Man wearing Arc Teryx Insulated Jacket

Protect yourself from the cold with these cruelty-free vegan insulated jackets, including a buying guide to help you pick the perfect one for you!

Find the right insulated jacket and you’ll likely become inseparable. They’re the perfect outer layer to keep you feeling warm and protected from the elements with minimal weight. It’s an invaluable piece of kit which should be on most outdoor packing lists – it’s always on ours!

Nowadays the variety of synthetic insulated jackets is huge, with different styles designed to handle every type of use and environment. You’ll find simple budget options going all the way up to technical masterpieces used for Arctic exploration.

The problem was, most high-quality coats were stuffed with down feathers, which are cruelly plucked from birds (we’ll get more into that below). It was actually really hard work finding a jacket that was cruelty-free, top quality and wouldn’t blow the bank.

Nowadays you can find 100% vegan insulated jackets from all the best outdoors brand, which completely rival their competitors, are environmentally friendly and come at a great price. There are actually so many options it can be hard to know which to pick, that’s why we put this guide together. Keep reading to find jackets from:

North Face / Columbia / Arc’teryx / Marmot / Patagonia / Rab / Outdoor Research / Montane / REI + More!

In this article, you’ll find: 

If you’ve got any questions or thoughts about the article make sure to drop us a comment at the bottom!

This blog features affiliate links. Buying through these links will never cost you more money but will support Veggie Vagabonds and allow us to keep making content like this – thanks for your help!

Camping girl eating porridge with vegan coat
Cold mountain, warm porridge, hot jacket!

What is a down jacket? Are down insulated jackets cruel?

Despite often being used in pillows, duvets, cushions, sleeping bags, coats, gloves etc. people may not aware of down and how it is obtained.

Down is generally the underlayer of insulated feathers birds use to keep warm, which is ripped from them. To be most cost-effective, the birds are sometimes kept alive (unless they die from shock) to be plucked as soon as new feathers have regrown.

So yes, down insulted jackets are very cruel. That’s why we wholeheartedly recommend switching from down to synthetic products. If you want to find out a bit more then check out this post on down feather from Your Daily Vegan.  

Introducing… synthetic insulation!

With the HUGE rise in veganism and demand for sustainable outdoors gears, plenty of research and resources have gone into synthetic insulation. This has meant that high-performing insulated jackets are both vegan-friendly and easy to find.

Brands that are really pioneering is are Patagonia, Arc’teryx, North Face, Marmot and Vaude, each with their own line of insulation technology (more info below!) and plenty of vegan down jackets to boot!

The high-tech vegan materials that are now available can completely rival down filling, often providing jackets which are:

  • Better in wet conditions
  • Faster drying
  • Often much cheaper (yes!)

Insulated jackets are not only an essential part of an outdoors trip, but they can also be used as a warm, lightweight and practical winter coat. So, now that there’s a huge vegan selection available it’s great news for us ethical adventurers!

Note. these awesome items of outdoor clothing may be labelled as vegan insulated jackets, synthetic insulated jackets, vegan down coats or maybe just insulated jackets – don’t be thrown off by the different names!

Climber girl outdoors
Insulated jackets are perfect to keep you warm between breaks until you start moving again

How to spot synthetic insulated jackets (vegan) vs. down insulated jackets

Fortunately, as down insulation is usually more expensive most brands will clearly label them (making finding the right jacket a whole lot easier). Even so, there still can be some variations to the names or labels used. 

If you’re shopping for insulated jackets online you can normally select insulation type in the search options and then opt for synthetic. If you’re on a product it will normally show the insulation type under the fill or insulation section.

If you’re shopping in-store then it’s best to ask the advice of one of the shop workers and clearly say you’re looking for a vegan insulated jacket. 

Down insulation may be called: down fill, down insulation, power down, 700-fill-down (number relating to how much down the jacket has). Outdoor companies may also have their own down branding, however, it should always be labelled as down. 

Vegan insulated jackets may be called: synthetic insulated jacket, synthetic down jacket, vegan down jacket – or brands may use their own type of synthetic insulation. Either way, it will be labelled as vegan or synthetic. Keep reading the next section to find out about the synthetic filling. 

Also, be careful of synthetic/down blends, which are also not vegan-friendly.

