The Best Winter Jacket For Women Review

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Looking for a jacket to keep you warm and dry during winter? We reviewed a number of styles from professional to flattering to technical in order to help you find the perfect match for your lifestyle.
Credit: Luke Lydiard
Looking the perfect jacket for winter? Are you looking for a blend of fashion and function to get you around town? Or perhaps you are looking for a very warm jacket to withstand harsh conditions in the mountains? We tested a selection of the best 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, weather resistance, comfort, 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: ⋅ Senior Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab

Top Ranked Winter Jackets - Women's Displaying 1 - 5 of 10 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Canada Goose Kensington Parka
Canada Goose Kensington Parka
Read the Review
Patagonia Tres Down Parka
Patagonia Tres Down Parka
Read the Review
Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket - Women's
Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket - Women's
Read the Review
Patagonia Downtown Loft Jacket- Women's
Patagonia Downtown Loft Jacket- Women's
Read the Review
Patagonia DAS Parka - Women's
Patagonia DAS Parka - Women's
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award   
Street Price Varies $640 - $745
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$529
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Varies $270 - $360
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Varies $223 - $279
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$299
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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 choices3 jackets in one, shell is very waterproof, stylish and professional look, ethically sourced downLonger cut in back, thick and warm, high quality down, helmet compatible hood, adjustable cuffs, insulated zipper flap, durable material, included stuff sackStylish and dressy, warm, just the right length for comfortable zipping, convertible hood, traceable down, more versatile than longer parkasbody mapped insulation, neck baffle, bright colors, thick, warm, durable, fairly lightweight
Cons Expensive, real fur a detractor for manyDown jacket does not have two-way zipper, separating and joining layers is cumbersome, fit is tight in shouldersStitch-through construction rather than box-bafflesZippers on hand pockets are small and snag easily, on the heavy sidedoesn'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 climatesCasual and professional wear in wet climatesAlpine climbing, mountaineering, winter campingAround town, camping, general cold weather useIce climbing, overnight ski-tours, winter camping, mountaineering
Date Reviewed Nov 24, 2014Nov 24, 2014Nov 24, 2014Nov 24, 2014Nov 24, 2014
Weighted Scores Canada Goose Kensington Parka Patagonia Tres Down Parka Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket - Women's Patagonia Downtown Loft Jacket- Women's Patagonia DAS Parka - Women's
Warmth - 30%
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Weather Resistance - 25%
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Style - 20%
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Comfort - 15%
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Features - 5%
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Durability - 5%
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Product Specs Canada Goose Kensington Parka Patagonia Tres Down Parka Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket - Women's Patagonia Downtown Loft Jacket- Women's Patagonia DAS Parka - Women's
Style Casual Casual/ Rain Technical Casual Technical
Length mid-thigh mid-thigh over hips over hips over hips
2-way zipper Yes Yes on outer shell, not on inner jacket Yes No Yes
Insulation 625 fill power white duck down 600 fill Traceable duck down 200 grams of 800 fill hyrdophobic European goose down 600 fill Traceable duck down 120-g PrimaLoft Silver with body-mapped sections of 60-g PrimaLoft Gold
Main Fabric Arctic-Tech (85% polyester, 15% cotton) Outer: H2No Perfomance Standard Inner: 100% polyester Pertex Endurance outer, soft Pertex Quantum inner polyester shell with DWR 100% nylon PU-coated ripstop, with a DWR
Baffle Type Sewn-Through Sewn-though Sewn-through Sewn-through N/A
Weight (size small) With fur: 2.86 lbs / 45.76 oz, W/o fur: 2.66 lbs / 42.56 oz Complete: 2.88 lbs / 46.08 oz, Shell only: 1.9 lbs / 30.4 oz, Down only: 0.98 lbs / 15.68 oz 1.28 lbs / 20.48 oz 1.48 lbs / 23.68 oz 1.21 lbs / 19.36 oz
Pockets 5 (2 hand, 2 chest, 1 interior) 5 total: Outer Shell: 2 hand, Inner Down: 2 hand, 1 interior 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, on outer shell only, snaps off Yes (helmet compatible with wire peak) Yes (doubles as high shawl collar) Yes (helmet compatible)
Included Stuff Sack No No Yes No Yes
Unique Features 19 color options, kick pleats in back for increased mobility, backpack straps inside for carrying 3 jackets in one, extra rain protection female specific shape, cut longer in back hood stows in high collar 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, it's winter, which means it is time to layer up with the perfect coat. However, first you need to ask yourself this question: what do you need a winter jacket for? Do you need a versatile winter layer to stuff into your backpack and 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? Are you looking for the warmest possible jacket to keep you warm for extended periods of time outdoors? Or do you just need a warm layer to get you between your house, your car, and your office? We have reviewed jackets that are appropriate for each of these applications, so read on to find your perfect layer.

