With so many winter jackets available, it's hard to find yours. We're here to help. We researched over 70 options before buying 19 of the very best. Then we tested them side-by-side in real-world conditions ranging from brutal snowstorms to clear and sunny winter days. We noted their warmth on early-morning walking commutes and snowy dog strolls. We wore each contender in rainy weather (or the shower) to field test their water-resistant or waterproof claims. Throughout testing, we pulled these jackets on over an every shifting combination of layers to determine the range of their fit and comfort in day-to-day life. From stylish winter jackets to lightly insulated waterproof shells to heavy duty parkas meant to handle a polar vortex with ease, we've found a winter jacket for everyone. That includes the fellas, we've got a full men's winter jacket review too.
The Best Winter Jackets for Women of 2018
From sunny days with temperatures well above freezing to frigid weeks where the highs are in the negative digits, winter weather is unpredictable. When it's time to buy a winter jacket, it's important to find one that's right for your climate. If you need a warm and rugged jacket that shrugs off snow, the Editors' Choice Canada Goose Kensington is the jacket for you. The Marmot Montreaux isn't waterproof but is the warmest jacket in the test and is great for drier climates. It earns our best bang for the buck award at a cool $300. For more weather protection and an even lower price check out the Eddie Bauer Women's Sun Valley Down Jacket, a great budget buy. The versatile Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka is our top pick for wet climates.
Best Overall Jacket for Women
Canada Goose Kensington Parka
Once again the Canada Goose Kensington Parka stole the show, winning our Editors' Choice Award. The Kensington epitomes winter comfort. It has it all — serious warmth, style, and function-focused details. This feature-loaded jacket has everything you need. The detachable coyote fur ruff on a removable hood adds a classic parka feel while offering extra protection from cold wind and snow. The smooth, yet durable outer shell repels water well. Insulated with 625-fill-power down, this isn't the warmest jacket tested, but we never felt cold while wearing it. The above-the-knee cut allows movement without being restrictive, and the microfleece-lined pockets, thick knit cuffs, and adjustable cinched waist prove Canada Goose's attention to detail. No matter what nature has planned for this winter, the Kensington Parka can handle it.
This jacket is water-resistant, not waterproof, and the collar is tight when fully zipped. It is also expensive. But we see it as an investment, as the Kensington is made to last. Wearing a coyote fur ruff may be an issue for you. If you're conflicted, you can read up on Canada Goose's fur and down sourcing practices. Overall, Canada Goose provides all the winter details and features we could dream up with the Kensington Parka, and then some.
Read review: Canada Goose Kensington Parka
Best Bang for the Buck
Who says winter has to be miserable? Why not look fabulous and stay warm? The Marmot Montreaux kept us looking stylish and incredibly warm all winter long. Insulated with plush Down Defender 700 fill power down, this jacket is thicker and loftier than any other model we tested. We kept comfortable when standing around in 10-degree weather. Treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) coating, the polyester fabric is water-resistant, but not waterproof. It certainly keeps us dry in the snowy conditions it was designed for and effectively blocks harsh winds thanks to its thick down. Besides being incredibly warm, the Montreaux is also very stylish.
Keep in mind that this jacket is not waterproof, only water-resistant. Water initially beads up and rolls off, but the fabric saturates in heavy rain. Unfortunately, wet down doesn't do much to hold warmth. And, if you tend to live an on the go lifestyle — running errands, picking up kids — this jacket's heft and length could get it the way, despite its double zipper. It's not light and can be annoying to cart around. Still, if you're in the market for a knee-length parka with a form-fitting look and sleek faux fur hood, this is the jacket for you. And it's half the price of the Canada Goose Kensington Parka.
Read review: Marmot Montreaux
Best Buy on a Budget
Eddie Bauer Women's Sun Valley Down Jacket
Eddie Bauer nailed it, with the Sun Valley Down Jacket. It's highly water-resistant, stylish and warm. We are impressed by how well rounded this jacket is at a budget-friendly price. It wins our best buy on a budget award as a result. Insulated with 650 fill down, it kept us toasty on cold morning walks and while running errands around town. This jacket's shorter length is also practical and functional for someone with an active lifestyle, who doesn't want to be held back by a longer jacket. The fabric is only water-resistant, but it holds up surprisingly well in stormy weather, and the outer shell is durable. We didn't notice any feather loss during testing. The removal faux fur hood helps keep our faces warm in windy weather and helps to dress this jacket up for a night out.
