The Best Men's Puffer Jackets

Testing of these jackets proved somewhat challenging given the moderate 2017-18 winter in the greater mountain west. Five jackets were called-in for field testing after researching dozens of options. The selections were made based on brand reputations along with the array of features, fabrics, and marketing claims needing to be challenged.

Some of the jackets sent in for testing in this category landed on the border of winter insulation and three-season, given their weight and features when compared to the final five jackets tested. If that’s what you’re in the market for, check out our test of lighter weight insulated jackets.

Similar to all apparel tests, we asked testers to wear the coats as they went about their daily lives in the winter. For our field testers, that meant using them to work outside on homes, clear decks of snow, set ski & snowboard race gates, time nordic ski races, snowshoe, snowboard, and drink beers at tailgates, among other such activities.

These jackets are primarily intended for technical winter outings, such as mountaineering, backcountry ski camps, search & rescue endeavors, and other chores that require dependable, durable insulation in places where being cold can be risky business. They’ll have hoods, girth, and pack like basketballs, not water bottles. The shells are more durable and water resistant, and they include features like Velcro cuff closures, dual hood adjustments, insulated zipper guards, and beyond-the-hip hem lines. It’s all about completely shutting out the environment and keeping body heat in.

Review Year
Best in Class
Overall Rating
Price
Name Overall Rating Ratings The Good The Bad Price
Eddie Bauer BC DownLight StormDown
87
Materials 7
Weatherproofness 8
Temperature Control 7
Fit/Comfort 7
Features 8

Warmth when active

Water repellency

Core vents

Versatility

Fit over layers

Packability

Internal pockets

Wind resistance

MSRP
$124.99
BEST DEAL
Montbell Alpine Light Down Parka
85
Materials 7
Weatherproofness 8
Temperature Control 7
Fit/Comfort 6
Features 7

Warmth-to-weight ratio

Packability

Shell durability

Wind resistance

Moisture handling

Hood fit over helmet

Exterior chest pocket zipper pull

MSRP
$124.99
BEST DEAL
N/A
Marmot Corkscrew Featherless
83
Materials 7
Weatherproofness 8
Temperature Control 5
Fit/Comfort 6
Features 7

Warmth

Comfort

Price

Versatility

No two-way zipper

Breathability

Weight

MSRP
$124.99
BEST DEAL
Big Agnes Fire Tower Belay
83
Materials 6
Weatherproofness 6
Temperature Control 7
Fit/Comfort 8
Features 6

Warmth

Comfort

Insotect Flow baffles

Lightweight

Shell durability

Hem drawcord pulls

Exterior chest pocket zipper pull

MSRP
$124.99
BEST DEAL
Marmot Greenland Baffled Jacket
82
Fit 5
Warmth 10
Compressibility 5
Weight 7
Features 8
Value 7

Warmest jacket in the test

Easily layers over anything

Doesn't ride up when reaching

Packs small for its size

Feels bulky and big—but that just goes with the territory

MSRP
$425.00
BEST DEAL
Stio Hometown Down Jacket
80
Materials 7
Weatherproofness 6
Temperature Control 5
Fit/Comfort 6
Features 6

Warmth-to-weight ratio

Insulation

Price

Looks good in town

Inconsistent fit

Breathability

Lacking technical features

MSRP
$124.99
BEST DEAL
Mountain Hardwear B’Layman Jacket
79
Fit 7
Warmth 7
Compressibility 5
Weight 4
Features 9
Value 7

Good value for warmth and features

Fits well over climbing gear

Two way zipper for harness access

Sheds water well

Not very compressible

Cuffs felt restrictive and exposed wrists on reaches

MSRP
$300.00
BEST DEAL
Mountain Hardwear Nilas Jacket
76
Fit 7
Warmth 7
Compressibility 5
Weight 6
Features 5
Value 6

Light! Half the weight of true 8000m outerwear

The fit for climbing is excellent: simple and stripped down

Butter jersey cuffs are amazing and comfortable

The face fabric offers a lot of protection without feeling too stiff

Just the right number of pockets for an 8000m summit day

No zipper pulls—a huge oversight for mitt users

Requires another insulation layer on really cold days

Insulation not as well distributed as with the Nilas Bib

Insulation didn’t hold up particularly well

MSRP
$550.00
BEST DEAL
Sierra Designs TOV DriDown
75
Fit 6
Warmth 5
Compressibility 4
Weight 6
Features 7
Value 7

Easy to put on and take off at belay stances

Trim fit, more casual looking

Handy inside pocket

Good value

Water-repellant down—dries much more quickly than regular down

Not very compressible

Not as warm as other jackets in test

MSRP
$260.00
BEST DEAL
Helly Hansen Odin Belay
73
Warmth 4
Fit 8
Compressibility 7
Weight 6
Features 3
Value 5

