The Best Winter Jackets and Coats for Men of 2017
With so many winter jackets, selecting the right one is tough. To help, we researched 70 popular models and tested the best 14 side-by-side for three months. We wore these products during various cold weather activities, like shoveling snow or walking from the bus stop to work on a stormy day. Our expert testers combined outdoor experiences and unique tests to investigate key factors, such as which models actually keep you the warmest in bitter temps, winds, and precipitation, which ones look good around town, and which ones you can expect to survive many winters. Whether you're looking for casual or technical, a great bargain, or protection in wet and dreary conditions, this review will guide you to the right jacket for warmth in the cold.
Read the full review below >
Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
Updated April 2017
In efforts to keep this review up-to-date year-round, we continue to check on the availability of the products we assessed. New to this review, we added charts and tables to show the comparative differences between individual products in each metric.
The Best Overall Winter Jacket
Arc'teryx Camosun Parka
Our 2017 Editors' Choice Award goes to the Arc'teryx Camosun Parka. This jacket performs exceptionally well in all weather types, from freezing rain to blustery winds to cold temps. This model is also one of the most stylish of the bunch. You'll feel well-protected and handsome inside this champion contender. The designers at Arc'teryx used top quality goose down in core areas where warmth is paramount, and strategically placed synthetic fiber insulation where higher than average moisture exposure is expected, such as on the hood, shoulders, and cuffs. It wasn't the absolute warmest and doesn't qualify as formal attire, but the overall solid performance of the Camosun in all of our test metrics that it became the model we reached for the most. At the moment, this jacket is only sold in gray on the Arc'Teryx website, but other color options can be found at various online retailers, often at a discount.
"Crinkly" shell fabric
Read full review: Arc'teryx Camosun Parka
Best Bang for the Buck, Overall
Costing a relatively slight $250 but offering quality in construction and materials, the Marmot Fordham earned our first Best Buy Award. It delivers a fashionable coat that will keep you warm and dry using a waterproof exterior insulated with goose down. The Fordham has some features that impressed us for such an inexpensive jacket, like a comfortable cut and abundance of pockets. It's available in a range of colors so you can decide what suits you best. Comfortable and cozy, the Marmot Fordham will get you through the winter and last you for a long time at a reasonable cost.
Limited wet weather protection
Read full review: Marmot Fordham
Best Bang for the Buck, Coldest Conditions
The North Face McMurdo II Parka
If your winters aren't "normal," your jacket needs to be above average, too. We can't all afford the $1000 Top Pick for Extreme Cold, the Canada Goose Expedition Parka, but we can afford The North Face McMurdo II. At a third of the price of the Canada Goose, but almost as warm, this is an easy choice for a second Best Buy Award. For northerly latitudes, and the coldest days, the McMurdo's down insulation, long cut, and generous hood combine to protect in day-to-day life; all at a reasonable expense.
Read full review: The North Face McMurdo II
Top Pick for Extreme Cold
Canada Goose Expedition Parka
While bitter cold, feet of snow, and icy sidewalks may not describe winter for some, for those living in the northern latitudes in the Midwest, East Coast and Alaska, there is a need for a winter-specific jacket that protects you from prolonged sub-freezing temperatures. Enter the Canada Goose Expedition Parka. This parka is the pinnacle of warmth, has abundant features, and is the coziest jacket reviewed. All these traits come at a cost though, and besides being the bulkiest and heaviest parka reviewed, it is also the most expensive. This is a parka for the specific needs of the coldest weather, designed with Arctic and Antarctic applications in mind. On that note, a special Polar Bears International (PBI) edition is available called the Canada Goose PBI Expedition Parka. This jacket comes in a special royal blue color, has a polar bear patch on the shoulder and is an extra $50. A portion of the sales goes to PBI and their mission of saving the polar bears and their habitats.
