Looking for the best winter jacket to keep you warm and toasty in 2020? We've purchased and tested 47 winter coats over the last 7 years. For this latest update, we bought the 13 best jackets for rigorous side-by-side comparison. We hunkered down in below-freezing temperatures and braved every form of precipitation imaginable, from freezing rain to fluffy snowflakes. Using our metrics, we've identified which models will keep you the warmest, the driest, and even which coats look the best around town.
The Best Winter Jackets of 2020
The Best Overall
Arc'teryx Camosun Parka
The Arc'teryx Camosun Parka beat out the competition for the third year in a row. From hard sleet to snow to assaulting winds and bitter cold, this model keeps you well-protected. Its stylish looks are ready for chilly jaunts around town, and you'll look good no matter what harsh weather conditions come your way. Arc'teryx packed this jacket full of high-quality goose down in critical areas where warmth is paramount, and strategically placed synthetic fiber insulation where exposure to precipitation and sweat is expected, like on the hood, neck, shoulders, and cuffs. It isn't the absolute warmest and won't turn any heads with its style, but it provides reliable performance in all of our test metrics, making it the jacket we reached for the most.
The Camosun is an expensive piece of equipment. This is perhaps the only drawback to this Editors' Choice winner. However, in the absolute coldest of temps, the Camosun will be overwhelmed. In those conditions, if money is no object, check out the Top Pick for Extreme Cold, the Canada Goose Expedition or the Top Pick for Expeditions, the Feathered Friends Khumbu Parka.
Read review: Arc'teryx Camosun Parka
Best Bang for the Buck
Low in price yet high quality in construction and materials, the Marmot Fordham earns our Best Buy Award. This stylish coat keeps you warm and dry via a waterproof exterior insulated with goose down. The Fordham has some features that impress us on such an inexpensive jacket, like a comfortable cut and an abundance of pockets. It is also available in a range of colors, which means you can decide what suits you best. Comfy and cozy, the Fordham gets you through the cold and will last you a long time — all for a reasonable cost.
The Fordham's shell consists of waterproof/breathable fabric, but the seams aren't sealed. Extended rain or wet snow overwhelms the exterior, and the down insulation starts to take on water. This vulnerability to the elements is a function of the budget price point of the jacket. If you want down fill and a fully waterproof shell, you'll have to pay more than this. If the weather protection compromise is ok with you, this is a great value. For better wet weather protection, the upgrade to the Arc'teryx Camosun is worth the extra cost.
Read review: Marmot Fordham
Best Bang for the Buck, Coldest Conditions
The North Face McMurdo Parka III
We can't all afford the Top Pick for Extreme Cold, the Canada Goose Expedition Parka, but the The North Face McMurdo III is reasonably priced. At a third of the cost of the Canada Goose, but still incredibly insulating, this is a natural choice for a Best Buy Award. For northern latitudes and the coldest days, the McMurdo's down insulation, long cut, and generous hood combine to protect you during day-to-day life. This latest review covers the latest, greatest, and subtly updated McMurdo III. This newest iteration makes improvements that have their pros and cons but don't alter the overall scoring and award ranking.
The fabrics and construction of the McMurdo are a little stiff and confining relative to the Top Pick Canada Goose Expedition, something you'd expect of a budget piece of equipment. The McMurdo, while warmer than many jackets in our review, isn't nearly as insulating as the Expedition or the Feathered Friends Khumbu Parka. Again, this is what you'd expect at a budget price point. For the bitter cold, when every dollar counts, we highly recommend the McMurdo III.
Read review: The North Face McMurdo III
Best 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, a winter-specific jacket that protects you from prolonged sub-freezing temperatures makes sense. Enter the Canada Goose Expedition Parka. This model is the pinnacle of warmth, has abundant features, and is the coziest jacket reviewed. The Expedition is a comfortable parka for the coldest weather, designed with Arctic and Antarctic applications in mind. On that note, a special Polar Bears International (PBI) edition is available. This jacket comes in a royal blue color, has a polar bear patch on the shoulder and lists at a slightly higher price. A portion of the sales goes to PBI and their mission of saving the polar bears and their habitats.
The primary drawbacks of the Canada Goose Expedition are weight, bulk, and price. This is a large jacket, in every way. The quality and performance are impeccable, but such specialized performance comes at a cost. This is not your everyday winter jacket. Only those exposed to truly bitter cold will justify these drawbacks. If you need a truly warm and durable jacket, you won't do better than the Expedition Parka. This is the gold standard among polar researchers and adventurers for a good reason.
