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10 Best Winter Jackets of 2024

We purchased the best winter jackets and put them through their paces, testing options from Tommy Hilfiger, Canada Goose, The North Face and others to find the best contenders for any winter weather
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Best Winter Jacket Review
Credit: Clark Tate

Our Top Picks

The Best Winter Jackets for 2024

Finding a great winter jacket doesn't have to be a chore. With seemingly endless options, we've taken the guesswork out of staying warm this winter. We've been playing in the cold since 2012 and tested well over 100 of the best, most popular, and top-rated winter jackets for men and women to help you discover which is the best one to keep you cozy this winter. We've traipsed around in sub-zero temperatures, wandered through whipping winter winds, and shoveled heaps of heavy snow in these jackets. We've worn them over thick layers of fleece and while standing under the pounding shower to see what they can handle. From dog walks and tailgates to alpine explorations and polar vacations, we've put these jackets through a huge variety of tests in all kinds of conditions to find out which ones are best for wherever you roam.

A top-notch jacket is a key component of keeping you warm all winter. Whether you want the best winter jacket for women or are searching for the top men's winter jackets, we've got recommendations for you. Looking for a puffy down jacket for men or the best women's down jacket? We've tested those too. We've also tested the top insulated jackets for women and the best insulated jackets for men to keep you warm however you prefer to layer. We've also tested the best winter boots to keep your toes toasty.

Editor's Note: We updated this review on May 9, 2024, to provide more details about our top award winners and info on our testing process.

Related: Best Winter Jackets for Men
Related: Best Winter Jackets for Women

Best Overall Winter Jacket for Women

Fjallraven Nuuk - Women's

Insulation: 250g Supreme Microloft (100% polyester) | Pockets: 6 external, 5 internal
Good protection against cold and wind
Comfortable, flexible fit
Useful and convenient pockets
A bit bulky
Water doesn't roll off fabric
Insulation and Fill Power Supreme Microloft (100% polyester)
Measured Internal Temperature 76.0 °F
Fill Weight 250 g
Hood Insulated with detachable faux fur trim
Pockets 6 external - 2 chest, 2 hand warmer, 2 catchall. 5 internal - 2 zippered, 1 button, 2 mesh catchall.

An easy favorite for our female testers, the Fjallraven Nuuk withstands some of the coldest temperatures we've experienced. Equipped with a faux-fur ruff, a spacious collar, and a zipper that goes all the way up to your nose, the Nuuk keeps out biting wind and bitter temperatures. We love that it is virtually waterproof yet breathable enough to keep you from melting beneath your layers. The Nuuk is packed with an abundance of useful pockets inside and out. There are plenty to keep your necessities dry and safe. The roomy cut allows for lots of layers, a big bonus for prolonged winter excursions.

While not the warmest jacket in our lineup, the Nuuk came pretty darn close, and the balance of warmth and wearable style was one of our favorite features. We appreciate that the cozy amount of insulation doesn't come at the cost of style or quality. Some of the warmer jackets we reviewed fell short in these metrics and lacked some versatility. Not so with the Nuuk. It strikes a great balance between function and form and is a jacket we would grab for everything from casual dog park runs to evening after-dinner strolls through town.

winter jacket - the fjallraven nuuk is so warm that we often had to unzip when temps...
The Fjallraven Nuuk is so warm that we often had to unzip when temps rose above 20 degrees.
Credit: Clark Tate

The Fjallraven Nuuk is a great choice if you want warmth without sacrificing style and comfort without sacrificing durability. The cut is roomy enough to add layers underneath if you need an extra boost of warmth without looking frumpy. It is full of pockets, cinches, and other features to improve performance, but all is tucked away in a sleek-looking package. Choosing the best outdoor gear can sometimes mean opting for function over form; this jacket is for those who want the best of both worlds.

We didn't love hauling the Nuuk around indoors, though. It is large and hefty, making it less enjoyable to carry around the mall while shopping or to your gate at the airport. In that case, you may opt for something like the Outdoor Research Coze Down Parka, which weighs less, but will keep you warm from nose to knees. The ample cut of the Nuuk can also be a bit too generous, and some of our testers found the sleeves much too long. Though it kept us dry, the Nuuk's face fabric held onto water in our shower tests, and it's not our top pick for wet weather. If you want to stay outside when it's cold enough for all the water to freeze, the Nuuk is sure to keep you warm and cozy.

