The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

The Best Winter Jackets of 2019

Early winter in "Wydaho" in the McMurdo jacket from The North Face
Friday October 11, 2019
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We researched 80 of the best winter jackets for men on the market in 2019 and purchased the top 16 for hands-on testing. During our months of testing, we endured temperatures below zero, whiteout conditions and every type of precipitation, from rain to heavy snow to light powder. To help you make an informed and confident choice, we evaluated each coat on the metrics of warmth, weather resistance, comfort, style, features, and durability. Give our review a read, and let us help you find the perfect jacket for your activities, weather, and budget.

Related: The Best Winter Jackets for Women


Top 14 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 14
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Awards Editors' Choice Award    Best Buy Award 
Price $486.75 at Amazon
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$699.00 at Backcountry
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$599.00 at REI
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$598.83 at Amazon
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$329.95 at Backcountry
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Pros Durable, clean looking, warm, weather resistantFashionable, warm, weatherproofThree jackets in one.Wet-weather ready with the best handwarmer pockets in the reviewWarm, long hem
Cons “Crinkly” shell fabricExpensive, controversial hoodRelatively confining fit in combined mode for the amount of warmth it provides.Synthetic insulation will break down with timeBulky, small hood
Bottom Line Near perfection in a winter coat, at a premium price.The best choice for a fashion-forward and high-performance winter jacket, with a high price tag.A unique product in a crowded field, the Tres stands out for great construction and modular versatility.A moderately insulated, wet weather thorough-bred, the Fission SV is purpose built for wet and cold climates.A budget-conscious jacket for those in the coldest regions.
Rating Categories Arc'teryx Camosun Parka Patagonia Frozen Range Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka Arc'teryx Fission SV McMurdo Parka III
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Specs Arc'teryx Camosun... Patagonia Frozen... Patagonia Tres... Arc'teryx Fission SV McMurdo Parka III
Down Fill Power 750 700 700 Synthetic Coreloft 550
Total Weight (pounds) 2.14 lb 2.76 lb 2.94 lb 1.99 lbs 3.55 lb
Pockets 2 zippered hand & 1 internal security 2 zippered handwarmer, 1 external zippered chest, 1 interior drop-in 5 (Outer Shell: 2 zippered hand-warmer, one external chest. Inner: 2 hand w/zip, 1 interior w/zip) 2 zippered hand, 2 zippered chest, 2 internal mesh 2 chest height, zippered handwarmers, 2 exterior top-entry Velcro flap pockets, 1 sleeve, 1 interior media pocket, and 2 side-entry waist handwarmers
Hood Yes (removable) Yes Yes (removable, uninsulated) Yes Yes (removable)
Hood Adjustments 3 adjustable drawcords One rear drawcord 3 adjustable drawcords 3 adjustable drawcords Rear drawcord
Baffle Type Sewn-through under an outer shell fabric Interior baffles Sewn-through innner layer Synthetic batting Sewn-through under an outer shell fabric
Main Fabric N150p-x Gore-Tex 2L Shell: 4 oz 75-denier 100% recycled polyester Gore-Tex 2L, Lining: 100% recycled polyester ripstop with DWR finish H2No Performance: 2-layer, 6.7-oz 100% polyester stretch twill N40r GORE-TEX 2L
N70p GORE-TEX 3L
DryVent 2L 100% nylon

The Best Overall


Arc'teryx Camosun Parka


Arc'teryx Camosun Parka
Editors' Choice Award

$486.75
(25% off)
at Amazon
See It

83
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth - 25% 7
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 9
  • Comfort - 20% 8
  • Style - 20% 10
  • Features - 10% 6
  • Durability - 5% 10
Weight and fill power: 2.14 lbs, 750 | Number of pockets: 3
Long-lasting
Good looks
Great protection from inclement weather
Noisy, stiff shell

The Arc'teryx Camosun Parka beat out the competition for the third year in a row. In all winter conditions, 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. For most winter conditions, this is perhaps the only drawback to this Editors' Choice winner. 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 Overall


Marmot Fordham


Best Buy Award

$224.98
(31% off)
at Backcountry
See It

70
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth - 25% 7
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 4
  • Comfort - 20% 9
  • Style - 20% 8
  • Features - 10% 6
  • Durability - 5% 8
Weight and fill power: 2.75 lbs, 700 | Number of pockets: 4
Solid construction
Awesome comfort
Sufficiently warm
Not our wet-weather favorite

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 winter and will last you a long time — all for a reasonable cost. At a modest price, the Marmot Fordham Vest is likely to make for an excellent layering piece.

