If you’ve ever walked through a major city in the wintertime–or even a small town–you’ve probably noticed two types of jackets rising to the top as the most common. One of those jackets might have elastic on the wrists, neck, and waist, while the other jacket might make people look puffed up two times their regular size. If you’ve wondered what these jackets are called and what their differences are, you’re not alone.
When shopping for a winter coat, it’s helpful to know what type of jacket you want, so you can ask for your preferred style. In this article, we will discuss the similarities of puffer jackets and bomber jackets, as well as their differences, to help you decide which type of jacket might be best for keeping warm this winter and fall.
What is a Puffer Jacket?
Also known as a “quilted jacket,” a puffer jacket is a style of outerwear that’s composed of down and other materials. A puffer jacket usually looks “puffy” from the sections of down covered in a lightweight fabric for insulation. It tends to cover at least the waist and hips–some puffer jackets are full-length and go down to the ankles for extra warmth.
What is a Bomber Jacket?
A bomber jacket is a style of outerwear that has been a go-to jacket for men (and women) since World War I. This durable jacket usually covers the waist and zips at the front. A bomber jacket distinguishes itself from other types of outerwear with its distinct form-fitting cuffs at the end of the sleeves and elastic rounded neck collar.
Features of Bomber Jackets
Bomber jackets can be made out of a variety of different materials or patterns. Some have extra embellishments like more pockets or zippers or even patches. The most common feature that all bomber jackets share is their classic bands of elastic at the bottom of the jacket, neckline, and the end of the sleeves.
At times, bomber jackets might also feature shoulder pads or other structural components. As long as a jacket has these elastic bands, it counts as a bomber jacket. If, on the other hand, a jacket lacks these elastic bands, it’s probably not a bomber jacket.
It might be another style of a jacket like a windbreaker or a regular leather jacket.
Features of Puffer Jackets
If you’ve stepped outside into the fall or winter chill, you’ve probably seen an abundance of puffy jackets that sometimes look quilted. These jackets have segments of fabric filled with down. Some are subtly “puffy” while others have so much down in between layers of fabric that they add some extra cushion to the wearer.
Puffer jackets can be long or short but they all have layers of down insulation in common. If a jacket is flat, it is almost certainly not a puffer jacket. Sometimes, puffer jackets feature removable hoods or sleeves that unzip and convert the puffer jacket into a puffer vest.
Puffer jackets come in a wide range of colors and patterns, too.
Bomber Jacket Materials
Bomber jackets were originally constructed in the early 20th century as a protective, warm garment for pilots. With this in mind, it makes sense that the first bomber jackets were made out of genuine leather. Today, designers and clothing manufacturers still make bomber jackets out of leather, but that’s no longer the only material that creates bomber jackets.
Manufacturers also make bomber jackets out of cotton, nylon, polyester, and even suede. Some bomber jackets are also quilted for texture and an extra element of design.
Puffer Jacket Materials
Puffer jackets are primarily made out of a strong, lightweight outer fabric such as nylon that covers layers of duck feathers or other down and filler. These materials allow the coat to be warm without getting weighed down by thick materials. This makes them ideal for wearing while practicing winter sports or taking a long walk through snowy city streets.
Bomber Jacket Design Features
Bomber jackets all feature a common design feature of elastic bands at the collar, wrists, and waist. These jackets, which have withstood the test of time, can also have special elements like pockets, applique, graphics, sequins, and patches. Some bomber jackets are also made out of multiple materials for comfort and style.
Puffer Jacket Design Features
The puffer jacket’s main design features include its puffy sections of down covered in other fabric and a hood, which can either be puffy or not puffy. Puffer jackets also usually have at least two pockets at the sides. Some puffer jackets will contain a breast pocket or two.
Other puffer jackets will have an inner pocket to keep valuables close to the body, clean, and dry.
Bomber Jacket Durability
A bomber jacket’s durability tends to rely heavily on the type of material that composes the bomber jacket. A leather bomber jacket, when cared for properly, can stay wearable for years of winters and falls, if not decades of them. A nylon bomber jacket should still last multiple cold seasons, but it might fall apart sooner than a leather bomber jacket would.
It also depends on how well the wearer cares for the bomber jacket.
Puffer Jacket Durability
Puffer jackets are usually made out of lightweight materials, but this does not make them wear down easily. If a puffer jacket is made of nylon or a polyester blend fabric, it should at least last for a couple of cold seasons. A cheaper puffer jacket might need to be replaced after one winter while a higher-end puffer jacket could last many years before showing signs that it needs retiring to the back of the closet or the donation bin.
Cost Differences Between Bomber Jackets and Puffer Jackets
For a basic nylon bomber jacket, buyers can expect to pay at least $40. A high-end, high-quality bomber jacket could cost up to $200. The price might be worth it for a jacket that lasts many years to come.
A high-performance puffer jacket could cost as much as $315 while a basic lower quality puffer jacket could only cost about $40.
Benefits of Bomber Jackets
The main benefit of bomber jackets is their classic timeless style. If bomber jackets have maintained popularity since over a century ago, it’s safe to say that they aren’t going anywhere. Bomber jackets will look cool no matter where you are or how old you are.
Another benefit to bomber jackets is their comfortable material and versatility. Throw a bomber jacket over a t-shirt, jeans, and boots, and you have one smart-looking outfit.
Benefits of Puffer Jackets
Puffer jackets are beneficial because they are lightweight without sacrificing warmth. If you plan to be outside for a long period in the cold or even dare to brave below-freezing temperatures, a puffer jacket is sure to keep you cozy and dry.
Brief History of Bomber Jackets
According to michaelandrews.com, “‘Bomber jackets,’ as we’ve come to refer to them today, were originally known as ‘flight jackets’ and were created by the US Army Aviation Clothing Board in 1917 to keep WWI pilots warm in the uninsulated, open-air cockpits of the early fighter planes.” Since then, bomber jackets have barely changed in style, other than incorporating buttons instead of zippers for closure in the 1920s.
Brief History of Puffer Jackets
As grailed.com states, “The modern puffer was born when Eddie Bauer almost froze to death. It was after the experience, a fishing trip on which the legendary sportsman’s wool jacket saturated with water and hardened to ice, that he set about creating a lightweight but survival grade jacket. His chief innovation was quilting the fabric so the down filling didn’t fall to the bottom. Bauer patented his design in 1939.”
Since then, quilted jackets have gone through multiple iterations, but the same principles have remained the same. Nowadays, puffer jackets are a popular outerwear choice for celebrities such as Drake and regular folks everywhere.
I like puffer jackets and bomber jackets equally for different reasons. If I’m going skiing or spending a long period of time outside in the winter, I prefer a puffer jacket for its warmth, insulation, and lightweight design. If I want to look fashionable, a bomber jacket usually looks more presentable and adds an element of style to an outfit.