Reviews You Can Rely On

Best Winter Jackets for Men of 2021

The McMurdo Parka is a warm, cozy, and useful winter jacket that is al...
Photo: Sam Willits
Thursday March 11, 2021
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Looking for the best winter jacket in 2020? 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

Top 15 Product Ratings

Displaying 6 - 10 of 15
 
Awards Top Pick Award Top Pick Award    
Price $639.00 at Feathered Friends$1,275 at Amazon
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$324.95 at Backcountry
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$299.95 at Backcountry$380 List
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Pros Extremely warm, lightweight, technical featuresIncredibly warm, many pockets, great featuresDurable, warm, super comfortableComfortable, heavily featured, stylishWarm, durable, good style
Cons Bulky, too warm for most uses, not completely waterproofBulky, too warm and heavy for most usersLimited wet weather protection due to non-sealed seamsNot very warm, marginally weather resistantPoor weather resistance, bulky feel
Bottom Line The best technical climbing and expedition parka in our reviewRidiculously warm, this bulky jacket is for the high end user in extremely cold climates and conditionsThis jacket offers comfort, warmth and durability at an attractive priceA solid, inexpensive, all-around winter parka with just minor fit issues and limited wet weather performanceA warm and durable winter jacket for dry conditions
Rating Categories Feathered Friends K... Canada Goose Expedi... Marmot Fordham The North Face Goth... Patagonia Maple Gro...
Warmth (25%)
10.0
10.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
Weather Resistance (20%)
7.0
7.0
4.0
6.0
5.0
Comfort (20%)
6.0
4.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
Style (20%)
4.0
4.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Features (10%)
8.0
10.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
Durability (5%)
6.0
10.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
Specs Feathered Friends K... Canada Goose Expedi... Marmot Fordham The North Face Goth... Patagonia Maple Gro...
Down Fill Power 900+ Goose Down 625 700 550 600
Total Weight (pounds) 2.11 lb 4.46 lb 2.75 lb 3.10 lb 3.46 lb
Pockets 5 (2 zip hand, 2 internal mesh, 1 chest) 4 zippered exterior, 4 exterior velcro (lower exterior torso pockets are half-fleece lined), 2 arm, 1 zippered interior 2 zippered handwarmer, 1 flap chest pocket, 1 zippered internal media 6 (2 zippered hand, 2 patch chest, 1 patch arm, [internal] 1 zippered media) 2 handwarmer, 2 cargo, 1 external chest, 1 internal chest
Hood Yes Yes Yes (removable) Yes Yes
Hood Adjustments 3 adjustable drawcords Adjustable bracing wire and face opening drawcords. Adjustable drawcords Adjustable 3 adjustable drawcords
Baffle Type Tuck-stitched baffle Sewn-through under an outer shell fabric Sewn-through Sewn-through inner layer Sewn-through under an outer shell fabric
Main Fabric Pertex Shield fabric Arctic-Tech, coyote fur around hood MemBrain 2L 100% polyester DryVent 2L 100% nylon 67% Cotton 33% Polyester


The Best Overall


Arc'teryx Camosun Parka


83
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 7
  • Weather Resistance 9
  • Comfort 8
  • Style 10
  • Features 6
  • Durability 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 to earn our top 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


Columbia Boundary Bay Long


67
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 7
  • Weather Resistance 7
  • Comfort 7
  • Style 6
  • Features 6
  • Durability 7
Weight and fill power: 2.86 lbs, synthetic | Number of pockets: 5
Very comfortable
Good weather protection
Durable
Unremarkable style
Not as warm as other options
Pocket design isn't great

The Columbia Boundary Bay Long insulated jacket is a warm trench coat with a waterproof shell and a removable hood and comes in at a very attractive price. It is warm enough and weatherproof enough for most winter days and provides full-body coverage from the head down to the mid-thigh. The shell fabric contains a waterproof/breathable membrane that does a good job of keeping moisture from penetrating. The jacket's synthetic insulation keeps its insulating properties even if it gets wet. It does all of this at a fraction of the price of other jackets in our review.

