Not Your Grandpa’s Puffy

Out of all the jackets I’ve ever owned, I put in more days with a high performance synthetic puffy than any other piece.  In my opinion, synthetics are just better than down for most foul weather days.

The bulleted list of synthetic goodness

  • less expensive per ounce than down- down has a higher warmth/weight ratio so, $$$
  • vegan- no ducks or geese were harvested for their meat and feathers
  • performs better when wet- down loses loft when wet
  • easier to maintain than down- mild detergent/cold water cycle/ perm. press dry
  • still lightweight and compressible- versatile, take anywhere pack-ability

The piece I’ve developed a deep relationship with is a little too loud for my business meetings. Enter: the cross-over movement. A design shift toward urban styling utilizing the best of modern outdoor technologies. While certain heritage inspired companies have been putting out some of the dopest collaborative projects and bringing our all time favorites up to speed, it’s moved beyond the cottage brands and is becoming more mainstream.

I don’t really have an opinion on the movement other than it’s good to see companies begin using high end insulations in non-technically inspired products. If companies are set on bringing me names I already trust, like Primaloft, in simple puffys, then rad. The other perspective on this is that it equips people who might not consider themselves to be “hikers” or “outdoorsy” with quality insulation that they can realistically use in adverse conditions.  In other words, yeah, you can wear that on your first backpacking trip.

While insulators like Primaloft are great for the sporadic showers and temperature changes from above to below freezing that are so common in mountain environments, those same qualities also make them great for the around town category.  Here are a few more casual pieces that utilize 60g/yard Primaloft insulation and would absolutely crush it as daily drivers. And yes, they come in black.

Standard Issue Insulator by Mountain Standard

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Standard Issue Insulator. Photo courtesy of Mountain Standard
I got to test drive a Mountain Standard 28L Utility Pack and haven’t taken my eyes off the brand yet.  Seriously, real quality at an incredible value.  If the jacket is half as good as the pack, it warrants the attention. Features include two zippered hand pockets, zippered exterior chest pocket, and adjustable hem and hood.  The real point of note with one is the price: $149. Women’s version here.

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Standard Issue Insulator. Photo by Alton Richardson

Puffer Hoodie by Topo Designs

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Puffer Hoodie. Photo courtesy of Topo Designs
The best designs are often the most efficient. There’s no excess in the Puffer Hoodie by Topo Designs.  Two hand pockets, rip stop nylon, and a tailored fit. Topo Designs has always been a little more colorful than the rest, but I dig it–like I said, it comes in black. Price: $249. Women’s version n/a.

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Puffer Hoodie. Photo courtesy of Topo Designs

Shelter Hoodie by AETHER Apparel

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Shelter Hoodie. Photo courtesy of AETHER
AETHER’s driving design philosophy has always been to bridge the gap between refined urban styling and the performance of high tech outdoor garments.  They’ve got it pretty well dialed in the Shelter Hoodie.  This one comes with an adjustable hood, napoleon style interior pocket, two zippered hand pockets, and AETHER’s attention to detail.  Price: $265. Women’s version here.

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Shelter Hoodie. Photo courtesy of AETHER

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