When the days get shorter and the mercury drops, it’s time to reach for a winter jacket to guard against the cold. Lightweight puffies have their place for 3-season use, but you'll want a well-insulated, serious piece for truly frigid conditions. The women's jackets and parkas here are among the warmest available and use down (and sometimes synthetic) insulation and tightly woven shell fabrics to trap warmth and resist howling winds. We’ve included a range of options below that run the gamut from casual to performance use, as well as a few versatile models that effectively bridge the gap. For background information, see the comparison table and buying advice below the picks.
Fill: 7.1 oz. of 700-fill-power down
Weight: 2 lbs. 2.2 oz.
What we like: Attractive styling and great mobility and comfort.
What we don’t: Warmth falls short of many of the longer down parkas below.
Winter jackets come in range of styles and vary considerably in terms of warmth, but the Marmot Montreal Coat strikes a nice middle ground for most winter environments. Reasonably priced at $285, you get a healthy dose of 700-fill-power down and a mid-thigh cut that keeps you covered without limiting mobility. Unlike most puffy jackets here, the Marmot is lined with a soft and supple fleece along the torso, cuffs, and hand pockets, and a removable faux fur liner around the hood keeps cold air out and tacks on an extra dose of style. Add in a durable water repellant finish, and the Montreal is a nice everyday defense against the cold and occasional precipitation.
We love the cut of the Marmot, which is around a few inches shorter than parkas like the TNF Arctic and Canada Goose Shelburne below. This does mean you sacrifice some coverage and protection, but it also gives the Montreal a more mobile and playful feel (great for activities like riding a bike, shoveling the driveway, etc). And while you certainly can get more warmth with jackets like the Patagonia Frozen Range or Rab Deep Cover below, we’ve found the Montreal to be sufficient for temperatures above 20 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a good match for the majority of winter conditions in most of the U.S (keep in mind that Marmot also offers the warmer Montreaux, which features a 6 in. longer hem for just $15 more). Like many casual parkas, it does have a trim fit, so consider sizing up if you plan to layer underneath... Read in-depth review
See the Marmot Montreal Coat
Best Value in a Women’s Winter Jacket
Fill: 850-fill-power down
Weight: 1 lb. 6 oz.
What we like: Great warmth and weather protection at an affordable price.
What we don’t: Not as warm as performance options like the Rab Neutrino Pro below.
Above-the-knee or mid-thigh parkas have great casual appeal, but we love the versatility and mobility of a standard-length winter jacket. More than most, the REI Stormhenge hits a great balance between everyday and performance use, coupling clean lines and classy colorways with a laundry list of technical features. In terms of warmth and weather protection, you get body-mapped 850-fill goose down (REI unfortunately doesn’t provide the fill weight) and a 2-layer waterproof shell, along with a fully adjustable hood and Velcro cuffs to further seal out the elements. Additionally, pit zips allow you to dump heat quickly, and the two-way front zipper pairs well with a harness or backpack hipbelt. We’ve been impressed with REI’s down offerings of late, and the Stormhenge 850 is yet another high-quality and well-rounded piece at a very affordable price.
After testing the Stormhenge, it quickly became one of our favorite jackets for everything from skiing to running errands around town. It’s much lighter and more activity-friendly than a longer-length parka, and the soft interior liner is comfortable even when layered over just a t-shirt. And while it can be tough to provide an accurate comparison without the fill weight spec, we’ve found the Stormhenge to be warm into the low 20s Fahrenheit with only a light baselayer underneath. All in all, don’t expect the Arctic-level warmth of high-end options like the Rab Neutrino Pro below. But for the price, the REI Stormhenge 850 truly is an impressive insulator. Of note: availability is fairly limited at the time of publishing, but REI will be releasing an updated version for fall of 2021.
See the REI Co-op Stormhenge 850 Down Jacket
Best 3-in-1 Women’s Winter Parka
Fill: 10.9 oz. of 700-fill-power down
Weight: 3 lbs. 6.9 oz.
What we like: Tremendous versatility and winter-weather protection.
What we don’t: Expensive and fit is on the large side.
