When stuffed into one of the two roomy, zippered hand pockets, the jacket packs down to the size of a liter bottle—and lofts up almost instantly even after a couple days stuffed. We were impressed by how it performed in snowy conditions and we didn't have any issues with penetrating wind, thanks to its thick down. Updated January From sunny days where temperatures reach 50F to colder days where the highs are only F, winter weather can be unpredictable.
The two-layer waterproof fabric on the outer shell is what makes this jacket very durable. Patagonia's signature H2No breathable, waterproof, and stretchy fabric seems almost impenetrable and doesn't have much exterior stitching; because of this, we don't see much room for snags occurring.
We tested this jacket in the shower, and the outer shell did a stand-up job repelling water, earning it a near perfect 9 out of We noticed minimal down feathers escaping from the Patagonia Tres Parka's down layer. While we only tested this jacket for two months, we can tell you that if too much down escapes, the loft and warmth will start to diminish, which will affect your winter investment.
If a jacket has a lot of stitching on the outer shell, there is potential for a snag to occur. The Patagonia Tres had a sturdy, durable outer shell that was ready to withstand anything that we threw at it.
Finicky zippers seem to be a common issue with some of the jackets we tested; for example, the primary zipper on the Arc'teryx Darrah gave us problems when we tried to zip it up. The Arc'teryx Patera is highly durable, despite its finicky zipper.
The outer shell is 2-layer Gore-Tex, 75D polyester with DWR treatment and is waterproof, windproof, and breathable fabric. We found the outer shell to be very durable against snags, due to the lack of exterior stitching. When tested in high winds and heavy rain, this jacket was comparable to the Patagonia Tres Down Parka regarding their level of durability. One of the most overlooked but crucial features when buying a winter jacket is the hood. A thickly insulated hood makes a huge difference in cold weather, as opposed to a thin non-insulated hood.
For someone living in a climate that gets heavy snow and cold temps, a hood with thick insulation and faux or real fur will protect your face and keep you warm. We understand that the real fur can be controversial and not for everyone. Feel free to read more about this in our Sourcing Ethics section of our buying advice.
The Canada Goose Shelburne Parka offers an oversized adjustable hood for an even tighter fit on those extra windy days. Detachable hoods are common, and offer versatility, but what if you get caught outside in a storm without it? There were certain features we loved, like fleece-lined pockets. Whether the exterior pockets were lined on one-sided or both, fleece pockets are a stand-out feature that attributed to additional warmth and comfort on super cold days.
Not everyone carries gloves with them at all times; because of this, the fleece-lined pockets are super practical. Fleece also was a theme with collars and cuffs. We loved the fleece-lined torso of the Marmot Montreaux , and the nylon cuffs on the Rab Deep Cover Parka were also plush and super warm. Double-sided zippers were almost a mandatory requirement on all the winter jackets; we found this especially true with the knee-length parkas.
While somewhat restricting, we gained a significant amount of mobility with the double-sided zipper when walking. Secured by button snaps, we could feel the cold air leaking in, and the snaps were noticeably uncomfortable when we were sitting on hard surfaces; we honestly didn't find this feature that useful. Even though both offered a tailored look, the cinched waist on the Kensington Parka was more robust than the waist on the Columbia Heavenly Long Hooded Jacket.
Another interesting feature that the Kensington Parka offered was internal carrying straps. We didn't find ourselves utilizing the straps all that often, but for the weight close to nothing , it's a good option to include - especially if you are living in a mild climate.
The Patagonia Tres Down Parka offers a 3-in-1 option and is the only jacket like it in our review. If you are in the market for a raincoat, a puffy jacket, and a winter jacket, the Tres may be the jacket for you!
We hope that we've been able to help you decide what type of winter jacket is the right style and fit for your life. If you're still wavering between a few contenders and need help narrowing down your selections, consider reading or re-reading the Buying Advice in your quest to determine which model will best suit your needs.
The Best Winter Jackets for Women of Displaying 1 - 5 of Updated January From sunny days where temperatures reach 50F to colder days where the highs are only F, winter weather can be unpredictable. When it's time to buy a winter jacket, it's important that it's the right one for the environment you live in so you can be sure you've covered all of your bases. For the second year in a row, the Canada Goose Kensington has scored the highest in all of our rating metrics. See all prices 3 found.
See all prices 4 found. We wore these jackets every day for months, everywhere we went. Some days we would load the car up with jackets and drive out into the mountains to get a feel for how they handled in even colder weather.