Read more: Fjallraven Nuuk - Women's review

The super-warm and cozy hood of the Nuuk.
Credit: Clark Tate

Best Overall Winter Jacket for Men

Fjallraven Nuuk Parka

Insulation: Supreme Microloft| Number of Pockets: 8 exterior, 5 interior
Made for snow and rain
Tough exterior shell
Tons of pockets
Top construction materials
Difficult main zipper
Hard to carry and pack
Insulation and Fill Power 100% recycled polyester
Shell Fabric Polyamide
Measured Interior Temperature 80.2 °F
Fill Weight 250 grams/ sq meter
Removable Hood No

Cold, wet, snowy conditions are no problem for the Fjallraven Nuuk Parka. This jacket's roots are firmly planted in Scandinavian culture (Sweden), where winters are dark and very chilly. The Nuuk's first line of defense is a thick polyamide shell (recycled polyester) laminated with a waterproof polyurethane membrane. It is insulated by layers of dense Supreme Microloft synthetic insulation, designed to trap warm air by mimicking down. All combined, this beast of a parka tips the scales at nearly 5 lbs (our heaviest), giving it an appealing, weighted, protective feel. It's rugged, warm, and has more pockets than a fishing vest. It's also very comfortable and built to last. Its synthetic fur-lined hood gives the Nuuk a serious Arctic vibe, but this jacket isn't built for a full-blown polar expedition. That said, it's still one of the warmest parkas we've tested, and with proper base layers, it will get you through some of the coldest stretches of winter.

On brand for Fjallraven, the style of the Nuuk Parka manages to bridge the gap between rugged and urban, and the quality of construction means it will perform well in both environments without looking out of place. The versatility is one of our favorite features of this jacket. We brought this jacket on a mission to find the northern lights in the farthest reaches of northern Sweden, where we hung out in temps as low as -15°. We then brought it into town to wander the Christmas market. We stayed warm and felt stylish while doing it.

winter jacket - yes, it was cold, but internal temps when wearing the fjallraven...
Yes, it was cold, but internal temps when wearing the Fjallraven Nuuk stayed at a balmy 78.2 degrees during our tests.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

This is a great jacket for those who value versatility. It can take you through any number of winter activities, from winter camping to Christmas markets, without skipping a beat. It will keep warm when temps drop into the single digits, and even further if you add additional winter gear. The high quality of construction, useful features, and subtle style make this a jacket that you will reach for again and again.

The zipper on the Nuuk connects on the opposite side, which can be a little confusing at first. The zipper is also very touchy, so it usually takes several attempts to align the teeth. Although stylish, the Nuuk is a tad bulky, so it doesn't pack or travel well — especially since its fabrics and insulation don't compress like a down jacket. However, it's super warm and dense, making it an excellent option for battling the cold. The The North Face McMurdo Down Parka is our favorite cousin to the Nuuk. It's down-filled, equally as warm, and just as waterproof. The McMurdo also is lighter and more compressible, but it isn't nearly as rugged as the Nuuk.

Read more: Fjallraven Nuuk Parka Review

Taking a noon stroll through Sweden's Lapland in December.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Best Value Winter Jacket for Women

The North Face Arctic Parka

Insulation: 600-fill recycled down | Pockets: 2 external, 1 internal
Rugged construction
Sleek and functional design
Warm and waterproof
Recycled materials
Unsecured inside pocket
Hand-warmer pockets not insulated
Insulation and Fill Power 600-fill recycled down
Measured Internal Temperature 68.7 °F
Fill Weight Not specified
Hood Adjustable, insulated with removable faux fur trim
Pockets 2 zippered hand warmer, 1 drop-in interior

Warm and waterproof with a trim design that still gives you plenty of room to move, The North Face Arctic Parka is an excellent winter jacket with a reasonable price. A durable, waterproof exterior protects a silky-smooth baffled liner stuffed with 600-fill recycled down. The parka's roomy collar keeps your face comfortably out of the cold, and the large hood has a clever, fold-out faux fur ruff. When rolled up and snapped back, the fur holds warmth around your face and blocks a light breeze. If it starts to blow, unfurling the ruff forms a tunnel to slow even a stiff headwind. The mid-thigh length extends warmth without impeding your mobility, and a storm flap with sturdy snaps makes it easy to adjust coverage.

Soft elastic cuffs prevent gaps between your jacket and gloves. When they do get wet, they stay cold. The comfortably placed pockets are not built into the insulating layer, so they don't keep your hands as warm as they could. An internal pocket will keep your media devices warm enough to work, but there is no zipper to secure them in place. The Arctic Parka's faux fur ruff is removable, but its hood isn't. We like to have a hood handy in winter weather, though, so we don't mind. These few small complaints aside, winter jackets don't get much better. We also like the well-priced REI Co-op Norseland Insulated Parka 2.0, but it's not as durable.

Read more: The North Face Arctic Parka review

A wide, comfy collar hides your face while a deep, functional hood keeps your face protected from the wind.
Credit: Clark Tate

Best Value Winter Jacket for Men

Marmot Fordham

Insulation: 700-fill treated down | Number of Pockets: 4 exterior, 1 interior
Wind resistant
High durability
Great integrated hood
Shell retains water
Short hem length
Main zipper lacks two-way option
Difficult cuffs
Insulation and Fill Power 700-fill down treated with Down Defender
Shell Fabric NanoPro (100% post-consumer recycled polyester)
Measured Interior Temperature 78.6 °F
Fill Weight Not specified
Removable Hood Yes

The Marmot Fordham is a great option for folks who want value at a reasonable price. This jacket doesn't compromise on its construction quality. It's warm, durable, and weatherproof, and it does an excellent job of battling most winter weather. It's versatile, so it can provide you winter protection for a large variety of activities. It's perfect for daily wear around the city, but its rugged design and technical features also make it right at home outdoors. The shell is reasonably waterproof, and the insulation is composed of treated 700-fill down. The Fordham's stand-out feature is its densely woven recycled polyester shell (100% post-consumer). It resembles canvas and is rugged enough to handle tree branches, an outlying rock, or an epic sledding wipeout.

