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The Inertia

The promise of firing surf, an empty lineup, and beautiful scenery is what draws us to the beach on even the coldest of days. But the thought of shimmying out of a soaked wetsuit only to be greeted by a blast of cold air is what makes us second guess getting out of bed. While there’s no hard and fast cure for cold weather, a solid puffy jacket to shrug into post session can do wonders in softening the blow.

What Makes a Good Puffy Jacket?

When it comes to buying a jacket, not all puffers are created equal. Since the puffy jacket will be your warmest outer layer, you want to make sure you’re purchasing one that’s going to get the job done.

Down or Synthetic?

Puffer jackets are available in one of two options: down or synthetic. Down simply refers to the duck or geese feathers that provide the thermal insulation — down effectively traps heat while remaining breathable. Synthetic insulation is made with polyester fibers that are designed to mimic the qualities of down. Although heavier and not quite as warm as down, synthetic retains heat even when wet and dries much quicker than down.

What is the Feather Ratio?

When purchasing a jacket, be sure to check out the down to feather ratio. Puffy jackets are usually available in three variations: 90 percent down/10 percent feather, 80 percent down/20 percent feather, and 70 percent down/30 percent feather. Each variation provides a different level of warmth, with the higher down ration resulting in warmer insulation.

When debating which jacket to purchase, take all of the above information into account and check the online description or inside label to learn the specific features of the jacket you’re considering.

What are the Best Men’s Puffer Jackets?

1. O’Neill Alder Packable Jacket ($120)
2. Billabong Journey Puffer Jacket ($99)
3. Quiksilver Scaly Hooded Puffer Jacket ($100)
4. Prana Whitney Portal Jacket ($249 149)
5. Patagonia Men’s Pack In Pullover Hoodie ($189)
6. Columbia Men’s Heatzone 1000 TurboDown II Jacket ($450)
7. Outerknown Puffer ($198)

Looking for other gear to keep you warm while surfing this winter? For booties, check out our guide to the best booties. Learn more about women’s wetsuits here and men’s wetsuits here. Want to avoid getting your ears drilled? Read our earplugs review here.

The O'Neill Alder Packable Jacket

The O’Neill Alder Packable Jacket. Photo: Rebecca Parsons

O’Neill Alder Packable Jacket ($120)

Cost: 5
Comfort: 5
Warmth: 4
Style: 5
Overall: 5/5

While O’Neill has a rep for making amazing wetsuits, they’re no slouch when it comes to functional jackets. In addition to being warm, the Alder Jacket is incredibly lightweight and packs down into its own pocket, making it ideal for travel.

Constructed from 100 percent nylon, the jacket is filled with PrimaLoft ECO insulation and features O’Neill’s Hyperdry water resistant technology, making it well suited for varied weather conditions. Technical features include chest and side pockets, a front-zip closure, and elastic binding at the hood and cuffs. The lightweight yet functional nylon quilted design made this jacket ideal for everyday wear and we found ourselves reaching for it on hikes, beach days, and backyard hangs with friends.

Buy here.

The Billabong Journey Puffer Jacket

The Billabong Journey Puffer Jacket. Photo: Rebecca Parsons

Billabong Journey Puffer Jacket ($99 58)

Cost: 5
Comfort: 4
Warmth: 5
Style: 5
Overall: 5/5

Part of Billabong’s Adventure series, the jacket design was inspired by the “relentless pursuit for adventure and surf exploration around the world.” Coupling function with fashion, the Journey Puffer offers next level warmth, making it perfect for cozying up after a chilly session or heading to your local mountains.

Made from 100 percent recycled nylon, the Journey Puffer features a durable water repellent outer coating and lightweight polyester filling. Additionally, the hooded jacket includes a soft fleece lining, elasticated sleeves, a bungee at the hood opening, a zip-front closure, and inner/outer pockets. The jacket is a little on the bulky side but is still lightweight and packs down for travel. At a price that doesn’t break the bank, the Journey ticks all the essential boxes.

Buy here.

The Quiksilver Scaly Hooded Puffer Jacket

The Quiksilver Scaly Hooded Puffer Jacket. Photo: Rebecca Parsons

Quiksilver Scaly Hooded Jacket ($100)

Cost: 5
Comfort: 5
Warmth: 4
Style: 5
Overall: 5/5

Style meets comfort in Quiksilver’s Scaly Hood Jacket. Available in three different colors, the Scaly has a sleek design and the muted earth tones allow it to easily transform from post surf adventures to nights out on the town.

