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10 best women’s puffer and quilted jackets for walking

Indy 100 logo Indy 100 19/02/2019 Jess Denham
© Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

Wearing a good puffer feels like wrapping yourself in your own personal duvet, but you can put any fears of looking like the Michelin Man to bed.

The modern take on this classic winter coat is lightweight, cleverly contoured (look for narrow quilting at the waist) and easy to pack away while still keeping you toasty on even the coldest days.

Puffer, or quilted, jackets get their name from the “puffs” created when stitching over fluffy down or synthetic filling. This padding traps air and insulates heat without feeling too heavy, making this style of outerwear especially popular with hikers.

Some of the puffers on our list are water-resistant (able to withstand a light shower) and some have waterproof hoods, but in general, you would need an extra waterproof layer on top during rain.

Features to look for include pockets (ideally zippable to keep your valuables safe), high collars, adjustable hoods and hems and elasticated cuffs. Some come with their own carry bags.

The old adage of “you get what you pay for” rings true when puffer shopping, with serious gear aimed at outdoors enthusiasts costing more than a high street fashion-conscious buy.

Luckily there’s a huge range in the shops right now, so finding the right jacket for your needs and budget shouldn’t be too tricky.

We tried and tested a ton across the market, wearing them on walks during some of the coldest days this year. Some of the puffers and quilted jackets on our list are intended to be worn under thicker coats, others as the outer layer. In general, we found going up a size allowed room for woolly jumpers underneath.

Uniqlo women ultra light down jacket: £59.90, Uniqlo

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Size range: XXS-3XL (0-24)

This down jacket from popular Japanese brand Uniqlo has acquired something of legendary status. Once you get your mitts on one, expect to be amazed by how something so thin and light can be so fabulously effective at keeping you cosy. It’s a hugely versatile piece; we wear ours as an outer layer in spring and autumn, under thicker coats in winter and for beach BBQs once the sun goes down in summer. It arrives in a handy carry bag which squishes down small enough to fit in a big pocket (seriously!) and looks stylish on thanks to smartly-designed back panelling. It’s is water-resistant enough to protect you from showers, comes in an array of matte colours from neutrals to brights, and is available in an impressive range of sizes. It tends to sell out quickly, so grab yourself one sharpish. It’ll be one of your top wardrobe staples for years to come and you’ll forget how you coped year-round without it. Promise.

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ellesse pejo jacket yellow: £56, ellesse

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Size range: 6-16

This Italian sportswear brand has brought the fun to winter dressing with this sunshine yellow puffer. It’s made from and filled with a silky-soft polyester, does up with a series of poppers down the front and has two open pockets at the side. It has a lined drawstring hood and a drawcord around the hem for battening down the hatches when the wind gets up. Two embroidered badges give an urban edge to this jacket, helping it appeal to teenagers struggling to find outerwear that’s both warm and fashionable (Topshop, River Island and online retailer Boohoo also have a good choice of ‘cool coats’ for younger shoppers). If the yellow is too lairy for your liking, it’s also available in navy and petrol blue. Consider sizing down, but the “oversized” look is on trend right now.

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Patagonia Women’s Down Sweater Hoody: £220, Patagonia

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Size range: XS-XL

Yes, it’s the priciest puffer on our list, but US outdoor clothing label Patagonia knows how to make a good jacket. This one is made from rip-proof recycled polyester and filled with ethically-sourced goose down traced from farm to factory. It’s locked in place with quilting before the hardy shell is treated with a water-repellent finish. There are two zip pockets at the sides and another on the inside in which you can also stuff the coat into, which is complete with a carabiner for clipping it onto your rucksack. It has a thick, adjustable hood and hem (tighten it using the cord inside the pockets) and a high collar with a soft fleece lining to prevent the zip from rubbing. Narrower quilting on the side panels gives it a streamlined fit so you won’t look like an abominable snowman. Seven colours are available.

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Tog24 elite women’s down jacket grape: £50, Tog24

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Size range: 8-18

Dreary day? Not with this bright purple puffer from family-run Yorkshire brand Tog24, which is sure to lift your spirits, both to look at and wear. It’s filled with ethically-sourced down but, refreshingly, the bargain price tag doesn’t reflect that. Despite its cosy credentials, it feels fabulously light once on and rolls up spectacularly small to pop into a backpack. Slender quilting gives a snug fit while channelling the down for the best heat retention possible. There are two front slant pockets, a sturdy zip and a decent collar. Pop it on under a waterproof – it’s only showerproof without one and down doesn’t fare well in rain. If you’d prefer something more subdued, it comes in black and navy too.

