Every respectable gear closet has at least one puffy insulated layer. They have become de rigueur and ubiquitous and not just for adventurers, but anyone wanting to stay warm. Every outdoor clothing company has their version or in many cases versions. The mass-produced options are fine choices, but to truly get the warmth to weight ratio for outdoor pursuits looking past the major brands is your best bet. The prices may be higher, but the value will be evident when you’re out in the cold.
All weights are for size medium men’s jackets. Custom versions have production lead times that vary with the manufacturer.
- Goosefoot Gear - Standard Custom - $365+ - 8oz
Goosefoot Gear makes some of the most sought-after gear for ultralight backpacking. Their “standard” custom down jacket is filled with 4oz of 950fp DownTek and plenty warm, of course being custom you can add fill. The 8D fabric is DWR treated, doubling up the water resistance. The streamlined standard version has handwarmer pockets and zippers can be added to them for $50. They also offer other custom options.
- Feathered Friends - Eos - $339- 10.6oz
Seattle-based Feathered Friends has been making the highest quality down gear since 1972, so they definitely know what they’re doing. The Eos is stuffed with 3.7oz of 900+ fill goose down, this is made to keep you warm. While the down is not hydrophobic, the Pertex® Quantum® shell fabric with DWR does an excellent job of repelling light moisture. Though not quite as light or warm as some custom jackets, it is full-featured creating a great value. Highlights include zippered handwarmer pockets, elastic drawcord hem, lycra cuffs and hood, and an included stuff sack. There are both men’s and women’s specific versions as well.
- Nunatek - Skaha UL Down Sweater - $345 - 10.4 oz
The Skaha has the most fill of any coat on this list, a whopping 5.9oz of 900 power goose down, available with your choice of regular untreated or moisture-resistant Hyper-Dry. The 10D fabric is sturdy and only adds minimal weight, but is not DWR treated. The other main difference between this coat and the others is it’s a pullover, partial-zip model. This Anorak style also gives it a roomier fit. Nunatek gets big props for making near-infinite customizations a breeze on its website.
- Enlightened Equipment - Torrid Apex - $170 - 8.4oz
Not everything has to be down, the Climashield Apex insulation of the Torrid has two big advantages over it’s feather-filled competition: price and water-resistant warmth while still maintaining an ultralightweight. Other highlights include raglan sleeves for increased mobility, zippered insulated handwarmer pockets, shock cord waist adjustment (only available only on stock version) and DWR treated 10D fabric. Custom options include a plethora of color and fabric choices and the option to leave off the hood. It’s offered in both women’s and men’s specific versions.
- Timmermade- Kinglet - $320+ - 9oz
The Kinglet is another fantastic option for those looking for a custom down puffy. Stuffed with 4.1oz of 950 down, it has plenty of loft for cold spells. Add in its highly breathable Argon 67 fabric, which is water and wind-resistant along with its hydrophobic down and it’s a great choice for wetter climes. Zippered handwarmer pockets are standard. Timmermade also offers some crazy light options in their SUL series, with weights dropping as low as 4.3oz.