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Mountain Hardwear Hunker Down Jacket

rated 5 of 5 stars

The Hunker Down Jacket has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best down insulated jackets for 2023.

photo: Mountain Hardwear Hunker Down Jacket down insulated jacket

Trying for so many years, I finally found an all-around down jacket that has everything I need.


  • More than plenty warm (maybe too warm?)
  • Lined hand warmer pockets, microfleece collar
  • Velcro wrist closures
  • Two Napolean pockets, internal and external
  • Internal water bottle pocket


  • Cargo pockets low rather than chest high

I was looking for a down-filled jacket that would work both as an outside layer over other insulation layers in very cold conditions, yet still be usable by itself or as the internal insulation layer with an overall parka. Most jackets either were far too heavy (I already have those), or they are too light (I have down "sweaters" to fill that position). After looking at models from all the major players, I found the Mountain Hardwear Hunker Down jacket.

While the fill is 650-fill down rather than a more attractive 800+, this jacket is more than warm enough for what I need.  I got an XXL rather than an XL as I wanted to make sure it would fit over other insulation. Most other manufacturers' XXL jackets are still too snug when worn over other insulation, but the Hunker Down has enough room to not compress its own down or the down in the layers beneath. However, even with this space, the jacket does not feel like a tent when worn alone or as an internal layer with a wind/rain/snow parka over it. 

Once I got the jacket, I found it has most of the "little" things that make this jacket ideal for me. 

I wanted an internal Napolean pocket — this one has both an internal AND external zip Napolean pockets. Now I can carry small small items outside for very easy access, or inside to keep warm.

Both cargo pockets have microfleece for comfortable warmth. The collar is also microfleece-lined to prevent the sudden cringe when the cold collar touches your neck. 

The outer material of the jacket is heavier than normally found in today's products.  However, when this jacket is worn as the outside layer, this extra-strength material is nice to have in the event of brush-whacking, or even in the event of a fall on glacial snow (I already had one jacket tear in such a fall). This extra insurance is worth the slight increase in weight.

Of very great importance to me, the cuffs are closed with velcro rather than elastic as most all the others I tried.  When the cuffs are closed with elastic, venting the sleeves is impossible. With the velcro, the sleeves can be left open during activity, then closed when needed for extra warmth.

There is no attached hood. While I like an attached hood for the outside parka, if a hood is attached to something used as an internal layer, the hood gets in the way of anything.  I find a separate hat provides more flexibility.

I received a very pleasant surprise when I looked inside the jacket. On the inside right there is a mesh pocket that can easily take a 1 liter water bag (i.e., a Platypus bag). This keeps the water from freezing, yet it is still readily available.

The only drawback I can see with this jacket is outside pockets are low rather than higher on the chest to avoid interference with the pack waist belt.  Fortunately, while the jacket hangs low enough to keep the wind out, it is short enough to lift above the waist belt if the pockets are actually used (when actually wearing the pack, I usually do not have anything in the pockets).  The water bag I place in the inside pocket has enough room to miss the belt.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this jacket to anyone who needs it just as a jacket, or, like me, needs something more versatile in more extreme conditions.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: About $150

This jacket is great. A whole notch warmer than the North Face Aconcagua 550 fill I also own. And I mean about 15-20 degrees warmer.

The baffles are wide and after wearing for a day the down has puffed out quite nicely. I got quite sweaty standing in line in the insurance office and grocery store for a few minutes each. I felt a bit self conscious about the puffiness of the jacket but i can live with that. The upper material is heavier weave while the lower feels silky smooth. The red color i bought is bright and really pops.

I also like the chest pocket for using my iPod. Using my pants pocket always pulls on my cables


  • Light and warm
  • Feels silky smooth
  • Nice fit
  • Velcro wrists


  • Lower material may be a bit weak around sharp objects
  • Neck has fleece (needs cleaning more)

I have owned quite a few brands of down jackets in the last several years. This is right up there with the warmer of them. Though probably not warm enough by itself in all situations, I use two or three down jackets layered in even colder situations at night with extreme windchill. 

The jacket looks and feels great. I'm afraid to get it dirty or hurt. I spend a huge amount of my winters in the desert of nevada and need a jacket like this for those 0 degree nights digging crystals. While not as warm as an REI high dollar jacket or some others, for the money it was a great value.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $160

Nice warm jacket to hunker down in!


  • WARM
  • Lightweight


  • Not made in USA

I've had this jacket for a couple months now. Bought it to walk the dog on cold mornings and for winter backpacking trips. It's too warm for dog walking! This thing is like an oven. On the first backpacking trip it got to the mid 30s in the early morning. I had it wrapped over the foot area of my hammock and it kept my feet nice and warm. It really is meant for when you are just sitting around because when you are hiking it will just make you sweat.

The fit is good; I bought an XL so I could layer under it. The sleeves are long for me in that size, but the cuffs are adjustable with velcro tabs.

There is beefier material across the sholders and along the back of the sleeves, which adds some abrasion resistance in those areas (from carrying a pack or leaning on stuff).

A chest pocket on the front to stash a camera or digital music player; to hand warmer pockets lined with soft fleece, adn two deep, inside mesh pockets to hold anything you want to put there!

I've worn it in wind and it seems to keep it at bay.

Overall I am quite happy with it. Check online—you can sometimes find great deals on it.

UPDATE: I wore this on a February backpacking trip where temps dipped to the low 30s. In camp, there was a slight breeze blowing in the evening and the jacket kept me really warm. I feel like this was a very sound investment and because I take good care of all my gear, I plan to have it a long time.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $111.96

This is an ideal for lightweight visits to the town. The lightness of it, you won't believe really, unless it comes in your hands. It packs down to a stuff sack, very handy and could be used as a pillow.


  • Lightweight
  • Warm
  • Practical


  • None (in my opinion)

I had a blue one, very great. Chest pocket is a nice feature. It acts as a great layer itself. Throw on a wool shirt underneath and this one and you are ready to go, when the temperature is freezing, like -10° and up, depending upon your own body circumstances.

Abrasion protection is admirable.

Source: bought it new

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Price MSRP: $200.00
Historic Range: $70.00-$225.00
Reviewers Paid: $111.96-$160.00
Weight 1 lb 9 oz / 705 g
Center Back Length 28.5 in / 72 cm
Body Fabric 50D Rip
Insulation 650-Fill Goose Down
Price MSRP: $200.00
Historic Range: $59.99-$225.00
Weight 1 lb 6 oz / 618 g
Center Back Length 26 in / 66 cm
Body Fabric Belay™ Dobby
Insulation 650-Fill Goose Down
Price MSRP: $125.00
Historic Range: $69.98-$125.00
Weight 15.2 oz / 431 g
Center Back Length 22.5 in / 57 cm
Body Fabric 50D Rip
Insulation 650-Fill Goose Down

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