The Sun Valley is water-resistant but not waterproof, and it saturates if exposed to rain for very long. This jacket is form-fitting and it runs small. The shoulders are tight and the sleeves are short, exposing our wrist easily. We recommend sizing up, especially if you want more room to fit another layer underneath. The hood is also snug, almost too small. There isn't any room to fit a beanie underneath. Despite not nailing the sizing, we really appreciate this jacket's classic looks, warmth, weather resistance, and price.
Read review: Eddie Bauer Women's Sun Valley Down Jacket
Top Pick for Wet Climates
Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka - Women's
Winter can be messy — sleet, snow, freezing rain, the whole nine yards. If you live in a wet climate, having a waterproof winter jacket is crucial. The Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 is the perfect parka to tackle any weather condition. Its three layers keep you ready for ever-changing conditions. The outer layer is Patagonia's H2No shell. Waterproof, windproof and breathable, this layer is a force. When combined with the 600-fill-power 100% traceable duck down inner jacket, it feels unstoppable. A great standalone option for clear and cold days, the inner down jacket has a DWR coating and is water-resistant. When we combine both layers, we feel more protected in sloppy wet weather than in any other winter jacket we tested.
We loved the Tres Down Parka, but keep in mind that it does tend to run small. The shoulders are tight and restrictive. If you like to wear thick winter sweaters underneath your jacket, you should probably size up. The hood generously sized and we can wear a beanie underneath. That's good because the hood is uninsulated. It does take time to put all the layers together, but it didn't really bother us. With a price tag of $529, the Tres Down Parka is expensive, but you have to consider that you're getting three high-quality jackets for less than the Canada Goose Kensington.Read review: Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka - Women's
Mens review: Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka
Analysis and Test Results
We judged these jackets based on their warmth, weather resistance, comfort, style, durability, and value. Remember to consider your climate and what activities you need the jacket for as you read through the metrics and scores. One aspect of a jacket's performance may be far more important to you than others. Choosing the right jacket is crucial for staying comfortable and warm and enjoying the great outdoors during the winter.
An important aspect to consider when choosing a winter jacket is its value, and value goes hand-in-hand with durability. A jacket that is built with quality fabric, heavy duty zippers, lofty and soft fur/faux ruffs, and high-quality insulation is going to last far longer than a jacket with subpar craftsmanship. It might also be very important to you whether the fabric, down or fur warming you were ethically sourced.
For example, if we compare our Editors' Choice winner, the Canada Goose Kensington Parka to the Legendary Whitetails Anchorage Parka, it's clear that the Kensington has higher-quality construction. Canada Goose jackets aren't cheap, and there's a for that. They will last you a long time. The zippers, buttons, fur ruff, and cuffs are made to the highest standard, and it shows.
There are also well-made jackets built for less extreme environments that cost a lot less and will still last you many a winter. Eddie Bauer's Sun Valley jacket is an excellent example. Economic, warm, highly water resistant and durable, this jacket represents a killer value for a versatile and stylish winter coat. We also like the Marmot Montreaux for its warmth to cost ratio. While it's fabric is not as burly as many options here, it's the warmest jacket in the review and costs far less than the most expensive options.
When buying a winter jacket, you really want to know that it's going to be warm enough for your needs. If a jacket has down insulation its warmth is determined by the down's loft, or fill-power, and its fill-weight. While companies always display their fill-power (higher numbers mean higher quality down and more warmth), they almost never tell you a jacket's fill weight (or how much down is actually in the jacket). A common misconception is that a higher fill power equals a warmer jacket. But it also matters how much of that high quality down is actually in the jacket. Jackets with synthetic insulation can be even harder to gauge by the numbers.
Lucky for you, we tested each of these jackets side-by-side in snow, rain, wind, and frigid temperatures — all in our effort to find out which ones are warmest. We went hiking, braved windy storms, and stood in place for extended periods. You name it, we did it. Overall, the warmth accounts for 30% of the final scores.
