When the coldest winter months arrive, it’s time for a serious jacket. Our picks for the best winter jackets and parkas of 2023-2024 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 the backcountry. 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.
- Best Overall Winter Jacket: The North Face McMurdo Parka
- Best Value in a Winter Jacket: REI Co-op Stormhenge Down Hybrid
- Most Versatile Parka for Everyday Wear: Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka
- Best for Performance Use: Rab Neutrino Pro
- Best Expedition Jacket for Extreme Cold: Feathered Friends Khumbu
Best Overall Winter Jacket
Fill: 600-fill-power down
Weight: 3 lb. 4.6 oz.
What we like: Proven warmth, waterproof, and reasonably priced.
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 Parka 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 with a recent update, TNF incorporated a few key sustainability measures, including the use of recycled down and fabrics and a PFC-free DWR treatment. Last but not least, the $400 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 Parka? 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-power 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). On the women's side, the Arctic Parka doesn't share the name but has many similarities including full waterproofing, a cozy interior, and a removable faux fur lining on the hood.
See the Men's The North Face McMurdo See the Women's The North Face Arctic
Best Value in a Winter Jacket
Fill: 850-fill-power down; 180g & 80g synthetic
Weight: 1 lb. 15.8 oz.
What we like: Premium warmth, strong waterproofing, and a nice feature set at a great price.
What we don’t: Not everyone will like the mix of technical and casual features.
REI’s Stormhenge 850 was a game changer when it hit the market a few years back. Here was a value-priced winter jacket that had true technical chops, including premium 850-fill-power down and a waterproof shell. The Stormhenge has since been refined, and the latest version tacks on synthetic insulation in areas most prone to moisture (like the cuffs and hood), a longer cut for more coverage, and additional storage (we especially like the interior zippered pocket). Importantly, REI has kept core components of the original, including the 2-layer waterproof construction with full seam taping and pit zips for dumping heat. For just $279, the latest Stormhenge is a truly remarkable value.
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. In addition, its warmth falls into an in-between spot: It’s insulated enough for temperatures into the low 20s Fahrenheit with only a light baselayer, but it can’t match a higher-end alternative like the Rab Neutrino Pro below. Despite the nitpicks, we think the Stormhenge Down Hybrid is a very strong offering from REI that provides a hard-to-beat combination of features, performance, and price... Read in-depth review
See the Men's REI Stormhenge Down Hybrid See the Women's REI Stormhenge Down Hybrid
Most Versatile Parka for Everyday Wear
Fill: 4.2 oz. of 700-fill-power down
Weight: 2 lb. 15.3 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 styling that wears 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 600-fill used in The North Face McMurdo, our top choice. And importantly, the parka-length cut offers more warmth and coverage than most jackets here, with the exception of offerings like the Patagonia Silent Down Parka and Canada Goose Langford Parka below. On the flip side, the Tres is expensive, and it can be tough to dial in fit with parkas—although with an update this year, the Patagonia is now a regular fit (the previous version was a slim fit) that better accommodates bulky layers underneath. All told, we love the design and full waterproofing, which makes the Tres well suited for everything from wet shoulder-season days to frigid conditions in midwinter. For a non-waterproof alternative, check out their Jackson Glacier Parka.
See the Men's Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 See the Women's Patagonia Tres 3-in-1
Best Winter Jacket for Performance Use
Fill: 7.5 oz. of 800-fill-power down
Weight: 1 lb. 4.6 oz.
What we like: Tons of premium down at a reasonable price; great packability.
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 the 2023-2024 season is the Rab Neutrino Pro. Most importantly, you get a whopping 7.5 ounces of 800-fill hydrophobic down (that's also certified to the Responsible Down Standard), which is considerably more than similarly priced down jackets from brands like Arc’teryx and Patagonia. And while the Rab is far from waterproof (we caution against wearing down in wet conditions), the 100% recycled Pertex Quantum Pro shell does a great job fending off light moisture.
