The Best Winter Jacket For Women Review

Looking for a winter jacket that can keep you toasty warm, yet also keeps you looking smoking hot? We tested a selection of the best parka style winter jackets, ranging from thigh-length casual designs, to heavy-duty technical products suitable for serious winter athletic activities. Each contender was compared across a range of metrics including warmth, comfort and cozyness, style, durability, and more.

Read on to learn which we selected as the very best, the most versatile, and the best for your money. Reference our Buying Advice for tips on how to purchase the ideal winter jacket.

Also see The Best Down Jacket for Women Review or The Best Insulated Jacket for Women Review for comparisons of more technical insulating layers.

Read the full review below >

Review by: ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab

Top Ranked Winter Jacket - Women's Displaying 1 - 5 of 9 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Canada Goose Kensington Parka
Canada Goose Kensington Parka
Read the Review
Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket - Women's
Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket - Women's
Read the Review
Video video review
Patagonia Downtown Loft Jacket- Women's
Patagonia Downtown Loft Jacket- Women's
Read the Review
Video video review
The North Face Metropolis Parka - Women's
The North Face Metropolis Parka - Women's
Read the Review
Video video review
Patagonia DAS Parka - Women's
Patagonia DAS Parka - Women's
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award     
Street Price Varies $695 - $745
Compare at 5 sellers
Varies $234 - $360
Compare at 4 sellers
Varies $167 - $289
Compare at 7 sellers
Varies $231 - $400
Compare at 4 sellers
Varies $269 - $299
Compare at 4 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 Stylish, durable, knee-length adds warmth, thoughtful features, 19 color choicesLonger cut in back, thick and warm, high quality down, helmet compatible hood, adjustable cuffs, insulated zipper flap, durable material, included stuff sackStylish and dressy, yet warm, just the right length for comfortable zipping, has a hood, high quality down, more versatile than longer parkasKnee-length cut adds extra warmth, stylish, 10 color choices, removable hood, durable materialbody mapped insulation, neck baffle, bright colors, thick, warm, durable, fairly lightweight
Cons Expensive, real fur a detractor for manyStitch-through construction rather than box-bafflesElastic on hood has weird look, zippers on hand pockets are small and snag easilyNot very fitted around the waist, lowest quality down, zipper tends to stick, heavydoesn't compress as well as a down jacket of the same warmth, interior pockets too small for gloves
Best Uses Around town, staying warm every day in cold climatesAlpine climbing, mountaineering, winter campingAround town, winter excursions, camping, general cold weather useAround townIce climbing, overnight ski-tours, winter camping, mountaineering
Date Reviewed Jan 01, 2014Jan 05, 2014Jan 05, 2014Jan 05, 2014Jan 01, 2014
Weighted Scores Canada Goose Kensington Parka Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket - Women's Patagonia Downtown Loft Jacket- Women's The North Face Metropolis Parka - Women's Patagonia DAS Parka - Women's
Warmth - 25%
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7
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8
Comfort And Cozyness - 20%
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9
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9
Style - 20%
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7
Durability - 10%
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8
Wind Resistance - 10%
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7
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7
Water Resistance - 10%
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9
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7
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9
Compactness Weight - 5%
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4
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6
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Product Specs Canada Goose Kensington Parka Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket - Women's Patagonia Downtown Loft Jacket- Women's The North Face Metropolis Parka - Women's Patagonia DAS Parka - Women's
Insulation 625 fill power white duck down 800 fill goose down 800 fill goose down 600 fill goose down 120-g PrimaLoft Synergy with body-mapped sections of 60-g PrimaLoft ONE
Main Fabric Arctic-Tech (85% polyester, 15% cotton) 30D large rip Pertex® Endurance, soft Pertex® Quantum inner Satin polyester shell with elegant contoured quilting Light colors: 50D 71 g/m2 (2.1 oz/yd2) plain-weave polyester dark colors: 30D 57 g/m2 (1.7 oz/yd2) plain-weave nylon 100% nylon PU-coated ripstop, with a DWR
Construction Type Sewn-Through Sewn-through Sewn-through Sewn-through N/A
Weight 2.86 lbs 1.26 lbs 1.48 lbs 2.02 lbs 1.21 lbs
Pockets 5 (2 hand, 2 chest, 1 interior) 3 (1 interior, 2 hand) 3 (1 interior, 2 hand) 3 (1 interior, 2 hand) 5 (2 hand, 1 chest, 2 interior drop-in)
Hood Yes (fleece-lined with removable coyte fur trim) Yes (helmet compatible with wire peak) Yes (doubles as shawl collar) Yes (detachable) Yes (helmet compatible)
2-way zipper Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Included Stuff Sack No Yes No No Yes
Unique Features 19 color options, kick pleats in back for increased mobility, backpack straps inside for carrying female specific shape, cut longer in back wind flap over zipper looks dressy baffled internal collar

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review



Selecting the Right Product
The days have gotten shorter, the temperature has sunk, the wind carries a stinging chill, and snow is beginning to fall. Yep, its winter, which means it is time to layer up with the perfect coat. However, first you need to ask yourself this question: what is most important to you, style or technicality? Do you need a versatile winter layer to stuff into your backpack to keep you warm during freezing belays and around a campfire, or do you just need a jacket to wear every time you go outside and about your day-to-day business?

