A handful of years back, while browsing the impossibly huge (and since shuttered, RIP) flagship shop of Japanese outdoor brand Montbell in downtown Portland, Oregon, I came across a rack of down pants. I’d never seen such a thing before. I mean, a puffy jacket, sure. But a puffy jacket for your legs? On a whim I purchased a pair, and in the years since they’ve become an essential part of my packlist for backpacking, bikepacking, ski touring, backcountry hiking, car camping, hiking, and other types of trips around the world. I even wear them around the house with such frequency I’ve begun to wear through the seat insulation from too much desk chair time.
In recent years many North American and European brands have caught on, offering more diversity in the field of down pants—and even shorts and skirts—than ever before. From American-made and PFC-free to partial length variations, the following 13 pairs are our top picks for the best down pants and insulated pants for keeping cozy this winter, both at home and in the elements.
[Down not your thing? Check out our top picks for best fleece pants]
Originally introduced to Japan in 2004, then discontinued, and now back again with lighter, more compressible fabric, the Mont Bell Light Down Pants are the most packable on the list and feature an elastic waist and that’s about it. Barebones and better for it.
Down Fill: 800
Weight: 6.6 oz
Price: $209 SHOP NOW
Insulated with synthetic Primaloft insulation, these heavyweight pants feature an integrated belt and waterproof reinforcements at the knee and bum. These are great for everyday wear—not meant for backpacking. Also available in black, although if purple is an option I'm not sure why you wouldn't choose that. But hey, to each their own.
Down Fill: Primaloft
Though made by renowned outfitter TNF, these particular down pants skew a bit more fashionable than tactical. Inspired by mountain exploration and stuffed with down (fill unknown), this pair has the most street appeal of the lot.
Down Fill: NA
Price: $295 SHOP NOW
This Japanese-made pair from noted down gear maker Nanga is a tad bit on the bulkier side, though ever more comfy for it. With stretch fabric for ample knee movement and a water repellent coating, this pair was designed for cold weather adventures of all sorts.
Down Fill: 860
Weight: 10.6 oz
Price: $258 SHOP NOW
Based on the brand’s well loved down jacket of the same name, the Ghost Whisperer Down Pant is newly available with 100% recycled fabric and designed to be worn around camp, while belaying, or under a shell on particularly frigid adventures. Bonus: they pack into their own pocket for easy storage when not in use.
Down Fill: 800
Weight: 9.6 oz
Price: $250 SHOP NOW
Another pant version of a best-selling jacket, the Nano Puff Pant is made with 100% recycled polyester shell fabric with DWR water repellent treatment, and insulated with 55% postconsumer recycled PrimaLoft Gold. With belt loops, a zippered back pocket and reinforced nylon seat, the versatility of these extends beyond many other lightweight pants on our list.
Women’s: Not Really
Down Fill: 60 gram PrimaLoft Gold
Weight: 11.7 oz
Price: $179 SHOP NOW
Made by hand in Seattle by legendary down outfitter Feathered Friends, these adventure-ready pants feature full-length side zippers and 900+ fill goose down, making them ideal for quickly putting on and taking off without stepping out of your skis or removing boots.
Down Fill: 900+
Price: $249 SHOP NOW
Stuffed with 160 grams of the highest quality 800 fill ethically sourced, fluorocarbon free hydrophobic European Goose Down, these down pants from UK-based Rab are designed to be worn over a baselayer around basecamp. A durable Pertex outer material and two-way zipper make these dependable in a range of conditions.
Down Fill: 800 RDS
Weight: 13.2 oz
Price: $200 SHOP NOW
Iceland's 66North has the next best thing after down. These synthetic trousers are filled and insulated with an incredibly soft PrimaLoft microfiber blend, have reinforcements on the back of the knees, and three pockets.
Down Fill: PrimaLoft®
Price: $250 SHOP NOW
We’re getting into quasi-pant territory now. The Lyngen Down Knickers from Norwegian outfitter Norrona are made with recycled nylon with PFC-free DWR coating and end just below the knee—or, just above the boot if you’re a glass half full type of person. With a side zip these are ideal for tossing on over shell pants to warm up while ski touring. Also likely pretty damn comfy under too.
Down Fill: 850 RDS
Weight: 7 oz
Price: $239 SHOP NOW
Lots of functionality packed into a tiny package, these insulated shorts from Sweden’s Haglöfs feature side zips for easy on and off, recycled and PFC-free DWR materials, and an elastic waist.
Down Fill: QuadFusion 100% recycled polyester
Weight: 4.9 oz
Price: $130 SHOP NOW
A hard sell for some, we'll admit; but a down skirt is a perfect option when your upper legs need just a lil extra warmth. This Swedish brand sells mainly adventure skirts in so many fun & funky colors. Featuring a zip-off entry and a zippered pocket, an elastic waist band, and environ-friendly DWR, there's everything to love about this piece. (If you're looking for a puffier option, check out this down skirt by Outdoor Research.)
Down Fill: 600
Weight: 5.6 oz
Price: $199 SHOP NOW