The Best Winter Jacket For Women Review
Winter jackets come in seemingly infinite shapes and styles. To pick the best, we researched 70 models, selecting 11 top performers to test ourselves. Our selection includes contenders that can handle serious cold while bringing some serious style and others that are fully waterproof for the most brutal climates. For two months, our experts put them through the paces from California to Canada, evaluating their warmth and weather resistance while weighing the benefits of down versus synthetic fill. Style and comfort were also measured, and at the end of the test, we compiled all of the data to find the top scorers. With our help, you'll be able to narrow down the wide selection and zero in on the best winter jacket for your needs.
Read the full review below >
Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
Updated May 2017
With retailers slashing prices on their winter stock, we updated this review as of May 2017 so you can snag some deals. We included helpful pros and cons for each product as well as comparison charts and graphs to help make your decision easier. We also surveyed the current market to ensure that no newcomers would unseat our Editors' Choice winner.
Best Overall Jacket for Women
Canada Goose Kensington Parka
Proving a tough competitor, the Canada Goose Kensington Parka has swept the field once again, running away with our Editors' Choice Award. Hitting above the knee, the Kensington has it all: style, serious warmth, and function-focused details. A detachable coyote fur ruff on the removable hood adds a classic vibe, and the smooth outer polyester fabric easily repels the elements. Although the Kensington is billed as water resistant instead of waterproof, we were impressed with how well it fought off rain, snow, and the wind. Insulated with 625-fill-power down, we never felt cold in this contender, and the cut allowed for movement without being restrictive. Fleece-lined pockets, thick knit cuffs, and a cinched waist proved Canada Goose's attention to detail. No matter the weather, this parka is one that perfectly handles it all.
Stylish and sleek
Adjustable cinched waist
Removable coyote fur ruff
625 fill white duck down
15 colors options
No full zip
Collar is tight when zipped up
Back snaps let cold air in
No zippers on exterior pockets
Real fur could be a detractor
Read full review: Canada Goose Kensington Parka
Best Bang for The Buck
Who says winter has to be cold and miserable? The Marmot Montreaux will keep you looking fashionable and undeniably warm all winter long. Insulated with Down Defender 700 fill power down, we were comfortable in 10-15F degree weather. While temperatures didn't get any colder than that (below 10F) during our testing, we believe this contender would keep us warm if they dropped any lower. Treated with a durable water repellant (DWR) coating, the polyester fabric is water-resistant, but not waterproof. Water initially beaded up and rolled off, but the jacket eventually became saturated in heavy rain. The Montreaux performed better than we expected in snowy conditions and we didn't have any issues with penetrating wind, due to its thick down. We wore this jacket in snowy weather for an extended period of time and came out with a dry core and no wetting out. Besides being super toasty, the Montreaux is also very stylish. For someone looking for a long, knee-length style parka with a form-fitting look and stylish faux fur hood, this is the jacket for you. Even better, it's half the price of the Editors' Choice award winner, the Canada Goose Kensington Parka.
Removable faux fur ruff
Heavy & bulky
Some feather loss
Read full review: Marmot Montreaux
Top Pick for Wet Climates
Patagonia Tres Down Parka
Depending on where you live, winter can be messy. Sleet, snow, freezing rain, the whole nine yards. If you live in a wet climate, having a dependable jacket for the winter is crucial; the Patagonia Tres Down Parka is the perfect winter parka to tackle any weather condition. Three jackets in one allow you to be ready for anything that mother nature throws your way; this contender is perfect for a wet climate like the Pacific Northwest, as the outer shell is Patagonia's signature H2No Performance Standard Fabric. Waterproof, windproof and breathable, this layer is a force to be reckoned with. The down layer is insulated with 600-fill-power 100% traceable duck down. A great lightweight option for clear and cold days, this jacket has been treated with a DWR coating. It's water-resistant but not fully waterproof; when all layers are worn together, we felt protected in sloppy wet weather better than any other jacket we tested. With a price tag of $529, the Patagonia Tres Down Parka is expensive, but you have to consider that you're getting three jackets for the price of one!
