We covered how to choose the right puffy jacket in this post and we received requests for our list of best and/or popular jackets. Today we delve into the options on popular puffy jackets and where you can spend some money on quality jackets that will last you.
We want to ensure you look at all the options and make sure you find the correct one for your needs as each hike and trip may require some different gearing. Check out our choice for the best puffy jacket here if you are short on time.
When you want to get warm in the middle of starting camp there is nothing better than having the best puffy jacket in your backpack ready to pull out and get you warm. This is why they are one of the few things you will want to drop serious cash on when or if you get serious in the ultralight backpacking.
The Ghost Whisperer is a very popular puffy jacket in the ultralight backpacker and thru-hiker community. This is in large part due to the amazingly low weight. It doesn’t seem as lofty as some other UL jackets but it’s good for three two season backpacking.
This jacket packs down super small and has a quality hood and pockets. The shell is made from a 7 denier fabric which helps provide the jacket some strength but also helps maintain the low weight and the water resistant down makes it a top contender.
Enlightened Equipment makes great ultralight quilts and a few years ago released their first insulated jacket, The Torrid. It’s the cheapest jacket on the list but you get a lot for your money. If you want a killer jacket and you're on a budget then the Torrid is a no brainer.
Please note these are custom ordered and as such will have a delay in being shipped if on a short timeline I wouldn't recommend this choice.
Sizes run about a half size large for layering purposes.
The smooth ultralight nylon fabric has a durable water repellent finish for better performance in light precipitation. The elastic waistband and cuffs keep warmth in and cold out.
The optional hood adjusts with a shock cord, and a grosgrain zipper garage at the chin increases comfort. Zippered pockets keep the essentials at hand. The Torrid APEX Jacket is slightly over-sized to accommodate layers and has raglan sleeves for a full range of movement.
RAB's well-established, award-winning Xenon X Jacket now uses the new Gold Active Insulation from PrimaLoft. This insulation offers higher levels of breathability and helps to more effectively eliminate cold spots. This combined with PrimaLoft's ability to retain warmth even when damp makes the Xenon X an extremely versatile piece, perfect for everything from a windy ridge to cold, wet mountain top.
Please take note that many people have said they run a half size small as they are for a "slim fit" and can make it a little tight in the armpit areas.
With technical features such as an under-helmet hood, elasticated cuffs and a slim fit, the Xenon X Jacket ups it's game for this winter and will continue to be a classic go-to layer for every adventure!
This interesting jacket from Montbell is the only jacket on our list which features a fill power of 1000. The Plasma 1000 is the supreme puffy jacket and due to this, it is one of the warmest jackets. It has a hefty price tag, but this ultralight jacket from Japanese manufacturer Montbell is cutting edge. They use a 7d nylon shell material that’s soft to the touch and water repellent. It has a great hood and disappears inside a backpack.
This is made with some of the world’s thinnest nylon, 1000 fill power goose down, and gram shaving construction techniques. This puffy jacket challenges the limited definition of Ultralight. Extremely compact, highly portable, and with more than 40% of the parka weight from goose down.
Western Mountaineering got their start as a creator of sleeping bags and insulated garments, around the 1970’s. The Hooded Flash Jacket is their lightest jacket that includes a hood and is a simple yet effective insulating layer.
The Flash Down Jacket from Western Mountaineering dishes out a measured balance of warmth and light weight. Perfect for working the alpine line when you don't want to lug around that massive yeti of a coat you've had in the back of your closet for years.
The Rab Men's Electron Down Jacket fends off cold, wet weather so you continue trekking, all year long. The Electron excels on winter ice climbs, summer alpine endeavors, and shoulder season multipitches.
Light and lofty 800-fill down insulation equips the Electron with mid-weight warmth, and Nikwax's hydrophobic water-resistant treatment helps the down retain its lofty warmth in moisture. Rab wrapped up this protective insulation with Pertex's highly water-resistant, breathable, and wind-repellent Endurance fabric.
Named for the goddess of the dawn they designed the Eos jacket for early morning starts which need that extra layer of no-fuss insulation and warmth. With just the right amount of premium 900+ fill down, this hooded down sweater excels at keeping you warm on its own when conditions call for moving light and fast, or as a layering piece when weather moves in.
Equally at home on the trail or around town, this lightweight and easy to pack jacket will do wonders in your outerwear quiver. This is a very solid, no frills jacket but a good investment which will serve you well for many miles.
The newest "puff" from Patagonia is a strong performer for the most popular puffy jacket series. This features an amazing weight ratio to heat/warmth performance versus any of the other puffy jackets listed above.
The Micro Puff has the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any jacket Patagonia makes—down or synthetic. That's thanks to PlumaFill, which stays warm when wet and maintains its loft after continued soaking and abuse.
Unique construction keeps it in place, so you won't end up with cold spots.
The PCT Jacket differs from a lot of other options on this list as it can be configured with different shell choices, each in a limited number of colors. These are each versions of ultralight fabrics for folks who want the lightest, but realize that abrasion and tear resistance is minimal.
The is the big sibling to the JMT Jacket. With warmer insulation, more features and a roomy fit, the APEX insulated PCT Jacket excels during adverse weather conditions, or in any circumstance where moisture can infiltrate the insulation. Full front zipper and zippered hand warmer pockets sets it apart from the pullover style Skaha Apex
Arc’teryx is known for making high-end quality gear and this Cerium Hoody is no exception. It is built with great materials and features a stylish finish. It is no surprise that the Cerium LT Hoody is a popular choice for backpackers. With models for men and women and a nice low overall weight, Arc’teryx has created a really competitive option.
Streamlined, lightweight down hoody filled with 850 white goose down. This back-country specialist hoody is intended as a mid layer or standalone piece in cool, dry conditions.
The Cerium LT Hoody uses strategic placement of synthetic and down insulation, which helps retain warmth when wet, placed along the shoulders, collar, sleeves and underarms - all the areas prone to contact with moisture
These popular puffy jackets I listed above are my top recommendations for best jackets for ultralight backpacking. There are a lot of amazing jackets on the market.
Do yourself a favor and make sure to research and figure out what makes the most sense in protection and cost for you. Please feel free to contact me if you have any gear I should add or if you see a dead link. Also subscribe to my email list to receive more UL gear reviews and comparison straight to your inbox.