The Best Winter Jacket for Men Review

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Warm winter jackets worn on an expedition in Greenland. A winter jacket is designed to provide fundamental warmth, and keep the wearer comfortable even when not moving.
Credit: Eric Guth
Winter doesn't have to be a season of freezing in sleet and snow in uncomfortable and bulky parkas. We took 10 of the best winter jackets on the market and compared them side-by-side to see which is best for your specific winter needs, whether you need a layer to keep warm while walking the dog or for belaying your partner in frigid temps. Everything from warmth to comfort to style are discussed as we put each jacket through a handful of situations to test their mettle. There were a few surprises and a few favorites, and while all were useful in a handful of situations others were clearly the cream of the crop.

If you're looking for something lighter weight to keep you warm during or between bouts of physical activity, take the time to read through our Men's Down Jacket Review, and be sure to check out our Women's Winter Jacket Review for casual and technical models designed for females.

Read the full review below >

Review by: ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab

Top Ranked Winter Jackets - Men's Displaying 1 - 5 of 10 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Arc'teryx Therme Parka
Arc'teryx Therme Parka
Read the Review
Rab Neutrino Endurance
Rab Neutrino Endurance
Read the Review
Canada Goose Expedition Parka
Canada Goose Expedition Parka
Read the Review
Mountain Hardwear Chillwave Jacket
Mountain Hardwear Chillwave Jacket
Read the Review
The North Face Gotham Jacket
The North Face Gotham Jacket
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award      Best Buy Award 
Street Price $699
Compare at 4 sellers
Varies $288 - $360
Compare at 4 sellers
Varies $795 - $845
Compare at 6 sellers
Varies $332 - $415
Compare at 6 sellers
$299
Compare at 2 sellers
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User Rating Be the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate itBe the first to rate it
Pros Durable, clean looking, warm, weather resistentLight, compact, highly water resistant, hydrophobic downExtremely warm, many pockets, integrated cuffsVery warm, extremely durableComfortable, heavily featured, stylish
Cons No insulation or fleece lining in pockets, limited color optionsNot as warm as other coats, lacking some comfort featuresHuge, overkill for 99% of populationIncredibly bulky, unflattering, felt stiffNot very warm, marginally weather resistant
Best Uses General winter use, skiing, commuting in cold weatherAs a belay parka or lightweight jacket to wear during cold and technical activitiesOutdoor professionals in the worst winter conditions availableWinter Mountaineering, Ice Climbing, day-to-day use in frigid and uncomfortably windy environmentsLifestyle coat for low-commitment activities in a variety of cold and windy conditions
Date Reviewed Nov 23, 2014Nov 25, 2014Nov 24, 2014Nov 26, 2014Nov 20, 2014
Weighted Scores Arc'teryx Therme Parka Rab Neutrino Endurance Canada Goose Expedition Parka Mountain Hardwear Chillwave Jacket The North Face Gotham Jacket
Warmth - 30%
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7
Weather Resistance - 25%
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Comfort - 15%
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Features - 15%
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Style - 10%
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Durability - 5%
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Product Specs Arc'teryx Therme Parka Rab Neutrino Endurance Canada Goose Expedition Parka Mountain Hardwear Chillwave Jacket The North Face Gotham Jacket
Baffle Type sewn-through under an outer shell fabric sewn-through sewn-through under an outer shell fabric box-baffles sewn-through under an outer shell fabric
Total Weight 1,100g/37oz 640g/23oz 2336g/82oz 1005g/37oz 1310g/46.2oz
Down Fill Power 750 800 625 650 550
Main Fabric Gore-Tex 2-layer 75D 30D large ripstop Pertex Endurance. Pertex Quantum Lining Arctic-Tech, Coyote fur around hood. SL Rip AFX 70D x 100D 105 g/m2 100% nylon dobby weave HyVent 2L
Pockets 3 outside, one Napoleon 2 hand, 1 interior zip 4 zippered exterior, 4 exterior velcro, 1 arm, 1 zippered interior 2 hand, 1 chest, 1 interior, 1 interior mesh 2 hand, 2 chest, 2 zippered interior, 1 arm
Hood Option? Yes Yes Yes Yes (removable)
Hood Adjustments One (rear) Two (sides) None N/A None
Stuffsack Included? No Yes No Yes No

