With the seasonal chill fast approaching, it’s likely that most guys are desperately rummaging through the back of their wardrobe in the hopes that their winter kit hasn’t been devoured by moths or accidentally dumped in a charity bin.
If the worst has happened, then it might be time to hit the shops. Men’s puffer vests sit in the middle territory between autumn and winter, where it’s not cold enough to re-introduce your sentimental anorak, but a lightweight cardi just doesn’t bring the heat.
These winter wonders have quite a history. Washingtonian outdoorsman and all-around tough guy Eddie Bauer revolutionised the puffer vest in the closing days of the 1930s. He had spent enough time in the unforgiving cold of Washington State to know that you needed as much thermal firepower as you could get if you wanted to survive a frosty night out.
After a risky weekend in the snow that nearly ended his adventurous life, Bauer put his inventor hat on and got cracking. He stuffed a quilted jacket full of down feathers (ensuring they were proportionately deployed inside the jacket for optimal insulation). The puffer jacket, and by extension men’s puffer vest, was born.
Men’s puffer vests and their jacket siblings became popular among outdoorsmen, athletes, and soldiers who had to hike, climb, and machine-gun their way through relentless arctic conditions and come out the other side hypothermia free.
While it’s likely you’re not heading to the DMZ in Korea or the coldest fringes of Oregon this weekend, a puffer vest is a sensible addition to your wardrobe for those encroaching nippy mornings. These vests both fit right into a smart casual corporate look and won’t land you at the bottom of the style bin over the weekend.
How To Wear A Puffer Vest (A.K.A Gilet Vest)
Like most active, outdoor, or sports pieces, the men’s puffer vest which is formally known as the gilet vest, has very much evolved over the last 15 years. While it’s still designed to keep you warm, the gilet is no longer just oversized and puffy — it’s slimmed down quite a bit. Add to that an increase in more fashionable gilet colours and patterns — and a shift from glossy quilting to matte shells — and the gilet is a go-to fashion piece for men this season.
If you need some extra pointers, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide on how to wear a gilet vest with absolute style and class for any occasion.
If you’re looking to add a men’s puffer vest to your wardrobe this winter, these are the brands that have the best puffer vests on offer.
Outerknown's puffer vests are filled with responsibly-sourced down, which also makes them incredibly light and malleable, so they can be scrunched up into a bag when not needed. Every style and colour in Outerknown’s puffer vest men's range looks damn fine, and will be the perfect top layer for you this winter.
Uniqlo has a great range of men’s puffer vests in a variety of neutral and bold colours. All feature a water-repellent coating and are extremely lightweight despite a fill power of 640 or greater, meaning you’ll stay toasty warm.
The North Face
The North Face has a huge range of high performance puffer vests in a variety of styles and colours. No matter which one you choose you’re guaranteed a lightweight puffer vest that’ll keep you warm no matter the conditions.
Patagonia has a few men's puffer vest styles on offer in multiple colours, that are all wind and water-resistant. Made with traceable down, any one of Patagonia’s vests will keep you extremely warm while being lightweight and compressible.
Their Piedmont puffer vest is made with 750 fill down for ultimate insulation and warmth, and features a DWR treated shell so the vest will repel light rain and snow.
RAB’s men's puffer vests are lightweight as well as extremely insulated and warm with featherless down. RAB’s puffer vests are also quite tailored for a snug fit.
Fjallraven’s puffer vests are made with 700 fill down which traps heat for efficient, lightweight warmth. All of their puffer vests are also DWR coated to protect you from light rain and snow.
Canada Goose’s puffer vests for men are lightweight, water-repellent, warm yet lightweight thanks to goose down fill, and feature ‘thermal mapping’ which places insulation where you need it most. Available in a variety of styles and colours, while Canada Goose is on the expensive side, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better puffer vest than the ones Canada Goose offers.
Stone Island has an extensive range of men’s puffer vests in different colours and styles. All lightweight but extremely warm with feather down, if you’re after a high performing yet stylish puffer vest, you can’t go wrong with Stone Island.
Marine Layer’s puffer vest has a completely water-resistant coating to keep you dry and is made with RDS-certified down from animals that aren’t subjected to unnecessary harm or cruelty. Plus, the puffer vest is reversible so you can either rock the retro side with navy, white, and green colours or wear it inside out for a simple solid navy blue.
L.L. Bean has a huge puffer vest men's range that includes lightweight down options as well as classic and PrimaLoft styles. Available in a variety of colours and prints, no matter what weight or style of puffer vest you’re after, L.L. Bean will have it.
Incredibly stretchy, perfect for treks and climbs, as well as being light and easy to pack. Mountain Hardware's puffer vests for men are made with a knit fabric that offers more comfort than standard down alternatives and retains maximum loft even when wet.
Their Trekker vest is breathable and waterproof and is made with synthetic insulation for warmth. Available in three classic colours, this is a puffer vest to most definitely add to your wardrobe.
ASOS Design has a huge range of men's puffer vests in every colour imaginable. If you’re after a puffer vest that’ll give you a cool street-style edge but will also let you stay warm in colder temperatures, ASOS Design is the brand for you.
Columbia has a great range of men’s puffer vests all of which are insulated with down for ultimate warmth. Some offer waterproof shells while others can be packed up into the smallest fold, so no matter what type of puffer vest you’re after Columbia will have it; in a variety of colours, we might add.
Boohoo Man’s range of men’s puffer vests are contemporary and affordable; meaning these vests aren’t suitable for extremely cold weather but will keep you looking good on days where it’s a little bit chilly.
Mackage has a few styles of men's puffer vests on offer. All are lightweight and made with sustainable down. Available in multiple colours, these puffer vests are sure to keep you protected in style.
AETHER’s puffer vests are filled with PrimaLoft silver insulation making them suitable for wear in any kind of cold weather and are water and wind-resistant. AETHER’s vests are available in a few different styles and colours too.