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Wearing the DAS Parka while around a campfire on a chilly fall evening in the desert. Notice a whole group of outdoorsy people and their chosen insulating layers.
Credit: Ian McEleney

We have selected and tested both casual, stylish winter coats and thick, technical jacket for extreme conditions. Though these two types are not very similar to one another, we feel that they both classify as parkas, which we define as warmer, longer, and of a separate purpose than your average lightweight down jacket, which is why both styles have been included in this one review.

Types of Women's Winter Jackets
There are two distinct types of winter coats that comprise this review.

Casual
First, there are the stylish, long, around-town designs, that are usually warmer, heavier, and more protective than lightweight, technical down or synthetic insulated jackets. These will usually not compress or pack down very well, but tend to be very flattering and comfortable. These make the best coats if you are looking for something to keep you warm during the winter season as you drive to work, head to the grocery store, and hit the occasional ugly sweater Christmas party. (At least you will be looking sexy until you take your jacket off…) A majority of the pieces in this review fit into this category.

Technical
The second type is the thick, warm, and burly jacket designed for functionality over style, being extra warm and protective for extremely cold conditions. These technical designs are suitable for serious outdoor activities, including mountaineering, backcountry skiing, winter camping, or ice climbing. Only three of the pieces we reviewed fit into this classification: Mountain Hardwear Chillwave Jacket - Women's, Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket - Women's and the synthetic insulated Patagonia DAS Parka - Women's.

Criteria for Evaluation

Warmth
Warmth is mostly affected by the amount of insulation the coat contains, whether down or synthetic, where more = warmer. The two products with the most down per area are the Rab Neutrino Endurance, which contains 7 ounces of 800 fill down and the Patagonia Downtown Loft Jacket - Women's with 8 ounces of 800 fill. Compared to the the Patagonia Fiona Parka - Women's with 4.5 ounces and the Ultralight Fiona with 4.7 ounces (both of which spread this amount of down across more surface area in a longer coat), the Neutrino Endurance and the Downtown Loft are significantly warmer.

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With 8 ounces of 800 fill down, the Downtown Loft Jacket provides enough warmth and insulation for just about any winter activity while still looking stylish.
Credit: Jean Tucky

The Mountain Hardwear Chillwave and Downtown Coat both use 650 fill, which is lower quality down. The lower quality down is still warm, it just weighs more and compresses less than a similar jacket with an equal amount of higher quality down. The Canada Goose Kensington uses 625 fill duck down and The North Face Metropolis uses 600 fill goose down, which are the lowest quality fills of all of the contenders reviewed. For their warmth, those jackets are much heavier than an equal one with higher quality down, but they are still warmer and thicker than both of the Fiona models because they contain more down inside.

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The synthetic insulated DAS Parka has Primaloft Synergy throughout, and an additional layer of Primaloft ONE around the core to keep the wearer extra warm during cold activities such as ice climbing and belaying.
Credit: Luke Lydiard

The one exception to the down fill comparison is the Patagonia DAS Parka - Women's, which uses synthetic insulation. Compared to all the pieces in The Best Insulated Jacket for Women Review, the DAS is far thicker and warmer and contains much more insulation. The DAS is filled with 120-g PrimaLoft Synergy, but it has an additional layer of higher quality 60-g Primaloft ONE around the torso for added warmth in the most important area. Compared to the down-filled technical models, the DAS is slightly less warm and less compressible, but due to the weight of other features, it is actually lighter in weight, even though synthetic insulation is usually heavier for the warmth.

Comfort & Coziness
Most of the pieces we reviewed have features designed to make them as comfortable as possible such as fleece-lined pockets for tucking cold hands and a fleece-lined chin-guard to keep from scraping and chapping your chin and face. The notable exceptions to this were the DAS and the Fiona and Ultralight Fiona, which skip on both of these cozy features in order to remain lightweight. Both of the Fiona coats are better suited to mild climates, whereas the thicker and warmer parkas like the The North Face Metropolis Parka - Women's and the Kensington have these comforting details.