While the Fordham does a very acceptable job at a fraction of the price, its shell loses a few weather-resistance points because it absorbs moisture during long exposure to rain or snow. Its removable hood is also a little shallow, so the head and face are left more exposed during extreme weather. That being said, it's still a solid option for cold weather protection on a budget. The Patagonia Downdrift is another comfortable and affordable down jacket we love. It sells for about the same price as the Fordham, but is not quite as warm.

Read more: Marmot Fordham review

The Marmot Fordham is a super rugged, quality jacket that's built to last.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Best Women's Winter Jacket on a Tight Budget

Orolay Thickened Down

Insulation: 700-fill power (90% down, 10% feathers) | Pockets: 6 external, 1 internal
Cozy, relaxed fit
Warm with a large hood
Comfy pockets
Lacks face coverage
Controversial style
Insulation and Fill Power 700-fill power (90% white duck down, 10% feathers)
Measured Internal Temperature 68.8 °F
Fill Weight Not specified
Hood Insulated
Pockets 2 hand warmer, 2 zippered straight pockets, 2 zippered chest external, 1 zippered chest internal

The Orolay Thickened Down Jacket gets the job done for less and has a statement-making look that's, at the very least, an interesting departure from the usual winter parka fare. Baffles filled with 700-fill power down (90%) and feathers (10%) make it one of the warmer parkas we tested. A unique cut curves out from your shoulders before narrowing at the mid-thigh hem. It's sort of an oval, leaving your layered midsection free to breathe. If you need more room, zippers expand the hem on either side, giving you an extra four inches to work with. The enormous hood matches the jacket's liberal proportions. It's cavernous and fleece-lined, keeping your head cozily out of the weather. Comfy handwarmer pockets tuck into the jacket's insulation without forcing your hands past a scratchy zipper.

The Orolay Thickened Down only zips up to your collarbone, leaving your face and neck exposed. The jacket seems likely to last, with relatively sturdy fabric and a fair number of hidden seams. Those stitches that are exposed aren't the most durable, though. When snagged, they pull and bunch the fabric. Its seven zippers worked well during the test, but give you a lot of potential weak points. Their bright chrome flash is also the source of our style indecision. The silver shine and black ribbon pulls aren't really for us, but they might be for you. If so, this is an awesome jacket. If not, consider the Columbia Heavenly Long Hooded, which isn't as warm, or the comfy REI Co-op Norseland Insulated Parka 2.0.

Read more: Orolay Thickened Down Jacket review

The Orolay's relaxed fit and ample insulation make it a pleasure to wear.
Credit: Clark Tate

Best Men's Winter Jacket on a Tight Budget

Wantdo Waterproof Snow Jacket - Men's

Insulation: Synthetic| Number of Pockets: 3 exterior, 1 interior
Very affordable
Fairly warm
Reasonably weather resistant
Lots of extra features
Questionable durability
Holds in moisture
Not very stylish
Insulation and Fill Power Synthetic
Shell Fabric 100% polyester
Measured Interior Temperature 72.6 °F
Fill Weight Not specified
Removable Hood Yes

Sometimes enough is enough. The Wantdo Waterproof Snow Jacket - Men's is durable enough, weatherproof enough, stylish enough, and warm enough. At this price point, it doesn't do anything exceptionally well, but it scored much better than we anticipated, convincing us of its worth — this jacket is a serious bargain. If all you need is something reasonably warm that performs well enough in average winter weather, this jacket fits the bill. Its polyester shell is backed by a polyurethane barrier, making it quite waterproof. It's roomy, comfortable, and lined with thick polar fleece. It's also packed full of features: wrist gaiters, a removable hood, a drawstring waist, storm flaps, waterproof zippers, and even a powder skirt. It's a great all-purpose jacket that can protect you as you shovel snow or while you hit the slopes — just as long as the temps are 25°F or higher.

This jacket has a decent style, but it's a little dated. However, style is a personal thing. Additionally, the long fleece liner tends to hold onto sweat, which can become uncomfortable, but also can lead to the chills. Its stitching is subpar and its overall construction is questionable, but we haven't seen any serious durability problems after our three-month testing period. If you'd rather spend your money on a better daily wear jacket, the Patagonia Downdrift is an excellent option.

