As the fall season comes around and you try to walk the line between hot and cold, certain pieces stand out as being perfect for the balance. Down vests are one of those pieces. Here is the low down on down vests.
Down vests are sleeveless and lightweight, they usually zip or button up the front, and they're meant to be worn as a layer over other clothing. They separate themselves from puffer vests because the quilted sections that hold the insulation are usually a little smaller on down vests. Patterns vary from squares to thin, angled rectangles. There are men's down vests and women's down vests.
And that insulation is what really makes them stand out. Down vests—like the name—are filled with down feathers to trap heat. Down feathers are a special kind of feather. They're the innermost layer of feathers on a bird and are responsible for keeping the bird warm while the outer, tougher feathers are generally responsible for different aspects of flight. This means down vests are excellent at keeping you warm even when it's really cold outside.
The structure of down feathers is loose and fluffy, meaning it's able to trap more air and more heat than the sleeker flying feathers. This also means that this vest is mostly air, so you can fold it and roll it more tightly, making it really easy to pack when going on an adventure and really easy to store when the warmer seasons come around. Some of them can get so small, they can fit into a pocket! So convenient!
Along the same lines as the above point, since the down vest is mostly air, it means you aren't carrying around very much. Many colder weather clothes, rightly, have many layers of fabric to keep you warm. This means they tend to be heavier on your body. This may not seem to make much of a difference, but it's something you notice after a day of wearing it around, and if you're out doing a high-energy activity or sport, carrying extra weight can make a huge difference! That's why being so lightweight is a great thing about down vests!
Down vests are great for autumn because autumn isn't usually only cool. There are still a few hot days left over from summer, and sometimes the temperature in the sun can be a dramatic difference from indoors in the shade. Down vests only cover your torso, which means they keep your core and vital organs warm while leaving your extremities free to cool off if things get a little too hot. Also, it's a lot easier to put on and take off a beanie and men's or women's gloves when your extremities feel uncomfortable than it is to put on and take off an entire jacket when the temperature changes on you. This makes the down vest flexible and wearable in many different climates and situations.
Down vests generally come in two fits, trim and boxy. A boxy fit, like its name, means that the vest is more of a box and isn't going to conform to your shape. While this may not seem like a good thing, it can be depending on what you want to do with your down vest. If you want to wear your down vest into the colder months, or you live in a place where things can get cold quickly, you may want to layer up underneath your vest. A boxy fit will give you the space to put on an extra sweater if you need it. A trim fit, on the other hand, will fit you more snugly. This is perfect for slimming you down a bit and for those slightly warmer autumn days where you just need a long-sleeved t-shirt and jeans under your down vest. Figure out which is right for you and pick your fit!
The what? This is a number indicating the insulation in a particular down vest. Since down vests are generally squished when they're folded down, their ability to poof back up when unfolded again is important. The power fill number describes this. It's the number of cubic inches that a single ounce of down poofs and expands to take up, telling you the quality of the down used in the vest. The more the poof, the better the quality of the down since more air and more heat are captured, and the better the insulation. The number ranges anywhere from 500 to 900. Higher numbers mean better insulation.
Now that you know everything about down vests, find the down vest that fits you best!