6 types of synthetic insulation to look out for

As mentioned, there are many big brands with their own trademark synthetic technology. Below are 5 of the very best, with examples of the outdoor clothing brands that use them. Further down you’ll also find our pick of some of the best vegan insulated jackets available now!

1 . PrimaLoft

Originally developed for the US army, PrimaLoft is a high-performance synthetic technology, with great warmth to weight ratio. They also make a conscious effort to use environmentally friendly materials which are all 100% vegan – awesome. This is in the jacket I use and I love it. 

Used by Patagonia

2. Polartec

Polartec is another brand which is not only innovative in vegan insulation but also pioneers sustainable and recycled materials. They have a variety of different insulated products, ranging from lightweight warmth for milder conditions to hard-wearing insulation designed for the harshest of weather. 

Used by The North Face

3. Climashield

Seriously durable insulation for the harshest conditions, even after it’s stretched, compressed or washed. Some of the best outdoors brands use Climashield technology with an outstanding international reputation.

Used by Arc’teryx

4. Thermal R

A polyester-based insulation which is great at providing warmth even when wet. They also have the Thermal R Eco, which is made out of completely recycled materials!

Used by Marmot

5. Omni-Heat

Another polyester-based technology with a heat-reflective lining to help insulate heat inside the jacket. Sarah currently uses this and think it’s ace!

Used by Columbia Outdoors

6. 3m Featherless

Designed to mimic down insulation when dry and outperform once weight. 3m materials are found in brands all over the world, just make sure it’s the 3m Featherless range, as others aren’t vegan-friendly.

Used by Rab

Looking at an insulated jacket which doesn’t use these types of insulation? Don’t worry!

Using the big names in insulation comes at a higher cost so many budget brands won’t use them. To make sure your insulated jacket is vegan-friendly check the label for:

  • 100% Polyester
  • 100% Nylon
  • Doesn’t say down, down fill, down feather, basically anything down or feather related!

If you’re going camping you might also want to check out our guide to vegan sleeping bags too!

Synthetic Insulation and Sustainability

At Veggie Vagabonds we’re always on a mission to highlight the most ethical outdoor gear possible. Many vegan winter clothes contain synthetic insulation which can be a big contributor to microplastics found in water sources – a big nasty for our natural world.

It’s awesome to see that many of the leading outdoor clothing brands are making their synthetic products much more eco-friendly. This is being done by finding natural polyester alternatives or by working towards 100% recycled polyester in existing products.

We’ve tried to highlight the more eco-friendly jackets below. Personally, we think it’s important to support companies making moves towards greener products. Veganism and sustainability go hand in hand, so, the ultimate ethical insulated jacket will be environmentally-friendly AND cruelty-free!

Find out more about sustainable outdoor gear here

Man cooking on a camp stove with a North face synthetic insulated jacket
Scrambling tofu on a camp stove, wearing my favourite vegan down jacket…

Vegan insulated jacket buyer’s guide

Are you wanting a lightweight layer to keep with you at all time? Looking for extreme warmth in harsh conditions? Maybe you just want a warm vegan winter coat to keep you cosy around the house? With so many options now available to us happy herbivores it can make picking the right vegan coat quite time-consuming. The buyer’s guide below to help you know exactly what to look for and find the right thing. 

Costs

In honesty, a vegan insulated jacket isn’t going to be the cheapest item on your kit list but it’s worth buying the best product within your price range. It’s not actually the vegan aspect that makes it more expensive, they’re generally cheaper than down equivalents. 

When warmth and safety are involved it’s crucial to get something which suits your environment and use. Picking the right coat for your conditions will not only make your time in the outdoors more enjoyable but will last for years and save you money in the long run. 

This doesn’t mean you have to spend lots of money but if you are going to spend more on outdoor gear, it’s worth spending it on a good coat and saving on less important items. 

Generally, these are the kinds of prices you can expect to pay for reliable insulated coats

  • Budget – £60 or less
  • Midrange – £110 or less
  • Top range – £160 or less
  • Arctic expedition – £200+

If you’re not sure what else to take hiking or outdoors trip, our packing guide might be useful!

Size and weight

Most synthetic insulated jackets are designed to provide the most warmth with the smallest size and weight. The more money you pay the better warmth to weight ratio you’ll find, generally.

With that said, most of the jackets on this list weigh less than 500g and are designed to be easily compressed and stowed away when not being used. 