The warmest jacket we tested is the best buy award-winning Marmot Montreaux. Loaded with 700 fill-power down from its hood to its hem, this jacket kept us toasty on some seriously cold days. It performed extraordinarily to trap heat and keep the wind out. Knee-length parkas are our favorite option in super cold weather, particularly the Montreaux. The extra protection makes a difference when it comes to staying warm in frigid weather (10-degrees and below). If you are always cold, or you just like to stay toasty warm, we'd recommend considering a knee-length parka.
The Canada Goose Kensington Parka, Kuhl Arktik, and Patagonia Down With It Parka are all hot on the Monteaux's heels. The Kensington's thick shell and 625 fill white duck down helps the jacket hold heat, and the Down With It Parka is incredibly warm thanks to its masses of 600 fill-power recycled down. The Arktik has a different insulation strategy, using less, but higher quality (800 fill), down to achieve comparable warmth.
In general, jackets with synthetic insulation are not as warm as the down options. The Arc'teryx Darrah and the Columbia Heavenly are also synthetic jackets. The Heavenly is insulated with an unknown amount of Omni-Heat synthetic fill, while Darrah has 100 grams of synthetic insulation, which is equivalent to 600-fill goose down. While they are both surprisingly warm, they are not as toasty as the jackets with thick down and high fill powers, like the Marmot Montreaux.
The Arc'teryx Patera has both down and synthetic insulation. And, while it boasts 750 fill European goose down, it ranks below average in warmth and really only kept us comfortable at temperatures above 25F. This is because the Patera uses Coreloft synthetic fill in high moisture spots like the inner arms, hem, and collar. We could feel the cold air on our arms and shoulders in cold weather. In milder weather, between 35F and 40F, we appreciated the Coreloft synthetic fill while out on a short hike. It helped us cool us off when we started to get hot and sweaty. The Arc'teryx Darrah is also good for these moments, offering excellent breathability and ventilation.
Most of the jackets have features that help keep us warm on cold days. Thickly insulated hoods, like those on the Canada Goose Shelburne Parka and the Marmot Montreaux kept our heads safe in stormy weather. Cuffed sleeves kept our arms cozy and fleece-lined pockets are lifesavers on truly frigid days.
Winter weather can range from snow, sleet, wind, freezing rain, to just plain old wet rain. It's important to know how you're jacket is going to hold up. If it doesn't, you're not going to stay very warm no matter how much insulation your jacket has. Before buying a winter jacket, consider how much wet weather you're likely to see. If you live in a wet climate like Seattle, having warm and waterproof is important. If cold temperatures and dry snow are your typical winter conditions, a DWR coating should suffice.
All the models we tested offered some level of protection from the elements, from a DWR coated nylon or polyester shell to a full-blown waterproof membrane. To figure out each jacket's weather resistance, we went for walks on snow days, stood in place for an extended period in windy conditions, braved blizzards in the middle of the night, and we even brought the two-layer waterproof models in the shower.
It's no surprise that two of the waterproof models we tested, Fjallraven Nuuk Insulated Parka and the Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Down Parka performed the best in wet weather. Both are truly waterproof, offering bomber protection in wet weather. Others, like the Canda Goose Shelburne and Kensington Parka's are only water-resistant but feature burly outer fabrics and DWR coatings. These jackets will keep you protected in a serious snowstorm and will shrug off light rain long enough for you to hightail it inside. The Eddie Bauer Sun Valley is a great budget option in this realm of quality weather protection. The super warm and reasonably priced Montreaux does not fare so well in wet weather. It can only fend off dry snow or light drizzles.
Some competitors we tested had windproof outer shells and hoods like the Canada Goose Shelburne the Arc'teryx Patera and the North Face Arctic II parkas. The durable exterior shells kept us toasty and warm in windy weather, as did the thick down of Patagonia Down With It Parka and the Marmot Montreaux.
The winter jackets we tested deliver varying levels of comfort. Examples of comfort features that contribute to high scores are thick and insulating hoods like those on the Marmot Montreaux and the Canada Goose Kensington Parka. Plush down that is warm but unrestrictive was also taken into consideration, like the down found on the Rab Deep Cover Parka.