Read more: Wantdo Waterproof Snow Jacket - Men's Review

The daily necessities of winter life -- when you don't have a garage.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Warmest Women's Parka for Standing Around

Outdoor Research Coze Down Parka

Insulation: 240g of 700-fill goose down | Pockets: 2 external, 2 internal
Long and super warm
Lightweight and easy-wearing
Impressive weather resistance
No snaps for quick pull-on
Mildly frumpy
Insulation and Fill Power 700-fill down
Measured Internal Temperature 70.6 °F
Fill Weight 240 g
Hood Adjustable
Pockets 2 zippered hand warmer, 1 internal zippered security, 1 internal pouch

When it's really cold, we almost always reach for the Outdoor Research Down Coze. This parka wraps you in light, fluffy 700-fill power feathers from your chin to halfway down your shin bones. The comfy collar gives you plenty of room to breathe and turn your head even when zipped to the tippy top. An extra baffle on the hood extends beyond your face, tucking it in out of sight. Soft wrist cuffs and insulated hand warmer pockets will take care of you even if you forget your gloves. The jacket is also impressively water resistant; it didn't absorb a drop during our 2-minute shower test.

This jacket prioritizes comfort over style. Some of our testers found it unfashionable, and that probably comes down to perspective. If feeling warm makes you feel good, you probably won't care that much. In any case, check out the photos and see what works for you. Our only real complaint about the Coze is that it doesn't have a storm flap that snaps over the zipper. We never noticed cold air or water seeping in, and those snaps are faster to fasten and adjust than the full-length zipper. It's a matter of convenience, and the Coze is worth a little extra work. If you want a similar parka that does snap closed, consider the well-cut Patagonia Down With It Parka. If you want a similar option without the length, check out the Rab Deep Cover Parka or Marmot Montreal.

Read more: Outdoor Research Coze Down Parka review

The baffled down “ruff” on the comfy Coze provides shelter from the storm, zipping up to your nose and protecting you from crosswinds.
Credit: Clark Tate

Best Men's Jacket for Active Winter Recreation

Rab Neutrino Pro

Insulation: 800-fill down | Number of Pockets: 2 exterior, 1 interior
Easy to move in
Cozy and warm
Not enough pockets
Shell isn't very durable
Insulation and Fill Power 800-fill goose down with Nikwax fluorocarbon-free hydrophobic finish
Shell Fabric Pertex Quantum
Measured Interior Temperature 74.2 °F
Fill Weight 212 grams
Removable Hood No

The Rab Neutrino Pro also proved an excellent jacket to our male testing team, quickly becoming a favorite for active days in serious cold. With its 800-fill down, full-coverage and fully adjustable hood and top-notch breathability, this jacket did an impressive job keeping out the cold while keeping up with adventure. Adjustability at every point helps seal out the weather, while the thoughtful baffle design keeps you mobile enough to chop wood or go sledding at the park. Packing down into a compact package, this jacket is portable and light yet agile and comfortable.

While the zipper is not completely waterproof, most of this jacket does a fair enough job of keeping out the elements. It doesn't have as many pockets as we might like, with just two handwarmer pockets and one inner chest pocket, but those pockets are quite generous in size. And compared to some seriously thick exteriors of other parkas we tested, the featherweight Pertex Quantum of the Neutrino Pro feels delicate. However, this seriously poofy winter jacket has a flexible fit that is optimal for outdoor activities, from shoveling snow to hiking. For something a little more packable, the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 is one of our favorite packable down jackets.

Read more: Rab Neutrino Pro - Men's review

The Neutrino Pro kept us warm even in cold and windy high desert areas.
Credit: Sam Willits

Upgraded Women's Parka for Serious Cold

Canada Goose Expedition Heritage Parka - Women's

Insulation: 625-fill duck down| Pockets: 8 external, 2 internal
Unsurpassed warmth
Beastly weather protection
Plenty of external pockets
Excessive for most climates
Bulky and siff
Very expensive
Insulation and Fill Power 625-fill duck down
Measured Internal Temperature 74.5 °F
Fill Weight Not specified
Hood Insulated with detachable coyote fur trim
Pockets 2 zippered large hand warmer, 4 exterior velcro, 1 sleeve utility, 1 flap-closure sleeve, 2 internal pockets - 1 zippered security, 1 drop-in

If you regularly brave some seriously cold winters, the Canada Goose Expedition Parka Heritage may be an investment worth making. This impressively warm jacket was originally designed for scientists working in McMurdo Station, Antarctica, and is rated for wet conditions and temperatures down to -22°F. With the hood deployed, the water could hardly even be heard in our shower test, and not a drop squeezed by this duck down insulated Arctic Tech exterior. With its warm hood with real coyote fur ruff, not even the most biting wind stands a chance. Equipped with more pockets than you could realistically fill, this jacket is the best of the best when it comes to protecting you from the chills of Father Winter.

That being said, unless you risk actual frostbite regularly in your day-to-day, the Canada Goose Expedition is almost certainly overkill. Though cinching the waist cord helps distribute its weight more evenly, it is still heavy and bulky. And perhaps most obviously, it is impractically expensive for everyday use for most people. However, for the right person in the right conditions, this intense warmth and protection is worth every penny. Canada Goose also offers a lifetime warranty and repair program, helping to protect your investment for years to come. If this is still a bit too much, consider a protective ski jacket, like the Patagonia Insulated Powder Town, it's warm, protective, and costs a fraction of the Expedition.