Read review: Canada Goose Expedition Parka
Best for Expeditions
Feathered Friends Khumbu Down Parka
The Feathered Friends Khumbu Parka boasts the highest warmth-to-weight ratio out of all the winter jackets in our review. It weighs only 2.11 pounds, and yet provides more warmth than any other jacket in our view except for the Canada Goose Expedition Parka, which is equally as warm and weighs more than twice as much. Purpose-built for technical expeditions to the world's highest peaks, the Khumbu is packed full of features for expedition climbing like a seamless hood-to-helmet fit, insulated handwarmer pockets, secure velcro cuff closures, and adjustable drawcords to keep the warm air in and the cold air out. This jacket is meant to be unnoticeably light in the pack, and yet provide life-saving warmth when needed.
As such, this jacket is overkill for all but the most Alaskan conditions. We tested this parka on mountaineering trips all over the United States, and actually found that this jacket is uncomfortably warm above 15 degrees fahrenheit… and that was with no other insulating clothing worn underneath the parka. This jacket is designed for the coldest conditions on earth, and would be a good winter jacket for those living in arctic climates like Fairbanks. The Pertex Shield exterior fabric is not as durable as Gore-Tex, nor as water-resistant, and will allow water to penetrate during a soaking rain. That said, this jacket is not meant to be worn when liquid water is present at all. This jacket will keep you warm in the coldest conditions and on the tallest mountains.
Read review: Feathered Friends Khumbu Down Parka
Why You Should Trust Us
Our test team is led by full-time Jackson, Wyoming resident and professional mountain guide Jeff Dobronyi. He leads backcountry skiing and ice climbing trips in the Tetons and all over the globe for a living and spends his summers leading alpine climbs and expeditions. Jediah Porter also contributed to this review. Jed is a mountain guide in Jackson Hole as well. Between the two of them, they have ventured on a total of six expeditions to Denali, as well as many trips to the Andes, Canadian Rockies, and Alaskan mountains. They know what it means to brave the worst weather on earth, whether that's in the mountains, or just shoveling the driveway in the American West. They have the expertise and experience to evaluate each jacket and determine how it stands up to real-world use.
Having tested the latest and greatest winter jackets for years now, our scoring metrics and evaluation methods are fine-tuned and thoroughly refined. We've used these jackets in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Pacific Northwest, the Tetons, mid-winter New York City, and backcountry skiing and ice climbing destinations across the country. We have put these coats through the wringer, and have emerged with a good idea of how they compare.
Related: How We Tested Winter Jackets
Analysis and Test Results
We rated each jacket's performance in key areas, including warmth, weather resistance, comfort, style, durability, features, and value. Read on for specifics about how the jackets fared in each metric that helped comprise this overall score.
Related: Buying Advice for Winter Jackets
Every purchase is an exercise in value assessment. What am I getting for what I'm paying? With winter jackets, you consider your warmth and weather resistance needs, your location, your style, how often you'll use the jacket, and your budget. Thankfully, there are winter jackets for everyone, from major bargains to technical gear that feels like a serious investment. The best values will be those items that earned high scores in each category while being priced at the bottom of the pack, such as the The North Face McMurdo Parka III.
As you assess your value needs, here are a few thoughts for your consideration. First, comfort in winter weather is a blessing. The right jacket turns the worst winter storm into a pleasant romp through a snow globe. Next, durability matters. Suitable materials will last longer, and often increase the price of a jacket. Insulation materials vary in both price and durability. Goose down insulation keeps its loft and warmth potential much longer than synthetic insulation does. Within down insulation, the rating systems describe weight and insulation value, not durability. More expensive down is warmer per weight, but it won't necessarily last longer than less expensive down. Finally, quality weatherproofing is costly. Sealed seams, tight pockets, and protected zippers take effort, design, and pricy materials. If you really want and need to guard against wet and wind, you will have to pay for it.
Warmth is the most important metric we used to rank each competitor and directly correlates to how much insulation is used in a jacket, whether its down or synthetic insulation. The more insulation a jacket contains, the warmer it is. We looked at the insulation quality (fill power) and quantity (fill weight) of each jacket and then compared it to the jacket's cut and length to gauge how the insulation is distributed. If two jackets have an equal fill weight of 10 ounces, but one has a waist-length hem while the other has a mid-thigh length hem, they are not equally warm. The most useful measurement for warmth is, of course, comparative testing in actual conditions. We spent a lot of outside comparatively test, swapping jackets among the test team, and comparing notes.