Think about the conditions you’re likely to be in. If you’re heading into the extremes it’s seriously important to pick a jacket with the right level of insulation. On the other hand, is it worth paying more money and carrying more weight if you’ll only be experiencing mild conditions? 

Waterproof? Windproof?

Almost all of the insulated coats on this list are windproof and have a DWR finish (Durable Water Repellent Finish) but it’s also possible to get waterproof ones. This normally comes at a high price and you might be better off wearing an insulated jacket and a waterproof layer over the top. 

Hoods and Pockets?

If you want to keep as warm as possible then a hood is a must. Activities may need a helmet (climbing, mountaineering etc) so make sure the hood is large enough to go over a helmet or is designed to go underneath. If your activity requires lots of gear then maybe it would be useful to have multiple pockets to keep things in?

What’s your colour?

Do you want to be seen? Do you want to be hidden? Are you going to be in green woodland areas or white snowy areas? 

Need some footwear? These are our favourite vegan hiking shoes!

Vegan hiking along beach
It was nearly freezing on this beach, with a strong sea breeze – the jacket definitely doing well!

The Best Vegan Insulated Jackets on the Market

These are some of the most popular insulated jacket options available right now, chosen from leading outdoor brands, all with pioneering vegan insulation technology.

As you’ll see when you look through, they seriously rival the warmth and weight of down insulated jackets, just without the cruelty.

Click through the links to find more colour options, choose models with/without hoods and different variation to suit your adventure.

Note. the weight displayed is for the men’s jacket so the women’s will be lighter. Prices were taken at the time of writing but are subject to change.

Columbia Vegan Insulated Jacket
Colombia insulated jacket via: colombia.com

Sarah currently wears: Columbia Powder Pass Synthetic Jacket

Weight – 500g

Insulation – Omni-Heat™ synthetic insulation

Best for – Overall outdoor adventures in mild to cold weather

Cost – £60

Sarah has been rocking this for the last 6 months and is a big fan. It’s been used cycle touring, hiking, camping and climbing and has been pretty damn perfect. The water-resistant outer shell is very useful and deals with even heavier rain easily, all whilst keeping you warm and dry. It’s very comfortable and hard-wearing; after tearing through bushes and scraping along rocks, there are no tears or snags. 

“It’s not designed for extreme cold but it’s perfect up to -5°C and as soon as you’re moving it retains all the heat. If you’re on a budget, I’d say it’s one of best insulated jackets for hiking and the outdoors you’re likely to find – a killer option for round-the-year active insulation”, Sarah. 

Find on Cotswolds  //  Find similar on REI

The North Face Thermoball Hoodie
North Face insulated jacket via: thenorthface.com

Josh currently wears: The North Face Thermoball Insulated Jacket

Weight – 450g 

Insulation – PrimaLoft™ Thermoball™ synthetic fibres

Best for – Lightweight warmth for every everyday action – perfect under a waterproof!

Cost – £90

For me, this is another awesome option for an active insulated jacket. Before we left on our RTW cycle tour I wanted something lightweight to use as a thermal mid-layer with a waterproof on top.

The Thermoball has been great because it’s incredibly practical. The jacket is very small and lightweight, with good ventilation and compresses down to a tiny size, so when you’re not overly active it can be worn in warmer climates too. As soon as you start moving the jacket really insulates well and keeps you warm even through harsh conditions. 

I love it, have barely taken it off, and highly recommend it to anyone looking for 3-season warmth, or the ultimate mid-layer. You can find our full review here!

Find on Alpine Trek // Find on REI 

Arcteryx outdoors coat
Arc’teryx Atom LT Men’s
Arc'teryx vegan down coat
Arc’teryx Atom LT Women’s via: arcteryx.com

Arc’teryx Atom LT

Weight – 415g

Insulation – Coreloft™ 60 Insulation

Best for – High-performance outdoors jacket for the toughest conditions, designed for serious adventurers

Cost – £180

This really is a top bit of kit and a favourite amongst outdoors people. The Atom LT is the most expensive insulate jacket on this list but the products from Arc’teryx never disappoint, gaining them the reputation of providing the highest quality, outdoor performance products.  

The Coreloft™ synthetic insulation is groundbreaking, lightweight and high functioning even once wet, this combines with Tyono™ 20 lining for added breathability. Together with an adjustable Storm Hood™, a No Slip Zip™ and super water-resistant shell mean it’s ready to take on pretty much anything you’re prepared to throw at it.

