jacket

Feathered Friends Volant bridges the gap between mid-weight down parka, and expedition-grade warmth. While the chassis is nearly identical to its sibling the Helios, Volant is more extreme in virtually every way. It has 41% more down fill, fully baffled construction (as opposed to sewn-through, which leaks heat), and waterproof Pertex Shield shell fabric that’s also more durable.

We recommend Volant if you plan on high altitude mountaineering, camping in temps far below freezing, or wearing your parka without a shell while it’s actively snowing. But this one is likely overkill for a majority of winter backpacking pursuits.

  • Price: $529 | Weight: 25.8 oz
  • Fill Power: 900 | Fill Weight: 11.0
  • Percent Down Weight: 43%
  • Uncompressed Down Volume: 9900 in³
  • Down Volume/Garment Weight: 384 in³/oz
  • Fabric: Waterproof 30d Pertex Shield Ripstop Nylon
  • Pros: Fully baffled. Waterproof. Warmest in its class. Top tier warmth-to-weight ratio. Envelope Pockets. Durable. Good for mountaineering. High fill power.
  • Cons: Expensive. Mid-weight. Bulky. No Women’s Fit. Overkill durability for backpacking.

Next Warmest Mid-Weight Down Parka

Patagonia AlpLoft Down Parka

Patagonia AlpLoft Down Parka

For a full-length, extra warm mid-weight parka that is manufactured responsibly, choose the Patagonia AlpLoft Down Parka. This one is notably warmer than average, even among other climbing and backpacking parkas, thanks to 10.4 ounces of down fill stuffed into 3D seamless baffles.

And oh, did you need pockets? Because AlpLoft has got lots of them. Two large hand, and two large chest pockets, in addition to two interior drop-in pockets. You can store all of your gloves, hats, and accessories in this down parka. And because it’s Patagonia, you won’t be surprised to learn that it’s made with 100% recycled fabrics in a Fair Trade Certified factory.

  • Price: $599 | Weight: 24 oz
  • Fill Power: 800 | Fill Weight: 10.4 oz
  • Percent Down Weight: 43%
  • Uncompressed Down Volume: 8320 in³
  • Down Volume/Garment Weight: 347 in³/oz
  • Fabric: 20d Pertex 3D Weave, 100% recycled Ripstop Nylon
  • Pros: Top tier warmth. High warmth-to-weight. Sustainable fabrics. Parka length.
  • Cons: Expensive. Mid-weight. Bulky. Mid-tier fill power. Men’s cut only.

Best Ultralight Parka

Katabatic Tincup Jacket

Katabatic Tincup Jacket

The Katabatic Tincup is a juiced up ultralight puffy jacket with enough down insulation to hold its own against parkas 50-100% heavier. It has an unmatched 48% down fill by total weight, and the highest down-volume-per-ounce-of-garment-weight score in the entire guide.

But wait, there’s more! The Pertex Quantum fabrics are ultralight all stars, as expected. And it even has box baffling around the shoulders and hood, plus a drop tail hem to prevent gaps form forming.

Despite the incredible warmth-to-weight ratio, it only has a modest total warmth with 5.5 oz of 850 fill power. As such, we recommend this primarily as a shoulder season puffy, or for warmer climates, knowing it’s not quite enough for true winter conditions. Oh, and it’s also a great summer-in-the-mountains puffy for people who run cold.

  • Price: $299 | Weight: 11.4 oz
  • Fill Power: 850 | Fill Weight: 5.5 oz
  • Percent Down Weight: 48%
  • Uncompressed Down Volume: 4675 in³
  • Down Volume/Garment Weight: 410 in³/oz
  • Fabric: 10d Pertex Quantum Eco Ripstop recycled nylon, Pertex quantum taffeta 20D lining
  • Pros: Ultralight. Lightest weight. Best in class warmth-to-weight ratio. Great value. Box baffles on hood and shoulders.
  • Cons: Trim fit. Low total warmth, best for fall, not winter.

Next Best Ultralight Parka

Montbell Mirage Down Parka

Montbell Mirage Down Parka

The Montbell Mirage is by far the most ultralight parka on our list, but also one of the least warm. Perfect for shoulder season backpacking, it bridges the warmth gap between summer weight jacket, and lightweight parka. Its largest weight savings are due to the use of 7d nylon, which is a bit precarious in terms of durability, but appreciated by gram counters nonetheless.

