Puffer Updates

I've been to our local gear store (the place where I got my current parka 5 years ago) and have a progress report. 

First, be proud of me, friends. I tried on a LOT of parkas! 

Here are a few of the things I learned. 

Canada Goose isn't really cut to fit me. I tried a few styles. Their XS felt too small in most parkas but the S was too large. The best one was the Kensington, but even it felt on the loose side up top. Meanwhile, the hood in both sizes was super tight (not long enough in the neck). Plus, the coats felt quite heavy to me. I think I can cross C. Goose off my list. (Sorry, no photo). 

North Face: the coats I tried were also a poor fit. Granted, this store did not have many suitable styles available. But all those I tried felt too large in the top/ back/ armhole area and just generally bulky on me. I didn't get pictures. Not worth it. 

(Having said that...in the past, I have tried raincoats from them that fit quite well, so it may be I just didn't get the right parkas to try. The store had a number of short jackets in this line but not very many coat options.)

Arc-teryx. Super expensive but looks like value for money if in the budget. The coats are unbelievably lightweight and warm. (850 down and very high quality.) The problem is, the company only makes a few styles each year, and my local store doesn't even carry them all. I tried the Patera parka. (1-3) It is waterproof and windproof as well as down lined. (I'm sorry but I couldn't find a site that would allow me to include Finds.) An amazing coat in its way...but while the fit was considerably better than most I tried, it felt a bit large up top in the armhole/ back area, although that doesn't show in the photos, and the hood is Just. Plain. WEIRD. (As in, I felt like an alien.)  The "ash" or white colour looked like death on me. The dark purplish colour was a lot better. But, you know...dark. And somehow this felt like a "commuter" coat to me. I guess it is the smooth Goretex shell. 

Sorry for the photo quality; the lights in the store were hideous!! 

I also tried a similar Patagonia coat, recommended to me in my last thread. Apologies to those who adore it, but in comparison to the Arc'teryx, it was downright laughable. Nowhere NEAR the quality, and also it weighed a lot more. Worse, it fit me poorly, with bizarre pockets on the hips that stuck out in an unflattering way (and I'm not very "hippy"). And the colour is not as good (for me) in real life as that stock photo might lead one to  believe. 

I didn't bother with pictures of the Patagonia. 

Onwards! A new discovery was "Quartz Nature."  (4) These are in competition with Canada Goose. In comparison to the Arc'tyrx they felt very heavy, and once again I had hood fitting issues, but overall the fit on this red one was better than most of the other coats I tried. It's not my ideal red (a bit too bright and "true" for me; cranberry would be better...) but it's not a definite no. Unlike C. Goose, these coats are actually waterproof, and important factor in an El Nino year in my city where freezing rain will be frequent if the forecasters are to be believed. 

Finally I tried on a Lole Faith jacket. (5-6) This is made by the company that made my first parka. Their fit model is much closer to my body type, evidently. The coats fit me really well. But I'm not crazy about the sportiness of this style and it is not as warm a coat as I am looking for. Plus, this red was too "faded" IRL and not all that flattering I thought. 

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • unfrumped replied 7 years ago

    I like the bright red more than I thought I would!
    And the fit on the Lole, too.

    Probably this is good Retail Research. Good to know what you're not missing out on in some of these styles.
    Hopefully you will have that Goldilocks experience--you will put on "your" puffer and notice that it feels right in all the right places--+ be the right color.
    Speaking of colors--I waffle back and forth on "true" colors vs. muted colors or nearly-neutrals. The muted ones look fine until you put them up next to a cheerier color. The cheery bright "ski slope" colors don't go so well with neutral conservative clothing, but then that's not as much an issue for serious winter outerwear, compared to indoor jackets.

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 7 years ago

    The Quartz Nature looks lovely on you (photo 4), and I like the slim line of the first one. But I find the color too dark, too, for a coat to cheer one up in gray weather. Also.a hood that makes you look like an alien is not good--you are too funny! Now I'm wondering how many of my hoods make me look like an alien. Because I rarely look at myself in ahood; I just use them, heedless of how ridiculous I may appear. (Hmmm, I may need to rethink this strategy. Seems to go against my otherwise fairly obsessive attention to style.)