3-in-1 designs are impressively versatile: wear the insulated layer on cold and dry days, don the waterproof shell in rain, and pair both for protection against the most wintery of conditions. And in this category, we think Patagonia’s Frozen Range is the most well-rounded option. This parka doesn't skimp on warmth and protection with a waterproof, 2-layer Gore-Tex shell and an ultra-warm, removable down jacket on the inside. Both parkas feature generous hoods with tall collars so you can really batten down the hatches, and the shell's drop-tail hem maximizes coverage when sitting down or bending over. Combined with Patagonia’s typical good looks and top-notch build quality, the Frozen Range is a well-made and attractive design for the coldest winter weather.
What are the downsides of the Patagonia Frozen Range? First and foremost, it’s very pricey at $799, even considering the versatility of the 3-in-1 design. In addition, the Frozen Range is decidedly a cold-weather piece and overkill for those who experience mild winters (Patagonia's own Tres 3-in-1 is a nice step down in terms of warmth). Last but not least, fit can be tricky with parkas—and particularly with this coat given all the moving parts—and the Frozen Range is known to run a bit baggy (we recommend trying it on before you buy). But we love the full waterproofing and option to easily tailor your layering, which is why we have it ranked here. Keep in mind that Patagonia also offers the Frozen Range Jacket, which combines waterproofing and insulation into one piece and is priced at $599.
See the Patagonia Frozen Range 3-in-1 Parka
Best Technical Winter Puffy for Women
Fill: 7 oz. of 800-fill-power down
Weight: 1 lb. 2.7 oz.
What we like: Lots of premium down for the price.
What we don’t: Fairly technical look and feature set.
The REI Stormhenge above toes the line between everyday and performance use, but there are a number of more technical offerings for demanding backcountry pursuits. Taking warmth, features, and value into consideration, our favorite option for 2021 is the Rab Neutrino Pro. First and foremost, you get a whopping 7 ounces of 800-fill hydrophobic down, which is considerably more bang for your buck than popular down jackets from brands like Arc’teryx and Patagonia. The Rab also sports a water-resistant Pertex Quantum Pro shell with a DWR finish that offers far better wet-weather protection than most down puffies, along with functional extras like a wire-brimmed hood and adjustments at the hood, hem, and cuffs.
All that said, the Neutrino Pro isn't for everyone. The jacket has a decidedly technical look, although the clean design and dark colorways do help with overall appeal. Second, the 20-denier shell fabric is respectable in the performance category and keeps weight low, but the jacket is more fragile than the 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 remains a favorite year after year.
See the Rab Neutrino Pro Jacket
Best Luxury Winter Parka for Extreme Cold
Fill: 625-fill-power down
Weight: 4-5 lbs.
What we like: Super warm and stylish.
What we don’t: Very expensive.
At the premium 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. Our top pick in their lineup is the Shelburne Down Parka, which is both incredibly classy and an impressively capable barrier against frigid winter weather. 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, Canada Goose claims that the Shelburne can be worn down to -4 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s important to take these ratings with a grain of salt, but the jacket is undeniably a warm place to be. And on the style side, you get thoughtful features like snap closures over the recessed knit cuffs and side slits that can be closed or kept open for better venting and mobility.
It’s hard to argue with Canada Goose’s awesome warmth, craftsmanship, and looks, but these do come at a price—and in this case, it’s a staggering $995. What’s more, Canada Goose doesn’t use premium down like Arc’teryx or other high-end brands (625-fill is pretty middling). That’s not to say that the Shelbourne isn’t warm—in fact, it’s one of the best deep-cold options here—but you’ll pay for it in bulk and weight, and the hefty build can feel cumbersome over long distances. But if you run cold, need the extra insulation, or appreciate the styling, Canada Goose has a valuable corner of the market.
See the Canada Goose Shelburne Down Parka
Best of the Rest
Fill: 550-fill down & 150g Heatseeker
Weight: 2 lbs. 13.5 oz.
What we like: Durable shell fabric and a great value.
What we don’t: Heavy and has a boxy fit.
Winter weather is more than just freezing temperatures: it can also mean snow or rain, biting winds, and lots of slush. For affordable protection in whatever Mother Nature throws your way, we love the Arctic from The North Face. This parka is both nicely insulated and weather-ready, with 550-fill-power down and TNF's Heatseeker synthetic insulation wrapped in a 2-layer, waterproof DryVent shell (it's also seam-sealed). The above-the-knee cut extends coverage down the legs without being too restrictive, and a removable faux fur brim adds warmth and style. Added up, the Arctic is a great value at $299, and the durable shell and overall construction mean you can expect a long lifespan out of the jacket.