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 (for a very similar jacket from an American brand, check out the Black Diamond Vision Down Parka). 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 Expedition Jacket for Extreme Cold
Fill: 13.3 oz. of 900-fill-power down
Weight: 2 lb. 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. And 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, more casual options like the Outdoor Research Coldfront and Arc'teryx Thorium below have a cleaner look and wider appeal for considerably less, but the Khumbu Parka clearly wins on warmth and down fill.
See the Feathered Friends Khumbu Parka
Best of the Rest
Fill: 6.7 oz. of 700-fill down & 150g VerticalX ECO
Weight: 1 lb. 4.7 oz.
What we like: Comfortable, versatile, and affordably priced for what you get.
What we don’t: Not a standout in warmth or coverage.
Like REI, Outdoor Research is known for providing a lot of bang for your buck, and their Coldfront Down Hoodie does just that. For $279, the hip-length Coldfront offers a competitive mix of protection and warmth, with weather-ready VerticalX ECO synthetic insulation at the shoulders and cuffs and quality 700-fill-power down everywhere else. In trying on the jacket for the first time, we were struck by the soft-yet-rugged shell and thoughtful touches like fleece-lined hand pockets and snug-fitting cuff gaiters with thumb loops. All told, it’s a well-rounded choice for everyday use and outdoor adventuring in most moderate winter conditions.
That said, it’s important to note that the Coldfront contains less down than some of our picks above, including the performance-ready Neutrino Pro. It’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison given the differences in fill power—and the Coldfront certainly looks the part with its puffy build—but don’t expect Antarctic-ready warmth. Also keep in mind that despite the generous hip-length style (back length is listed at 29 in.) there’s no below-the-butt coverage, which detracts from overall protection and won’t keep you as warm as the longer parkas on our list. With the right layering, however, or if you plan to mix in hiking or snowshoeing, the Coldfront is a perfectly serviceable—and very affordable—option for both everyday and backcountry use.
See the Men's OR Coldfront Hoodie See the Women's OR Coldfront Hoodie
Fill: 3.7 oz. 750-fill-power down; 100g & 140g Coreloft
Weight: 2 lb. 3 oz.
What we like: A truly waterproof winter parka.
What we don’t: Pricey and fit can be a bit roomy.
Most Arc’teryx jackets are technical in nature, but the Therme Parka is decidedly urban, which is a nice change of pace. The biggest upside of this jacket is that it has a high-end Gore-Tex waterproof membrane and fully taped seams—many jackets in this category use lower-quality, in-house designs that aren’t as breathable or long-lasting. Add in 750-fill goose down around the core with quality synthetic insulation in other high-use areas, and you have yourself a mighty warm parka that is perfect for winter in places prone to wet snow, like the Northwest and Northeast of the United States.
As we’ve come to expect from Arc’teryx, the build quality and look of the Therme Parka are top-notch. Most complaints relate to sizing: unlike the company’s normal athletic fit, the Therme is noticeable roomier, and some people find the hood to be a bit large as well. These issues aside, it’s hard to argue with the warmth, weather protection, and styling, which makes the Therme a popular urban parka year after year. For a step up in price and warmth, Arc’teryx’s top-end Therme SV ($950) is also waterproof and utilizes a similar mix of down and synthetic insulation but boasts a longer cut.
See the Men's Arc'teryx Therme Parka See the Women's Patera Parka
Fill: 9.0 oz. of 700-fill-power down
Weight: 1 lb. 10 oz.
What we like: A warm, classy, and uber-comfortable down parka.
What we don’t: Not ideal for areas that experience wet winters (we’re looking at you, PNW).