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review


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While factors such as warmth and protection are useful in determining a coat to wear all winter, also style should be discussed as a factor. A winter coat is often worn all season, sometimes for days on end. As nice as it is to have a bright and colorful ice climbing parka, huge and warm, it won't feel too useful when waiting for a concert to open it's doors late at night or out catching a movie in January. For this reason, many of us choose a parka not just as a tool but also as a piece that can be worn in everyday situations, and look nice at the same time. How to pick a jacket based on all these criteria?

As always with gear, the first thing to consider is where it will be used. An ice climber and a photographer have very different needs, carrying different equipment and moving at a different rate. When reading through each product review, make sure to ask "would this work for what I need?" Sometimes you will find the best product isn't something that was even on your radar, but an entirely new idea to breathe life into a winter season!

Selecting the Right Product
What makes a jacket a 'winter jacket'? We chose the coats in this review based on their warmth, weather resistance, and comfort. A good jacket should be insulated with some form of either synthetic or down material to trap air warmed by the body. In addition, winter can bring severe storms, with rain and snow as well as cold temperatures. A jacket should not only provide warmth but some weather protection. We define a winter jacket as a layer that will keep the wearer warm, even when not moving.

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Warm winter jackets worn on an expedition in Greenland. A winter jacket is designed to provide fundamental warmth, and keep the wearer comfortable even when not moving.
Credit: Eric Guth

Types of Winter Jackets
Walking into an outdoor store one can easily be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of wonderfully puffy coats available each winter season. Each product we reviewed uses high quality materials and is designed to solve specific needs, so first we need to define what types of cold weather jackets exist and for what activities.

Down Insulated
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Down insulation is the original workhorse for winter warmth. Down feathers can hold an incredible amount of trapped air in their soft clumps, which our bodies heat up, insulating the wearer from cold. In the past, down jackets were giant tubed baffles stitched together and thrown over the shoulders like a nylon papoose, but modern design and fashion have given us an upgrade both on technology and fit.

Down is ideal in the winter because it compresses very small, traps a ton of air, and can last many years when properly cared for. Once wet, down can clump together into useless balls of wet feathers, no longer insulating or providing warmth. In most parts of the world, winter is synonymous with snow, and in order to skirt this issue many down jackets come with some kind of nylon shell or durable water repellent (DWR) chemical treatment on either the exterior material or the down itself to stay dry.

Different qualities of down exist and we reviewed products from 550 fill power to 800 fill power. The power of the fill is the quality of the down, not unlike thread count in sheets. Typically higher fill power will feel smoother, be lighter for the warmth, and compress a little bit more. Lower fill power down may feel a bit 'clumpy' and small burrs might be noticeable through thin fabric, though the performance is still adequate.

This review includes all jackets that are insulated with down, but they are all thick, longer hemmed, and warm layers designed to keep the wearer warm even in still situations. We reviewed lightweight, technical down jackets designed for use during or between aerobic activity in our Best Down Jacket review, worth checking out if you are interested in a coat for layering or lighter, 3-season use.

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750-fill goose down insulation in the Arc'teryx Therme is used throughout the core and sleeves, areas where warmth is the main goal.
Credit: Greg Davis

Synthetic Insulated
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Synthetic Fibers are very thin tubes of plastic laid down in sheets and folded over, not unlike the type found in common house insulation - only a lot softer! Companies like Primaloft and Polartec, and individual outdoor clothing manufacturers produce types of this insulation, which attempts to mimic down by trapping warm air in the spaces between the fibers. The advantage of synthetic insulation over down is that it does not clump together when it gets wet, so it can still insulate the wearer somewhat.

