Winter is coming, and already here in some states. It’s getting colder which means it’s time to break out those layers and layers of sweaters, scarves, hats and of course big winter coats. Everyone who lives in a snowy place needs at least one huge coat for those especially cold days. Sure, you could go the classic winter jacket realm with the likes of a nice Canada Goose parka, a slab of fabric from good ol’ L.L. Bean or something from the land of Patagonia — but everyone knows one of the best ways to stay warm and stylish during the colder months is to rock a puffer.
The best puffer jackets offer a down layer of warmth for your body in addition to a great look wherein you slightly resemble someone who decided to bring their comforter on the subway with them. Puffer jackets tend to be cozier and more comfortable to wear than standard jackets due to the puff, and still contain a protective outer layer that breaks the wind and provides the waterproof protection you need to stay dry.
The Puff in Puffer Jackets
Puffer jackets are quilted jackets stuffed with duck or goose down that’s been sewn into an insulated layer, accompanied by an outer layer made of some sort of nylon or polyester. The feathers keep your body warm, while the outer layer protects against wind chill, rain, snow and ice. Sometimes puffer jackets have a hood, sometimes the hood has fur on it to keep snow away from your face. Other times they’re simpler and designed to be layered on top of.
The actual “puffs” of the jacket are made by the stitching done on the outer layer that can be down vertically, horizontally, in diamonds or other geometric shapes depending on the style. If you want a more fitted look, go for the diamond shape, and if you want full marshmallow the horizontal or vertical choices are better suited.
If you live in a freezing cold climate, you’re going to want a puffer jacket with a hood and possibly some sort of fur to provide further protection to your face and neck. If you live somewhere warmer, a lighter puffer jacket is great for bringing on hikes or camping trips because while it’ll be warm, it’ll also be lightweight and easy to carry around with you.
This is another important distinction about puffer jackets — due to the airy nature of the feathers they tend not to weigh as much. Some of them can squish down into compact carrying cases, making them excellent for packing or stowing in the back of your car in case of a sudden cold spell.
Whether you need a go-to piece of winter outerwear or want something puffy you can take on your next plane ride, we’ve gathered the best puffer jackets for winter 2021 and beyond.
1. The North Face Men’s 1996 Retro Nuptse Jacket
This is one of the puffiest puffers around, made by a brand that knows their stuff when it comes to winter gear. It’ll work just as well in the mountains as it will in cities on your way to and from work. The large puff has a shiny ripstop fabric exterior and a removable hood that can keep you dry and warm if it’s raining or snowing.
In addition to all the durability this jacket also has a great 90’s look to it, which is what you’re going for with puffers in the first place. It’s lightweight and comes with its own stuff sack that you can use to pack it away efficiently. It also provides excellent wind protection.
2. Columbia Men’s Delta Ridge Down Hooded Jacket
This thinner, lightweight puffer jacket is made for combatting chilly conditions while still being portable. The shell is only water-resistant, so it’s great for cities that don’t experience a lot of actual snow and rain. The thermal-reflective lining and 650-fill down insulation keeps the elements out and your body heat in. The scuba-style hood and bound cuffs also keep the warmth in on especially cold days. The down is also responsibly-sourced, so your environmental conscience doesn’t need to sacrifice its integrity for you to stay warm this winter.
3. Men’s Mountain Classic Down Jacket
If you’ll be battling truly frigid temperatures this winter, this jacket from L.L.Bean is what you need for covering your back. It has a temperature range of light activity to 15° and moderate activity to -35° — one of the lowest temperature capacities we saw in this type of jacket. The 650-fill DownTek down insullation keeps the moisture off and the warmth inside even in the coldest conditions. The Bean Tested DownTek down also stays dry for up to 10x longer than standard down so you’ll stay as warm as possible in wet weather. The lower hand snap pockets contain security zipper pockets for handy storage, and the whole jacket is machine washable so you can clean it easily without diminishing its quality.
4. Amazon Essentials Men’s Lightweight Puffer Jacket
Stay warm and keep your pocketbook fat this winter with this affordable puffer jacket from Amazon Essentials. It’s a solid shell that won’t hold up to freezing temperatures but is a great option for layering that costs less than $40. The outer shell is water-resistant and the full-zip front and collar can fasten and secure your body heat inside on chilly days. It also comes in a wide range of colors including black, blue, bright orange and heather green.
5. Columbia Men’s Powder Lite Hooded Insulated Jacket
This jacket from Columbia is built to be lightweight with Omni-Heat thermal reflective technology that reflects your body’s heat for insulation while maintaining breathability. The especially light weight comes from the water resistant fabric that lines the whole jacket, and the hood being removable makes it possible to lighten the jacket up even more. It has a fit that hugs your body and zippered hand pockets where you can keep your mitts warm if needed. That being said, the wearer’s mobility was also taken into account with the design and this jacket won’t restrict your movement as much as other ones will.
