Looking for the best winter jacket in 2021? After hand-testing almost 50 winter coats over the last seven years, we recently bought 15 of the best jackets for a rigorous side-by-side comparison. Our testing crew hunkered down in below-freezing temperatures for months at a time and braved every form of precipitation imaginable, from freezing rain to dumping snow. Using our carefully selected performance metrics, we've identified which models will keep you the warmest, the driest, and even which coats look the best around town. Whether you're looking for the best model with the fanciest features or a great value option, we have you covered.Related: Best Winter Jackets for Women of 2021
Best Winter Jackets for Men of 2021
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$1,495 at Backcountry
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$679.00 at Feathered Friends
|Pros||Tons of pockets, sharp urban style, durable, cozy||Incredibly warm, many pockets, great features||3-in-1 versatility, weather resistant, stylish||Warm, long hem, comfortable hood, great features||Extremely warm, lightweight, technical features|
|Cons||Bulky, zipper is hard to start, could be warmer||Bulky, too warm and heavy for most users||Not super comfortable or warm||Bulky, faux fur hood is polarizing||Bulky, too warm for most uses, not completely waterproof|
|Bottom Line||A durable and heavily featured parka with sharp style and a removable fur hood||Ridiculously warm, this bulky jacket is for the high end user in extremely cold climates and conditions||Great versatility and style in a protective jacket||A warm, stylish, and budget-conscious jacket for those in the coldest regions||The best technical climbing and expedition parka in our review|
|Rating Categories||Fjallraven Nuuk Parka||Canada Goose Expedi...||Patagonia Tres 3-in...||The North Face McMu...||Feathered Friends K...|
|Weather Resistance (20%)|
|Specs||Fjallraven Nuuk Parka||Canada Goose Expedi...||Patagonia Tres 3-in...||The North Face McMu...||Feathered Friends K...|
|Down Fill Power||Synthetic||625||700||550||900+ Goose Down|
|Total Weight (pounds)||4.47 lb||4.46 lb||3.40 lb||3.55 lb||2.11 lb|
|Pockets||2 zippered breast pockets; 2 buttoned breast pockets; 2 top-loading bellow pockets; 2 fleece-lined handwarmer pockets; 1 media pocket on sleeve, 2 internal zippered chest pockets, 2 internal button-closure stash pockets, 2 internal mesh stash pockets.||4 zippered exterior, 4 exterior velcro (lower exterior torso pockets are half-fleece lined), 2 arm, 1 zippered interior||5 (Outer Shell: 2 zippered hand-warmer, one external chest. Inner: 2 hand w/zip, 1 interior w/zip)||2 chest height, zippered handwarmers, 2 exterior top-entry Velcro flap pockets, 1 sleeve, 1 interior media pocket, and 2 side-entry waist handwarmers||5 (2 zip hand, 2 internal mesh, 1 chest)|
|Hood||Yes||Yes||Yes (removable, uninsulated)||Yes (removable)||Yes|
|Hood Adjustments||2 side drawcords, rear velcro||Adjustable bracing wire and face opening drawcords.||3 adjustable drawcords||Rear drawcord||3 adjustable drawcords|
|Baffle Type||Discontinuous quilting||Sewn-through under an outer shell fabric||Sewn-through innner layer||Sewn-through under an outer shell fabric||Tuck-stitched baffle|
|Main Fabric||Polyamide||Arctic-Tech, coyote fur around hood||H2No Performance: 2-layer, 6.7-oz 100% polyester stretch twill||DryVent 2L 100% nylon||Pertex Shield fabric|
The Best Overall
Arc'teryx Camosun Parka
The Arc'teryx Camosun Parka beats out the competition yet again to earn our top overall honor. From hard sleet to snow, with assaulting winds or bitter cold, this model can keep you well-protected. Our testers liked its stylish looks for chilly jaunts around town and felt prepared for whatever harsh weather conditions might come their way. Arc'teryx stuffs this jacket full of high-quality goose down in critical areas where warmth is paramount. Meanwhile, synthetic insulation is strategically placed where exposure to precipitation and sweat is expected, like the hood, neck, shoulders, and cuffs. Although it isn't the absolute warmest and won't turn any heads with its style, 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, and that's probably its biggest drawback. In the absolute coldest of temps, this model could also be outmatched. In those conditions, and if money is no object, check out the Canada Goose Expedition or the Feathered Friends Khumbu Parka.
