10 Best Winter Jackets Reviewed and Compared
Think about what a typical winter jacket looks like, and chances are we picture bulky, puffy coats that are unflattering in shape and make us feel like we are wearing around a mini sleeping bag. But a good winter jacket can still be stylish enough to wear to the office and on an adventure and still keep us toasty warm.
Its warmth is a result of the type of insulation used, and this varies among brands and specific models. Three things come to mind when we think of winter: wind, snow and cold. But this doesn’t mean we have to stay inside all season long.
- The North Face McMurdo Parka III
- Arc’teryx Camosun Parka
- Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody
- Marmot Montreaux
- Columbia Alpine Escape 550 Turbodown Parka
- Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Jacket
- Mountain Hardwear Dynotherm Down Jacket
- Marmot Fordham Jacket
- Canada Goose Kensington Parka
- Arc’teryx Atom LT
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Winter Jackets
1. The North Face McMurdo Parka III
- Ultra-warm without being uncomfortable
- Performs well against the wind
- Great fit, and stylish
- Made to last for more than one season
- Small interior pocket
- Slightly pricey
This jacket brings on the warmth with its 550-fill down insulation. Even though it is toasty, this jacket is still breathable so overheating won’t be a problem. Further keeping the chill away, is its water and wind-proof features thanks to its DryVent technology. It has plenty of pockets, a removable, faux-fur trimmed hood and storm flap, perfect for keeping those brutal city winds away.Read more
This will be the only winter jacket consumers want to reach for in the cold. It performs incredibly well when it comes to its amount of warmth when compared to the other models on this list. It includes 550 fill goose down insulation that is ethically sourced. It doesn’t have the most fill power on this list, but still plenty to keep the cold away. Other features the jacket has further adds to its worth such as its longer hem. There is no doubting that is a warm option.
The North Face McMurdo Parka III does not disappoint when it comes to its ability to withstand the winter elements. That means being able to face rain, snow, and winds. That’s because of its DryVent coating on its shell, a multi-layer formula that wicks away moisture to make it waterproof and durable. It has a waterproof rating of 25 PSI, even after 20 washes, and is extremely windproof. It is also very breathable, adding to its moisture-wicking properties. A high collar keeps the wind from hitting the face and neck, as well as a zip-off hood that has an internal gaiter.
With its relaxed fit, this jacket isn’t bulky or restraining. It is ultra-warm and has features like hand and chest warmer pockets and adjustable cuff tabs. Overall, it is a stylish option, is durable and worth every (pricey) penny.
2. Arc’teryx Camosun Parka
- Very warm
- Breathable with mobility
- Sleek for city dwellers and sport lovers
- No drawstring hem
This is the winter jacket to wear in harsh and blustery weather in the city. With its sleek, modern and urban design, it is extremely stylish. But that doesn’t mean it skims on performance. It features down insulation and GORE-TEX outer fabric that makes it water- and windproof, breathable and durable.Read more
Without being bulky, this two in one warm and weather-resistant jacket guaranteed to be a favorite for every day wear whether it’s to work, the store, or the ski slopes and alpine climbs. It has a combination of Down Contour Construction and Down Composite Mapping technologies, allowing the company to place the insulation in the places where it performs the best. This results in a great combo of warmth and breathability. Synthetic insulation is found under the arms since this is a sweaty place, whereas the down is found around the body to help retain the most heat.
This jacket is made with GORE-TEX fabric that makes it water- and windproof, with breathability needed to be able to do winter sports without overheating and getting sticky from sweat. This makes it great for hitting the slopes or a winter hike. The GORE-TEX has two layers of fabric which makes it a great source of protection from water elements. Along with this tech, Arc’teryx also adds its DWR finish to enhance its weather resistance.
This is one stylish parka, with sleek look that is made for the streets and for outdoor adventures. It is completely smooth on the outside, with the puffiness on the inside for an overall more attractive look. It has an insulated, removable hood, high collar, gusseted underarms for mobility and a full front zip with a chin guar and wind flap. There are pockets on each side with hidden zippers, as well as an internal chest pocket for storing chapstick, tissues or valuables.
3. Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody
- Great weight to warmth ratio
- Compressible and packable
- Synthetic insulation performs well when wet
- Weather protecting hood
- Not as warm as a jacket with down insulation
- Thin and lightweight to wear alone in freezing temperatures
This winter jacket is a performance staple, great for multiple winter sports. It is heavily insulated with lightweight PlumaFill insulation that performs extremely well when wet. This means the consumer will find himself nice and warm even in the snow. Overall, this is a lightweight jacket that is packable, and has a helmet hood to further keep out the cold. It is windproof and is equipped with a DWR finish. It has zippered hand warmer pockets and can be folded up in stored in its pocket with a reinforced carabineer loop.Read more
This jacket is very warm for how light it is. It includes the company’s PlumaFill insulation, a synthetic alternative that mimics down. This makes is retain more heat and its loft even when wet. It includes an unique a quilting construction to pack in its 65g of PlumaFill that compliments the insulations. Compared its popular Nano-Air it is less breathable and more warm, but lacks in warmth slightly behind other brands. It also falls a little behind in comfort compared to real down jackets, but is perfect as a lightweight option for winter temperatures around 40 degrees. Keep in mind that since it is less breathable, overheating can occur when active, even in colder temperatures.
Because of its synthetic insulation, the Micro Puff holds up better when it comes to its warmth from the insulation when wet. It also has a DWR finish to make it water-resistant. It’s outer fabric contests of Pertex Quantum nylon that shield the wind well. It also has a hood that covers most of the face, inducing a high collar to ward off cold winds.
This is a light and easily packable option. It compresses down to fit into its own pocket to be stored in a backpack or bag when traveling or camping. Even still, it performs well when it comes it its amount of warmth—although it might call for a mid layer when in freezing temps. It includes a center-front zipper with a wicking storm flap, two zippered handwarmer pockets and under-the-helmet hood for when snowboarding.
4. Marmot Montreaux
- Super warm and comfortable
- Stylish and great fit
- Only available for women
- A bit bulky like wearing a sleeping bag out
This is one seriously warm winter jacket, made with Down Defender 700 fill down. It’s thick enough to withstand heavy winds and is coated with a DWR finish to repeal light rain. It’s cut to knee length for more warmth, while will being form flattering. The Montreal has a zip-off hood with faux fur, is fleeced lined and features mice fleece internal cuffs.Read more
One of the warmest jackets for the winter, this women’s option has thick and fluffy 700 fill down with Down Defender that helps keep its loft and keep things dry when wet. It has a knee-length, which means more body is covered and insulated and is fleece-lined inside. This jacket performs excitingly well to keep the cold at bay in even below 20-degree weather. This makes it great for fridge NYC or Chicago winters, for standing and outdoor sporting events like football games, or when heading out for a walk. Pull up the removable synthetic fur hood to be even warmer.
The fabric on this jacket does have a DWR finish, but it doesn’t perform well when it comes to more than a light drizzle, so make sure to head out with an umbrella. However, when it comes to the wind, its high color, warm hood, length, and overall thick insulation has the consumer’s back.
Surprisingly, even though this jacket is packed with lofty down, it isn’t overly bulky. It also has a great fit and is extremely comfortable to wear. Other features include an interior zippered pocket and drop pocket and microfleece cuffs.
5. Columbia Alpine Escape 550 Turbodown Parka
- Retains body heat well
- Warm and stylish
- Available for men and women
- Only has 450 fill power
This winter jacket has 450 fill power down, along with the company’s TurboDown insulation. And if that wasn’t enough, Columbia goes one step further to include Omni-Heat Reflective technology on the fabric that reflects boy heat. It is waterproof, breathable, and styles with a removable, synthetic fur hood.Read more
This option does have as much fill power as other options but still has enough to ward off chills in the winter weather. More impressively is its Turndown technology where the down is mixed with Columbia’s Omni-Heat thermal insulation. This technology consists of small reflective dots that retain the consumer’s body heat between layers. This means the consumer needs to wear fewer layers in order to be really warm. The combo makes it for a great option for skiing, hiking in the snow and buzzing around the city.