Read more: Canada Goose Expedition Parka Heritage - Women's review

We took the Canada Goose Expedition to the coldest temps we could find, and the grocery store, and were impressed.
Credit: Clark Tate

Upgraded Men's Parka for Intense Cold

Canada Goose Expedition Parka Heritage

Insulation: 625-fill down | Number of Pockets: 8 exterior, 2 interior
Very warm
Great assortment of pockets
Excellent features
A bit excessive for most conditions
Exceptionally expensive
Insulation and Fill Power 625-fill (80% down, 20% feathers)
Shell Fabric Arctic-Tech (83% polyester and 17% cotton)
Measured Interior Temperature 82.1 °F
Fill Weight Not specified
Removable Hood No

Unsurprisingly, the Canada Goose Expedition Parka Heritage also earns top marks for cold protection from our men's winter jackets testing team. Even among seriously stiff competition, this polar-intended parka is a great choice for seriously frigid conditions. With 625-fill down and its Arctic Tech outer shell, it works wonders against the most extreme cold. Just like in the women's version, the men's hood is adjustable and lined with a real coyote fur ruff that provides great coverage against biting wind. Sealed at the wrists and with a snow skirt to keep out updrafts, this jacket is durable and impressively weatherproof.

While the cut of this intense parka is roomy and allows for effective layering, it isn't the most stylish. Its warm insulation is too effective for even moderate climates or active endeavors. The Expedition is also very expensive and is only practical in the most extreme cold climates. If you live in a severely cold place and spend a significant amount of time hanging out outside — like ice fishing in Minnesota or bird watching in Vermont — the warmth, protection, and durability of the Expedition Parka may be worth dropping this serious chunk of change. If that still sounds out of reach, the Helly Hansen Alpha LifaLoft is designed for skiing but offers impressive warmth and weather protection for far less.

Read more: Canada Goose Expedition Parka Heritage review

Returning home in the frigid cold is no problem in the seriously warm Canada Goose Expedition Parka.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Most Versatile Women's Parka

Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka - Women's

Insulation: 700-fill recycled down | Pockets: 2 external, 1 internal in each layer
Three separate jackets
Polished look
Fully waterproof shell
Warm when combined
Uninsulated pockets and hood
Sizing can be tricky
Inner layer has single zipper
Insulation and Fill Power 700-fill recycled duck and goose down
Measured Internal Temperature 69.1 °F
Fill Weight Not specified
Hood Uninsulated, removable, adjustable
Pockets 2 zippered hand warmer and 1 internal drop-in pocket in shell, 2 zippered hand warmer and 1 internal chest in down liner

If you live in a warm or variable climate or simply want a jacket that will see you through three seasons, the Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka should be on your shortlist. It includes a liner jacket made of satiny, down baffles and a durable weatherproof shell. When you zip them together, you get a warm, protective jacket that can handle true winter weather. The highly adjustable hood keeps snow and rain off your face, and there are just enough pockets to protect your valuables and your hands. All three layers look good, with functional cuts and understated good looks.

The liner jacket, which holds all those 700-fill down feathers, doesn't have a hood, and the shell's hood and handwarmer pockets are uninsulated. So we recommend wearing a winter hat and gloves with this parka. The Tres can also be tricky to size. The inner jacket is smaller on its own than when it's zipped into the shell. The outer layer's zipper gives it an extra inch or so in circumference. The liner fits in our testers' usual size small, but it's snug for some. We tried a medium, but the shell was comically large with incredibly long arms. If you can nail the fit and stomach the price tag, this is the best jacket in the test for wet and fickle winters. The Patagonia Down With It Parka is a similarly stylish option with less complication.

Read more: Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka review

the Tres Parka's soft downy liner and weatherproof shell combine to form one versatile winter jacket.
Credit: Clark Tate

Most Versatile Men's Parka

Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka

Insulation: 700-fill down | Pockets: 3 external, 3 internal
Useful in more than one season
Looks great
Outer shell is waterproof
Toasty with both layers
Costs a bit more
No insulation in hood
Fabrics more prone to snags
Insulation and Fill Power 700-fill down
Shell Fabric H2No performance: 2-layer, 100% recycled polyester herringbone
Measured Interior Temperature 76.3 °F
Fill Weight Not specified
Removable Hood Yes

For a multi-purpose, easy-to-wear parka, the Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka is a great option. It has two layers that can be worn separately; one can be worn as a simple winter parka, and the second is great for shoulder season. When worn together, they create a great weather barrier that does a good job of keeping out the elements and holding in warmth. Surprisingly, even with its two layers combined, this is a very comfortable jacket, and it looks great in almost any setting.

While the Tres is exceptionally weather-proof, it isn't perfect. We did find that high winds managed to sneak in around the collar a bit. We also didn't like that the hood and pockets lacked insulation, giving need for a good pair of winter gloves and a warm beanie if temperatures drop too low. On that note, while the hood does accommodate a beanie, it only comes to brow level with one on, leaving room for wind and snow to reach the face. Still, the Tres 3-in-1 offers a great deal of versatility, style, and protection from the elements. If you're looking for a winter parka that packs a little more warmth, the The North Face McMurdo Down Parka or Fjallraven Nuuk are good options.

