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Looking for the best winter jacket available? After hand-testing almost 50 winter coats over the last 7 years, we recently bought 17 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.
Weight and fill power: 2.14 lbs, 750 | Number of pockets: 3
Great protection from inclement weather
Noisy, stiff shell
The Arc'teryx Camosun Parka beats out the competition yet again to earn our top overall honor. This model can keep you well-protected in conditions like hard sleet, snow with assaulting winds, or plain old bitter cold. Our testers liked its subtle style 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 isn't as eye-catching as other options, 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. If money is not a barrier in those conditions, check out the Canada Goose Expedition or the Feathered Friends Khumbu Parka. For a more affordable option that still performs reasonably well, consider the REI Stormhenge. If you're looking for the best of the best for protection, performance, and comfort, then the Camosun is the top dog.
Weight and fill power: 1.94 lbs, 850 | Number of pockets: 6
Warm enough for most winter days
Good weather protection
Plenty of pockets
The REI Co-op Stormhenge Down Hybrid Parka is a warm and weather-resistant winter jacket that provides the same features and protection of much more expensive models at a more 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 a bit bulky to wear, taking away from the jacket's overall 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 option available for extreme winter temperatures, you'll have to look elsewhere, but if you want a high-performance coat at a reasonable price, this is the one for you.
Weight and fill power: 3.62 lbs, 550 | Number of pockets: 8
Not everyone likes fur
The North Face McMurdo Down Parka is an excellent 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. We highly recommend the McMurdo Down for the bitter cold when every dollar counts.
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 abundant 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 has a slightly higher price. A portion of the sales goes to PBI and its mission to save polar bears and their habitats.
The primary drawbacks of the Canada Goose Expedition are weight, bulk, and price. It is an oversized jacket, in every way. The quality and performance are impeccable, but such specialized performance comes at a cost. It 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 coat, you won't do better than the Expedition Parka. It's the gold standard among polar researchers and adventurers for a good reason.
Weight and fill power: 2.11 lbs, 900+ | Number of pockets: 5
Great warmth-to-weight ratio
Not fully waterproof
Too warm for most uses
The Feathered Friends Khumbu Down 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 packs in the features for expedition climbing. It has a seamless hood that fits over a helmet, insulated handwarmer pockets, secure velcro cuff closures, and adjustable drawcords to keep warm air in and cold air out. This jacket is meant to be unnoticeable in a pack and 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. We 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 soaking rain. That said, this jacket is not meant to be worn in temperatures anywhere close to the freezing point. Instead, it's the ideal choice for the coldest conditions and tallest mountains, places where snow and ice rarely melt.
Weight and fill power: 1.38 lbs, 800 | Number of pockets:3
Lightweight and packable
Only has three pockets
Thin shell fabric tears easily
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 a perfect 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 handy 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.
Full-time Jackson, Wyoming resident, and IFMGA licensed Mountain Guide Jeff Dobronyi leads our winter jacket testing team. 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 and 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 worldwide 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 lousy winter weather.
Our testing of winter jackets is divided across six rating metrics:
Warmth tests (25% of overall score weighting)
Weather Resistance tests (20% weighting)
Comfort tests (20% weighting)
Style tests (20% weighting)
Features tests (10% weighting)
Durability tests (5% weighting)
We've tested winter jackets for nearly 10 years in a row, and have had hands-on experience using over 120 different men's and women's styles. We have refined our testing process and scoring metrics to a rigorous and thorough standard throughout the years. 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 world. We put these jackets through the wringer and emerged with a great idea of how they compare to one another.
Analysis and Test Results
We rated each jacket's performance in the key areas, and through our testing process, we learned exactly what to look for in a winter coat and how to narrow down the options. Read on for specifics about how the jackets fared in the individual metrics that comprise the overall scores.
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 essential 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 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 genuinely need warmth and weather resistance to resist the most brutal 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 manufacturer's part. This extra effort 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 jacket, and each product's score in this metric has a 25% influence on the overall result. Warmth directly corresponds to how much insulation is used in a jacket, whether 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 helpful 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.
Down Fill Power and Fill Weight — Higher down fill power numbers denote higher quality down feathers. This effect translates into a lighter, warmer down fill that is also more compressible. However, it is ultimately the amount of insulation, not the quality, that determines a jacket's overall warmth. The amount used, usually measured in ounces, is described by a jacket's fill weight. Manufacturers generally advertise a jacket's fill power but not its fill weight.
The Arc'teryx Camosun features lofty 750 fill-power down but is not stuffed as full as others. This combination keeps the jacket lightweight and highly packable, although it has a lower warmth rating compared to some others. You may want to add some layers underneath if you are going out in dramatically low temps. Most of the down-insulated parkas feature down below 750 fill-power, and even as low as 550 in the case of The North Face McMurdo Down Parka. However, this low fill-power number should not dissuade shoppers. Heavier, lower loft 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 of others.