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


Best Buy Award

$329.95
at Backcountry
See It

73
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth - 25% 9
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 6
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Style - 20% 6
  • Features - 10% 8
  • Durability - 5% 9
Weight and fill power: 3.62 lbs, 550 | Number of pockets: 8
Toasty
Extended hem
Inexpensive
Cumbersome
Small hood

If your winters are hardcore, your jacket needs to be above average, too. 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

Top Pick for Extreme Cold


Canada Goose Expedition Parka


Top Pick Award

$1,095.00
at Backcountry
See It

70
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth - 25% 10
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 7
  • Comfort - 20% 4
  • Style - 20% 4
  • Features - 10% 10
  • Durability - 5% 10
Fill power: 625 | Number of pockets: 11
Brings the heat!
Nice organization
Useful features
Large
Overkill for most climates
High price tag

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 good reason.

Read review: Canada Goose Expedition Parka

Top Pick for Expeditions


Feathered Friends Khumbu Down Parka


Top Pick Award

$639.00
at Feathered Friends
See It

70
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth - 25% 10
  • Weather Resistance - 20% 7
  • Comfort - 20% 6
  • Style - 20% 4
  • Features - 10% 8
  • Durability - 5% 6
Weight and fill power: 2.11 lbs, 900+ | Number of pockets: 5
Extremely warm
Great warmth-to-weight ratio
Technical Features
Bulky
Not fully waterproof
Too warm for most uses

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 team of expert testers is led by Jediah Porter and Jeff Dobronyi. Both are professional mountain guides with Exum, year-round mountain dwellers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and have ventured on a combined six Denali expeditions. From cold, snowy mountain pursuits to everyday life in the coldest part of the country, they know what a winter jacket needs to accomplish. Whether you're shoveling the driveway, backcountry skiing, or on an arctic expedition, they have the knowledge and experience to evaluate how each jacket will meet your specific needs.

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, and value. Read on for specifics about how the jackets faired in each metric that helped comprise this overall score.

Related: Buying Advice for Winter Jackets

Value


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 rare 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.

The Canada Goose coyote fur hood lining is controversial  it's also really warm.
The Canada Goose coyote fur hood lining is controversial, it's also really warm.

Warmth


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.


Down Fill Power and Fill Weight — Higher down fill power numbers denote higher quality down feathers. This translates into lighter, warmer down fill that is also more compressible. Ultimately though the amount of insulation, not the quality, is what determines a jacket's warmth. The amount used, usually measured in ounces, is described by a jacket's fill weight. Manufacturers usually advertise a jacket's fill power but not its fill weight.

The Editors' Choice Arc'teryx Camosun. Lofty, efficient down 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.

To get a jump on winter jacket testing we took evening motorcycle rides in mountainous autumnal temperatures to simulate colder  more rugged conditions. (We eventually got into some rain and snow as well.)
To get a jump on winter jacket testing we took evening motorcycle rides in mountainous autumnal temperatures to simulate colder, more rugged conditions. (We eventually got into some rain and snow as well.)

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 Khumbu is one of the warmest models we tested.
The Khumbu is one of the warmest models we tested.

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.

Removable faux fur lining and an integrated facemask help you stay toasty when wearing the McMurdo III.
Removable faux fur lining and an integrated facemask help you stay toasty when wearing the McMurdo III.

Overall, jackets with synthetic insulation are not as warm as the down models. The Arc'teryx Fission SV provides less warmth than most of the down models reviewed. This is likely because the garment has less insulation overall, though it did reinforce the idea that if you are looking for warmth, opt for down. Similarly, the synthetic Patagonia Macro Puff Hoody is not warm enough to be a true winter jacket, except in mild climates.

The Best Buy McMurdo III is a great deal  and a great deal warmer than much of the competition. For deep cold on a budget  look closely.
The Best Buy McMurdo III is a great deal, and a great deal warmer than much of the competition. For deep cold on a budget, look closely.

Despite its slim appearance  the Editors' Choice-winning Arc'teryx Camosun Parka is very warm  thanks to body-mapped down and synthetic insulation. It also sports a waterproof/breathable membrane and taped seams.
Despite its slim appearance, the Editors' Choice-winning Arc'teryx Camosun Parka is very warm, thanks to body-mapped down and synthetic insulation. It also sports a waterproof/breathable membrane and taped seams.