Most of the most comfortable jackets we reviewed have down insulation with a minimal, flexible shell. They offer mobility and warm in a soft package that always makes us think of a hug. The Canada Goose Camp Hooded earned a perfect score in this metric, providing us with enough heavenly comfort to sail through the winter. The North Face Gotham II Hooded Down Jacket ranks very highly as well. Hitting just below the waist it offers unrivaled mobility with a soft feel and pleasant, down comforter-like weight.
The Marmot Montreaux is also exceptionally comfortable and never felt cloying, despite being insulated with plush down from our head to our knees. (It doesn't hurt also very cozy and warm, which allowed us to be content in the frigid outside elements.) The torso, cuffs, pockets, and collar are also lined with fleece. These subtle features, add a comforting touch.
You may not realize how important a warm hood is until you try on a contender that doesn't have any insulation at all, like the Patagonia Tres 3-in-1. Our head was noticeably colder in stormy or freezing conditions in this jacket. Smaller hoods can hold warmth more effectively but also restrict movement and your ability to wear a cap. We prefer roomy hoods. Two models with small hoods are the Eddie Bauer Sun Valley and the Kuhl Arktik Down Parka.
Another factor that was important in measuring comfort was mobility. Jackets that run small, or are tight on the shoulders, like the Arc'teryx Darrah, aren't as comfortable. They restrict movement and are hard to fit another layer underneath. Alternatively, a jacket that is too loose may be distracting, and not as comfortable as it could and should be. If it's too big for your body, it may not be trapping heat properly. We encourage you to take the time to make sure you are buying a jacket that fits your body type.
Whether you're holiday shopping in New York City on a blustery day or running errands around town in light snow, why be warm and stylish? The models we tested ranged in length, fit and function. Some had a smooth, sleek outer shell like the Arc'teryx Patera Parka, while others had beautiful chevron baffling, like the Marmot Montreaux and the North Face Gotham II.
Everyone has their own preference, but what stood out the most concerning style was a jacket's fit. If your jacket doesn't fit you correctly, chances are you won't like wearing it. That sounds like a waste of money. Some of the jackets we tested are very form-fitting, like The North Face Metropolis and the Kuhl Arktik, while others had extra room and had a baggy fit, like the Columbia Heavenly Hooded Long Jacket and the Fjallraven Nuuk Insulated Parka.
If you like to layer up, a jacket that offers more room in the arms and torso is perfect, allowing you to fit a heavy layer or sweater underneath. While everyone has their own opinion when it comes to style and fit, but we often prefer trim, fitted silhouettes like those of the Canada Goose Kensington Parka and the Rab Deep Cover Parka. Though the short and sporty The North Face Gotham II is also a favorite.
The Kensington Parka, is the epitome of a classic winter jacket. Oozing style from head to hem, this knee-length contender is a show stopper. From the smooth, sleek, water-resistant outer shell to the adjustable cinched-waist, Canada Goose considered every detail. The Kensington's quality-construction is apparent across the board.
The Legendary Whitetails Anchorage Parka has many stylish features that are reminiscent of the Kensington. But the higher-priced Canada Goose contender is a heavy-duty option that's going to last longer. Military grade buttons and zippers add a durable touch without jeopardizing the classy look of the jacket. The coyote fur ruff is highly functional in cold weather, as well as super stylish. The Kensington is comparable to armor, but it's also attractive, form-fitting, and feminine. Canada Goose usually impresses and their other jackets, the Shelburne and Camp Hooded are no exceptions.
Unlike other jackets we tested, the Kuhl Arktik Down Parka outer shell is a blend of nylon, polyester, and cotton. It's coated with a water-resistant wax that, along with Italian faux leather trim, added a different style to the parka. It has the appearance of a classic, rugged winter parka. If you are in the market for a unique jacket, check it out.
A durable jacket can last you multiple seasons. Often that means having to dish out extra money for better quality construction, but at least you'll know you are getting your money's worth. So what makes a jacket durable? To us, durability means that the jacket can handle what it is intended to do, and then some, with quality construction that will last for years to come. We tested jackets with soft, polyester or nylon DWR shells, as well as thick, burly two-layer waterproof fabrics. Obviously, the heavy duty waterproof fabric is often is more durable and will better protect against snags and tears than the DWR shells. If you plan to adventure to new levels in your winter jacket, a heavy duty durable coat will be right up your alley.
