How to Choose a Puffer Jacket

How to Choose a Puffer Jacket

Puffer jackets offer the ultimate in warmth and comfort. The category offers a variety of choices, including lightweight, packable models that can be used in the backcountry, and stylish, hardwearing models that can be used for winter commutes. We will discuss the main considerations when choosing a puffer jacket: warmth, fill power, fill weight, packability, durability and more. Check out our product about the top puffer jackets .

1. What amount of warmth do you need?

There are many options for puffer jackets in terms of warmth. Popular models such as the Mountain FTS Ghost Whisperer/2, which is lightweight, provides enough insulation for summer backpacking or shoulder-season conditions. While a winter-ready piece, like the Feathered friends Khumbu Parka, has enough puffer to withstand sub-zero temperatures, the Feathered Friends Khumbu Parka, which is winter-ready, packs plenty of puffer. Below are the main types of puffer jackets, as well as their strengths and weaknesses.

Lightweight puffer jackets

A large number of puffer jackets fall under the category of lightweight. We consider designs with 3-4 ounces or less of buffer fill to be lightweight. This means they can be used as a midlayer during winter, shoulder seasons, and as a ski jacket. A lightweight puffer jacket may provide warmth up to freezing depending on the clothing you are wearing and how active you are. If you need to keep your body warm, consider the heavyweight and midweight weight categories. Patagonia Puffer Sweater, 3.4 oz. is one of the most sought after lightweight puffer jackets. This versatile piece is made with 800-fill power buffer.

Midweight puffer jackets

The smallest, but most underrated category of jackets is the midweight. Models such as the Rab Microlight Alpine (1lb. 1 oz.) Pack in 5 ounces 750-fill puffer and the Patagonia fitz Roy 1 lb. 1.1 oz.) It is a balanced ultralight construction that contains 5.6 ounces (or 1.1 oz.) of 800-fill buffer. These jackets provide a noticeable increase in warmth when compared to the lightweight ones. We have worn midweight jackets without a tshirt up to the teens Fahrenheit, and they kept us warm and comfortable.

How to Choose a Puffer Jacket

Heavyweight puffer jackets

A heavyweight puffer jacket is the best choice for winter conditions. These jackets are burly and have the most puffer fill. They also often come with weather-resistant shell fabrics, large sleeves, and longer cuts to protect below the waist. Some heavy-duty winter jackets experience a decrease in puffer quality due to their casual appearance. Our favorite model for everyday wear and commute is The North Face McMurdo. On the opposite side, the Rab Neutrino Pro (8oz. The 800-fill power puffer is more suitable for serious outdoor use. Our article on the best winter jackets features a comprehensive look at heavyweight puffer jacket options.

2. Comparing Buffer Fill Power to. Fill Weight

Fill power and weight are two of the most common specifications in the outdoor gear industry. Premium models have fill power of 800-fill. This is a measure of puffer's quality, or how lofty the jacket is. The jacket's total buffer content, or fill weight, is what you see. Many retailers and manufacturers place a lot of emphasis on fill power, sometimes even sewing it onto the jacket's sleeves. But fill weight is just as important.

Sometimes it is easy to compare warmth when choosing a puffer jacket. It's easy to compare jackets with 800-fill-power and find out which jacket is warmer (eg 5.6 oz. 800 fill power will provide more warmth that 3.4 oz. It becomes more difficult if the fill weights are different, such as 800-fill puffer or 650-fill. Low-fill-power puffer has less loft, which means less warmth. Each case is different. To make informed decisions, we try to assess the fill power and fill weight together.

How to Choose a Puffer Jacket

3. Daily Wear or the Backcountry

When choosing a puffer jacket, it is important to consider how you will use it. Ultralight jackets are more expensive and less durable than those designed for backcountry use, but they can be used for everyday wear. The Arc'teryx Cerium LT ($379) is an example. It uses premium 850-fill buffer and a thin 10-denier outer shell to pack a lot of warmth in a sleek 10.8-ounce design. The weight savings could prove to be worth it, whether you're using the jacket as a backpacking jacket or as a fair-weather belay jacket. The Cerium LT's lightweight materials, trim build and backcountry-focused features are not practical for everyday wear, not to mention the high price.

You can save money on your puffer jacket if you plan to wear it around town or for light outdoor activities when warmth is not a priority. The Outdoor Research Transcendent Hoody jacket is almost as warm as the Cerium LT, but costs less than $225. REI also makes the 650 Puffer Jacket 2.0 at a discounted price of just $100. If you don't require ultralight, high-end materials, buying more of an everyday jacket can save you money and increase durability.