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 a perfect score in this metric. (It's also pretty bulky.) Not far behind is the Feathered Friends Khumbu Down Parka, also receiving a top score. 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 but has the price tag of a casual jacket, earning it the best value for warmth in our test.
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 heavy storms often arrive at the same time. Making weather resistance a vital factor to consider, and we give this metric a 20% weighting in the overall score. Winter jackets need to be proficient at keeping wind, snow, rain, and sleet outside the coat and keeping their down insulation dry. Wet 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 falls as rain or wet snow rather than dry powder in your neck of the woods, consider a winter jacket with a waterproof outer shell. We love the Gore-Tex membrane in the Arc'teryx Thorsen. This waterproof and breathable fabric sheds water faster and 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, the Outdoor Research Stormcraft Down Parka, 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, thus hurting 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. They become an easy entry point for moisture if they are not taped. The Arc'teryx jackets all have taped seams.
If you wear your jacket in truly frigid temperatures where you tend to get light and dry snow instead of wet, heavy snow or rain, then a coat with DWR treatments, such as the Canada Goose Expedition Parka and the Patagonia Jackson Glacier should offer adequate protection from the elements. 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 feathers are treated with a waterproofing agent that allows some water to penetrate the jacket without affecting warmth performance.
Hoods are another essential component of weather protection. All of the jackets in our review have hoods, but for proper 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. Humans in cold climates have used animal fur around the hood opening to create a micro-climate of warmth around the face for thousands of years. 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 you can easily wear in uncomfortable winter conditions. All of this material can be restricting, and some jackets do better than others at making the user feel at ease. Comfort has a 20% weight in the overall scores of these jackets.
We found a rough correlation between cost and comfort. More expensive jackets use softer materials and more thoughtful tailoring to achieve better wearability. 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. Still, 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. It earned one of the highest comfort ratings of the group.
There is also a negative 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, but 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 clever designs like smaller baffles and stretchy underarm fabrics to increase mobility without sacrificing warmth.
The Arc'teryx Thorsen is exceptionally comfortable, with soft nylon fabric on the inside that slides effortlessly against any material worn underneath. The jacket is amazingly comfortable, despite the level of warmth and weather resistance that it provides.
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. The combination of features found on each jacket contributes 10% to their overall scores.
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 customize and secure the fit. The best hood in our test was found on the incredible Canada Goose Expedition Parka. This hood is warm, oversized, and can be cinched down securely and comfortably. The stiff brim also kept the hood out of your field of view. The hood on The North Face McMurdo Down Parka is roomy and lined with faux fur, making it extremely warm and comfortable. The McMurdo's hood effectively seals out the weather if you leave the removable fur liner on. Otherwise, the more sophisticated hoods of the Arc'teryx, Patagonia, and the Rab Neutrino Proare 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 feature means your hand is insulated while in the pocket, and 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 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 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 straightforward to operate.
Cuffs can be simple elastic closures, snap, or velcro, but a good winter parka needs something secure. The cuffs prevent snow and wind from entering 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, Outdoor Research Stormcraft, 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 interior 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 independently 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, and it earned one of the highest scores of the group. It has almost a dozen pockets, a snow skirt, and a drawcord waist, not to mention a fur-trimmed hood. The Fjallraven Nuuk Parka is the only other jacket that earned a perfect score in this metric.
Style varies from one individual to the next, and our personalities show through our clothing choices, winter jackets included. This review includes parkas that you can wear to a nice restaurant or 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 most backcountry-inspired jackets' waist-length athletic cuts. We liked the style of the Arc'teryx Camosun the most, and it earned a perfect score. The Patagonia Jackson Glacier is also a nice-looking option that received high marks in this area. Both are stylish enough to dress up and perform well while snowshoeing or ice skating. We also think that the Patagonia Frozen Range is one of the most fashion-forward jackets in this review and should be considered by anyone who considers style paramount. Still, it is not as universal as the options mentioned above.
Both the Arc'teryx Thorsen and Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 are well-styled and have a classic urban winter look. The Tres is 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 youthful look.
Purchasing a winter jacket is a significant investment, and it stands to reason that users expect five to ten years out of their purchase. Because this will factor into some users' purchase decision, we give this metric a 5% weighting in the overall score. Durability is impacted by the quality of materials used in the garment, the jacket's design and construction, and how heavily the coat 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. 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, which earned another perfect score here. 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, as well as the Outdoor Research Stormcraft Down Parka, all 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. The Camosun earned a perfect 10 in this metric.
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, with so many great options out there. Our comparative review has something for everyone, from the warmest and most weather-resistant jackets in the world to more practical 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 styles that you can wear around town or on the ski hill. Carefully consider the winter climate in which you expect your jacket to perform because this is the most critical factor that will steer your decision. Take your time, consider all the options, and stay warm out there.
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