The equivalent of winter armor, the Canada Goose Kensington is highly durable. The water-resistant polyester fabric feels almost impenetrable to snags and tears, and the lack of stitching on the outer shell keeps you from worrying about snags. This is a model that will last you for years to come. In fact, we'd venture to say it's a solid investment.
We loved the Patagonia Tres Down Parka. But when we were zipping the outer shell into the down layer, the down kept catching in the zipper. We really had to take our time to get it right to avoid compromising the down layer. Fortunately, if you take your time, you can avoid this issue. The two-layer waterproof fabric on the outer shell is what makes this jacket very durable. Patagonia's signature H2No breathable, waterproof, and stretchy fabric seems almost invincible. It doesn't have much exterior stitching to snag and unravel either. We tested this jacket in the shower, and the outer shell did a stand-up job repelling water. So much that we don't see it needing a new DWR coat anytime soon.
We noticed a few down feathers escaping from the Patagonia Tres Parka's inner layer, not enough to be concerning. But if you did snag the down layer in the zipper and too much down escapes, the loft and warmth will start to diminish, which will affect your winter investment.
We did notice that jackets with a lot of exterior stitching were more likely to snag. (The North Face Metropolis Parka II, Metropolis Parka II, and Deep Cover Parka have tons of exterior stitching.) Finicky zippers seem to be a common issue with some of the jackets we tested. For example, the primary zipper on the Arc'teryx Darrah gave us problems when we tried to zip it up.
The Arc'teryx Patera had a similar zipper problem but seems highly durable otherwise. The outer shell is 2-layer Gore-Tex with DWR treatment and is waterproof, windproof, and breathable. We found the outer shell to be very durable against snags, due to the lack of exterior stitching. When tested in high winds and heavy rain, this jacket was comparable to the Patagonia Tres Down Parka regarding their level of durability.
One of the most overlooked but crucial features when buying a winter jacket is the hood. A thickly insulated hood makes a huge difference in cold weather. For someone living in a climate that gets heavy snow and cold temps, a hood with thick insulation and faux or real fur will protect your face and keep you warm. We understand that real fur can be controversial and not for everyone. Feel free to read more about this in our Sourcing Ethics section of our buying advice. The Canada Goose Shelburne Parka offers an oversized adjustable hood for an even tighter fit on those extra windy days. Detachable hoods are common, and offer versatility, but what if you get caught outside in a storm without it?
There are certain winter jacket features we love, like fleece-lined pockets. Whether the exterior pockets are lined on one-sided or both, fleece pockets are a stand-out feature that contribute to added warmth and comfort on super cold days. Not everyone carries gloves with them at all times, because of this, fleece-lined pockets are super practical. Fleece is also a theme on collars and cuffs. We loved the fleece-lined torso of the Marmot Montreaux, and the nylon cuffs on the Rab Deep Cover Parka are also plush and super warm.
Double-sided zippers are almost a mandatory requirement on all the winter jackets. We found this especially true with the knee-length parkas, which can feel restrictive when you're walking. We gained a significant amount of mobility with a double-sided zipper.
The Canada Goose Kensington and the Shelburne parkas offer kick-pleats for better mobility. Secured by button snaps, we could feel the cold air leaking in, and the snaps were noticeably uncomfortable when we were sat on hard surfaces. Overall we didn't find this feature that useful.
Another interesting feature that the Kensington Parka offers are internal carrying straps. We didn't find ourselves utilizing the straps all that often. But, for the weight (close to nothing), it's a good option to include for those that live in a mild climate or commute on public transit.
The Patagonia Tres Down Parka and The North Face Arrowood Triclimate offer three jackets in one. While the Tres is a proper winter jacket, the Arrowood is only appropriate for very mild climates. If you are in the market for a raincoat, a puffy jacket, and a winter jacket, the Tres may be the jacket for you!
We hope that we've helped you decide which winter jacket is the right style and fit for your life. If you're still wavering between a few contenders and need help narrowing down your selections, consider reading or re-reading the Buying Advice in your quest to determine which model will best suit your needs.
— Liz Williamson