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

How We Tested Winter Jackets

By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor
Saturday March 16, 2019
Testing the Canada Goose down in its intended element - cold  cold snow.
Testing the Canada Goose down in its intended element - cold, cold snow.

Testing winter jackets requires cold temperatures, wind, and snowy weather. We tested across North America, but primarily in California's Sierra Nevada and in the early months of Idaho and Wyoming's winter. We also spent time in Upstate New York's dreary autumn shoulder season. When exciting new jackets came out before the weather was truly frigid, we jumped on a motorcycle to crank the wind chill up and jumped in the shower to test waterproofing. 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.

Our test locations were the chic slope-side village of Mammoth Lakes, California, the damp and drizzly Seattle area, New York NY, crisp days in the Tetons, and backcountry ski and ice climbing venues across the US. While many of these jackets have their own unique niche, by using them across a variety of locations and during different weather we were able to highlight the best for winter weather applications.

Weather resistance was tested in real life conditions, using wet snow and rain to get an idea of how much each fabric would withstand before wetting through. Jacket warmth was often easy to test since it was bone-chilling cold during the testing period and we could get a good idea of performance in this important metric. Of course, we weighed each jacket and made comparative remarks on warmth, fit, and comfort in extended sessions of team-testing.