The fact that it has only 5.6 oz of down fill relegates Mirage to fall, and holds it back from true winter use – it’s just not quite warm enough. The average down fill in this guide is 7.8 oz per parka. But we do appreciate the box baffle construction, which eliminates seams and helps enhance its insulative properties.

  • Price: $449 | Weight: 13.3 oz
  • Fill Power: 900 | Fill Weight: 5.6 oz
  • Percent Down Weight: 42%
  • Uncompressed Down Volume: 5040 in³
  • Down Volume/Garment Weight: 379 in³/oz
  • Fabric: 7d Ballistic Airlight Ripstop Nylon
  • Pros: Ultralight. High warmth-to-weight ratio. Fully baffled. Well-made.
  • Cons: Low total warmth. Modest durability. No women’s cut. Best for early-mid fall. Expensive relative to warmth.

Best Value Down Parka

Montbell Alpine Down Parka

Montbell Alpine Down Parka

There’s lots to like about the Montbell Alpine Down Parka. It’s both lighter than average, and less expensive than average, while delivering an average level of warmth and a below average price tag. It just stacks up really well for $329.

While warmer, higher quality options exist, nobody beats Alpine Down in terms of sheer value. You even get full box baffle construction! And while 800 fill power is no longer top tier, it’s better than we expect for such a low price. What a great buy.

  • Price: $329 | Weight: 16 oz
  • Fill Power: 800 | Fill Weight: 7.1 oz
  • Percent Down Weight: 44%
  • Uncompressed Down Volume: 5680 in³
  • Down Volume/Garment Weight: 355 in³
  • Fabric: 20d Ballistic Nylon Ripstop
  • Pros: Lightweight. High warmth-to-weight ratio. Fully baffled.
  • Cons: Mid-tier fill power.

Best Budget Down Parka

Marmot Guides Down Jacket

Marmot Guides Down Hooded Jacket

The Marmot Guides Down Hooded Jacket is the only legit backpacking parka we’re aware of for under $300. Sure, it’s the least warm and third heaviest on our list of the best options on the market. But at least that puts it in good company!

The bottom line is that, despite the use of unimpressive 700 fill power duck down, it still gets the job done in keeping you warm. We caveat this recommendation that it’s for shoulder season use only. Guides Down Hoodie is not actually warm enough for true winter camping. But again, you won’t find a better option for this price, so take what you can get!

  • Price: $275 | Weight: 23.0 oz
  • Fill Power: 700| Fill Weight: 6.8
  • Percent Down Weight: 30%
  • Uncompressed Down Volume: 4760 in³
  • Down Volume/Garment Weight: 196 in³/oz
  • Fabric: Polyester Ripstop (denier not specified)
  • Pros: Great value, very affordable. Available in big/tall sizes.
  • Cons: Mid-weight. Bulky. Low total warmth. Low tier fill power.

Top Pick Lightweight Parka

Himali Altitude Down Parka

Himali Altitude Down Parka

For a super high quality mountaineering parka that gives back to the community and works just as well for winter backpacking, choose the Himali Altitude. Five percent of net proceeds are donated to supporting schools and clean water initiatives in Nepal. How cool is that!

What’s more, this parka is no slouch on performance, and easily qualifies for our round up. With eight ounces of 850 fill power down, it’s the fourth warmest of twelve. The 20d Pertex Quantum fabric is windproof and more than durable enough for hiking needs. Plus it has a seriously excellent hood, offering great coverage on the sides of the face without impeding vision. We also love the large fleece-lined mouth guard/chin panel and note the two interior pockets, one zip chest and one mesh drop in for warming gloves.

  • Price: $495 | Weight: 22.0 oz
  • Fill Power: 850 | Fill Weight: 8.0 oz
  • Percent Down Weight: 36%
  • Uncompressed Down Volume: 6800 in³
  • Down Volume/Garment Weight: 309 in³/oz
  • Fabric: 20d Pertex Quantum Ripstop Nylon
  • Pros: Above-average warmth. Full parka length. Very protective hood. Lightweight. Windproof. 5% proceeds donated to Nepal. Belay zipper.
  • Cons: Not Ultralight. Expensive.

