When the heart of the coldest winter months arrives, it’s time for a serious jacket. Our picks for the best winter jackets and parkas below are among the warmest on the market—they are packed with down fill (or synthetic on occasion) and built to stand up to freezing temperatures and howling winds. The jackets run the gamut from casual pieces designed for around-town use to performance options built for mountaineering. Some toe the line nicely and are fully capably of handling double duty. And you don’t need to spend a fortune for a good winter coat either as our selections cover the spectrum from budget to high end. For more background information, see our winter jacket comparison table and buying advice below the picks.
Fill: 550-fill goose down
Weight: 3 lbs. 4 oz.
What we like: Warm, looks good, and a good value.
What we don’t: Heavier and less packable than a more performance-oriented jacket.
Women's: The North Face Gotham
You certainly can spend a lot more for a winter jacket, but we love the combination of quality and value offered by the Gotham II from The North Face. This coat covers all of the important bases: it’s warm, waterproof, blocks the wind, and is decently breathable for use in milder temperatures. And at around $300, it will set you back considerably less than many of the pricier options below.
What are the shortcomings of the Gotham II? It has a decidedly casual look and feel (hence the name “Gotham”), meaning that it isn’t ideal for the backcountry. In addition, you won’t get the same warmth for the weight or compressibility as some of the pricier jackets on the list that use 800-fill down or even higher. But these shouldn’t be huge issues for around-town use, which is exactly why many people buy the Gotham II. The cherry on top: we really like the looks of the jacket (thankfully the faux fur collar is removable as that could have been a deal breaker).
See the North Face Gotham II
Fill: 850-fill goose down
Weight: 1 lb. 15 oz.
What we like: Premium warmth and packability at a low weight.
What we don’t: Expensive.
Women's: Arc'teryx Ceres SV Parka
The Ceres SV is in a different stratosphere from the Gotham II above, but for hardcore adventurers, it’s one of the best options out there. With 8.4 ounces of 850-fill goose down, this is a supremely cozy winter down jacket that still weighs under 2 pounds total and packs down small. It’s the warmest jacket Arc’teryx makes and that says something—the company is a favorite among guides and serious alpinists who need dependable warmth.
Interestingly, the Ceres SV is technical in design but not as technical looking as you might expect. Whereas a parka like the Feather Friends Icefall below looks as if it is indeed intended to be used while standing on belay, the Ceres has a clean look that translates decently well to everyday use (we frequently notice technical jackets from Arc’teryx on the streets of Seattle and elsewhere). And despite the high cost, Arc’teryx products are built extremely well and should last as long as anything on the market. You can save a lot by going with the Gotham II, but for a performance option with a surprisingly good casual appeal, it’s hard to beat the Ceres SV.
See the Arc'teryx Ceres SV Parka
Fill: 600-fill duck down
Weight: 2 lbs. 15.9 oz.
What we like: Premium build and clean styling.
What we don’t: Essentially the same warmth as the Gotham II for $100 more.
The Wanaka Jacket from Patagonia is very similar to The North Face Gotham II above: it’s a cold-weather piece designed primarily for urban wear. This coat is burly, well-insulated, waterproof, and blocks wind well. It doesn’t offer the range of movement of some of Patagonia’s more performance-centric jackets, but it’s a great option for the sustained cold spells of places like the Midwest and East Coast of the United States.
Many people make the choice between the Wanaka and Gotham II, so how do these jacket compare? The Wanaka is made with 600-fill duck down vs. 550-fill goose down on the Gotham II. And the Patagonia is $100 more expensive, although it does have the premium build and styling that the company is known for. In terms of weight, the Wanaka is slightly lighter at around 3 pounds and both jackets offer very similar levels of warmth. Because of the strong similarities, we give the nod to the Gotham based on price, but both are excellent winter coats.
See the Patagonia Wanaka Jacket
Fill: 625-fill duck down
Weight: 3 lbs. 5 oz.
What we like: Super warm and stylish.
What we don’t: Very expensive.
Women's: Canada Goose Trillium Parka
At the high end of the winter jacket spectrum is Toronto-based Canada Goose. These jackets are the real deal: they’re extremely warm, well built, and downright fashionable for those that want a sleek look. Our top pick from Canada Goose is the Langford Parka, which hits a nice sweet spot between Arctic and urban use. With 625-fill duck down (it’s ironic that the company uses mostly duck down and not goose) and a thick and durable Artic Tech shell, they claim that the Langford can be worn down to a freezing -15°F. This is the company’s second warmest tier of jacket with the famous Expedition Parka viable down to -25°F.
