Yes, all puffer jackets are warm but the degree of warmth a puffer jacket can provide varies significantly depending on the insulation used, design, weight, fill power, and the technology used in it.
I don’t know why puffer jacket is most commonly interchanged with down jackets because according to my research and experience puffer jacket can also be made of synthetic insulation.
And, not all down puffer jackets or synthetic puffer jackets provide an equal amount of warmth.
Let’s address the factors that determine the warmth of a puffer jacket so the next time you can make the most out of your bucks.
Factors determining puffer jackets warmth:
As addressed, puffer jackets are referred to as down jackets which in my opinion misleads the consumers that’s why don’t think the puffer jacket that you’re going to buy will be made of down every single time.
Let’s get into the depth of the possible insulation available in all puffer jackets with all scientific explanations to literate you which insulation renders the best warmth from mild to severe cold temperature.
The down insulation is nature’s best thermal insulation given to birds but humans are clever enough to use it for their own sake while not thinking about the birds like geese and ducks from where we get it.
Now there is a misconception that a down jacket means it is filled with duck or geese feathers but it is not the feathers that make the insulation works.
It is the plumage beneath the feather which essentially comes from the soft underside of the animal’s belly.
Down creates a thermal barrier by trapping the still air in small pockets. You can call these pockets the clusters of tiny hairs that crisscross in every way.
Overall, it’s a very complicated structure that keeps the puffier down jackets warm and the science behind this is still to be achieved by synthetic insulation.
Now, the amount of warmth a puffer down jacket can provide depends upon the down cluster that traps the heat and the greater the loft is the better insulative properties it will have.
In modern terminology, Fill power is used to measure the loft.
So the higher the fill power of a puffer jacket is the more insulative and lightweight it will be. Also, it will demonstrate better warmth to weight ratio as compared to lower fill power down.
Commercially, down jackets can come from anywhere between 300 to 900 fill power.
Let’s get into some science.
Fill power is measured by calculating how many cubic inches a down will take when we allow it to expand fully.
For example, a 500 fill power down will take 500 cubic inches of space per ounce. Similarly, if one ounce of down takes 700 cubic inches it will have 700 power.
The same goes for the 900 – highest fill power down available in the market.
Please see on the product description, if the puffer jacket is claiming to have duck down then it simply means that it will have lesser fill power and be heavier than the goose down.
Now it does not mean that 800 fill power will always be warmer than 600 but one thing is for sure that 800 fill power puffer jacket will have more warmth to its weight.
Because the warmth of a puffer down jacket will depend upon the amount of down loft used in it. For example, theoretically, a 100g of 400 fill power down jacket will be warmer than 40g of 900 fill power jacket.
But 100g of 900 fill power will be much warmer than the 100g of 400 fill power.
So yes, the thickness and weight of the puffer jacket still play a role.
Despite all the good traits of down insulation, when it gets wet all insulating properties get lost because it clumps together and loses its loft.
Some companies like Arc’teryx intentionally place the synthetic insulation in puffer jackets instead of down in moisture-prone areas like armpits.
I’ve written a very in-depth article on the down jackets and their warmth determining factors which you can read by clicking here.
That’s what I like the most about puffer jackets. Because science and technology are continuously striving to mimic the natural down insulation and I can see it is getting closer.
Companies like Columbia, The North Face, and Patagonia, are striving to make some really innovative technology that usually uses polyester fiber clusters along with the tech to provide the warmth that is very closer to the down.
And is better in some cases, the major is, that synthetic puffer jacket won’t lose its insulation when get’s wet.
But none of the above synthetic insulation is still warmer than down.
Though, PrimaLoft Gold insulation which is according to thlete.com is the highest performing synthetic insulation available that provides ultimate warmth to weight ratio, incredible packability, and softness that mimics the goose down.
So yes, you can go for puffer jackets that are synthetically insulated because these are in my opinion is ideal for practical life situations and still being stylish.
Puffer jackets are also known as quilted jackets for a reason. I am saying this because I’ve seen people claiming that it is just an embellishment to make the jacket more attractive or decorative.
Ok that true, but let’s see what’s hidden in the design and why it is one of the most important facts when it comes to the warmth of a puffer jacket?
First of all, all puffer jackets are quilted jackets however a puffer jacket can be quilted from outside or inside or both.
Now there are typically 4 types of quilted design popular among the buyers – diamond, triangle, vertical, and horizontal.
You may agree that the most puffier jackets are horizontal quilted and most lightweight one ore either diamond/triangle quilted.
In simple words, quilting is a design that stores insulation in stitching that can help the down or synthetic fibers to better trap the air and provide warmth only to that particular stitched area where down clusters or polyesters clusters are filled.
The quilted design also prevents the insulation from moving which results in better insulation.
So yes, quilted design plays a role in the overall quality of warmth a puffer jacket can provide.
Do you remember that I’ve said that the weight of the puffer jacket can also add up the warmth?
We’ve talked about fill power and fill weight. It is the fill weight that will finalize whether a Down insulation or synthetics insulation like PrimaLoft, CoreLoft, Thermoball, and PlumaFill will keep you warm enough or not.
If you’re in hurry then look at you puffer jacket, if it is bulky and thick but only have 500 fill power then don’t worry because that particular jacket will keep you warmer than a thin but 900 fill power jacket.
The general rule of thumb is the puffier the puffer jacket gets the warmer it will be,
Now for more curious dudes let’s talk a bit of tech.
When you’re scrolling through different puffer jackets you may notice that it has PrimaLoft (40g, 60g, 80g, etc), Thinsulate (40, 60, 100g, etc), 40g PlumaFill and so on.
If you’re not seeing these values then it is most probably a down jacket because I don’t why companies not always openly disclose the weight of insulation.
Now, what do these grams means? Let’s understand via an example.
If your jacket has 60 grams of insulation then according to evo.com it means that a 1 meter by 1-meter piece of the insulation will weigh 60 grams.
So, the heavier the weight the warmer the insulation will be and this will also add up the thickness, puffiness, and weight of the overall jacket.
Should puffer jackets be tight?
It is not mandatory from a style perspective that your puffer jacket should be tight.
Though if it is tight meaning if it is fitting closes to the body then it will be insulated and retain heat much better than a loose puffer jacket.
In short, a close-to-body jacket will keep provide you better warmth and coziness as compared to the big or loose one.
But, it is recommended that your puffer jacket should be spacious enough so that it won’t block the shoulders (and overall body) movement.
Is a puffer jacket good for winter?
Yes, puffer jackets are good for winter and if chosen wisely they can keep you warm even in sub zeroes temperatures.
They are also highly compressible and lightweight because of the amount of air that can be compressed out of them and that’s they can be packed and transport easily
However, for skiing or snowboarding, you should make sure that the puffer jacket must have a waterproof shell like Gore-Tex, Omni-Tech, etc.
Read Also: Is polyester water-resistant or waterproof?
What is the warmest puffer jacket?
It’s harder to tell which puffer jacket is the warmest but as far as I know, the L.L Bean Ultrawarm Coats and jackets will not regret you as far as the warmest puffer is concerned.
Is a puffer jacket warmer than a parka?
In terms of tech, both puffer jacket and parka can be equally warmer but from practical use, Parka tends to be warmer than the puffer jacket because it covers most of the body part by being generally taller in length.
Read Also: How To Choose A Waterproof Puffer Jacket?