When the coldest winter months arrive, 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. They 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 capable of handling double duty. For more background information, see our winter jacket comparison table and buying advice below the picks. Many of the jackets are offered in both men's and women's versions, but we've also dedicated a section to our top women's-specific winter jackets.
Fill: 550-fill down
Weight: 3 lbs. 13.7 oz.
What we like: Warm, looks good, and a solid value.
What we don’t: Heavier and less packable than a more performance-oriented jacket.
You certainly can spend a lot more for a winter jacket, but we love the combination of quality and value offered by the McMurdo III from The North Face. This parka covers all of the important bases: it’s warm, waterproof, blocks the wind, and is decently breathable for use in milder temperatures. In addition, we appreciate the upper-thigh-length cut, which offers good coverage while still allowing for plenty of mobility. And at $330, the McMurdo will set you back considerably less than many of the more expensive parka options below.
What are the shortcomings of The North Face McMurdo III? It has a decidedly casual look and feel, meaning that it isn’t designed 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 thinner shells and 800-fill down or higher. But these shouldn’t be huge issues for around-town use, which is exactly why many people buy the McMurdo. And the cherry on top: we really like the looks of the jacket (thankfully the faux fur along the hood is removable as that could have been a deal breaker). In terms of fit, we have worn the 2020 version, and it’s a serious winter jacket with room for layering but didn’t feel overly boxy. On the women's side, the Arctic II Parka doesn't share the name but has many similarities including full waterproofing, 550-fill down, and a removable hood.
See the Men's The North Face McMurdo III See the Women's The North Face Arctic II
Best Value in a Winter Jacket
Fill: 850-fill down
Weight: 1 lb. 11 oz.
What we like: Premium down and a nice feature set at a low price point.
What we don’t: Not everyone will like the mix of technical and casual features.
REI has been stepping up its game of late with more premium down offerings—we’ve loved the Magma sleeping bag and down jacket—and next in line is the Stormhenge. As the name insinuates, you get premium 850-fill goose down along with a 2-layer waterproof shell. Impressively, the jacket boasts a number of technical features like pit zips for dumping heat and a 2-way zipper up front. Add in a comfortable and adjustable hood, and this is a standout winter jacket from REI at a very reasonable price.
In terms of categorizing the Stormhenge and who it’s best for, that’s a bit tougher. It has many similarities to a belay jacket or ski shell including the waterproofness and technical features, but the streamlined look and classy colorways could work just fine in the city too. And one thing worth noting: we are never able to track down the fill weights of REI jackets (they’re not listed on the website and we’ve been unsuccessful via phone and email). In use, we’ve found the jacket to be warm enough to be comfortable into the low 20s Fahrenheit with only a light baselayer. That’s pretty impressive considering the price, but it falls short of many of the high-end options on this list like the Arc’teryx Firebee AR or Rab Neutrino Pro... Read in-depth review
See the Men's REI Stormhenge 850 See the Women's REI Stormhenge 850
Best Winter Jacket for Performance Use
Fill: 8 oz. of 800-fill down
Weight: 1 lb. 5.3 oz.
What we like: Tons of premium down at a reasonable price.
What we don’t: Somewhat technical look and feature set.
The North Face McMurdo above trends toward everyday use, but there are a number of more performance-oriented winter jackets to choose from. Taking warmth, backcountry-ready features, and value into consideration, our favorite option for 2020 is the Rab Neutrino Pro. Most importantly, you get a whopping 8 ounces of 800-fill hydrophobic down, which is considerably more than popular lightweight down jackets from brands like Arc’teryx and Patagonia that cost nearly as much. Updated for last winter, the Rab also sports a new Pertex Quantum Pro shell but retains just about everything that has made this line so popular.
What are the downsides of the Neutrino Pro? It has a somewhat technical look, although the clean design and dark color options make it viable for city use as well. Second, the 20-denier shell fabric is respectable in the performance category and helps with weight and packability, but the jacket is more fragile than the more casual options on this list (as with any down jacket, you’ll have to be careful about snags and tears). Finally, Rab is a U.K.-based company and Americans will have to get used to the European-style left-hand zipper. But we love the warmth, feature set, and reasonable price point, which is why the Neutrino Pro is ranked here... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Rab Neutrino Pro See the Women's Rab Neutrino Pro
Best Winter Parka for Casual Wear
Fill: 4.2 oz. of 700-fill down
Weight: 2 lbs. 14.1 oz.