Too warm and heavy for most users
Read full review: Canada Goose Expedition Parka
Top Pick for Wet and Dreary Weather
Arcteryx Fission SV
Extreme weather isn't always the deepest cold. Sometimes it's bone-chilling rain and sleet. In shoulder seasons and moderate latitudes, this version of winter is all too common. We want to remember the crisp cold, but it is the drearier days that often dominate in certain locales. For those conditions, the fully waterproof shell, bomber design and seals, and synthetic insulation of the Arc'teryx Fission SV is just the ticket. There are warmer jackets in our review, but there are none as well-suited to cold, wet weather.
Best hand warmer pockets
Synthetic insulation lacks durability
Read full review: Arc'teryx Fission SV
Analysis and Test Results
The above table details the Overall Performance score of each winter jacket reviewed. Read on for specifics on each metric that helped comprise this overall score.
Warmth is the most important metric we used to rank these winter jackets. Warmth is determined by the amount of insulation, no matter if it is down or synthetic insulation. The more insulation a jacket contains, the more loft it provides. We looked at the fill weight to determine how much insulation each winter jacket had, and then compared that weight to the cut and length to see how that insulation was distributed. If we have two jackets with an equal fill weight of 10 ounces, but one has a waist length hem while the other has a mid-thigh length hem, these two jackets will not be equally warm.
As we discuss more in our Buying Advice article, the higher the down's fill power number, the higher the quality of the down feathers. This only translates into lighter down and more compression. The amount of insulation, not the quality, is what determines a jacket's warmth. The Rab Neutrino Endurance features high quality, 800-fill down to keep the weight down and packable size small. The rest of the down insulated parkas feature down below 750 all the way down to 550-fill for The North Face Gotham II Jacket.
This number should not dissuade shoppers, though, as the casual parka can get away with using a heavier down product than a technical parka that you might be carrying in your backpack with you. The Canada Goose Expedition Parka has an average quality 625-fill down, but it has so much that it was the warmest model reviewed. The [[Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka also kept us warm, as did the Arc'teryx Camosun Parka. Competing with the warmest jackets in our review, the Mountain Hardwear Therminator deserves mention. It is the warmest synthetic insulated piece reviewed. After the Canada Goose jacket, the next warmest earned a Best Buy award. The North Face McMurdo** is nearly an expedition parka, with the price tag of a casual jacket.
On the whole, except for the Mountain Hardwear version, the synthetic insulated models tested were not as warm as the down models. The Arc'teryx Fission SV and Helly Hansen Dubliner were less warm than the down models reviewed. This is likely due to less insulation in the garments overall rather than a fault of the synthetic fibers, though it did reinforce the idea for us that if you are looking for warmth, you should opt for down. Some parkas reviewed feature a combination of down and synthetic insulation.
The Editors' Choice winning Arc'teryx Camosun uses a synthetic material in areas exposed to moisture, such as the shoulders and hood, and down in the core. The Columbia Gold 650 TurboDown Hooded Jacket contains a mixture of 550-fill down and an additional 100 grams of synthetic fiber. Columbia used its proprietary OmniHeat fabric to line the inside of the parka, which gives it an emergency blanket feel. This fabric may add warmth without much weight, but we have not independently tested it. We do feel as though the TurboDown Jacket was warmer than other, similar thickness jackets, in a given temperature range.
Finally, in terms of warmth, the pile insulated jackets are the least insulating products reviewed. Well-suited to more moderate climates, the Patagonia Isthmus and Fjallraven Greenland are durable and stylish, insulated with synthetic fleece, that just don't stack up to the rest of the field in terms of warmth.
Since all of the parkas feature insulation, and 8 out of 13 use at least some down fill, we need a weather-resistant outer fabric to protect ourselves from winter weather but also to protect the insulation from becoming wet. All of the parkas have some kind of resistant fabric, from basic durable water resistant (DWR) coated nylon to a fully waterproof membrane with taped seams, but they have a wide degree of resistance to soaking through, depending on the weather.
No matter if you choose a DWR treated material or a layered shell like Gore-Tex, proper care is essential for it to stay waterproof. Use of detergents strip the waterproof treatment from the fabric, so try to use a DWR or Gore-Tex specific cleaner, then a wash-in or spray-on waterproofing to restore your winter jacket's weather resistance.
