Women's gear, up first
Women's gear, up first
The women’s puffy jacket is hard to master. “The hazard with a puffy is that it can overwhelm a woman, small or large,” says Kelly Hill, Stio’s chief product and retail officer. In other words, bulky baffles can make you look like a shapeless blob—something Mammut designers jokingly refer to as the Michelin effect.
“At Mammut, we are always working on the best way to achieve a near perfect-fitted jacket for both men and women,” says Joanna Tomasino, category manager for Mammut Sports Group. The company’s in-house pattern maker shapes the insulation with flattering stitch-lines for both genders. The brand’s designers also use 3-D patterning and global body-shape data, which is information gathered from apparel consulting company Alvanon based on thousands of body scans. Mammut uses this data to tailor its jackets to women’s shapes. “This has made a solid impact on our female fit,” says Tomasino.
I’d agree: Mammut’s puffies are some of the best I’ve found (see below). But my search for great lightweight puffies uncovered some other standouts that fit as well as they function.
You’d expect an anorak-style puffy to be as boxy and bulky as a quilt. But the Pinion’s great achievement is its tailored look. Vertical princess seams on the sides create an hourglass shape. Opening the snaps on the split hem creates more room for broader hips. And the abbreviated zipper makes this feel more like a sweatshirt than the technical jacket it is. The 800-fill goose down kept me warm on calm, 40-degree nights in camp, and the Pertex Quantum shell fabric, which is light, soft, and made to hold insulation, blocks light winds. It’s also silky to the touch, which makes this a comfy travel pillow once you stuff the jacket into its own kangaroo pouch.
No boring horizontal baffles here: angled seams on the front and back look great and also improve the jacket’s freedom of movement by allowing more stretch across the shoulders and the outside of the arms. So the Miva Light never feels constrictive, despite its snug fit. It’s cut long through the arms and the core, which is great for scrambling on hikes (my wrists and waist stayed covered even when I was bending and reaching) and the high collar extends to my earlobes, so it really sealed in heat on high, gusty summits. Yet the 850-fill goose down makes it surprisingly warm—great for cold nights or chilly fall hikes.
It feels like butter, and it’s spiffy enough for the city. But this synthetic-fill jacket also holds its own on the trail. Although the insulation isn’t quite as breathable as natural goose down, it’s great for low-output hikes and descents. Curved princess seams (from the underarm to the hem) keep it from looking boxy, and when packed, it’s small as a grapefruit.
The shell fabric isn’t as silky or as quiet as the others reviewed here, but it’s stretchy—and tough. This is my go-to when I want to wear a puffy in puncture-prone places, like when I’m shimmying through sandstone slot canyons or scrambling in manzanita. The jacket never binds or pinches, so I like it for steep ski tours, when I need to reach overhead to plant my pole uphill. Plus, the skinny, angled baffles create a flattering shape. In stores September 23.