What we like: Clean styling, excellent weather resistance and coverage, and nice versatility.
What we don’t: Pricey for a casual piece.
Finding a winter jacket that is both warm and looks the part for everyday use can be a challenge, but Patagonia toes the line nicely with the Tres 3-in-1 Parka. This jacket is well-insulated, comfortable, fully waterproof, and has clean lines that work well in a variety of situations. Additionally, the versatile 3-in-1 construction gives you the option to wear just the waterproof shell on rainy days or zip in the down inner layer when the mercury drops. It’s true that the Tres doesn’t offer the range of movement of more performance-oriented jackets, but it’s a great option for around-town use and cold spells in places like the Midwest and East Coast of the United States.
Comparing the Tres 3-in-1 to other casual models on this list, the 700-fill-power down is higher-quality than the 550-fill used in The North Face McMurdo III, our top choice. And importantly, the parka-length cut offers more warmth and coverage than just about anything outside of Canada Goose. On the flip side, the jacket is expensive (it is Patagonia, after all), and parkas always can be a bit tough to dial in fit. But we love the design and full waterproofing, which Patagonia doesn’t offer with its Jackson Glacier Parka. And for maximum warmth, see the Patagonia Frozen Range.
See the Men's Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 See the Women's Patagonia Tres 3-in-1
Best Expedition Jacket for Extreme Cold
Fill: 13.3 oz. of 900-fill down
Weight: 2 lbs. 1.8 oz.
What we like: Super warm: the most down fill on this 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 Khumbu Parka is about as warm as it gets. Most importantly, it’s absolutely jammed with high-quality down: 13.3 ounces of 900-fill goose down to be exact. For comparison, the Arc’teryx Firebee AR below has 7.9 ounces of 850-fill goose down but costs $310 more. You also get thoughtful touches like PrimaLoft Gold synthetic insulation around the collar, reinforced elbows, and a handy two-way zipper.
The reason the Khumbu Parka is ranked here and not higher is its limited appeal for daily use. It’s true that you can wear this jacket on the streets of Chicago or Boston in the depths of winter, but it’s most at home on big-mountain summits and for uses like high-altitude mountaineering. At the end of the day, the Firebee AR below has a cleaner look and wider appeal, but the Khumbu Parka clearly wins on warmth and down fill.
See the Feathered Friends Khumbu Parka
Best of the Rest
Fill: 10.4 oz. of 700-fill down
Weight: 1 lb. 10.1 oz.
What we like: Warm, looks great, and reasonably priced.
What we don’t: Comes up a little short of the Rab above for serious backcountry use.
If you’re in the market for a super warm down puffy that won’t break the bank, give the Lightline from Mountain Equipment a serious look. This jacket is stuffed with an impressive 10.4 ounces of 700-fill down, and offers excellent protection from the elements with a windproof and water-resistant Drilite shell. In addition, we really like the Lightline’s clean look, sturdy exterior, and multitude of available colorways—it’s a nice option for everything from technical use to everyday wear in cold climates. Last but not least, it’s one heckuva value at $275. Many winter jackets with a fraction of the down cost quite a bit more.
Why is this jacket priced so competitively? U.K.-based Mountain Equipment isn’t all that well-known in the U.S., and the company doesn’t spend a ton on athletes or advertising campaigns. And as often is the case with outdoor gear that wins out in price, the Lightline’s material quality (including the mid-range 700-fill down) is lower than competitors like the Rab Neutrino Pro above. The Mountain Equipment delivers similar warmth and all-around performance but weighs nearly 5 ounces extra and doesn't compress as small. But in terms of value, you’ll have a hard time finding more insulation and comfort for your buck... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Mountain Equipment Lightline See the Women's ME Lightline
Fill: 9.4 oz. of 800-fill down
Weight: 3 lbs. 4 oz.
What we like: Super warm and great coverage.
What we don’t: Design can be a bit polarizing.
If you’re looking for a winter parka that is a little more fashionable than some of the options above, the Kuhl Arktik fits the bill. Most importantly, this jacket is super warm with 9.4 ounces of 800-fill down and has a burly shell that will help cut the wind. For protection from snow and rain, the jacket has wax and polyurethane coatings that will help moisture bead off. And this parka offers great coverage: it has a long cut and warm, substantial hood with a faux-fur brim that can be removed.