All of the jackets we have reviewed here are down-insulated, due mostly to the incredible weather resistant shell materials the coats are paired with, which keeps the down feathers dry unless in a downpour. In the event that moisture is unavoidable, synthetic insulation may be used throughout the jacket or in specific areas prone to moisture like the armpits or cuffs.

If you need a synthetic jacket to wear in a wet climate or keep on hand in case of a storm, see our Best Insulated Jacket review for models insulated entirely with synthetic materials.

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Chris Simrell stays dry and extra warm while racking up with the synthetic Patagonia DAS Parka layered over his shell.
Credit: Molly Ravits

Technical Parka
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The term 'technical' is as ambiguous as it fancy, yet in our reviews we refer to a jacket as being 'technical' if it is designed for athletic activities, where both movement, sweat management, and standing still are involved. This happens in two ways, a more athletic cut designed to move with the user (during the intended activity, i.e. skiing or mountaineering) and some kind of water resistant but breathable material to prevent water from compromising the insulation.

Water is water, and water INSIDE a down jacket is just as problematic as the rain and snow OUTSIDE. Sweating in a down jacket while winter mountaineering sounds unlikely, but our bodies are amazingly efficient at warming up, and an inappropriate coat in the wrong terrain can quickly turn into a sack of soggy goose feathers.

We reviewed several coats that are specifically made for technical applications, such as the Rab Neutrino Endurance and the Mountain Hardwear Chillwave. Both are made of a water resistant shell material and are built to fit tighter to the body to allow for motions such as hard hiking and swinging an ice axe overhead.

Other technical features include helmet compatible hoods, adjustable sleeve cuffs, and two-way zippers.

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A helmet compatible hood, insulated pockets, and high weather resistance are a few of the features that are offered in technical activities.
Credit: Greg Davis

Casual Parka
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While a climber might be happy to sacrifice a bit of warmth for a lighter product, many will be using their jackets at home, shoveling the driveway, going to work, heading out to visit family in New Hampshire… but not necessarily hanging off of a cliff. People who live in cold climates need a work horse coat that is durable, super warm, and able to deal with the wide range of nastiness a full winter season can bring.

Casual parkas are typically going to be a bit longer, adding insulation to the thighs and back side. In addition the hood may be insulated or even lined with fleece or fur to add some extra comfort. Typical customers of these products will be stuck in the freezing cold for extended periods of time but may not be moving and working up a sweat in their jacket. We reviewed a handful of products ideal for urban and street wear that work just as as well as out on the lifts or at a late night concert, like The North Face Gotham and the Arc'teryx Therme. These products are incredibly warm, made of quality materials, and showcase modern winter style. Even better, the down insulation and water resistant shells mean that they will perform as well as look good!

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The coyote-fur hood on the Canada Goose Expedition Parka is fantastic for blocking wind and spin drift. It also makes a strong style statement. This is an example of a parka that works well in very cold, everyday situations.
Credit: Greg Davis

Criteria for Evalutaion
With so much on the market, it is important to be educated about what products are out there and who and what they are intended for. For more information regarding how to pick your next winter jacket refer to our buying advice article.

This review compares winter jackets that are designed to provide basic warmth any time someone heads out into the cold. The styles range from technical to casual, but all of them will work as an everyday winter layer for a cold environment.

Warmth
The most important rating for a jacket is warmth. A winter coat should obviously be warm, but how warm is too warm? And what is not warm enough? Our parkas run a full spectrum from lightweight urban options like The North Face Gotham to expedition coats designed for Antarctic researchers, like the Canada Goose Expedition Parka. The Gotham isn't designed for the most hard-core of uses, but rather for day-to-day commuting and short, low-commitment days in the mountains. The Rab Neutrino and Patagonia Roy's Bay are similar in that they are of mid-weight insulation and warmth but offer superior weather protection than the Gotham. Our big warm winners are the Canada Goose Expedition Parka, Arc'teryx Therme, and Mountain Hardwear Chillwave. While all very warm, they are vividly different in their intended use. A jacket so big and warm that you can't move in may not be appropriate in techinical terrain, such as skiing and mountaineering. We really like the way that the Rab Neutrino and Arc'teryx Therme blend a technical fit and modern technology with *enough* warmth for their intended uses. If there is no question that warmth is the only reason for a coat, consider the Canada Goose Expedition, our warmest jacket reviewed.