But while the Arctic Parka is great for everyday use, it’s not a standout in versatility. Compared to the Stormhenge and Neutrino Pro above, for example, it's considerably heavier and more restrictive. And held up against options like the Patagonia Frozen Range and Canada Goose Shelburne, you get a lot less warmth—in fact, despite its name, we don't recommend the Arctic for temperatures below freezing. Finally, in terms of fit, we’ve found the Arctic to be slightly boxy from the waist down and recommend sizing up if you have broad shoulders. But these gripes aside, the Arctic nevertheless is a nice option for those who need the waterproofing and are looking to stay under $300. Finally, it's worth noting that TNF updated the jacket recently (it's now lighter and lacks synthetic insulation), but we've kept the more weather-ready iteration here while supplies last.
See The North Face Arctic Parka
Fill: 7.1 oz. of 600-fill-power 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.
Patagonia's 3-in-1 Frozen Range above is a stalwart in wet and windy winter weather, but not everyone needs that level of protection or coverage. For a shorter and more versatile option at a very reasonable price, their Down With It is a great pick. We especially like the hip-length cut, which lines up nicely for city wear but can also pull double duty for light adventuring like winter hiking and snowshoeing. And the 600-fill duck down isn’t of the high-end variety like many performance options here, but you get a respectable amount of it at just over 7 ounces, which translates to ample warmth for most uses.
What do you sacrifice by going with a jacket instead of a parka? The obvious answer is leg coverage: options like the Marmot Montreal and Canada Goose Shelburne extend to mid-thigh, which can make a pretty big difference when wearing jeans or other non-insulated pants in cold weather (if you want more length, the Down With It comes in a popular parka version for $100 more). And for this jacket in particular, you get a DWR treatment but not complete waterproofing like the aforementioned Frozen Range or The North Face Arctic above. But the added mobility is an undeniable plus, and it’ll take up a lot less room in your suitcase or duffel and when packed away for summer.
See the Patagonia Down With It Jacket
Fill: 7 oz. of 800-fill-power down
Weight: 1 lb. 1.9 oz.
What we like: Slightly lighter and cheaper than the Neutrino Pro above.
What we don’t: Doesn’t have a hood.
The Rab Neutrino Pro above is a standout option for technical pursuits, but Mountain Hardwear’s Phantom Jacket gives it a run for its money pretty much across the board. Both jackets boast 7 ounces of lofty, RDS-certified 800-fill-power down and include performance-focused features like two-way front zippers, thinner shell fabrics (20D), and Pertex shells with DWR coatings for fending off moisture. However, the Phantom pulls ahead slightly in weight and price (by around an ounce and $25, respectively), and it also adds harness-friendly pockets that ride higher on the torso for easy access while belaying. If you’re looking for a technical down puffy that will stand up to regular backcountry use, the Phantom is a nice choice from a well-respected down specialist (their Ghost Whisperer is a class leader in the ultralight category).
Unfortunately, however, the Phantom Jacket is missing one key feature: a hood. To be fair, many backcountry-goers will be bringing along other layers (e.g., a midlayer and hardshell), and we almost always pack a separate hat or beanie on winter adventures. And this is a smaller gripe, but we’ve found the fit on the Rab to be more flattering overall, with a more body-hugging shape compared to the fairly boxy cut on the Mountain Hardwear. But we do love the generous interior dump pockets for warming climbing shoes or stowing skins, and it’s a great price for the amount and quality of down you’re getting. If you don’t mind the lack of hood, the Phantom is a highly capable backcountry companion.
See the Mountain Hardwear Phantom Jacket
Fill: 7.4 oz. of 600-fill-power down
Weight: 3 lbs. 2.1 oz.
What we like: Good looks and excellent build quality.
What we don’t: At this price point, we expect higher-quality down.
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 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 very hardwearing and moisture-resistant (you can even add beeswax to aid in the process).
If you like Fjallraven’s styling, the Singi Jacket is a fine option. But we do have slight concerns about its warmth: the 600-fill down is decidedly middle-of-the-road, although the jacket does have a lot of it, along with the burly shell mentioned above. And for $600, we think a number of other casual options are better buys, including the TNF Arctic and Patagonia Frozen Range parkas above. 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 $100-cheaper Nuuk has a similar design but uses Supreme Microloft fill.