Made from 100 percent polyester, the jacket features Taffeta lining, a three-panel fixed hood with a drawcord, external zip pockets, an internal Velcro pocket, and an elasticated binding on the cuffs and bottom. Landing somewhere between lightweight and bulky, the jacket has just enough fill to keep you cozy while still offering a classic yet comfortable fit. The front zip closure makes layering a breeze, which was much appreciated on extra chilly days. The fact that the jacket is available at an affordable price is just the icing on the cake.

Buy here.

prana mens whitney portal jacket

The Prana Men’s Whitney Portal Jacket. Photo: Rebecca Parsons

Prana Whitney Portal Jacket ($249 149)

Cost: 4
Comfort: 5
Warmth: 5
Style: 4
Overall: 4.5/5

Prana hit the nail on the head with its Whitney Portal jacket. Made with the planet in mind, the jacket is filled with Responsible Down Standard certified 650-fill insulation and features a Bluesign-approved matte nylon shell. Thoughtful features include dual entry hand pockets, an internal zippered pocket, silicon taped zippered pull tabs, a hood and hem drawcord system, an internal elasticated cuff, and a zip and buttoned entry for added security. Despite the bulky appearance, the jacket is exceptionally lightweight and flexible thanks to the high fill weight. Available in five colors, the combination of buttons and zippers give the jacket a casually cool aesthetic while still remaining ultra warm and cozy.

Buy here.

patagonia mens pack in pull over hoodie

The Pack-In Pullover Hoodie. Photo: Rebecca Parsons

Patagonia Men’s Pack In Pullover Hoodie ($189)

Cost: 5
Comfort: 5
Warmth: 4
Style: 4
Overall: 4.5/5

Patagonia is always thinking outside of the box when it comes to quality and function — the Pack In Pullover is one of the most unique puffers we’ve come across thus far. Ultra lightweight and comfortable, the Pack In Pullover has a similar feel to your favorite cozy hoodie, but with added warmth.

Like most things at Patagonia, the Pack In Pullover was designed with the environment in mind. Fair trade certified sewn, the shell is made from 91 percent recycled polyester and is lined with 100 percent recycled polyester double knit. Additionally, the hoodie is coated with a durable water-repellent fabric to ensure it’s weather resistant and features a half-zip front design, a kangaroo pocket, an adjustable drop-tail hem, a hidden zippered pocket, and an elastic bound hood for a snug fit. We found that the jacket was incredibly lightweight, breathable, and comfortable and sported a gender neutral design, making it ideal for anyone, or just sharing.

Buy here.

Columbia Men’s Heatzone 1000 Jacket ($450)

Cost: 3
Comfort: 5
Warmth: 5
Style: 4
Overall: 4/5

At Columbia, they know a thing or two about making efficient outer layers and the TurboDown Jacket is no exception. Available in two different color options, the jacket is ultra warm and is sure to keep you cozy even after the chilliest of sessions.

Offering the best in stay-warm technology, the jacket has a 100 percent nylon shell and is insulated with 900-fill-power down that is responsible down certified. An especially unique feature is the Omni-Heat reflective polyester lining that works to reflect and maintain body heat for ultimate warmth. Additionally, the jacket features Omni-Tech waterproof critically seamed seal, zippered hand pockets, a drawcord adjustable hood, an interior security pocket, adjustable contoured sleeve cuff, a drawcord adjustable hem, and a drop tail. In an effort to make the jacket well suited for frigid beach days or a morning on the slopes, the jacket also includes four-way stretch, a helmet-compatible hood, and a ski pass pocket. While the price is a bit steep, this jacket is one of the warmest in the game and is a testament to getting what you pay for.

Buy here.

outerknown puffer jacket

The Outerknown Puffer Jacket. Photo: Rebecca Parsons

Outerknown Puffer ($198)

Cost: 4
Comfort: 5
Warmth: 3
Style: 4
Overall: 4/5

Co-founded by 11x world champion Kelly Slater, Outerknown is a surf brand with a focus on sustainability. Like all of Outerknown’s products, the Puffer is made with the planet in mind while remaining functional and fashionable.

To honor their commitment to sustainability, the Puffer features a 55 percent recycled polyester shell that’s coated with a durable water repellant and is filled with 100 percent responsible down standard-certified grey duck down. The jacket is incredibly lightweight and packs down into its own pocket, making it ideal to tote around on adventures. For added style, the jacket features a slightly flared collar and zippered side pockets for stashing valuables. A pro and a con of the Puffer is that it is a tad thinner than other puffers, meaning it’s not quite as warm but layering is a breeze.

Buy here.

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