Often, the fit of a winter jacket is what jeopardizes its warmth and style. When taking the time to buy a winter jacket, you want to make sure it fits properly. If you are buying a jacket online, make sure to look at the size guide to ensure the best fit. Winter weather isn't predictable. We wore each model in a variety of environments, from daily city life to mountain adventures, and rated them based on their Warmth, Weather Resistance, Style, Comfort, Features, and Durability.
The Metropolis, pictured here, scored towards the middle of the fleet when it came to warmth. Being outside in cold weather wasn't an issue in the Editors' Choice-winning Kensington Parka. The Marmot Montreaux is packed with fill-power down, keeping us comfortable and warm even when outside for an extended period of time in frigid temps. This was the warmest jacket in our line-up, earning a perfect 10 out of 10 score. Down insulation has a high warmth-to-weight ratio.
Lightweight and highly compressible, down is a great choice for cold climates, but not a super wet climate. Pictured here is the lead tester wearing the Canada Goose Camp, which scores a 10 out of 10 for comfort and an 8 out of 10 for warmth!
Adding internal nylon cuffs to a winter jacket really makes a difference in cold weather. Jackets that lacked cuffs had a hard time keeping warm air in and cold air out.
We also noticed in stormy weather internal cuffs did a great job at keeping precipitation out. The Shelburne is loaded with features. These adjustable straps at the cuffs allowed for a tighter fit when it was colder outside or when we were caught out in precipitation.
In snowy conditions, our face remained warm and protected, thanks to the coyote fur ruff around the hood. Unlike the faux-fur ruff of the Marmot Montreaux, the coyote fur ruff of the Kensington, shown here, is intended to do a better job at trapping heat. The coyote fur ruff will do a better job at retaining its loft in wet weather, and it will last longer than a faux fur ruff.
The Deep Cover Parka by Rab was one of the more stylish winter parkas we tested, scoring a 9 out 10 on the style scale. Though not mega warm, we loved the look of the lightweight and sleek Fiona Parka and granted it a 9 out 10 on our style scale. The adjustable cinched waist on the Kensington Parka allows you to tailor the fit, and scored some high style points. Insulated with comfortable fill down, the Arctic II kept us warm when temperatures started to drop.
The thick and durable outer shell did a great job at blocking cold temps and strong winds. The Camp from Canada Goose goes above and beyond to make your time outside in the winter is enjoyable. Subtle features like an insulated collar made a noticeable difference in cold weather.
Super comfortable and warm, it did a great job at trapping heat in and cold air out. We also loved the look that it added to the jacket. Soft fleece-lined collars and chin guards, like the one found on the Montreaux pictured here, added a nice cozy touch and protected our face in cold or stormy weather.
We wore these jackets for months all around Lake Tahoe, Ca and beyond. Rain, snow, wind, and even on sunny days, we brought these jackets out to really get a feel for how each one handled. The features on the Kensington are intended to last you many winters to come. It's thin and light to begin with, like the Cerium LT , and the high quality down allows it to get super small. A small compressed size is ideal for climbing, backpacking, or even bike commuting where pack space is a commodity.
If compressibility is not as important to you as some of the other metrics in our test, we'd suggest taking a look at the Rab Microlight Alpine or Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody.
This category is a catch-all for the little things we liked or didn't like about the jackets, from pockets and hoods, to draw cords and well-placed soft fleece patches. In general, we like models with durable plastic zippers that don't bend or kink over time counter-intuitive, but plastic zippers are much more durable than metal ones.
Hem drawcord cinches are key to keeping cold drafts out. A little fleece or creative baffling in the right place goes a long way in promoting freedom of movement. But a jacket didn't have to have a lot of features to score highly in this category. The Ghost Whisperer has very few features, but Mountain Hardwear kept the ones that count for a high functioning climbing layer. It got high marks for careful selection of key features.
In general, we love hoods because they add warmth. We also appreciate chest pockets for ease of access while climbing—and because it helps keep essential items, like snacks or electronics, warm and accessible. The streamlined design also makes the jacket look sleek, easily sliding with you into Happy Hour or your favorite Apres Ski venue. Arc'teryx stole the show again in this category with details such as a separate stuff sack girth hitched into the chest pocket.