  • Dee replied 7 years ago

    The Quartz Nature is my favorite of the lot on you. I think because of the length - it looks slightly shorter than the Arc-teryx. Not as sure about the color because it seems a little more red than your usual. But it would be fun in the winter!

    I had the same exact problems with the Canada Goose Kensngton last year. XS too tight but the the S was much too large up top. I was sad to send it back but for that much $$$, the fit needs to be perfect.

  • UmmLila replied 7 years ago

    I think you should hold out for a lighter or brighter color. But I do like the idea of the 850 fill down!

  • Gigi replied 7 years ago

    How disheartening! I like the Quartz, but I know what you mean about ill-fitting hoods. Why is it so hard to make a decent hood?

    Keep looking...when you have cold weather for such a long portion of the year, you really need a coat that keeps you warm AND makes you feel fab!

  • Beth Ann replied 7 years ago

    I like the brightness of the Quartz!  I'm surprised at this, but I like the idea of either bright red or real, browner burgundy better than a cranberry. 

    I do think that a lighter weight coat is important when you're walking distances outdoors.

    I'm in denial about winter.

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Ha, Beth Ann, so am I. And can afford to be, right now. Temps remain wool coat worthy here -- or even raincoat worthy! But I know it can't last forever. Though it may be a very warm winter and perhaps I can hold out until next year. Maybe I can look for a puffer "sweater" and a bright raincoat? :)

  • Debora replied 7 years ago

    Suz, good luck with your search. I admire your persistence and attention to detail. I'm sure the right one will come along. That said, I think you look amazing in every coat you've tried on so far. How do you do it? Lol. Decisions, decisions!

  • Jaime replied 7 years ago

    In my unqualified and rash opinion: #4.

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 7 years ago

    Suz, on your other thread, Gaylene's comment about a good wool coat had me off on a laughably fruitless internet quest for a colorful, stylish loden coat for you. I think there's better chance of finding the perfect puffer.

  • JAileen replied 7 years ago

    I think this coat might be what Gaylene was referring to:


    They also have a slim version. I have the original version that I bought in London 16 years ago. Mine has a little bit of cashmere in the mix so it's really soft. I've never worn it in below zero temps so I don't how it would do. I like its sporty look. YMMV.

  • Astrid replied 7 years ago

    I really like the fit of the Lole. Sounds like your old one held up well too. Do they have any other styles or colors on offer that might be worth a try? And you have my commiseration, I know how long I searched for a rain jacket with proper fit and fitting hood.

  • lyn67 replied 7 years ago

    Definetely one of the red ones:-), love the last one for a more sporty/casual  and nr 1 for kind of a dressier look.

  • Style Fan replied 7 years ago

    Gee Suz I never thought finding a good puffer would be so hard.  I agree that Arc-teryrx has a weird hood.  I like the look of the Lole coat.  Have you checked their web site?  It fits you so well.
    Thanks to all your research I can strike Arc off my list.  I am thinking of another Lole if I can find a colour I like. 

  • cheryle (Dianthus) replied 7 years ago

    Suz, are you going for a puffer or a parka?  To me there is a fairly distinct difference between the two.  Both should be very warm but a parka would be a bit more utilitarian and usually has a heavier outer layer without the seaming of a puffer.  Based on the pics, the Quartz appears more parka and the Lole more of a puffer.  

    Regardless, I think you should hold out for the right one as the ones you have found seem to have issues.  I really liked the deep reds from your other post.  I remember your red coat for a few years back and it is a stunning color on you.