Read review: Arc'teryx Camosun Parka
Best Bang for the Buck
REI Co-op Stormhenge Down Hybrid Parka
The REI Co-op Stormhenge Down Hybrid Parka is a warm and weather-resistant coat, providing the features and protection of a much more expensive jacket at an affordable price. It is packed with plenty of high-quality down insulation that helps the jacket puff up to an impressive loft, providing plenty of warmth for most winter days. It features a fully waterproof outer shell, a protective and adjustable hood, and stretchy wrist gaiters that seal out the elements. It also has plenty of pockets to be useful.
The Stormhenge's style is understated, with limited color options and a boxy cut. This cut also feels bulky to wear, taking away from the jacket's comfort. But aside from those downsides, this is a great jacket that lacks the refinements of only the highest-quality (and most expensive) winter jackets on the market. If you need the warmest jacket available for extreme winter temperatures, you'll have to look elsewhere, but if you want a high-performance jacket at a reasonable price, this is the jacket for you.
Read review: Rei Co-op Stormhenge Down Hybrid Parka
Excellent Value for Frigid Conditions
The North Face McMurdo Down Parka
The North Face McMurdo Down Parka is a great option for budget-conscious users in cold climates that need a jacket to keep them warm and dry in the most severe winter weather. It is packed with high-quality down insulation, has a long hem and roomy fit, and comes with a removable faux-fur hood liner that creates a seal between hood and face. It is waterproof, breathable, has tons of pockets, and is relatively stylish.
The fabrics and construction of the McMurdo are a little stiff and confining compared to the Canada Goose Expedition, something you'd expect on 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 Down Parka.
Read review: The North Face McMurdo Down Parka
Best for Extreme Cold
Canada Goose Expedition Parka
While bitter cold, feet of snow, and icy sidewalks do not describe cold conditions for everyone, for those living in extreme latitudes or at high elevation, a winter jacket that protects you from prolonged sub-freezing temperatures makes a lot of sense. Enter the Canada Goose Expedition Parka. This model is the pinnacle of warmth, with an abundance of features, and it's the coziest jacket reviewed. The Expedition Parka 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 version comes in a royal blue color, with 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 to save 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 likely not your everyday winter jacket — only those exposed to the truly bitter cold should accept the drawbacks. If you need a truly warm and durable jacket, you won't do better than the Expedition Parka. It's 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 of all the winter jackets in our review. It weighs only 2.11 pounds, yet it provides more warmth than any other jacket in our view except the Canada Goose Expedition Parka, which is equally warm but weighs more than twice as much. Purpose-built for technical expeditions to the world's highest peaks, the Khumbu Parka is packed full of features for expedition climbing like a seamless hood that's designed to fit over a helmet, 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 unnoticeable in a pack and to provide life-saving warmth when needed.
In general, this jacket is overkill for all but the most extreme conditions. We tested this parka on mountaineering trips all over the United States and actually found that it's uncomfortably warm above 15 degrees Fahrenheit, even 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. The Pertex Shield exterior fabric is not as durable as other options, nor as water-resistant, and will allow water to penetrate during a soaking rain. That said, this jacket is not meant to be worn in temperatures anywhere close to the freezing point. Rather, it's the ideal choice for the coldest conditions and tallest mountains, places where snow and ice rarely melt.
Read review: Feathered Friends Khumbu Down Parka
Best for Active Winter Recreation
Rab Neutrino Pro
The Rab Neutrino Pro is a technically-minded down parka that provides excellent warmth and comfort in a lightweight package. Designed with active winter pursuits in mind, this is an excellent parka for anyone who goes outside in the cold during activities ranging from skiing and snowboarding to sledding, hunting, and ice fishing, or even just chopping wood and shoveling the driveway. It packs high-loft down insulation into thoughtful baffle patterns and a comfortable and cozy hood and is tailored to fit the body's contours. It is very comfortable to wear, especially while moving.
We also like the style of this puffy. It feels right at home in various situations, from small towns to big cities and everywhere in between. It doesn't have as many pockets as other jackets, but the pockets it does have are very useful and well-placed. Two drawstrings on the hem and two drawstrings on the hood, as well as velcro wrist straps, help seal out the elements during brutal winter storms. However, the shell material isn't as waterproof as other jackets on the market, and it is thin enough to snag and tear on any remotely sharp object or rough surface. If you spend a lot of time outside in the winter and need a jacket that can keep up with your active lifestyle, look no further. It comes at a reasonable price as well.