Read more: Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka review

We love that we can use this jacket in multiple ways. And look great doing it!
Credit: Jason Wanlass

How We Test Winter Jackets

Each year, we research what winter jackets are best, most interesting, and most intriguing. We then purchase and evaluate them side by side in a series of rigorous and comprehensive tests. Over the past 12 years, we've tested over 130 winter jackets. We have braved blizzards, freezing temperatures, and wet, sloppy weather, leaving no stone unturned in our quest for the best.

We have tested these jackets in winter conditions across the U.S., from West Coast mountain ranges to cold and humid coastal New England. We even brought some of our top performers with us overseas to pit them against frigid Scandinavian winters. When using them closer to home, we perform a series of measurable tests to evaluate warmth, wind, and waterproofing. We stand outside in subzero temperatures for at least 10 minutes and use a laser thermometer on the surface of the jackets to look for heat leaks. We plop in snowbanks, make snow angels, hang out in wet weather, and even stand in the shower for almost 3 minutes to test true waterproofing.

When ranking winter jackets, our testers compare results across six test metrics:
  • Assessments of Warmth
  • Tests of Weather Resistance
  • Checks and analyses of Comfort
  • Trials and polls of Style
  • Evaluations of Features
  • Estimations and observations of Durability

We don't hold back when testing jackets. We get the real scoop on what they can do.
Credit: Jason Wanlass

Why Trust GearLab

Our results draw from a deep well of tester experience and a wide range of winter environments. The head of our men's winter jacket test team, Jason Wanlass, is a Utah resident with a taste for adventure. His travels have taken him backpacking in places like Argentina, Chile, Nepal, Iceland, Switzerland, France, and Slovenia. He has wintered in Finland, Estonia, and Sweden, as well as faced Utah winters, giving him the edge in understanding what it takes to make a jacket great and what just doesn't measure up. Jeff Dobronyi is an IFMGA licensed Mountain Guide, who leads backcountry mountaineering and ski trips all over the world. His experiences summiting and recreating in harsh locations such as Denali and other Alaskan mountains, the Andes, the Alps, and across the Canadian Rockies serve him well in identifying high-quality winter wear. From skiing big mountains to shoveling the driveway, Jeff knows what jacket qualities make the best protection against the elements.

Three-in-one parkas will take you from warmer winter weather to the...
Three-in-one parkas will take you from warmer winter weather to the cold winds of deep winter.
We have a lot of demands for a good winter jacket for any use.
We have a lot of demands for a good winter jacket for any use.
We stand around in snowstorms to find out which parkas are the most...
We stand around in snowstorms to find out which parkas are the most protective.
From fall through winter to spring, we put these jackets through their paces to see what they're best at.

Our women's testing team began with Liz Williamson, who tested dozens of winter jackets in the course of five years. She pushed these coats to their limits in the frigid Andes, deep in the severe landscapes of Patagonia, and through wet winters in the High Sierra. Joining Liz is Senior Review Editor, Clark Tate. With a Master's Degree in Environmental Science and a solid background in science writing, Clark Tate helped develop our current testing plans and rating systems. She lives in Maine and recreates regularly in the snowy yet freezing peaks of New England, giving her an appreciation of the importance of the right winter gear. Clark has been testing and writing for GearLab for many years and has led our women's winter jacket testing team since 2020.

We test every detail of these parkas, which can be quite complex.
We test every detail of these parkas, which can be quite complex.
We love the Nuuk's dual hand warmer pockets!
We love the Nuuk's dual hand warmer pockets!
We spend minutes in the shower in every jacket, searching for weak...
We spend minutes in the shower in every jacket, searching for weak points.
We leave no detail un-tested, always taking our testing seriously to bring you the best options.

How to Pick the Best Winter Jacket for You

At its most basic, a winter jacket should keep you warm in cold weather. There are many types of jackets that can help you to stay warm in the winter. The biggest determination in picking a great one is considering what kinds of activities you will wear it for. If you are planning a ski trip or climbing excursion, you aren't going to want a heavy-duty jacket with a hem down to your knees. On the other hand, if you live in a place that regularly sees subzero temps and you have a dog to walk regularly, you may want exactly that. Consider also the precipitation and temperature where you live. If you reside in a place like the Pacific Northwest, where winters are wetter but typically not as cold, you need a good waterproof option, perhaps not geared quite so much to freezing temperatures. Keep these things in mind as you work to whittle down what type of jacket will be best for you.

winter jacket - winter jackets have more insulation, longer hemlines, and more...
Winter jackets have more insulation, longer hemlines, and more protective collars and hoods than warm-weather options.
Credit: Clark Tate

Gendered Jackets

No matter what winter coat you're looking for, they are very rarely sold as “unisex.” Instead, each jacket is gendered by the manufacturer and tested by our corresponding testing team. While this article covers our top recommendations for both men and women, you can dive deeper into all the testing we've done by checking out our full lineups. In the chart below, you can see a comparison of all the current women's winter jackets we've tested.

While many jackets perform similarly for both men and women, that is not always the case. In particular, the fit of a jacket across different genders and body shapes can be wildly different. The following chart summarizes the complete current lineup of the best men's winter jackets that have gone through our rigorous testing.

