Anyone who has been brave enough to venture outside in the past couple of weeks will well and truly have got the message that Winter is in full swing. This applies particularly to those with wardrobes ill-prepared for tackling this season’s elements – it’s especially easy to fall victim to this at a time when the weather can seemingly change at the drop of a hat.
But when it comes keeping warm, staying prepared and of course, looking good, a man can rarely go wrong with a good down jacket. As you may know, the garment’s name comes from the the material which gives the jacket its fantastic warming properties.
Down is the name given to the soft layer of feathers close to the skin of ducks and geese, primarily found near the chest area of the bird. The same material used in the making of many duvets and pillows, down is valued so highly by clothing manufacturers because it is exceptionally soft and does not have quills. The loft (fluffiness) of the feathers allows for the creation of air pockets which trap warmth and fend off cold, meaning it is not only incredibly comfortable, but also light and warm.
The first ever down jacket was patented by Eddie Bauer, an American outdoor enthusiast and sports shop owner in the 1930s. On a snowy January fishing trip, Bauer was forced to take off his heavy wool jacket in order to carry his 100-pound haul of fish across the mile hike back to his car. The bitter cold combined with the moisture of the snow and fish soon left Bauer in a hypothermic state, which may have resulted in his death had he not been rescued by his companion.
Bauer realised he needed a jacket that was not only warm, but also lightweight and breathable, so he needn’t take it off during heavy work. The solution came in the form of goose down, which he crafted into a design he called the Blizzard-Proof Jacket. It was an instant hit, turning Bauer’s business into a household name, and the down jacket continues to be a staple of winterwear to this day.
With ski season upon us, the down jacket provides the perfect combination of lightweight construction and impressive warmth to throw into a suitcase for winter travels, or to keep at the ready in your wardrobe as a versatile all-rounder to see you through into Spring. With that in mind, here are a few of our favourite down jackets to keep you feeling warm and looking cool this Winter.
The Serious Choice – nobis
We at Ape were introduced to nobis Outerwear a few weeks ago, and the Toronto brand certainly didn’t disappoint. Their ‘The Barry’ jacket ($995) is an all-round choice you can’t go wrong with – it combines technical outerwear with classic style and abundance of design features, including the two-way zipper, wind flaps with magnetic closures, interior zip pockets, and a removable down hood to name a few. The jacket is available in six colours, but we think it looks best in the subtle but solid navy shade.
The Stylish Choice – Moncler
A classic Italian outerwear brand founded in 1952, it’s safe to say Moncler know a thing or two about making quality jackets. As with most of their range, the Montgenevre down jacket (£900) is pricey, but more than makes up for it in terms of both style and technical features for those willing to foot the bill. The slope-ready outerwear design is enhanced with details such as large pockets, drawstrings, and a detachable hood, making it a capable piece for any eventuality from city wear to mountain expeditions.
The Technical Choice – Jöttnar
A brand created by two ex-Royal Marine Commandos inspired by the fierce winters and beautiful landscapes of the Norwegian mountains they frequently trained in, Jöttnar was created to withstand the demands of the most ferocious conditions the world has to offer. The Fjorm (£395) is the brand’s warmest goose down jacket, and makes use of a number of innovative features including an oversized internal mesh pocket, anti-snag hem cords, and internal fleece cuff lining around the elasticated wrist area, ensuring a snug fit when when wearing gloves.