Aside from the awesome warmth, craftsmanship, and looks, our biggest issue with Canada Goose is price. The Langford is a staggering $900 (the Antarctic-ready Expedition Jacket is a whopping $1,000) but Canada Goose doesn’t use premium down like Arc’teryx or other high-end brands. In fact, the Langford is only a small step up from the $400 Patagonia Wanaka in down quality, although it has more fill and is noticeably warmer. But if you run cold, need the extra insulation, or appreciate the styling, Canada Goose has a valuable corner of the market.
See the Canada Goose Langford Parka
Fill: 850-fill goose down
Weight: 2 lbs. 1 oz.
What we like: Super warm: the most down fill on the list.
What we don’t: The mountaineering look isn’t for everyone.
Seattle-based Feathered Friends is a small company that specializes in premium down products, and they manufacture most everything in the Unites States. We love their lightweight Eos for cool weather, but the heavyweight Icefall is about as warm as it gets. Most importantly, this Parka is absolutely jammed with high-quality down: 13.8 ounces of 850-fill goose down to be exact. For comparison, the Arc’teryx Ceres SV above has 7.9 ounces of 850-fill goose down, or just over half the down for $250 more.
The reason the Icefall Parka is ranked here and not higher is its limited appeal for daily use. Yes, you could wear this jacket on the streets of Chicago or Boston in the depths of winter, but it’s built for big-mountain summits and high-altitude mountaineering and looks the part. The Ceres SV has a cleaner look and wider appeal, but the Icefall Parka clearly wins on warmth and down fill.
See the Feathered Friends Icefall Parka
Fill: 800-fill goose down
Weight: 1 lb. 6 oz.
What we like: Versatile and a good value.
What we don’t: Relatively thin materials.
Women's: Rab Neutrino Endurance
At $375, there is a lot to like about the Rab Neutrino Endurance. This winter jacket has 9 ounces of 800-fill goose down (more fill weight the $849 Arc’teryx Ceres SV above with only slightly less fill power). The tall neck and burly hood do a great job at blocking wind and cold air. And we like the styling, which is performance-oriented (Rab is a climbing company) but translates better for casual use than a jacket like the Feathered Friends Icefall Parka. It’s also the lightest jacket on this list at just 1 pound 6 ounces.
One shortcoming of the Endurance Neutrino is that the Pertex Endurance shell is relatively thin. While the fabric does a great job shedding snow and protecting you from the wind, the 30-denier face fabric and 20-denier lining prioritize packability and weight over all-out durability. We like the versatility that comes with a lighter weight jacket, but for casual use or if you’re hard on your gear, it may be worth getting a thicker jacket like the options above.
See the Rab Neutrino Endurance
Fill: 700-fill duck down
Weight: 2 lbs. 11.8 oz.
What we like: Warm and stylish.
What we don’t: Slim fit, particularly around the collar.
Women's: Marmot Southgate Jacket
The Marmot Fordham is another reasonably priced winter jacket designed mostly for casual use. We think it’s a nice all-around option: the Fordham uses 700-fill down (higher quality than The North Face Gotham II or Patagonia Wanaka above), has a 2-layer waterproof shell, and a removable hood for when you don’t need the extra protection. We also like the functional, urban look with durable fabrics and plenty of pockets.
Why isn’t the Fordham ranked higher on our list? The fit is a bit snug for a cold-weather layering piece, and particularly in the collar area when trying to add extra warmth like a scarf. And some users have reported down leakage around the seams, which is commonplace with any down jacket but perhaps a little more noticeable here than normal. These issues aside, the Fordham is a very viable competitor to the casual options above.
See the Marmot Fordham Jacket
Fill: 120g PrimaLoft Silver (body), 60g PrimaLoft Gold (2nd layer around torso)
Weight: 1 lb. 7.6 oz.
What we like: Lightweight, moves well, and a good value.
What we don’t: Not quite as lofty or warm as a down jacket.