    Winter denial is now officially over.  It snowed enough that the roads are bad and the flights out were affected yesterday.  :(

  • marija replied 7 years ago

    Hello!  Oshawa is on your way to Toronto (if I have this right) and there is a store called "Sail" which is off of the Stevenson exit and just north of the 401.  This is a huge gear store, out of Quebec, and last winter, it had many options for puffer coats.  If you are driving by, it may be worth a look-see.  

    (I love the colours on you!)

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Thanks for your thoughts, all! 

    This is a useful exercise. So far, our weather is warm so I really don't feel the need to rush a purchase. After all, I still have my Lole coat to wear when it gets cold. 

    Marija, I have seen that big Sail store. I will have to check it out some time! I usually travel by train to the city, however, so that makes stopping in Oshawa impractical. 

    Cheryle, that's a good distinction. I guess my Lole coat is a "puffer." I honestly don't care whether it's puffer or parka -- perhaps I need both! I hear what you're saying about one being more utilitarian...but in practice around here people seem to wear them for (mostly) the same purpose, i.e. hanging around outdoors for long stretches of time, not doing actual sports, but walking at moderate speeds, shovelling snow, commuting by transit. 

    Style Fan, Astrid, Lole does have other styles but the one that probably serves my needs best is their updated version of the one I already have. So I think I might just wait with that -- maybe next year they will offer a different option. I agree that the fit is better on that one. It's funny how that works. 

    Some brands just "get" us, I guess. 

    JAileen, thank you! That looks like a very serviceable, warm, and long-lasting coat. Nice colour, too! 

    Sharan, thank you for hunting for me and I hope you didn't lose too much time down the coat search rabbit hole! 

  • Janet replied 7 years ago

    Oh, this is so tough -- I feel your pain. I tried on a bunch of not-so-long puffers at REI before coming to TX, and my husband was probably sick of hearing how all of them were too %#^* small in the hip! Of course, the one that fit the best and looked the nicest? The most expensive -- a periwinkle Arcteryx. Which of course we bought. I've already gotten lots of wear out of it in the cool early mornings on the ranch. I love that it's very lightweight but layers well.

    I have a short navy hoodedCanada Goose Down jacket, but it's a little more
    "fashiony casual" due to the short length, so I save it for home -- it was starting to get a little beat up on the ranch.

    Good luck on your search!

  • Angie replied 7 years ago

    Good job maximizing your shopping search, Suz. This is great information. 

    (It's probably because we don't get a great assortment of Canadian Goose here, but I have not been impressed with the design of the puffers that I have seen so far. Very masculine and unflattering despite them being very warm). 

    I love #4 on you actually. The colour is a lot better than you think. You look radiant as always. I also love the faux fur trim. Pretty, retro and less sporty looking. I'm gently warning you again to not go too gear-ish in this item, unless you purchase a more fashionable style too. 

    Pease go to Hudson Bay and try the Soia & Kyos too, Suz. If lived in Canada, I would have at least 6 puffer coats. I'm not exaggerating. It's a great item to spend your budget on considering the internal and external factors that affect your style. 

  • unfrumped replied 7 years ago

    Angie's comment on your "dominant wardrobe item" really hit home for me.

    When I was travelling in Ireland, I wore my rain jacket every single day, not just for rain but as a wind shell for warmth. Plus a hat.
    By the end of the trip, it was clear that my actually clothing was seldom in view at all, so very little variety needed there! If I'd wanted to look different, I would have needed 2 jackets in very different colors (for lightweight rain jackets, the packing room isn't any more than a pair of pants would take up) , or different hats! (I did have some scarf change-ups!). But of course the most minimal packing would be the one jacket and also fewer clothes.

    That's why you could for sure justify super-Canadian winter boots in basic black and even in one or 2  fun colors, and puffers with different colors and styles (hood styles, fur trim, dressier, length, color-blocking). Because basically that's your ensemble.

  • gradfashionista replied 7 years ago

    Suz, I had the same issue last year when somebody accidentally threw away my puffer. I had been very happy with an Esprit coat that I had picked up at the Bay, but they no longer the line. In the end, I settled on the Lole Katie jacket.