Read review: Rab Neutrino Pro Jacket
Why You Should Trust Us
Our test team is led by full-time Jackson, Wyoming resident, and IFMGA licensed Mountain Guide Jeff Dobronyi. He leads backcountry skiing and mountaineering trips in the Tetons and all over the globe in the winter and spends his summers leading alpine climbs and expeditions. He has ventured on four expeditions to Denali, as well as many trips to the Andes, Canadian Rockies, and Alaskan mountains, in addition to winter camping for ski mountaineering in the Tetons. He knows what it means to brave the worst weather on earth, whether climbing and skiing the biggest mountains around the world or shoveling the driveway during a blizzard. He has seen it all, and has the expertise to distinguish between jackets that are the real deal, and those that won't handle bad winter weather.
We've tested winter jackets for nine years in a row and have refined our testing process and scoring metrics to a rigorous and thorough standard. We have used these jackets during blizzards in Jackson Hole, wet and slushy storms on the streets of New York City, arctic temperature blasts in Calgary, and while skiing and vacationing at mountain destinations across the country. We have put these jackets through the wringer and have emerged with a great idea of how they compare.
Related: How We Tested Winter Jackets
Analysis and Test Results
We rated each jacket's performance the key areas of warmth, weather resistance, comfort, style, durability, and features. Read on for specifics about how the jackets fared in the individual metrics that comprise the overall scores.
Related: Buying Advice for Winter Jackets
Winter jackets can be pricey and might be the most expensive piece of clothing that many users own. That said, they are one of the most important pieces of clothing for users who live in cold climates and can make the difference between enjoying beautiful winter days and shivering miserably, wishing summer would arrive sooner. In general, the warmest jackets are the most expensive, but there are still good deals to be found. Consider how much warmth you'll actually need, making sure you don't buy a jacket that is unnecessarily warm (and expensive).
We love the value of the REI Co-op Stormhenge Down Hybrid Parka, which provides plenty of lofty down insulation, a waterproof membrane, and excellent features. Plus, it is well-constructed and durable for a range of uses. The North Face McMurdo III is another great value, especially if you live in the coldest climates, performing nearly as well as the best jackets on the market, at a much lower price. However, if you truly need warmth and weather resistance to resist the toughest winter climates, the more expensive jackets are worth the investment. Refined design characteristics, down insulation, effective waterproofing, and comfortable tailoring require time, effort, and money on the part of the manufacturer. This drives up the sticker price, but in the long run, a well-designed winter jacket made from durable materials will prove its worth, especially in brutal winter climates. In more temperate or tropical areas, users might be able to get away with less.
Warmth is the most important metric we used to rank each model. It directly corresponds to how much insulation is used in a jacket, whether it's down or synthetic insulation. The more insulation a jacket contains, the warmer it is. For down jackets, we looked at the insulation quality (fill power) and quantity (fill weight) of each 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 won't feel equally warm. The most useful measurement for warmth is, of course, comparative testing in actual conditions. We spent a lot of time outside side-by-side testing, swapping jackets between the test team, and comparing notes.
The Arc'teryx Camosun features lofty down, which keeps the jacket lightweight and highly packable. Most of the down-insulated parkas feature down below 750 fill power, all the way to the 550 in The North Face McMurdo Down Parka. However, this low fill-power number should not dissuade shoppers. Heavier, lower quality down drops the cost, and a casual winter parka doesn't need to be as light or compressible as a technical jacket for overnight wilderness trips. 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. It's nearly as warm and much lighter than the Canada Goose Expedition Parka. The North Face McMurdo Down Parka is almost as warm as an expedition parka, with the price tag of a casual jacket, earning it the best value for warmth in our test.
The Patagonia Jackson Glacier and the Patagonia Frozen Range Parka also kept us warm in most wintry conditions. The Arc'teryx Camosun Parka falls between the Jackson Glacier and the Frozen Range Parka. We were also 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. The 850-fill power down of the Rab Neutrino Pro makes that jacket very warm for its weight.
Overall, jackets with synthetic insulation are not as warm as the down models. For example, the Fjallraven Nuuk Parka is warm enough for the average cold, especially in milder climates, but isn't warm enough for true frigid conditions. Down insulated jackets provide much more warmth for the same weight.
