They’ve become a regular sight over the past few years, moving from high-altitude expeditions to the fashion-savvy winter jacket of choice. The puffer jacket is here to stay, and no wonder, with great insulation, flattering styling, and coming in lightweight and warm. Puffer jackets have a distinct, “quilted” design with sections that look puffy between the stitching. Rather than bulky and unflattering, the styles in this review range from boxy to slimming. Many are packable, ultra-warm, and resistant to sleet, wind, and snow.
Our best overall favourite on the list was the North Face 1996 Retro Nuptse Jacket, which combines exceptional style and functionality. Its heat-trapping features, combined with a beautiful silhouette, are perfect for fashionably battling ice-cold temperatures.
THE TOP PUFFER JACKETS REVIEWED
All Time favourite puffer jacket
The beautifully designed, classic 1996 Retro Nuptse Jacket is perfect for when you want something new and warm. Velcro around the wrists and a bungee cinch hem keeps the cold from coming up through your arms and waist. Additionally, the 700-fill goose down insulation will have you enjoying being out in nature again this winter. Many women, whether thin or curvy, have reported that the Retro Nuptse compliments their figure.
- Comes in many striking colours
- Distinct contrast with taffeta shoulder yoke
- Velcro wrist straps and bungee cinch hem for cold
- Hood isn’t insulated
best expedition puffer jacket
Like super powers for your backcountry treks, the Cerium LT Hoody by Arc'teryx does justice and then some to the Canadian brand's sterling reputation. Ultra-warm down insulation, and synthetic in areas prone to dampness; fully insulated storm hood; rugged face fabric, and so much more. An easy choice.
- Strategically placed Coreloft synthetic insulation
- Insulated storm hood
- Excellent weight-to-warmth ratio
- May be too warm for “metro” use
BEST BUDGET-friendly PUFFER JACKET
The sheen-like Columbia Women’s Puffect Jacket is a great bargain. Synthetic Thermarator insulation keeps you warm, without having to worry if it gets wet (synthetic insulation retains heat even if it gets damp). Some other handy features include a soft chin guard, two zippered hand pockets, and elastic cuffs to make sure heat stays inside the jacket.
For him, we'll go with the Pike Lake Hooded Jacket from the same company. It's got Omni-Heat reflective tech and keeps you warm.
- Warm synthetic fill
- “Sheen-like” stylish outer shell
- Affordable price point
- Doesn’t come with a hood
Favourite Stylish puffer jacket
The Meteorite by Canadian brand Kanuk does not disappoint. Impressively, it stays warm in damp weather thanks to the high-loft synthetic ThermoPlus insulation. It also has plenty of conveniences, such as a full system stormhood, and interior zip pocket, and insulated elastic wrist cuffs.
Guys can grab a shiny new Misto by Kanuk and revel in the hot style.
- Thermoplus synthetic insulation
- Some people may prefer down insulation
Favourite long puffer jacket
FOSFO Maxi Down Puffer Jacket by Canada's Audvik - the title says it all. A long cut puffer that seals in warmth and has plenty of zippers - side, full front - to vent out excess heat or keep it all in. Plus Audvik's usual high-level commitment to sustainability runs throughout the jacket.
- Stylish city length
- Plenty of zips
- Not for the rugged outdoors
Best high-end puffer jacket
Winter jackets? Puffers? You knew Moose Knuckles had to make a cameo. For those bold enough to splurge and surge, the Saulteaux Jacket carries the irreverent brand's banner. Exaggerated side zips compliment the extended coverage, and it is absolutely warm in the coldest of temperatures.
Fellas can go all-out in the 3Q jacket by the same fine people at Moose Knuckles.
- Bold and brash
- Super warm
- A bit baggy - perfect for layers
- Some like it slim
favourite puffer vest
Yeah, we're doing this - the Nuptse version of the puffer vest by The North Face is our fave, just like it's cousin the jacket. And really, there's a lot to like: very warm, more rugged than ever, just enough tech and features to take you through everyday, and a style that is as cool now as it was then. Retro? Bring that beat back...