If you live in a low elevation or low latitude area where the winter precipitation tends to fall as rain rather than snow, you should look at a parka with a waterproof outer shell, such as the Patagonia Tres with its H2NO fabric, or the Arc'teryx Fission SV that uses Gore-Tex. These waterproof/breathable fabrics shed water quicker and for a longer duration than a typical DWR treatment. But, if you'll be wearing your jacket in lower temperatures where it tends to snow, then the parkas with DWR treatments such as the Canada Goose Expedition Parka, or the Rab Neutrino Endurance will be more than adequately protected.
Special mention must be made here of the shell fabric of the Fjallraven Greenland jacket. The cotton/poly blend is a traditional shell material that requires more maintenance than the nylon shell materials on the other jackets. Fjallraven sells a special "Greenland Wax" that is used to treat the fabric for water resistance and durability. You can modulate the amount of treatment applied in the interest of tailoring your protection.
The Rab Neutrino Endurance uses hydrophobic, coated down feathers, which will not save the jacket from soaking through in the event of a downpour, but can add a bit more latitude in going out in wetter weather.
Even though a jacket might claim to be waterproof, you should make sure that the seams are fully taped. Why? When a shell jacket is put together, it is stitched through (or in some cases welded together using high-frequency microwave technology). This stitching leaves small holes in the fabric, and if they are not taped they will become an easy entry for moisture.
Wintertime is uncomfortable enough for many, so you shouldn't have to put on an uncomfortable winter parka, too. Most of the models reviewed have added in extra ways to make braving the cold and wind more forgiving.
Fleece lining on the inside of the pockets and where the chin flap meets the face add coziness to the parka. The North Face Gotham and McMurdo parkas, as well as Helly Hansen's Dubliner Parka and the Canada Goose Expedition, include a fur (or faux fur) hood trim. When cinched tight it makes you feel like you are at home in front of the fire. The cut of the parka also keeps comfort in mind. A meticulously designed jacket like the Arc'teryx Camosun Parka is going to fit your body better than some of the other square cut designs, and the longer hem, which many of these parkas use, keeps the waist from riding up and exposing you to drafts.
The more comfortable parkas reviewed, like the Arc'teryx Camosun, also have elastic rib knit cuffs, which seal out drafts and snow the best. In assessing the comfort of various products, we found a general correlation between cost and comfort. More expensive jackets use softer materials and tailoring to achieve maximum comfort. A notable exception, however, is our Best Buy Marmot Fordham. At a bargain price, every tester who tried on the Fordham was impressed to find its basic, initial comfort to exceed basically the rest of the field. The only more comfortable jacket was the REI Stratocloud Hoodie, which is more of a specific function "down sweater" than it is a full-featured winter jacket. The Stratocloud is comfy, but it requires a separate shell layer for full protection.
It is the addition of winter-specific features that have already set the jackets in this review apart from the rest. Features such as a hood, multiple hand pockets, two-way zippers, and thought out cuff closures are important attributes of a good winter jacket. A hood is virtually mandatory during nasty winter weather, and while it is not a substitute for a warm hat, a hood makes life a lot nicer.
Only the non-hooded version of the Columbia Turbo Down (we have, over the years, tested both hooded and non-hooded versions) does not come with any hood, meaning that a warm hat is necessary. Additional hood adjustments to get a customizable and secure fit are necessary for a well-rounded parka. The best hood in our test is on the chart-topping Canada Goose. The hood is warm - it's also large, but can be cinched down securely and comfortably, and the stiffness of the brim keeps it out of your view, largely.
Handwarmer pockets are a good place to keep cold hands or to keep gloves, and most have a fleecy liner. The best hand-warmers are on the Arc'teryx jackets. Both of these award winners feature fully insulated hand warmer pockets with fleece lining the fabric the back of your hand touches. There is insulation between your hand and body, and between your hand and the outdoors. This not only means that your hand is insulated while in the pocket, but that there is no draft when the pocket is open. The next best hand warmer pockets, like those on the Therminator, put the user's hand between the insulation and the wearer's body.