Nothing beats the warmth and coziness of down, and sometimes you just want it in its simplest form: no waterproof shell, no 3-in-1 design, no technical feature set. For a traditional down puffer at its finest, check out Patagonia’s Silent Down Parka. The Silent Down is just what the doctor ordered for sub-freezing days in the dead of winter, with a whopping 9 ounces of 700-fill down, a generous hem that extends below the butt, a premium three-panel hood, and a soft and stretchy taffeta shell and liner that give the parka its name. Tack on two front pockets with flap closures and a snap-equipped storm flap, and the Silent Down Parka is both function and form at their finest.
While we love the versatility and protection of the Tres 3-in-1 above, the Silent Down Parka is significantly warmer with over two times the amount of down (9 oz. vs. 4.3 oz.) and insulation that extends below the hips (the Tres’ down puffy is a fairly standard hip length). The Silent Down is also over a pound lighter than the 3-in-1 and costs a considerable $270 less. In the end, a final decision will likely come down to your winter climate: Pacific Northwesterners will appreciate the Tres’ waterproofing, while those living in cold and dry areas will prefer the Silent Down’s added warmth and coverage (and have little need for water protection). Both are classy, premium jackets, and we appreciate that Patagonia has made an effort to use recycled materials and PFC-free DWR coatings.
See the Men's Patagonia Silent Down Parka See the Women's Silent Down Long Parka
Fill: 8.8 oz. of Supreme Microloft synthetic
Weight: 4 lb. 0.2 oz.
What we like: A good-looking and well-built synthetic parka.
What we don’t: You can get more warmth for a lot less.
Fjallraven makes good-looking outdoor gear that toes the line between casual and performance (at least casual levels of performance), and their Nuuk Parka is a warm yet stylish synthetic jacket. It offers solid warmth and weather resistance with 8.8 ounces of Supreme Microloft synthetic insulation, a water- and windproof outer shell, and clean lines representative of the company’s Scandinavian heritage. You also get a well-rounded assortment of storage and features, including a fleece-lined and fur-brimmed detachable hood, a whopping 10 total pockets, and ribbed knitting at the neck to seal out drafts. All in all, it’s a refined, weather-ready winter parka with a high attention to detail.
If you like Fjallraven’s styling (we do) and don’t need the low weight or impressive packability of down insulation, the Nuuk Parka is a fine option. That said, it’s too heavy and bulky to bring into the backcountry and lacks the lofty, cozy feel of down-stuffed alternatives like the Rab Neutrino Pro above or Arc'teryx Thorium below. And for $500, a number of other casual options above are better buys, including the lighter and warmer Kuhl Arktik (although the Nuuk does provide around 2.5 more in. of coverage).
See the Men's Fjallraven Nuuk Parka See the Women's Fjallraven Nuuk Parka
Fill: 133g & 40g PrimaLoft Gold Eco
Weight: 1 lb. 3.6 oz.
What we like: The wet-weather assurance of synthetic insulation.
What we don’t: Expensive and thin face fabric is very fragile.
The vast majority of jackets here use down fill, which is warmer (for the weight) and loftier than synthetic insulation. But there are undeniable benefits to synthetics: They continue to insulate when wet; breathe better; and provide a cruelty-free, vegan option for consumers (for more on the topic, see our article on down vs. synthetic insulation). One of our favorite cold-weather synthetic jackets, the Patagonia DAS Parka, is a high-performance piece that uses unique insulation mapping to pack in warmth while keeping weight on par with many technical down puffies (for reference, it’s an ounce lighter than the Rab Neutrino Pro above). To top it off, the DAS is mountain-ready with a helmet-compatible hood, internal elastic cuffs that seal in warmth, and two-way front zipper with a protective wind flap.
