This is perhaps the best of both worlds. Layers always beat insulation. This winter jacket has 8.
Reader Approved Why choose wikiHow? In this case, we have also received several testimonials from our readers, who told us how this article truly helped them. Layers always beat insulation. The cold air will immediately chill the t-shirt you have under it, and subsequently turn your wardrobe into a beer cooler.
This includes gloves and even socks if you haven't invested in real snow boots or thermal boots for high altitude climbing. Don't bother with hats and scarves unless you already own a warm aviator hat that buckles around your chin. Instead, buy a decent balaclava that covers your neck and shoulders and that can be adjusted to cover your entire lower face or stay rested under your chin.
Your second layer will be the hood of your jacket. Protect your upper body. In fact, many of the down parkas available will make you sweat and will fail to protect you from wind gusts; being covered in sweat can be worse than wearing nothing at all.
A nylon exterior is a plus, as it will repel any snow or freezing rain from dampening the insulation. Under the parka you'll want to wear a thin but heavy sweatshirt. The tops of winter track suits work perfectly for this, and also give you the benefit of a zipper so you dress or undress both layers in one suave motion.
Under the sweatshirt is not your bare skin of course, but what you plan on wearing indoors. This provides three layers that will ensure your body won't even be fazed by the merciless cold outside. Be sure to tuck the inner layer inside your pants so that wind doesn't blow cold air up your back. Protect your lower body. Most people get lazy about this, but jeans simply do not cut it. On a normal winter day, throw on some thin thermal underwear that reaches your ankles under your pants.
It makes a world of difference. When temperatures drop below zero, you'll either want some thicker thermals or to invest in some snow pants to wear over your indoor pants. Do not wear sweatpants or dress pants as your outer layer. If you have a long commute to work, you'll be much happier putting 30 seconds aside to change into them when you arrive. Cover your hands and feet.
Thin fabric gloves seem useless in Chicago, but they're not. They make a perfect secondary layer to wear under thicker, waterproof gloves.
If it isn't snowing and you're wearing a normal pair of shoes, double up on socks. Read on for specifics about how the jackets faired in each metric that helped comprise this overall score. Additional details can be found in each contender's individual review. Every purchase is an exercise in value assessment. What am I getting for what I'm paying?
With winter jackets, you consider your climactic needs, your metabolism, comfort and stylistic factors, how much you'll wear it, and your budget. Thankfully, there is a vast range of options, in terms of price and value, on the market. See the chart below to compare each jacket's score with its price.
The best values have the highest scores and the lowest prices. They show up in the bottom right corner. To see which jacket a dot represents, hover over it with your mouse. As you assess your value needs, here are a few thoughts for your consideration. First, comfort in uncomfortable conditions is a rare blessing. The right jacket turns the gnarliest of weather into a pleasant romp through a snow globe.
Suitable materials will last longer, and you will get more bang for your buck. Insulation materials vary in both price and durability. Goose down insulation keeps its loft and insulating value much longer than synthetic insulation does.
Within down insulation, the rating systems describe weight and insulation value, not durability. More expensive down is warmer per weight, but it won't necessarily last longer than less expensive down. Finally, good weatherproofing is costly. Sealed seams, tight pockets, and protected zippers take effort, design, and pricy materials. If you really want and need to guard against wet and wind, you will pay for it.
Warmth is the most important metric we used to rank each competitor and is a factor of how much insulation is in a jacket, regardless of if its down or synthetic insulation. That said, down fill feels warmer than synthetic The more insulation a jacket contains, the warmer it is.
We looked at the insulation quality fill weight and quantity fill weight of each jacket and then compared it to the jacket's cut and length to gauge how the insulation is distributed. If two jackets have an equal fill weight of 10 ounces, but one has a waist-length hem while the other has a mid-thigh length hem, they are not equally warm.
The most useful measurement for warmth is, of course, comparative testing in actual conditions. We spent a lot of outside comparatively test, swapping jackets among the test team and comparing notes. The top-scoring Arc'teryx Camosun features high-quality, fill down. Such lofty, efficient down keeps the jacket's weight down and its packable size small. This low number should not dissuade shoppers though. Using heavier, lower quality down brings the cost down and a casual parka like this doesn't need to be as light and compressible as more technical options that need to fit in your backpack.
The Canada Goose Expedition Parka is filled with average quality fill down , but it has so much of it that it's the warmest model reviewed. It's also pretty bulky. The second warmest jacket earns a Best Buy award. The North Face McMurdo is nearly an expedition parka, with the price tag of a casual jacket. It offers the best value in our test. The Patagonia Jackson Glacier also kept us warm in most wintry conditions. The Woolrich Bitter Chill deserves mention for being on the warmer side of the fleet.
The Woolrich is the warmest non-down insulated piece reviewed. Woolrich insulates the Bitter Chill with a lofted batting that blends wool and synthetic fibers. Overall, jackets with synthetic insulation are not as warm as the down models. The Arc'teryx Fission SV provides less insulation than most of the down models reviewed. This is likely because the garment has less insulation overall, though it did reinforce the idea that if you are looking for warmth, opt for down. REI's jacket is a down-insulated layering piece that has insulating value a little below that of the Arc'teryx Fission.