To be sure, the design of the Kuhl Arktik Down Parka can be polarizing. The zippers, buttons, and shoulder panels are meant to stand out, and particularly in the Raven colorway (the Carbon is a bit more muted). In addition, the materials are decent but not high-end—the leather too is of the “faux” variety and that can make a difference in terms of durability and looks over time. But if you’ve worn Kuhl products in the past and liked them, the Arktik Down Parka is a nice cold-weather option.
See the Men's Kuhl Arktik Down See the Women's Kuhl Arktik Down
Fill: 625-fill down
Weight: 3 lbs. 5 oz.
What we like: Super warm and stylish.
What we don’t: Very expensive.
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 Arctic 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 $995 (the Antarctic-ready Expedition Parka is a whopping $1,150), 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 $330 The North Face McMurdo 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 Men's Canada Goose Langford See the Women's Canada Goose Trillium
Fill: 7.93 oz. of 850-fill down
Weight: 1 lb. 8 oz.
What we like: Premium warmth, build quality, and packability at a low weight.
What we don’t: Very expensive and overkill for casual use.
The Rab Neutrino Pro above wins out in value, but for hardcore adventurers who plan on spending a lot of time in the cold, you won't find a better jacket than the Arc'teryx Firebee AR. With nearly 8 ounces of 850-fill goose down and a seam taped, windproof shell, this is a supremely cozy down piece that weighs only 1.5 pounds. It's not the warmest parka Arc'teryx makes—their Ceres SV has an additional 0.5 ounces of insulation—but the Firebee packs down significantly smaller, offers better water resistance, and has a soft-touch interior that resembles a premium sleeping bag. For deep backcountry use in the depths of winter, the Firebee AR is as good as it gets.
Interestingly, the Firebee AR is technical in design but not as technical-looking as you might expect. Whereas a parka like the Feathered Friends Khumbu above appears as though it should be used while climbing or standing on belay, the Firebee has a clean style that translates 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 Khumbu or Rab Neutrino Pro above, but for a performance option with surprisingly good casual appeal, we love the Firebee AR... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Arc'teryx Firebee AR See the Women's Arc'teryx Firebee AR
Fill: 700-fill down
Weight: 2 lbs. 12 oz.
What we like: Warm and stylish.
What we don’t: Slim fit, particularly around the collar.
Like The North Face's McMurdo above, Marmot's Fordham is another reasonably priced winter jacket designed mostly for casual use. We think it’s a nice all-around option: the Fordham uses a healthy amount of 700-fill down (higher-quality than the McMurdo), has a tough 2-layer waterproof shell, and features a removable hood for when you don’t need the extra protection. We also like the Fordham's 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. It also feels a lot bulkier and heavier than the McMurdo above, especially around the shoulders and arms. But the upside is we found it to offer a step up in warmth on truly frigid days (although its shorter cut can't match the McMurdo's coverage). Overall, the Fordham is a very viable competitor to the casual options on this list with its combination of comfort, durability, and price.
See the Men's Marmot Fordham
Fill: 750-fill down; 60g and 100g synthetic
Weight: 2 lbs. 4 oz.
What we like: A waterproof and warm jacket that doubles down for resort skiing.
What we don’t: Pricey and not as long as more casual parkas.
The Arc’teryx Macai is a unique addition here—it’s designed as a resort ski jacket, but arguably is just as functional (if not more so) for daily wear. To start, it’s waterproof and very warm with a combination of 750-fill down and synthetic insulation in moisture-prone areas. We love the sleek look, and Arc’teryx even opted for features like flaps over the pocket zippers to keep it clean. Last but not least, the interior is smooth and cozy and reminiscent of a high-end down puffy. You certainly can ski with the Macai and many people do, but the hood and powder skirt are removable and it makes for a great dual-purpose jacket.
Compared to the more casual winter parkas on the list, there are some shortcomings with the Macai. First, the cut is shorter and offers less coverage than a model like the Arc’teryx Therme, which also happens to be significantly cheaper at $699. Second, the Macai is fairly burly and has a fortress-like feel, which is great for those who run cold but can be overkill for moderate winter conditions (we have had a tendency to overheat while skiing hard). That said, we love the versatility of the Macai, and its two-for-one nature makes the cost easier to swallow. If you’re in the market for a premium winter/ski jacket, it’s a great option... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Arc'teryx Macai See the Women's Arc'teryx Andessa
Fill: 8 oz. of 800-fill down
Weight: 1 lb. 6.3 oz.
