Padded trekking jackets

How to choose an insulated jacket for hiking or trekking

Whether it is to be worn during your hikes, your breaks or at the bivouac in the evening, choosing the right insulated jacket is not always easy… So check out all our tips for making the right choice!

When choosing a padded jacket, it's essential to identify your specific activity and take into account some key criteria. From outdoor temperatures to features such as composition, shape, filling power, compartments and even storage, find out how to buy the perfect padded jacket for your needs.


Why wear a padded jacket? A good combination of low weight, low bulk and warmth.

A padded jacket is almost indispensable in winter, but also for your mountain outings.

In the 3-layer system, the padded jacket is sometimes considered as a second layer, the one that offers good thermal insulation, but it is very often used as a third layer on top of a technical t-shirt and a fleece for example. If adopting the 4-layer system, in extreme conditions, the padded jacket is worn as a 3rd layer, over a technical T-shirt and fleece, and under a hiking jacket.

The padded jacket has several features that make it very attractive. A padded jacket is a lightweight, compact garment which also has excellent thermal properties. Both these aspects are particularly valued by hikers who often look for lightweight equipment as well as trekkers who favour compact garments which they can easily fit in their backpacks. In the rest of this article, we'll see that there are various models of padded jackets: synthetic or down padding, with or with hoods, and with or without sleeves.

1. Identify your activity

There are different types of padded jackets for different needs. It’s important to first identify the activity for which you will use the jacket.

Identify your activity

For hiking

For a comfortable hike, it’s important to choose the right clothing and the padded jacket is ideal. Its versatility makes it a good choice for those looking for a warm, light and practical garment for all occasions.

Identify your activity

For trekking

For your trekking adventures, it’s advisable to adopt the 3 or 4 layer system. For the second layer, a padded jacket is an ideal choice, as it is light, space-saving and offers an optimal source of warmth.

Identify your activity

For mountaineering

For your mountaineering trips, padded jackets are an ideal choice thanks to their features. There are models adapted to extreme climatic conditions or models specific to the activity meaning for example: you can wear a helmet under the hood, a double zip for the harness or offer great freedom of movement.

2. The criteria: How to buy a good padded jacket?

A - The outside temperature:

The first question to ask when choosing a padded jacket and deciding on the level of warmth is: at what temperature will I use it? Your decision should be based on expected weather conditions, how you're going to use your jacket (2nd or 3rd layer) and your sensitivity to the cold.

Note: all our padded jackets are tested to ensure optimum comfort in a specific temperature range when hiking. Our tests let us determine the comfort temperature and the limit temperature. The comfort temperature is the ideal temperature when you are in a static position or in the evening when bivouacking. The limit temperature is the maximum recommended temperature when active at which the jacket performs well.

  • padded jacket MT100


    MT100 padded jackets keep you warm in cool weather. Down to -5°C when active and 5°C when static. Thin and light, it can easily be used as a second layer in the 3 or 4 layer technique.

  • Padded jacket MT500


    MT500 padded jackets keep you warm in cold weather. Down to -10°C when active and 0°C when static. Lightweight with a good compactness, it supports you in cold weather during your treks in layer 2 or 3.

  • Padded jacket MT900


    For the most extreme conditions, the MT900 is the warmest trekking jacket available, with temperatures down to -18°C.

What are the warmest insulated padded jackets?

For your winter hikes in very cold weather (below -10°C), we recommend you opt for the larger padded jackets. The filling is more important which traps more air and thus protects you better from the cold.
For extreme conditions, we recommend the Forclaz MT900 padded jacket. This type of padded jacket can protect you down to -18°C.

For even more extreme conditions, padded mountaineering jackets can go down to -24°C.

B - Composition: Which is the best wadding for a padded jacket?

This is a question we tend to ask ourselves when we don't yet know which padded jacket to choose.
Not all of Decathlon's padded jackets use the same wadding material! There is natural insulation and synthetic insulation. Some are stuffed with feathers and down which provide a good weight/warmth/bulk ratio, and others with wadding (synthetic insulation). In fact, both types of padded jackets are warm. Both have their advantages and disadvantages:

Feather padded jackets

Down and feathers, natural materials, are renowned for their thermal insulation, compressibility and lightness.

feather down jacket


- Better insulating power
- Better filling power
- More compressible
- Lighter


- More expensive
- Less efficient in wet conditions
- More difficult to maintain

Polyester padded jackets (or synthetic material)

Is a polyester padded jacket warm?

Synthetic insulation's principal virtue is that it provides a good level of insulation and keeps you warm even in damp conditions. So it's ideal if you're hiking in a damp environment or if you're unsure about the weather conditions for your excursion.