In terms of downsides, the DAS Parka is a decidedly technical piece with a very roomy fit and shiny look that is polarizing for everyday use. In line with its performance slant, the jacket's shell is also very thin at just 10 denier, although we’ve been blown away by the wind resistance and durability of the Pertex Quantum Pro fabric—after three seasons of use, it’s still in great condition. And while there’s no denying that the warmth is impressive for the weight, especially for a synthetic jacket, the DAS isn’t particularly packable, and cost remains high at $449. In short, the DAS has limited daily appeal, but for the right environment—think drippy alpine belays or digging snow pits while backcountry skiing—it’s a nice choice… Read in-depth review
See the Men's Patagonia DAS Parka See the Women's Patagonia DAS Parka
Fill: 9.4 oz. of 800-fill-power down
Weight: 3 lb. 4 oz.
What we like: Feature-rich 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, although we like that Kuhl did away with the two-tone colorways (the latest Blackout, Carbon and Olive options are a bit more muted than past options). 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: 5.2 oz. 750-fill down & 140g Coreloft
Weight: 1 lb. 2.2 oz.
What we like: A versatile down puffy with Arc’teryx’s high-end build quality.
What we don’t: Expensive and not as purpose-built as the Rab Neutrino Pro or Patagonia Fitz Roy.
We’re a sucker for a cozy down puffy, and Arc’teryx’s freshly revamped Thorium Hoody is just about as good as it gets. Built to handle the rigors of everyday wear and performance use, the Thorium finds a nice balance of durability, functionality, and weight-savings. We’ve found that the 30-denier shell resists abrasion a lot better than thinner designs, and storage is excellent with two zippered hand pockets, two internal dump pockets, and a chest pocket. The 750-down isn’t as lofty and packable as more premium varieties, but the Thorium is still perfectly serviceable as a midlayer or standalone piece for activities like resort skiing, winter camping, and cold-weather cragging. Tack on wide, stylish baffles, a generous collar topped with Arc’teryx’s classic StormHood, and Coreloft synthetic insulation in high-exposure areas, and you’ve got one heckuva nice midweight down jacket.
The Thorium is on the pricey side for a down jacket, especially considering that the Outdoor Research Coldfront above offers similar warmth and protection for almost half the cost. And if you don’t mind the technical appearance and extended length, the Rab Neutrino Pro ($400) is significantly warmer and more protective. Finally, the Patagonia Fitz Roy below is a better option for weight- and space-conscious skiers and climbers. But it’s hard to beat Arc’teryx’s build quality, and the durable yet lightweight Thorium threads the needle between frontcountry and backcountry use better than most... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Arc'teryx Thorium Hoody See the Women's Arc'teryx Thorium Hoody
Fill: 700-fill-power down
Weight: 2 lb. 12 oz.
What we like: Super durable, 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 bulkier and puffier 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... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Marmot Fordham
Fill: 2.4 oz. of 750-fill-power down; 60g & 100g Coreloft
Weight: 2 lb. 2.9 oz.
What we like: A waterproof and warm jacket that can pull double duty 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 is arguably 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—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, making it 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 models like Arc’teryx's own Therme below, which also happens to be considerably cheaper at $800. 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’ve 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. And you’ve got options: Arc’teryx also makes the same design in an uninsulated Macai Shell Jacket ($750) and the less insulated Macai Lightweight Jacket ($800), along with the Nita Down Jacket ($950) for women... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Arc'teryx Macai See the Women's Arc'teryx Nita Down
Fill: 700-fill-power down
Weight: 1 lb. 9.6 oz.
What we like: Versatile styling; shell fabric is stretchy and durable.
What we don’t: A bit shorter and boxier than most parkas.
Upon first glance, it’s easy to see that the Stretchdown Parka looks a little different from your standard down jacket. Instead of the typical shiny fabric and horizontal baffles, Mountain Hardwear uses welded seams and a stretchy material (hence the “Stretchdown”) that’s almost softshell-like in nature. The net result is comfortable down insulation that moves with you, is remarkably durable, and doesn’t leave you looking like the Michelin Man. The Stretchdown collection features a range of styles, and the Parka here delivers the most coverage and warmth for true winter weather.