Three jackets in one
Shell is waterproof and durable
Ethically sourced down
Shoulders are tight
Sleeves too short
Down jacket doesn't have a two-way zipper
Shell exterior pockets lack zippers
Takes time to put all the layers together
Read full review: Patagonia Tres Down Parka
Analysis and Test Results
We gauged our winter jackets based on 5 criteria: warmth, weather resistance, style, comfort, and durability. The table above displays the Overall Performance score of each jacket in our review, ranking from highest to lowest.
All the jackets we tested delivered some degree of warmth. When buying a winter jacket, one of the most important features is the warmth that is being offered. It's also important to look at the climate you experience on a regular basis and think about what you actually intend on using the jacket for. Choosing the right jacket is crucial for staying comfortable and warm and enjoying the great outdoors during the winter.
A jacket's warmth is based on the loft or fill-power of the insulation, along with the fill-weight. Lucky for you, we tested all of the contenders side-by-side in snow, rain, wind, and extremely cold temperatures in our effort to find out which ones were the warmest for various climates. We stood still for long periods of time, went hiking, and wore them in hot and cold weather, crazy wind storms, in the middle of the night, you name it - we did it. Overall, the Warmth section accounted for 30% of the total rating, as we believe it to be the primary function.
The warmest jacket we tested was our Best Buy award winner, the Marmot Montreaux, scoring a perfect 10 out of 10. Loaded with 700 fill-power down from hood to knee, we stayed toasty on some seriously cold days. The loft of the down performed extraordinarily, trapping heat and keeping the wind out. Our Editors' Choice award winner, the Canada Goose Kensington Parka, was almost as equally as warm and was filled with 625 fill white duck down. The durable shell on the Kensington Parka kept cold air out and warm air in, scoring a near perfect 9 out of 10 in the warmth metric.
Also scoring a 9 out of 10, The Patagonia Downtown Parka, insulated with 600-fill-power traceable duck down, and the North Face Miss Metro Parka with 550 fill down, are comparable in warmth. Both are insulated with plush, thick down from the hood to above our knee and did a great job keeping cold air out and heat trapped in. Most of the jackets offered certain features, which helped improve our warmth on cold days - the main one being fleece-lined pockets! What a lovely, cozy feature on a supremely cold day.
Thick insulated hoods, like the Canada Goose Camp Hooded and the Marmot Montreaux kept us toasty and secure in stormy weather. The knee-length parkas were our favorite to wear in super cold weather. We found this to the be case with two of the warmest jackets we tested, the Patagonia Downtown Parka and the North Face Miss Metro Parka. The extra protection and down insulation really made a difference in terms of warmth in very cold weather (10F and below). If you are someone that tends to always be cold, we'd recommend considering a knee-length parka.
A common misconception is that because a jacket or parka has a higher fill, it will be the warmest. The Arc'teryx Nuri has 750 fill European down, but is not the warmest contender; in fact, it ranks towards the bottom in regards to keeping us toasty on a cold winter day, scoring a 6 out of 10. While it is not as lofty as the Montreaux or the Kensington Parka, the Arc'teryx Nuri uses Coreloft synthetic fill in high moisture spots - inner arms, hem, and collar. We could feel the cold air on our arms and shoulders in cold weather because of this. However, in a milder climate of 35-40F, we appreciated the Coreloft synthetic fill while out on a short hike, as we were starting to get hot and sweaty. If you're seeking a jacket that handles breathability and ventilation, the Nuri is for you.
Each jacket we tested delivered some level of warmth. We generally found that synthetic and insulated models with low fill powers lacked considerable warmth and were among the lowest, in regards to warmth, among contenders in our testing. The Arc'teryx Sylva Parka is a synthetically insulated winter option, complete with 140g of Coreloft synthetic insulation. It's not the best parka for weather below 25F or for super cold snow storms, but we were impressed with how well it performed while blocking wind and keeping our core warm. Compared to the Helly Hansen Long Belfast, with only 60g Primaloft synthetic fill, the Arc'teryx Sylva Parka was much warmer, but not as waterproof.
