It’s always winter in some hemisphere so, as the world reopens, it’s a good idea to supply yourself with a fantastic jacket to keep you warm wherever and whenever you might need it. An absolute essential for anyone who lives in or vacations to a colder climate, the best winter jacket will mesh well with your personal style while providing top-notch protection from wind, rain, sleet, and snow. Whether you are looking for a lightweight running jacket, a simple, stylish parka jacket for errands, or a down-filled design perfect for exploring the backcountry, you want to find the best blend of form and function. There are plenty of options available, so we’ve curated this selection to help you find the best winter coats to add to your wardrobe.
The best winter jacket lets you keep up even as the temperature drops
When choosing the best winter jacket for you, the most important thing to consider is climate, followed closely by activity. You’ll likely have to choose between a casual or performance coat. Casual winter clothing is designed for errands, walks about town, or keeping warm during your commute to work. These coats might be a bit heavier, but they are super warm and crafted with style and silhouette in mind. A performance jacket is designed for athletic activities like hiking, running, or cycling. They are lightweight and will provide increased mobility while protecting for long periods in the cold. For example, if you live in a super snowy place and need a jacket that’s suitable for a long hike, you’ll need a waterproof model that is well insulated with a lightweight fill to keep you warm without dragging you down. If you live in a city that suffers from cold winds, a versatile jacket with a sleek shell and fur-lined hood is a stylish way to stay warm and keep the wind out of your eyes.
The next thing to consider is the fill material and its effect on price. Winter jackets can be quite expensive, for a reason. They are your first line of defense when it comes to brutally cold days, offering excellent insulation and heat retention. Pricing can depend on many things, but one of the most common structures correlates to the fill material and power. A jacket’s fill is the material stuffed between the outer and inner layers, directly responsible for trapping heat and keeping out the cold. The most popular fill is down, which is the light undercoating that lies beneath the feathers of ducks and geese. Synthetic down is also available, typically made from ultrafine polyester fibers that perform well even when wet. Each jacket is given a fill-power number to reflect the loftiness of the down. The higher the fill power, the better the down will be at trapping air, generating an effective warmth-to-weight ratio, and quickly compressing when it’s time for summer storage.
Now that you’re prepped with the logistics, let’s dive deeper into our favorite picks, as well as a few more tips for selecting the best winter jackets.
Related: Need a warm, comfortable hat? Head on over to this winter accessories guide.
Looking for an everyday, casual jacket that will keep you toasty at all times?
A truly great winter jacket is comfortable, cozy, and can last for seasons to come. It should stand up to snow and sleet without weighing you down, protect and insulate without any Achilles heel, and have a stylish yet neutral design to pair with any outfit you own. If you’re not looking for a thin, lightweight outdoor activity jacket, you might find it comforting to buy a model with a little more weight and slightly lower fill power. You’ll know for sure that you won’t get cold, plus you’ll feel more protected. A fill power of 500 and above should be perfectly adequate for walks about town, taking the train to work, or heading out to dinner with friends on a below-freezing winter evening.
If you live in a place that gets a fair amount of snow or winter rain, make sure your winter jacket is waterproof or at least has a waterproof shell. We recommend selecting a coat that will fall at or around the upper/mid-thigh for maximum coverage without any extra bulk. It also doesn’t hurt to go with a hood for additional shielding around the face. Once you’ve found an option that has the right amount of fill for your locale’s weather, all you need to do is decide on the color and—bam—you’ll have the best winter coat around town.
Best men’s winter jacket overall: The North Face McMurdo Parka
Warm and Waterproof
A great down jacket for day-to-day operations in cold climates. The North Face
The North Face McMurdo winter jacket will help you brave the elements during quick trips to the supermarket or longer excursions outdoors. It has a two-layer DryVent waterproof shell, 550-fill-power goose down, and weighs a little over 3 pounds. The hood has an emergency gaiter to prevent any snow from sneaking in, plus the faux-fur trim is removable, so you can even customize your coat a bit. While North Face doesn’t have women’s winter jacket that’s the exact same model, The North Face Arctic Parka II shares many of the features of the men’s winter jacket, including fill power and DryVent technology.
Do you want something that will be on-trend without sacrificing warmth?