The good thing about Omni-Heat is that this tech is also extremely breathable and wicks away moisture. This means the consumer won’t be working up a sweat and catch a chill from being wet. It also features its waterproof Omni-Tech to wick away light rain.
With fully sealed seams to keep cold air out, this jacket also has an adjustable drawcord hem, drop tail, and adjustable sleeve cuffs. This jacket is lightweight, yet warm and has a great fit that makes it possible to also wear layers.
6. Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Jacket
- Comfortable and warm, great for skiing
- Ethically sources European goose down
- Pocket for gloves
- Nice range of motion
- A bit bulky and puffy
- Not the best at water-hesitance
- Not as breathable as other options
Made with 800 fill power down, this jacket keeps consumers warm all winter long without being overly bulky and heavy. It’s outer is made from nylon with a DWR finish to keep the coat dry when wet. It has a storm and chin flap to keep out the cold winds, and two hand warmer pockets.Read more
When it comes to the amount of down in these jackets, the Fitz Roy has the most. One of the most toasty winter coats, it contains 800 fill power, with its down being traceable right from the parent farm and NSF International certified to ensure obtaining it is ethical. While its amount of down is top of the line when it comes to loft—and is enough to keep things cozy and warm—freezing cold winds can still penetrate through, so layer up when in the sub temperatures.
It also has features like hand warmer pockets, and microfleece chin flap.It’s drop-tail hem that can be adjusted also held to retain more body heat.
This jacket is made with 100 percent nylon Pertex Quantum fabric, with an added DWR finish to repel moisture like light rain and snow. Keep in mind that it isn’t as breathable, so sweat can’t ventilate. It has a high collar to protect the neck from the blustery winter elements.
Even though it’s warm, this is a lightweight jack that doesn’t restrict movement. This makes it great for braving that cold commute home from work or heading out with friends on the weekend. It is on the puffier side, so might not be great for a hike, but can still hold up well for a climb. It’s more ideal for camping. It has plenty of pockets, including a drop-in stretch mesh pocket that can store gloves.
7. Mountain Hardwear Dynotherm Down Jacket
- High warmth-to weight ratio; Just enough insulation for winter activities like hiking
- Dry when wet
- Flexible and non-restricting
- Fit might not be flattering for women
- Hood option available for additional cost
This is a great winter jacket for going for that brisk walk or getting cozy for the campfire. It is stuffed with 650 fill down insulation that keeps its loft to stay warm when wet. Yet it is lightweight and breathable for being active and getting outdoors to play in the snow.Read more
This jacket is stuffed with 650 fill down. It also has QShield Down technology, which means its down fibers are treated with a permanent water repellent that aid in insulation when wet. The outer shell feature nylon fabric so the jacket is still light without being overly bulky while still keeping its thermal properties.
The QShield Down tech does an impressive job at keeping the down loft and dry. This makes it a great option for braving a snow storm or for when building a snowman with the family. The outside fabric does not feature a DWR finish, and there is also no hood. However, it has a higher collar to keep the cold from hitting the neck. This is a winter jacket option that performs well when being active—just wear a hat.
Great for winter hikes, this jacket has lots of mobility. It is durable and light, while still having ample insulation for cooler days. There is a hand warmer pocket on each side, as well as a chest pocket.
8. Marmot Fordham Jacket
- Super warm
- Water-resistant jacket for snowy days
- Removable hood
- Available only for men
- Can be tight around the collar when paired with a scarf
This is a jacket made for the outdoorsman (or woman). Marmot describes its design as “rugged,” but is stylish enough to be worn in the backcountry and on the streets. What’s really important is just how warm it is. It contains 700 fill power down, a zip-off hood and weather-resistant fabrics. Longer in length than a bomber, it s nice and cozy with micro fleece interim chugs and an elastic drawcord hem.Read more
Warm should be in the Fordham Jacket’s name because it comes with 700 fill power down. This amount of down makes it ultra-comfortable and retain heat well. It includes down defender to further keep the inside nice and dry.
