Best Winter Jackets for Women of 2021
|Price||Check Price at REI|
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$1,495 at Backcountry
|Check Price at REI|
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|Check Price at REI|
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|$299.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Comfortable, durable fabric, awesome pockets, weather-proof and breathable||Extremely warm, waterproof, lots of pockets, soft collar||Warm, light, soft, great hood||Athletic fit, comfortable, stylish, temperature regulating, waterproof||Warm, flattering, cozy, double-sided zipper, functional pockets|
|Cons||On the bulky side, face fabric holds onto water||Too warm for most conditions, heavy, real coyote fur could deter some||No cinch at the waist, not the most stylish||Sleeves and hem are less insulated, tricky hood tightened, expensive||No front snaps, not as warm when compressed, not waterproof|
|Bottom Line||An extremely warm, comfortable, stylish, and durable parka with lots of pockets||This jacket keeps you alive in killer weather but is too much for most conditions||This soft, extra-long down parka with a cavernous hood is a dream to wrap up in when the temperatures drop||A classically stylish waterproof winter jacket that helps you avoid overheating||Serious warmth is packed into this lightweight, flattering, and reasonably priced parka|
|Rating Categories||Fjallraven Nuuk - W...||Canada Goose Expedi...||Outdoor Research Co...||Arc'teryx Patera Parka||Marmot Montreaux|
|Weather Resistance (25%)|
|Specs||Fjallraven Nuuk - W...||Canada Goose Expedi...||Outdoor Research Co...||Arc'teryx Patera Parka||Marmot Montreaux|
|Insulation and Fill Power||Supreme microloft (100% polyester)||625 fill duck down||700 fill down||750 fill down||700 fill power duck down with water resistant Down Defender|
|Fill Weight||250 g||Unavailable||240 g||59 g Down, 100 g Coreloft||221 g|
|Hood||Insulated with detachable faux fur trim||Insulated with detachable coyote faux fur trim||Adjustable||Insulated hood||Insulated, removable, detachable faux fur trim|
|Pockets||2 internal, 2 bellows, 2 hand, 1 sleeve, 2 chest||4 large handwarmer, 1 sleeve utility, 1 flap-closure sleeve, 3 internal pockets - 1 zippered security, 1 drop-in||2 zippered handwarmer, 1 internal zippered security, 1 internal pouch||2 handwarmer, 1 internal chest pocket||2 zippered handwarmer, 2 internal chest (1 zippered)|
|Weight (size small)||3.7 lbs||4.6 lbs||2.0 lbs||2.0 lbs||2.3 lbs|
|Weather Resistant Features||Waterproof, windproof||Waterproof, windproof||Water and wind resistant||Waterproof, windproof, and breathable barrier, DWR finish||Water resistant down, DWR treatment|
|Sizes Available||XXS to XXL||XS to XL||XS to XL||XS to XXL||XS to XXL|
|Social or Environmental Certifications||Fluorocarbon-free impregnation||Responsible Down Standard - Certified, bluesign approved, 100% recycled nylon shell||Some materials meet bluesign criteria
Responsible Down Standard
Best Overall Winter Jacket
Fjallraven Nuuk - Women's
The Fjallraven Nuuk Parka was a fast favorite among the testers. Soft and pliable with enough weight to feel like a hug and plenty of insulation, the Nuuk keeps us warm in bitter temps. It's also waterproof, with a generous hood and faux-fur ruff that flips out to block the wind. A generous cut leaves plenty of room to layer up without feeling like an overstuffed pillow. We also found that it breathes well. Even when we worked hard enough to sweat, our base layers stayed dry. And we absolutely love the pockets. They are both functionally sized and artfully tucked away, lending it a functional, laidback style.
The Nuuk is heavy, which we find a fair trade for how much goodness it packs into every pound. We don't love carting it around a store, though, which is why the Arc'teryx Patera outcompetes it in town. The relaxed fit can sometimes feel overwhelming, particularly the sleeves, which are a roll or two too long. It also prevents the jacket from feeling flattering. While the jacket kept us dry in our shower tests, the face fabric did hold onto water more than we'd like for wetter winters. If you like hugs, staying warm and dry in snowstorms, or apres tailgates, this one's for you.
