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The Best Down Jackets For Hiking

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Buyer's Guide

How to Select the Right Down Jackets For Hiking

Down jackets have always been one of those essential prerequisites for cold winter hiking. Stuffed full of insulation, both natural (in the case of down) or synthetic, they're key to effectively keeping the cold out. However, there's more to choosing a good jacket than just trying to stuff it with whatever you can find. You need to choose one that's comfortable to wear, versatile, and easy to care for. Let's look at a few of the better down jackets for hiking as well.

When choosing a jacket, one of your first considerations should be how compressible it is. It's no secret that cold weather hikes put a lot of stress on your lower body, particularly your legs. In order to avoid unnecessary fatigue, you want a jacket that has high compressibility. The higher the compressibility, the better; higher compressibility means that the jacket can handle bigger weight loads and will be lighter, which will save you time and energy in the long run. Some of the down jackets for hiking we've looked at come in both medium and heavy compressibility; they're worth considering if you've only done a couple of trips.

Another important consideration when choosing a great jacket for hiking is the way it's equipped. pockets are an absolute must, since not only will you need a way to carry some essential items, you'll also want some places to stash your other supplies. Some popular options include side pouches and external storage pockets, which are great for stashing your compass, sleeping bags, and water bottles, gloves, or any other small but important item you'll need while hiking. Make sure the pockets are equipped with zippers or closures in order to be as durable as possible, and that the ones you get have the features you need.

The design of your jacket is also an important factor, and the most popular variety is a hood. A hood can add to or even make the difference between comfort and discomfort while on the trail, so think carefully about what you would like before buying one. Down jackets with a removable hood are a great option, as they are less durable and prone to develop issues with condensation building up in the interior. In addition, keep an eye out for sleeves; these jackets generally have sleeves, which can be bulky and hard to maneuver in wet environments. If possible, choose a waterproof sleeve that has less material and is more breathable, which will keep your jacket much more comfortable.

Another feature to look out for is the type of down used in manufacturing the jacket. Some jackets use ultra-light materials, which are a lot more flexible and durable, but at the same time are a lot less insulating than down, which is what most people think of when they hear the words 'down jacket'. If you're looking for a lightweight jacket that is still capable of providing warmth, the choice is easy: buy a down alternative. However, if money is an issue or you don't want to compromise on quality, you should choose down-filled jackets that utilize a high-density inner fill to produce even weight distribution and warmth, while using high-quality fill power materials to ensure durability and long-lasting wear.

The typical down jacket will also come with a few exterior pockets, with the most common being one pocket in front and two on the back (one side). There are many varieties of these, so it's best to read up on your specific jacket to determine which features are most important to you before making your purchase. Some jackets have a front zippered pocket, designed to be used for your cellular phone or personal items, while others have a top-zip fleece-lined pocket used for smaller stuff. Some other external pockets include mesh pockets, which allow for more internal room for gear and accessories, and a front pouch for your compass and rainfly. Compression straps are another popular feature, allowing you to tighten the jacket all the way to your sternum for added warmth and protection from the elements.

Although most all varieties are rated for temperatures between thirty and fifty degrees Fahrenheit, there are some ratings that are specifically for colder climates, such as those found in Iceland. Because Iceland is surrounded by ice, it can be expected to occasionally experience below freezing temperatures, so having an extra pair of warm waterproof coats on hand can make a huge difference in how well you can tolerate the chill. Another type of jacket to consider is one that has both insulation and waterproof properties. This is a good investment for rainy or cold climates, as it can protect you against the water, but is also capable of shedding water and keeping you warm when it does come time to swim.

As you can see, choosing the right jacket will be based largely on your personal needs. A waterproof jacket is most suitable for hiking, although you might also want to consider outerwear with shell openings for added protection from wind and snow. If you plan on long distance hiking, you should make sure your jacket has a hood or is designed with one. And for comfort, make sure your boots fit comfortably and are not too big for your feet. With a little research and effort, you can find a comfortable and reliable jacket for your outdoor activities.