The fleece jackets are the least insulating products reviewed. Well-suited to more moderate climates, The North Face Arrowood Triclimate is durable, versatile, and affordable, but not incredibly warm. Insulated with synthetic fleece, it just doesn't stack up to the rest of the field, which may be just what you're looking for if you live in a warm climate. When we talk about weather resistance, we're talking about wind and water.
These jackets are thick enough to cut the wind, so you just need to look out for drafts. Longer jackets or those with ribbed hems will protect you from below. Inner cuffs and hoods will also keep warm air in and cold out. That leaves us with water. Water-resistant outer fabric helps keep you and your jacket's insulation dry in wet winter weather. All of these models have some type of water resistance, from basic nylon with a durable water resistant DWR coating to a fully waterproof membrane layer with taped seams.
These strategies provide varying degrees of protection. If your winter precipitation tends to fall as rain or wet snow instead of the West's dry powder, consider a winter jacket with a waterproof outer shell, like The North Face Arrowood Triclimate with its DryVent fabric or the Arc'teryx Fission SV that uses Gore-Tex. These waterproof and breathable fabrics shed water faster and for much longer than a DWR treatment alone.
If a jacket has an inner waterproof membrane, you can be sure the outer face fabric is treated with DWR. This knocked the jacket down in the ratings. If you wear your jacket in lower temperatures where it tends to snow instead of rain, and if that snow is relatively dry you know who you are , then the competitors with DWR treatments such as the Canada Goose Expedition Parka , Patagonia Jackson Glacier , or the REI Co-op Down Hoodie are adequately protected.
It's not incredibly water-resistance due to its untaped seams, but it's warm enough to excel in genuinely sub-freezing conditions. Luckily, in those temperatures, precipitation is always solid, and the compromised weather protection isn't a problem. However, in our testing, the outer fabric to soaked in more snow and water than the others, making it a bit heavy and uncomfortable.
This is the cost of style. The external material is attractive, but not as weather-proof as the smooth face of something like the Marmot Fordham or the Editors' Choice Arc'teryx Camosun.
We dig the Haglofs Torsang Parka's weather protection. This is a fully waterproof, taped-seams rain shell with light insulation. It isn't warm enough for many winter climates, but the wet and sleety corners of North America are just the place for it. In terms of weather protection, it is similar to the Editors Choice and the Patagonia Tres. Wintertime is uncomfortable enough.
Don't put on an uncomfortable winter parka, too. Most of the models we reviewed work hard to make braving the cold and wind more forgiving. We found a general correlation between cost and comfort. More expensive jackets use softer materials and more thoughtful tailoring to achieve maximum comfort.
A parka's cut has a significant impact on its comfort. A meticulously designed jacket like the Arc'teryx Camosun Parka fits most bodies better than a generic square-cut design.
A longer hem, which many of these parkas use, also keeps the waist from riding up and exposing you to drafts. A notable exception is our Best Buy Marmot Fordham. Despite its bargain price, every tester who tried on the Fordham was impressed to find that it's more comfortable than the competition. There is also something of a correlation between comfort and warmth.
The biggest jackets we tested are the warmest, but they are also the most confining. Lots of insulation and an extended cut keep the heat in and make for a large package. This bulky package limits your range of motion, also impeding your comfort. The more comfortable parkas reviewed, like the Arc'teryx Camosun , also have elastic rib knit cuffs, which seal out drafts and snow.
Unless you cinch them down around your gloves, velcro-closed cuffs aren't as protective and comfortable as the elastic versions. The rest employ velcro cuffs. We love the cozy feel of fleece lining, especially when it lines pockets and chin covers.
When cinched tight, it works as intended to hold in warmth, making you feel like you're at home in front of the fire, albeit with some tickles to your cheeks. The soft, down-sweater style construction of the OR Whitefish is far more comfortable than it appears. It looks like a rigid "barn coat" style jacket. However, the construction is tailored and materials selected such that you have all the range of motion you need and a light feeling sort of insulation.
Hoods, multiple hand warmer pockets, two-way zippers, and cuff closures work together to protect you from frigid environments. A hood is mandatory in nasty winter weather, and while it is not a substitute for a warm hat, it certainly makes life a lot nicer. Ideally, these hoods will be highly adjustable to allow for a customizable and secure fit. The vast majority of jackets on this list use down fill, which is warmer and loftier than synthetic insulation. But there is something to be said for the latter, which costs considerably less and continues to insulate when wet.
What are the downsides of a jacket like the Columbia Snow Eclipse? 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 Women's Columbia Snow Eclipse. Perhaps the single most important factor when choosing a winter jacket is its intended use. Performance jackets, on the other hand, are more technical in nature and often lighter in weight due to the use of premium down and shell materials. These models are designed for mountaineering, climbing, and other cold-weather backcountry use. To help clarify the best uses for each jacket, we list the category in the product specs and in our comparison table.
