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.
Where we Test
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.
We tested for weather resistance in real winter conditions, ranging from wet snow and rain in the Northeast to blowing snow and bitter cold storms in the Rockies. This helped us understand how much precipitation each fabric could handle before soaking through.
Warmth was tested by wearing each jacket in sub-zero temperatures in the Rocky Mountains until the testers just couldn't stand the cold any longer. Jackets that helped our testers stay warm for longer and in colder temperatures were scored higher. Jackets were worn side-by-side and by each tester to ensure a comprehensive and accurate comparison of the warmth, fit, and comfort of each jacket during extended sessions of team-testing.