If you’re looking for a puffer jacket that packs the ultimate thermal power, we’ve got you covered.
Puffer jackets or quilted jackets should be a staple in every adventurer’s suitcase.
Whether you’re scouting out the best sunrise surf spot in chilly winds, getting changed after a dip in the sea, or heading to the pub with wet hair from the ocean, equipping yourself with a puffer jacket ensures you’re going to be as warm as you possibly can be.
They pack down to convenient travel sizes, are lightweight and are supposedly the warmest piece of kit you can put on in extreme conditions.
The warmest puffer and quilted jackets are made with the highest quality materials, like duck and goose down. Compared to cotton and leather jackets puffer jackets create the ultimate blend of thermal insulation and lightweight wearability.
Let’s face it, winters are freezing in the UK and we’re more likely to get our coats on and head into the great outdoors if we’re wrapped up in the warmest gear.
What are the warmest materials for puffer jackets?
The fill of a puffer jacket is made up of thousands of tiny fibres that form air pockets.
Goose and duck down are the most widely used materials in puffer jackets. This is the underneath part of the feather of a bird. The gaps between the feathers create air pockets to warm the inside air up and keep the cold air out.
There are other warm non-animal produce alternatives, like synthetic fibres. Synthetic fibres are commonly made from polyester and synthetic down is also used as thermal insulation in puffer jackets.
Synthetic or Down?
So what is the difference between a down jacket and a synthetic puffer jacket?
Down insulates by trapping air and heating it. It’s commended for being highly compressible, light, durable and breathable. It’s the highest-performance insulator in dry, freezing conditions, or when reducing packaging weight is crucial.
Synthetic fill is usually made of polyester, doesn’t use animal products and insulates even if wet. Yep, that’s right, even if it’s wet. Have you ever tried to warm up in a wet down jacket? It doesn’t really do the job. This is where synthetic comes out on top. Synthetic jackets tend to be less expensive, remain durable and are more hypoallergenic.
Should I size up or down for puffer jackets?
It depends if you’re looking for a street-style puffer to keep you warm during commutes or when out with friends, a jacket to cycle in, or a jacket that’s really going to get used in properly cold conditions. The level of insulation will depend on these criteria.
For instance, most simple puffer jackets won’t be waterproof because they won’t feature an outer shell unless specified. The outer shell of a jacket is what gives it windproof ability and waterproofing.
Stay true to size if:
If the jacket is going to be used as an underneath thermal layer, it’s best to get a size close to true so it can sit as near to the skin as possible and act as a base layer. An outer shell jacket would be placed over the top to add an additional layer of wind and waterproofing and protect the delicate materials of a high-quality puffer.
This puffer would ideally be thinner in width.
Go big on size if:
Size up if you are looking for a coat that you can layer up with jumpers underneath, or wear it as a stylish overcoat, or maybe even with the zip open.
The bigger the size, the more you can fit underneath, and treat the puffer jacket like the icing on the cake. Mmm, delicious warm icing…
We have reviewed the best puffer jackets in the UK based on these criteria; best for the hills/mountains, best for activities, best for style, best for warmth, most lightweight, most sustainable and best overall puffer jacket.
Best-rated puffer jackets
Best overall – Vivida Puffer Robe
The Vivida Puffer All Weather Changing Robe was voted “Best premium changing Robe” by GQ Magazine. Vividas innovation met an unmet customer need. Marrying luxe surf style and elite environmental performance, which other brands haven’t yet managed to do.
Wet days, mushy surf plays and for all your waterways, the All Weather Changing Robe is next level in its sports performance and looks cool. Meet your new travel companion for all water sports endeavours to keep you drier and warmer than ever before. You can put this bad boy over your wetsuit, yes that’s right, over your wetsuit, and it will keep the wind off you whilst you change without soaking the material.
Warmth & Material – Unique and groundbreaking in its innovation. Vivida has used HoneyCombe quilted lining and Cloud Fill insulation to leave the animals out of the equation whilst making one of the warmest down alternative puffer jacket linings.
Style – The long tail coat gives you a full body and full-length protection without sacrificing movement. The reinforced side slits seamlessly slide apart to allow room for free movement, so wearing a long tail coat has never felt so light and easy. The colours blend in seamlessly with nature coming in a trio of; aventurine green, fossil grey and mineral blue so you can be at one with the elements. The puffer coat features a quilted hood, elasticated velcro sleeves to keep the hands toasty and many functional internal and external pockets.
Pros – Innovative insulation design with Honeycomb lining and Cloud Fill making one of the warmest down alternative robes on the market, a true overall winner for us
Cons – move fast, and they sell out quickly due to high demand!
