Unless you live in a location where you get warm temps 365 days a year, you have to brace yourself for cold weather at some point. When temps drop below freezing and the thought of heading out makes you want to crawl back into bed, it’s time to abandon the idea of wearing an uninsulated cotton jacket or just a thick sweater. But choosing a good winter jacket that’s properly warm and doesn’t sacrifice every bit of style in order to get there is a difficult task.
Keep in mind the best winter jackets don’t actually provide or create warmth. The materials within actually insulate existing body warmth and trap it, as well as provide layer(s) of protection against chilly wind and wet and frozen precipitation that can mitigate that warmth. Sure, there are coats with heating systems, but most of those are relegated to skiing and hardcore winter adventuring.
For the purposes of this article, the primary goal is insulation against cold temperatures, followed by inclement weather protection as a secondary objective. The third is the style quotient, which is important but not imperative when the wind is whipping up and you’re in single-digits temps. For you gents who need a rugged winter coat for months of punishment, a good thigh-length, well-insulated and hooded parka is the way to go. For those of you who live in warmer climates but travel to colder ones occasionally, there are go-to options that both pack down well and last for years when properly stored.
We’ve selected a capable group of winter coats and jackets that run the gamut of styles, materials, and prices. None of them approaches the steep, virtually out-of-reach prices like those from Canada Goose, which can crest over $1,000. Also, most of our selections don’t require layering because while that’s one of the best ways to stay warm, it’s not always practical when you’re on the go. Maybe you’ll make yourself happy with one of these great outerwear choices, or make someone’s winter that much better by gifting them one for the holidays.
Helly-Hansen Svalbard Parka
If you haven’t tried outerwear from Helly-Hansen out of Norway, you’ve had your head in the snow. The Svalbard Parka is built to fight the chill and the elements with Helly Tech breathable, waterproof, and windproof shell. The 133g/m Primaloft body insulation is for superb warmth, and the big detachable faux fur hood keeps your dome from freezing. It also has tons of pockets, adjustable cuffs, and hits below the hips for ideal cold-weather length without making you look like you’re wearing a down mumu.
Amazon Essentials Heavy Weight Hooded Puffer Coat
You can call it a hoax, but this barely more than forty-buck puffer jacket is no joke. This bona fide winter coat is warm thanks to 100% polyester fill, zippered welt-front hand-warmer pockets, and a full hood. There are also elastic cuffs to hold in the warmth, a snap storm flap over the zipper closure to keep the snow out, and your choice of eight colors to make any recipient happy.
Alpha Industries N-3B Skytrain Parka
The famed flight-jacket maker also happens to make a great urban-style winter parka that goes well with jeans, lounge pants, and dress slacks alike, all the while keeping your reluctant winter self toasty. The trans-nylon is capable but not overly thick, and the parka has a wind and water-resistant shell. Cinch it all with drawstrings at the shearling-lined collar, and look semi-legit with the “Remove Before Flight” pilot’s tag that adds some nice non-wintry flair.
Topo Designs Subalpine Jacket
This thick nylon shell is for layering but can manage 40-degree temps all by itself. The DWR coating fights off moisture with ferocity, and the big hood has its own visor and drawcord when the wind whips up. The Subalpine also gets reinforced ripstop panels to parry branches and bramble, long angled chest pockets and seam pockets for small items storage, and a straight cut with enough room for their companion fleece, a down layer, or a thick sweater. It can take on skiing and city-slicking with equal aplomb.
Uniqlo Ultra Warm Down Coat
Uniqlo makes some great, very affordable garments, and the this is the second least expensive winter jacket on the list. For under $100, it boasts the warmest properties of any Uniqlo’s coats and uses down and polyester fill for lightness and warmth. The poly/wool/acrylic lining is soft on the skin, and the faux fur hood trim makes you look very serious about winter.
Filson Featherweight Down Jacket
Not all down jackets are created equal, and Filson’s version is ready for the slopes, as well as the not-so-merciful field duties. The exterior uses ripstop nylon to manage the angry outdoors and ample, ethically sourced goose down to combat the cold. The big kangaroo handwarmer pockets are even lined with sumptuous Moleskin fabric for softness. The insulated hood will also help your mug from grimacing like your buddies who still think they’re too cool for winter coats.
The North Face McMurdo Parka III
It might look sled-dog ready, bu the McMurdo Parka III is cut and styled for urban winter duties. The DryVent 2L shell cuts out wind, water, and snow, while the responsibly-sourced 550 Fill Goose Down cradles you in warmth while easing your conscience. Four huge outer pockets and convenient upper arm pocket keeps you mobile and gear-ready. The faux fur trim is removable, and there’s even a warm neck gaiter built into the hood for an extra measure of warmth and protection.
Arc'teryx Cerium LT Jacket
The brand’s Cerium line properties equate to more minimalist cuts while retaining excellent warmth, hence the 850 fill-power down that’s a serious upgrade from already warm 550 fill. The waist-length hoody can manage serious cold, and they even went so far as to place Coreloft synthetic insulation in strategic, moisture-prone locations. There’s a drawstring hem with an extended tail and a rear-pull drawstring in the smartly cut hood that doesn’t impede peripheral vision. Call this the smart man’s puffer.
Patagonia Maple Grove Parka
If you don’t like the furry-hood parka look but still want near-impenetrable winter warmth, the Maple Grove is an excellent choice because it has the warmth of an arctic-level parka with a slenderized look. The shell is a stretch canvas treated with a DWR coating and then gets 600 fill-power recycled duck and goose down insulation in bonded channels for minimal movement.
The hood is adjustable and cinches with drawcords tucked away for neatness. The 3 front pockets and a zipped internal pocket are convenient, and the whole look of the Maple Grove goes with just about anything.
Adidas Xploric 3-Stripe Jacket
The third least expensive coat here has more of a sporty look than the others, making it excellent for weekend errands than for the office. The hip-length Parka is a tad wider in the body but manages to eschew a bulgy look thanks to a straight cut, dark coloring, and the signature three-stripes elongated for the sleeves. It has a protective, high cut neck on the hood, raglan sleeves for a better fit in the shoulders, a storm flap, and big handwarmer pockets. Most of all, it’s a total bargain that won’t disappoint when things get ugly outside.