After wearing the Stretchdown Parka for most of the winter, we’re strong proponents of the jacket with a few small caveats. First is the shape: We got the parka in our standard size medium, but swam in the boxy fit, which is just slightly longer than most of our jackets (30-in. center back length) but significantly roomier around the chest. For comparison’s sake, the jacket version of the Stretchdown is 28 inches down the back and weighs a full 9.6 ounces less than the parka here. This no-frills fit makes us hesitant to recommend the Stretchdown as a stylish piece for casual use; on the other hand, it’s a bit too heavy for dedicated performance use. But the versatile design is serviceable for those who dip their toes in both worlds, and it’s hard to beat the durability and hand feel of the soft and stretchy shell.
See the Men's Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Parka See the Women's Stretchdown Parka
Fill: 480-fill-power down
Weight: 3 lb. 13.7 oz.
What we like: Trusted Helly Tech waterproof membrane and stylish design.
What we don’t: Heavy, bulky, and pricier than similarly built alternatives.
Norway-based Helly Hansen has garnered widespread appeal among resort skiers, but their casual lineup also has a lot to offer. The Urban Lab Down Parka is designed for winter in the city, featuring a hefty dose of down in a stylish below-the-hip design. We’ve come to trust Helly Hansen’s in-house waterproof membranes, and the Urban Lab features their high-end Helly Tech Professional, which translates to stalwart protection in wet environments. All told, the Urban Lab puts up an impressive defense against frigid and stormy weather while looking good in the process.
At almost 4 pounds, the Urban Lab is one of the heaviest and bulkiest jackets here, and far from our first choice for long commutes and airplane travel. What’s more, the 480-fill down is the lowest-quality here (at least among jackets that list this spec), which contributes to the Urban Lab’s heft. As a result, the Helly Hansen can’t quite compete with jackets like the TNF McMurdo and Marmot Fordham above, especially given their lower price tags ($400 and $325 respectively). But for something a little different—and that coveted “HH” logo—the Urban Lab nevertheless has a lot to offer for casual, everyday use.
See the Men's Helly Hansen Urban Lab See the Women's Helly Hansen Urban Lab
Fill: 625-fill-power down
Weight: 3 lb. 5 oz.
What we like: Legendary warmth and style.
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 $1,395 (the Antarctic-ready Expedition Parka is a whopping $1,575), 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 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: 5.6 oz. of 800-fill-power down
Weight: 1 lb. 1.1 oz.
What we like: A super cozy and lightweight performance piece.
What we don’t: Not as warm, durable, or protective as the Rab Neutrino Pro.
Down jackets are known for being cozy, but Patagonia’s Fitz Roy 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—this is one of those jackets you’ll never want to take off. But the Fitz Roy was made for more than just lounging around home: Checking in at just over a pound, it’s the lightest offering on our list and primed for mountain environments where every ounce counts. In favorable weather, the Fitz Roy stuffs to about the size of a 1-liter Nalgene into its left chest pocket (or a corner of your backpack); on windy ridgelines and chilly north faces, it’s ready for action with an alpine helmet-compatible hood, four zippered external pockets, a hem adjustment, and a large internal dump pocket.
In terms of performance use, the Fitz Roy has a very different application than a jacket like the Rab Neutrino Pro above. With just 5.6 ounces of 800-fill down, it’s considerably less insulative than the Rab (7.5 oz. of 800-fill), and the thin 10-denier Pertex Quantum shell is no match for the Neutrino Pro’s 20-denier Pertex Quantum Pro (in our experience, the “Pro” material makes a huge difference in terms of durability and weather protection). As a result, while we confidently recommend the Rab for full-on winter use, the Fitz Roy is more of a niche piece that you’ll only want to bring along when every ounce counts (e.g., fast-and-light ski tours and winter climbing). But despite its fragile fabric, the Patagonia does have tremendous crossover appeal, and we can’t help but want to wear it every day in the winter. If you’re able to justify its shortcomings, the Fitz Roy is one heckuva cozy down jacket... Read in-depth review
See the Men's Patagonia Fitz Roy See the Women's Patagonia Fitz Roy
Fill: Thermarator synthetic insulation
What we like: A versatile winter/ski jacket for just $200.