Weather resistant exterior

Warm for its weight

Good temperature regulation

Zipper snagged regularly

Compressibility was fair, not great

MSRP
$350.00
BEST DEAL
N/A
Eddie Bauer BC DownLight StormDown

The Eddie Bauer BC DownLight StormDown is a versatile, wet-weather ready winter jacket good for trips and activities where things may get bad, but not extreme. The fit stands out when worn over midlayers and the array of pockets and features make this jacket ideal for those who live in urban environments that aren’t known for pleasant weather. It’s heavier than it looks and it's priced at a point to be attractive in this category. This is a jacket ideal for the beginning mountaineer, backcountry ski tours, and guides who understand how to manage their temperature when active.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Moosejaw

Big Agnes Fire Tower Belay

The Big Agnes Fire Tower Belay jacket is fat, warm and will give users plenty of reasons to not want to take it off. While it wins on warmth, the jacket’s thin shell lacks technical treatments to withstand consistent moisture or wear and tear. Thus, this is ideal for cold trips out to the hut bathroom or when moving slowly along the rope-line during moderate ascents. It has a hood that embraces the skull in a hug of comfort, and overall, can be a go-to external piece for any time you’ll be stationary in very cold, dry conditions.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at Amazon.com

Marmot Corkscrew Featherless

The Marmot Corkscrew Featherless is a one-stop snowsports option for both in-bounds and backcountry laps, and would make a smart choice for winter backcountry basecamps, despite its weight. 3M’s Featherless insulation is soft and warm, and fulfills its promise to beat moisture. There is a lot going on with this jacket, from its seven pockets to its removable features, which make it versatile; but at the same time, heavy and prone to multiple adjustments. Those grievances become minor for cost-conscious shoppers looking for a do-almost-everything technical winter jacket.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at CampSaver.com

Montbell Alpine Light Down Parka

Montbell’s Alpine Light Down Parka is a very nice middle-of-the-pack insulator for cold and dry extended trips, and it excels in blocking wind. It has a simple but effective selection of features and sewn-through construction to keep costs down and its 800-fill EX down insulation in place. Its Ballistic nylon taffeta shell, at 20-denier, offers a good deal of long-wear durability. Like others in its range, the Alpine Light is too big and warm for cool spring or fall mornings, and just out of range for stand-alone use in high-risk winter expeditions. Thus, it falls into a broad range of competition. However, few of its competitors are this warm and weigh less than a pound.

Read the Full Review Shop Now at

See All Men's Puffer Jackets Reviews

Men's Puffer (or Puffy) Insulated Jacket Review Results

by: Last Updated:

Stio’s Hometown Down Hoody had the hardest time fitting into the group dynamic, as its 650-fill down and overall feature set met trouble keeping pace with the capabilities of others in the lineup, namely the Eddie Bauer, which seemed to include just about anything that can be sewn and welded into a piece of winter insulation. The Eddie Bauer was the second heaviest of the lot, but also the most likely to be found on a North Atlantic salmon fishing boat, given its shell-like exterior and element-hating characteristics. It scored high.

The test discovered some surprises, such as the Montbell, which packs serious warmth in a relatively streamlined jacket weighing under a pound. A medium sample had some fit issues on our testers who bordered in between medium and large, a not too uncommon problem for manufacturers and people needing to stay warm. The Big Agnes Fire Tower Belay defines “puffy” and comfort. This is the jacket your dog finds a way to sleep on when you take it off because it’s so cozy. Big Agnes integrated sleeping bag baffling technology into this jacket and that is exactly what you feel like you’re wearing.

Marmot provided a true a winter sports jacket that combined elements of a softshell with a puffy core of 3M’s Featherless synthetic. Like the Eddie Bauer, the Marmot is feature-rich, heavy, and wind-beating. But there are always compromises to be made.

The big difference maker for those in our latest round of testing is the extent of moisture protection. These are big coats that can be hard to wear under a hardshell. Conditions, then, apply greatly to one’s decision to buy a product in this category. And, testers need to decide how critical that kind of versatility is to a jacket’s performance. Water repellent down, after all, is not water-proof down.   

Materials

The jackets run the gamut of fabrics and insulations, a few combining multiples to ensure improved weather resistance or exterior toughness. Even as synthetics reach near-down levels, they can’t pack as well as when sewn into bigger, more feature-rich coats. Big Agnes used its water-repellent DownTek at 700-fill power to puff-up its test entry, and the result was a sleeping-bag like experience while upright and active. The exterior proved its mettle, but didn’t manage to fight the wet like Eddie Bauer’s Weatheredge 30-denier with a 20k/30k breathable laminate. In essence, it’s a down jacket wrapped in rain shell, that’s also soft and bolstered by a DWR finish.