4. Weighing and packing

In the same vein as the previous “use” section, weight is important to outdoor gear professionals. The number of puffer jackets can vary quite a lot. Montbell's wild Plasma 1000 Jacket weighs in at 4.8 ounces, which is a remarkable weight considering its build quality and fit. A heavyweight winter parka such as the Rab Neutrino Pro weighs in at 1 pound 5.3-ounces. The good news? Many lightweight puffer jackets weigh between 8 and 15 ounces so the choice isn't that difficult. Again, cutting ounces This can often mean a higher fill-power buffer, thinner shell fabric, lighter zippers and fewer features. Lightweight pieces can also be more expensive than casual ones.

Packability is closely related to the weight of a puffer jacket. Packability is a function of how small the jacket can be packed. This includes its high fill power, lightweight materials, simplified feature sets and trim fit. This will depend on where and when you wear the jacket. It's worth noting, however, that some casual pieces such as the REI 650 Puffer Jacket 2.0 are easily packed in a bag or suitcase. However, true winter designs such as the 850 Stormhenge can only be carried in a backpack. Some jackets come with separate stuff bags, which we love but tend to lose. You can also store them in your hand or chest pocket with a 2-sided zipper. Because of their thick shell materials, larger pieces such as the 850 Stormhenge can't be packed. It is best to keep your puffer jacket loosely packed when you store it. This will ensure that the plumage remains as lofty as possible.

5.Weather Protection

Let's start by saying puffer isn't known for its ability to withstand water. If it is exposed to moisture, buffer can clump and lose its ability to insulate. This can be a problem if you are looking for warmth. We often opt for a synthetic jacket when we go out in the rain, and we also bring a hardshell or rain jacket with us to provide extra protection.

Modern puffer jackets can help reduce light to moderate precipitation. Many jackets have a durable water repellant treatment (DWR) on the shell. This helps moisture run off and not soak in. This is great for light rain or snow but it can quickly wear off in heavy puffer pours. There are many types of hydrophobic and water-repellent buffers available on the market. These buffers are treated to resist moisture absorption better than the untreated.

Some brands are now using synthetic insulation to protect areas that are most susceptible to moisture. Arc'teryx's Cerium line uses puffer fill in most jackets, with synthetic insulation at the shoulders and hood. This is called “Buffer Composite Mapping.” Finally, some puffer jackets, such as the REI Coop Stormhenge, 850, are waterproof. You get both the warmth and the puffy feel of puffer combined with full wind and water protection.


The durability of your puffer jacket's shell can be affected by its weight. Fabric thickness is measured by denier (or “D”) and the thinner the shell fabric, the better. These ultralight pieces, such as Montbell or Arc'teryx, can be as thin as 7D. They require extra care to prevent snags. The Patagonia Puffer Sweater , 20Dx30D, is closer to the middle. It's light, but it's also much more durable. Full-on winter jackets such as The North Face McMurdo are made with thick, burly shells which do a great job of resisting tears.

The most important thing when it comes to durability is your intended use. We recommend a minimum of 20D for an everyday jacket. This will give you enough durability to walk on branches and play with your dog. The 15D and lower levels are the most comfortable. materials start to get very thin, crinklier, and sometimes even slightly transparent. For those who have to carry heavy loads over long distances or up into the mountains, the sacrifices in durability can be worth it. However, normal people are better off with more practical fabrics.

7. Hood and Other Features

After you have settled on a puffer jacket model, the next major design decision you will need to make is whether or not you want a hood. A hood not only adds warmth to your neck and head, but it also increases the cost and weight. The Patagonia Puffer jcaket men's is 229 and weighs 13.1 ounces. The Hoody version costs $279 and weighs 15.1 ounces. We prefer a hood for most occasions, including daily wear (it's nice to put the hood on when it drops), and backpacking (we often use the hood at night). For activities such as pufferhill skiing, however, we do not recommend a hood. It won't fit over your helmet and can bunch around your neck. This is mostly a personal decision. If you are still unsure and would like to delve deeper into the subject, read our article: Does your puffer jacket need a hood?


A great jacket is something you will be able to wear for many years. Some brands are generally more bulky than others. We find jackets made by Columbia, Patagonia and Mountain Hardwear to be too boxy, while Columbia, Feathered Friends and Arc'teryx are more athletic and slimmer. This directly affects how much you can layer underneath or on top. Comfort and warmth are also important. There are many exceptions to each brand's guidelines, so these should not be taken as a set of hard and fast rules. You should try on the jackets in person. If that is not possible, you can get some information from the manufacturer's fit chart (slim, regular etc.). We also include a section on fit in all our puffer jacket reviews. This is where we share our experiences with the model we have worn and compare them to others.

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