See the Fjallraven Singi Down Jacket
Fill: 12 oz. of 650-fill-power down
Weight: 1 lb. 15.5 oz.
What we like: Great attention to detail and impressive warmth.
What we don’t: Bulky and overkill for mild winter conditions.
Rab’s Neutrino Pro above is our top pick for activities like winter camping and ice climbing, but for everyday and around-town use, their Deep Cover Parka is a less technical and more stylish option. Packing in 12 ounces of 650-fill power down, the Deep Cover is built to handle true winter temperatures, whether you live in a mountain town or the heart of New York City. A Pertex Quantum shell with DWR finish and hydrophobic down add an extra dose of protection from the elements, and the hood is detachable and sports a faux fur trim for style and warmth. All told, at $295, the Deep Cover is an excellent value considering the levels of protection and coverage.
U.K.-based Rab is known for their high attention to detail, and the Deep Cover carries the torch. The two handwarmer pockets blend in with the jacket’s exterior, and an internal zip pocket is great for stowing valuables and keeping electronics warm and charged. We also love the classy leather zipper pull and badge on the right arm, and the chevron baffles on each side limit bulk and contribute to the flattering shape. Compared to the Marmot Montreal above, the Deep Cover has about 5 ounces more insulation (at a slightly lower fill power), which translates to more warmth. We don’t recommend the Deep Cover for mild winter conditions, but if you consistently face below-freezing temperatures—think January in places like Fairbanks, Fargo, or Edmonton—it’s a very solid pick.
See the Rab Deep Cover Parka
Fill: 133g & 40g PrimaLoft Gold Eco
Weight: 1 lb. 2.4 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 0.3 oz. lighter than the Rab Neutrino Pro above). To top it off, the DAS is mountain-ready with a robust Pertex Quantum Pro shell, helmet-compatible hood, 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 loud colorways that are polarizing for everyday use. And while there’s no denying that the warmth is impressive for the weight, especially for a synthetic jacket, cost remains high at $449 (synthetics generally save you some money, but not in this case). 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. And for drier conditions or when space is at a premium, Patagonia’s down-filled Fitz Roy ($399) offers roughly the same amount of warmth at only 14.8 ounces... Read in-depth review
See the Patagonia DAS Parka
Fill: 650-fill-power down
What we like: A warm and stylish down parka for just $199.
What we don’t: Boxier than most parka-length jackets.
REI Co-op is known for making quality gear that considerably undercuts the competition (as evidenced by the Stormhenge above), and their Norseland follows suit. At just $199, REI's down parka saves you around $100 (or more) compared to similar jackets here without sacrificing much in the way of performance. In terms of specs, you get mid-range 650-fill down (only slightly less fill power than the chart-topping Marmot Montreal), a DWR-coated shell, and additional features like a fleece-lined hood, stylish knit cuffs, and an insulated storm flap over the front zip.
Our biggest gripe about the Norseland has to do with fit: while most mid-thigh-length parkas feature a stylish, A-line design, the REI is definitively on the boxy side. On the bright side, this translates to greater mobility and more room for layering, but the Norseland does lack the more flattering, tailored fit and finish of jackets like the Montreal above and Patagonia Jackson Glacier below. That said, we like what REI has done with the size zips, which extend 6 inches up each side to allow for better freedom of movement while sitting, walking, or biking (they also provide venting should you work up a sweat). Added up, the Norseland is a competitive option for value seekers and those who don't mind the roomier shape.
See the REI Co-op Norseland Insulated Parka
Fill: 5.4 oz. of 850-fill-power down
What we like: A good-looking thigh-length parka with functional performance features.
What we don’t: Shell fabric is very thin and will require added care.
L.L. Bean jackets are fairly ubiquitous along the East Coast of the U.S. and for good reason: they’re often thoughtfully made, affordably priced, and look good to boot. From their winter collection, the Ultralight 850 Down Hooded Coat checks all those boxes emphatically with a healthy 5.4 ounces of lofty 850-fill down, reasonable $259 price tag, and flattering, mid-thigh-length cut that offers great coverage and wears well around town. But what truly sets this parka apart is its performance slant: while most other thigh-length options here are decidedly casual in nature, the L.L. Bean tacks on functional extras like a Pertex Quantum shell and hydrophobic treatment on the down to resist moisture. It also packs down nicely into its own pocket (compressed size is 16 x 6 in.) for easily stowing in a duffel or suitcase.
