We updated this guide in December 2022 based on recent testing from the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab. GH analysts added new picks from Uniqlo, Lululemon, Eddie Bauer, The North Face, Aritzia and Abercrombie as well as a shopping guide at the end of this article.
When it's not cold enough for a thick winter coat but you still need more warmth than just a leather jacket, puffer vests are the perfect transitional piece as the temperature drops. A stylish puffer vest is easy to throw on when walking the dog, running errands or even on a fun night out. And it's sleeveless, so it offers much-needed warmth without weighing you down, and it works with a variety of cute fall outfits — just add a pair of jeans, a cozy sweater and a pair of functional fall boots, and you're good to go. And when temps dip even lower in the winter, you can use your quilted vest as a layering piece under a heavier coat.
Just like with puffer coats, puffer vests come in a variety of styles, materials and prices. Whether you prefer down or down alternative fill, something heavier or a lightweight vest that's easy to pack, a neutral color or a statement pattern, the pros at the Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab analyzed over a dozen puffer vests in the Lab, then had testers wear them to get feedback on fit, comfort, style, warmth and more to find the best puffer vest for women.
Columbia outdoor wear is known for keeping you warm with the brand's Omni-Heat technology, a metallic dot pattern inside the fabric that's designed to retain your own body heat while still being breathable and lightweight. GH analysts appreciated the super soft lining around the neck for added comfort. Made with polyester and synthetic down, it is water-resistant with a slim, classic fit.
Starting at just $30, this quilted puffer vest from Fuinloth has over16,000 perfect five-star Amazon reviews. Available in 19 colors, reviewers especially love the lightweight polyester material and flattering fit with big pockets that can fit even large cellphones. It's on the thinner side, so it's ideal for fall and spring. One reviewer says, "Get it! You won't be disappointed."
With a sweatshirt material as the inner lining and a spacious built-in hood, this vest from Wantdo offers maximum coziness. The polyester outer shell has a Durable Water Repellent finish to keep you dry while the lining is a super soft fleece material. Over 1,000 Amazon reviewers gave it a perfect five-star review and one says it's an ideal puffer vest for colder temperatures, as it's "extremely warm."
When heading on a vacation, the space in your suitcase is limited, so prioritize items that are easily packable. This puffer vest from Uniqlo easily packs into an attached travel bag for easy transport, taking up as little space as possible. One tester loved that "it's both lightweight and warm, which is rare" in a puffer vest. GH analysts in the Lab found the zippers to be a bit tough to use.
Testers were absolutely blown away by this Lululemon vest. It converted even those who thought they couldn't pull off a puffer vest! It has a cropped fit that makes this pick super versatile. It's easy to style for errands and dog walks or wear under a thicker coat in lower temps. With 600-fill-power goose-down insulation, it's thick without being too bulky. One tester especially loved that the hood is removable so they can wear it exercising outdoors.
This sleek puffer vest from Eddie Bauer is fitted to the body and uses the brand's StormRepel Super Durable Water Repellent finish to keep you protected in all types of weather. GH analysts love that it has a roomy hood and zippered side pockets with a soft fleece lining. The whole jacket easily compacts into itself for easy storage and toting. With an 800-fill-power Responsibly Sourced Down interior, this pick is on the warmer side, so it's perfect to wear this winter.
Ideal for hikes or long walks outside, this classic puffer vest from The North Face is a best seller for a reason. The North Face jackets are notorious for being long-lasting, warm and a favorite among GH analysts. Testers loved the fit, saying, "This vest is boxy yet still stylish and flattering. It's honestly so cute." GH analysts appreciate its excellent construction, featuring nylon treated with a durable water-repellent finish and 700-fill-power goose down that's certified to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS). The brand offers more color options too.
This pick from Patagonia uses 100% goose down (Global Traceable Down Standard) as the insulation instead of a mix of down and feathers or synthetic alternatives. Featuring 800 fill power, it's on the thicker side, so it's ideal for chillier days. A water-repellent recycled nylon outer keeps you dry. Hiking enthusiasts rave that this vest is perfect to wear when hitting the trails.
100% recycled nylon
100% virgin goose down (Responsible Down Standard)
This pick from Aritzia is the puffer vest version of the brand's best-selling Super Puff jacket. GH analysts love just how warm Aritzia jackets are without sacrificing style. This puffer vest has a cropped fit, making it more flattering than longer ones. Unlike most puffer vests with only neutral options, this one is available in 20 different colors including pastels and jewel tones. Aritzia also offers the vest in a longer style in even more colors.