The Editors' Choice Arc'teryx Camosun features lofty down which keeps the jacket lightweight and highly packable . Most of the down-insulated parkas feature down below 750, all the way to the 550-fill in The North Face McMurdo III Jacket. However, this low fill-power number should not dissuade shoppers. Heavier, lower quality down drops the cost, and a casual parka like this doesn't need to be as light and compressible as more technical options that need to fit in your backpack. On the other side of the spectrum, the Feathered Friends Khumbu Parka uses 900+ fill power down for maximum warmth and packability at a fraction of the weight.
The Canada Goose Expedition Parka is filled with average quality 625-fill down, but it has so much of it that it's the warmest model reviewed. (It's also pretty bulky.) Not far behind is the Feathered Friends Khumbu Down Parka nearly as warm and much lighter than the Canada Goose Expedition Parka. The third warmest jacket earns a Best Buy award. The North Face McMurdo is nearly an expedition parka, with the price tag of a casual jacket, earning it the best value in our test.
The Patagonia Jackson Glacier and Patagonia Frozen Range Parka also kept us warm in most wintry conditions. The Arc'teryx Camosun Parka falls between the Patagonia Glacier and the Frozen Range Parka. We were very impressed by the warmth of the Arc'teryx Thorsen Parka, which features lots of 750-fill down from the bottom of the hem to the top of the hood. The Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 was the most versatile in the warmth category, offering a thin raincoat and a medium-weight down sweater that combine to produce a surprisingly warm winter jacket.
Overall, jackets with synthetic insulation are not as warm as the down models. For example, the Haglofs Torsang is warm enough for the average winter, especially in milder climates, but isn't warm enough for true winter conditions in much of North America. Down insulated jackets provide much more warmth, for the same weight.
Winter means windy, wet storms. Most jackets in this review are thick enough to cut the wind, so you just need to look out for drafts. Longer jackets or those with ribbed hems will protect you from below. Inner sleeve cuffs and hoods will also keep warm air in and cold out. That leaves us with water. Waterproof outer shell fabrics keep you and your jacket's insulation dry in wet winter weather. All of these models have some variety of water resistance, from basic nylon with a durable water-resistant (DWR) coating to a fully-waterproof membrane layer with taped seams. These strategies provide varying degrees of protection.
If your winter precipitation tends to fall as rain or wet snow instead of dry powder, consider a winter jacket with a waterproof outer shell, like the Arc'teryx Thorsen, that uses Gore-Tex. This waterproof and breathable fabric sheds water faster and for much longer than a DWR treatment alone. (If a jacket has a waterproof membrane, you can be sure the outer face fabric is treated with DWR.) The Arc'teryx Camosun, Patagonia Frozen Range, Patagonia Tres 3-in-1, Marmot Fordham, and North Face McMurdo III all have waterproof and breathable membranes as well. The McMurdo III does not have sealed or taped seams like the Arc'teryx jackets though, allowing water to seep through and hurting the jacket's overall ratings.
If you wear your jacket in freezing temperatures where it tends to snow instead of rain, and if that snow is relatively dry, then the competitors with DWR treatments such as the Canada Goose Expedition Parka, or Patagonia Jackson Glacier are adequately protected. Another jacket that works well in those conditions is the McMurdo III. It's not incredibly water-resistance due to its untaped seams, but it's warm enough to excel in genuinely sub-freezing conditions. Luckily, in those temperatures, precipitation is always solid, and the compromised weather protection isn't a problem. On technical expeditions, where staying warm and dry in sub-zero temps is a matter of life and death, the Feathered Friends Khumbu Parka has you covered with a lightweight waterproof shell to cover its high-quality down.
The Haglofs Torsang Parka features excellent weather protection. It's a fully waterproof rain shell with light insulation. It isn't warm enough to be a go-to winter jacket in most climates, but the wet and sleety corners of North America are just the place for it. In terms of weather protection, it is similar to the Editors' Choice. The Arc'teryx Thorsen is similarly equipped, but with more insulation underneath a burly Gore-Tex membrane. This parka offers a great combination of warmth for the coldest urban winters, along with the weather protection needed when the snow turns to sleet or rain.
Wintertime is uncomfortable enough. Your winter parka doesn't have to be. Most of the models we reviewed make braving the cold and wind more forgiving.
We found a general correlation between cost and comfort. More expensive jackets use softer materials and more thoughtful tailoring to achieve maximum comfort. A parka's cut has a significant impact on its comfort. A meticulously designed jacket like the Arc'teryx Camosun Parka fits most bodies better than a generic square-cut design. Many of these parkas use a longer hem, which keeps the waist from riding up and exposing you to drafts. A notable exception is our Best Buy Marmot Fordham. Despite its bargain price, every tester who tried on the Fordham was impressed to find that it was more comfortable than the competition.