    It's perfectly warm for Ontarian winters (-20s on cold days), and the sheen adds a feminine touch. 

  • Elizabeth P replied 7 years ago

    Suz, Danier has some puffer coats that don't have leather... did you look at them?  Just noticed them because of the sale that just started... darn emails :)

  • dianne replied 7 years ago

    I saw some Soia and Kyos coats in Stratford Ont. and they were gorgeous. I didn't try them on so I have nothing to offer regarding the fit. Definitely more stylish than CG.

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Thanks, all. 

    I definitely intend to try on some Soiya and Kyos -- either in store or by ordering online (and returning to the store if needed). Our store doesn't carry them but I can still return them there if I want and delivery is free. 

    I also want to try Mackage. And also maybe a firm called Kanuk. Theirs are not down but rated very warm and quite attractive and well-reviewed. Both these firms have end of November sales. Yippee! :) Maybe I need a trip to Montreal. ;) Soiya and Kyo is there, too. 

    gradfashionista -- I have the Lole Katie -- that's my current puffer coat. I agree with you the fit is great for those of us on the smaller, slimmer side. I love mine. I have had it 4 years though and want an additional coat for variety. :) 

    unfrumped, that is exactly the issue. Since I walk a lot, most people only see my coats in winter! LisaP has a huge coat wardrobe and it's really great to have this if budget allows in Canada. 

    Angie, you are so right -- I think I should have a whole wardrobe of warm coats! I already have 3 wool coats and one puffer. So now I want to increase my stock. :) I will try Soia and Kyo for certain. I just wish they (or Mackage) had some brighter offerings. 

    I also quite liked that 4th parka and will try it on again once I've seen the other options. Fortunately I do not have to rush with this decision! 

  • Glory replied 7 years ago

    Suz wow lots of trying on.
    We have a Sail here and I have found it limited. Do you have Sportling Life? They offer free shipping I think and have an extensive line of outerwear.

    How about this RED parka from the Bay

    or this WHITE one from Marks. I know,white, but it is washable and lovely

  • Mann replied 7 years ago

    Suz, I too tried on the Arcteryx Patera parka.  (I loved it but decided against it as I only needed a parka for a short trip, and it was too expensive for two weeks of wear - I went with a long MEC puffy)
    What about the mustard color that the Patera parka comes in?  You mentioned you didn't like the ash and dark colors.  Also, when I was mulling over the parka in the Arcteryx store (in Vancouver), the sales person suggested that people often also buy one of their longer hard shells and a slim puffy to layer underneath - like a removable lining of sorts. The idea really appealed to me, but I was in between their two sizes at the time and didn't like the fit. 

  • catgirl replied 7 years ago

    I see nothing wrong with any of these coats, Suz!  The Lole fit is my favorite.  But you've looked good in all of them!

    I have to admit that a puffer is one place where I find it hard to care about the fashion details as long as it fits, functions and keeps me warm.  A good length, two way zip that works properly, minimal down leakage and max fill, accessible pockets, sleeves that don't let snow in and go over gloves/mittens, a working hood or collar with fleece lining - these are my main requirements.  And a color I like that won't get filthy brushing up against the car.

    The North Face Metropolis coat has been fantastic for me, and I also have a bronze no-name puffer I got for really cheap at Nordstrom about 10 years ago that's still going strong.

    Did you see this Patagonia coat in this made for you color? It has an amazing high collar/hood.


  • replied 7 years ago

    I know I have a ridiculous coat collection, but I'd rather have a new coat than a new sweater or purse, so ......:)  This is the one I bought earlier in the fall and pulled it out today. We went from lovely fall-like weather to WINTER over night.  Now, I don't walk to work or stand outside waiting for a bus , so uber-warmth wasn't my main criteria for this one.  Fit, styling, snug cuffs, pockets, easy snap or zip closure etc etc  is.  I chose this one for a few reasons:  1.   I've been obsessing over it for a couple of years 2. It has a water-resistant waxed finish, is very light weight, and covers my butt. 3. Although it's a  parka, it looks luxe enough to act as a dressy coat too (the hardware is very bright gold, and the waist can be drawn in and fitted.  4. The fur collar, which I struggled with ethically  a lot  (I still am ambivalent, but the coat is now mine so I'm moving on ) - even contacted the company to discuss how the fur was obtained etc - is what I like to have around my ears and face in winter for warmth.  5. the hood and fur are both removable. 6. it wipes clean, and is stronger than nylon.