The vast majority of the jackets on this list are down, which is the warmest, loftiest, and most compressible type of insulation. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least consider a synthetic jacket, however, which will do a better job insulating when wet and save you some money in the process. All things considered, our favorite synthetic jacket for cold winter weather is the Patagonia DAS Parka, which will keep you cozy and dry while coming in at a very reasonable $299.
What do you sacrifice by going with a synthetic parka over down? The DAS Parka doesn’t have the same pillowy soft feel as down, nor will it stuff into a backpack or suitcase as small. But at a relatively light 1 pound 7.6 ounces, it does a mighty good job at keeping you warm, blocking wind, and keeping moisture out. Keep in mind that with the DAS Parka you may want to layer up in frigid temperatures when standing still and not working up body heat. It’s a warm jacket but has active use in mind.
See the Patagonia DAS Parka
Fill: 800-fill down
Weight: 1 lb. 11 oz.
What we like: Sleek and comfortable.
What we don’t: Not as warm of other performance jackets on this list.
Swiss company Mammut is known for making technical apparel that translates very well to urban use (it has a sleeker look than brands like Patagonia and arguably even Arc’teryx). For winter use, we like the Eigerjoch Jacket, which is made with premium 800-fill down along with some fiberfill synthetic insulation on the back and underarms where moisture is most likely to build up. Throw in a water resistant 20-denier Pertex Endurance shell and you have a warm technical piece that easily can be worn in the city.
Our main concern with the Eigerjoch is the amount of warmth it provides compared to other performance jackets on the list. Mammut does not provide the fill weight, but based on the fill power and total weight compared to the Arc’teryx Ceres SV and Feathered Friends Icefall Parka above, you can bet that it’s less warm than those two models. And, like the Rab Neutrino Endurance above, it’s less durable than our top performance options with a 20-denier shell (the Arc’teryx uses a tougher 40-denier face fabric). Nevertheless, the Eigerjoch is more affordable than the Arc’teryx and Feathered Friends and remains a solid performance piece.
See the Mammut Eigerjoch Jacket
Fill: 800-fill down
Weight: 2 lbs. 1 oz.
What we like: Tons of premium down and a waterproof shell.
What we don’t: Left zip can be frustrating.
The Resolution is the warmer and tougher sibling of the Neutrino Endurance above, with a whopping 11.6 ounces of 800-fill down. But most notably, Rab went with a Pertex Shield waterproof shell with full seam taping, giving you much better piece of mind when the conditions turn nasty. Instead of needing to carry a separate shell jacket, the Resolution is an all-in-one package that should be able to withstand the toughest of conditions.
As with all Rab gear, the zipper is on the left side and opposite of what we have come to expect here in the U.S (Rab is a based in the U.K.). This does take some getting used to, and particularly if you’re always swapping out jackets and this is your only left zip, but it’s not a determining factor by any means. And if anything, this jacket may provide too much warmth and weatherproofing for some people (rarely do you need full waterproofing in subfreezing temperatures). But the Resolution will do a fantastic job for those who need the warmth and protection.
See the Rab Resolution Jacket
Fill: 500-fill down
Weight: 2 lbs. 11.8 oz.
What we like: Well built; fit allows room for layering.
What we don’t: Low fill power for the price.
Similar to Canada Goose, Fjallraven makes good-looking outdoor gear that toes the line between casual and performance (at least casual levels of performance). The Greenland Down Jacket is a durable piece that offers decent warmth with its 500-fill down, tons of storage, and clean lines representative of the company’s Scandinavian heritage. Like much of Fjallraven’s gear, the Greenland Jacket has a G-1000 shell, which is 65% polyester and 35% cotton. G-1000 is an outlier these days but super durable and does resist moisture surprisingly well (you can add beeswax to aid in the process).
If you like Fjallraven’s styling (we do), the Greenland Jacket is a fine option. We do have concerns about its warmth: 500-fill down is the lowest fill power on this list, although the jacket does have 10.6 ounces of it. And for $500, we think a number of our casual options above are better buys. Keep in mind that this coat runs large and should allow plenty of room for layering, which can be a good thing but impacts sizing.
See the Fjallraven Greenland Down Jacket
Fill: 650-fill down
Weight: 2 lbs. 8 oz.
What we like: Great in high winds.
What we don’t: Not waterproof and lower fill power than true performance jackets.