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black diamond vision lightweight down parka

Black Diamond Vision Down Parka

The Black Diamond Vision is a well-made, good-all-around, better-than-average, lightweight down parka. We love the layer-accommodating fit, and full-length drape. The liquid crystal polymer rip stop grid nylon adds a nice durability boost.

Stats-wise, it’s well above the curve and superior to an overwhelming majority of options on the marketplace. But on this list, compared to the other best lightweight down parkas in existence, it’s fairly average. From price, to warmth, to total weight, to fill weight, to fill power, BD Vision is on the outside looking in at the very top tier. It has no major flaws, but suffers from being merely great in a field crowded with excellence. If you can pick one up on sale, it might just be the best buy on the market!

  • Price: $465 | Weight: 20.0 oz
  • Fill Power: 800 | Fill Weight: 7.3 oz
  • Percent Down Weight: 37%
  • Uncompressed Down Volume: 5840 in³
  • Down Volume/Garment Weight: 292 in³/oz
  • Fabric: 20d nylon liquid crystal polymer rip stop
  • Pros: Full parka length. Lightweight. Good durability.
  • Cons: Mid-tier fill power. Average stats across the board.

Top Pick Lightweight Parka

Patagonia Fitz Roy Lightweight Parka

Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Hoodie

At $399, the Patagonia Fitz Roy is a great value for a lightweight parka. In fact, it’s lighter than average, even for this list. However, that’s due in part to the fact that its baffles are slightly underfilled.

As such, we consider this to be a shoulder season parka, rather than a true winter insulator. It just doesn’t have quite enough down fill to get the job done in frigid conditions. But on the up side, it’s a Patagonia design, which means 100% recycled fabrics, and manufacturing in Fair Trade Certified facilities. We don’t mind the dual chest pockets either!

  • Price: $399 | Weight: 17.1 oz
  • Fill Power: 800 | Fill Weight: 6.3 oz
  • Percent Down Weight: 37%
  • Uncompressed Down Volume: 5040 in³
  • Down Volume/Garment Weight: 295 in³/oz
  • Fabric: 20d Pertex Quantum recycled nylon ripstop
  • Pros: Lightweight. Sustainable. Good value.
  • Cons: Low total warmth.

Top Pick Lightweight Parka

Mountain Hardwear Phantom lightweight parka

Mountain Hardwear Phantom Alpine Down

The Mountain Hardwear Phantom Alpine is another notable lightweight down parka worth considering. The synthetic insulated first cuff baffle is desirable, because it helps prevent the most moisture-exposed area from getting soaked in wet conditions. We’re also impressed by the Pertex Diamond Fuse fabric, which bats above its weight class in terms of durability.

While it has no major flaws, and is certainly lighter and more functional than the majority of parkas out there, on our list, Phantom Alpine suffers somewhat from an average stat line. Its price, weight, fill power, and fill weight are a notch below the top tier. So on a list of the very best lightweight parkas, we relegate it to the bucket of great-not-excellent. That being said, Mountain Hardwear is ubiquitous and widely-distributed enough that you’ll probably be able to find it on sale at some point, which completely changes equation. If you spot it at half off, Phantom Alpine would easily take the cake for best value!

At time of publication, you can still find this jacket’s previous iteration, Phantom Down Parka, at REI for 25% off. And it’s at least as good as the current model!

  • Price: $450 | Weight: 19.7 oz
  • Fill Power: 800 | Fill Weight: 6.8 oz
  • Percent Down Weight: 35%
  • Uncompressed Down Volume: 5440 in³
  • Down Volume/Garment Weight: 276 in³/oz
  • Fabric: Pertex Diamond Fuse 20D Ripstop Nylon
  • Pros: Lightweight. Durable.
  • Cons: Mid-tier fill power. Average stats across the board.

Feathered Friends Helios Down Parka for Backpacking

Lightweight Down Parka For Backpacking in Winter Conclusion

Thanks for reading our guide to the best lightweight down parkas for backpacking in winter! Unlike most products, down garments can be easily and objectively compared and measured for relative warmth-to-weight. This adds a high degree of confidence to our recommendations, and we’re positive you will be pleased with any lightweight parka on this list. Happy hiking!