This winter jacket is equipped with a 2-layer waterproof shell, which makes it great for cold and wet weather. It has MemBrain polyester herringbone twill on its exterior that is water-resistant and keeps the insulation tucked inside nicely. It is a durable jacket that can withstand winter winds and snow.
This jacket has an elastic drawcord hem for a nice fit, as well as velcro cuffs that can be adjusted to close snuggly around gloves. There is a hood that can be snapped off when it gets too warm and features lots of pockets including an internal pocket with a zipper for a smartphone.
9. Canada Goose Kensington Parka
- Keeps consumer’s warm in freezing temperatures
- Stylish with longer length and real fur on hood
- Lots of pockets
- Available for women only
This jacket for women keeps consumers warm in temperatures as low as -5°F with duck down insulation. It also features a fleeced-lined down hood with coyote fur, making it warm and stylish. It has a slim fit, plenty of pockets and is knee length.Read more
Super warm and cozy, this winter jacket contains 625 fill power from white duck down. Based on the company’s thermal index, the Kensington Parka is warm enough to be worn when it is 15° to -5° F.
This parka has Canada Goose Arctic-Tech fabric that is designed to stay dry when wet, like in snowy conditions. Besides its water-resistant properties of its fabric, this jacket has an adjustable hood that is insulated and a rib-knit collar to keep chilly winds away. It also has a longer length to keep out the cold.
There are two fleeced-lined upper handwarmer pockets to keep your hands warm when your gloves aren’t on hand, as well as two lower fleece-lined pockets. There is a storm flapper the main zipper, ad interior pocket that closes via Velcro to store personal items like chapstick or a smartphone. Overall, it has a great fit and is stylish with military buttons and coyote fur on the hood.
10. Arc’teryx Atom LT
- Warm, yet breathable for outdoor workout activities
- Wind- and water-resistant
- Lots of mobility
- Not the warmest for freezing winter weather
This is one of the best jackets when it comes it insulation, keeping you ultra warm in the winter. It features synthetic insulation in the torso, arms, and hood, as well as fleece side panels. It is wind and water resistant as well as breathable. This makes it ideal for wearing for those cold runs or hikes. Although it is warm, it’s not the best when temperatures dip below 30 degrees because of its breathability.Read more
This jacket is made with Coreloft 60 insulation, a synthetic non-woven option that is durable and dries quickly to retain warmth when wet. It also includes a polyester warm fiber that retains its loftiness. This all helps to make the Atom LT warm. However, this is a breathable jacket. It is ideal for winter outdoor activities and workouts. This does mean that the consumer won’t sweat when bundled up. It is made to be worn in milder winter weather or as a base layer.
The Atom LT features taffeta fabric that helps with wind-resistance. It also features a DWR finish that makes it water-resistant.
The collar is insulated and has a full front zip with wind flap to help to keep the cold out. This jacket is lightweight, stretchy with plenty of mobility, and comfortable. It also has two hand pockets and an internal chest pocket.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The jackets on our list are meant to help you withstand the winter by keeping you warm.
The most important feature about a winter jacket is how well it keeps out the cold. We don’t wanna walk around in a big, bulky one but we also need to stay warm. We looked at what fabrics and insulation are used and the ability to keep the cold out and the warmth in. Is the fabric breathable, or can our sweat cause a chill?
The two most common types of insulation are down and synthetic. Down is the “fluffy stuff” (not the feathers) of birds like geese and duck that helps keep them warm. Down is warmer than synthetic alternatives. It also is more lofty, or puffy. It’s also lightweight and compressible but doesn’t perform as well when wet. Synthetic insulation consists of materials like polyester that is spun to mimic down. It still is warm and performs better when wet because of it as water wicking properties. Synthetic is more durable but is heavier in weight.
You can also predict how a jacket will perform by considering its classification. Winter jackets are classified as with casual or performance options. Casual jackets are geared more for everyday wear. These are the models that primarily focus more on comfort and warmth, as well as style. These might not be the best for outdoor workouts, but many might still include positive features on that front like breathability.