Still, we wish this jacket was a little warmer. When temperatures drop into the teens or single digits on frigid days, users will need to wear an additional warm layer underneath. The jacket has ample pockets, but we wish the upper handwarmer pockets fully closed instead of being fastened shut by only one button. The design allows some moisture to enter the chest area through these pockets. Despite these shortcomings, the Boundary Bay is a good winter jacket for most users at an excellent price.

Read review: Columbia Boundary Bay Long

Excellent Value for Frigid Conditions


The North Face McMurdo Down Parka


75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 9
  • Weather Resistance 6
  • Comfort 7
  • Style 7
  • Features 8
  • Durability 9
Weight and fill power: 3.62 lbs, 550 | Number of pockets: 8
Toasty
Extended hem
Inexpensive
Cumbersome
Not everyone likes fur

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


70
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 10
  • Weather Resistance 7
  • Comfort 4
  • Style 4
  • Features 10
  • Durability 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 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


70
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Warmth 10
  • Weather Resistance 7
  • Comfort 6
  • Style 4
  • Features 8
  • Durability 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 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

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price Our Take
83
$649
Editors' Choice Award
Crème de la crème of winter coats, this model outperformed the others overall
82
$850
A stylish long-hemmed parka with excellent warmth and weather resistance
78
$699
A good choice for staying warm and looking good, but you'll have to fork over a hefty chunk of cash
75
$350
Best Buy Award
Extreme cold weather protection with a relatively affordable price tag
72
$599
A versatile and stylish jacket with good weather resistance
70
$639
Top Pick Award
The best expedition parka we have tested
70
$1,495
Top Pick Award
If you want the best jacket for the coldest winter conditions, this is the one
70
$325
A quality option at a reasonable price for general winter coat needs
68
$299
This is a basic winter jacket, cut short. The short cut is less fashionable in recent times, but still has its place
68
$380
Warm and durable, this jacket lacks a truly waterproof outer shell
67
$180
Best Buy Award
Our favorite parka for users on a budget
66
$510
In moderate winter temperatures and wet climates, the Haglofs Torsang is right at home
64
$349
Patagonia has made a stylish jacket well tailored for relatively warm winter climates
57
$875
Durable warmth in a form that is costly and bold - which just might appeal to you
55
$399
This Jacket is good for warmer winter locales, but not warm enough for proper winter conditions

Photo: Jenna Ammerman

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 eight 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

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Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

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

Value


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).

When choosing between the options, consider how much warmth you'll need, how much moisture or precipitation you expect, and your personal style. This review has something for everyone, from lightweight insulating layers for very warm winter climates to expedition parkas for the coldest conditions on earth. In general, the more protection a jacket offers, the more it costs. The best values are jackets that perform well in our assessment categories and also are priced near the bottom of the pack.


We love the value of the Columbia Boundary Bay, which provides full-body coverage, a waterproof membrane, lots of comfort, and decent features and warmth performance. Plus, it is well-constructed and durable for a range of uses. The North Face McMurdo III is another great value, 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.

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

Warmth


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.


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. 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 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.

To get a jump on winter jacket testing we took evening motorcycle...
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.)
Photo: Rosie De Lise

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 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.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

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 McMurdo packs tons of down insulation into this heavy piece...
The McMurdo packs tons of down insulation into this heavy piece, making it a standout jacket for warmth in an affordable package.
Photo: Sam Willits

Overall, jackets with synthetic insulation are not as warm as the down models. For example, the Haglofs Torsang is warm enough for the average cold, especially in milder climates, but isn't warm enough for true frigid conditions in much of North America. Down insulated jackets provide much more warmth for the same weight.

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

Weather Resistance


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 Columbia Boundary Bay, 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.

A large, comfortable and adjustable hood does a great job of keeping...
A large, comfortable and adjustable hood does a great job of keeping you out of the weather.
Photo: Jediah Porter

Taped Seams
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, the Patagonia Maple Grove, or 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 ski skirt on the Canada Goose Expedition Down Parka seems odd...
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.
Photo: Jediah Porter

The long hem of the Columbia Boundary Bay makes this garment more like a trench coat than a traditional parka. But with insulation extending down through the thighs and a waterproof/breathable membrane throughout, this style of jacket provides excellent weather protection. Hoods can also make a big difference. 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.