That said, there are some inherent tradeoffs to opting for such a light and compressible design. First and foremost is durability: while L.L. Bean doesn’t list the fabric thickness for the 850 Down, many users report premature tears and snags that lead to leaking feathers. To be fair, however, most ultralight pieces require extra diligence to maximize their lifespan (and you can always patch holes quickly and cheaply with an adhesive like Gear Aid’s Tenacious Tape). And a final complaint has to do with warmth: stacked up to the competition, the L.L. Bean has a thinner shell and contains a bit less down than options like Marmot’s Montreal above and Patagonia’s Jackson Glacier below, although both use lower-quality plumage (and cost more). In the end, the lack of warmth and durability push it down our list, but we love the combination of sleek, city-friendly styling and technical chops.
See the L.L. Bean Ultralight 850 Down Hooded Coat
Fill: 5.5 oz. of 750-fill down; 60g & 100g Coreloft
Weight: 1 lb. 15.9 oz.
What we like: Waterproof, top-notch construction, and looks great.
What we don’t: One of the priciest parkas here and not the warmest.
Many of the casual 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 Coreloft insulation added in areas most prone to getting wet, a proven 2-layer Gore-Tex shell for waterproofing, 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 the cost of jackets like the TNF Arctic and Marmot Montreal above 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. Finally, we appreciate the non-puffy style of the Patera, which manages to be reasonably insulated and weather-resistant while keeping a low-profile, almost rain jacket-like look. And for an even warmer waterproof option from Arc’teryx, check out their Centrale Parka... Read in-depth review
See the Arc'teryx Patera Parka
Fill: 4 oz. of 700-fill-power down
Weight: 1 lb.
What we like: Attractive 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 Super/DS Stretchdown from Mountain Hardwear looks a little different than your standard down jacket. Instead of the typical shiny fabric and horizontal baffles, Mountain Hardwear used 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. Overall, we’ve been very impressed by the Stretchdown series.
The Super/DS Stretchdown collection features a range of styles, but the Parka here delivers the most coverage and warmth for true winter weather. Compared to most parkas, however, it’s a bit of an outlier with a shorter length (it extends past the butt, but not much farther) and less tapered style. You can cinch the waist tighter using an internal drawstring, but it’s still a far cry from fitted jackets like the Marmot Montreal or Rab Deep Cover above. This less restrictive fit makes the Stretchdown slightly more versatile for performance use (it functions great over a harness as a belay jacket) but certainly limits its street appeal. Finally, with a mere 4 ounces of 700-fill down, it’s one of the least insulated jackets here and only suitable for mild winter climates.
See the Mountain Hardwear Super/DS Stretchdown Parka
Fill: 6 oz. of 700-fill-power down
Weight: 2 lbs. 1.2 oz.
What we like: Great mix of style and performance.
What we don’t: Not the best value.
Patagonia’s waterproof Frozen Range Parka above is a great option for those that want the versatility of a 3-in-1 design, but for slightly less protection and a lot of savings, the Jackson Glacier is a capable alternative. Available in both a jacket and a parka version, the Jackson Glacier features a healthy dose of quality down insulation and an integrated 2-layer shell with DWR finish for ample protection against most winter weather. Patagonia also added storm cuffs, a water-resistant main zip, and an insulated, cinchable hood, which help trap warmth and seal out wind. And with a clean, sleek look and dark, classy colorways, the Jackson Glacier looks the part for around-town use too.
All that said, the Jackson Glacier Parka drops toward the bottom of our list for a few reasons. At $399, it’s not the best value—Rab’s Deep Cover Parka above, for instance, provides considerably more warmth for around $100 less. Second, its weatherproofing measures are overkill for most casual use, although some will appreciate the added assurance when dodging splashes and drips on daily commutes. But for the right climate, there’s a lot to like about the Jackson Glacier, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s made with both recycled down and shell fabric—a testament to Patagonia’s continued focus on sustainability. And as we touched on above, the Jackson Glacier also comes in a hip-length jacket version for $50 less.
See the Patagonia Jackson Glacier Parka
Fill: 550-fill-power down
Weight: 1 lb. 11.5 oz.
What we like: Great city style in a lightweight package.
What we don’t: Not the best value.