Read review: Fjallraven Nuuk Parka
Best on a Budget
REI Co-op Norseland Insulated Parka
The REI Co-op Norseland Parka drapes you up in down for a price that feels like a steal. Winter jackets are an investment, and this is a reasonable one. It also feels well-built and likely to last. The 238 grams of 650 fill-power down is lightweight and warm in freezing weather. A fleece-lined hood, soft, deep pockets, and colorful wrist gaiters keep your extremities happy. Hitting midthigh, this jacket extends further in the back to hold in the heat where you need it. A two-way zipper in front and zippers on either side at the hem give you all the mobility you need to race up steps or launch a snowball attack. The jacket is Bluesign approved, is filled with responsibly harvested down, and the polyester lining is recycled.
This jacket is warm, not the warmest option in the test. It has plenty of down, but a shorter hem, extended side zips, no cinch at the waist, and a shallow hood. You'll likely need some warm pants or long johns when the temp really plummets. Though the hood fits well and is insulated in soft high-pile fleece, it doesn't extend far enough to keep cold, dry winter wind or wet snowflakes off your face. We also wish the collar was roomier. You can tuck your chin into the top of the zipper, but it's a tight fit. If you don't, the zipper rubs. If you need a light and warm jacket with a laidback style that won't blow your winter gear budget, the Norseland is a great choice.
Read review: REI Co-op Norseland Parka
Best for Extreme Conditions
Canada Goose Expedition Parka - Women's
Canada Goose gives the Expedition Parka a temperature rating for -22 degree weather and below. We tried it out on a walk in a -20 degree windchill in northern Vermont. It did the trick. That's a warm winter coat. Duck-down insulation, incredibly waterproof Arctic-tech fabric, and a hood with a real coyote fur ruff work together to block out cold air and brutal winds. With the hood deployed in our shower test, we barely even heard the water. It's also surprisingly wearable, with plenty of room in the shoulders and two pockets tucked inside the insulation.
It's just rare to need this much protection, and it weighs a lot. Though it's surprisingly comfortable, especially with the waist cord cinched, the jacket does feel bulky. If you're in conditions rowdy enough to warrant it, you won't mind. This is the jacket for your next Arctic expedition.
Read review: Canada Goose Expedition Parka
Best for Passive Cold Weather Activities
Outdoor Research Coze Down Parka
The Outdoor Research Coze Parka wraps 250 grams of 700 fill power goose down around you from head to mid-calf. The high-quality feathers keep the jacket light, and the pliable nylon shell is cloud-soft. An insulated that extends beyond your face in what Outdoor Research (OR) calls a down-baffle ruff helps keep the weather at bay. It works like a fur ruff to block wind, though not as well. OR says that this jacket zips up to your nose. While its collar is very tall and wide enough to tuck your face into, it only reached a bit above our lead tester's chin. Still, it's the most comfortable tall collar in the test, with a knit lining and inner down baffle to hold in more heat. Knit wrist-cuffs and lined pockets tucked beneath the down keep your hands warm.
This jacket is frumpy in a way that very fashionable, or very tall, people can probably pull off as elegant. Our lead tester loves wearing it, despite teasing from a few friends — friends who weren't nearly as warm as she was. We do wish it cinched at the waist, though, which could lend it a more flattering shape. More importantly, it would stop frigid temps from sneaking up and into our down cocoon. This isn't a problem with temps around freezing, but it might be when the weather turns truly cold. We'll keep you updated. If you want to float around outside in a cloud, thumbing your nose at conventional fashion, seriously consider the Coze.
Read review: Outdoor Research Coze Parka
Best for Active Urban Environments
Arc'teryx Patera Parka
The Arc'teryx's Patera Parka balances warmth, breathability, lightweight comfort, and classic style. It's a great option if you're always on the go, overheat easily, or find yourself ripping your jacket off the second you step inside. It's also light and compact enough to drape over your bag. The jacket uses high-loft, 750 fill down to hold maximal warmth around your shoulders, chest, back, and over your arms. It uses synthetic insulation in areas that are more likely to get wet, like the collar, hood, side panels, underarms, and around the lower eight inches of the jacket. The combination works well for us when we're rushing around. The jacket is also windproof and fully waterproof for warmer, wetter winters.
The downside is that the jacket isn't as warm. In temperatures approaching single digits, we notice the chill in our arms and thighs, especially if we sit down outside. The two-way zipper stops about eight inches above the hem. This gives you plenty of room to walk but does let cold air creep in. You can close it with a small snap, but then the jacket is a bit restrictive. We liked it best in weather above 10 degrees. This trim and durable jacket will keep you feeling comfortable and looking put together in winter weather.