Style
If the definition of a "parka" is a coat, either synthetically insulated or down insulated, that is thicker and warmer than the lightweight technical options, then there is an automatic hindrance to creating a sleek feminine style. The warmer and cozier a jacket gets, the rounder and puffier you look while wearing it. In the words of one of our male reviewers, thick parkas can "turn the most curvaceous babe into a homogenous blob."

If you are shopping for a technical, warm product for an expedition or for some serious winter outdoor adventure, this issue might not even cross your mind. Looking rotund is far preferable to freezing to death. However, we have begun to notice that there is a large market of ladies who want to stay warm during the winter season without looking like they ate too many Christmas cookies. What is the perfect apres ski jacket? What coat can a classy lady who happens to live in a winter climate be seen in around town?

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A comparison of the fit and length of the parkas in this review. The technical parkas are shorter, while the more stylish and tailored parkas are cut longer.
Credit: OutdoorGearLab
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A comparison of the fit and length of the parkas in this review. The technical parkas are shorter, while the more stylish and tailored parkas are cut longer.
Credit: OutdoorGearLab

This review covers both technical designs, and thankfully, notably stylish options. We found that the most tailored and best fitting were the Patagonia Ultralight Fiona Parka - Women's and the similar Patagonia Fiona, which doesn't have a hood. Both of these long models come in at the waist in an attractive and feminine manner. These are also the thinnest and least warm models we reviewed. The North Face Metropolis Parka - Women's has a longer hemline and is slightly baggy around the waist, but is still flattering while being much warmer than both Fiona models. The Mountain Hardwear Downtown Coat - Women's is long, and thicker and warmer than the Metropolis. It also has a faux fur-lined hood for extra flair (which can be removed if you dislike it.) The Patagonia Downtown Loft has an excellent mid-length design. It is slightly longer than most lightweight down jackets, but shorter than the longest styles, which allows it to be more versatile, allows for more mobility, and it can be worn in more situations. It contains more down than both the Fiona models, making it much warmer even though it offers less coverage.

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The Canada Goose Kensington Parka manages to be warm, protective, and extremely durable and well-built while still being stylish, feminine, and flattering. This jacket gives you the best of both worlds: form and function.
Credit: Luke Lydiard

The winner in our style category is the Canada Goose Kensington Parka. With waist-cinching tabs on the sides, this very thick and warm coat looks tailored and curvy. There is an exterior fabric covering the sewn-through insulation layer so no baffles appear on the outside, giving it a sleek look accented with buttons and pockets. It is thigh-length and has a large fur-lined hood. This trim can also be removed it it doesn't suit you. A piece that can be dressy or casual, this coat left us feeling the most attractive while bundled up against weather.

Construction
If you are interested in a burly technical product, the construction method can factor heavily into your decision about what to buy. Our Women's Parka Buying Advice Article has more information on two types of construction to look for, sewn-through and box-baffles. The only two product that we evaluated that uses box-baffles is the Mountain Hardwear Chillwave Jacket - Women's. This allows for the down contained within to expand to its full loft potential, and ultimately produces a smoother appearance. The box-baffles also make these models less likely to have cold spots where the stitching is located than on the others that use sewn-through baffles. A unique mention is the exterior lining on the Kensington, which is separate from the insulating layer. This prevents wind or moisture from coming in through the stitching, making the whole jacket warmer and more protective.

Durability
When it comes to winter jacket durability, weaknesses tend to lie in the fabrics and the zippers. Fabrics can tear, and if it is made of down, it compromises the insulation by leaking feathers. Zippers can stick and break, which is one of the most frustrating failures.

Through frequent use, we found that the thicker the main materials, the more durable they seemed to be. Thick materials, though heavier, are less likely to tear or snag. We felt that the Pertex Endurance material with its additional water resistant membrane on the Rab Neutrino Endurance, the burly-feeling Arctic Tech fabric on the Kensington, and the thick 2.1 oz per yard polyester that makes up the North Face Metropolis were the most durable of the products we had the opportunity to use. The most fragile material was the recycled polyester on the Patagonia Fiona.

So far in our tests the only zipper issue we have come across is with the North Face Metropolis. Sometimes the zipper sticks and is hard to get started. This is partially due to the length of the zipper as well as to the quality of the zipper used, however this is not a deal breaker for us.

Wind Resistance
Several of the products we evaluated were made using a windproof face material: the Rab Neutrino Endurance and the Mountain Hardwear Chillwave, and the Patagonia Fiona. The notable exception is the Fiona Ultralight, which does have a water resistant DWR added, but the material itself is not rated as windproof.

