A Puffer jacket doesn’t always mean a down jacket, for example, this is a jacket that is puffer but not filled with down so first of all say goodbye to this myth because puffer is a style, not a tech because what you call down is a cluster of fibers that is gathered from the breast area of geese. Thus, the same can be replaced by synthetic fibers if they are scientifically designed to compete with natural down.
So taking all the available puffer jackets into account, the number of puffer jackets that are 100% waterproof are few because the majority of them are either water repellent or water-resistant so don’t blindly buy any puffer jacket and expect it to be 100% waterproof.
That’s why it is needed for you to understand what makes a puffer jacket waterproof and what makes it water repellent and above all, after reading this article you may find that you may not need a waterproof puffer jacket.
So let’s start (Go to the conclusion part for a shorter and precise answer.)
Read Also: Can Puffer Jackets Keep You Toasty Warm?
Not All Puffer Jackets Are Waterproof (Different Types Of Weather Protection)
Yes, not all puffer jackets are waterproof and it is complete nonsense to make every puffer jacket available on this earth waterproof. But why? The reason is simple, not everyone needs waterproof puffer jackets, trust me, a large percentage of buyers don’t even care about this.
So let me give some awareness to this topic. From the history and hopefully, to the future all puffer jackets are made into either of three categories – water-resistant, water repellent, and waterproof to satisfy the need of different types of buyers.
You’re here to find a waterproof puffer jacket but do you need one. Maybe a water-repellent jacket will be fine or may not be. Let’s see where the three categories fit and then make your choice.
Understanding Water Resistant Puffer Jackets
The jackets as shown in the image are water-resistant meaning they are not treated with any type of repellent and at the same time, they are not made with normal polyester or nylon yarns.
Because the outer shell of such jackets is usually made up of high denier polyester or nylon. Like 20d x 30d polyester, 70d x 128d nylon. The higher the denier crossover the more water-resistant the jacket will be.
The Alpha Parka by the Arc’teryx is the best water resistant puffer because of the 2L Gore-Tex Infinium
For example, in just terms of fabric resistance to water, the Patagonia Jackson Glacier Parka is more water-resistant than The North Face 1986 Retro Nuptse Jacket.
The reason behind this is simple, the water-resistant fabric is efficient because of the high thread count which makes the pores between the fibers smaller, and as a result, the water needs additional pressure to penetrate those small pores.
As this topic deserves a separate article that’s why I explained everything in one of the most technical articles: Is polyester waterproof or water-resistant?
Understanding Water Repellent Puffer Jackets – Most Will Be Fine With This
The puffer jackets that are labeled as a water repellent in their specifications are good enough to keep you dry in mild rain for a short period.
This is why I said many will be fine with this because if you’re a normal guy/gal then there will be instances in your life where you need to go out in rain from your car to grocery store and vise versa then a water repellent puffer jacket will do its job well.
But how do a jacket gets the water repellent characteristics? The reason behind this is simple, it is because of the Durable Water Repellent coating that is applied on top of the water-resistant fabric to give two layers of protection one from the fabric itself and the other from the coating.
The main work of DWR (Durable Water Repellent) is to prevent as much water as possible to penetrate the basic coating firsthand by creating the water beads that slip from the jackets. A water-repellent puffer jacket is a great option for those normal snowy days and low setting shower-like-rain.
However, it’s advised that you go for higher denier jackets that are treated with DWR if you want the best value. Like 20d X 30d < 50d X 70d where both are treated with the water repellent.
Now you need to keep two things in your mind – 1) the DWR can either be treated with PFC that is harmful to the environment in many ways or it may be treated with Non-PFC repellent which will be safe for you and our environment.
and 2) As said repeatedly, it’s a coating so according to Gooutdoors.co.uk depending upon how you care for the garment the DWR can last up to 100 washes. This means if you’re going for a DWR puffer jacket then once you notice the instead water rolling, it’s seeping, it is time to restore the DWR before stepping into mild rain showers.
Here’s a video that you may find helpful to understand more about the DWR.
If you’re going for well know brands like The North Face then each of their jackets is treated with the DWR as explained in the article here.
Understanding Waterproof Puffer Jackets – Mainly The Outdoor Enthusiasts Need This
Now comes the beast, to make any puffer jacket waterproof there’s a need for the special membrane that needs to be located between the outer and the inner layer. This could be wither of simple polyurethane, ePTFE, etc, or more advanced tech membranes.
There’s no problem with traditional PU coating but compared to more modern options they are not as great because with waterproofing you can not discard the breathability and weight of the jacket.
Many brands offer the best waterproof puffer jackets or coats but I trust the north face (check here), Columbia (Like this and this are 100% waterproof puffer jackets), and the gore-tex section of Rab (Not all are puffer but you can find some waterproof puffer jackets in Rab).