90% goose down, 10% goose feathers (Responsible Down Standard)
You don't need to pick between a puffer or a fuzzy vest: this reversible vest from The North Face does double duty. For rainy days, use the water-repellent puffer side or flip it to the fleece side for a super-cozy feel. This vest features the brand's Heatseeker Eco insulation for increased warmth, even in inclement weather. Reviewers love the versatility of this vest and the large zippered pockets to keep your belongings secure.
Designed for fashion over warmth, this chic Abercrombie puffer vest uses faux leather materials for a stylish look that'll elevate your winter wardrobe. Available in three neutral shades, testers loved its "soft feel" and "easy-to-style design." One tester especially liked the elastic bottom for a more flattering look. Note that the pockets don't have a button or zipper closure.
Many puffer vests aren't available in different lengths, but this style from Athleta is available in regular, petite and tall sizing from XXS to 3X in three sleek colors. Perfect for commuting or running errands, this thicker puffer vest from Athleta has a trendy collar for extra warmth. One tester loved that it's "tapered at the waist, which looked flattering on compared to many boxier vests." This pick uses recycled polyester made from post-consumer plastic bottles with a Durable Water Repellent finish and responsibly sourced down interior. Testers note that it's "very true to size," so if you want a looser fit, size up.
A bulky winter jacket will just slow you down on your outdoor runs, so opt for a sleek puffer vest instead. This fitted vest from Lululemon is designed specifically for outdoor exercise. Testers especially loved that it's longer than other styles to keep your hips covered and found it to have an "extremely flattering fit." The 700-fill-power Responsibly Sourced down is held in place with water-resistant fabric for a vest designed to stand up to continued wear.
If your winter coat just isn't keeping you warm enough in low temperatures, try pairing your coat with this long puffer vest from Avec Les Filles. This puffer vest goes past your knees to keep you fully covered. GH analysts love that this pick features snap-closure side vents, zipper pockets and a large removable hood.
While most puffer vests end before your hips and fit closer to your body, this pick from FP Movement has a longer, oversized design to accommodate layers underneath. With a lower fill power of 200g, this pick is lightweight enough to throw on after a workout. Some reviewers were worried that the pockets were fake, but they have stitching that you can easily remove to access them.
How we test the best puffer vests for women
The Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab is comprised of fabric and fashion experts who have reviewed and tested all types of apparel including rompers, workout leggings, travel dresses and more. To evaluate puffer vests, GH analysts had testers with a variety of body types try popular styles before completing a survey to give feedback on fit, warmth, comfort, style and more. GH pros also reviewed each puffer vest in the Lab to rate the materials used, construction and ease of laundering.
What to look for in puffer vests
While style and look are most important when deciding which puffer vest to purchase. Here are some key considerations GH fiber scientists recommend looking for when shopping:
✔️ Fill: Common fill materials for puffer vests include 100% down, down blends for a more affordable price or synthetic alternatives like polyester (great for allergy sufferers). For down styles, check the fill power. The higher the fill power, the warmer the vest.
✔️ Outer material: The outer material is what you'll see, so be sure you like its look. Then, consider if you want water-resistant capabilities if you plan to wear the vest for outdoor exercise, hiking or if you live somewhere that gets a lot of rain. GH pros recommend looking for a Durable Water Repellent finish for better protection.
✔️Pockets: Most of the tested puffer vests feature a pocket on each side, but some styles have many more, including inner zipper pockets. Also, some even let you pack the whole vest into its own pocket for easy storage. Check if the pockets have closures like zippers or snaps to keep your belongings secure.
✔️ Special features: Testers noted that there were a few features they especially liked, including removable hoods, elastic or drawstring bottoms and fleece linings.
Why trust Good Housekeeping?
Emma Seymour is a senior textiles product analyst in the Good Housekeeping Textiles Lab for over three years, overseeing Lab and consumer tests with fashion stories about comfortable heels, white sneakers and swimsuit brands. She studied Fiber Science and Apparel Design at Cornell University (where she was constantly bundled up in a puffer vest!) with research experience in product quality assessment. As a lifetime sewer with previous product development experience, she has a strong fashion background with expertise in proper fit and construction.
Emma SeymourTextiles, Paper & Apparel Lab Senior AnalystEmma Seymour (she/her) is a senior product analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute's Textiles, Paper and Apparel Lab, where she has led testing for luggage, pillows, towels, tampons and more since 2018.