Mountain Hardwear is perhaps best known for its ultralight Ghost Whisperer, but the Glacier Guide Down Parka is a solid option at the heavyweight end of the spectrum. With 650-fill down, good storage, and a windproof AirShield shell, this jacket is designed for frigid temperatures and serious gusts. We’ve seen it used on trips to the Antarctic Peninsula and that climate is no joke.
Keep in mind that Glacier Guide Down Parka is windproof but not waterproof, and the down is treated but still will soak up moisture in a big storm (this would be rare in a freezing cold climate but not impossible). The reason this jacket is ranked here and not higher is that it’s difficult to categorize: it has some of the feature set of a technical jacket but lacks the premium down and lightweight/packable nature of brands like Arc’teryx, Rab, and Feathered Friends. In a crowded field, that doesn’t quite cut it.
See the Mountain Hardwear Glacier Guide Down Parka
Fill: 700-fill down
Weight: 2 lbs. 2.7 oz.
What we like: Tough yet looks good.
What we don’t: Not super warm and fit is a bit snug.
We’ve presented a number of good casual options above, but don’t overlook the Whitefish from Outdoor Research. This burly winter parka uses 700-fill down, which is high for its category, has a super durable 150D polyester shell, and reinforced elbows to help avoid wear and tear. And although the Whitefish is not waterproof, it resists moisture and wind fairly well.
We like the Whitefish for casual use and winter work outside, but it’s a far cry from a technical piece that you’d use in the backcountry. The jacket is warm, and particularly if you factor in its excellent wind resistance, but we suspect that’s its lighter on fill that most other options on this list (OR does not provide the fill weight). It is, however, one of the toughest models around and great for those who plan on putting their jacket through the ringer.
See the Outdoor Research Whitefish
Fill: Synthetic insulation (polyester)
Weight: 3 lbs. 8 oz.
What we like: By far the cheapest winter coat on this list.
What we don’t: Heavy, stiff, and could be warmer.
Let’s say you don’t care about fancy high fill-power down or the latest and greatest synthetic insulation. And let’s say that you just want a warm winter parka that will get that job done for as cheap as possible. If this sounds like you, give the Caterpillar’s Heavy Insulated Parka a serious look. It bucks the performance and even casual trend with a work-like build (outdoor work in the winter is what many people use it for), but it’s a great value for what you get at less than $100.
How is this jacket so inexpensive? The insulation and shell of the Caterpillar Insulated Parka are straight polyester—no lightweight insulation or modern waterproof fabrics here. The jacket is water resistant, and given that’s you’re not protecting precious down fibers from outside moisture, it does a respectable job of staying warm when wet. In addition, you get ample storage with four large front pockets and one on the sleeve. Is this jacket for climbing mountains? No way. But it’s great for shoveling your walkway, everyday outdoor use, and work in cold climates.
See the Caterpillar Heavy Insulated Parka
|Jacket||Price||Category||Weight||Fill Power||Fill Weight|
|The North Face Gotham II||$299||Casual||3 lbs. 4 oz.||550-fill down||Unavailable|
|Arc'teryx Ceres SV Parka||$849||Performance/casual||1 lb. 15 oz.||850-fill down||8.4 oz.|
|Patagonia Wanaka Jacket||$399||Casual||3 lbs.||600-fill down||6.2 oz.|
|Canada Goose Langford Parka||$900||Casual/performance||3 lbs. 5 oz.||625-fill down||Unavailable|
|Feathered Friends Icefall Parka||$599||Performance||2 lb. 1 oz.||850-fill down||13.8 oz.|
|Rab Neutrino Endurance||$375||Performance/casual||1 lb. 6 oz.||800-fill down||9 oz.|
|Marmot Fordham Jacket||$325||Casual||2 lbs. 11.8 oz.||700-fill down||Unavailable|
|Patagonia DAS Parka||$299||Performance/casual||1 lb. 7.6 oz.||Primaloft
Silver and Gold
120g (body) +
|Mammut Eigerjoch Jacket||$525||Performance/casual||1 lb. 11 oz.||800-fill down||Unavailable|
|Rab Resolution Jacket||$500||Performance/casual||2 lbs. 1 oz.||800-fill down||11.6 oz.|
|Fjallraven Greenland Jacket||$500||Casual/performance||2 lbs. 11.8 oz.||500-fill down||Unavailable|
|Mountain Hardwear Glacier Guide||$400||Performance/casual||2 lbs. 8 oz.||650-fill down||Unavailable|
|Outdoor Research Whitefish||$295||Casual/work||2 lbs. 2.7 oz.||700-fill down||Unavailable|
|Caterpillar Heavy Insulated Parka||$90||Casual/work||3 lbs. 8 oz.||Polyester||Unavailable|
- Winter Jacket Categories: Casual vs. Performance
- Insulation Types
- Temperature Rating
- Water Resistant vs. Waterproof
- Wind Protection
Perhaps the single most important factor when choosing a winter jacket is its intended use. Casual winter jackets are designed for everyday wear around town—you’ll see them most frequently in cold places like Denver, Chicago, Boston, New York, and even ski towns. Performance jackets, on the other hand, are more technical in nature and often lighter in weight due to the use of premium down and shell materials. These models are designed for mountaineering, climbing, and other cold-weather backcountry use.
