Best Winter Jackets for Women of 2021
|Price||$164.45 at Backcountry||$139.99 at Amazon||$276.25 at Backcountry|
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|$179.40 at Amazon||$219.95 at Amazon|
|Pros||Warm, stylish, comfortable||Stylish, comfortable, easy to wear||Insulated with 750 fill down, stylish, simple, light||Comfortable, great hood, pretty warm, soft fleece cuffs and pockets||Stylish, form-fitting, warm, fun colors, faux fur ruff, down and synthetic insulation|
|Cons||Runs small, tight shoulders, limited mobility||Not as warm, awkward pockets||Hood doesn’t detach, no internal cuffs on sleeves, not waterproof||No storm flap or front snaps, not waterproof, not our favorite style||Not waterproof, runs small, lost some feathers, finicky zipper, non-removable hood|
|Bottom Line||Lofty down offers ample warmth on cold winter days||While it's not the warmest jacket it is comfortable, cute, and easy to wear||We stayed warm while looking good when temperatures dropped down to freezing||Light and easy to wear, this parka's thoughtful details keep you warm in less severe winter weather||Resting just below our waist, this jacket keeps us warm and looking great all winter long|
|Rating Categories||Patagonia Down With It Parka||Columbia Suttle Mountain Long||Arc'teryx Seyla||Sun Valley Down Parka||Gotham Jacket II|
|Weather Resistance (25%)|
|Specs||Patagonia Down...||Columbia Suttle...||Arc'teryx Seyla||Sun Valley Down...||Gotham Jacket II|
|Insulation and Fill Power||600 fill recycled duck and goose down||100% polyester synthetic down and thermal-reflective lining||750 fill European grey goose down||650 fill RDS down||550 fill goose down, Heatseeker 160g|
|Fill Weight||200 g||Unavailable||206 g||300 g||Unavailable|
|Hood||Insulated, removable||Insulated, detachable faux fur trim||Insulated hood||Detachable hood, with removable faux fur trim||Adjustable with removable faux fur trim|
|Pockets||2 zippered handwarmer, 1 internal zippered chest pocket||2 snap handwarmer, 1 external zipped chest||2 zippered hand, 1 internal zippered security||2 zippered handwarmer, 1 zippered chest||1 internal, 2 external|
|Weight (size small)||2.2 lbs||2.4 lbs||1.1 lbs||2.9 lbs||1.2 lbs|
|Weather Resistant Features||DWR treatment||Water resistant fabric||Water repellant face fabric||Water-resistant||Water-resistant, wind-resistant|
|Sizes Available||XS to XL||XS to 3X||XS to XL||XS to XXL, Regular, Petite, Tall and Plus||XS to 3XL|
|Social or Environmental Certifications||100% recylced down, 100% recycled polyester shell, 100% recycled polyester lining, Fair Trade Certified sewn, bluesign approved fabric||Responsible Down Standard - Certified||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 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 feel overwhelming at times, 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 for Comfort on a Budget
The Marmot Montreaux keeps us warm and stylish all winter at a lower price point. Insulated with 221 grams of high-quality 700 fill down, this jacket is thick but maintains a lofty, lightweight feel. Plush fleece lines the core and helps hold in warmth. With the insulated, faux-fur lined hood over our ears and this cloud of a jacket reaching our knees, we stayed toasty in 10-degree weather. The Montreaux handles wet weather remarkably well with its water-resistant shell and hydrophobic down, but it's not waterproof. It certainly keeps us dry in the cold and snowy conditions and effectively blocks harsh winds.
Water initially beads up and rolls off the durable water repellent (DWR) finish, but the fabric saturates in heavy rain. The treated down resists collapsing for a time, but its insulating properties are still compromised when wet. Though the Montreaux is a lot of jacket, it compresses well and is easy enough to cart around. If you're in the market for a downy-soft, warm, knee-length parka with a flattering look and faux fur hood, this is the one for you.
Read review: Marmot Montreaux
Great Value for Outstanding Weather Protection
The North Face Arctic Parka
The North Face Arctic Parka is a good deal, offing durable weather protection, a comfortable cut, and a straightforward style at a lower price point. It kept us cozy in 20-degree weather and seemed to breathe fairly well when we got too warm on an afternoon snowshoe. The nicely sized hood has a generously faux-fur ruff that flips out to keep the wind off your face or folds back to frame it.
This isn't the most comfortable jacket we tested or the most stylish. The shoulders are a little tight, and its looks are a bit bland. But it's a classic winter parka, which is great for longevity. We also don't love that hook-and-loop patches hold the rain flap closed. They may wear out faster than snaps, and they snag on hair and delicate clothes. Still, it does its job well. If you don't need the lightest, the warmest, or the coziest option on the market, the Arctic Parka is an excellent choice at a reasonable price.
Read review: The North Face Arctic 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 In-Town Winter Jacket
Arc'teryx Patera Parka
The Arc'teryx's Patera Parka does an exceptional job of balancing 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 off your jacket 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 9 winters living and playing in mountain towns like Breckenridge, Durango, South Lake Tahoe, and Jay Peak.
After spending a half-day researching this season's winter jackets, we purchased the top models to test side-by-side. We spent 150 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 to watch the sunrise. 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. Remember that all 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 Marmot Montreaux provides an excellent performance to price ratio. It earns top scores and is among the least expensive jackets in the test. Still, it might not be right for your needs. Its relatively thin polyester fabric isn't as durable as many heavy-duty options.
If you need a waterproof jacket you can bang around during outdoor chores, The North Face Arctic Parka may be right for you. The rugged shell feels bombproof and does an excellent job keeping you dry and warm in nasty weather. Its reasonable price tag and dogged durability make it a great value for heavy-duty use. The Columbia Suttle Mountain parka isn't as warm, durable, or waterproof as the Arctic Parka, but it isn't nearly as heavy either. It's a very comfortable jacket, though its unique insulation can heat up too quickly when you're on the go.