Finally, while better than nothing, we wish for a more sophisticated design than the jackets that feature a single layer of fabric protecting the hands in a warming pocket. The Canada Goose and Patagonia Tres, for instance, both have basically uninsulated hand pockets. Special mention must be made of the hand warmer pockets on our Best Buy, The North Face McMurdo II. The pockets are uninsulated, but they are fleece-lined and there are f four of them! With a set at chest level and at waist level, there is a hand warming option for every posture.
When wearing a trench-coat-length parka, the need for two-way zippers becomes apparent as the long length can inhibit stride, and wearing a long coat while seated can be awkward and uncomfortable without this feature. Cuff closures can be simple elastic closures, a snap closure, or Velcro, but a good winter parka needs to allow you to seal out the snow and cold and to allow you to use gloves. Open cuffs with interior gaskets, like on the Patagonia Wanaka Down, combine fashion and function.
Other features that may be important to you are internal phone pockets with headphone ports, snow skirts to seal out the cold, or built-in face warmers. We liked the features on the Canada Goose Expedition Parka. It has almost a dozen pockets, a snow skirt, and a drawcord waist, not to mention a fur trimmed hood. We also liked the features on both The North Face Gotham II Jacket and our Best Buy Marmot Fordham. Both come with an array of pockets, including an internal Napoleon pocket that has a headphone channel so your electronics stay dry. The Gotham and McMurdo jackets add removable fur hood lining and unique integrated face mask/neck gaiter. Other jackets, like the Columbia Gold 650 TurboDown and REI Stratocloud, were barebones models with little more than two hand pockets.
The Mountain Hardwear Therminator leads the pack in features. With a full suite of pockets, great hood and cuff seals, and an integrated powder skirt, we can't ask for any more features.
Style is personal, and we allow our personalities to show through some of our clothing choices, including a winter jacket. This review includes parkas that could be comfortably worn from a nice restaurant to a Broadway show, and ones that look clean and simple, but are more at home walking the dog or taking the gondola. We have already talked about the differences between technical and casual parkas, and while technical jackets might be at home in the mountains, they are easily worn in urban settings and can let some of your outdoorsy personality show through. Casual urban parkas don't usually work the other way, though, as they may be missing crucial elements for safe winter adventuring, such as hoods or waterproofing.
Most of the models reviewed have a longer cut, which adds warmth and weather resistance, giving a different look than the waist-length athletic cuts that most of the backcountry-inspired jackets have. We liked the style of the Patagonia Isthmus and Arc'teryx Camosun, which are both stylish enough to dress up with but can be worn while snowshoeing or ice skating and still perform well.
The technical Rab Neutrino is a different style than the city cut of the Fjallraven Greenland. The snowboarder-inspired Mountain Hardwear Therminator contrasts with the practical bulk of the Canada Goose. The Marmot Fordham and Patagonia Tres are neutral products. Across the board, we tested subtly different "looks" to find something for everyone.
With few exceptions, quality winter outerwear is not inexpensive. For a quality winter parka, expect to make an investment, but you should expect that investment to pay off for a few years of consistent use, depending on the activity. Are you going to be in contact with razor sharp winter climbing gear, like ice axes, or will you only be using the parka to get from home to the bus stop during the winter? After investing a large sum of money in a winter jacket, we want to feel like our investment is protected, so we like the lifetime guarantees of companies like Canada Goose and Patagonia, who will stand by the craftsmanship and materials of their products.
One of the most important things we looked at is outer fabric. The heavier duty, canvas-like outer material of The North Face Gotham II will withstand more abuse than the thinner Pertex shell of the Rab Neutrino or the whisper thin shell of the REI Stratocloud. Zippers, snaps, and Velcro receive a lot of wear as well, so we looked at these closures to make sure they were durable enough. We gave our highest score in this category to the Canada Goose Expedition Parka. The large zippers, durable outer material, and solid construction make this jacket last. We were concerned about the durability of the technical models tested. These will be used around sharp ice climbing tools, and the thin shells on the Rab Neutrino Endurance and Columbia Turbo Down don't hold up well to a wayward ice screw or axe.
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.
For gloves, check out our review of The Best Ski Gloves.
— Jediah Porter
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