Price – £240
Best for the mountains – Arc’ Teryx Nuclei FL Jacket
Booked your flight, you’ve got this jacket right? No room for error with the nuclei FL jacket from Arc’Teryx. FL stands for; fast and light. What more could you need for that high-on energy, low-on storage mountain expedition?
Light as a feather, windproof to shelter you from icy cross winds, and uses Coreloft™ as its insulation. Designed for climbing and all other outdoor pursuits.
Warmth & Material – Inspired by the demand of mountaineering athletes, this jacket has been designed to mountaineers’ exact specifications. Outstanding thermal performance for its weight is due to Coreloft insulation properties. The Arato™ 10D ripstop is windproof and durable. 325g in weight.
Style – Options of a trio of colours; Bordeaux, Black Sapphire & Black. The long-sleeved, close-fitting, elasticated cuffed and drawstring hooded coat comes with a packable bag making it a travel essential.
Pros – designed specifically with the body mechanics of a climber in mind for efficient movement without sacrificing protection.
Cons – higher price point, and only water resistant, not waterproof
Price – £249.95
Best for camping – Voited Wearable Sleeping Bag
This might just be the ultimate van or camping accessory. The Voited Wearable Sleeping Bag is a super comfortable and warm puffer coat that transforms into a sleeping bag. It’s made from ethically sourced and recycled fabrics, so it’s not only good for camping but also good for the planet!
You wouldn’t know this coat houses a sleeping bag compartment for your feet. The retractable feet covering tucks away on the inside back of the coat, which you don’t feel when it’s in daytime walking mode. When you are ready to tuck in at night or get warm around the campfire, undo the poppers on the feet compartment, unravel, and then zip up for total comfort and cosiness.
Warmth & Material – This coat is waterproof, windproof and felt very warm on a cold winter’s day at the beach. The insulation is compression-resistant and vegan insulation, the outer shell is Ripstop recycled Repreve® polyester with 13.000mm water repellency and 5000mm breathability coating.
Style – The Voited Sleeping Bag coat comes in 4 classy colour schemes.
Features – It’s the little features that make this coat so warm and comfortable. The velcro-tightening wrist openings also have an inner liner with thumb holes. The hood is shaped extremely well and the high-cut neck adds to the warmth.
Price – £199
Best for activities – Patagonia Men’s Nano-Air Jacket
The ultimate puffer jacket for all your watersports, activities, and action sports. The jacket enables you, in fact, it propels you to excel in your chosen activity by not restricting your time in the great outdoors by keeping your body heat at significant levels whilst allowing for maximum movement.
It was made to be worn for all your aerobic, and alpine pursuits so you don’t need to change jackets or add layers and faff about risking getting cold. It is the perfect all-in-one.
A jacket that’s built for outdoor activities needs to be built to last. So durability was an important ranking factor for us, and due to its outer shell, there is no risk of snagging the material on rocks or catching it on tree branches and causing any damage. This jacket is as hard as you are. And we know that’s indestructible.
Warmth & Material – Built to perform and built to last. That’s Patagonia’s motto. Warm and stretchy Full Range insulation releases excess heat when you’re pushing into the red zone exercising, and captures the heat when you’re resting.
Style – Long sleeves, no hood, front zipped men’s jacket with strategically placed low profile insulation for maximum movement and flattery. Elasticated cuffs hem in the heat when you need it, and ditch it when you don’t.
Pros – Patagonia is a trusted, sustainably mindful brand where you can ensure you’re making a Fair Trade choice for the planet. Elite-level dual temperature control warms you up when you need it and disposes of heat for when you don’t. Abrasion resistance is an added bonus for this category as it reduces any damage to the jacket and bodes well for endless life
Cons – no hood for facial element protection
Price – £165
Best for style – Sweaty Betty Alto Longline Puffa
Build for maintaining style as well as warmth. The smooth matte coating makes you feel as cool as a bond character without any unwanted shivering. Featuring a thick and cosy built in hood, and a drawstring waist, there is no compromising on comfort and you style your way through the chilly winter.
Warmth & Material- Double-ended zip front closure means you don’t have to unzip the whole way if you don’t want to get the chilly fingers out. Your hands can sit in the 2 large quilted side pockets.
Style – high neck, long line (floor length), with drawstring waist cinched in effect. The nipped-in waist is not only super flattering on all body shapes but maintains heat around the vital organs.
Pros – Is water resistant so can handle city showers, is polyester so no animals are harmed, internal zip pocket to store valuables.
Cons – Higher price point for a high street wearable, not ideal for high movement activities due to the restrictive length.
Price – £355
Best for warmth – Columbia Women’s Bulo Puffer Jacket
How warm do you want to go? Boiling? Well here’s your answer.
