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When it comes to warmth to weight ratio there isn’t much that can beat a down jacket.
And since I have enough extra weight to carry around, I could really stand to cut weight when I can.
The problem is, most down jackets leave the last 3 inches of my wrist freezing, not to mention my lower back and belly. Even when I was a tall skinny guy (years ago) I struggled to find a down jacket with long enough arms and body to keep my covered.
I could get away with it back then but, as a big guy, there isn’t much less flattering than wearing a jacket that makes me look like the Michelin man wearing his little brother’s clothes.
Which set me on a quest to find the best down jackets for big and tall guys or any guys with long arms. Since every brand fits differently, this required testing a bunch of different options, selling the losers of eBay, and keeping the ones that actually fit.
At the end of the day, the best down jacket for big guys was the one with a high fill count, long arms, no hood, and a waist cinch.
Long story short, it’s the Eddie Bauer Microtherm 2.0 which is available in tall sizes up to 3XL.
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About The Tester (Me)
I’m not a mountaineer.
My family and I do a good bit of hiking in Utah but to give you an idea of how intense it is: I have a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old.
I did rock climb when younger and compete in local comps about 60 pounds ago.
My down jackets now mostly see use around town and one the odd fall backpacking trip. With that being said, I’m one of those guys who wears technical gear around town so I have a pretty good handle on what works and what doesn’t.
As of this writing I’m 6’3″ (I’ve stopped growing) and weigh 260 pounds (probably not stopped). So take what I say with a grain of salt if you’re sized much differently.
The 3 Best Down Jackets For Tall Guys
Best Overall: Eddie Bauer Microtherm 2.0
When it comes to down jackets with a long body and arms, you obviously want to find a “tall” version of your regular size. Eddie Bauer is one of the few companies that offers tall versions of nearly all of their down jackets and make sizes big enough for heavy guys.
In the past three years, I’ve bought 3 different versions of the Microtherm (just to have color variety) so I feel that I can offer a pretty good idea of its perks and shortcomings.
- It’s actually long enough! The measurement down the center of the back (bottom of collar to bottom hem) is around 31″ on all of my jackets which is 2-3″ longer than the reported length of the regular length version.
- It look great. The sharp fit and available colors mean that this jacket can be worn just about anywhere. I have a black version that I wear to work and church during the winter.
- High fill count. I traced the down used in my and found out that it is over 800 fill. This makes for a jacket that is very warm for its weight!
- Useful pockets. Many jackets this weight have terrible pockets and zippers in order to cut weight. This jacket maintains the useful features while not being heavy or cumbersome.
- It’s warm. While it’s no parka, this jacket has kept me warm below freezing many times. If it’s super cold, it’s a great component in a layering system with a fleece and/or shell.
- Price. You can often find this jacket on sale but it’s one of the more expensive items of clothing that I own. The price is reasonable when compared to jackets of similar quality.
Overall, this is the best down jacket for big guys. If you fit in a 3XLT or smaller you’re in luck. It’ll cover your long arms and be long enough in the body. And if you’re tall and skinny, they have your size too!
Warmer Option: Eddie Bauer Downlight Hooded Jacket
If you like the idea of the Microtherm, Eddie Bauer has several other down jackets which are similar but have different perks and selling points.
The Downlight offers many of the Microtherm perks but with the addition of a hood and a couple of extra ounces of down.
The result is a long jacket that is a bit warmer while being slightly less dressy and packable.
When I owned this jacket it didn’t make it through one of my wife’s spring cleaning purges and ended up getting sold on eBay.
While it is a great jacket and its absence leaves a slight hole in my wardrobe I wear my Microtherm so often that I haven’t felt the need to replace it.
- DWR treating for maximum moisture protection
- Ethically sourced 800 fill down
- Cinch waist
- Zipper chest and hand pockets
- 17 oz total weight with 5.1 oz of down
- Classic fit (much better than slim fit for big dudes)
All in all, the Downlight is an excellent jacket that will keep you warm (including your ears)!
Best For Extended Sizes: Columbia Voodoo Falls 590
If you’re not just a big and tall guy but a really big and tall guy, the above two options might not work for you. They only go up to a 3XLT.