Expensive purchases can also 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, and The North Face all champion the responsible down certification. If these practices align with your ethics, and you have the extra cash to spend, they offer value as well.
When shopping for a winter jacket, you want to find one 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. But it also matters how much of that high quality down is in the jacket. Companies rarely display their jacket's fill-weight because 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 find out which ones are warmest.
The warmest jacket by far is the Canada Goose Expedition Parka, but it's rated for temperatures starting in the negative double digits and trending down. It's too much for most people most of the time.
The toastiest jackets you'll likely need are also some of our favorites — the Fjallraven Nuuk Parka and the Marmot Montreaux. 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. Knee-length parkas like the Montreaux or Patagonia Jackson Glacier are especially cozy in brutally cold weather, which we think of as 10-degrees and below.
The The North Face Outer Boroughs Parka, Rab Deep Cover, Arc'teryx Seyla Down, Jackson Glacier, and are all hot on the Monteaux's heels. The Deep Cover is incredibly warm thanks to its masses of mid-quality down. The Seyla and Jackson Glacier have less down, but it's higher quality (750 and 700 fill, respectively). The Outer Boroughs jacket 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, 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. We stayed warm standing around in 17-degree weather for 10 minutes, but you'll need to layer up or keep moving in these colder temps. On a windy 25-degree day, we could feel the cold air on our arms and shoulders. It does a great job of keeping you comfortable when you're dodging in and out of doors.
Most of the jackets tested have smart features that help keep out the cold. 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. Smaller hoods can hold warmth more effectively but also restrict movement and your ability to wear a cap underneath. We prefer roomy hoods like the one on the Arc'teryx Patera Parka.
Cuffed sleeves keep drafts from creeping up our arms, and insulated fleece-lined pockets are lifesavers on truly frigid days. Jackets scoring a little lower in warmth, like the Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka, often lack these little extras. That doesn't mean they aren't warm. The Tres has less insolation than the warmest options and lacks an insulated hood, faux-fur ruff, and cuffs to seal out the deep cold. With a hat, gloves, and base layers, the Tres can keep up.
Winter weather can range from cold and dry snow to sleet, wind, freezing rain, and regular 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 more 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 is 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 has gaps where the faux-fur ruff snaps to the hood that cold air can funnel through.
The Patagonia Jackson Glacier's DWR finish sheds moisture effectively, and the zipper seems completely waterproof, but its small and shallow hood does nothing to protect your face. The super warm Montreaux is not waterproof, but its DWR finish and water-resistant down did a surprisingly good job in our shower test. After four minutes, only the fronts of our thighs were wet. It's best reserved for dry snow or drizzles, though. If you're just dealing with cold and wind, the thick down of Patagonia Down With It Parka and the Marmot Montreaux will do the trick.
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 soft 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 Patagonia Down With It Parka, which earns a high score for combining a great cut with a downy 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.
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.
We really enjoy the The North Face Gotham II as well. It hits just below the waist, offering unrivaled mobility and a soft and pleasantly weighted feel. Just below the top tier in comfort, Patagonia Tres is a smidge tight in the shoulders and lacks an insulated hood. Still, we pull on all three versions of this coat more often than any of these winter jackets since one of them is always right for any type of weather.
Why not be warm and stylish? The models we tested ranged in length, fit, function, and fashion. Some have smooth, sleek outer shells like the Arc'teryx Patera Parka. Some sport the rugged, functional look like 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.
We also appreciate the simple good looks of the Fjallraven Nuuk Insulated Parka, The North Face Arctic Parka, and the Columbia Suttle. All three offer a similarly laid-back, function-first style that our lead tester prefers. Of the three, the Nuuk's luxe fabric and brilliant pockets always inspire us to pull it on first.
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 often work fine if you are just walking around town.
The North Face Outer Boroughs and Arctic parkas, with their 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' two-layer H2No membrane and polyester twill fabric 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 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.
If you're wearing a jacket in the winter, it better have a hood. Better yet, an insulated one. A warm hood makes a huge difference in cold weather. If you add a faux (or real) fur ruff to protect your face from frigid winds and flying snow, you'll be ready for genuinely rough weather. Our favorite insulted hoods in this review belong to the Expedition Parka, Arctic Parka, Montreaux, Columbia Suttle Mountain, Arc'teryx Patera, and Eddie Bauer Sun Valley Down Parka.
The style of a fur ruff and the ethics of real fur are both controversial topics. We let the function of a ruff speak for itself. They make a jacket more protective in a storm. Killing a wild predator for one is a next-level topic that we dive into in the Canada Goose Expedition Parka review. Canada Goose is the only manufacturer in this review that uses real coyote fur.
Fleece-lined pockets are another stand-out feature that contributes to your warmth and comfort, but it's more important to have hand-warmer pockets that are insulated. Only the puffy down parkas like the Montreaux, Patagonia Down With It, and Jackson Glacier do you this favor.
As for utility pockets, the Nuuk and Expedition Parka take the cake. Both give you tons of space to stash your valuables. The Nuuk also includes a number of generous pockets inside the jacket to keep your phone batteries warm and functional.
Two-way zippers are all but mandatory on mid-thigh or knee-length parkas to make it easy for you to move around. All the longer jackets we tested have one. The inner down jacket of the Tres 3-in-1 Parka is the one exception. The down layer is flexible enough that it's not an issue. The Patagonia Down With It jacket takes it to the next level by adding snaps on either side of the hem, making it easy to walk even if you're all zipped up.
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 look and fit for your style and the amount of warmth and weather protection you need to keep exploring outside this winter.
— Liz Williamson and Clark Tate