Down Jackets

Down is a great insulator — ask any bird that sticks around in the winter. It has an extremely high warmth-to-weight ratio and is incredibly lightweight and effective at trapping and holding heat. The quality of down in a jacket is measured by how many cubic inches one ounce fills. The higher the fill power, the more air the down catches to heat up. It also means that higher fill power down is more compressible. A 900-fill power down jacket will be very compressible, very warm, and very expensive. It is also probably a bit much for the typical winter wanderer. More reasonable, in both widespread usage and affordable cost, is a 500 to 800-fill power range.

winter jacket - the fill power of a down jacket doesn't tell the whole story of its...
The fill power of a down jacket doesn't tell the whole story of its warmth - the fill weight is also incredibly important, as are features like baffle construction, cuff adjustments, and hem cinches.
Credit: James Lucas

However, fill power is not perfectly correlated to the warmth of a jacket. The fill weight combined with the fill power is a much better estimation of warmth. A 650-fill jacket that uses less down within its baffles will almost certainly be colder than a 550-fill jacket that has double the down contained within. Of course, additional factors contribute as well, including fit and features. Adding your favorite fleece jacket or thicker heavy shell over the top will improve the warmth of any jacket. And, in fact, many down jackets are designed with this type of layering in mind, forgoing much weather protection on their exteriors.

winter jacket - many down jackets are designed to be part of a layering system, with...
Many down jackets are designed to be part of a layering system, with a shell jacket worn over top to protect you from wind, rain, and snow.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

One of the downsides of down is that it does not insulate if it gets wet. The tiny fibers that give down its loft and warmth will clump together when wet, losing its heat-holding ability. Some down is treated with a hydrophobic coating to help prevent this from happening if your jacket gets wet. Others swap out down for synthetic insulation in key areas like the tops of shoulders and ends of cuffs. Because down is always an animal product, it also breaks down over time and becomes less effective. Repeated compression of down will lessen its lifespan — whether that's from cramming it in your bag or wearing it and leaning back against the car seat.

winter jacket - down packs incredible warmth for its weight and is highly...
Down packs incredible warmth for its weight and is highly compressible. It's also less durable, doesn't insulate when wet, and may come with implications for animal welfare.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Down is also expensive and, though many jackets are made using Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certified down, the use of any animal product always raises concerns about animal welfare. Having a down-insulated jacket is best for folks who prioritize low-weight gear and compressibility and are willing to do a little extra work to keep it from getting wet (if the jacket in question doesn't have a weatherproof exterior) and have a little more cash to shell out.

winter jacket - down jackets are generally more lightweight than synthetically...
Down jackets are generally more lightweight than synthetically insulated options.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Synthetic Insulated Jackets

In a lot of ways, synthetic insulation is the opposite answer to all of down's downsides. Made of spun filaments, synthetic insulation retains its loft — and therefore warmth — even when wet. It's more resistant to damage from compression, whether that's years of regular wear or being smashed into your suitcase on vacation.

winter jacket - synthetic insulation is heavier than down but retains its warmth...
Synthetic insulation is heavier than down but retains its warmth even when wet. Jackets filled with synthetic insulation are typically less expensive than their down counterparts.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Conversely, synthetic insulation is almost always heavier than the same warmth rating of down. It doesn't compress as well, making it take up more space in your closet or your bag. It's also more difficult to gauge the warmth of insulation based on its numbers and stats. There are many types of synthetic insulation commonly used in winter jackets today, which is why we take warmth testing very seriously. In our insulated jacket testing, we pit each jacket head to head in side-by-side tests and comparisons to understand which ones are truly warmer.

winter jacket - synthetic insulation and sturdy fabric can make for a very warm...
Synthetic insulation and sturdy fabric can make for a very warm, durable, and functional winter jacket.
Credit: Clark Tate

While synthetic insulation is heavier and not as warm for its weight, it doesn't lose loft and stick together when wet like down does, making it a great choice for folks living in wet environments or frequently playing in the snow with dogs or children. Synthetic insulation is great for people who are looking for a more affordable option, something a little more weather-resistant, and hoping to avoid the harvesting of birds.

winter jacket - there are all kinds of synthetic insulated jackets out there. we...
There are all kinds of synthetic insulated jackets out there. We test them side by side to see which ones are warmest, most weather resistant, and full of the best features.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Activewear Jackets

Ski jackets are a different animal than your standard winter jacket. The best ski jacketscome with features designed for the slopes, like ventilation to release excess heat, large pockets for snacks and equipment, snow skirts to keep out that spray while you carve, and high collars to protect your face and neck from the wind as you speed down the hill. Much like a winter jacket, your ideal ski jacket is going to vary depending on your needs.

winter jacket - activewear jackets have specific features to keep you better...
Activewear jackets have specific features to keep you better protected from harsh elements without becoming a sweaty, swampy mess while you play outside.
Credit: Sam Willits

Hardshell jackets are also great for customizing your heat-retaining underlayers. They have very slight insulation and don't offer much protection from the cold, but are waterproof and windproof, making them great for putting the final seal on your layering system in frigid conditions. A softshell jacket can be a better option for active endeavors, as it's more breathable and often more flexible to keep up with you while you recreate. If you are looking for a great ski jacket, check out our expert reviews to find the best one for you.

winter jacket - ski jackets are just a bit different from your standard winter jacket.
Ski jackets are just a bit different from your standard winter jacket.
Credit: Sam Willits

Elements of a Good Winter Jacket

Winter jackets may be filled with down or synthetic insulation, but the best ones include multiple elements to keep you warm and dry. While most puffy jackets — and even many ski jackets — work best when paired with other layers, a good winter jacket can keep you warm without requiring a complicated layering system underneath.