Polyester padded jacket


- Moisture resistant
- Lower price
- Easy maintenance


- Slightly less warm
- Less compressible
- Heavier

C - Shape: with or without hood/sleeves

  • Choosing your padded jacket shape

    With hood

    The hood provides additional heat when it's cold and windy. It protects the back of your neck and head. Some people prefer padded jackets without hoods, particularly when wearing them under a hiking jacket which already has a hood.

  • Choosing your padded jacket shape

    Without hood

    The hood provides additional heat when it's cold and windy. It protects the back of your neck and head. Some people prefer padded jackets without hoods, particularly when wearing them under a hiking jacket which already has a hood.

  • Choosing your padded jacket shape

    With sleeves

    The padded gilet is becoming increasingly popular for mid-season, offering warmth to the chest while freeing up the arms. In winter, a padded jacket with long sleeves is preferable for the more chilly, and it can easily be worn under a waterproof jacket.

  • Choosing your padded jacket shape


    The padded gilet is becoming increasingly popular for mid-season, offering warmth to the chest while freeing up the arms. In winter, a padded jacket with long sleeves is preferable for the more chilly, and it can easily be worn under a waterproof jacket.

Understanding the weight of a padded jacket

D - Filling power: 800 cuin? Weight?

The filling power of a down jacket is measured in cuin.
Cuin (cubic inches per ounce) represent the thermal insulation capacity of down by trapping a certain volume of air.
The higher the cuin, the better the insulation and thermal performance of the down jacket.

However, this information comes with a qualifier. It's important not to focus exclusively on the CUIN number if you're looking for a warm padded jacket. The weight of the wadding is also important. You can find this information in the product's Technical Data Sheet.

To compare two similarly sized jackets, padded with natural wadding, it's useful to multiply the weight of the wadding by the number of cuin. The down padded jacket with the highest figure is the warmest. For example, let's compare a Medium down padded jacket with a wadding weight of 130 g and fill power of 800 CUIN to a similar jacket with a wadding weight of 180 g and 660 CUIN fill power. (130 x 800 = 104 000 and 180 x 660 = 118 800). In this example, the second padded jacket will keep you warmer or provide better thermal insulation at lower temperatures.

E - Compartments:

The partitioning of the padded jacket ensures an even distribution of the insulation and avoids drops in performance caused by compression or moisture. Two types exist: H-shaped partitioning for bulky padded jackets with excellent insulation, and through partitioning (horizontal seams) for thinner down jackets with good filling power. Choose your padded jacket according to your sporting activities to meet your specific needs.

How to choose your padded hiking jacket

Storage in a case

Some of them are equipped with a special storage bag, in which the padded jacket can be carefully folded and stored.

How to choose your padded hiking jacket

Pocket storage

Other models can be stored directly in their own pocket. This feature saves space and makes it easier to carry in a backpack.

3. Frequently asked questions

Is a padded jacket waterproof?

Padded jackets are water repellent but not waterproof. If it rains or snows, we recommend you wear a waterproof jacket or poncho over your padded jacket. Padded jackets are designed to provide excellent thermal efficiency and insulation, and reduce heat loss while also being lightweight and compact. This means that the outer layer of fabric used is rather thin. Hiking jackets, on the other hand, are more resistant to natural external elements such as brambles, or friction from stones, as well as weather conditions such as wind, rain and snow.

Is a padded jacket hard-wearing?

The durability of a padded jacket is achieved in 2 ways: there's the overall strength of the fabric calculated in deniers; the higher the denier rating the more durable the fabric. In addition, some padded jackets are also made of ripstop fabric. Ripstop fabrics use a reinforcing technique that helps contain rips and snags, making the fabric easier to repair.
As mentioned earlier, a padded jacket is still relatively delicate and easily damaged by natural external elements.

Looking after, cleaning and repairing your padded jacket

Sometimes, your jacket can get damaged or dirty when hiking. Fortunately, it's possible to clean and repair your jacket so it lasts longer.

However, if you want to look after your jacket properly, there a couple of other points to bear in mind. You need to use a detergent designed for technical garments so your jacket retains its high-performance, technical qualities. For your down jacket, it’s advisable to wash and dry it by scrupulously following the few instructions described in the link below.

What have we done to reduce the co2 impact of our padded jackets?

You may have noticed that some of our down jackets have a grey lining. The fabric of this lining is innovative because of its bi-ton process: it combines a black dope dyed yarn and undyed yarn. Compared to conventional dyeing, this process reduces CO2 emissions by 14%.

Some of our synthetic padded jackets are also made from recycled polyester. This helps reduce the use of petroleum products while preserving the qualities essential for hiking and trekking.

Kids’ padded jackets

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