    This is a splurge, yes, but I intend to wear it for many, many years. I've only pulled the trigger one other time on a jacket in this price range, and I am still wearing it 10 years later.  Annnnyways - I'm with Una in that I don't get too nuts on the fashion components of my true puffers.  I figure they don't flatter anyone, ever, so as long as it fits, is warm and is a decent colour - it's  fine. I have a few accumulated over the years that I wear for walking outside, shovelling etc and into arenas and places where casual is best.  I have honestly never found the name brands guarantee warmth. I have a Vero Moda, of all things, black fashiony puffer from the The Bay that cost all of about $75 and is the warmest  goddam thing I have ever owned.    And I also agree with everyone else here who suggests that in our winters, having a few jackets is not a crazy thing. When you look the CPW and importance of these pieces to us, it seems like a no-brainer to me. Again, I , of course, take that to the extreme and know that, but that's just me.  

    I'm just looking closely at this find photo - this jacket really comes down much further on my thighs than on the model....in other words, it is definitely not a jacket. It's longer than that.

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Oh, thank you all. Lisa, that's a beautiful parka. And I am not afraid to spend on one -- I totally take your point. Or to get one (or a few) cheaply -- price isn't always = performance. Some inexpensive coats can be great. And some expensive ones can be equally great in a different way. 

    Una, I did not see that particular Patagonia. I really want a bright or light colour, not a dark one (and not grey) so it probably won't work this year. But they might make it in a different colour next year. 

    I'm not super worried about fashion here either, but fit is pretty important and I am actually having trouble with the fit in many, many of these coats. I seem to be sized out or between sizes in a lot of brands. 

    Actually, I think it would be nice to have one "fashion" parka/ puffer and one more utilitarian one. Or more than one. ;) 

    Mann, they didn't carry the mustard Patera in my store, but sadly I look hideous in that colour so I could never buy it. :(  If I lived in Vancouver I would absolutely buy a shell with a light puffer jacket underneath. But here, I don't think it will be enough -- although this year it might work, since we're going to have El Nino. 

    Glory, I will check Marks. I couldn't reach the actual page at the Bay of the one you linked but I did try on some red jackets last week and posted in another thread. The one that I liked best/ that fit best wouldn't have been warm enough, alas. 

    Onwards! Luckily there is really no rush for this coat. I just need to keep looking. :)

  • Rubygirl replied 7 years ago

    I feel your pain Suz.
    You do look great in the brighter colors. Love them on you. 
    I too had many difficulties in my search. Price for me was not really as important as fit and that the coat would be warm.
    The Quartz coat is a very nice parka and will no doubt keep you very warm.

    I think for myself I got really lucky with my coat and have yet to post a picture of me wearing the coat/jacket. 

    I showed Mr Rubygirl your pictures and he asked me if you had tried Eddie Bauer yet? They have the Lodge parka, I do not know if there is lighter colours or not.
    He wants me to start looking for a nice wool coat or a wool cardigan. I do have an Ice breaker crave hoodie in jet heather and love it and it got lots of wear last winter. 

  • Suz replied 7 years ago

    Hi, Rubygirl

    I tried the Lodge parka last year -- actually my daughter was ordering it for herself. But alas, it didn't work on either of us. I often have trouble with Eddie Bauer -- I am sized out most of the time, or it is sized wrong for me, or something. And that was the case here. I love some of their colour options but the fit doesn't work right. 

    Ah well. Something will turn up. 

    And show us yours!! :) 

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