Water Resistance
All of the models we evaluated use a low-absorbency main fabric such as nylon or polyester to prevent them from soaking up water, and most of them have an additional DWR coating to further prevent moisture absorbing into the insulation. On its own, the most water-resistant is the Rab Neutrino Endurance. This parka is made out of a material called Pertex Endurance that includes a highly water resistant PU coating, which protects the down from taking on water. This allows the down to retain its loft and remain functional in snow and light storms. It would not withstand a full drenching in a downpour, but the added protection from the membrane allows it to be a more versatile piece.

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The Pertex Endurance fabric that comprises the Rab Neutrino Endurance is highly water resistant (1000 mm water column) and is 100% windproof. This offers excellent protection against weather.
Credit: McKenzie Long

Throughout our tests and usage we wore these parkas through several snowstorms, and felt that they withstood the elements well. In particular, the North Face Metropolis offered excellent protection while walking though wet, snowy weather. The one that offered the least protection was the Ultralight Fiona because they is the thinnest and is made out of a material than is not windproof.

Weight & Compactness
As longer and thicker than typical down jackets, parkas are overall less compressible and packable. The long casual designs in particular do not pack down very small or very well. The exception to this is the 0.64 lb Patagonia Ultralight Fiona Parka - Women's, which uses 800 fill down and comes with its own stuff sack. It packs down to a very small and manageable size, especially for a longer style. This packability allows for the Ultralight Fiona to be a wonderful choice for traveling or even the occasional camping trip where a long parka would not get in the way. The Rab Neutrino Endurance also comes with an included stuff sack and due to its high quality down, packs down fairly well. It results in a larger bundle than the Fiona Ultralight, but is surprisingly compressible for being so thick and warm. The Patagonia DAS, with synthetic insulation, weighs in surprisingly low at 1.21 lbs, being the lightest technical model we reviewed. It also comes with a stuff sack and compresses fairly well, especially for not using down insulation.

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A comparison of the packed sizes of the Patagonia Ultralight Fiona (top) and the Rab Neutrino Endurance.
Credit: McKenzie Long

The heaviest contenders are the 2.02 lb North Face Metropolis, which uses a heavy material to add durability, and the 2.86 lb Canada Goose Kensington. However, neither of these parkas were designed to be packed and taken along on weight-concious trips. Rather their added weight comes from features that increase warmth and durability for every day use.

Editor's Choice Award: Canada Goose Kensington Parka
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The Canada Goose Kensington parka served this bride well on her winter, ski-in wedding. It is incredibly warm, yet looks classy.
Credit: Dale Apgar
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Most women want a warm jacket for the winter months, but for every day use it is preferable to have a subtle combination of style and function. If a coat looks flattering, women are more likely to love it and wear it frequently. This is why we gave our Editors' Choice award to Canada Goose Kensington Parka. It is an ideal blend of an attractive, slim-fitting cut and burly protection from cold. This well-tailored coat has waist cinches to make sure the fit suits your body type, and it just so happens to be the warmest and most durable model we tested as well. Cut to just above the knees, it offers the most insulated coverage of all the products we evaluated, and the material it is made out of is decently wind and water resistant and very abrasion resistant. Kick pleats on the rear give it exceptional mobility for a long coat, and the fleece-lind hood with removable coyote fur trim will keep your ears and face protected from freezing wind.

Best Buy Award: Patagonia Downtown Loft Jacket
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The hip-length cut of the Patagonia Downtown Loft Jacket allows it to be stylish and warm, yet more versatile than some of the longer parkas.
Credit: Jean Tucky
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The Patagonia Downtown Loft Jacket is an excellent combination of fashion, function, and versatility, all for a good price. With a hip-length cut, it is shorter than the other casual models, making it more functional for outdoor pursuits as well as around town activities, but it offers more coverage and warmth than a typical lightweight down model that runs a little shorter. Our testers loved the look and feel of this product, noting that it is feminine and more dressy than most winter jackets. With 8 ounces of 800 fill down, it is especially warm as well. To top it off, it is the least expensive we reviewed, giving the most bang-for-your-buck by far and earning it the Best Buy Award.

Top Pick Award for Best Technical Parka: Rab Neutrino Endurance
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The highly water-resistant shell material of the Rab Neutrino Endurance is also durable, making tasks like coiling a wet and icy rope simple.
Credit: Luke Lydiard
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We awarded the Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket - Women's the Top Pick for Best Technical Parka due to it being the most protective and most versatile option we evaluated. A technical design rather than a casual design, the Neutrino Endurance has useful features such as a helmet compatible and adjustable hood with a wire rim, adjustable cuffs, an included stuff sack, a longer cut in the back for added warmth, and a highly water-resistant polyurethane coating on the fabric to increase its versatility. Packed with 7 ounces of 800 fill down, this is also the warmest technical parka while at the same time is less expensive than one of the other technical designs we evaluated, making it an excellent deal for such a high performing product.

McKenzie Long
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