What we don’t: Limited warmth.
Columbia often manages to offer some nice values in the world of outdoor gear, and in terms of winter jackets, the popular Whiribird IV is worth a look. We’ll start with what we like most, which is the price at $230. In practice, the Whirlirbid is billed as a ski/snowboard jacket and it certainly fits that bill, but we like the casual looks and multitude of available colorways, so it wears well around the city too. The 3-in-1 functionality means you get a separated insulated jacket on the inside that zips into the outer shell, which is waterproof via Columbia Omni-Tech fabric. All in all, that makes for very a versatile winter jacket for just over $200 (and often found on sale)
Why is the Columbia Whirlibird IV ranked so far down this list? The thick shell should provide a nice dose of wind protection, but the inner jacket is rather thin and made with Thermarator synthetic insulation (down is the much better insulator), so warmth is more limited than many of the pricier jackets above. Second, we’ve found that Columbia build quality is fairly good overall but the look and feel is a step or two below more premium brands. That said, $230 is a darn good price for a winter jacket that can cross over into winter sports, which is why the Whirlibird is included here.
See the Men's Columbia Whirlibird IV See the Women's Columbia Whirlibird IV
Fill: Synthetic insulation (polyester)
Weight: 3 lb. 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 around $120 (and often found on Amazon for less).
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
|The North Face McMurdo||$400||Casual||600-fill down||Unavailable||3 lb. 5 oz.|
|REI Stormhenge Hybrid||$279||Performance/casual||850-fill down & synthetic||180/80g||2 lb.|
|Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka||$699||Casual||700-fill down||4.2 oz.||2 lb. 15 oz.|
|Rab Neutrino Pro||$400||Performance||800-fill down||7.5 oz.||1 lb. 5 oz.|
|Feathered Friends Khumbu||$729||Performance||900-fill down||13.3 oz.||2 lb. 2 oz.|
|Outdoor Research Coldfront||$279||Casual/performance||700-fill down & synthetic||6.7 oz. & 150g||1 lb. 5 oz.|
|Arc'teryx Therme Parka||$800||Casual||750-fill down & synthetic||3.7 oz. & 100/140g||2 lb. 3 oz.|
|Patagonia Silent Down||$429||Casual||700-fill down||9 oz.||1 lb. 10 oz.|
|Fjallraven Nuuk Parka||$500||Casual||Synthetic||8.8 oz.||4 lb.|
|Patagonia DAS Parka||$449||Performance||Synthetic||133g & 40g||1 lb. 4 oz.|
|Kuhl Arktik Down Parka||$599||Casual||800-fill down||9.4 oz.||3 lb. 4 oz.|
|Arc’teryx Thorium Hoody||$500||Performance/casual||750-fill down & synthetic||5.2 oz. & 140g||1 lb. 2 oz.|
|Marmot Fordham Jacket||$325||Casual||700-fill down||Unavailable||2 lb. 12 oz.|
|Arc'teryx Macai Jacket||$1,100||Casual/performance||750-fill down & synthetic||2.4 oz. & 60/100g||2 lb. 4 oz.|
|MH Stretchdown Parka||$340||Casual/performance||700-fill down||Unavailable||1 lb. 10 oz.|
|Helly Hansen Urban Lab||$450||Casual||450-fill down||Unavailable||3 lb. 14 oz.|
|Canada Goose Langford||$1,395||Casual/performance||625-fill||Unavailable||3 lb. 5 oz.|
|Patagonia Fitz Roy Hoody||$399||Performance/casual||800-fill down||5.6 oz.||1 lb. 1 oz.|
|Columbia Whirlibird IV||$230||Casual/performance||Synthetic||Unavailable||Unavail.|
|Caterpillar Heavy Insulated||$120||Casual/work||Polyester||Unavailable||3 lb. 8 oz.|
- Winter Jacket Categories: Casual vs. Performance
- Insulation Types
- Temperature Rating
- Fit and Sizing
- Weight and Packability
- Water-Resistant vs. Waterproof
- Wind Protection
- Winter Jacket Features
- Women's-Specific Winter Jackets
When deciding on a winter jacket, the single most important factor will be its intended use. Casual winter jackets are designed for everyday wear around town and are characterized by their urban styling, excellent coverage, and typically heavy and durable builds. Performance jackets, on the other hand, are more technical in nature, built to handle mountain weather (be it cold or wet), and often lighter in weight due to the use of premium down and thinner shell materials. These models are designed for activities like mountaineering, climbing, winter camping, 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 and Marmot Fordham, are around $300 to $400 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 Whirlibird IV—are made with synthetic, which is heavier and not quite as lofty but does a superior job at insulating when wet (a plus if temperatures will be near or above freezing). 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.