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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

Types of Winter Jackets
There are multiple categories of insulated winter jackets designed with different purposes in mind, which can be confusing. So in order to make things clear, first we will describe each type of coat so that you can decide which style best suits you and your needs.

Down Insulated
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A down jacket is insulated with down from geese or ducks and is the warmest-for-the-weight insulation. Down is highly compressible and if properly taken care of can last for many years. The downside to down is that it loses its loft and insulating properties when it gets wet. The most popular style of down jacket is the thin, lightweight model that compresses well and can be carried along on just about any type of backcountry adventure.

Most of the parkas in this review feature down insulation, but they are thicker and warmer than a standard lightweight down jacket. We reviewed lightweight, technical down jackets in our Best Down Jacket for Women review, so go there if this style is what you are looking for.

Synthetic Insulated
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Synthetic jackets are warm coats insulated with man-made fibers such as Primaloft or Thermal Q Elite. These fibers are designed to mimic down by trapping warm air in between the fibers. Synthetic insulation has the advantage over down of being more resistant to wetness. It retains its loft even when wet, so retains some insulating properties. Synthetic insulation does not last as long as down, and eventually packs out. This type of insulation has a heavier warmth-to-weight ratio than down and is less compressible. Usually synthetic jackets are worn in wet, cold climates or for activities where the wearer could be sweating a lot.

In this review we tested two models that use synthetic insulation: the Patagonia DAS Parka - Women's and the Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Jacket - Women's. We reviewed lightweight, technical versions of synthetic jackets in our Best Insulated Jacket for Women review, and you can learn more about that style there.

Technical Parka
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A technical parka is a thick, warm, and burly jacket designed for functionality over style, being extra warm and protective for extremely cold conditions. They can be either down insulated or synthetic insulated. We separate these jackets out from the down and insulated jacket reviews because they are heavier, warmer, and longer with more coverage than the lightweight models we included in those reviews, and these jackets find themselves in a class of their own. These technical designs are suitable for serious outdoor activities, including mountaineering, backcountry skiing, winter camping, or ice climbing. Only two of the pieces we reviewed here fit into this classification: the Rab Neutrino Endurance Jacket - Women's and the synthetic Patagonia DAS.

Casual Parka
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A casual parka is a warm, longer-hemmed, everyday winter jacket that is usually fairly stylish as well. These parkas tend to be warmer, heavier, and more protective than lightweight, technical down or synthetic insulated jackets. They can contain either down or synthetic insulation and range from thin to thick. They will usually not compress or pack down very well, but tend to be very flattering and comfortable. The main difference between these coats and the ones in the down and insulated jacket reviews is that these are designed for people who won't be sweating when wearing their winter jacket, but who just want to be as warm as possible. All of the more technical layers are designed with athletes in mind who will spend at least part of their day working up some body heat, and need something to keep them warm as they cool down. Casual jackets are for people heading out into the cold and who need protection, but are unlikely to be working hard during this period.

These make the best coats if you are looking for something to keep you warm during the winter season as you walk the dog, head to the grocery store, and attend the occasional holiday party. A majority of the pieces in this review fit into this category. Refer to our Buying Advice for tips on what to look for when choosing a winter jacket.

Criteria for Evaluation
We have selected and tested both casual, stylish winter coats and thick, technical jackets in this review. Though these two types are not very similar to one another, we feel that they both classify as parkas, which we define as: designed to provide fundamental warmth even when the wearer isn't moving. Your average lightweight technical jacket is intended to be used during or between high intensity activity whereas a parka, or winter jacket (we use the terms interchangeably) can keep you warm while waiting at a bus stop or while belaying your partner as they pick their way up a WI5. So we included both styles of parkas in this one review. Read on to learn which ones we liked best and why.

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Looking for a jacket to keep you warm and dry during winter? We reviewed a number of styles from professional to flattering to technical in order to help you find the perfect match for your lifestyle.
Credit: Luke Lydiard

Warmth & Insulation
Warmth is mostly affected by the amount of insulation a coat contains, whether down or synthetic, where more insulation (thicker) equals 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 Canada Goose Kensington Parka. Compared to the much thinner jackets like the Patagonia Fiona Parka - Women's, which spreads a smaller amount of down across more surface area, these thicker coats are significantly warmer.