If your top priority is fashion and you don't anticipate needing many technical features, The North Face's Metropolis III fits the bill. Now in its third iteration, the Metropolis is one of the most ubiquitous winter parkas on the market, combining the style of a down puffy with a knee-length cut and dramatic drop-tail hem. And at well under 2 pounds, this jacket manages to keep weight low despite its generous coverage, keeping you feeling light and unrestricted (the two-way zipper helps too). Tack on a tall collar, removable hood, and DWR finish, and you get fully serviceable protection for mild winter days.
However, despite its reasonable price tag, the Metropolis is not a great value compared to jackets like the Marmot Montreal and REI Stormhenge above. 550-fill-power down is fairly disappointing in terms of warmth for its weight, making the Metropolis one of the least insulative winter jackets we've tested (we wouldn't take it into below-freezing temperatures). Further, The North Face's quality and attention to detail leave much to be desired (we experienced leaking feathers and a sticky front zip), and especially considering you can get Patagonia's well-built Down With It Parka for the same price. In the end, the Metropolis III doesn't stand out from a performance perspective, but if you like the style (TNF offers eight different colorways at the time of publishing), it'll get the job done in most casual environments.
See The North Face Metropolis III Parka
Fill: 2.1 oz. of 750-fill down; 80g & 100g Coreloft
Weight: 1 lb. 15.6 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 Andessa 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, synthetic insulation in moisture-prone areas, and a nearly impervious 3-layer Gore-Tex Pro fabric. 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, cozy, and reminiscent of a high-end down puffy. You certainly can ski with the Andessa and many people do, but the hood and powder skirt are removable, and it makes for a great dual-purpose option.
Compared to the more casual winter parkas on the list, there are some shortcomings with the Andessa. First, the cut is shorter and offers less coverage than a model like Arc’teryx's own Patera above, which also happens to be significantly cheaper at $649. Second, the Andessa 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 Andessa, 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.
See the Arc'teryx Andessa Jacket
What we like: A great value and clean overall design.
What we don’t: Not as warm or soft as a down jacket.
Winter jackets are an expensive bunch, but budget-oriented brand Columbia offers some intuiting alternatives that save you a good deal of cash. Our favorite is the Heavenly Long Hooded Jacket, which checks many of the boxes we look for in a cold-weather piece while coming in at a very reasonable $150 price point. For warmth, you get a healthy amount of Columbia's in-house polyester fill (although a fill weight isn't provided), along with a shiny Omni-Heat reflective lining, water-resistant shell, comfortable hood, and surprisingly good fit and design for the price. Despite the name, the Heavenly certainly isn’t as pillowy 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 don’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 Columbia Heavenly Long Hooded Jacket
|Marmot Montreal Coat||$285||Casual||700-fill down||7.1 oz.||2 lb. 2.2 oz.|
|REI Co-op Stormhenge 850||$249||Performance/casual||850-fill down||Unavailable||1 lb. 6 oz.|
|Patagonia Frozen Range||$799||Casual||700-fill down||10.9 oz.||3 lb. 6.9 oz.|
|Rab Neutrino Pro||$375||Performance||800-fill down||7 oz.||1 lb. 2.7 oz.|
|Canada Goose Shelburne||$995||Casual||625-fill down||Unavailable||4-5 lbs.|
|The North Face Arctic||$299||Casual||550-fill down & synthetic||Unavail. & 150g||2 lb. 14 oz.|
|Patagonia Down With It||$199||Casual||600-fill down||7.1 oz.||1 lb. 15.1 oz.|
|Mountain Hardwear Phantom||$350||Performance||800-fill down||7 oz.||1 lb. 1.9 oz.|
|Fjallraven Singi Jacket||$600||Casual||600-fill down||7.4 oz.||3 lb. 2.1 oz.|
|Rab Deep Cover Parka||$295||Casual||650-fill down||12 oz.||1 lb. 15.5 oz.|
|Patagonia DAS Parka||$449||Performance||Primaloft synthetic||133g & 40g||1 lb. 2.4 oz.|
|REI Co-op Norseland||$199||Casual||650-fill down||Unavailable||Unavailable|
|L.L. Bean UL 850 Down||$259||Casual/performance||850-fill down||5.4 oz.||Unavailable|
|Arc’teryx Patera Parka||$649||Casual||750-fill & synthetic||5.5 oz. & 60/100g||1 lb. 15.9 oz.|
|MTN Hardwear Stretchdown||$325||Casual/performance||700-fill down||4 oz.||1 lb.|
|Patagonia Jackson Glacier||$399||Casual||700-fill down||6 oz.||2 lb. 1.2 oz.|
|The North Face Metropolis||$299||Casual||550-fill down||Unavailable||1 lb. 11.5 oz.|
|Arc'teryx Andessa Jacket||$949||Casual/performance||750-fill & synthetic||2.1 oz. & 80/100g||1 lb. 15.6 oz.|
|Columbia Heavenly Long||$150||Casual||Polyester||Unavailable||Unavailable|
- Winter Jacket Categories: Casual vs. Performance
- Insulation Types
- Temperature Rating
- Fit and Sizing
- Weight and Packability
- Water-Resistant vs. Waterproof
- Wind Protection