What we like: As cozy as a down sleeping bag.
What we don’t: Pricier than the Rab Neutrino above; shell fabric soaks up dirt and stains easily.
Winter-ready down jackets are known for being cozy, but Patagonia’s Fitz Roy Parka is a standout in this regard. In particular, its super plush lining and body-hugging design give it a down sleeping bag-like fit and feel. And the Fitz Roy doesn’t disappoint in terms of warmth with 8 ounces of 800-fill down packed inside, a very tall collar that provides great protection, and draft tubes smartly placed behind the main zipper to avoid any cold creeping through. Layered overtop a lightweight synthetic, we were comfortable wearing the Fitz Roy while on an ice climbing trip in the Canadian Rockies even as temperatures dipped below zero Fahrenheit.
All things considered, the Patagonia Fitz Roy is very comparable to the Rab Neutrino Pro above. Both use the same amount of premium 800-fill down, 20-denier Pertex shells, and include performance touches like two-way zippers and stuff sacks. Neither excel in the wet, but the Rab is the safer option with hydrophobic down and a more weather-resistant Pertex Quantum Pro shell (the Patagonia has standard Pertex). Given the similarities and the Neutrino’s $75 price advantage, we give it the edge in our rankings. But the Fitz Roy is a formidable competitor and we think its styling translates a little better for daily wear... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Patagonia Fitz Roy See the Women's Patagonia Fitz Roy
Fill: 10.4 oz. of 600-fill down
Weight: 4 lbs. 3 oz.
What we like: A good-looking and well-built jacket.
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 Singi Down Jacket is a durable piece that offers solid warmth with its 600-fill down, tons of storage, and clean lines representative of the company’s Scandinavian heritage. Like much of Fjallraven’s gear, the Singi Jacket has a G-1000 shell, which is 65 percent polyester and 35 percent 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 Singi Jacket is a fine option. We do have concerns about its warmth: the 600-fill down is middle-of-the-road, although the jacket does have a lot of it along with the burly shell covered above. And for $600, we think a number of our casual options above are better buys, including the Kuhl Arktik. Keep in mind that this coat runs large and should allow plenty of room for layering, which can be a good thing but does impact sizing. And for an interesting synthetic option from Fjallraven, the Yupik has a similar design but uses Supreme Microloft fill and is $100 cheaper.
See the Men's Fjallraven Singi See the Women's Fjallraven Singi
Fill: 700-fill down
Weight: 1 lbs. 15.8 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 Blacktail from Outdoor Research. New for this winter, this burly winter jacket uses 700-fill down, which is high for its category, and has a super durable 150-denier shell on the core and lower arms, which does a great job at preventing wear and tear. Add in clean styling that has mountain town written all over it, and the Blacktail is a versatile cold-weather piece at a good price.
We like the Outdoor Research Blacktail for casual use and light winter work outside, but it’s a far cry from a technical jacket that you’d use in the backcountry. It’s decently warm, and particularly if you factor in its solid wind resistance, but we suspect that it’s lighter on fill than most other options on this list (OR does not provide the fill weight, but the relatively low total weight combined with the thickness of the fabric are good hints that it’s not loaded with insulation). The Blacktail is, however, one of the tougher models around and great for those who plan on putting their jacket through the wringer.
See the Men's Outdoor Research Blacktail
Fill: 650-fill down
What we like: Sleek design and a decent value for a winter-worthy piece.
What we don’t: Build quality can’t match the jackets above.
Winter jackets are an expensive bunch, but budget-oriented brand Columbia offers some interesting options in this category. Our top pick is the South Canyon Down Parka, which checks many of the boxes we look for in a cold-weather piece while coming in at a reasonable $280 price point. You get 650-fill goose down, Columbia’s proprietary Omni-Tech waterproofing, and the noticeably shiny Omni-Heat interior. It’s difficult to quantify whether this technology actually adds much in the way of warmth, but on the whole, the South Canyon offers just about everything you need in a winter jacket and nothing you don’t.