The ethical debate between down and synthetic insulation is an important one, but not as cut-and-dry as some might wish. Down is easy to scrutinize, with concerns around sourcing feathers and humane treatment of animals. On the other hand, most synthetic fills are petroleum-based, which results in greenhouse gas emissions and potentially unsafe work environments. Further, they can release micro pieces of plastic into the water during each wash. Thankfully, programs like the Responsible Down Standard ensure the use of ethically sourced down, which makes it a much easier sell for us. Not to mention, down generally has a longer lifespan than synthetic insulation. 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 Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Hoody has 5.6 ounces of 800-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 Co-op Stormhenge Down Hybrid). 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.
Winter jackets can be all over the place in terms of fit. We’ve found that many women’s models, like The North Face’s Arctic Parka, are rather trim, while men’s designs and performance offerings provide more space for freedom of movement and layering. In fact, some men’s parkas, like the Arc’teryx Therme above, are so roomy that many prefer to size down. When selecting your size, it’s also worth thinking about what you’ll be layering underneath, whether it's a bulky sweater or blazer (in the case of a casual parka) or an insulated midlayer under a performance down puffy. When applicable, we’ve called out sizing discrepancies in the write-ups above, but there’s really no substitute for going into your local gear shop and trying on jackets in person.
When it comes to the parkas above, keep in mind that they are offered in a variety of lengths. Most men’s models, including The North Face’s McMurdo and the Patagonia Tres, fall just below the butt, while many women’s designs extend to the knee and beyond. While parkas are the clear winners in terms of warmth and coverage (and arguably style), it’s important to understand where these designs fall short. In general, the longer the hem, the more restrictive a parka will be—we’ve had to pull up jackets around our waist while biking—and many of these designs have a tendency to bunch up on your lap while sitting. Especially on women’s winter parkas, slits or two-way zippers go a long way in terms of freedom of movement.
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 premium down will be the warmest, lightest, and most packable. Our top pick here is the Rab Neutrino Pro, which checks in at 1 pound 5 ounces, and you can go even lighter with the Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Hoody (1 lb. 1 oz.). 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 (the Fjallraven Nuuk Parka is 4 lb.) and won’t pack down as small with lower-fill-power down and thick fabrics.
A jacket’s weight and packability often go hand in hand, so taking a look at the weight spec should give you a fairly accurate idea of how compressible each jacket is. Like weight, packability is paramount for performance use but won’t matter too much for most casual users—although it does have implications for stuffing in a duffel bag when traveling. A packable jacket (like the Patagonia Fitz Roy Down Hoody and DAS Parka) will be much easier to compress into a checked bag or overhead bin, whereas the 3-pound-14-ounce Helly Hansen Urban Lab will nearly fill up an entire carry-on suitcase. If packability matters, we recommend opting for a hip-length jacket or a simple down parka with thin shell fabric like the Patagonia Silent Down Parka. And as we mentioned above, down is much more packable than synthetic insulation.