Cold winter weather and storms often arrive at the same time. Winter jackets need to be proficient at keeping wind, snow, rain, and sleet outside the jacket, and also at keeping their down insulation dry. Wet down feathers stick together, and don't insulate as well as dry feathers. Other attributes like jacket length, hood size and shape, pocket design, and sleeve cuff openings can contribute to how well a jacket keeps the elements out.
If precipitation tends to fall as rain or wet snow rather than dry powder in your neck of the woods, consider a winter jacket with a waterproof outer shell, like the Gore-Tex membrane in the Arc'teryx Thorsen. 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, the Patagonia Frozen Range, the Patagonia Tres 3-in-1, the Marmot Fordham, the REI Stormhenge, and The North Face McMurdo Down Parka all have waterproof and breathable membranes as well. The McMurdo does not have sealed or taped seams like the Arc'teryx jackets, though, which can allow water to seep through, and thus, hurt the jacket's overall rating.
If a jacket claims to be waterproof, ensure 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 all 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 a jacket with DWR treatments, such as the Canada Goose Expedition Parka and the Patagonia Jackson Glacier should offer adequate protection. Another jacket that works well in those conditions is the McMurdo Down Parka. It's not incredibly water-resistance due to its untaped seams, but it's warm enough to excel in genuinely sub-freezing conditions. Luckily, precipitation is rarely in liquid form at those temperatures, and the limited 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 Rab Neutrino Pro doesn't feature a highly water-resistant shell because it is designed for temperatures below freezing. Still, the individual down feathers are treated with a waterproofing agent that allows some water to penetrate the jacket without affecting warmth performance.
Hoods are another important component of weather protection. All of the jackets in our review have hoods, but for true protection in a blizzard when the snow is blowing sideways, the hood needs to be large enough to protrude from the user's face and forehead to block the wind and snow. For thousands of years, humans in cold climates have used animal fur around the hood opening to create a micro-climate of warmth around the face. Although they are controversial stylistically, modern faux-fur hoods are very warm and keep the wind off the sensitive skin of the face.
A good winter parka incorporates lots of insulation and weather-resistant materials into a comfortable package that can be worn with ease in uncomfortable winter conditions. All of this material can be restricting, and some jackets do better than others at making the user feel comfortable.
We found a rough correlation between cost and comfort. More expensive jackets use softer materials and more thoughtful tailoring to achieve better comfort. A parka's cut has a significant impact on its comfort. A meticulously designed jacket like the Arc'teryx Camosun Parka will fit 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, but the extra material can also make the jacket feel unwieldy. The Rab Neutrino Pro puffs up like a marshmallow, but its high-quality tailoring keeps this insulation wrapped to the body's contours, resulting in a comfortable feel despite the puffy bulk. A notable exception to our observations about price is the 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 to keep the heat in also make for a larger package. This bulky package limits your range of motion, which can cause discomfort. The best warm jackets on the market use smart designs like smaller baffles and stretchy underarm fabrics to increase mobility without sacrificing warmth.
We love the cozy feel of a 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 a little tickling on your cheeks. The Frozen Range and REI Stormhenge Parka feature 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 worn underneath, and the jacket is 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.
Cold-specific features distinguish these jackets from three-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 during stormy weather, and while it is not a substitute for a warm hat, it certainly makes life a lot nicer. Ideally, hoods would be highly adjustable to allow for a customizable and secure fit. The best hood in our test was found on the incredible Canada Goose Expedition Parka. This hood is warm, large, and can be cinched down securely and comfortably. The stiff brim also kept the hood mostly out of your field of view. The hood on The North Face McMurdo Down Parka is roomy and fur-lined, making it extremely warm and comfortable. If you leave the removable fur liner on, the McMurdo's hood effectively seals out the weather. Otherwise, the more sophisticated hoods of the Arc'teryx and Patagonia jackets, as well as the Rab Neutrino Pro, 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 had the best hand warmers among the jackets we tested. The Feathered Friends Khumbu Parka and Rab Neutrino Pro also have fully insulated handwarmer pockets that we like. Most of these include a wrap-around fleece lining. This means that your hand is insulated while in the pocket and that there is no draft when the pocket is unzipped.