Read review: Arc'teryx Patera
Most Versatile Winter Jacket
Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka - Women's
If you want a jacket that can take you from early fall to late spring, the Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 is the one for you. The three jacket options keep you ready for ever-changing conditions. The inner jacket is insulated with 150 grams of 700 fill recycled down. It's water-resistant enough to get you out of a drizzle and is a great standalone option for clear and chilly days. The outer layer is waterproof, windproof, and breathable. When you zip the two together, which takes about a minute, this jacket seems unstoppable. It's also one of the more stylish and flattering options we tested.
When you combine the layers, the Tres is tight in the shoulders. If you wear thick winter sweaters often, consider sizing up. The hood and outer handwarmer pockets are uninsulated. Luckily they are roomy enough to accommodate a beanie and gloves. The hood is also highly adjustable, which lets you snug it down enough to block out rain or snow. This jacket is expensive, but you are getting three high-quality options for the price of one, two at the most.
Read review: Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka - Women's
Why You Should Trust Us
Liz Williamson has tested winter jackets in Yosemite and around Lake Tahoe since 2015. She's tested over 100 jackets in some of the harshest conditions, from the High Sierra to the Andes to Patagonia. Her design and wildlife management background gives her knowledge of the practical needs of outerwear in cold environments and the more functional and style considerations of day-to-day use around town.
Liz is joined by Clark Tate. Clark combines a Master's Degree in Environmental Science with a decade of science writing to build our jacket testing plans and ratings. Clark developed an appreciation for finding the right winter coat over 10 winters living and playing in mountain towns like Breckenridge, Durango, South Lake Tahoe, and Jay Peak. She now lives in Downeast Maine and visits to New England's snowy peaks.
After spending a half-day researching this season's winter jackets, we purchased the top models to test side-by-side. We spent 160 hours switching between coats in similar conditions and running repeatable tests, from standing in the shower to laying in a snowbank to standing outside in freezing weather and bitter winds. We hiked and walked over 100 miles in inclement weather. We tested these in temps ranging from 50 to -20 degrees (with wind chill), in sideways snow, and sloppy shoulder season weather.
Analysis and Test Results
We judged these jackets based on their warmth, weather resistance, comfort, style, and durability. Then we factored in cost to find the best performance to price ratios for you.
Keep in mind that the ratings are relative to the other jackets in this review. A score of "7" in warmth is still very toasty. It's just not as warm as the coats that score higher. To determine which test scores are important to you, consider your climate and favorite outdoor activities. You may need a completely waterproof jacket, the warmest option, or the one that will help you keep from overheating.
It's important to find the right winter jacket for your needs and your budget. The REI Norseland Insulated Parka provides an excellent performance to price ratio. It earns high scores and is among the least expensive jackets in the test.
The Marmot Montreaux has better scores and is still reasonably priced, while the award-winning Outdoor Research Coze Down Parka earns chart-topping scores for a bit more. Any of these options is a good buy. Still, they might not be right for your needs since they all have relatively thin polyester fabric that isn't as durable as heavier-duty options.
Even a more expensive purchase can offer excellent value. For example, the Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka gives you three jackets for the price of two budget options. It also offers ecological and ethical value. The coat is insulated with 100% recycled down and 75% recycled polyester (100% in the down layer and 50% in the shell). Its sewing labor is Fair Trade Certified.
Rab, Eddie Bauer, REI, Outdoor Research, and The North Face all champion the responsible down certification and offer some recycled fabrics. If these practices align with your ethics, and you have the extra cash to spend, they offer value as well.
You want a winter jacket that will be warm enough for your needs. If a jacket has down insulation, the quality of the down (fill-power), how much down is in it (fill-weight), and the face fabric's thickness determines its warmth. Higher fill-power numbers mean higher quality down and more warmth per weight. We consider anything over 600 to be excellent. But it also matters how much of that high-quality down is in the jacket.
But the numbers don't tell the whole story. 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 to determine which ones are warmest.
The warmest jacket by far is the Canada Goose Expedition Parka. This is no surprise; it's rated for temperatures starting in the negative double digits and trending down. It's also very heavy and is too much jacket for most people most of the time.