There is also a correlation between comfort and warmth. The biggest jackets we tested are the warmest, but they are also the most confining. Lots of insulation and an extended cut keep the heat in and make for a large package. This bulky package limits your range of motion, which causes discomfort. The best jackets on the market use smart designs like smaller baffles and stretchy underarm fabrics to help increase mobility without sacrificing warmth.
We love the cozy feel of fleece lining, especially when it lines pockets and chin covers. The North Face McMurdo parka, and both Canada Goose products feature fur or faux fur hood trim. When cinched tight, it works as intended to hold in warmth, making you feel like you're at home in front of the fire, albeit with some tickles to your cheeks. The Frozen Range features a brushed jersey lining in the handwarmer pockets, which adds to the cozy factor.
The Arc'teryx Thorsen is extremely comfortable, with soft nylon fabric on the inside that slides effortlessly against any fabric that is worn underneath. The down baffles contour perfectly to your body, and the jackets feels amazingly comfortable, despite the level of warmth and weather resistance that it provides. On the other hand, the thick layers of the Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 are warm and protective, but they rub awkwardly against each other and are very heavy, making the jacket more of a chore to wear. After weeks of testing, the difference in comfort was staggering.
Winter-specific features set these jackets apart from 3-season options. Hoods, multiple hand warmer pockets, two-way zippers, and cuff closures work together to protect you from frigid environments.
A hood is mandatory in stormy winter weather, and while it is not a substitute for a warm hat, it certainly makes life a lot nicer. Ideally, these hoods will be highly adjustable to allow for a customizable and secure fit. The best hood in our test is found on the chart-topping Canada Goose Expedition. The hood is warm, large, and can be cinched down securely and comfortably. The stiff brim also keeps the hood (almost) out of your field of view. The hood on Best Buy winning McMurdo III is smaller than previous versions of this product, and warmth and weather protection suffers accordingly. If you leave the removable fur ruff on and don't have to move your head much, the McMurdo's hood effectively seals out the weather. Otherwise, the more sophisticated hoods of the Arc'teryx and Patagonia jackets are at the head of the pack.
Insulated handwarmer pockets are an excellent place to keep cold hands or gloves, and most have a fleece-like liner. The Arc'teryx jackets have the best hand warmers. The Haglofs Torsang Parka and the Feathered Friends Khumbu Parka also have fully insulated handwarmer pockets. Most of these feature wrap-around fleece lining. This not only means that your hand is insulated while in the pocket, but also that there is no draft when the pocket is unzipped.
The McMurdo III pockets are uninsulated, but they are fleece-lined, and there are four of them! With a set at chest level and waist level, there is a hand-warming option for every posture.
Unfortunately, The North Face changed these pockets on the newest version of the McMurdo (III). The latest version still has four fleece-lined handwarmer pockets, but the upper, chest-level ones are now placed further to the sides. This means that you have to chicken-wing your shoulders and elbows to get your hands into them. So much so, that these pockets aren't comfortably usable. Nonetheless, the jacket is incredibly worthy.
We wish that the jackets featuring a single layer of fabric protecting the hands in a warming pocket had a more sophisticated design. The Canada Goose models, for instance, both have uninsulated hand pockets.
In a thigh-length parka, the need for a bottom zipper pull is apparent. The extended length can inhibit stride, and wearing a long coat while seated can be awkward and uncomfortable without this feature. The Haglofs Torsang Parka is a long coat with a separating zipper on the bottom. Getting this zipper started is annoying, but once rigged, it runs smoothly.
Cuff closures can be simple elastic closures, a snap closure, or Velcro, but a good winter parka needs them. Cuff closures prevent snow and wind from entering through the sleeves, and interact with glove cuffs to create a weather-proof system. Open cuffs with internal gaskets, like those on the Arc'teryx Camosun and Patagonia Frozen Range, combine fashion and function. The Haglofs Torsang has soft inner gaskets with velcro closed outer cuffs. This is perhaps the best of both worlds. Over time, well-used velcro straps will wear out, creating a durability concern.Other Features
Other features that may be important to you include internal phone pockets with headphone ports, skirts to seal out the cold, or built-in face warmers. The most notable feature that we came across is the ability for one jacket to be worn three ways. The Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka is comprised of a burly outer shell, which can be worn individually as a rain coat, and an inner down sweater, which can be worn independently on dry, chilly days in the fall or spring. Together, they combing to produce a formidable winter jacket that can withstand the harshest urban winters.