6. The North Face Men’s Thermoball Eco Jacket
This puffer is warm AF, and made of post-consumer recycled content which makes it incredibly lightweight and packable on cold outdoor excursions. It’s made for hiking with its grid stitching design that keeps you extra insulated against the elements. It has an exposed VISLON front zipper and the ThermoBall insulation technology features small, synthetic PrimaLoft fibers that mimic the warming effects of down by trapping heat in thin air pockets. So you get the warming perks of real down with the moisture-resistant benefits of synthetic insulation.
7. Calvin Klein Men’s Hooded Alternative Puffer Jacket
BEST FOR GIFTING
The holidays have sadly passed, but this jacket would still make an excellent gift for someone who doesn’t just want to survive the cold, but thrive in the cold. Who says all jackets need to be and look practical – this Calvin Klein jacket proves you can be warm and look sleek at the same time. It has an interior fleece bib for warmth and the 100% polyester outer shell is water and wind resistant.
8. Uniqlo Men’s Ultra Light Down Parka
A hood is necessary, and this jacket from Uniqlo features a cozy one as well as a super affordable price tag. It has a water-repellant coating that’ll keep out light rain only, so if you live somewhere with intense elements you might want to go for something more heavy-duty. However, if you’re rocking a moderate climate and don’t want to spend very much — this is a solid option.
The hood is contoured for fashionable and functional reasons, and the sleeves are snug but designed for mobility as well. This jacket also comes with a stuff sack you can use again and again when traveling, hiking, backpacking, or organizing your winter clothes.
9. Lockwell Detachable Sleeve Down Puffer Coat
BEST DESIGNER OPTION
Looking for something a little ritzier? This Burberry puffer coat is mid-weight and has a wool-blend checked hood with classic Burberry lining. It has a drawcord hood, front snap-flap pockets and the extra long length gives you even more coverage on especially cold days. It has a slim fit through the chest that’s flattering and the extra large buttons on the front help it stand out.
10. Marmot Men’s Down Hoody
So we don’t know the exact puff ratio of this specific jacket — but it’s definitely large and has the marshmallow vibes we’re looking for during the holidays. It has 700-fill power down that stays warm even in wet conditions, a common complaint with down material. The outer shell is moisture-resistant and there are zippered hand warmer pockets that offer additional heat. There’s also a convenient chest pocket for storage, and the velcro cuffs offer temperature control and customization.
11. Eddie Bauer Glacier Peak Down Parka
BEST FOR SNOW
While this is technically a parka, it has a “regular” length rather than a “tall” one so we consider it a puffer jacket. It has a sub zero temperature ratings and is made with their StormRepel DWR Plus finish that’s made to repel moisture. It has RDS-approved down filling as well as secure chest pockets, convenient hand pockets and an adjustable hood. It also stretches for comfort which makes it easy to wear a few layers underneath it.
12. L.L.Bean Men’s Ultralight 850 Down Vest
Sometimes you just need to rock a down vest, ya know? This down vest from L.L.Bean comes in both “regular” and “tall” lengths and is insulated with DownTek PFC-Free down that’s water-repellant and stays dry 50% longer for extra protection. It’s slightly fitted, so it works very well as a mid-weight layer underneath a rain slicker or on top of a fleece. The outer shell is windproof, water-resistant and made from Pertex Quantum nylon that’s 100% recycled fabric. The vest is also filled with some of the highest-quality 850-fill goose down available on the market.
13. L.L.Bean Men’s Ultralight 850 Down Sweater
BEST FOR LAYERING
This L.L.Bean down jacket is the lightweight puffer version of the vest above, with essentially the same characteristics plus a few sleeves. It has the same 850-fill-power goose down and stays dry as long as possible with the DownTek PFC-Free insulation. It’s slightly fitted and designed thin so you can easily make it your middle layer along with a larger jacket on top and long underwear underneath.
14. Patagonia Men’s Down Sweater Jacket
BEST FOR TRAVEL
This Patagonia puffer is a solid pick for so many reasons, the main one being that it travels incredibly well. It’s thin, lightweight, easy to squish and comes with its own stuff sack you can squeeze it into. The outer shell is made of 100% recycled polyester ripstop that’s been treated with a durable, water-repellant finish. The 800-fill Advanced Global Traceable Down is also NSF-certified for its fair treatment of the birds. The front zipper has an interior storm flap and a zipper garage at the chin so your face doesn’t get irritated with extensive use in the winter.