When the snow starts to fall, and temperatures drop, it’s time to break out the old winter jacket. Most winter jackets are designed for longevity, but unfortunately, for some of us, our old coats just don’t cut it anymore. Where do you go from here? Some suggest a puffer jacket… but do they really keep you warm?
A puffer jacket will keep you warm because it “sandwiches” a layer of warming insulation between two layers of waterproof material. The insulation is typically fluffy down or a synthetic material like polyester, and it traps the warmth generated by your body heat inside the jacket.
Read on for some revealing facts about one of the world’s most popular pieces of clothing.
How Do Puffer Jackets Work?
If you’ve ever been stuck in a snowstorm or below-freezing temperatures, you’ll know that a puffer jacket, also known as a down jacket, is one of your best choices. They’re easy to pack and transport due to the amount of air that can be compressed out of them, and come in a number of different styles. Thanks to advances in both science and fashion, many top-of-the-line puffer jackets have become engineered to perfection.
According to an article from GQ, the first puffer jacket was born in 1936 from the mind of designer Eddie Bauer after a winter fishing trip gone wrong. He almost froze to death, and after the traumatic experience went on to design and patent the first-ever quilted-down jacket. It utilized the warming properties of goose feathers while using criss-cross stitching to keep the feathers in place.
What makes this style of jacket so unique is that it doesn’t just utilize one single layer of fabric to keep you warm, but rather sandwiches insulating “fluff” between two layers of fabric (often a waterproof material to keep snow and rain at bay). Air gets trapped between these layers and helps to hold your warmth in and keep the chill away without making you too bulky.
What also sets puffer jackets apart from other styles is the fact that they are stuffed with fluffy feathers or an alternative non-animal material like polyester or other recycled fibers. This inner layer is what actually holds the air inside and gives the coat its name.
According to an informative article from Popular Science, puffer jackets help to create a “microclimate around the body.” Puffer jackets act like a Thermos around your body, keeping you from freezing or cooling off.
Not All Puffers Are Alike
Once you’ve become familiar with how puffer jackets work, then it’s time to compare styles. If you take a trip outside in the winter, you’re bound to see a number of people wearing a few different brands of puffer jackets. Some of the most famous ones include Patagonia, North Face, and Canada Goose. These semi-designer brands have even become status symbols in cooler northern climates in Europe and the US.
Each of these individual companies has multiple varieties of down jackets to appeal to everyone from casual wearers in moderate climates to serious hikers in sub-zero temperatures.
Some jackets are designed with just a half-inch or so of down – these jackets are often for autumn weather and are bought usually just for style’s sake. This lightweight style of jacket is an ideal option if you tend to travel and need to bring a light coat with you but don’t want to use too much space in your bag. One such example is this Packable Ultra Light Weight Jacket from Wantdo.
Next, companies generally design and produce a mid-range option for puffer jackets that merges fashion and utility. These jackets tend to be slightly longer and heavier than lightweight, packable jackets, but still have a slim cut to them. This North Face Women’s Arctic Parka offers protection from both the cold and is 100% wind-resistant, and still maintains a smooth sense of style.
Finally, companies who specialize in down-wear almost always carry a jacket that is designed for hikers, and those who work in intensely cold environments. Canada Goose calls their Snow Mantra Parka the “warmest coat on earth.” Though it will cost you a pretty penny, Canada Goose is known worldwide for its high-quality products that can get you through a winter in the Arctic Circle.
What’s My Best Choice?
Now that you’ve decided on a puffer jacket and know that it will keep you warm, it’s your turn to decide which one suits you best. The first factor to consider when buying a puffer is your climate. If you’re living in the middle of California and only have to deal with 40° at the coldest, then you will want to opt for one of the thinner, less-fluffy coats featured above.
If you live in a climate where the winters get below freezing, and you need to bundle up, a mid-range jacket would be the best for you. Make sure to find something that will keep you nice and toasty but won’t leave you sweaty after a short walk.
If you’re a real adventurer or you ski frequently, you’d be better off getting one the most insulated jackets on this list. With the multiple layers of down and fabric that manufacturers put into their coats and the amount of technology going into the process, you’re bound to stay nice and warm while scaling Mt. Everest or skiing the Alps.
The final factor to note when you’re picking out a puffer jacket is the filling itself – the “puff” in “puffer.” While most puffer jackets are stuffed with real duck or goose down, others are filled with synthetic down, which is generally made from polyester fibers.
For some people, they would rather opt for the natural feathers instead of artificial material. For others, they want to avoid using animal products and would rather purchase one made with recycled materials like the Thermoball Eco Hoodie Jacket from The North Face.
All of the brands mentioned in this post focus majorly on designing and creating quality down coats and puffer jackets, but they each have their own specialty. Patagonia is known for its dedication to environmental causes and using their platform for ecological activism.
The North Face is widely available at a mid-range price across America and the world. Canada Goose offers high-quality jackets for buyers with higher budgets. With all these options at your fingertips, you’re bound to find a jacket that both keeps you warm and fits your style.
In summary, puffer jackets not only keep you warm – they are your best choice for staying toasty in cooler months. Whether you’re barely hitting freezing temperature or you’re stuck in Siberia, there are plenty of options for you at a number of different price ranges.
When it comes to puffer jackets, you don’t have to sacrifice style for safety in the wintertime. You can find puffers in any and all colors, for men, women, and children. You can find jackets stuffed with real goose down, or you can pick a synthetic alternative. Whatever your choice, you’re bound to stay cozy during the winter months.