The good news is that going with a casual coat generally saves you a good deal of money. Two of our top casual picks, The North Face Gotham II and Marmot Fordham, are around $300 yet offer ample warm and weather protection for most people. The compromises come in the weight, packability, and range of movement, which matter if you’re climbing mountains but not so much for the morning commute. Toward the bottom of our picks are a couple of parkas that fall into the casual/work category with extra durable polyester shells and great toughness in general. To help clarify the best uses for each jacket, we list the category in the product specs and in our comparison table.
Nearly all the jackets on this list have down fill, which is the warmest, lightest, and most compressible type of insulation. One jacket—the Patagonia DAS Parka— is made with synthetics, which is heavier and not quite as lofty but does a superior job at insulating when wet. We love both types of insulation and each has its purposes, but down wins out in pure warmth and coziness for winter. For more background on this topic, see our article on down vs. synthetic insulation.
Warmth is a function of many factors: insulation type and weight, shell fabrics, wind, layering, level of exertion, and how warm or cold you run personally. But the two most important factors in determining the warmth of your jacket are fill power and fill weight.
Fill power is the most heavily marketed spec among winter jackets and parkas, and refers to down specifically (nearly all the jackets on this list are down). The higher the number (600 fill, 700 fill, 800 fill, etc.), the more loft and warmth it will provide and the more easily it will compress when packing it away. Premium down also is the most expensive, which is why you’ll see this number loosely correlate with price. Performance winter jackets usually are around 800 fill or higher, and casual pieces run from 500 fill to 700 fill.
Fill weight is often overlooked but just as relevant as fill power. Instead of measuring the quality of the down, fill weight is simply the total weight of the down inside the jacket. For example, the Arc’teryx Ceres SV has 8.4 ounces of 850-fill down, while the Feathered Friends Icefall Parka has 13.9 ounces of 850-fill, which represents a significant difference. The calculation becomes more difficult as the fill power changes: comparing 850-fill down to 500-fill down is apples to oranges, so it’s most helpful when the fill powers are at least similar.
Unfortunately fill weight isn’t always provided by manufacturers, and particularly for casual pieces. We’ve done everything within our power to acquire that number—including spending seemingly endless periods of time on hold and explaining that fill weight is different than fill power—and include it in our comparison table when available. Around half the jackets on this list provide fill weight, which is more helpful than not.
Winter jackets don’t have a uniform method of measuring warmth like the EN system for sleeping bags, but there are some good clues. As discussed above, make sure to take both fill power and fill weight into account. In addition, the shell of the jacket matters, as do the layers underneath.
By our best estimation, the majority of the jackets on this list are designed to go well below freezing for use in the heart of the winter months in cold climates like the Midwest and East Coast of the United States. Some jackets are capable of even more extreme conditions (the Canada Goose Langford Parka is given a -15°F rating by the manufacturer), while others are less insulated and designed for active use (Patagonia's DAS Parka). Of course, layer well and don’t take any chances, but this article presents that warmest jackets that we cover on this site. For more lightweight and midweight jacket options, see our articles on the best down jackets and synthetic jackets.