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Staying toasty warm after a bit of ice climbing in the Mountain Hardware Chillwave Jacket.
Credit: Molly Ravits

Weather Resistance
Winter is not the same across the globe, and we all experience the season differently in our own climates. Some areas, such as the Pacific Northwest, may see more rain than snow. For those environments a three-in-one parka like the Roy's Bay, which combines a rain shell and a removable insulation layer, might be ideal, with the emphasis on waterproof materials and sealed seams. The Arc'teryx Therme which has a waterproof Gore-Tex exterior, would excel similarly, though the removable inner jacket of the Roy's Bay is awesome for times when it may not be cold but it is so wet as to affect the down inside. The Therme has a wild way to solve this by incorporating synthetic insulation in areas of high moisture, like the armpits and hood. This allows for some water to sneak in and not compromise the down, as synthetic insulation continues to provide warmth even when wet.

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On the Arc'teryx Therme, a two-layer Gore-Tex fabric is paired with mapped synthetic insulation in the cuffs, hood and underarms - areas likely to receive moisture.
Credit: Greg Davis

Technical terrain like climbing and mountaineering often puts a heavy need on wind protection. The Rab Neutrino Endurance and Mountain Hardwear Chillwave are traditional down jackets built with highly water resistant shells, which protect the down in light precipitation. The Rab Neutrino even has a down treatment that coats the fibers with a hydrophobic chemical. This allows the down to retain its loft for longer, even if it gets a little damp. This does not function the same as synthetic insulation, but helps to expand the condition of use for the jacket. The Brooks Range Mojave also features hydrophobic down.

The Canada Goose Expeidition does not have a waterproof barrier, but rather a Durable Water Repellency (DWR) chemical treatment to the exterior fabric that rolls water off - great for snow, but heavy rain will will eventually soak through.

Comfort
Wearing a winter jacket can sometimes feel like wearing a sleeping bag with sleeves. This may be a good thing, if standing around waiting for the ski lift to open. In this light, the Canada Goose and Mountain Hardwear Chillwave are terrific, as bulk is a small price to pay to be washed in a sea of down insulation. Once moving, the needs may change, and the definition of comfort may change as well. A comfortable jacket for winter mountaineering, for instance, should move well with the body. The Arc'teryx Therme and Rab Neutrino are great winter parkas that feel comfortable in motion, where the Neutrino is ideal for hiking and mountaineering and the Therme is best for urban wear.

Some of us who live in real winter wonderlands aren't wearing our coats solely on the slopes, but day-to-day, in commutes, and during daily chores. For these users comfort may come in the availability of pockets or fleece lining, as found on the Gotham. Fur or faux-fur hoods block some wind, and in windy areas this may be a way to increase comfort.

Features
We would like to think that people aren't buying cars because the color and the cup holders, but the reality is that in a competitive market, a handful of small features can make or break a choice.

There are a few features we really like and would like to emphasize as useful. Fleece lined and/or insulated pockets add comfort when wearing a jacket all day. Most jackets had this, at least on one side of the pocket. Removable hoods are a nice feature if needing to reduce bulk, as is likely with the Mountain Hardwear Chillwave, or to have a cleaner presentation like with the more casual Roy's Bay.

The hood can utilize a few fun options to make use easier, such as the wired brim on the Endurance or a stiff brim on the Therme.

Perhaps more of a creature comfort, the shell material of a product can be a place to have some variance as well. We really like the soft hand of the Therme jacket with its woven nylon as well as the 'denim' feel of the Gotham.