Weather Resistance


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 cuffs and hoods will also keep warm air in and cold out. That leaves us with water. Waterproof outer shell fabric keeps 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.


Whether you choose a DWR treated jacket or a layered shell with a waterproof membrane like Gore-Tex and a DWR coating on the outer fabric, you have to take good care of it to keep it waterproof. Detergents strip DWR treatments from the fabric but letting the jacket get dirty makes the waterproofing less effective. Go for a DWR or Gore-Tex specific cleaner. When your DWR finish wears off (they all will), use a wash-in or spray-on waterproofing to restore your winter jacket's weather resistance.

A large  comfortable and adjustable hood does a great job of keeping you out of the weather. We liked the one on the Arc'Teryx Fission SV.
A large, comfortable and adjustable hood does a great job of keeping you out of the weather. We liked the one on the Arc'Teryx Fission SV.

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 Fission SV that uses Gore-Tex. These waterproof and breathable fabrics shed water faster and for much longer than a DWR treatment alone. (If a jacket has an inner waterproof membrane, you can be sure the outer face fabric is treated with DWR.) The Arc'teryx Camosun, Patagonia Frozen Range, Marmot Fordham, and North Face McMurdo III all have waterproof and breathable membranes. 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 a jacket claims to be waterproof, make sure that the seams are fully taped. Why? Stitches punch tiny holes in the fabric. If they are not taped, they become an easy entry point for moisture. The Arc'teryx jackets have taped seams.

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 ski skirt on the Canada Goose Expedition Down Parka seems odd since you wouldn't want to hit the slopes in this sleeping bag of a jacket. But it works wonders to keep drafts at bay.
The ski skirt on the Canada Goose Expedition Down Parka seems odd since you wouldn't want to hit the slopes in this sleeping bag of a jacket. But it works wonders to keep drafts at bay.

The Patagonia Macro Puff Hoody is not designed to repel water  which makes is difficult to recommend as a winter jacket except for users in the Southwestern US.
The Patagonia Macro Puff Hoody is not designed to repel water, which makes is difficult to recommend as a winter jacket except for users in the Southwestern US.

The Haglofs Torsang Parka features excellent weather protection. This is 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.

Fleece linings are comfortable  but can be binding. Haglofs mitigates the issue by lining the lower hem and the sleeves with smooth  light nylon.
Fleece linings are comfortable, but can be binding. Haglofs mitigates the issue by lining the lower hem and the sleeves with smooth, light nylon.

Comfort


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.

Comfortable knit cuffs keep snow out and your wrists warm.
Comfortable knit cuffs keep snow out and your wrists warm.

The Arc Teryx Camosun is nearly a perfect day-to-day winter coat. Even with its imperfections  it surpasses the field and runs away with our Editors Choice award for years now.
The Arc Teryx Camosun is nearly a perfect day-to-day winter coat. Even with its imperfections, it surpasses the field and runs away with our Editors Choice award for years now.

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.

Even if you aren't "working out" in a winter jacket  some range of motion is helpful. Here  lead test editor watching elk in Yellowstone National Park.
Even if you aren't "working out" in a winter jacket, some range of motion is helpful. Here, lead test editor watching elk in Yellowstone National Park.

Features


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.


Hood

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, literally.

Patagonia Jackson Glacier has one of the best hoods in the review.
Patagonia Jackson Glacier has one of the best hoods in the review.

Handwarmers

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 has both chest mounted hand warmers  as used here  and waist level ones.
The McMurdo has both chest mounted hand warmers, as used here, and waist level ones.

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.

Two-way zips  like the one found on the Haglofs Torsang Parka  are super useful.
Two-way zips, like the one found on the Haglofs Torsang Parka, are super useful.

Two-Way Zipper

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.

Cuffs like these on the Torsang jacket hold winter winds at bay.
Cuffs like these on the Torsang jacket hold winter winds at bay.

Cuff Closures

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.

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


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 versatile Camosun tops our style list.
The versatile Camosun tops our style list.

The Marmot Fordham and Arc'teryx Fission SV are neutral products. 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.

The hood design gave some of our testers pause.
The hood design gave some of our testers pause.

Durability


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 Patagonia Macro Puff Hoody. These jackets are frequently around sharp mountaineering tools, and the thin nylon shell of the Macro Puff 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.

Overtime jacket colors change but our rigorous testing process never fails to sort out the best of the best.
Overtime jacket colors change but our rigorous testing process never fails to sort out the best of the best.

Conclusion


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