I am a cold girl. As in, I’m cold all the time.
I get chilly at the hint of a slight breeze, and I need an extra layer when the temperature drops below 70. Suffice to say, winters are hard. Having grown up in the tri-state area, I’ve learned to manage, but every time the end of fall rolls around and the days get shorter and colder, it’s a struggle all over again. I’ve learned to layer to the gods and trust in my sleeping bag-style jacket to carry me through the New York blizzards and single-digit temps. Fleece tights and chunky scarves have also become good friends.
With puffer jackets being all the rage from street style to TikTok, I decided to try out one trending style: The North Face Nuptse jacket. It’s got a classic feel and a cool color-block look that comes in a variety of colors. Ultimately, I went with white as a “safe” choice—but if it gets dirty, fear not: it’s machine washable. And, if you’re looking for a more cropped silhouette, you can always cinch the ties at the waist to adjust the hem to your liking.
I put the puffer to the ultimate test when I went to Sundance Film Festival at the end of January. What better way to test drive a jacket than in the beautifully snowy mountain destination of Park City, Utah, where the temperatures ranged from 4 degrees to the mid-20s, and where I’d have to spend considerable time outside theaters waiting in lines?
First of all, the Nuptse is very travel-friendly. It’s lightweight and didn’t take up much room in my suitcase at all—and this was before I realized you could fold the whole thing down and tuck it into one of its own pockets. Even the hood rolls and tucks into the collar easily, so you have some protection for rainy days but don’t have to deal with the extra bulkiness. And the puffer itself can carry a few things. There’s a handy inside pocket to hold something small, like, say, your keys or AirPods. The two outside pockets can fit a lot, like an extra beanie or gloves, but the openings could’ve been a tad bigger, as I found it was a little tight getting my phone in and out of there. Thankfully, though, they have zipper closures, so you can keep whatever’s in there nice and dry.
Now, how warm was it? Maybe if you’re a skier and you’re more active in the snow, and you don’t get as cold as I do, this would be a great fit for you in the dead of winter. But I had to layer to survive the Utah weather. I’m talking a tank top + fleece turtleneck + cable-knit sweater + the jacket, but I’ll admit it was effective. Plus, the puffer jacket was roomy enough that I zipped it close and didn’t feel like a stuffed pillow. The exterior is also crisp and waterproof so unexpected rain or flurries were no problem.
So maybe this one’s not right for me in the frigid cold. But after coming back home to New York, I’ve been wearing the puffer a lot. I found it to be perfect for me in the 40-degree range, specifically for this awkward time of the year when it’s technically “spring” but it’s still not warm enough to bust out the jean jacket and linens. (I’m sure that will be the case in the fall, too.) Therefore, the Nuptse makes a great transitional piece. I wear it with jeans and boots or cargo pants and sneakers, to work or on the weekend, and it’s easy to just throw on and go. Plus, I can forego the extra layers.
I may not have found a puffer for sub-zero temperatures, but I did find a new favorite jacket. This cold girl approves.
Erica Gonzales is the Senior Culture Editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage on TV, movies, music, books, and more. She was previously an editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com. There is a 75 percent chance she’s listening to Lorde right now.