Incomparable in terms of insulation. Rating as an extremely warm jacket, for extreme temperatures. Its luxuriously warm 700 fill-down filing boasts an additional thermal-reflective lining. No other brands feature this function. The gold flecks reflect off the jacket lining to maximise, as well as maintain body heat. Groundbreaking in its thermal endeavours.
Warmth & Material – Columbia has created a winter-resistant shell, combining protection against the wet as well as the cold. Groundbreaking mini gold dots that reflect your body heat, Omni-Heat™ Infinity gets you warmer faster, keeps you warmer, and longer, so you can be in abnormal temperatures for increased periods of time.
Style – Two-toned colours optioned, front zipped, long-sleeved, removable hooded puffer jacket. There are gathered cuffs with thumb holes to reduce the amount of time the fingers and hands have to be exposed, marry this with a pair of Columbia gloves and you’re invincible to the weather.
Pros – 700 fill power down for top-level insulation, Omni Heat reflective lining technology to really up the thermal power percentage. The chin guard is a seriously good addition, meaning your neck and lower face portion are sheltered from the elements.
Cons – uses down instead of an animal-friendly alternative, but Columbia is passionate about sustainably sourcing their products. Watch here.
Price – £270
Most lightweight – Passenger Wild Recycled Changing Robe
The packable changing puffer robe is made from 100% recycled single-use plastic bottles. It’s designed for days spent around the water, by the campfire, and covered in sand in the back of a surf van.
It’s so incredibly lightweight and packable that it folds down into its own front pocket. Measuring only 73 cm x 86 cm in dimension, it gives the most warmth for something so lightweight.
Warmth & Material – PFC free water-resistant outer coating, 100% recycled polyester insulation lining meaning you are getting the benefits of being insulated post-surf without costing the earth.
Style – Short-sleeved poncho style with a hood.
Pros – Made from single-use plastic bottles, so it’s not adding any more plastic onto the planet.
Cons – Short-sleeved, potentially not suitable for colder environments.
Most sustainable – Finisterre Fourier Insulated Jacket
The jacket arrives in no-trace packaging, which leaves zero carbon footprint. Entirely engineered out of low impact 100% recycled fabric with a Fluorocarbon-free durable water-repellent (DWR) finish, means you’ll be as sheltered from the elements as well as protecting them. As sustainable as it gets and built for a modern workwear look.
Warmth & Material – Super high loft, with the highest levels of warmth with no animal cruelty along the way. It was named after Fourier’s law, translating to the law of heat attraction. There is no compromising on warmth.
Style – Ranging in sizes XS- XXL, the long-sleeved collar-styled puffer jacket comes in Oak or Navy. Featuring a smart button-up design up front, with no hood, this is the chicest way to stay warm this winter.
Pros – Thick and cushioned, so not as packable.
Cons – No hood to shelter head, and keep face protected, but hey, they sell great beanies to do that job!
Price – £195
What is the fill power in puffer jackets?
The quality of the down is largely measured by fill power. Fill power is shown as a numerical value on the sleeve of your puffer jacket, or on the label or packaging.
Ranging between 550 and 800, the loft or the puffiness is what determines fill power.
It’s a standardised lab test, where a higher fill power shows a better quality down. Better quality down traps more air and provides a better warmth-to-weight ratio.
Use your fill number to determine which jacket to use for which outdoor plans.
What are the warmest puffer jackets?
The warmest puffer jackets are the ones with the highest quality insulated fillings. The highest quality insulation materials are usually made of down, but high-end synthetic fibres can match the powers of down if designed well. Down, whilst being second to none in terms of function, also carry ethical considerations when it comes to buying down clothing. Making sure your down clothing lasts as long as possible is a good way to offset the ethics of purchasing down jackets.
Are puffer jackets actually warm?
Yes. Puffer jackets are the warmest item of clothing you can pack. Nothing beats it. Hence why you see all the gnarly hikers, mountaineers, and trekkers wearing nothing but highly insulated puffer jackets.
Why are puffer jackets so warm?
They do more to keep your body thermally insulated than regular unquilted materials such as leather and denim because the air pockets between the materials trap your body heat, reducing heat loss.
Are puffer jackets easy to wash?
Yes, most are machine or hand-washable. Read the label carefully for instructions on longevity.
Are puffer jackets worth the money?
Puffer jackets are worth their lightweight in gold because they give you ultimate thermal protection without you having to lug a super heavy coat or tons of extra layers around with you. This fact in itself with save you thousands in physiotherapy appointments for sore shoulders from overly heavy coats. Go light and you’ll be alright!
Everyone needs a synthetic or down puffer jacket in their winter wardrobe. Happy shopping!
Indie is the keenest watersports and fitness coach you’ll ever meet. Whether it’s windsurfing, paddleboarding or surfing, if there is any kind of wind or swell you’ll find Indie charging on the water. She runs her own fitness and watersports instructor business called trainwithindie.com.
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