We liked the feature set 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 appreciated the features on both The North Face McMurdo III Jacket and our Best Buy Marmot Fordham. Both come with an array of pockets, including an internal Napoleon pocket (referencing the famous pose) that has a headphone channel, so your electronics stay dry. The McMurdo jacket adds removable fur hood lining and unique integrated face mask/neck gaiter. The Patagonia Frozen Range Parka features a large button flap that hides the front zipper. While this helps prevent wind from penetrating through to the torso, it also adds an element of style.
Style is personal. Our personalities show through our clothing choices, winter jackets included. This review includes parkas that could be worn to a nice restaurant and a Broadway show, and others that convey a simpler taste. 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. For example, many Patagonia products are designed for technical use, but the brand label is just as often found in urban cafes and at suburban barbecues. Casual urban parkas don't usually work the other way. They are likely missing crucial elements for safe winter adventurings, think hoods or full waterproofing.
Most of the models reviewed have an extended cut, which adds warmth and weather resistance. It also gives them a different look than the waist-length athletic cuts that most backcountry-inspired jackets have. We liked the style of the Patagonia Jackson Glacier and Arc'teryx Camosun, which are both stylish enough to dress up but also perform well while snowshoeing or ice skating. The Patagonia Frozen Range Parka is one of the most fashion-forward jackets in this review and should be considered by anyone who considers style paramount. Just don't expect this jacket to perform in any event more athletic than jogging to catch a train or hustling through a crowded sidewalk.
The Marmot Fordham has a neutral style. Across the board, we tested different "looks" to find something for everyone. One tester did not like the "tubular" look of the Haglofs Torsang. Not all testers were so disapproving of the Torsang's style, but this opinion is strong enough to be worth noting. Similarly, testers either loved or hated the hood on the Patagonia Frozen Range.
Both the Arc'teryx Thorsen and Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 are well-styled and have a classic urban winter look. The Tres is a bit more center-of-the-road and high class, with large horizontal pocket flaps and a square cut. The Thorsen is a bit edgier, with a sleek, tubular cut and very long hem, suggesting a hip and young look.
This category respects the fact that purchasing a winter jacket is an investment that can pay off or be wasted. With few exceptions, durable winter outerwear is expensive. For a quality winter parka, expect to pay more. On the upside, that investment will pay off for a few years of consistent use, depending on your activity levels. Are you going to be in contact with razor-sharp winter climbing gear, like ice axes or skis? Or will you only be using the parka to get from the office door to the Uber all winter? After investing a large sum of money in a winter jacket, we want to feel like our investment is protected, so it is important to consider the warranty and lifetime guarantees offered by each company. Companies like Canada Goose and Patagonia stand by the craftsmanship and materials of their products, and will help repair or replace your jacket if any durability issues arise.
One of the most critical durability considerations is a jacket's outer fabric. Solid, heavy-duty, canvas-like exterior materials can withstand more abuse than a thinner shell. Zippers, snaps, and Velcro get a lot of use, so we looked at these closures to make sure they are durable enough.
We gave our highest score in this category to the Canada Goose Expedition Parka. The large zippers, durable outer material, and quality construction make this jacket last. Similarly, the Canada Goose Chilliwack Bomber is quite rugged.
We are concerned about the durability of the technical models tested, like the Feathered Friends Khumbu Down Parka. These jackets are frequently around sharp mountaineering tools, and a thin nylon shell is easily ripped or torn. Quality options like the Arc'terxy Camosun are less worrisome. It didn't scuff or abraid when loading wood or tossing skis over the shoulder. Comfort and weight are compromised by such heavier materials as used in the Camosun, and the right balance of durability and comfort is different for everyone.
Selecting a winter jacket is complex, and always involves a compromise. Our review features jackets that provide varying levels of performance in each of the categories scored, the all-around jackets scoring well across the board, and the technical, purpose-built jackets scoring highly in just one or two categories. For most users, warmth, weather resistance, comfort, and cost are paramount, while more specific users need to consider features, specific construction details, and style. Take a look at the rankings in each scoring category to decide which jacket strikes the perfect balance for you. We welcome your feedback to help us create the perfect comparison of winter jackets, and our ultimate goal is to make the choice as easy as possible. Winter is approaching. Select a good winter jacket, hunker down, and enjoy the changing seasons.
— Jeff Dobronyi and Jediah Porter