However, the South Canyon Down Parka is far from perfect and you get what you pay for here. The slippery liner lacks the soft and luxurious feel of the premium designs above, and the brand’s material quality in general comes up a little short. That said, the clean styling is fairly fashion-forward for Columbia, and the South Canyon makes a nice crossover piece that could be used for commuting or outdoor use. And we do like the feature set, which includes plenty of pockets, a generous hood with a removable faux fur ruff, and a mid-thigh cut for extra warmth.
See the Men's Columbia South Canyon See the Women's Columbia South Canyon
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 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 Men's Caterpillar Heavy Insulated Parka
Fill: 700-fill down
Weight: 2 lbs. 2 oz.
What we like: Super soft liner; premium look and feel.
What we don’t: Fits small; some might prefer a longer cut.
When shopping for a down winter parka, you have a number of quality options from respected outdoor brands. Our favorite of the bunch is Marmot’s Montreal, which checks all of the important boxes while still coming in at a reasonable price. This jacket is warm with 700-fill down, allows for good freedom of movement, and has a super cozy hood with a removable faux fur liner. The inside of the jacket has a fleece liner that is noticeably soft to the touch, and the outside has a DWR treatment to help with light precipitation. Add in clean lines and some classy colorways, and the Montreal is a great all-around parka for the cold.
Keep in mind that the Marmot Montreal isn’t waterproof like some of the options below, meaning it isn’t built for extended outings in wet weather. Additionally, the thigh-length cut is a little shorter than competitors like the Patagonia Down With It Parka, which translates to less protection and warmth. And in terms of the all-important fit factor, we found that the jacket runs slightly small and would recommend sizing up if you are on the border or plan on layering underneath. But if you can get the fit dialed, the Montreal is a winner and a great value... Read in-depth review
See the Women's Marmot Montreal Down Coat
Fill: 5.3 oz. of 700-fill down
Weight: 3 lbs. 3 oz.
What we like: Tremendous versatility.
What we don’t: A little lacking in warmth; slim fit.
There is a lot to like about Patagonia’s Tres Down Parka. Starting with design, it has an H2No Performance shell on the outside, along with a removable 700-fill down liner on the inside. You can wear either of the pieces separately, or together as one jacket, hence the “3-in-1” moniker. Moreover, the outside is waterproof and seam-taped, which results in excellent weather protection in wet snow and rain. And even the liner has a DWR treatment for use in light precipitation. That’s a whole lot of versatility along with Patagonia’s staple good looks and build quality.
What are the downsides of the Patagonia Tres Parka? First and foremost, it’s quite pricey at $599, even with the versatility of a 3-in-1. In addition, the down insert is decently warm, and the outer shell does a nice job at cutting wind, but in the coldest of conditions, you still will want to add layers underneath. Last but not least, fit can be tricky with parkas—particularly given all of the moving parts with this type of a coat—and the Tres is slim and won’t work for everyone. For a cheaper waterproof parka without the 3-in-1 capabilities, see The North Face Arctic II below.
See the Women's Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka
Fill: 750-fill down with Coreloft
Weight: 2 lbs. 3 oz.
What we like: Waterproof, top-notch construction, and looks great.
What we don’t: The priciest women’s parka on this list and not the warmest.
Many of the women's parkas on this list are in the sub-$300 price range, but nobody does jackets quite like Arc’teryx. The sleek Patera is the whole package: you get premium 750-fill goose down with synthetic insulation added in areas most prone to getting wet, a waterproof Gore-Tex shell, and a classic design that can be worn pretty much anywhere. Add in a nice variety of color options and the premium build quality that Arc’teryx is known for, and you have a fantastic winter parka that should stand up to cold and wet weather for years to come.
The biggest hurdle in choosing the Patera Parka is price. At $649, it’s more than double many of the options here without offering any additional warmth, which puts it out of reach for many people. However, you do get some serious return on your investment. The full waterproofing is a very nice feature, and few casual pieces use best-in-class Gore-Tex. You also get a tough yet smooth 75-denier shell, which can handle everyday wear and tear much better than the thinner options above. And we appreciate the non-puffy style of the Patera: it manages to be reasonably insulated and weather-resistant while keeping a low-profile, almost rain jacket-like look. For an even warmer waterproof option from Arc’teryx, check out their Centrale Parka... Read in-depth review
See the Women's Arc'teryx Patera Parka
Fill: 7 oz. of 600-fill down
Weight: 1 lb. 15.1 oz.
