What Is A Down Jacket? (Ask an Effortless Gent)

by Brian Adee  |  in Casual Style

A staple of wintertime wardrobes since its invention in 1922, the down jacket is an indispensable item for every man’s wardrobe. But what is a down jacket, anyway?

That’s what we’re here to explain!

At its most basic, a down jacket is a quilted and padded jacket filled with feathers, usually from ducks or geese. The outer shell is nearly always synthetic, and the inner filling creates a lofty insulation that’s great for keeping out cold and wind.

photo of a black down jacket with fur trim hood

Today, you’ll find many coats that are called down jackets that don’t use goose or duck down. Instead, they opt for a synthetic fiber filling instead.

In addition to being environmental- and animal-friendly, the polyester fillings used in these synthetic carbon copies have the advantage of drying faster and more fully should you get caught in a rainstorm.

Now let’s take a look at a few common questions about down jackets:

What’s A Good Fill Power?

A down jacket’s fill power is a number that indicates the quality of down in the coats. In other words, a higher fill power indicates a greater capacity for insulation.

Photo via unsplash

While the design of the jacket will greatly affect its ability to keep you warm, fill power is a fairly reliable measure of a down jacket’s quality.

Common fill powers will range from 300 at the low end to 900 at the top end. Somewhere right in the middle is where you’ll find the best blend of value and warmth. Anything around 600 fill power is a great place to start shopping for a down jacket.

How Do You Fluff Up one up?

Even the most fastidiously cared-for down jacket will require a wash one day — and once it comes out of the wash, you may notice that it’s lost a lot of its puff.

Thankfully, there’s an easy trick that will fluff it up in no time: Throw it in the dryer without any other clothes to keep it company, and toss a few (clean!) tennis balls in there with it. Dry on low so as not to shrink or damage the jacket, and the tennis balls will do the work of fluffing your jacket back up for you.

G-Star Utility Pocket Puffer Jacket

This Utility Pocket jacket is a down-free puffer. Offering a raised collar with a grown on peak hood and adjustability cords.

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Triple F.A.T. Goose Parka

A parka engineered to protect you against frigid temperatures. The Eldridge Parka features a durable DWR coating with special Hydrophobic Nanotechnology.

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Canada Goose Langford Down Parka

"Sure to be a winter-weather staple, this cleanly designed slim-fit parka is styled with a low thigh-length for maximum protection against cold temperatures." –Nordstrom

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Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Parka

Available in a variety of styles and colors, in both jackets and vests.

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What Is the Difference Between A Down Jacket and A Puffer Jacket?

More specifically, is there any difference between a down jacket and a puffer jacket? 

Nope! The two terms are often used interchangeably, and both can refer to either a true animal down jacket or one made with synthetic filling.

We hope this article has been helpful and informative as you ponder all of the common questions associated with down jackets. For more jacket inspiration, please do check out our guide to the best spring jackets as well!