The North Face Thermoball Parka and the Columbia Mighty Lite were two other synthetic jackets we tested. While they were both surprisingly warm, they were not as toasty as the jackets that were insulated with thick down and high fill powers, such as the Canada Goose Camp or the Marmot Montreaux. The Columbia Mighty Lite is insulated with 80g of Omni-Heat synthetic fill, while The North Face ThermoBall synthetic insulation is equivalent to 600-fill goose down. Despite being insulated with the equivalent of 600-fill goose down, we felt the Arc'teryx Sylva Parka was warmer in windy and stormy conditions.
We'd say that warmth and water resistance almost go hand in hand. Winter weather can range from snow, sleet, wind, freezing rain, or just plain old heavy rain. All the models we tested offered some level of protection from the elements, from DWR (durable water repellent) coated nylon or polyester shell to full-blown waterproof fabric. Before buying a winter jacket, it's important to consider the climate you live in and the purpose of the jacket. If you are living in a wet climate like Seattle, having a jacket that is waterproof and warm is important. If cold temperatures and snow are your typical winter conditions, a DWR coating should suffice. To figure out each jacket's degree of Weather Resistance, we put them through an array of tests.
We went on walks on snow days, stood in place for an extended period of time in windy conditions, braved blizzards in the middle of the night, and we even brought the two-layer waterproof models in the shower. It's no surprise that the two waterproof models we tested, the Helly Hansen Long Belfast and the Patagonia Tres Down Parka did better than the DWR coated Arc'teryx Nuri in wet weather. Some models we tested had windproof outer shells and hoods, like the Canada Goose Camp Hooded Parka and the Arc'teryx Sylva Parka. The durable outer shells kept us toasty and warm in windy weather, as did the thick down of Patagonia Downtown Parka and the Marmot Montreaux.
Whether you're holiday shopping in New York City on a blustery day, or running errands around town in a light snow - why not look stylish and warm? The jackets we tested ranged in length, fit and function. Some had a smooth, sleek outer shell like the Arc'teryx Sylva Parka, while others had beautiful chevron baffling, like the Marmot Montreaux. Everyone has their own preference, but what stood out the most in terms of style was the fit. If your jacket doesn't fit you correctly, chances are you won't like wearing it, which sounds to us like a waste of money. With that said, make sure to know your size and how the jacket fits before buying one, or brace yourself for the impact of reordering and returning until you figure out the best fit.
Some of the jackets we tested were very form-fitting, like The North Face Miss Metro Parka and the Patagonia Downtown Parka, while others had extra room and had a baggy fit, like the Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Jacket. If you're someone that likes to layer up, a jacket that offers more room in the arms and torso will be perfect for fitting a heavy layer or sweater underneath. While everyone has their own opinion when it comes to style and how a jacket fits, the jackets we found to be the most appealing over our two months of testing were the form-fitting ones, like the Canada Goose Kensington Parka, and the Arc'teryx Nuri; both scored a perfect 10 out of 10.
Our Editors' Choice award winner, the Canada Goose Kensington Parka, is the epitome of a classic winter jacket. Oozing with style from head to toe, this knee-length jacket is a show stopper. From the smooth, sleek water-resistant outer shell to the adjustable cinched-waist, no detail is left out when it comes to style. The quality construction of the Kensington Parka is also apparent. Compared to The North Face ThermoBall Hooded Parka, which has an internal adjustable cinched-waist, the Canada Goose Kensington offers a heavy duty option that's going to last longer. Military grade buttons and zippers add a durable touch, without jeopardizing the classy look of the jacket. The coyote fur ruff is highly functional in cold weather, as well as super stylish. We found this jacket comparable to armor; attractive, form-fitting, and feminine armor.