A major contributor to warmth is the layers (or lack thereof) you wear underneath. Due to the hefty amount of insulation inside most of the jackets above, a simple baselayer will do the trick in cold weather that hasn’t yet reached frigid status. Depending on the parka, when the temperature really drops (think well below freezing) you may want to add a lightweight down or synthetic jacket as a midlayer. This would be a lot of insulation, but it’s an easy adjustment to make so long as you have the extra gear and the jacket has room for layering. Warmth is a lot about personal preference and the specifics of the activity and conditions, but it’s always a good idea to carry an extra layer or two should you get cold or the conditions change.
The importance of weight in your winter jacket buying decision depends largely on the intended use. For those looking in the performance category (mountaineers, climbers, winter explorers, etc.), jackets with large amounts premium down will be the warmest, lightest, and most packable. Our top two picks in this category are the Arc’teryx Ceres SV (1 pound 11 ounces) and Feathered Friends Icefall Parka (2 pounds 1 ounce). For those buying at the casual end of the market, weight matters much less—you most likely won’t be carrying your down jacket in a backpack and don’t care as much about shaving ounces. Many casual winter jackets and parkas push the 3-pound mark and higher and won’t pack down as small with lower fill-power down.
The type and thickness of the shell fabric matters in overall weight as well. Performance jackets tend to use technical fabrics that are light and thin, while casual pieces use more durable and heavier shells that add weight. On the upside, the thicker shells are much better at avoiding tears and small abrasions and therefore should last longer. Lightweight down jackets require quite a bit of care and attention.
Down loses its ability to insulate when wet, and therefore all jackets on this list offer some protection against precipitation. Most jackets are water resistant or water repellant, meaning they have a tightly woven face fabric and durable water repellant (DWR) coating that will bead up and shed light moisture. If you combine that with treated or hydrophobic down (a treatment added to the down itself that reduces water absorption and helps it dry faster), you have yourself a pretty effective system even in wet and heavy snow.
The reality is that if you’ll be wearing a full-on winter jacket, it’s unlikely you’ll require complete waterproofing. Water-resistant shells, like what you get with the Arc’teryx Ceres SV, The North Face Gotham II, and Rab Neutrino Endurance, offer plenty of protection in freezing, snowy conditions. Even the expedition-ready Feathered Friends Icefall isn’t fully waterproof (the shell material is waterproof but the seams are not taped) because snow and ice won’t penetrate the fabric like rain. If you do need complete waterproofing, however, there are some options on the market including the Rab Resolution above. This jacket has fully taped seams and a waterproof shell for staying dry if it happens to be 34°F and pouring rain.
Exposure to wind can make an otherwise freezing winter day even worse. In terms of the wind resistance of a parka, a number of factors come into play including the type and thickness of the shell, amount and distribution of the insulation, and fabric of the liner. In particular, the shell itself matters most: on performance jackets, you’ll see names like Gore Windstopper or Pertex for excellent wind resistance at low weights, and casual coats block the wind by the sheer thickness of the face fabric.
The truth is that all of these jackets do a respectable job at keeping wind and the other elements at bay. Midweight and lightweight jackets are much less substantial and you run the risk of catching a cold breeze through the jacket itself, but this list is composed of heavyweights that all should be considered highly wind resistant.
Perhaps more than any other type of jacket, the hood matters a lot with a winter coat. First, the hood almost always is going to have the same type of insulation as the rest of the jacket, so premium down in the body of the coat means excellent warmth for the weight in the hood. Second, a good cold-weather hood can be adjusted and tightened around the head snugly so that wind doesn’t enter or blow the hood off your head (many technical winter jackets also have storm flaps around the collar to block out cold air). Finally, many performance-oriented jackets have helmet-compatible hoods, which are necessary for mountaineering and climbing. Helmet compatibility makes the hood larger and slightly less desirable for wearing without a helmet, but it isn’t a deal breaker for us as long as the hood cinches down evenly.
For use on mild-weather days, some prefer the option to remove the hood from their winter coat altogether. Simply put, these hoods are bulky and can be annoying if they’re just sitting along the back of your head. Among the 14 jackets above, 6 have removable hoods, and 5 of the 6 use a zipper along the back of the collar for removal. Because a zipper adds weight, it’s a feature you’ll typically find in a casual winter jacket (the Feathered Friends Icefall is one exception, although they use a button system). Whether this feature is a priority will come down to personal preference, but it could be a difference maker in the jacket you select. For example, the popular Patagonia Wanaka has a removable hood, but the equally popular Gotham II from The North Face does not.