If you live in a part of the world where subzero temperatures, the polar vortex and bomb cyclones are common occurrences in the winter months, you know that owning a warm, stylish winter jacket can make all the difference when you venture outside. But, how does one find the right mix of style and function when choosing a winter jacket? Down, synthetic, wool? What kind of outer shell do you need, what is a fill rating of 600 and is a liner important? A recent article by Popular Science provides some helpful criteria and suggests the the consumer buy a jacket that’s “warm enough to bottle in your body heat, but you also don’t want to drastically overestimate your need for insulation. Find the balance of flexibility, weight, and warmth that matches your actual lifestyle.”
Best Overall Winter Jackets
Our choices below take these criteria into account and balance that against aesthetics or style. In short, we chose jackets that perform exceptionally well in very cold environments, but also shine when you hit the town, drove to the slopes or need the right look en route to a dinner party. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find low-cost options when shopping high-end jackets, but we did select an editor’s best value option that straddles cost and function nicely.
1. Canada Goose Kensington Parka
Fill: 8 oz. of 800-fill down
Weight: 1 lb. 5.3 oz.
Price: $925 at Backcountry
The Canada Goose Kensington is just about the best winter jacket money can buy. The removable hood is lined with authentic coyote fur, which gives this jacket a stylish look and extra protection from cold wind and snow. The durable outer shell repels water well and although 625-fill-power down isn’t the warmest jacket you can buy, it will do the job in the harshest weather conditions. The above-the-knee cut facilitates movement without being overly restrictive. Microfleece-lined pockets, thick knit cuffs, and adjustable cinched waist all showcase Canada Goose’s attention to detail and comfort.
This jacket is water-resistant, not waterproof–so, if you’re looking for a jacket that will keep you airtight dry in a place like the Pacific Northwest, you may want to consider something with a more water resistant shell. However you cut it, the Kensington is made to last and will turn heads when you’re trudging through snow banks. If you’re considering purchasing a Kensington, you may want to watch the video below to learn how their jackets are made.
There are also well-made jackets built for less extreme environments that cost a lot less and will still last you many a winter. Eddie Bauer’s Sun Valley jacket is an excellent example. Economic, warm, highly water resistant and durable, this jacket represents a killer value for a versatile and stylish winter coat. We also like the Marmot Montreaux for its warmth to cost ratio. While it’s fabric is not as burly as many options here, it’s the warmest jacket in the review and costs far less than the most expensive options.
2. Marmot Montreaux
Fill: 700-fill down (duck)
Weight: 1 lb. 5.3 oz.
Fabric: 100% Polyester DWR 1.8 oz/yd | 71% Acrylic- 15% Mod acrylic- 14% Polyester Fur 22.7 oz/yd
Price: $213 at Amazon or Backcountry.com
This jacket is waterproof and water-resistant. The 700 fill down also makes this very warm and lofty, although some complain that the fit of the jacket is either too small or too big. We wouldn’t characterize this jacket as light, but it is stylish and comes in bright, vibrant colors. Overall, this is one of our favorite knee-length parkas that relies on a form-fitting look. The Montreaux’s hydrophobic down fill retains insulating properties when you encounter light snow flurries—or spill a bottle of water down the front of the jacket. The hood is equipped with a detachable faux-fur ruff for additional warmth during those brisk winter mornings. A fleece-lined torso keeps your core warm in sub-zero temperatures. If you live in the Midwest or Northeast, this is a great pick.
3. The North Face Gotham II
Fill: 550-fill down
Weight: 3 lbs. 2 oz.
Price: $160 at Amazon
The North Face Gotham II has a decidedly cool look and warm feel. Based on the design and urban-chic name, one would be correct in assuming that this jacket tilts more towards fashion than function. That’s not to say that it doesn’t keep you warm, but it is fair to say that the Gotham II doesn’t have the same warmth for the weight as some of the pricier jackets on the list that use 800-fill down or even higher. But, this jacket was never designed to be taken to the tundra–it’s simply too fashionable to be subjected to sub zero temperatures. And in case you don’t always want the fur collar, it is removable. All things considered, this is a sharp-looking jacket, but don’t forget that it’s not waterproof, has a lower down-fill than our other options and the the baffles and lack of exterior chest pockets up the chic quotient, but lower the warmth.
4. Rab Neutrino Pro
The Rab Neutrino Pro is a serious winter jacket for the woman who prioritizes warmth over all else. The ratings for this jacket are very high and much of what you’ll find about this jacket suggests it’s popular among the outdoor and active crowd. Not surprisingly, it has a technical look and comprehensive feature set made for outdoor activities such as skiing, rock climbing, etc. Taking warmth and value into consideration, our favorite option for 2018-2019 is the Rab Neutrino Pro. Most importantly, you get a whopping 8 ounces of 800-fill hydrophobic down, which is considerably more than popular lightweight down jackets from brands like Arc’teryx and Patagonia that cost nearly as much. Updated for this winter, the Rab also sports a new Pertex Quantum Pro shell.
The 20-denier shell fabric helps with weight and packability. Since Rab is a U.K.-based company, Americans will have to get accustomed to the European-style left-hand zipper. Overall, this jacket excels in terms of all the important features.
5. Pajar Queens Jacket
The Pajar Queens jacket relies on chevron quilting and has the style of a puffer but the cut of a coat with terrifically flattering quilting details. Made from a durable 3 layer bonded fabric with water resistant coating the baffles for the duck down are stitched in a lovely diagonal pattern which adds height to the design. Around the chest and elbows channels are stitched closer together, bringing more insulation to the core and elbows for effective protection from winter right down to – 22F. A two way front zip and side seam zips insure you’ve plenty of room for movement, whether you’re striding down a city street or spending hours sitting in a stadium. The fully adjustable hood sports a flattering fur trim that frames your face when the hood is pushed back, cuts the wind when you’ve got it popped up over your head.
6. Arc’teryxBeta AR Women’s Jacket
The Beta AR is the do everything, most versatile waterproof/breathable jacket for activities in mountain environments. Hand pockets, regular fit, pit zippers, a length to accommodate layers and a hood with an internal collar means comfort in storms, climbing, skiing or simply enjoying the outdoors. You’ll need a layer or two underneath since this isn’t a heavy jacket with fill, but it’s breathable and exceptional in extreme weather conditions where rain and wind resistance are important. And…did we mention it’s very light and easy to pack.
7. Parajumpers Long Bear Down Jacket
Fill: 6.7 oz. of 700-fill down
Weight: 2 lbs. 7 oz.
Price: $748 at Backcountry
This is a very popular jacket and comes with a heavy price tag. However, if you’re looking for the perfect blend of style and function, this option mirrors the Canada Goose jackets in many ways. The authentic fur lining of the hood is both stylish and soft (and removable) and the hood drawstrings allow you to protect your hair from rain or snow and prevent the hood from blowing back. Even though it’s thick and a little heavy, the jacket is machine washable. Although it performs so well in extreme weather, it’s slim and relies on a European cut. This which means that it flatters the female silhouette. Some suggest this jacket runs a size large, so be aware of that when ordering or trying it on.