When comparing the down quality (not the amount of down) in each of the jackets we reviewed, it is important to note that all types of down are warm, and the higher quality indicates how compressible and lightweight it is rather than how warm it will be. To determine warmth, look for jackets that contain more down rather than higher quality down. However, for comparison's sake, the jackets with the highest quality are the Neutrino with 800 fill and the Arc'teryx Nuri Coat - Women's with 750 fill. All of Patagonia's jackets now contain 600 fill down (a reduction from previous models), but it is traceable and third party verified for coming from ducks that are not force-fed or live plucked. The Kensington uses 625 and The North Face Metropolis is the lowest with 550 fill.

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Building a snow anchor while wearing the technical DAS parka, which kept the tester warm and dry on an extremely windy day in the mountains. This synthetic insulated jacket has Primaloft Silver throughout, with al layer of Primaloft Gold around the core to keep the wearer extra warm in the most strategic place. Note that the hood fits well over a climbing helmet.
Credit: Luke Lydiard

The exceptions to the down fill comparison is the Patagonia DAS Parka - Women's and the Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Jacket - Women's, which use synthetic insulation. Compared to all the pieces in the insulated jacket review, the DAS is far thicker and warmer and contains much more insulation. The DAS is filled with 120-g PrimaLoft Silver, but it has an additional layer of higher quality 60-g Primaloft Gold around the torso for added warmth in the most important area. Compared to the down-filled technical model, the Rab Neutrino Endurance, 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.

The Mighty Lite is insulated with 80g synthetic insulation and has a thermal reflective lining, which Columbia calls Omni-Heat. This lining resembles the suspiciously foil-like space blankets and purportedly functions the same way: by reflecting the wearer's body heat back at them. We haven't yet developed a test to isolate the effectiveness of this lining, but all testers have found the somewhat thinly insulated jacket to be adequately warm. We also came in contact with this technology in the Best Ski Jacket for Women review, and liked it there as well.

Weather Resistance
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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
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. The most water-resistant models are the Rab Neutrino Endurance and the Patagonia Tres. The Neutrino 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. Additionally, the jacket is filled with hydrophobic treated down, that resists wetness and takes longer to lose its loft than non-treated down. It would not withstand a full drenching in a downpour, but the added protection from the PU coating and the treated down allows it to be a more versatile piece.

The Patagonia Tres Down Parka is unique because it is essentially two separate layers that can be worn together or independently. The interior layer is a down jacket similar to the Fiona. The outer layer is basically a rain shell made from Patagonia's H2No material. This is a two-layer waterproof, windproof, breathable material. So this is the only winter jacket in this review that is actually waterproof, making it the clear winner in the weather resistance category.

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The H2No outer shell of the Tres repels water and snow easily, keeping you dry and warm.
Credit: Luke Lydiard

Style
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Urban chic meets functional warmth! The Nuri is filled with high quality 750 fill goose down with body-mapped sections of synthetic insulation, keeping the jacket warm and lightweight. We love the tailoring and form-fitting cut.
Credit: Luke Lydiard
Style matters. Especially if you are about to spend a good chunk of money on a quality jacket, you want it to look nice too. If you are shopping for a technical product for an expedition or for some serious winter outdoor adventure, this issue might not even cross your mind. In the mountains having a good jacket means you will survive the night. However, most women want a winter coat that will look plenty professional as they head to the office, complement a dress for fancy evenings out, and will still look good when they are running errands.

This review covers both technical designs, and thankfully, notably stylish options. Though all style preference is subjective, we found that the most feminine and best fitting were the Arc'teryx Nuri Coat - Women's with its tailored fit, the Patagonia Tres with its very professional outer layer, and Patagonia Downtown Loft with its clever stow-away hood and satiny finish.

But the winner in the looks category is the Canada Goose Kensington with its waist cinches which allow this thick and warm coat to look tailored and curvy. The exterior fabric covers 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 with trim that can be removed if 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. One tester even wore it during her winter wedding. If that isn't a testament to its class, we aren't sure what is.

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A technical and stylish jacket, the Canada Goose Kensington is quite versatile. It can be put to whatever use you need it for, whether it is dressing up, like at this winter wedding, or staying warm in harsh conditions.
Credit: Dale Apgar

Comfort
Most of the pieces we reviewed have features designed to make them as comfortable and easy to wear as possible, such as fleece-lined pockets for tucking cold hands and fleece-lined chin-guards to keep from scraping and chapping your chin and face. Some notable comfort features are the thick fleece lined hood on the Canada Goose Kensington, the ability to wear the Patagonia Tres in three different configurations to accommodate different temperatures and weather, and the stretchy wrist gaiters on the Columbia Mighty Lite.