What we like: Clean design, easy to move in, and a good amount of down for the price.
What we don’t: Less leg coverage than a parka.
The other options on this women-specific’s list are parkas, so we want to add a hip-length jacket to the mix. The Down With It from Patagonia is a good-looking and versatile jacket at a very reasonable price. We like the length, which works well for city wear but also can double down for light adventuring like winter hiking and snowshoeing. And the 600-fill duck down isn’t of the high-end variety like the performance options above, but you get a respectable amount of it at 7 ounces and the jacket offers plenty of warmth for most uses.
What do you sacrifice by going with a jacket instead of a parka? The obvious answer is leg coverage—the Patagonia Tres and other options on this list end around the thigh, which can make a pretty big difference when wearing jeans or other non-insulated pants in cold weather (if you want more length, Patagonia does offer a Down With It Parka version). And for this jacket in particular, you get a DWR treatment but not complete waterproofing like the Patagonia Tres and The North Face Arctic.
See the Women's Patagonia Down With It Jacket
Fill: 550-fill down
Weight: 2 lbs. 14 oz.
What we like: Waterproof and warm.
What we don’t: Boxy fit.
If you like the waterproofness of the Patagonia Tres above but don’t need a full-on 3-in-1 system, the Arctic Down Parka II from The North Face is a nice option. Updated a couple years ago, this popular parka performs well in tough weather but also looks the part for everyday wear. Like the Tres, the Arctic II is fully waterproof to keep you dry, yet also packs a decent punch in terms of warmth. It’s true that the 550-fill power is on the low end of the spectrum—which makes it noticeably heavier and bulkier than the 750-fill insulated Arc’teryx Patera below—but so is the price for a waterproof winter jacket.
Along with the good value come a few compromises. Some of the features and small details on The North Face Arctic II are less than premium, including the plastic zippers pulls and hood design (we’d prefer a little larger hood for more coverage). And like other products from The North Face, fit is a bit boxier than we would prefer (although this can be good for layering). But perhaps we are nitpicking here—the past generation Arctic was one of the best-selling women’s parkas on the market for years and we see the appeal... Read in-depth review
See the Women's The North Face Arctic Down Parka II
Fill: 650-fill down
Weight: 2 lbs. 1 oz.
What we like: Better arm length than the Marmot Montreal.
What we don’t: More expensive than the Montreal with inferior down fill.
It’s a close call between the Mountain Hardwear Downtown and the Marmot Montreal above. Both share a similar design: down baffles that are warm but not overly puffy, good coverage, and clean styling that wears well in a wide variety of circumstances. And both weigh just a hair over 2 pounds. In terms of differences, the Montreal has a DWR coating while the Downtown does not, and we like the length of the sleeves on the Mountain Hardwear better, which are longer than the Marmot and can accommodate a wider variety of people.
We have the Marmot ranked higher because it uses better down (700 fill vs. 650 fill) and has a slightly softer interior. Neither manufacturer provides the fill weight for these products, but given that the Montreal weighs 1 ounce more and uses better down, we can assume that the warmth of that piece is on par or slightly better than Downtown Coat (the Downtown does have a little longer back length, however). Finally, the zipper quality of the Mountain Hardwear is rather disappointing and it costs $15 more. Perhaps the answer comes down to fit, but overall we give the nod to the Marmot.
See the Women's Mountain Hardwear Downtown
What we like: A great value and a clean design overall.
What we don’t: Not as warm or soft as a down jacket.
The vast majority of jackets on this list use down fill, which is warmer and loftier than synthetic insulation. But there is something to be said for the latter, which costs considerably less and continues to insulate when wet. At just $140, the Columbia Heavenly is an attractive winter jacket on a budget. For warmth, you get a healthy amount of Columbia's in-house polyester fill (a fill weight isn't provided), along with a water-resistant shell, comfortable hood, and surprisingly good fit and design for the price. Despite the name, the Heavenly certainly isn’t as pillow-y soft as down, but it’s a good-looking jacket and one heckuva value.
What are the downsides of a jacket like the Columbia Heavenly? It won’t pack away into a suitcase nearly as small as a comparable down jacket (synthetic insulation is much less compressible), and you won’t get the same warmth for the weight either. The jacket does get reasonably high marks for being cozy in cold conditions, but you likely will want to layer up when the temperatures get truly frigid. These issues aside, the jacket looks the part for both outdoor and urban use, comes in a variety of nice colorways, and given the price, remains popular year after year.