Performance or “technical” jackets are made for athletic consumers. These still aim to keep the consumer warm but have more flexibility, mobility, and breathability. The idea is that the consumer is able to freely move in them for activities from skiing to shoveling snow.
Part of what makes the winter so cold is the sleet and the snow. If you plan on staying warm and dry you need a jacket that will repel moisture and keep out the wind.
Not only does the jacket need to be insulated, but it should also feature water-resistant features to keep the wet snow out. This means providing enough insulation for mild to freezing temperatures (although layers might be needed) and having features like water-resistant properties and a hood. This is especially the case for those who live in cold climates or who enjoy winter activities. It was important to us, to make sure it could keep the wet out, for we know the unpleasing feeling of being wet and cold.
After you build a warm, weather-resistant base you can look at the tidbits that add that little extra convenience to your jacket, making it more than worth the cost.
Here we looked at if it’s overall a comfortable jacket to wear as we don’t want something that’s overly bulky since this will most likely be quite uncomfortable to walk around in. Another important factor we took into consideration, was the cut and fit of the jackets and the quality of the fabric. We looked for any extras the jacket may have, like pockets, hoods, wind-guards, fur and fleece liners, and any other advanced features that improve its performance and functionality. This plays a major role because winter jackets usually come with a large price tag. However, many are made with high-quality materials, are durable, weather-resistant and perform nicely. All of this means it’s a worthy investment.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
When we choose a jacket we want features which are useful and the features to look for are important. Naturally, we look for a jacket which will give warmth but not overheat the body so we look for ventilation features. We will want to see material which allows a reasonable level of breathability, good quality material which has some stretchability to enable a nice range of movement while wearing the jacket.
Try to choose a jacket which during the rain, will get wet on the outside but stays dry inside. Keep in mind to ask and be sure that the jacket is water and wind resistant.
You will want lots of carrying space so look for a good range of pockets, different sizes and with secure fasteners. Think about what practical length the jacket should be for you, you might want waist or longer. Think about choosing a jacket with a detachable hood because this gives you both options, a hooded or none hooded jacket.
Insulation is a priority, there are so many types of insulation, down insulation is very popular, and comes in varying degrees of thickness.
Some brand jackets provide layered materials which is a very good form of insulation and these types of jackets are very effective, though the price can be higher.
Synthetic insulation has proven to be popular, though if choosing synthetic, research and find out the type of synthetic and does it give good breathability, retain warmth while not overheating the body.
With good jacket insulation, along comes the need for ventilation, check out the ventilation features, the positioning of the ventilation and make a judgment as to how effective the ventilation will be.
Frequently Asked Questions
Typically jackets with down insulation are extremely warm. Down jackets are warmer than wool, but synthetic down also is a good choice. This depends on how well it is made.
The jacket should be form fitting, but not too tight. It should be long enough in the arms to reach the wrists. The cut and style of the jacket vary based on preference. You may like a jacket that fits a little looser, but if you have too much extra space then it allows cold air to circulate and might provide a little too much ventilation.
Depending on the insulation and the weather, it might not be necessary to layer up. However, no matter how warm the jacket is, it’s always a good idea to wear layers during freezing temperatures.
As tempting as it might be, try not to at any insulation or feathers if they start to stick out. If the company you bought the coat from offers a warranty or a guarantee then contact them as quickly as possible and see if they can repair or replace your coat. If not, it's not the end of the world. Small rips and openings where filling has worked it's way through can often be fixed with a little fabric glue. Be aware of the materials your coat is made of and how they'll react to things like adhesive, heat, tearing, and other chemicals if you plan on trying to repair it yourself.
- What is the GORE-TEX® fabric?, Company website, ,
- GORE-TEX® products Everyday versatility, Company website, ,
- Omni-Heat™ Reflective Thermal reflective warmth, Company website, ,
- Coreloft Premium Thermal Insulation, Company website, ,
- How to Choose the Best Winter Jacket, Outdoor Gear Website, Jan 11, 2018 ,
- Down vs Synthetic, Outdoor Gear Website, ,