The McMurdo Down Parka has four fleece-lined handwarmer pockets, but none of them are insulated, and the chest-level pockets are now placed further to the sides, slightly out of the normal range of comfortable motion. Nonetheless, the jacket is incredibly worthy with a total of seven pockets. 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 Zipper
In a thigh-length parka, the need for a bottom zipper pull is quickly apparent. The extended length can inhibit stride, and wearing a long coat while seated can be awkward and uncomfortable without this feature. The Fjallraven Nuuk is a long coat with a two-way zipper that helps add mobility, but the zipper doesn't extend down to the bottom of the hem, which makes it hard to start. But once you get it going, it's very easy to operate.
Cuffs can be simple elastic closures, a snap closure, or velcro, but a good winter parka needs something secure. The cuffs prevent snow and wind from entering through the sleeves and interface with gloves to create a weather-proof system. Open cuffs with internal gaskets, like those on the Arc'teryx Camosun, Patagonia Frozen Range, and REI Stormhenge Down Hybrid Parka combine fashion and function.
Other features that may be important to you might include internal phone pockets with headphone ports or internal mesh stash pockets for storing hats, gloves, scarves, or newspapers. The most notable feature that we came across is the ability for one jacket to be worn in three ways. The Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka is comprised of a burly outer shell, which can be worn separately as a raincoat, and an inner down sweater, which can be worn separately on dry, chilly days in the fall or spring. Together, they combine to produce a formidable winter jacket that can withstand the harshest urban cold.
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 The North Face McMurdo Down Parka and the Marmot Fordham. Both come with an array of pockets, including an internal Napoleon pocket that has a headphone channel so your electronics stay dry. The McMurdo jacket adds removable fur hood lining and a 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 also 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 often seen in urban cafes and suburban barbecues. Casual urban parkas don't usually work the other way. They lack crucial elements for safe cold adventurings, such as protective hoods, athletic tailoring, 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 the Arc'teryx Camosun, which are both stylish enough to dress up but also perform well while snowshoeing or ice skating. We also think that 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 along a crowded sidewalk.
Across the board, we tested different "looks" to find something for everyone. Many of the jackets in this review are decidedly urban and may look out-of-place in some small towns or rural, utilitarian areas. The Fjallraven Nuuk looks like it jumped off the winter fashion runways of Scandinavia, and The North Face McMurdo also looks fashion-forward. 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 a very long hem, suggesting a hip and young look.
Purchasing a winter jacket is a major investment, and it stands to reason that users expect five to ten years out of their purchase. Durability is impacted by the quality of materials used in the garment, the jacket's design and construction, and how heavily the jacket is used. More durable materials generally cost more, and durable designs are more refined and expensive to produce. Tight stitching, fabric reinforcements, and metal zippers help increase a jacket's lifespan. Jackets used during activities like skiing or sledding will take more of a beating than jackets used only to get from the office door and into the Uber or onto the subway. A good warranty program helps in case anything goes wrong, and although our testers have warrantied plenty of gear over the years, we don't put too much weight on our experiences with a given company's warranty policy because we can't guarantee that customer service will remain constant.
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 take a lot of abuse, too, so we examined these closures to see if they were 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.
Among the waterproof/breathable shell options, the Arc'terxy Camosun and Thorsen both have thick, durable outer fabrics that can take a beating without showing signs of wear. They didn't scuff or abraid when loading firewood or tossing skis over the shoulder.
Thick nylon and canvas-like shell fabrics are generally the most durable because they easily slide over rough and sharp surfaces without catching and tearing. The burly external shell fabric of the Fjallraven Nuuk resists snagging, but its synthetic insulation does not retain its loft as long as down options. On the other side of the spectrum, the Rab Neutrino Pro is packed with down that will last a long time, but the thin shell fabric requires meticulous care to ensure that it doesn't come into contact with any sharp surfaces.
Choosing the right winter jacket for your needs and your budget can be a challenge. Our comparative review has something for everyone, from the warmest and most weather resistant jackets in the world to more utilitarian alternatives that do well in most conditions and won't break the bank. We also have jackets that span the style spectrum, from sleek parkas that feel at home on 5th Avenue to versatile, classic jacket looks that can be worn around town or on the ski hill. Carefully consider the winter climate in which you expect your jacket to perform, because this is the single most important factor that will steer your decision. Take your time, consider all the options, and stay warm out there.
— Jeff Dobronyi & Jediah Porter
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