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The Mighty Lite has thin and comfortable wrist gaiters with thumb loops. This feature keeps warmth in around the wrists and keep the hands a bit warmer.
Credit: Luke Lydiard

Features
We find a few features to be mandatory on thigh-length winter jackets: two-way zippers which add mobility around the legs, handwarmer pockets, and hoods. Only the Patagonia Fiona lacks a hood. We like having a hood because it allows the wearer to protect herself from wind, precipitation, and biting cold. Any good winter jacket will have this extra protection. Handwarmer pockets are a must because a place is needed to keep fingers from frosting. Most jackets in this review also have a fleece lining, at least on one side of the pocket, to soothe cold digits. Lastly, the two-way zipper: it would be almost impossible to wear some of these jackets without one. Especially if you plan to walk for any distance, it quickly becomes obvious that a coat that reaches to your knees restricts your movement quite a bit. By allowing the zipper to come up from the bottom, your legs can be free to move while your front is closed to the cold.

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The mid-thigh length Mighty Lite has a two-way zipper to allow for a wider range of mobility. We find this very important in longer parkas, otherwise they can feel very confining when walking.
Credit: Luke Lydiard

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 PU coating on the Neutrino Endurance, the burly-feeling Arctic Tech fabric on the Kensington, and the thick satin polyester on the Downtown Loft were 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 issues we have come across is with the North Face Metropolis and Neutrino Endurance. Sometimes these zippers sticks and are hard to get started. On the Metropolis, this is partially due to the length of the zipper as well as to the quality of the zipper used. For the Neutrino, the issue comes from the waterproof two-way zipper being very stiff and hard to use.

Editors' 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

If you intend to wear your winter jacket to keep warm every during the winter months, it is ideal to have a subtle combination of style and function. This is why we gave our Editors' Choice award to Canada Goose Kensington Parka. It is an excellent blend of an attractive, slim-fitting cut and burly protection from cold. This thick coat has waist cinches to make sure the fit suits your body type and a smooth outer material that covers the baffles, leaving a sleek looking exterior. This material is quite durable as well. Cut to just above the knees, it offers the most insulated coverage of all the products we evaluated. Kick pleats on the rear coupled with a two-way zipper in the front give it exceptional mobility for a long coat, and the fleece-lined hood with removable coyote fur trim will keep your ears and face protected from freezing wind. This is a pricy coat, but we think it is the ultimate blend of style and cold protection.

Best Buy Award: Patagonia Downtown Loft Jacket
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The Downtown Loft with the hood stored in the collar. We love the look of this high collar, which also increases warmth.
Credit: Luke Lydiard
The Patagonia Downtown Loft Jacket - Women's 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 such as camping as well as everyday around town activities. It offers more coverage and warmth than a typical lightweight technical jacket that runs a little shorter, coming to the waist. Our testers love the look and satiny feel of this model, noting that it is feminine and more dressy than most winter jackets. Its most notable feature is the hood that zips into a high collar. Both the collar and the hood look appealing and provide warmth and comfort. For a price far less than most of the other models in this review, we think you can't go wrong with this warm, stylish, and affordable piece.

Top Pick Award for Best Technical Parka: Rab Neutrino Endurance
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The thick and warm Neutrino Endurance contains 7 ounces of 800 fill hydrophobic down. This is the most protective technical parka we tested, which earns it our Top Pick award for use in the mountains.
Credit: Luke Lydiard

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 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, hydrophobic down, 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 loftiest, warmest parka. This jacket is the one to buy if you are a mountaineer, ice climber, backcountry skier, or winter camper.

Top Pick Award for Wet Weather: Patagonia Tres Parka
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This versatile jacket can be worn in a variety of situations and temperatures, making it an excellent value even though it is initially fairly expensive. We think this is the ideal piece for the woman who needs a protective winter layer yet also wants to look sleek when heading to the office.
Credit: Luke Lydiard
If you live in Seattle, Squamish, or another similarly rainy area, then the Patagonia Tres Down Parka is for you. A three-in-one jacket that combines a lightweight down parka with a professionally styled rain jacket, this is the best choice for wet and sloppy weather. It is the only piece in this review that has a fully waterproof exterior, so it can withstand a downpour and sloppy snow when others would leave you drenched and cold. The three-in-one nature of this jacket also makes it extremely versatile. Wear just the shell in the rainy spring, wear just the down layer in the chilly fall, and wear both together in the middle of winter when you need the most protection.

Accessories
What winter jacket would be complete without a cute winter hat? Check out some warm hats such as the Outdoor Research Women's Pinball Hat and The North Face Cable Minna Beanie. Also check out our Best Winter Boots for Women review, which features some footwear that is complimentary to the jackets in this review.

McKenzie Long
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