In terms of waterproofing, there are other brands too that offer great functionality but no matter which brand you choose there are very few (I mean it) waterproof puffer jackets available or I don’t come across (Will update if I found more brands with waterproof puffers or comment if you know one.).
However, here’s a list of things that you must check out to ensure that the puffer jacket you’re going to buy is 100% waterproof:
- It must be puffier
- Must be fully seam sealed
- Must be treated with the DWR
- The fabric must be higher denier
- Waterproofing membrane must be there: the best will be a 3 layer one for tech piece, but a 2 L can also do the job for normal puffer jacket but never go for single layered waterproofing membrane if you want the best protection.
- There are several providers that provide the best waterproofing membrane but according to my knowledge Gore-Tex puffer jackets are the best when it comes to weather protection.
- However, other membranes that compete hard to Gore-Tex are Outdry Extreme, Omni-Tech, Event, Pertex, H2NO, and Futurelight. You can go for any puffer jacket that feature one of the above tech membrane and trust me you’ll not regret as far as theri waterproofing rating goes.
- At last you can not forget to check the zippers. Nowdays the zippers are also designed to restirct water to enter.
What Weather Are Puffer Jackets Good For?
Puffer jackets are good for winter weather, however, a down puffer will not perform as expected in wet-cold weather but a synthetic one will keep you warm in sub-zero cold temperatures even in wet or snow conditions.
In terms of seasons, only a mad will suggest you to wear a puffer jacket in summer but you can wear a light puffer jacket on cold spring nights, fall days to the early winter period. As the winter started to reach its peak better go for a puffier one. Please read this article if you want to know more about puffer jackets warmth.
Why My Puffer Jacket Gone Flat? (Simple Fact!)
It is possible that after spending long hours in rain while wearing a puffer jacket without any rain-shell or giving it a hard wash the down fibers will soak the water and clumps together. So after drying, they will dry in this position which will make your puffer jacket look flat instead of looking puffier.
How To Make A Puffer Jacket Puffy Again?
There are several hacks to restore the fluff of a puffer jacket, one of those is to put some tennis balls in a drier along with the flat-turned jacket, according to phillymag.com during the drying process the tennis balls will bounce and hit the puffer jacket which will restore it’s puff in the same way as you re-puff a pillow into shape.
How Often Should You Wash A Puffer Jacket?
According to rinse.com, you should your down or puffer jacket once a season if you wear it occasionally and wash it twice a season if you wear it regularly.
One thing you should keep in mind is that you should only wash the puffer jacket in a gentle cycle no matter how great a machine is or better give it a handwash job in a bathtub or sink.
How To Manually Waterproof A Puffer Jacket?
There are two trusted ways to restore the water repellency of down jackets – remember I said water repellency and not waterproofing because waterproofing don’t easily come with a spray or wax it is technically featured in a jacket. However, if you have a non-waterproof, water-repellent, or even a 100% rainproof down jacket then you can use these simple hacks to add or enhance the water-resistant quality.
- The first thing you should try is to wash the jacket gently in a bathtub or sink because the dust and oils can dirupt the waterpoofing.
- If washing doesn’t restore it, clean yet damp your jacket and be ready to apply any of coming hacks.
- Get one of these: Nikwax (or any downproof wash-in treatment) or Grangler’s Xtreme Repel (or any good quality water repellent spray). Make sure they can be used for the type of jacket you have. Both Granger and Nikwax are suitable for all technical fabrics.
- By Using Granger’s Xtreme Repel Spray: Spray the treatment on your damp puffer jacket evenly, maintaining 6 inches of distance between jacket’s fabric and spray bottle. Put it into dryer along with tennis balls (balls are mantain loft) to activate the waterproofing.
- By Using Nikwax Down Proof: Make sure your jacket is clean and dry. Calculate the amount of downproof needed and put it into detergent tray of a front-loading washing machine. Then wash your jacket in a warm water in gentle cycle. Afterwards, dry your jacket in dryer and don’t forget to put tennis balls to maintain the loft.
Follow all the above tips and I’m sure any puffer jacket you’ll buy will protect you from the rain.
If you are reading the conclusion part straight without reading the above section then you may not get the most out of this article but still here’s a short answer for the question you asked.
It depends on several factors whether a puffer jacket is waterproof or not like the fabric construction, the membrane used, and the DWR treatment. Depending on these your puffer jacket either can be water-resistant, water repellent, or waterproof in high-pressure or low-pressure rain.
Remember these are two different things but you can understand it as the waterproofing efficiency in mild rain and heavy rain.
Read Also: Can Puffer Jackets Keep You Toasty Warm?