A puffy is your best friend in the colder months. Make sure you grab the right one to keep you warm through all your winter fun.
The North Face Summit L6 AW Down Belay ($550)
For those times when sheer insulating force trumps everything else—like when you’re waiting on top of a peak for your friends to arrive—the Summit L6 can’t be beat. It’s overstuffed with 800-fill down, and it features key specs like a massive helmet-compatible hood, a synthetic-fill zipper flap that holds drafts at bay, and stretchy knit cuffs to seal in heat. Waterproof fabric on the hood, shoulders, and sleeves keeps those poofy down clusters dry for hours on end. 1.5 lbs (men’s, pictured) / 1.4 lbs (women’s)
Smartwool Smartloft 60 ($200 and up)
Smartwool doubled down on moisture-wicking merino by using it in the Smartloft 60’s fill and lining. It’s a winning combination: the insulation is as pillowy as cotton candy and the knit wool inside the front and back of the jacket is luxurious. Merino stretch panels under the arms dump heat and sweat—without collecting odor. 1.1 lbs (men’s) / 14 oz (women’s, pictured)
Arc’teryx Thorium AR ($299)
Superlight puffies are fantastic right up until an errant branch tears the gossamer material and down starts flying out. That’s why Arc’teryx sheaths the Thorium’s 750 fill with a stout face fabric. Add a DWR finish and water-resistant synthetic insulation at the spots most likely to get wet (the shoulders, cuffs, and underarms), and you’ve got a jacket that can take a beating. 1.1 lbs (men’s) / 14.8 oz (women’s, pictured)
Mountain Hardwear Super/DS StretchDown ($275)
The baffles that keep down in place also inhibit stretch. So Mountain Hardwear developed a loom that weaves the face fabric and lining simultaneously and creates the baffles without stitching. That novel design, plus a nylon-elastane blend, didn’t pinch testers as they scrambled up summits in Rocky Mountain National Park. A snug hood and 800-fill down retained warmth on 20-degree mornings. 1.1 lbs (men’s, pictured) / 15 oz (women’s)
Black Diamond Mission Down ($499)
Featuring a blend of down and PrimaLoft synthetic insulation wrapped in super breathable yet waterproof Gore Thermium, the Mission Down is the total package. Amazingly, it didn’t soak through during a chairlift ride in an Oregon downpour. The powder skirt, drop pockets, and relaxed fit are alpine standards, but the urbane style made this our favorite for days ending on the town. 1.8 lbs (men’s, pictured) /1.6 lbs (women’s)
Flylow Ronan ($255)
The airy Ronan became our daily winter uniform: it’s light and comfortable, and it’s also weatherized against wind and snow flurries with a DWR finish. Paired with a shell on brutally cold days at the resort, it provided perfect insulation with recycled PrimaLoft Eco fill that delivers surprising warmth for its weight. But our favorite feature was the massive zippered kangaroo pocket on the front. 9 oz (women’s only)
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