If you’re bigger than that, have no fear, Columbia is here.
Columbia is well known for offering extended sizes and their down jackets are no exception. Their Voodoo Falls jacket is available in tall sizes up to 5XL and regular lengths in sizes up to 6XL. While those sizes are a bit beyond me, a friend of mine near the 500lb mark wears this jacket regularly during the winter.
As far as down jackets go, this jacket is not super puffy. It utilized 590 fill down in moderation which makes it fairly warm for a jacket but not very light.
However, it is the only down jacket I know of from a major brand that comes in sizes this large. So if you need a truly big and tall option, this is it!
Down Jackets For Tall Skinny Guys
If you’re a tall skinny guy who needs a down jacket you can also look at a few other companies which, according to my experience and research, have either tall sizes available or simply come with a longer/tall fit:
Choosing The Best Down Jacket – 5 Deciding Factors
As a big guy, I don’t think about fit as often as I should. The wrong jacket can make you look even bigger (or skinnier) than you are. If you’re doing anything aside from walking around town in your down jacket then sizing becomes even more crucial.
If you’re looking for a jacket to use as part of a layering system you’ll want to either look for a boxier cut (typically called “regular fit”) or size up.
The drawback to this is that larger jackets that aren’t fitted tend to restrict mobility and aren’t as flattering.
I tend for a more athletic cut fit as I don’t usually test the lower limits of my jackets’ temperature ratings.
Down Fill Power
When it comes to down jackets, “down fill power) is the metric you want to be most aware of.
In short, down fill-power is the warmth to weight ratio of the down used in a jacket. The “fill-power” number in the cubic inches that one ounce of given down will loft to. A higher fill rating means a warmer jacket provided that both jackets use the same amount of down by weight.
In general, however, high fill power down is used sparingly in jackets to make options that are ultralight while providing similar warmth levels to heavier down jackets.
Most down jackets for big and tall guys are somewhere in the middle when it comes to fill power. Anywhere from 550-750 is considered normal while 800-1000+ is a higher performance (and higher priced) option.
Whichever rating you choose, be sure to find a company that uses ethically sourced down in their products. If you don’t, the birds who provided the feathers were likely treated inhumanely during their lives and then had their feather plucked while still alive.
If down insulation is left to its own devices it will clump up over time and migrate to the bottom of your jacket. To prevent this, most companies have a proprietary quilting style that provides each little pocket of down with its own little chamber.
You can opt for styles that a sewn-through in straight lines, in odd shapes, or even heat-sealed between down packets. Unless you’re looking to do something highly technical the quilting pattern is more of a performance than anything.
The only thing to be aware of is that, wherever there is quilting, there isn’t down. This means that jackets with severe quilting patterns tend to have cold spots where they lack insulation.
Down, on its own, doesn’t have much resistance to wet weather. Unlike wool, down has almost no insulating abilities when wet. Down available in jackets now has been treated with some level of hydrophobic chemicals to help it maintain its loft even if you’re out in the rain.
If your jacket is going to be facing rain or snow be sure to look for
I’m generalizing here but down jackets typically come in three weights. While every brand has its own names for them, they are something like Ultralight, Coat, and Parka.
The heaviest versions are typically not useful for anything but long stationary activities in freezing temperatures so I didn’t include any in my test.
The weight of the jacket that you want will be dictated by where and how you use it, and whether you want to layer it. If you want to layer with a fleece, an ultralight jacket will be good for anything apart from an arctic tundra.
Something Else To Think About
Down jackets are one of the few areas of a big guys wardrobe where I would recommend spending the extra money required to get a high-quality name-brand item.
When it comes to windbreakers or rain jackets, anyone can make one. However, down jackets are expensive to produce and require much more design care.
I’ve had my current jacket for 3 years and it shows almost no sign of wear, even after near-daily use all winter.
Cheaper jackets will not be as warm, won’t fit as well, won’t survive the washing machine as well, leak down like crazy, and will leave you disappointed. Pony up and buy a jacket you actually like.
Whicher jacket you decided on, down jackets for big and tall guys should be considered a necessity for your winter wardrobe. So take some measurements and make a choice so you can stay warm! Good luck!