The toastiest jackets you're likely to need day-to-day are also some of our favorites — the Fjallraven Nuuk Parka, the Outdoor Research Coze, the Marmot Montreaux, and the Rab Deep Cover. The Nuuk relies on thick, durable fabric, a protective hood, and synthetic insulation to hold in warmth. The puffy-style Montreaux is loaded with 700 fill power down with a fleece-lined torso. The Deep Cover is incredibly warm thanks to its masses of mid-quality down.
Knee-length parkas like the Montreaux or the Patagonia Jackson Glacier are especially cozy in brutally cold weather, which we think of as 10-degrees and below. The Outdoor Research Coze reaches to the middle of your calves and covers your head with a large, deep, and very warm hood. Coze is right.
The The North Face Outer Boroughs Parka, the Arc'teryx Seyla Down, and the Jackson Glacier are also plenty warm for most winter weather. The Seyla and Jackson Glacier have less down but higher quality (750 and 700 fill, respectively). The Outer Boroughs has lower quality down but plenty of it, and a thick and windproof shell that holds in heat.
Keep in mind that the warmest jackets may be overkill in some conditions, which is why we rate the Arc'teryx Patera so highly. It places 750 fill down where you need to hold in heat and synthetic insulation where you're likely to generate sweat and need more breathability.
Most of the jackets tested have smart features to help keep out the cold. A warm hood makes a huge difference in cold weather. Insulated hoods with faux-fur ruffs that roll out around your face — like those on the Expedition Parka, Nuuk and Arctic Parka — keep our heads happy in stormy weather. The OR Coze has a unique down baffle ruff that serves a similar purpose but less effectively. We haven't found anything that can replicate the wind-cutting power of fur, real or faux.
The Canada Goose Expedition Parka uses real coyote fur in the hood ruff. While a fur ruff certainly makes a jacket more protective in a storm, the ethics of using real fur can be controversial to some. Canada Goose is the only manufacturer in this review that uses real coyote fur.
Extra features like cuffed sleeves keep drafts from creeping up our arms, and insulated fleece-lined pockets are lifesavers on truly frigid days.
Winter weather can range from cold and clear with dry snow to sleet, wind, freezing rain, and regular old wet rain. If you live in a wet climate like Seattle, having a moderately warm and completely waterproof winter jacket is a good idea. If cold temperatures, biting winds, and dry snow are your reality, warmth and wind resistance are critical.
All the models tested offer some protection from wet weather, from a water-resistant coating to a full-blown waterproof membrane. To test how well each jacket keeps you dry and cuts cold winds, we went for walks on wet snow days, stood in the shower, headed out in windstorms, and braved blizzards.
The Canada Goose Expedition Parka wins weather resistance. It's impenetrable. A tough outer shell and an insanely protective hood block wind and snow. Though it's not meant to be used in temperatures where water is in liquid form, it shrugs rain off as well.
The Arc'teryx Patera and Patagonia Tres are also windproof and are our favorite wet weather options. Both have nicely shaped hoods with good coverage and completely waterproof exteriors that didn't let a drop in during our shower tests. The Tres Parka's water and windproof outer shell work wonderfully on its own as a rain jacket.
The North Face Arctic Parka, Outer Boroughs Parka, and Fjallraven Nuuk Insulated Parka also offer excellent shelter from the storm. Their hoods roll out to form protective tunnels, and their collars zip up to your nose. All three collars are a bit tight when zipped, but the Nuuk's is the least comfortable, and its fabric wets out in the rain or wet snow. The Outer Boroughs gaps where the faux-fur ruff snaps to the hood that cold air can funnel through.
The Outdoor Research Coze is another impressive option. Instead of a fur ruff, the hood is ringed with a baffle of down. It forms a protective ring around your face, and you can cinch it down to keep the wind at bay. It's great but doesn't work as well as fur. The Coze also has an impressive DWR coating. It shrugged off 2.5 minutes of steady water in the shower test.
The Patagonia Jackson Glacier and REI Norseland Parka both have impressive wet weather chops. They have DWR coatings that shed moisture effectively, and the zippers keep water out. Unfortunately, both also have small and shallow hoods that do very little to protect your face.