Winter coats have a reputation for being boxy, bulky, or simply uncool. But that doesn’t have to be the case. While you can undoubtedly find a sleek, streamlined wool coat, hip bomber jacket, or trendy oversized teddy designs, you may find yourself shaking if things get too frigid. If you live in a freezing climate, we recommend having at least one really well-insulated coat to keep on hand when your other options just won’t cut it. A long parka jacket with a fur-lined hood is one of our favorite popular styles (there’s a reason, say, a Canada Goose jacket is coveted). If you select a top-notch jacket from a reputable brand, you won’t need to invest in a new coat for years to come. They will give you the look of winter royalty and ensure you stay protected against the elements.
Best stylish men’s winter jacket: Nobis Yatesy Men’s Long Parka
Cool and Cozy
This winter wardrobe staple is durable, breathable, and as functional as it is fabulous. nobis
This Yatesy Parka makes a great winter statement. If you want to invest in the last jacket you’ll ever need, this is the one. Filled with premium Canadian Origin White Duck Down, removable coyote fur ruff, and a wind skirt with Velcro closures, this men’s winter jacket will keep you warm in temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. The waterproof material will keep you dry during a snowstorm, and its seam seal tape beefs up its ability to protect you from the elements.
The jacket uses your own body heat to help with insulation, locking it in with heavy-duty magnetic closures. Thumbholes in the ribbed cuffs make sure your hands stay warm, too. Its underarm vent system and Sympatex membrane help maintain breathability, and you can keep your phone or keys protected in its interior chest pocket or inner patch pocket. And there’s no need to spend extra money to maintain the jacket—just toss it in the washing machine. The men’s winter jacket is available in a variety of colorways so you can find your perfect match.
Want a jacket that can transition from the sidewalk to the hiking trail?
While some prefer to have two different jackets for outdoor pastimes—one for, say, trail walking, and one for shorter excursions like running to the store or walking the dog, there are many great options for those looking to have it all. A combination casual/performance winter coat is the way to go if you want maximum flexibility. For an easy transition from snowshoeing to a drink slopeside, go for a jacket with a high fill power: something around the 700 mark should do the trick. This will ensure your jacket is light enough to keep you moving without overheating, with a bit of puff to provide maximum coziness and comfort when you’re not exercising. Of course, you’ll want to make sure the shell is water and wind-resistant, so you’re not soaked through or chilled to the bone if the weather suddenly changes. Unlike a purely casual jacket, we recommend lifting the hemline a bit so that it rests at or around your hips. This length will still keep you warm, but it will free up your lower half and increase mobility. A combination casual and performance jacket will set you up nicely for anything the colder months can throw at you.
Best multipurpose winter jacket: Mountain Equipment Lightline Jacket
Lightweight and Flexible
An impressive, comfortable water-resistant jacket that is ready for a mountain adventure or a stroll through the town. Mountain Equipment
Available in both men’s and women’s sizes, this jacket from Mountain Equipment with its comfortable down fill with a water-resistant Drilite shell is perfect for just about any winter activity. While there is a small selection of others that might be more suited for deep backcountry exploration, you can’t go wrong with a combo of performance features and casual comfort. With 700 fill power and a weight of 1 pound, 10 ounces, as well as availability in various colors, this just might be the perfect jacket for you.
Do you need a winter jacket for running and other outdoor exercises?
Cold weather doesn’t mean you need to stop enjoying the great outdoors and everything it has to offer. If you’re lucky enough to live in or visit a place where winter running and cycling are available to you, make sure you’re equipped with the best winter jacket available. A winter running jacket made for running outdoors will rely less on down fill and more on a thin yet insulated design to make sure you don’t overheat. The key to outdoor exercise is layering. You’ll notice that many winter jackets are significantly thinner than the casual or even trekking counterparts; this is because they are designed to fit over other pieces of moisture-wicking clothing, like long-sleeve shirts or lightweight fleece. Having the option to shed or add a layer can be a game-changer when it comes to a challenging run. If you know your first few layers can be quite thick, think about sizing up for your jacket.
As with all our favorite jackets, it’s important to find a hooded model that is waterproof, but you’ll also need to think about breathability. While you can still consider a high fill power (something around 750 will do nicely), you should pay even more attention to the construction and material. A material like Gore-Tex repels water without trapping in sweat, making it great for all-weather use and ensuring your cool down won’t leave you shivering.