In addition to the type and amount of insulation, a jacket’s shell fabric has a big influence on its weight and packability. 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. Streamlined down jackets like the Patagonia Fitz Roy require quite a bit of care and attention and are not our first choice for everyday use (unless you don’t mind the odd patch here and there).
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 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 (and women's Patera) and Macai above. These jackets has fully taped seams and waterproof Gore-Tex shells for staying dry if it happens to be 34 degrees Fahrenheit 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 Infinium 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, while synthetic fill offers better performance in wet conditions. 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, climbing, and skiing/snowboarding. 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.
Some people will want the option to remove the hood from their winter coat altogether. Hoods are bulky and can be annoying if they’re just sitting along the back of your head, and you might prefer the look of a refined collar for formal settings or professional use. Many casual jackets have a zipper located just below the collar to make it easy to both remove the hood and put it back on (some also feature the same tech to add and remove fur brims). The hood attachment does add weight and bulk and isn’t the sleekest design, but for some, the added versatility is well worth it. From our list above, jackets like the Marmot Fordham and The North Face McMurdo have removable hoods, while the Arc'teryx Therme Parka does not.
You can often discern whether a jacket is built for performance or casual use based on its pockets alone. Casual jackets and parkas like the Marmot Fordham, The North Face McMurdo, and Fjallraven Nuuk feature large dump pockets for the hands, which can be accessed both from the top (under a flap) and from the sides. These pockets look great and are functional, too: We love the versatility of being able to securely store a phone inside the dump pocket while warming our hands via the side openings.
On the other hand, performance jackets will commonly have two zippered handwarmer pockets, along with an internal or external zippered chest pocket (or two), which is a great place to keep your phone or other electronics warm. Unlike performance-oriented hardshells and rain jackets, winter insulators generally don’t use hipbelt-compatible handwarmer pockets—but many will have more than one chest pocket so you can efficiently store items even when wearing a ski backpack or climbing harness. Finally, many performance winter jackets have one or two internal dump pockets, which we’ve found indispensable for storing ski gloves, skins, climbing shoes, and more.
The outdoor apparel world has seen a sizable uptick in the use of sustainable practices over the past several years, and winter jackets are no exception. Key measures include recycled materials, ethically sourced down, and PFC-free DWR coatings (traditional coatings use perfluorocarbons—"forever chemicals" that have been linked to a range of environmental and health issues). With many states stepping up to ban the sale of items that include PFCs, the outdoor industry is seeking better solutions for water- and stain-resistant finishes (you can read more about Patagonia’s take on the issue here). Additionally, Bluesign approval and Fair Trade Certification are two important credentials that show a commitment to ethical sourcing and production practices and fair treatment of workers, respectively.
The good news is that most brands call out these practices, making it easy to shop with an eye for sustainability. Patagonia is a clear leader: Their Fitz Roy Down Hoody, for example, uses a recycled face fabric with PFC-free DWR and a 100% postconsumer recycled NetPlus lining (made out of recycled fishing nets), is insulated with down certified to the Responsible Down Standard, and is Fair Trade Certified. Patagonia goes as far as detailing the sustainable steps they’ve made at the bottom of their product pages. A number of other brands have followed suit, including REI Co-op, Outdoor Research, Marmot, and more. There’s still a long ways to go in the industry, but the current trajectory and momentum from many of the key players are encouraging.
Our picks above were based on the input from both our male and female testers, and you’ll see that we link to the men’s and women’s versions whenever available. That said, there are a good number of women’s-specific winter jackets, so we’ve created a separate round-up dedicated to that category. Some of the designs are the same but with altered fits and colorways (on occasion, naming and a couple features might differ), and we've included more long, parka-length options given their popularity and around-town appeal.
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