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
Top OVERALL PUFFER JACKET
The beautifully designed, classic 1996 Retro Nuptse Jacket is perfect for when you want something new and warm. The velcro around the wrists and 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
Surprisingly warm for how lightweight it is, the Arcteryx Cerium SV Hoody is a puffer jacket you’ll want in your winter arsenal. It combines the best of both worlds, with the very warm 850-fill goose down insulation and patches of Coreloft synthetic insulation. This way, you can appreciate the fabulous loft of the goose down while enjoying the heat retention of the synthetic down in moisture-prone spots.
- Strategically placed Coreloft synthetic insulation
- Insulated storm hood
- Excellent weight-to-warmth ratio
- May be too warm for “metro” use
Best Budget Puffer Jacket
Columbia Women’s Puffect Jacket
The sheen-like Columbia Women’s Puffect Jacket is a great bargain. The 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.
- Warm synthetic fill
- “Sheen-like” stylish outer shell
- Affordable price point
- Doesn’t come with a hood
BEST PACKABLE PUFFER
An updated version of the Micro Puff for even colder temperatures, the Patagonia Women’s Macro Puff Hoody does not disappoint. Impressively, it has the packability of down but can get wet thanks to the recycled polyester, high-loft PlumaFill insulation. It also has plenty of conveniences, such as the two welted handwarmer pockets and the fact that the whole jacket stuffs into its right pocket when not needed.
- Water-resistant, high-loft synthetic insulation
- Packs down into itself
- Significant boost in warmth from the Micro Puff
- Some people may prefer down insulation
BEST PUFFER FOR CITY USE for Men
With superb craftsmanship and top-notch stitching, the Canada Goose Men’s Armstrong Hoody is reliable enough to get you through the biting cold. It’s reinforced with Cordura fabric in abrasion-prone areas for added durability. There are also articulated sleeves and underarm gussets to enhance the fit and increase your mobility.
- Long sleeves with Canada Goose logo patch
- Cordura fabric in elbows, top of shoulders, and cuffs
- Hoody nicely covers the face
- Duck down not Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certified
Canada Goose Women’s Abbot Hoody For Women
Ideal for rain or shine, the Canada Goose Women’s Abbot Hoody features a nylon outer shell with a Durable Water-Resistant (DWR) finish. If you’re planning on being out at dawn or dusk, the reflective details on the back will help keep you safe. The down-filled hood and elasticized cuffs, along with the 750-fill duck down insulation, are great for sub-zero days.
- Packable into its left pocket
- Water-resistant DWR finish
- Signature reflective details on the back
- Might run small
The North Face Unisex Retro Himalayan Parka
For a cozy, breathable, fashionable parka, consider The North Face Unisex Retro Himalayan Parka. Its outer shell is made of Futurelight, a breathable waterproof fabric made of recycled materials. The thick baffles are stuffed with lofty down insulation that protects you from chilly temperature drops. Though it might look heavy-duty and thick, it’s incredibly lightweight and breathable.
Mountain Hardwear Men’s Phantom Parka
As an RDS certified, super warm down belay parka, the Mountain Hardwear Men’s Phantom Parka is made for bone-chilling temperatures. The colours are bright and reflective, and the oversized zipped chest pocket is perfect for holding your phone and wallet. This robust, lightweight jacket can keep you warm through the frigid city, to the Alpine ranges, to the snowy backcountry.
Mountain Hardwear Women’s Phantom Down Parka
Built for high altitude explorations, the technical Rab Women’s Positron Pro Down Jacket is an excellent addition to your cold-weather gear. The face fabric with water-resistant Pertex keeps you dry even in a snowstorm. Also, it comes with it’s own stuff bag to carry it, without adding bulk to your regular bag or pack.
Save the Duck Men’s Hooded Mega Coat
For 100% cruelty-free elegance, consider Save the Duck Men’s Hooded Mega Coat. It’s made of high-performing synthetic material and features a hood and standing neck to trap heat inside. The outer nylon material is shiny, durable and Oeko-Tex certified, meaning it respects workers’ and environmental rights.
The North Face Unisex NSE Lhotse Expedition Jacket
Stylish and eco-friendly, The North Face Unisex NSE Lhotse Expedition Jacket is made from recycled water bottles found in the Himalayan foothills. The Sagarmatha Expedition patch on the left shoulder looks quite trendy, and the fit is snug and flattering. The two welt hand pockets are conveniently sized to store all your essentials.
Rab Positron Pro Down Jacket
Unlike a typical heavy winter coat, the Rab Men’s Positron Pro Down Jacket is lightweight and practical. The box baffles, insulated hood, and smooth zipper action make this jacket perfect for everyday use. You can also bring the Positron on more adventurous trips such as backcountry hiking, thanks to the heat-capturing box-wall construction.
Built for high altitude explorations, the face fabric with water-resistant Pertex keeps you dry even in a snowstorm. Also, it comes with it’s own stuff bag to carry it, without adding bulk to your regular bag or pack.
Parajumpers Men’s Seiji Puffer Jacket
The heavy-duty Parajumpers Men’s Seiji Puffer Jacket is an insulated puffer that will shield you from the frigid cold around town. Though it’s a high-performance jacket, it has a tailored fit that will increase your ability to move around. The shell is also water-resistant and features a PJS patch on the sleeve.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Should puffer jackets be tight?
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.
Why are puffer jackets so expensive?
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.
Are packable puffer jackets warm?
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.
Are puffer jackets good for rain?
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.