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Puffy Jackets

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Puffy Jackets 

When temps turn cold, a lot of people (wisely) grab their puffy jackets. Here are some key considerations when you shop for one: 

Types of Insulation 

The efficiency and amount of insulation in a jacket are key to its ability to retain warmth. When rain, snow, or your own perspiration will be a factor, then performance in damp conditions is also important.

Down fill: Sourced from duck and geese feathers, down provides the most warmth for the least weight. Down jackets compress small for packing ease. Look for water-resistant down if you anticipate rain, snow, or being active. Down's insulating ability is measured in fill power, which can range from about 450 to 900.  

Synthetic fill: Most feature compressible water-resistant fibers in a wide variety of branded technologies. Synthetic insulation retains warmth when damp and dries quickly. Most synthetic jackets are more affordable than down but won't offer as much warmth for the weight as down, nor pack up as small. A synthetic jacket's warmth level is closely related to how much fill it contains. All else being equal a jacket with 60g fill will be warmer than one with 40g fill, for example.

Down/synthetic fills: Some jackets combine insulations. Many are primarily down, while synthetic fill is placed in areas likely to get direct rainfall or in the side panels to slim down the jacket profile.

Wool fill: A few jackets have wool-fiber insulation, often paired with a wool lining or wool panel on the coat. Like synthetics, wool maintains warmth even when wet.

Shell Materials 

Shells are typically wind and water-resistant, and made of polyester or nylon. Shells designed for more extreme weather have a waterproof/breathable material that will keep you drier in stormy conditions. Shells made of stretch fabric or that have stretch panels in key areas offer greater mobility.

Puffy Jacket Features 

Hoods: Some jackets forgo a hood to reduce costs or save weight. Others have hoods that are insulated and/or adjustable. Some hoods are detachable or can be stowed inside the jacket collar. 

Vents: To help prevent overheating, look for pit zips or mesh-lined pockets that double as vents.

Thumbholes: This simple feature in each cuff lets you slip each thumb through to pull the cuffs down and cover up more of your hands.

Sustainability Considerations

Jacket makers are being more mindful about the way their jackets are produced. You can select from a range of sustainability attributes when you shop. Read How to Choose Sustainable Gear and Clothing for an explanation of several key sustainability standards.