As it stands, the North Face Nuptse—you know, the brand’s legendary black puffer jacket—has become so ubiquitous among the youth that you won’t be able to throw an Elf Bar from now until April without hitting the TikTok-approved, cold weather-crushing coat. Don’t get us wrong: We love the Nuptse! It’s clean, relatively affordable, and looks good with everything. And it’s toasty, what with all that 700-grade down stashed inside that Michelin-Man body. It’s not easy to find a coat this good looking for those brutal days when style becomes secondary to survival. But man, is it everywhere.
5 Puffmasters You Should Know
As a result, the Nuptse (much like the Adidas Samba) has entered its Anxiety Era. By which we mean, it started as a classic, then earned some sleeper hype, and is now so omnipresent that buying one induces a semi-stressful state of sartorial paranoia. Am I just following the herd? Have I been incepted by seeing so many people on my feed wearing one? Am I overthinking a winter jacket? (Possibly, likely, and glad you could join us.)
But if you’re ready to make a break from the Nuptse’s growing “sci-fi movie where everyone’s dressed the same” vibes, good news: there are other options out there. Stylish, weather-tested down jackets that haven’t been blessed (or cursed) to ride the algorithmic popularity wave. So to help you escape the crowd, we’ve found five under-loved puffer purveyors worth cozying up to this season. Each brings the heat in all possible ways, so don’t be surprised if somebody wearing an anodyne black puffer jacket and a look of existential confusion stops you on the street, desperate for an ID on your new coat.
The Range Rovers: Rocky Mountain Featherbed
Don’t get confused: Rocky Mountain Featherbed isn’t doing Yellowstone cosplay—it’s the other way around. Founded in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the 1960s, the brand went out of business in the ’80s before being resurrected by a Japanese company in 2005—which today makes the coats to the exacting, ultra-luxe and ultra-rugged specifications of the originals. Rocky Mountain Featherbed jackets don’t come cheap, but if ever there were down coats that could go from yee-haw days to Aspen Film Festival nights, its these.
The New Guard: Entire Studios
Recently-arrived Entire Studios is the move if you’re thinking less “snow suit” and more “space suit.” Founded in 2020, the Los Angeles-based brand (run by a New Zealand duo) makes parkas that’ll turn heads on the world’s—hell, the universe’s—most stylish blocks. Their cropped, geometrically-stitched shapes are packed with cozy 650-grade down fill, with sky-high collars that’ll keep you as warm in 2023 as they will in 3023.
The Stealth Wealth Specialists: Goldwin
The Hokuriku region of Japan is known for its heavy snowfall and world-class ski resorts, so it tracks that it’s also home to Goldwin, one of the world’s most focused outdoor brands. Goldwin’s purpose-built parkas aren’t flashy—you can barely make out the triple-mountain logo embroidered tonally on the jackets’ fronts—but that only adds to the IYKYK appeal. Well, that and an impeccable eye for shape and structure, in a way that stands out without trying to stand out. These are down coats for those who aren’t looking for oohs and aahs from hypebeasts. (Though don’t be surprised if you end up with them anyway).
The Gorp Gurus: And Wander
Japanese label And Wander came to life when two Issey Miyake designers who loved the outdoors set out to build a brand that wasn’t just inspired by gorpcore’s ways, but married them with genuine fashion skills. The brand’s range of puffers have no shortage of basecamp-ready functionality thanks to diamond-quilted stitching, waterproof taped zippers, packable Pertex shells, though they’re built as much for hiking across town on a snowy Saturday afternoon as for hiking through the range. The brand’s most intense options might even teeter on “too warm” territory if you’re mostly breaking them out for the commute—but then again, will you really mind when your weather app is displaying sub-zero Real Feels in the dead of February?
The Slept-On Stalwarts: Crescent Down Works
The word “down” is right there in the name of this Seattle-based brand, but it’s not because of SEO. CDW has been cooking up some of the best made-in-America puffers since 1974 (one year after Patagonia opened shop), but it’s stayed slightly under the radar—not unlike its simple, classic designs. If you’re looking for more than just a jacket with added puff, the brand’s got you covered, too. It’s worked ethically-sourced goose down feathers into everything from button down shirts and bomber jackets to tote bags and even slippers. Gotta keep those toes toasty while you shuffle to get the morning paper.