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Crew lightweight long padded jacket dark navy: £120, Crew

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Size range: 8-18

New this season jacket from coastal-inspired British brand Crew is its longer take on their bestselling padded jacket. Its filled with a feather-free, sustainably-sourced synthetic fibre (thumbs up, conscious shoppers), has a full-length zip and covers your bum when sitting on soggy benches. It has two deep side pockets and further inside pockets for keeping your essentials safe while on your seaside strolls. It looks elegant on, moulding to your body shape, and the illustrated print lining adds a bit of jazz to the otherwise classic design. The trademark crossed oars logo is printed on the chest, but it’s subtle. This coat kept us toasty on a biting January day but is breathable enough to stop you overheating. Note that it doesn’t claim to be waterproof, so you’ll need an extra layer for rain, or an umbrella for that.

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Barbour seaward quilted jacket coastal red: £159, John Lewis & Partners

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Size range: 8-18

This puffer jacket from is all about the details – note that the quilting is cleverly angled around the waist for a more flattering fit. It feels lightweight to wear but fits snugly to trap as much heat as possible when it’s chilly outside. This coat does up with strong poppers and comes with a detachable hood and zipped pockets hidden in the seams for a sleeker finish. The jolly lining is nautical-inspired with navy and white stripes.This strawberry-red will brighten up a dull day, but it’s also available in navy, sky blue, powder blue and mustard yellow. It’s not waterproof but does have a funnel neck to help keep out the wind.

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New Balance NB radiant heat bonded jacket: £190, New Balance

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Size range: 8-18

This innovative sports jacket from the Boston-based sportswear giant is inspired by insulating marathon blankets. Metallic fabric lines the chest, collar and sleeves, reflecting your body heat back to you. The outer fabric is wind and water-resistant, should you get caught in a shower. The core and sleeves are in the classic “puffer” style, filled with cosy wadding, while the back and underarms are made with a stretchy, breathable fleece that helps wick sweat and allows for easier movement. The zipper runs up the front at a modern offset angle and there are two zip pockets for storing valuables on the go. The colour is a fresh, silvery white, with reflective detailing to help keeps you safe when pounding the streets in low light. Not a runner? This is a supremely warm yet lightweight coat for everyday use, too, but you’d need deep pockets to justify the buy.

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Selkie Swim Co puffer jacket: £99, Selkie Swim Co

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Size range: 10-18

British open water swimwear brand Selkie Swim Co (named after the mythological sea creatures) has broadened its range for winter with a new puffer jacket for women. Built to keep you warm while travelling to and from the river, lake or sea, it has a hood with a toggle, a strong front zip and fleece-lined, zip-up side pockets. It’s made from, and filled with, polyester and looks flattering on thanks to well-placed elastication at the sides. It comes in a pretty pale blue with contrast orange detailing and, of course, can be worn for all sorts of activities if you’re not quite so active as the company’s two young founders. The only downside to this adventure-inspiring coat is its rather limited size range.

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Weird Fish Tessy microfibre puffa bomber charcoal: £56, Weird Fish

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Size range: 8-20

This compact, snuggly coat from Cornwall-inspired brand Weird Fish keeps the biting wind out without feeling heavy. Its full-length zip is secured with poppers and a storm flap, while the high neck comes with a removable fleece collar to stop the chill from creeping in. The polyester wadding insulates brilliantly and the chunky cuffs are elasticated for extra warmth. There are two side pockets that do up with poppers and the tartan cotton lining adds an attractive, country-style touch. It’s only missing an inside zip-up pocket to keep your valuables safe while walking. Consider sizing up to allow more room for a thick jumper.

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Decathlon forclaz trek900 warm women’s mountain trekking down jacket: £79.99, Decathlon

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Size range: XS-2XL (2-22)

This ultra-lightweight jacket from French sports retailer Decathlon is another top buy if you’re after a reliable warm layer you can stuff into a small bag or a big pocket. It’s water-repellent, with a waterproof hood and shoulders to offer those parts more exposed to the rain greater protection, and an adjustable hem. The down and feathers filling is ethically sourced and the seams are sealed by heat rather than stitching to prevent any from escaping. A bright pink zip runs all the way up the front to the top of a high collar, ideal for hiding your face in when battling against the wind. It fits true to size and is longer than average, with reinforcing around the cuffs for scrambling on a hike. It also comes in magenta.

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The Verdict: Puffer and quilted jackets for walking

The Uniqlo ultra light down jacket is a must-buy, not only for layering in the depths of winter but for all-year-round use whenever the wind starts to bite. The price is a steal for how much you’ll use it.. For something more hardcore, consider investing in Patagonia’s down sweater hoody. We were amazed that something so lightweight could keep us so warm and appreciated the contoured fit and colour choice too.

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