Check out a whole bunch of their other vegan coat options on the links below too!

Update: in autumn 2019 I moved to the Atom LT and so far it’s been completely faultless. Check out the review here!

Find Women’s on REI  //  Find Men’s on REI

Find Women’s on Alpine Trek  //  Find Men’s on Alpine Trek

Marmot Synthetic insulated jacket
Marmot Featherless Women’s
Marmot Vegan coat Vegan insulated jacket
Marmot Featherless Men’s via: marmot.com

Marmot Featherless Synthetic Insulated Hoodie

Weight – 498g

Insulation – 3M Thinsulate Recycled Featherless™ synthetic fibres

Best for – Getting really cold? A 4-season jacket designed for the coldest extremes

Cost – £150

It’s not the lightest jacket but boy is it ready for the cold. 

The 3M Thinsulate Recycled Featherless™ insulation is as warm as 700-fill-power down but still performs whilst wet. That’s more than enough to keep you toasty even when the temperatures plummet. This still comes at a respectable weight and with 75% recycled materials make it a brilliant piece of sustainable outdoors gear. 

Marmot has a number of different models, featuring slightly different cuts, colours, hoods and features, so check out the links below to find out more!

Find Women’s on REI  //  Find Men’s on REI

Find Women’s on Wiggle  //  Find Men’s on Wiggle

Patagonia Synthetic down coat
Patagonia Women’s Nano Puff
Patagonia Synthetic vegan insulated coat
Patagonia Men’s Nano Puff via: patagonia.com

Patagonia Nano Puff Vegan Insulated Jacket

Weight – 340g

Insulation – 60-g PrimaLoft™ Gold Insulation Eco

Best for – Go-to jacket for ethical adventurers

Cost – £150

Patagonia make real efforts to produce first-rate products which are made in an ethical way, shown by the Nano Puff. 

These guys are only 340g, pack a thermal punch and are an eco-friendly insulated jacket. An impressive 55% is made from premium recycled materials whilst still being the highest quality. The water-repellent finish and highly compressible 60-g PrimaLoft™ Gold Insulation Eco keep you warm when the going gets tough and it retains 98% of warmth even when wet.

It’s Fair Trade™ Certified, Bluesign™ approved, comes in a variety of colours with the option of a hood or not and it’s light enough to stuff in a bag if the weather changes.

Online you’ll find plenty of different designs, colours and models, including larger puffer jacket coats and insulated vests – nice!

Find Women’s on REI  //  Find Men’s on REI

Find Women’s on Cotswolds  //  Find Men’s on Cotswolds

Women's ethical insulated coat
Rab Cirrus Flex Women’s
Mens blue Rab insulated vegan coat
Rab Cirrus Flex Men’s via: rab.com

Rab Cirrus Flex

Weight – 360g

Insulation – 3m Featherless Insulation™

Best for – Convenient warmth, flexibility and stylish design

Cost – £95

Top marks for style and design while still being practical for outdoor pursuits.

3m Featherless insulation balances and regulates body temperatures so you won’t overheat on the move but you’ll maintain warmth once you’ve stopped – clever ey?

The Thermic™stretch materials are designed to move and adjust with your body and the outer shell sheds water and dries fast. All this packs down conveniently into the coat pocket.

Check out some of the other colour combinations, they’re pretty flash!

Find Women’s on Cotswold  //  Find Men’s on Cotswolds

Vegan insulated jacket outdoor Research
Outdoor Research Deviator Women’s
Outdoor research Vegan insulated jacket
Outdoor Research Men’s Deviator Men’s via: outdoorresearch.com

Outdoor Research Deviator Insulated Jacket

Weight – 304g

Insulation – Polartec Alpha Synthetic Insulated

Best for – Working hard? Perfectly designed for seriously active adventures

Cost – £120

This awesome jacket won the Backpacker Magazine’s Editor Choice award for good reason. The Polartec® Alpha® insulation, originally designed for the military, is very lightweight and allows airflow whilst maintaining insulation – a winning combo for active pursuits.

In the hood, sleeves and back panel, the Polartec® Power Grid™ helps to wick moisture, again making it perfectly suited when the going gets tough. 