Soft fleece in key areas that will brush against your skin can make...
Soft fleece in key areas that will brush against your skin can make all the difference to your comfort.
Tight elastic cuffs keep wind and water from chilling your wrists.
Tight elastic cuffs keep wind and water from chilling your wrists.
Plenty of pockets can keep your hands warm and free while out...
Plenty of pockets can keep your hands warm and free while out braving the winter weather.
Little details come together to make a great standalone jacket, which is what a good winter jacket should be.

Outer Shell

If you live in a more frigid region, chances are you are not going to experience very wet winters. The air tends to be dry in these areas, so having a waterproof shell may not be at the top of your priority list. However, some of the coldest places can also be some of the windiest, and what is waterproof is almost always also highly wind resistant. Milder and warmer regions often trend towards wetter winter weather. In that case, a waterproof or water-resistant shell is crucial to your overall happiness.

winter jacket - a waterproof shell is an excellent option for wet climates and...
A waterproof shell is an excellent option for wet climates and wintery mixes.
Credit: Clark Tate


Finding the type of insulation in a jacket that you're looking for is only part of the process. The more crucial piece is making sure the jacket has enough of it. It won't matter what insulation you've chosen if the jacket lacks the right amount to keep you warm in your climate. Regardless of the type of insulation within, if a jacket has sewn-through baffles, these tiny punctures through the fabric can create weak points for whipping winds to head straight through the jacket and cool your core.

winter jacket - a long hem can keep you extra warm, but you may find yourself...
A long hem can keep you extra warm, but you may find yourself unzipping often when you want to run around.
Credit: Ryan Reed


Some jackets are made roomier than others. Consider your body shape and your typical winter wardrobe, and be sure your jacket can accommodate your build and your layers. A jacket that is tight across the shoulders is going to be uncomfortable and difficult to move your arms in while loading up the car or rolling a snowman. Likewise, tightness in the hips can make a jacket bunch up when you try to walk or run, leaving you uncomfortable and exposed. Consider also the hem length and your intended activities. If you are going to be doing a lot of running around, you may want a shorter model. If you intend to sit on a bench or the ground, a longer hem will keep you warmer.

winter jacket - a boxy cut layers easily over bulky sweatshirts or broad shoulders.
A boxy cut layers easily over bulky sweatshirts or broad shoulders.
Credit: Sam Willits


What can help separate the okay jackets from the exceptional ones are the features. A great jacket may be next to useless if it has a lack of pockets, an impractical hood, or no adjustable cuffs to seal out the cold. A quality hood that will keep you warm will be well-insulated. The addition of a ruff offers a high degree of protection against windchill. A removable hood is handy and can provide a bit more versatility in the shoulder seasons (spring and fall) when you may not need the extra weight around your neck. If you intend to wear a beanie, you'll want to look out for a roomier hood to fit easily over additional layers on your head without exposing your face and neck to the cold.

winter jacket - the expandable orolay down parka has zippers on each side, giving...
The expandable Orolay Down parka has zippers on each side, giving you more room to layer up.
Credit: Clark Tate

Two-way zippers are a great feature to have on a knee-length parka. Mobility is typically quite limited in a longer hem, and loosening the zipper just a few inches can make all the difference. It can also help regulate temperature if you get too warm. Wrist cuffs are essential for holding in the heat and keeping the outside out. Some are fleece, knit elastic, or nylon, and some even have an extended portion with a thumbhole that functions as a wrist warmer. The most protective ones include a snap or velcro strap that allows you to tighten the cuff around your wrist, sealing out the cold, wind, or wet.

winter jacket - whether your winter is wild or mild, we've found a winter jacket for...
Whether your winter is wild or mild, we've found a winter jacket for you.
Credit: Clark Tate


Choosing a winter jacket can feel like a daunting task, but knowing what you're looking for can make it a little easier. We hope that our in-depth testing and comprehensive evaluations and comparisons have helped you to feel confident in finding the right jacket with the warmth, features, and protection to fit your needs and budget.

While a great jacket is a major key in winter cold protection, there are a few other pieces essential to complimenting the right one. A pair of the best winter gloves, a warm beanie, and a solid pair of snow boots are paramount in snowy weather. For colder treks, we recommend adding a toasty set of long underwear and a quality base layer to help keep you warm.

Clark Tate, Jason Wanlass, Jeff Dobronyi, and Liz Williamson