Although vests seem more unisex, if you're looking specifically for her, you can't go wrong with the Bivy Hooded Vest from Patagonia. Warmth, details, sustainability, and with a similar retro vide.
- Relaxed and boxy
- 700 fill power goose down
- Cool look in rugged fabric
- Not a jacket?
best packable puffer jacket
Canada Goose is not to be left out of any winter jacket convo, puffer or otherwise. The Crofton Puffer Jacket is for serious cold-weather stylists everywhere, packing a combo of warmth and versatility few can approach. When it warms up, the Crofton packs into its own pocket - or can be carried like a backpack with the built-in straps.
For a similar jacket for her, try the Canada Goose Alliston Jacket.
- Packs into pocket
- Down-filled adjustable hood
- Sleek, lightweight
- Pricey, sure - but you get what you pay for
HOW TO CHOOSE A PUFFER JACKET
When it comes to puffer jackets, we all know that the main concern is how warm it keeps you. While real down feather insulation rated over 700-fill power is traditionally seen as the loftiest, there are now blends of down and synthetic insulation that can keep you just as toasty. You also have to consider the jacket’s weather resistance and ability to withstand snow, sleet, and rain.
1. Insulation Type
Down, or plumage, either from duck or goose, is the gold standard in puffer jackets insulation. Down is rated by fill power: the measure of loft, or ‘fluffiness’, of the insulation. It’s generally a good idea to have something with a fill power of over 700 for winter months.
As consumers become more conscious and aware, you’ll see down that is Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certified, meaning the feathers were gathered ethically. This is becoming a standard with many companies.
Where down falls short is that it can’t insulate once it gets wet. Synthetic down solves this problem by retaining heat even when it’s damp. Some common synthetic insulation materials are Plumafill, OmniHeat, and PrimaLoft.
While insulation measured by fill power is one factor in warmth, it’s not the only one. You’ll also want to look for jackets with a drawcord at the hem to seal off the bottom of the coat. Additionally, velcro or elastic wrist cuffs will also help to retain heat inside of the puffer.
3. Styles & Fit
Some of the best puffer jackets for women have a trendy, slimming shape. There are also different looks on the outer shells: matte, shiny, or silky and smooth. The form can also vary from boxy to trimming, depending on the style of the puffer jacket. Go boxy when you might be layering and not looking at serious physical activity. A slimmer fit with stretch and a great baselayer set-up will do the trick when active.
4. Weather resistance
Though standard down insulation loses its capacity to retain heat when wet, there are now hydrophobic treatments to the feathers that increase their water-resistance.
A Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatment on the outer shell also helps shed snow and sleet. If you anticipate wearing your puffer jacket in a very wet climate, synthetic is probably the best option for warmth and weather resistance.
PUFFER JACKET FAQ
Q: Should puffer jackets be tight?
A: When you try on a winter puffer coat, you should have your mid-layers underneath to see the fit. The jacket shouldn’t be too loose, but it shouldn’t be painfully tight on the elbows or armpits either.
Q: Why are puffer jackets so expensive?
A: Puffer jackets with high-quality, ethically-sourced goose or duck down won’t come cheap. The down is lightweight and packable while providing exceptional warmth.
Q: Are packable puffer jackets warm?
A: Yes, part of what makes top-notch puffer jackets so great is that they’re both warm and packable. They’re designed to have maximum fill-power with minimal weight to compress down into a small size.
Q: Are puffer jackets good for rain?
A: It’s best to use an outer shell like a rain jacket instead of the puffer jacket in the rain. Light rain might be okay, but a downpour could damage the down insulation.
After reviewing the top puffer jackets on the market for 2021, we rounded up the best ones based on style, warmth, and weather resistance. Our overall favourite was the classic North Face 1996 Retro Nuptse Jacket for its cool aesthetics, exceptional warmth, and snow-resistant outer shell. We hope this review helps you find your ideal puffer jacket to keep you toasty this winter.