I was looking for a puffy jacket (synthetic), since it seems to be such a popular layering piece. Already having the coldest weather covered with my long down parka, I wanted something that I could also layer and cover temps from mild to cold (when I’d switch to the parka). However, after months of looking, I couldn’t find a puffy that I really loved and that fit me well. I don’t like to feel restricted across my shoulders and most did this on me. I also read or was told a lot of negative reviews of many including the venerable Patagonia puffy jackets simply not holding up well (one retailer of their jackets shared they had purchased this jacket for themselves and had serious wear in the stitching in 6 months making the jacket look extremely worn). All this was obviously discouraging. The Patagonia was one of the few that fit well but the reviews of poor durability concerned me. I also tried North Face, Helly Hansen, LL Bean, and so many others. My other concern is durability as I’ve seen a lot of puffy jackets covered in duct tape or tenacious tape repairs, which I’d rather avoid.
I’m wondering what might be alternative options for such a jacket. I tend to love hoods. They completely keep the chill off one’s neck and allow a quick wind-block, and keep the cold off without having to bring along a hat and scarf. I actually use mine often. I’d truly love to hear any ideas that you would have for alternatives to a puffy that would still pack small, be versatile across a range of temps, allow for easy layering, and perhaps, be more durable. I’m not completely against the puffy at this point, if you have any other ideas to try on this, just rather disillusioned after trying so many that I couldn’t find one that fit well and even paying $300 for a top-of-the-range Patagonia wouldn’t get me the durable jacket I had hoped. I don’t buy things like outerwear that often and I want it to last many years.
Any ideas would be super helpful! Thanks so much in advance. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. :)
More info, if needed:
We live in Northern New England and see true 4-Season weather with long, cold, snowy winters. I’ve come to truly appreciate the benefits of layering for varied temps and changeable weather. We also have to travel 3-4 times a year for me to have surgeries required for ongoing medical treatment to a much warmer southern climate. I have a knee length, extra warm Big Agnes Long Draw Parka (down) for the coldest of winter weather.
The closest option I found was the LL Bean waterproof ultralight jacket which has a great cut (completely different from their synthetic puffy) with plenty of room across the back, slightly longer, which I don’t mind, and lots of adjustability and pockets. The problem is, even with features like the pit zips and open/close back vent, it’s still too warm/clammy for milder weather and can’t really be layered as much as I’d like (other than adding another layer under it). It’s very nearly as warm as my down coat. While the waterproofing is a cool feature for really snowy weather, colder rain, etc, I think it’s simply too warm for the transition jacket I had envisioned. It also (understandably) doesn’t pack down as small as I was thinking, though it will compress into it’s own (smallish) pocket.