Best outdoor performance winter jacket: Arc’teryx Norvan SL Hoody
A simple solution to staying warm without overheating, this waterproof, windproof Gore-Tex technology allows for high-performance running. Arc’teryx
This Arc’teryx hoody is designed to stand up to nature’s wettest, windiest weather. Gore-Tex and SHAKEDRY technology reduce the need for heavier fabrics to keep warm and dry. It’s easy to compress and pack even with the fitted hood and elasticized brim. It also features a watertight front zip with a chin guard, reflective cuffs, and a drop-back hem. Plus, it’s machine washable. This is an excellent jacket for cold weather, but if you know you’ll need extra warmth in below-freezing temps, check out the insulated version. Both models are available in men’s and women’s sizes.
Best stylish women’s winter jacket: Canada Goose Women’s Rossclair Parka
Functional and Fashionable
A beautiful coat from a legendary company, this mid-length parka offers sleek, superior protection from cold. Canada Goose
Canada Goose is known for producing the best winter coats with Arctic Tech fabric that will hold up in the freezing cold. The Rossclair parka is a Canada Goose jacket that delivers 650 fill power in a streamlined, slim fit that eliminates any boxiness, plus adjustable exterior waist straps mean you can get a sleek cinch. Available in nine colors, each with a two-way adjustable hood with removable fur ruff, plus recessed rib-knit cuffs, this women’s winter jacket combats harsh winds and offers many comforts.
So, what’s the best winter jacket I can get for under $200?
An excellent winter jacket is certainly an investment and can set you back more than just a pretty penny. However, you can definitely find a few more reasonably priced winter jackets if you’re not ready to shell out a grand for a Canada Goose jacket quite yet. Ultimately, you’ll want your winter coat to last for more than one season, which can help explain the price. If you want an outer layer that costs under $100, there is a good chance you’ll find yourself looking for a replacement within a year or two. However, if you pay apt attention to the fill quality (synthetic or natural) and overall construction, you may be able to find a great quality jacket for less.
Best budget winter jacket: Columbia Horizons Pine Interchange Jacket
Using omni-heat thermal technology, this multilayer option comes with a waterproof outer shell and warm inner jacket that can be worn together or separate. Columbia
An interchangeable jacket that won’t break the bank, this model from Columbia utilizes a combination of heat reflective and air-permeable waterproof technology to dissipate moisture while keeping the heat in and the cold out. As it gets warmer, you can settle on just the shell, or if it’s still quite cold, but the snow has stopped, you can comfortably get away with the inner layer alone.
Best winter jackets FAQ: people also ask
How do you wash a winter jacket?
When it comes time to wash a winter jacket, many can be loaded into your washing machine and tumble dried on low for a quick and easy clean. However, we don’t recommend doing this more than a few times per season. If you get dirt, salt, or other schmutz on the outer shell, you should be able to simply wipe away debris with a cloth towel and warm water. Make sure to read the fabric care labels before washing for the first time, as some coats require dry cleaning.
How should a winter jacket fit?
A winter jacket should fit snugly without being too tight. If the coat is too small, the down might become compressed and less effective, plus your mobility will be restricted. You’ll know it’s too tight if you can’t easily give yourself a hug, arms touching your shoulder blades. The jacket should never rise above your belly, and the shoulder seams should not be resting mid-bicep. Feel free to size up in winter jackets, especially if you plan on layering, but make sure you can still perform daily activities without the bulk of the coat getting in the way.
What are other types of winter jackets?
There are many other types of winter jackets to choose from, especially if you don’t need a waterproof jacket. Lined leather jackets, wool peacoats, and fleeces are a great way to supplement your waterproof, down-filled staple. You can find a ton of styles and colors suitable for various weather conditions to maximize outfit options.
Related: More concerned with the wet months than the cold? Check out these rain jackets.
The final word on finding the best winter jacket for you
The best winter coats and jackets are a wardrobe essential for anyone who will experience cold weather. The best winter jacket for you will suit the climate you’re in and won’t prohibit you from participating in your favorite outdoor activities. Water and wind resistance are certainly must-have features, and we recommend never saying no to a removable hood. Choose a casual coat for everyday wear and a performance coat for more demanding activities like trail running, or select a combination for a great winter jacket that will keep you cozy during the winter seasons to come.