See the Women's Columbia Heavenly
|The North Face McMurdo III||$330||Casual||550-fill down||Unavailable||3 lbs. 13.7 oz.|
|REI Co-op Stormhenge 850||$249||Performance/casual||850-fill down||Unavailable||1 lb. 11 oz.|
|Rab Neutrino Pro||$375||Performance/casual||800-fill down||8 oz.||1 lb. 5.3 oz.|
|Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka||$599||Casual||700-fill down||4.2 oz.||2 lbs. 14.1 oz.|
|Feathered Friends Khumbu||$639||Performance||900-fill down||13.3 oz.||2 lbs. 1.8 oz.|
|Mountain Equipment Lightline||$275||Performance/casual||700-fill down||10.4 oz.||1 lb. 10.1 oz.|
|Kuhl Arktik Down Parka||$499||Casual||800-fill down||9.4 oz.||3 lbs. 4 oz.|
|Canada Goose Langford Parka||$995||Casual/performance||625-fill down||Unavailable||3 lbs. 5 oz.|
|Arc'teryx Firebee AR Parka||$949||Performance/casual||850-fill down||7.93 oz.||1 lb. 8 oz.|
|Marmot Fordham Jacket||$325||Casual||700-fill down||Unavailable||2 lbs. 12 oz.|
|Arc'teryx Macai Parka||$949||Casual/performance||750-fill down &
|2.4 oz. &
|2 lbs. 4 oz.|
|Patagonia Fitz Roy Parka||$449||Performance/casual||800-fill down||8 oz.||1 lb. 6.3 oz.|
|Fjallraven Singi Down Jacket||$600||Casual/performance||600-fill down||10.4 oz.||4 lbs. 3 oz.|
|Outdoor Research Blacktail||$299||Casual/work||700-fill down||Unavailable||1 lb. 15.8 oz.|
|Columbia South Canyon||$280||Casual||650-fill down||Unavailable||Unavailable|
|Caterpillar Heavy Insulated||$93||Casual/work||Polyester||Unavailable||3 lbs. 8 oz.|
Women's-Specific Jacket Comparison Table
|Marmot Montreal Down Coat||$285||Casual||700-fill down||Unavailable||2 lbs. 2 oz.|
|Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka||$599||Casual||700-fill down||5.3 oz.||3 lbs. 3 oz.|
|Arc'teryx Patera Parka||$649||Casual||750-fill down & synthetic||4.9 oz. & 100g/60g||2 lbs. 3 oz.|
|Patagonia Down With It Jacket||$199||Casual/performance||600-fill down||7 oz.||1 lb. 15.1 oz.|
|The North Face Arctic Down II||$299||Casual||550-fill down||Unavailable||2 lbs. 14 oz.|
|Mountain Hardwear Downtown||$300||Casual||650-fill down||Unavailable||2 lbs. 1 oz.|
|Columbia Heavenly Long||$140||Casual||Synthetic||Unavailable||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 McMurdo III 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. A few jackets—including the Columbia Heavenly—are made with synthetic, which is heavier and not quite as lofty but does a superior job at insulating when wet. It's also cheaper than down, which is why you'll find it inside some of the budget-oriented designs above like the Caterpillar Heavy Insulated Jacket. 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 450 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 Firebee AR has 7.9 ounces of 850-fill down, while the Feathered Friends Khumbu Parka has 13.3 ounces of 900-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 (REI Stormhenge 850). 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 of premium down will be the warmest, lightest, and most packable. Our top two picks in this category are the Arc’teryx Firebee AR (1 pound 8 ounces) and Feathered Friends Khumbu Parka (2 pounds 2 ounces). 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 Firebee AR and Rab Neutrino Pro, offer plenty of protection in freezing, snowy conditions. Even the expedition-ready Feathered Friends Khumbu 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 Arc'teryx Therme/Patera above. This jacket has fully taped seams and a waterproof Gore-Tex 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. Most designs have a zipper located just below the collar to make it easy to both remove and put back on. The feature does add weight and bulk, so you’ll typically find it on casual winter jackets. Whether this 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 Marmot Fordham has a removable hood, but the equally popular McMurdo III from The North Face does not.
Back to Our Top Winter Jacket Picks Back to Our Winter Jacket Comparison Table