This feature meant we could cram it into our luggage or carry it on the back of our harness without fear of snagging the jacket's material while chimneying up a long rock route. And when wearing the jacket, if we unzipped that chest pocket to retrieve our phone or snacks, the stuff sack wouldn't fall out. The Cerium was the highest scorer in the bunch with the Rab Microlight placing second. Fabrics are, in general, very durable these days, but there are a few things to pay attention to.
Lower denier ratings typically translate to lower weight but less durability, but fabric is not the only durability concern. In our tests, the lightest fabrics ended up being the most fragile. If it is important to you to have a lightweight jacket, it might be worth sacrificing a little durability. The North Face Aconcagua topped our charts and provided an incredibly durable fabric made of 50D nylon; the Aconcagua is tough.
The Canada Goose Perren is another top-notch model that offers rugged material that will hold up to some serious abuse. The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer is an impressively durable jacket for the weight—the fabric resisted snagging and abrasion while climbing. Alternatively, the Rab Microlight Alpine performed very well and earned our Top Pick award for its durability and reliability in combination with weather resistance. The most durable jackets in this review were not our overall top scoring jackets.
This is largely because extremely durable fabrics tend to be heavier. If weight and compressibility are less an issue for you, however, and you want a great around-town jacket that will stand up to years of use, check out the Canada Goose Hybridge Perren , a very stylish urban use down jacket, or the super durable The North Face Aconcagua.
Down is one of the best insulators on the planet. No man-made fiber has managed to replace it for its impressive warmth to weight ratio. However, down has one critical Achilles heel—it cannot get wet. When it does, the feathers get matted together and the jacket, sleeping bag, vest, or whatever the item is, loses its warmth. This is because down traps heat in the air pockets between the down feathers.
Most outdoor enthusiasts accept this risk and choose to take good care to keep their down items dry on their adventures, but if you spend a lot of time out in wet climates, you might consider synthetic insulation, at least for some of your insulation pieces—the synthetic fibers have more structure and retain warmth even when wet. Another way to manage the risk of down getting wet is to encase it in waterproof fabric, or at least materials coated with a durable water repellent finish DWR.
Arc'teryx uses a clever Down Composite Mapping technology where they integrate Coreloft synthetic insulation in high-risk areas such as cuffs, shoulders, armpits, and hoods. In previous reviews, these jackets stayed wetter longer because the synthetic insulation would absorb water which would then leak into the down and the shell fabric. In this round of testing, however, even dripping ice climbs couldn't manage to get the Cerium's cuffs wet which is one of the areas most prone to moisture.
Most of the jackets in this review are treated with a DWR durable water repellent coating on the exterior fabric to prevent water from soaking through the material and dampening the down. It is important to note, however, that these jackets are not designed to be remotely waterproof, so if you will be out in the rain, be sure you can fit your rain or hardshell jacket over your down jacket to ensure those feathers stay dry and lofted.
The KUHL Spyfire took an interesting approach using DWR coated soft shell over the shoulders, which we found very effective for beading up and shedding light rain. The North Face Aconcagua was a top performer when it came to water resistance. Not batting an eye, it has an oily feel that allows water to bead up and roll right off.
We appreciated this when we got caught in storms, and the chill started to creep in. The Arc'teryx Cerium SV and LT both earned the same score when it came to water resistance, and did a spectacular job of protecting us from the elements.
It was our favorite model to wear on winter vacations to our favorite snowy wonderlands—especially great for those traveling from warmer climates and who therefore are not as acclimated to the cold.
We especially liked the Cerium SV for ice climbing, winter backpacking, and long backcountry ski tours. One of the most intriguing aspects of this review was the continued opportunity to test out some jackets with treated hydrophobic down: Water repellent fabrics still seem to make the most difference in a down jacket's water resistance.
We took all of these jackets ice climbing and ski touring to test the water resistance. Dripping ice climbs offered an excellent real-world opportunity to observe the jackets' water repelling abilities. In the end, most jackets performed to our expectations, with the Marmot Quasar Nova falling behind significantly with how easily the shell material wet out and soaked through to the down.
The jackets in this review use sewn-through baffle construction instead of box-baffles, which are usually reserved for expedition parkas. The sewn-through design is less expensive to produce, lighter and improves ease of movement.
Several companies vary the sizes of its baffles to maximize mobility and insulation. We were very impressed with this solution. Under the arms, they place smaller baffles which eases movement of the arms and torso. Smaller baffles, however, also means more stitches, and therefore reduces its warmth. Since these smaller baffles are only under the arms, the area is often protected from the wind and otherwise covered by the arms themselves.