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On the Neutrino Endurance, the two-way zipper can open from the bottom, allowing easy access to a climbing harness.
Credit: Nick Fitzpatrick

Style
Unfortunately style is personal, meaning that we still have to see our Uncle wearing that same Hawaiian shirt at every family wedding. Fortunately for us, however, is that no matter what your own personal style is there is, a winter jacket to compliment it. Our jackets range from urban-inspired waterproof down coats to survival gear built solely on function.

A few stylistic things to consider is the parka length. Longer parkas, like the Therme, will have a completely different look than a tapered and athletic cut, as is found on the Gotham. The extra length also adds extra warmth.

We really like the subtle urban style of the Roy's Bay and the Therme, without excessive pockets or bulky fabrics and stitching.

Durability
Any winter jacket should at least be durable enough to stand up to the rigors of daily use for a few years. What that use is, is up to the buyer, however expect your daily chores as well as the fun activities to play a factor. The durable shoulder construction of the Mountain Hardwear Chillwave, for example, holds up great to hard wear and tear from pack straps and skis. The thin fabric and exposed stitching on the Rab Neutrino are very light, but can catch or tear on exposed burs or crampon points. Is this jacket meant only to climb and belay in, or will it be carrying loads of trash out to the dumpster each Tuesday? A more durable jacket like the Therme can be abused pretty thoroughly without affecting the stitching or the waterproof exterior.

Small zippers, snaps, and anything that sticks out can be torn off or or worn out. The small buttons on the Roy's Bay get a ton of action on a very small surface area, and the Arc'teryx Therme has a bottom button that sees a ton of tension. While buttons and zippers may fail, Velcro can stand the test of time, a material the Chillwave and Canada Goose Expedition Parka have in spades.

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Thick zippers are easy to manipulate with gloves and a velcro flap secures any possible leaks from exposure. Here you can see the zippers on the Chillwave.
Credit: Greg Davis

Editors' Choice Award: Arc'teryx Therme
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Warm, clean and sleek - the Therme is a classic Arc'teryx design with modern technologies.
Credit: Greg Davis
The Arc'teryx Therme handily won our Editors' Choice award for best winter jacket thanks to the clean construction and style, warm insulation, and durable waterproof shell. The style is timeless and appropriate just about everywhere, and the coat moved smoothly against the skin and under-layers. We really like the blend of weather resistance and warmth without bulk, and feel that anyone can experience several full seasons of winter in this product and feel warm and protected in just about any situation.

Top Pick Award for Technical Applications: Rab Neutrino Endurance
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The Rab Neutrino Endurance's durable, PU coated, water resistant fabric can be a significant advantage over ultralight water resistant materials.
Credit: Max Neale
Our Top Pick Award for best technical jacket went to the Rab Neutrino Endurance, an extremely light and warm down jacket insulated with a water resistant exterior and hydrophobic down. While the Therme is warmer and more weather resistant, we love the way this jacket packs into a small stuff sack, i super lightweight for carrying into the backcountry, and were amazed at how well it performs in the field during intense training. This is the ideal layer for ice climbing, belaying, overnight ski tours, and winter camping.

Best Buy Award: The North Face Gotham
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The Gotham is a versatile coat that works just as well for winter mornings in campgrounds as it does for everyday wear.
Credit: Greg Davis
The North Face Gotham is our Best Buy Award winner, and at $299 one would be hard-pressed to find such a handsome coat with a waterproof exterior AND down insulation. The value comes at the lower quality down used, only 550 fill, however it performed well even in some technical terrain. This would be a great option for an urban inspired jacket to be used day in, day out.

Accessories
Even with a hood and insulated pockets, a pair of gloves and a hat may be a good idea. Consider the Bird Head Toque and the Outdoor Research Sueno Beanie to prevent heat loss from the head.

For gloves, check out our review of The Best Ski Gloves.

Greg Davis
Buying Advice
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How to Choose the Best Winter Jacket - Click for details
 How to Choose the Best Winter Jacket

by Greg Davis and Chris Simrell
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