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 builds. Thigh- and knee-length parkas fall into this category and are very popular among women for their warmth and classy looks. 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, 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’s Arctic and Marmot’s Montreal, are around $300 yet offer ample warm and weather protection for most people. The compromises come in weight, packability, and range of movement, which matter if you’re climbing mountains but not so much for the morning commute. And for casual users drawn to the look of jackets in the performance category, be sure keep in mind that these are generally less durable and won’t hold up as well to everyday wear. To help clarify the best uses for each jacket, we list the category in both 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 Patagonia DAS Parka, 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 Columbia Heavenly. 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 variables: insulation type and weight, shell fabrics, wind, layering, level of exertion, and how warm or cold you run personally. But all other factors being equal, the two most important specs to look at when 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 it refers to down specifically. The higher the number (600-fill, 700-fill, 800-fill, etc.), the more loft and warmth the down will provide and the more easily it will compress when packing the jacket away. Premium down 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 indicates the total weight of the down inside the jacket. For example, the Rab Deep Cover Parka has a whopping 12 ounces of 650-fill down, while the Patagonia Jackson Glacier Parka has only 6 ounces of 700-fill, which represents a significant difference in warmth. The calculation becomes more difficult the greater the gap in fill powers: comparing 850-fill down to 500-fill down is like comparing 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 to customer service reps 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 Shelburne is given a -4°F rating by the manufacturer), while others are less insulated and designed for active use (REI’s 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 for women and best synthetic jackets.
Winter jackets can be all over the place in terms of fit. Some, like the Marmot Montreal, are rather trim, while others, and particularly performance jackets like the Rab Neutrino Pro, provide ample space for freedom of movement and layering. It’s a strong generalization, but expect casual pieces to run a bit small (we’ve often found the need to size up) and performance pieces to be roomier. 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 these come in a variety of lengths ranging from just below the butt (the Mountain Hardwear Super/DS Stretchdown and Marmot Montreal, for example) to above-the-knee designs like the Canada Goose Shelburne and Patagonia Jackson Glacier Parka. 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. We’ve found that slits like those on the Canada Goose Shelburne (side) or Arc’teryx Patera (front) go a long way in solving this problem, and many will find the downsides worth it for the extra dose of warmth.
A major contributor to warmth is which layers (or lack thereof) you wear underneath your jacket. 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 buying decision depends largely on 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 pick in this category is the Rab Neutrino Pro, which checks in at 1 pound 2.7 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 (Canada Goose lists their Shelburne as anywhere from 4-5 lbs.) and won’t pack down as small with lower-fill-power down.
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 when traveling. A packable jacket (like the Patagonia Down With It or Rab Neutrino Pro) will be much easier to stuff away in a checked bag or overhead bin, whereas the 5-pound Canada Goose Shelburne will 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 Marmot Montreal or L.L. Bean Ultralight 850. 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. Lightweight down jackets 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 Marmot Montreal and Patagonia Jackson Glacier Parka, offer plenty of protection in freezing, snowy conditions. If you do need complete waterproofing, however, there are some options on the market including the Arc'teryx Patera and The North Face Arctic. The Patera has fully taped seams and a waterproof Gore-Tex shell for staying dry if it happens to be 34 degrees and pouring rain.
Exposure to wind can make an otherwise freezing winter day even more unbearable. In terms of the wind resistance of a winter jacket, 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 often block the wind by the sheer thickness of the face fabric. In the end, 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 casual jackets will have an additional fur brim—often removable—for sealing in warmth, while most technical models 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 Marmot Montreal has a removable hood, while the Canada Goose Shelburne does not.
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