The Patagonia Macro Puff Hoody is not designed to repel water, which...
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.
Photo: Sam Willits

The Haglofs Torsang Parka features excellent weather protection. It's a fully waterproof rain shell with light insulation. It isn't warm enough to be a go-to winter jacket in most climates. In terms of weather protection, it is similar to the Camosun. The Arc'teryx Thorsen is similarly equipped but with more insulation underneath a burly Gore-Tex membrane. This parka offers a great combination of warmth for the coldest urban conditions, along with the weather protection needed when the snow turns to sleet or rain.

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

Comfort


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 Columbia Boundary Bay is one such coat that hangs low around the user's thighs and feels very comfortable to wear due to soft internal fabrics and not too much insulation below the waist. 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.

Comfortable knit cuffs keep snow out and your wrists warm.
Comfortable knit cuffs keep snow out and your wrists warm.
Photo: Jediah Porter

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 Patagonia Maple Grove packs a ton of down insulation underneath its heavy canvas shell but somehow remains relatively comfortable to wear. The best warm jackets on the market use smart designs like smaller baffles and stretchy underarm fabrics to increase mobility without sacrificing warmth.

The Arc'teryx Camosun is nearly a perfect day-to-day winter coat.
The Arc'teryx Camosun is nearly a perfect day-to-day winter coat.
Photo: Jediah Porter

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 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...
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.
Photo: Rosie De Lise

The Arc'teryx Thorsen is extremely comfortable, with soft nylon fabric on the inside that slides effortlessly against any fabric worn underneath. The down baffles contoured well to our testers' bodies, and the jackets felt 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.

Features


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.


Hood

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 are at the head of the pack.

Patagonia Jackson Glacier has one of the best hoods in the review.
Patagonia Jackson Glacier has one of the best hoods in the review.
Photo: Jeff Dobronyi

Handwarmer Pockets

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 Haglofs Torsang Parka and the Feathered Friends Khumbu Parka 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 has both chest mounted hand warmers, as used here, and...
The McMurdo has both chest mounted hand warmers, as used here, and waist level ones.
Photo: Meagan Buck Porter

Like earlier iterations, the latest version of 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 zips, like the one found on the Haglofs Torsang Parka, are...
Two-way zips, like the one found on the Haglofs Torsang Parka, are super useful.
Photo: Jediah Porter

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 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.
Photo: Rosie De Lise

Cuff Closures

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 and the 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, however, well-used velcro straps can wear out, creating a durability concern.

Other Features

Other features that may be important to you might include internal phone pockets with headphone ports, inner skirts to seal out snow, or built-in face warmers. 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.

The Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka include two separate jacket...
The Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka include two separate jacket components and can be worn three ways, for the ultimate in versatility.
Photo: sam willits

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


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 are likely missing crucial elements for safe cold adventurings, such as 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 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.

The versatile Camosun tops our style list.
The versatile Camosun tops our style list.
Photo: Meagan Buck Porter

The Marmot Fordham has a fairly neutral style. 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 disapproved of the Torsang's style, but this opinion was 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.
Photo: Sam Willits

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.

The Thorsen Parka features a slim, urban style. It looks good in a...
The Thorsen Parka features a slim, urban style. It looks good in a wide array of contexts.
Photo: sam willits

With a fur-lined hood and muted, urban colors, The North Face McMurdo Parka is a fashionable jacket, but it doesn't blend in to most environments. Our testers like it's fashion-forward style, but you might not.

Durability


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, but we don't consider warranty programs in the durability metric, since there are no guarantees about what issues a manufacturer will cover.


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. We also like the durability of the canvas-shelled Patagonia Maple Grove Parka.

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.

Overtime jacket colors change but our rigorous testing process never...
Overtime jacket colors change but our rigorous testing process never fails to sort out the best of the best.
Photo: Meagan Buck Porter

Conclusion


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 and Jediah Porter