In cold weather and stormy conditions, if your jacket isn't keeping you warm, you most likely aren't comfortable. For some, fashion is more important than practicality, but for this review, we focused on both. We tested a range of jackets with various kinds and levels of insulation. The knee-length Marmot Montreaux Coat insulated with plush 700 fill-power down, to the lightweight synthetic Arc'teryx Sylva Parka.
The jackets we tested delivered varying levels of comfort. Certain comfort features that attributed to high scores were thick and insulating hoods like on the Marmot Montreaux and the Canada Goose Kensington Parka. Plush down that was warm and not restricting was also taken into consideration, such as the down found on the Canada Goose Camp Hooded Jacket. The Arc'teryx Nuri isn't insulated with thick down, but it is very lightweight and form-fitting while offering great mobility. Whether we were running errands or going for a walk, we had no issues being comfortable. We found the Marmot Montreaux to be comfortable, despite being insulated with plush down from our head to above the knee; it's very cozy and warm, which allowed us to be comfortable in the frigid outside elements. The torso, cuffs, pockets, and collar are also lined with fleece. These subtle, but vital features, add a cozy and warm touch.
You may not realize how important a warm hood is until you try on a contender that doesn't have any insulation at all, like the Patagonia Tres Down Parka; however, there is enough room underneath the hood for a beanie. We found our head to be noticeably colder in stormy or very cold conditions, versus when we were wearing a contender that had a toasty hood. Another factor that was important in measuring comfort was mobility. Jackets that ran small, or were tight on the shoulders, like The North Face Thermoball Hooded Parka, weren't as comfortable to wear because they were restricting and hard to fit another layer underneath.
Alternatively, a jacket that is too tight or too loose may be restricting, distracting, and not as comfortable as it could and should be. If a jacket is too big for your body, it may not be trapping heat properly. Take the time to make sure you are buying a jacket that fits your body type.
If you are ever on a road trip and in need of a pillow, the Canada Goose Camp Hooded Jacket turns into one. While it might not top your list as a super important feature, we have to admit that we think it's cool. During testing, there were certain features that we found necessary to include in a long winter jacket - double zippers, fleece-lined pockets, insulated hoods, etc. A lot of the features we tested catered to comfort, as well as functionality.
One of the most overlooked but crucial features when buying a winter jacket is the hood. A thick insulated hood makes a huge difference in cold weather, as opposed to a thin non-insulated hood. For someone living in a climate that gets heavy snow and cold temps, a hood with thick insulation and faux or real fur will protect your face and keep you warm. We understand that the real fur can be controversial and not for everyone. Feel free to read more about this in our Sourcing Ethics section of our buying advice. The Canada Goose Camp offers a two-way adjustable hood for an even tighter fit on those extra windy days. Detachable hoods are common, and offer versatility, but what if you get caught outside in a storm without it? The hood on the Patagonia Downtown Parka doubles as a neck buff; perfect for when you want it, and stowable for when you don't.
There were certain features we loved, like fleece-lined pockets. Whether the exterior pockets were lined on one sided or both, fleece pockets are a stand-out feature that attributed to added warmth and comfort on super cold days. Not everyone carries gloves with them at all times; because of this, we found the fleece-lined pockets to be super practical. Fleece also was a theme with collars and cuffs. We loved the fleece-lined torso of the Marmot Montreaux. The nylon cuffs on the Columbia Mighty Lite Hooded Jacket were nice, but they weren't as soft or warm as the fleece-lined cuffs found on Patagonia Tres Down Parka or Helly Hansen Belfast. Double-sided zippers were almost a mandatory requirement on all the winter jackets; we found this especially true with the knee-length parkas. While somewhat restricting, we gained a significant amount of mobility with the double sided zipper (when walking).