Winter jackets can feel oppressive and restrictive. We love the ones that don't. We also love soft details that keep us warm in a storm. The most comfortable jackets we reviewed are supple and cut to give you plenty of shoulder room to stretch, move, and layer. Some wrap you in down from your head to your knees. Others drape you in comfortingly weighted canvas. A cozy hood doesn't hurt.
If you like puffy jackets, consider the Outdoor Research Coze, the REI Norseland, or the Patagonia Down With It Parka. All earn top marks for combining a great cut with a velvety soft feel. We also adore the Marmot Montreaux with its nicely fitted, downy hood and soft ruff. It offers instant comfort with a plush, fleece-lined torso and collar, though the shoulders are a little tight. The Rab Deep Cover Parka and Canada Goose Camp Hooded also score well for their lofty, unrestrictive down fill and light nylon shells.
If you need a sturdier exterior but don't want to cut on the cozy factor, we suggest the Fjallraven Nuuk. Its design gives you plenty of room to layer and move, the fabric is buttery soft, and its slight heft truly feels like a hug. The one flaw is that its collar is too tight when zipped all the way to the top.
We're also impressed with the cut and comfort of the Arc'teryx Patera. It's trim and flattering but never restrictive, even with the collar fully zipped, and it gives us plenty of shoulder room. Its sleek looks belie the cozy down baffles inside. Soft storm cuffs hug your wrists, and the insulated hood snugs around your head. The Columbia Suttle jacket is similarly easy to wear. It's light with a roomy cut and a soft fleece liner in the hood.
Why not be warm and stylish? The models we tested vary in length, fit, function, and fashion. Some have smooth, sleek outer shells like the Arc'teryx Patera Parka. Some sport the rugged, functional look of the Fjallraven Nuuk. Others feature downy baffles, like the Marmot Montreaux. We like all of these styles, but some companies execute them better than others.
The Rab Deep Cover Parka and Marmot Montreaux are two of the most stylish jackets we tested. They're similar, with thin fabric, down baffles, and a hood with a faux fur ruff. The Deep Cover has horizontal seams and a mid-thigh length. The Montreaux's baffles are angled to create a chevron pattern, and it reaches our knees. Both earn us compliments like crazy. The Deep Cover is a bit sportier. The Montreaux is more elegant, thanks to those angled seams, which suggest a slight drape.
The Patagonia Tres Parka nails sophisticated winter style, with princess seams and pleasant proportions. We like the look of all three layers. The Patera is a close runner-up. Clever insulation mapping cuts down on bulk to offer a trim silhouette. The handwarmer pockets never interrupt the elegant line, and the face fabric's high quality is evident. Canada Goose products often offer a polished look, and the Camp Hooded Jacket is no exception.
A durable jacket should serve its intended purpose for years, if not decades. To get one, you may need to spend more. Thicker fabrics stand up to rough use, but thinner shells work fine if you avoid manual labor and ski edges.
The North Face Outer Boroughs and Arctic parkas, with minimal exterior stitching and tough nylon, polyester, and cotton shell, seem indestructible. The Canada Goose Expedition Parka feels similarly bombproof. However, we worry about the hook-and-loop storm flap closures on the Arctic and the name-brand Velcro ones on the Expedition Parka. Both could wear out over time.
The Arc'teryx Patera's 2-layer polyester and Gore-Tex shell also brushes off sharp sticks and brambles. Based on our experience, we expect it to maintain its weather and windproof properties for many years to come.
The Patagonia Tres has a two-layer H2No membrane and polyester twill fabric that also seems invincible. Between the sturdy material and minimal external stitching, there isn't much to snag or unravel. We did notice a few down feathers escaping from the inner jacket. It's not enough to concern us, but this layer is thin, snaggable, and has loads of external stitching. Keeping this layer up and running will require some care.
Some of the softest and most comfortable jackets we tested didn't earn the highest marks for durability. Jackets like the Montreaux and the Arc'teryx Selya Down wrap all that lovely down in a thin nylon or polyester shell. We ripped a small hole in the Montreaux during testing. It hasn't gotten any bigger, and it's easy to fix. But you do need to take better care of this type of winter jacket. The Jackson Glacier Parka is a good compromise, offering a light and soft down puffy feel with thicker, presumably more durable, fabric.
There is no perfect winter jacket for every occasion, but there are plenty of excellent options for your needs. We hope we've helped you find the right fit for your style and the warmth and weather protection to keep you outside this winter.
— Liz Williamson & Clark Tate
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