Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Vest Men’s
This vest kept us warm with its cozy features, including a soft lining and a long torso, which sealed in heat. This one also had the most pocket space of any of our picks.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $150.
The Outdoor Research Transcendent Down Vest Men’s is our favorite men’s down vest due to its warmth and thoughtful design features, like a tricot-lined collar and an easy, fold-into-pocket stowaway system. The Transcendent also has the most generous pockets of any of the styles we tested. This vest’s 650-fill-power down wasn’t the highest fill count we found, but its long torso excelled at keeping heat from escaping, so we felt snug on chilly days. We liked the cozy, retro-stylish look, but here’s fair warning: The Transcendent’s puffy design means this vest is hard to layer over, compared with most of the other models we tested, so it is best used as an outer layer.
The Patagonia Down Sweater Vest Women’s is a stylish outdoor classic for people who plan to wear their vest on dog walks, running errands in urban areas, or hanging out in cool temps, as well as on the occasional outdoor adventure. The Patagonia vest had some of the strongest stitching we found and a tough ripstop nylon shell that minimized insulation loss. And it comes in a variety of colors. This vest’s front pockets are located right where your hands fall and are well positioned for keeping them warm. The 800-fill-power down means this vest is warm, even on the coldest days—in fact, it’s the warmest option we tested. Like the Transcendent vest, the Patagonia is too puffy to easily fit under another jacket as a midlayer, so plan to wear it over a long-sleeved base layer.
Montbell Thermawrap Vest Men’s
If you prefer synthetic over down insulation, this vest is our choice. It stays warm even when wet, and its slimmer profile works great either for layering under outerwear or as a top layer.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $140.
If you plan to hike in cold, wet climates, or you’re looking for a non-down option, the Montbell Thermawrap Vest (which comes in men’s and women’s versions) is our favorite synthetic model. The Thermawrap strikes an ideal temperature balance with its Exceloft filling, keeping active people warm but not making them so hot that they overheat. When it’s raining or snowing, the shell’s fabric repels wind and droplets. But even when the vest gets wet, the synthetic insulation will still keep you warm. Since it isn’t as puffy as our top picks, the Thermawrap can work as both a midlayer and a top layer (it fits under a jacket). And it adapts easily, whether you’re out on the trail or commuting to work.
The REI Co-op 650 Down Vest 2.0 (which comes in men’s, women’s, and women’s plus versions) is an ideal budget option for people who want a down vest to wear during commutes, urban walks, and the occasional outdoor adventure. The REI Co-op vest, which has 650-fill-power down, is as warm or warmer than all but our women’s top pick, and it’s nearly half the price. This vest comes in a range of sizes for many body types, and the slightly boxy fit makes it quite easy to layer under. That said, the price cuts were evident in wider baffles and the fact that feathers started emerging from the seams after just a day of use (a sign that the vest might become less warm over time, as it loses insulation). And despite its DWR (durable water repellent) coating, the vest still doesn’t repel water well, which means it’s not ideal for those living in rainy climates; once the vest is wet, it loses its warmth. Still, we think that it’s a decent option for the price; several of our testers even ranked this vest as their favorite “just enough” warmth option.