Overall we felt that the fit and the design of the sewn baffles are the primary components of style. No matter what, puffy down jackets make a woman look, well… puffy. But some look better than others.
The shape of the jacket also contributes to Style points. But style cannot trump function, in our reviewers' opinions. In this review, we appreciated the style of the KUHL Spyfire which was an impressive blend of style while remaining adequately "mountain ready".
However, as you know, style is subjective - and if you don't like the look of a particular jacket, you might not be inclined to wear it. So do yourself a favor and peruse the metrics for a model that performs according to your wants and needs, and satisfies your personal taste.
We hope we've been able to help you narrow down your top choices and make a final selection of a jacket for your wintertime activities. The Micro Puff Hoody delivers more warmth than you expect, given that it weighs barely more than a half-pound.
The non-adjustable, elasticized hood clings snugly around your face and fits under a helmet, giving the jacket a serious warmth boost. Choose this puffy for three-season backpacking and camping, not deep cold.
Read my full review of the Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody. Designed by PrimaLoft and The North Face, ThermoBall insulation has small, round fiber clusters—unlike typical continuous-filament synthetic insulation— that lends it the warmth and compressibility of fill power down feathers, while retaining the ability of synthetic material to continue trapping heat when wet.
A good value, the original ThermoBall Jacket packs into one of its two zippered hand pockets and performs as an outer layer for three-season backpacking or camping or a middle layer in sub-freezing temps. TNF has produced variants of this jacket, including the ThermoBall Active Jacket , which removes the insulation from the sleeves to make the jacket better for on-the-go activities in cold temps.
Make insulation light, breathable, and water-resistant, and you have a jacket that comes out of the closet in all seasons and stays on your back in widely varying conditions. Very compressible, the jacket stuffs into one of its two zippered hand pockets, and has a close-fitting, helmet-compatible hood and thumbholes in the cuffs.
While most useful from fall through spring, this is a legitimate four-season insulation layer for backpacking, climbing, backcountry skiing, mountaineering, bike commuting, or throwing on after you finish a trail run. Read my full review of the Outdoor Research Ascendant Hoody. Made with 55 percent recycled polyester, the PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco consists of fibers a fraction of the diameter of a human hair that create tiny air pockets to trap heat.
Softer and more compressible than thicker-diameter synthetic fibers, PrimaLoft Gold has a warmth-per-ounce ratio similar to down. Those water-resistant fibers also maintain their air pockets when wet: PrimaLoft claims that Gold Eco maintains 98 percent of its dry thermal efficiency when wet.
The jacket zips into its inside chest pocket, and its shell fabric has a DWR durable, water-resistant treatment that repels light precipitation. Read my full review of the Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody. On cold winter days backcountry skiing, I wear the toasty Uberlayer going uphill and downhill: That makes a huge difference in preventing moments of feeling chilled in the winter mountains, and reduces the need for frequent layering changes.
The secret sauce is the combination of water-resistant, breathable, and compressible Polartec Alpha Active insulation, a breathable, polyester stretch-mesh lining that wicks moisture, and a breathable and highly durable, weather-resistant, nylon stretch-woven shell. See all of my reviews of insulated jackets and outdoor apparel that I like at The Big Outside. LL Bean gets plus points for actually making a tall version. Maybe someday giants like me will get more than one option.
Nice review, but I think that you are a bit late as the winter is about to get over. Besides that, all these jackets are surely the best and as I live in Canada I know what a good jackets look like. Hi Liam, as an expert yourself on down and synthetic jackets, you undoubtedly understand that all 10 of these jackets would be useful camping in the backcountry in spring, summer, and fall; and while some are also good for winter, some of them are clearly too light for winter, anyway.
Lastly, read more closely and an expert like you will see that they are all quite different from one another. I go to Iceland regularly for work etc. Hey Michael, fantastic breakdown of down jackets. I agree with you.
We rated each jacket based on warmth in similar settings, weighed them and compared compressibility, and assessed them for durability and weather resistance. The following is a thorough look at a collection of the industry's best down jackets. A down jacket might be your answer. These feather filled jackets are useful for all kinds of winter activities ranging from ski touring to hiking to outdoor photography. Finding the best down jacket for your specific needs should be your main focus before heading out into the cold. Down jackets without a hood usually have a high, relatively tight-fitting collar which traps heat superbly while down jackets with hoods are designed to mainly trap the heat around your neck when the hood is .