Nearly all the jackets on this list have down fill, which is the warmest, lightest, and most compressible type of insulation. A few jackets—including the Patagonia Hyper Puff—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 Caterpillar Heavy Insulated Jacket. We love both types of insulation and each has its purposes, but down wins out in pure warmth and coziness for winter.
For more background on this topic, see our article on down vs. Warmth is a function of many factors: But the two most important factors in determining the warmth of your jacket are fill power and fill weight.
Fill Power Fill power is the most heavily marketed spec among winter jackets and parkas, and refers to down specifically nearly all the jackets on this list are down. The higher the number fill, fill, fill, etc. Performance winter jackets usually are around fill or higher, and casual pieces run from fill to fill. Fill Weight Fill weight is often overlooked but just as relevant as fill power.
Instead of measuring the quality of the down, fill weight is simply the total weight of the down inside the jacket. The calculation becomes more difficult as the fill power changes: Around half the jackets on this list provide fill weight, which is more helpful than not. 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.
For more lightweight and midweight jacket options, see our articles on the best down jackets and synthetic jackets. A major contributor to warmth is the layers or lack thereof you wear underneath. 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.
The importance of weight in your winter jacket buying decision depends largely on the intended use. For those looking in the performance category mountaineers, climbers, winter explorers, etc. The type and thickness of the shell fabric matters in overall weight as well. 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. 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. Exposure to wind can make an otherwise freezing winter day even worse. In terms of the wind resistance of a parka, a number of factors come into play including the type and thickness of the shell, amount and distribution of the insulation, and fabric of the liner.
In particular, the shell itself matters most: 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. Finally, many performance-oriented jackets have helmet-compatible hoods, which are necessary for mountaineering and climbing. For use on mild-weather days, some prefer the option to remove the hood from their winter coat altogether.
For the coldest winter months, these heavyweight jackets and parkas bring the warmth. Best Overall Winter Jacket 1. Performance Perhaps the single most important factor when choosing a winter jacket is its intended use. Insulation Types Nearly all the jackets on this list have down fill, which is the warmest, lightest, and most compressible type of insulation. It's hard to beat the lofty warmth of down insulation Warmth Warmth is a function of many factors: Wearing the Marmot Montreal on a winter visit to Glacier National Park Fill Power Fill power is the most heavily marketed spec among winter jackets and parkas, and refers to down specifically nearly all the jackets on this list are down.
Wearing the Marmot Fordham on a subfreezing day 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.
Layering A major contributor to warmth is the layers or lack thereof you wear underneath. A plush lining is comfortable with or without a long-sleeve layer underneath Weight The importance of weight in your winter jacket buying decision depends largely on the intended use.
Weight isn't a major consideration for casual wear Water Resistant vs. Waterproof Down loses its ability to insulate when wet, and therefore all jackets on this list offer some protection against precipitation. The Pertex shell on Rab's Neutrino offers good water resistance Wind Protection Exposure to wind can make an otherwise freezing winter day even worse. On a backcountry ski trip with the windproof Arc'teryx Firebee AR Hood Perhaps more than any other type of jacket, the hood matters a lot with a winter coat.
Learn More About Outdoor Gear. Winter boots are a timeless and charming piece of gear. They bring back memories of being a kid, when snow falling always meant the anticipation of stomping around for hours at a time As the cold weather approaches, that doesn't necessarily mean it's time to stay indoors and shut down for the winter. Instead, with the proper gear, you can get outside and enjoy the crisp air and beautiful snowy landscapes. This winter parka is the whole package: Below we break down the best down jackets of , including the top down sweaters, ultralights Gloves may not get quite as much attention as your other winter clothing, but they offer invaluable warmth and protection when the temperature drops.
Our picks for the best winter gloves of As the weather cools down each year the insulation debate heats up. Goose and duck down fill are among the premier insulators on earth, trapping air and creating pockets of warmth around your body With a wide and stable footprint and solid underfoot traction, snowshoes open up your favorite summer running and hiking trails for winter fun.
Below we break down the best models for the season including recreational snowshoes Despite continued efforts in synthetics, down is the best insulator on Earth. To better understand the From cold to snow to wind to sweat, choosing a ski jacket is all about managing the conditions that you might encounter on the mountain.
The right ski jacket for you depends on the specific kinds of skiing you enjoy most—skinning up a sunny ridgeline View the discussion thread. Add adventure to your inbox.
Warmth rating: 4 Details: Long (46 1/2 inches to hem), hits mid-calf; 3 3/4 pounds; waterproof; windproof Bottom line: Lands' End, founded in Chicago, designed the commuter coat with the Windy City in mind. Chicagoans have strong opinions about the best ways to keep warm in the winter. But when it comes to finding the best coat to brave the elements, there are a few do's and don'ts to winter coats. "It still comes down to basic science and engineering," said Pat Slaven, the textile expert at Consumer Reports. Best Things To Do In Chicago: Sept. 21 - Sept. 23Chicago is welcoming fall with some fun events and activities around the area. Here are our top picks. Here are our top picks. Best Things To Do In Chicago: September 7 to 9 September is here, along with fun and exciting activities throughout the Chicago area.