The Canada Goose Kensington Parka offers kick-pleats on the back of the jacket for better mobility. Secured by button snaps, we could feel the cold air leaking in and the snaps were noticeably uncomfortable when we were sitting on hard surfaces; we honestly didn't find this feature that useful. Even though both offered a tailored look, the cinched waist on the Kensington Parka was more robust than the waist on the The North Face ThermoBall Hooded Jacket.
Another interesting feature that the Kensington Parka offered was internal carrying straps. We didn't find ourselves utilizing the straps all that often, but for the weight (close to nothing), it's a good option to include - especially if you are living in a mild climate and foresee yourself not wanting to carry or wear the jacket all the time. The Canada Goose Camp can literally fit inside the large interior pocket, creating a soft and cozy travel pillow, while the Patagonia Tres Down Parka offers a 3-in-1 option - the only jacket like it in our review. If you are in the market for a raincoat, a puffy jacket, and a winter jacket, the Tres may be the jacket for you!
A durable jacket has the potential to last you multiple seasons. Often times that means having to dish out extra money for better quality construction, but at least you'll know you are getting your monies worth. So what actually makes a jacket durable? To us, durability means that the jacket is able to handle what it is intended to do, plus some, with quality construction that will last for years to come. We tested jackets that had soft, polyester or nylon DWR shells, as well as thick, burly two-layer waterproof fabrics. Obviously, in most cases, the heavy duty waterproof fabric is going to be more durable and will protect against snags and tears more than the DWR shells. If you are someone that plans on adventuring to new levels in their winter jacket, a heavy duty durable coat will be right up your alley.
The equivalent of snow bunny armor, the Canada Goose Kensington is highly durable and attractive and is the only jacket to score a perfect 10 out of 10 in the durability metric. The water-resistant polyester fabric almost feels impenetrable to snags and tears. The lack of stitching on the outer shell helps make this jacket more durable and we feel as though this jacket will last you for years to come. In fact, we'd venture to say it's a solid investment.
We loved the Patagonia Tres Down Parka; however, when we were zipping the outer shell into the down layer, the down kept getting caught in the zipper, and we really had to take our time. There's potential to snag the down on the zipper, compromising the down layer. Fortunately, if you take your time, you can avoid this issue. The two-layer waterproof fabric on the outer shell is what makes this jacket very durable. Patagonia's signature H2No breathable, waterproof, and stretchy fabric seems almost impenetrable and doesn't have much exterior stitching; because of this, we don't see much room for snags occurring. We tested this jacket in the shower and the outer shell did a stand-up job repelling water, earning it a near perfect 9 out of 10.
We noticed minimal down feathers escaping from the Patagonia Downtown Parka and the Patagonia Tres Parka's down layer. While we only tested these jackets for two months, we can tell you that if too much down escapes from a jacket, the loft and warmth will start to diminish, potentially affecting your winter investment. If a jacket has a lot of stitching on the outer shell, there is definitely potential for a snag to occur. The Patagonia Tres had a strong, durable outer shell that was ready to withstand anything that we threw at it.
We did notice that it was easier for snags to occur on The North Face Thermoball Hooded Parka. It was a tiny snag, but the Thermoball has tons of exterior stitching. Finicky zippers seem to be a common issue with some of the jackets we tested; for example, the main zipper on the Helly Hansen Long Belfast kept getting stuck in the storm flap, while the Patagonia Downtown Parka's small zippers were getting snagged on the fabric by the exterior pockets. The Helly Hansen Long Belfast is highly durable, despite its finicky zipper. The outer shell is Helly Tech 2- ply waterproof, windproof, and breathable fabric. We found the outer shell to be very durable against snags, due to the lack of exterior stitching. When tested in high winds and heavy rain, we found this jacket comparable to the Patagonia Tres Down Parka in terms of their level of durability.
We hope that we've been able to help you decide what type of winter jacket is the right style and fit for your life. If you're still wavering between a few contenders and need help narrowing down your selections, consider reading or re-reading the Buying Advice in your quest to determine which model will best suit your needs.
— Liz Williamson
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