Montbell claims the down it chooses, “EX Down,” is of higher quality than most of the market due its selection of fowl from areas with extreme temperature swings. This is a tough claim for us to adequately follow-up on, but generally speaking, the jacket managed to fight off hours of “standing around” in the cold with minimal midlayers, and packed smaller than the others tested. Thus, our test didn’t reveal strong rationale to debunk the company’s promotional material. Marmot’s Featherless insulation, a 3M Thinsulate product, is plenty warm, but doesn’t standout among the category.  

Weatherproofness

How well do these jackets fight off the elements? Can they stop rain, long enough at least, to add a layer that can? And if they happen to get soaked, how well does the down hold up? Testers aimed to answer these questions as well as they could given conditions, and most found that collectively, these jackets are solid weather deterrents, however, some are better than others, such as the Eddie Bauer and the Marmot.

Scores in this category come down to more than just clever fabrics. Features play a role, too. For example, a hem drawcord can prevent cold air and snow from entering along the waistline, and an adjustable hood can keep a firm, comfortable seal around a person’s head. However, when it comes to stopping wind, it is mainly about the fabrics and construction. If down moves around within the baffles, cold spots open up. The Marmot’s soft-shell exterior did well here, scoring well above average, as did the Eddie Bauer. As warm as the Big Agnes is, it just squeaked above average because its shell tended to wet-out quickly and was susceptible to wind.

Temperature Control

This rating isn’t all that complicated: how warm can this jacket keep you? The only nuance to scoring here is evaluating how well that warmth can be controlled. Once toasty, what mechanisms are in place (fabrics and features) to allow the jacket to breathe a little? For example, the Fire Tower Belay Jacket is plenty insulating, so it’s helpful to have that two-way zipper to release the hot air building up in the core. The Eddie Bauer, Big Agnes, and Montbell managed to each tie. The Eddie Bauer has core zips from elbow to rib cage to help it breathe, but those features are negated by the fact that the other two proved slightly warmer to testers when subjected to static, straight-up cold.

Fit/Comfort

It would be tough for a puffer jacket to be considered “uncomfortable.” However, the test entries that aim to be more technical, employing a number of adjustment points and maybe too many internal pockets, could end up leaving a buyer constantly aware of what they’re wearing, as opposed to the product functioning in unison with them.

Fit is about how a coat hangs on the body and how it works with other layers. Most of our jackets tested in this round, outside of the Montbell, weren’t terrific when paired with an exterior hardshell. In essence, they were too big. Yet, in terms of something that fundamentally feels good to put on, there was no beating the Big Agnes Fire Tower Belay jacket. Our tester mentioned he’d like a pair of down pants with the same materials to match it.  

Features

Manufacturers have many choices to make in this department. How important is it to the consumer to have a streamlined, “put on and go” puffer jacket? And, do more features put upward pressure on price? That seemed to be the case with the Eddie Bauer, which is $449. Yet, given its overall functionality, it would be hard to argue the features are superfluous.

Brands are doing all they can to make jackets “urban-functional” to attract the new wave of occasional campers and Instagram-only outdoorists. That might soon lead to reduced technical features, such as helmet-compatible hoods or wide, mitten-friendly cuffs. Still, common features include elasticized cuffs, hem drawcords, draft-guards behind zippers, and internal drop pockets. The Marmot, being essentially an insulated ski shell, had the test’s only powder skirt and removable hood. Two-way zippers are a valuable feature, and pocket placement was more important to some testers than we would have expected.

Testing Methods

Jackets were put through the paces in the late fall and winter of 2017-18 in the northern Sierras, primarily around the town of Truckee. A few managed to be on heavy travel schedules with nordic and downhill ski coaches to the East Coast and the Rocky Mountains, helping score for packability and durability. The winter was fairly mild, relatively speaking, and the best testing conditions didn’t take place until March ‘18, when several storms roared through.

Testers were asked to use the jackets in as authentic as possible conditions, but to also take time considering surface-level reasons to buy the product. Does it look good? Would you buy it after the test? Why did you buy the other jackets you own?

In the end the jackets were used during days on the lift, running around town, as insulation during après tailgates, and snowshoe dayhikes.

What is a Puffer Jacket?

This the category you think of when you hear “down jacket.” Coats in this vertical are going to be more expensive (in most cases) than their three-season lighter weight counterparts, and brands tend to have a smaller lineup of them. These jackets will be seen at high-elevation mountaineering camps in the spring, and in huts and winter ski shelters.

Casual terminology varies, but the category’s movement into the mainstream has evolved the lexicon from puffy to puffer. Expect hoods, high fill-power counts, and to be warm. If there’s one thing that hasn’t suffered with the category’s growth, it’s the ability of these jackets to keep a person very warm. Down production methods, sewing tactics, moisture management characteristics, and evolving exterior shell fabrics have combined to provide the market with highly technical and in many cases, life-saving pieces of apparel.

The coats in this category, once considered too heavy for general day trips, can now be shoved into a pack without much hassle. Yes, some are more packable than others; but when it comes to winter protection from the elements, it’s hard to argue the value of today’s puffer jacket.