Waterproof Seams: Even with the best DWR coating, seams and zippers provide opportunities for water to enter. So jackets with heat-sealed seams and waterproof zippers improve a puffer’s weatherproofness considerably.
Congratulations, you’ve just been inundated with big brain-level knowledge on puffer jackets. Whether you choose to use that information is up to you, but you can’t go wrong with any of the below.
The Best Puffer Jacket Overall
When it launched in 1992, the Nuptse was the first puffer to ever use what’s called “baffle construction”—which kept the down in place and made a warm thing exponentially warmer. And while they tweaked it slightly in 1996, it’s basically been King of the Mountain (and the commute) ever since it showed up on racks. Boasting a micro-ripstop nylon outer, 700 fill and a packable hood, you could absolutely try to beat the Nuptse, but your time would be better spent on other things.
The Best Budget Puffer Jacket
Winter jackets can put a big dent in your bank account if you don’t know where to look. But if you’re a GQ reader, you do know where to look: Uniqlo. The ‘Qlo is an old faithful for frugal fashion that actually looks pretty good, so you can reliably default to the brand whether or not you’ve got a tight budget. And if you’re looking for the most bang for your small bucks, the Uniqlo 3D seamless down parka is the best affordable puffer jacket of the bunch. Thanks to its DWR coating, waterproof zippers, knit cuffs and waist, and seamless design, this parka is water-resistant and windproof enough to tackle most winter climates. The fit is generous enough to pile on some thick layers underneath and it comes in a range of colors to match any closet. At about half the price of most other worthy puffers on this list, it’s a no-brainer. (And you don’t have to worry about taking it to the bar.)
The Best Eco-Conscious Puffer Jacket
Patagonia, a.k.a fashion’s preeminent gorp lords, do a lot to make sure their products are as harmless to the environment as possible. Although this jacket uses real down, it gets it from reclaimed down products. Not only that, the fleece shell is made with 100% recycled polyester while the smooth, quilted shell is made with 70% recycled polyester and features a PFC-free DWR coating and four-way stretch. And the fact that you get both a fleece jacket and a puffer jacket in one garment means that it could easily take top honors in the Best Fleece Jackets category, too.
The Best Designer Puffer
As noted above, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a puffer coat to get a great puffer coat. Despite existing at the “Investment” end of the closet spectrum, there are options at basically every pricepoint tranche that punch above their weight and offer those wearing them essentially everything they were hoping for. With that being said, there are few wearable items as luxurious as a Fancy Puffer, and no one does a Fancy Puffer quite like Moncler, known for their glossy outers and oft-duped patch. But in the era of Quiet Luxury, this (relatively) understated bomber-ish jacket—satin-lined with beefy quilt panels—just might be the best of their bunch.
The Best Not-So-Puffy Puffer Jacket
Don’t let that slim, streamlined shell fool you. Veilance’s Node coat is packed with all the cutting-edge, cold-busting technology you’d expect from Arc’teryx’s highest-end division. We’re talking a whole lot of trademarks, people: Down Contour™ technology! Down Composite Mapping™! Insulated StormHood™! WaterTight™ external zippers! Waterproof GORE-TEX® Pro exterior! What does all that really mean for you? It means you’re getting an absurdly warm, absurdly advanced coat that won’t restrict your movement or interfere with your minimalist tech ninja aesthetic.