Altogether, the elements and materials are carefully designed to ensure warmth and comfort throughout your adventure. A sure choice if you’re planning a tough challenge in tough weather. 

Find Women’s on REI  //  Find Men’s on REI

Montane womens phoenix coat
Montane Women’s Phoenix
Montane thermal winter coat vegan
Montane Men’s Icarus via: montane.com

Montane Icarus (M) and Phoenix (F) Vegan Jackets

Weight – 540g

Insulation – PrimaLoft® ThermoPlume

Best for – A lot of bang for your buck!

Cost – £120

Montane is a top brand but still not widely known worldwide, despite producing amazing quality outdoor products at reasonable prices.

The PrimaLoft® ThermoPlume insulation is of the highest standard (the equivalent of 550 fill-power down) and Pertex® Quantum Eco outer layer is windproof and water-resistant.

A good choice for the serious cold or higher alpine adventures or just a kick-ass winter coat, plus we love that the lining is made from 100% eco-fabrics. 

Find Women’s on Cotswolds  //  Find Men’s on Cotswolds

REI Revelcloud II Women’s
REI Men’s Revelcloud II via: rei.com

REI Co-op Revelcloud II

Weight – 360g

Insulation – 60g Polyester fibres

Best for – Super affordable and eco-friendly warmth

Cost – £40

REI outdoor gear is some of the best out there and it always come in at a good price. At the time of writing this, the Revelcloud insulated jacket was £40 which is pretty hard to beat.

This is a super light option that still gives a thermal kick and uses recycled materials that are Bluesign approved. An awesome one to bring with you, just in case the temperatures change!

Find Women’s on REI // Find Men’s on REI


Thinking of buying a vegan insulated jacket and want some more advice? Have one that you love that isn’t on the list? Tell us in the comments below!

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The Best Vegan Synthetic Insulated Jackets + Buyer’s Guide

As you can see, there really is no more need for down products when you have such fantastic synthetic options. There are the highest quality vegan insulated options to suit every adventure, from expeditions in harsh conditions, to round the house comfort and warmth when walking the dogs. You can help support this progress by supporting vegan products and encouraging outdoors brands to move away from down!

  

Keep exploring…

The Ultimate Bike Touring Packing List & Gear Guide

Hiking 101: A Guide to Hiking for Beginners 

Winter Hiking Tips for Avid Adventurers

The Ultimate Camping Packing List

Outdoor fanatic? Vegan adventurer? Nature lover? Sign up for our mailing list and you'll also get the Ethical Adventure Planning Guide!

4 Responses

  • I would say that not all down is live plucked. Most major outdoor companies now follow RDS rules regarding down, the first of which is that live plucking is prohibited. RAB have a section on their site which gives the details.

    That being said, the Atom LT and Patagonia Nano Puff are two of my favourite jackets and great suggestions. Atom also comes in SL and AR versions depending on whether you run warm or cold. I opt for synthetic jackets 90% of the time as they retain warmth when wet.

    • Hey, yes I’ve rephrased that sentence as we weren’t trying to give that impression. It’s great that brands are moving away from such a horrible practice and also choosing to bring awareness to down online which is a good step.

      The Atom LT is a very nice jacket indeed, they have a new one coming out in the new year which will be exciting to see! As a brand I think Patagonia do a great job and it’s very cool to see them using more and more recycled materials – hoping more follow suit too. What do you tend to use your jackets for? Do you have a particular outdoors activity you use them with?

      • Sorry for the delay… completely missed your reply! I use my jackets for all sorts… activity wise winter sports and hiking adventures lead the way… but I rely on my Arcteryx Atom pretty much daily teaching PE… Your so right about Patagonia and the efforts they are making with recycling.. I just bought a Arcteryx Alpha Pullover which is made from their off cuts of material over the last years… great to see brands taking this mindset!

        • It’s definitely a handy jacket! Kind of sad about warmer temperatures and not being to always wear it… ha. That’s great from Arc’teryx, I hadn’t actually seen the Alpha but it’s very encouraging seeing the eco initiative from outdoor companies. Vaude and Kathmandu are also pretty ace.

          If you’ve not seen it, this article one eco-friendly outdoor gear has a bigger list of companies who are doing a great in terms of sustainability: https://veggievagabonds.com/ethical-outdoor-clothing/

          Hoping it will be a green future for outdoor pursuits!

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