As insulated jackets are traditionally stuffed with down feathers, vegans may have a hard time trying to find warm, cruelty-free, vegan-friendly jackets. Thankfully, the rise in veganism and an increase in the demand for sustainable options means there has been a lot of research into developing high-performance synthetic insulation.
Now even the best outdoor brands such as North Face, Arc’teryx, Patagonia, and Rab have vegan insualted jackets available in their ranges.
|Our Verdict||Vegan Synthetic Down Jacket||Check Price|
|Best Overall||Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody||Mens (Amazon)|
|Stylish Option for Casual Wear||Patagonia Radalie Jacket||Womens (Amazon)|
|Quick Drying||Rab Altus||Mens (Amazon)|
|Great for Snow Sports||Columbia Sportswear Alpine Action OH||Mens (Amazon)|
|A Popular Classic||The North Face Thermoball Hoodie||Mens (Amazon)|
|Cosy on Cold Days||The North Face Inlux Insulated Jacket||Womens (Amazon)|
|Best for Animal Lovers||Save The Duck||Mens (Save The Duck)|
Womens (Save The Duck)
|Eco-Friendly Option||Thought Elisha Recycled Puffa||Womens (Ethical Superstore)|
Is Synthetic Insulation Good?
Yes, synthetic insulation is excellent and actually rivals down insulation in many ways. It performs better in wet conditions, is quick drying and is often a cheaper option.
Synthetic Insulation Vs Down Insulation
|Synthetic Insulation||Down Insulation|
|Weight-to-warmth Ratio||Less than down||Better|
|Durability||Excellent||Good (requires more care)|
An area both products potentially fall down in is ethics. Synthetic insulation is vegan-friendly and cruelty-free but is it environmentally friendly? The synthetic insulation is often made from polyester which does not break down and is a source of microplastics. To counter this, it is best to choose jackets using recycled materials.
On the other hand, Down has a number of ethical and animal welfare issues associated with it. Reputable brands are trying to reduce their impact by using fully traceable down that meets the Responsible Down Standard. While certain brands are trying to improve standards throughout their supply chains, this is a working progress. The best way to avoid animal cruelty and suffering is by choosing synthetic options.
Overall, it may be a close call between the two types of insulation depending on what your focus is. We’d recommend choosing recycled synthetic insulation to get the best insulated jacket that will keep you warm in cold, dry, and wet conditions.
How Do You Know If A Jacket Uses Synethic Insulation?
The label will say “synthetic” under the “insulation type”, it may also be called synthetic down or vegan down. You may also see the brand’s own type of synthetic insulation listed, e.g. PlumaFill or Thermogreen in Patagonia jackets.
Best Overall: Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody
This is an ultralightweight jacket that uses synthetic PlumaFill insulation. If you’re looking for a synthetic jacket that offers an excellent wamth to weight ratio this is the one to choose.
The PlumaFill insulation is lightweight, warm and has a similar structure to down so it can be packed down in the same way as a down jacket. This is something many other synthetic insulation types struggle with so is a definite bonus with this jacket.
The Micro Puff has sewn in dividers to help stop insulation from clumping so the jacket is efficient in keeping you warm. The jacket maintains heat impressively well and still performs when wet. If you need a lightweight jacket that is packable, warm and versatile the Micro Puff Hoody from Patagonia is a excellent option.
Pros: High-quality lightweight insulation, comfortable, zippered pockets, helmet-compatible hood, excellent for a range of temperatures and activities
Cons: Expensive option
Stylish Option for Casual Wear: Patagonia Radalie Jacket
The Radalie jacket uses a Thermogreen insulation, this is a polyester insulation using 92% recycled polyester. The jacket is a good choice for insulation without bulk. You can stay warm, stay dry in light showers and feel comfortable as the days get colder.
The Radalie has a stylish, slim-fit design that looks more tailored than many insulated jackets. It has a durable water repellent coating but is not 100% waterproof so should only be worn in light rain.
This jacket weighs 425g, so is around 200g heavier than the more technical Micro Puff jacket but remains a great option for casual wear and day hiking.
Pros: Looks great, warm, breathable, durable, zippered pockets
Cons: Can be tight around the shoulders
Quick Drying: Rab Altus
The Rab Altus jacket is stylish, quick-drying and uses synthetic Cirrus insulation. This insulation means the coat retains warmth even in wet weather. The stitch-through baffle construction keeps the insulation evenly spread to prevent cold spots. The jacket is also lightweight and packable making this a great layering coat.
A recent upgrade has meant the Altus jacket now offers a better fit. This coat is a good choice for hiking and for casual wear.
Pros: Lightweight, deep pockets, high-quality insulation, stylish design
Cons: No hood
If you like this but would like a jacket with a hood, check out the Rab Nimbus instead. The Nimbus jacket offers a but more warmth as well as a hood.
Great for Snow Sports: Columbia Sportswear Alpine Action OH Jacket
If you need a budget-friendly insulated jacket that can handle more than light hikes, take a look at the Alpine Action OH. This jacket is perfect for skiing, snowboarding and other mountain adventures.
It has convenient features including a thermal reflective lining, multiple pockets including a goggles pocket and a removable, adjustable hood.
This jacket is windproof, waterproof and has a powder skirt. The Alpine Action OH is warm without being bulky and it leaves space for layering underneath. Considering this jacket is designed for use skiing, it is disappointing that the hood is not helmet compatible.
Pros: Low price, good fit, lots of secure pockets, warm, great for skiing
Cons: Hood is not helmet compatible, no pit-zips
A Popular Classic: The North Face Thermoball Hoodie
The latest version of The North Face’s Thermoball Hoodie includes a more eco-friendly design, is more durable and has a new quilting pattern. The jacket is hugely popular and makes a great mid or outer layer.
The outer layer can handle light rainfall and snowfall but it isn’t able to handle heavy rain. If the jacket does get wet, the synthetic insulation will continue to keep you warm. Although this jacket does pack down, if you need an option that is ultralight and packs very small take a look at the Patagonia Micro Puff instead.
The Thermoball Hoodie offers the puffy style of a down jacket along with a similar lightweight warmth. There are lots of colours and styles to choose from and the newer version has a slightly slimmer cut than previous models.
Pros: Warm, sleek
Cons: Heavier than alternative options
Cosy on Cold Days: The North Face Inlux Insulated Jacket
The Inlux Insulated jacket is great for those colder days. The Heatseeker insulation keeps you warm and it is compressible so you can pack it away with ease too. The layered fabric and water repellent finish makes sure you stay dry during wet weather. The jacket has a fleece lining so it is soft and cosy.
Other features include a detachable and adjustable hood. Something that makes this jacket stand out is how breathable it is. The jacket is designed to help regulate your body temperature so you don’t get too warm during tougher hiking sections or changing weather conditions.
Pros: Good protection against wind and light rain, breathable, easy layering, comfortable for all day use
Cons: Pockets could be bigger and more secure, limited features
Best for Animal Lovers: Save the Duck Hooded Coat
If you’re looking for a vegan puffer jacket that is made by a brand that only offers animal-free and cruelty-free products take a look at Save the Duck. Their range includes a number of puffer vests and jackets, including super warm faux-fur lined hooded jackets.
Eco-Friendly Option: Thought Elisha Recycled Puffa Coat
This long puffa coat is great for wearing around town as part of your winter wardrobe. It is made from recycled plastic bottles and is excellent for keeping you dry and warm in the rain. This coat is showerproof and is lined with soft recycled fleece to help keep you cosy.