Old Navy Logo for the Family. The McMurdo, while warmer than many jackets in our review, isn't nearly as insulating as the Expedition. Hoods, multiple hand warmer pockets, two-way zippers, and cuff closures work together to protect you from frigid environments. The Canada Goose coyote fur hood lining is controversial, it's also really warm. When we talk about weather resistance, we're talking about wind and water.
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Sweater-Fleece Hooded Parka for Girls. Frost-Free Puffer Jacket for Girls. 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 best hood in our test is found on the chart-topping Canada Goose Expedition.
The hood is warm, large, and can be cinched down securely and comfortably. The stiff brim also keeps the hood almost out of your field of view.
This is unfortunate, as the latest hood is compromised enough that warmth and weather protection suffers. If you leave the removable fur ruff on and don't have to move your head much, the McMurdo's hood effectively seals out the weather. Otherwise, the more sophisticated hoods of the Arc'teryx and Patagonia jackets are at the head of the pack, literally.
The Woolrich Bitter Chill has a roomy and cozy hood. Only the interior layers of the 3-in-1 jackets do not come with any hood, meaning that a warm hat is necessary. Insulated handwarmer pockets are an excellent place to keep cold hands or gloves, and most have a fleece-like liner. The Arc'teryx jackets have the best hand warmers. All of these feature wrap-around fleece lining. This not only means that your hand is insulated while in the pocket, but that there is no draft when the pocket is open.
The next best hand warmer pockets, like those on the REI Down Hoody , put the user's hand between the outer insulation and the wearer's body.
The pockets are uninsulated, but they are fleece-lined, and there are four of them! With a set at chest level and waist level, there is a hand warming option for every posture. The latest version still has four fleece-lined handwarmer pockets, but the upper, chest-level ones are now situated further from the center zipper.
This means that you have to contort your shoulders and elbows to get your hands into them. So much so, that these pockets aren't comfortably usable. Nonetheless, the jacket is incredibly worthy. We wish that the jackets featuring a single layer of fabric protecting the hands in a warming pocket had a more sophisticated design. The Canada Goose models, for instance, both have uninsulated hand pockets. Down fill weight is also critically important. The fill weight is the mass of down insulation used in the parka often observed by how thick the jacket is.
Thus, a jacket with eight ounces of fill is warmer than a jacket with two ounces of fill, even though it uses lower quality down. These two numbers, the fill power, and fill weight together can give you a reasonable idea of how warm a particular product is.
Down parkas usually constructed with sewn-through or box baffles. Occasionally, a single product will be a combination of both. Refer to our Down Jacket Buying Advice article for more information on down jacket construction. Synthetic insulation is made up of plasticized fibers that are spun to mimic the insulation properties of down. Companies such as PrimaLoft and Polarguard and individual manufacturers have made great leaps in synthetic material quality in recent years.
The advantage of using synthetic insulation is that it does not clump up when wet. Although the insulative properties are also compromised by moisture, the effect is not as severe as it is with down, and it will dry out faster. The drawback to synthetic insulation is that, as it is compressed and expanded over its lifetime, it will begin to pack down and lose its ability to keep you warm. We tested three synthetic jackets in this review and found that they were less warm overall, but as in the case of the Arc'teryx Fission SV, provided a slimmer fit and adequate insulation for temperate climates.
Pile or fleece is a fabric meant to replicate the hide and wool of a sheep. It is a woven fabric with a fuzzy, thick layer of fibers that looks quite like the wool of a sheep. Pile combines the inexpensive nature and water-readiness of synthetic insulation with the durability of down insulation.
The main disadvantage of pile insulation is that it's not that thick, so it's not that warm. Over the years we have tested thick pile jackets like the Patagonia Isthmus and Fjallraven Greenland. All of these are among the least insulating winter jackets around. On the upside, contenders like this are low-maintenance and will last a long time. Hybrid pieces maximize performance by matching the benefits of an insulation type to the needs of your body.
In our review, almost half of the jackets now feature some hybrid insulation. The pile-insulated jackets, for instance, feature synthetic puff insulated sleeves to keep your arms warm.
The Arc'teryx Camosun features both down and synthetic insulation mapped to the user's body and to perspiration hot spots. The hybrid nature of these jackets doesn't seem to change their performance much.
If we split hairs, we could probably find subtle differences. However, we didn't see any obvious pros or cons to hybrid designs. We also tested the Bitter Chill Parka from Woolrich. This jacket uses a combination of synthetic fibers and natural sheep's wool for insulation. It works primarily like synthetic insulation.
A good winter parka offers a variety of amenities to make winter living more comfortable. There are simple jackets like the REI Down Hoody that offer few features in the name of simplicity and cost, and there are jackets that have so many extra features that it is tough to decide what is needed and what is not. At the top of our list of important features is a hood. A hood adds warmth and weather resistance.
A removable hood is a nice touch, as this gives the wearer another option for style and for reducing bulk when the weather is nicer. Depending on what kind of activity you are using your winter jacket for, such as an occasional ski jacket for trips to the slopes, you may also find the spacious sizing of helmet-compatible hoods to be useful.
The absolute best hoods, in our experience, are very adjustable with a large volume, removable fur, and an integrated, optional face mask. We didn't test any hoods like this in our test, but some came close. The closure systems on cuffs and front zippers are also something to look closely at, as they will influence weather resistance and warmth.
Rib-knit cuffs like those featured on the Canada Goose Chilliwack Bomber are ideal but only allow for over the top, gauntlet style gloves if you don't want to stretch the fabric out. On the other hand, stylishly loose cuffs, like those on the Woolrich Bitter Chill , tend to let in cold drafts. Which gloves will work comfortably with each jacket depends on those cuffs. Also, look at our How to Choose the Best Ski Gloves article for more information on glove fit and style.
Zippers deserve a careful look since the fabrics may be waterproof, but the zippers are often not. Specific models, like the Arc'teryx Fission SV , use waterproof zippers, while others use storm flaps to keep rain and wind drafts out. Storm flaps are a nice touch, as long as they are easy to snap on and off with gloves and durability made.
A winter jacket is a garment that can help you withstand the cold, wind, and snow or rain. It should contain thick insulation your body stays warm even when . Most women need another coat such as a pea coat or sweater coat for dressier events and for less frigid temperatures. A pea coat is a classic pick for most. The pea coat works well with dresses, tights and ankle boots, but equally fits over a sweater, jeans and snow boots. Winter Jackets and Coats Designed to help you keep pushing your limits when temperatures plummet, our rain jackets feature many different warmth-to-weight ratios and heat-retaining capabilities. Get superior heat retention with goose down thermal insulation and bungee-cord-cinch waists for additional warmth when you need it most.