Best Winter Jackets: Protect Yourself From the Frosty Weather

models in the best winter jackets


Seems like just yesterday we were firing up the grill and sweating in the sunshine, and yet here we are doing research on the best winter jackets for the upcoming season. Whether you're someone who likes to hibernate or someone who thrives in colder temperatures, there's a jacket out there for you. The best winter jackets are known for their warmth, durability, and their ability to keep you comfortable in sometimes uncomfortable temperatures.

Our top picks range from winter jackets that you can wear all day on the slopes to jackets that will keep you warm and visible during your after-work runs (thank you daylight savings). Or if you're thinking about backpacking now that camping season is done for a more serene experience, we've got an excellent option for you. The ACTIVE.com Reviews Team has compiled a list of the very best options that fit your climate and lifestyle this winter.

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The Best Winter Jackets - Our Top Picks

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Best Overall Winter Jacket - The North Face ThermoBall Eco Snow Triclimate 3-in-1 Jacket

The North Face ThermoBall Eco Snow Triclimate 3-in-1 Jacket

SPECS

  • Fill: Synthetic
  • Size options: S-XXL
  • Weight: 2 lbs. 3.27 oz.
  • Style options: 6 colors available

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We chose The North Face ThermoBall Eco Snow Triclimate 3-in-1 Jacket as the best overall winter jacket because it's three jackets in one. The outer jacket is waterproof and has waterproof zippers to keep you dry. Since it's a standard fit, it can be worn on its own or looks great paired with the inner layer. The hood is helmet-compatible, and it has a powder skirt just in case you want to protect your rear from snow.

The inner jacket is insulated using their branded ThermoBall™ Eco insulation which is made from 100% post-consumer recycled polyester, that provides warmth even when wet. The liner is also made with recycled polyester, so it's soft and breathable. If the inner layer starts feeling a little warm, there are vents that can be unzipped to help you cool off.

What We Like

  • 3-in-1 jacket
  • Internal and external pockets
  • Waterproof zippers
  • Hip-length for movability
  • Windproof

What We Don't Like

  • Heavy in comparison to other winter coats
  • No dual zippers
  • Neck of the outer shell may be too long

BUY: The North Face ThermoBall Eco Snow Triclimate 3-in-1 Jacket - Men's | Women's

Best Budget Winter Jacket - adidas Essentials Insulated Hooded Jacket

adidas Essentials Insulated Hooded Jacket

SPECS

  • Fill: Synthetic
  • Size options: S-2XL
  • Weight: 1 lb.
  • Style options: 1 color available

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The adidas Essentials Insulated Hooded Jacket is warm and great for day-to-day use. It's hip-length and has a full zip with a high neck, so you're protected from wind and cold. The elastic cuffs keep the sleeves firmly in place, and there are slip-in pockets that snap closed. There's also a hood, which is great if you want to feel extra cozy and you can protect your head from the elements.

The synthetic fill and polyester lining are lightweight and breathable. The fact that the outer and lining are made from 100% recycled polyester is an added bonus. We love that there are a variety of size options available, even if this jacket only comes with one color choice. It's worth noting that the reviews state this is a more lightweight jacket, so it won't be suitable for colder temperatures.

What We Like

  • Made from lightweight recycled polyester
  • Big hood and neck coverage
  • Elastic cuffs keep sleeves in place
  • Inexpensive

What We Don't Like

  • Pockets don't zip closed
  • Not suitable for colder climates

BUY: adidas Essentials Insulated Hooded Jacket - Men's | Women's

Best Cycling WinterJacket - Castelli Alpha RoS 2 Jacket

Castelli Alpha RoS 2 Jacket

SPECS

  • Fill: N/A
  • Size options: S-L
  • Weight: 1.05 lbs.
  • Style options: 1 color available

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Even though the Castelli Alpha RoS 2 Jacket does not have filling material, it's not lacking any warmth. That's because the double-layered construction has an inner insulation layer that protects you down to 23 degrees F. The outer layer is Gore-Tex, which is a waterproof breathable fabric membrane that also serves as a wind barrier. This ensures if you get caught in the rain during your ride, you'll stay warm and dry.

In addition, the high neck and double-layer cuffs keep water and wind out, leaving just enough space for gloves. The zipper is water-resistant and the shoulder seams are tapped so water can't sneak in. There are also back flaps that help vent out heat if you're on a more intense route.

What We Like

  • Upper back venting helps manage heat
  • Dual layers insulate and keep out water and wind
  • High neck to protect the front and back
  • Pockets have small drain holes

What We Don't Like

  • 1 color option
  • Not rated for temperatures below 23 degrees F

BUY: Castelli Alpha RoS 2 Jacket - Men's | Women's

Best Winter Jacket for Men - Columbia Pike Lake Hooded Insulated Jacket

Columbia Pike Lake Hooded Insulated Jacket

SPECS

  • Fill: Synthetic
  • Size options: S-XXL
  • Weight: 2.16 lbs.
  • Style options: 2 colors available

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The Columbia Pike Lake Hooded Insulated Jacket is one of the best winter jackets for men due to the fact that it's suitable for multiple activities. Sitting at the hip, you have coverage and the flexibility to bend and move however you need to. There's a hood with a drawcord that adds even more coverage, and partial elastic adjustable cuffs for extra security. The hem is also equipped with a drawcord, so you can seal out all the elements.

The interior is filled with Thermerator insulation, which is the brand's very own lightweight synthetic insulation. This works best for cold conditions requiring lightweight warmth because it has a high warmth-to-weight ratio. This synthetic fill looks and feels like down, but the ultra-fine fibers trap warmth even when wet.

What We Like

  • Several drawcords to keep out winter elements
  • The liner has heat reflective technology
  • Water-resistant

What We Don't Like

  • Inner and outer layers cannot be worn separately
  • No dual zippers

BUY: Columbia Pike Lake Hooded Insulated Jacket

Best Lightweight Winter Jacket - Patagonia Nano Puff Insulated Jacket

Patagonia Nano Puff Insulated Jacket

SPECS

  • Fill: Synthetic
  • Size options: XS-XXL
  • Weight: 10 oz.
  • Style options: 11 colors available

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Unlike other winter jackets, the Patagonia Nano Puff Insulated Jacket is not bulky, which is why we think it's one of the best winter coats out there. Even though there's not a lot of volume in the jacket itself, it has 60 grams of PrimaLoft insulation made from recycled materials. This synthetic fill traps warmth, feels soft, and is durable so it can withstand repeated use.

Not only is this winter jacket warm but it's also water-repellant and windproof. There are two external handwarmer pockets that can be zipped along with two internal chest pockets. One chest pocket doubles as a stuff sack with a reinforced carabiner clip-in loop, so if you need to stash it in a backpack the jacket won't take up much space.

What We Like

  • Compressible
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Windproof
  • Hem is drawcord adjustable

What We Don't Like

  • May need to pair with another layer if you want a hood
  • Expensive

BUY: Patagonia Nano Puff Insulated Jacket - Men's | Women's

Best Winter Jacket for Women - Big Agnes Luna Insulated Jacket

Big Agnes Luna Insulated Jacket

SPECS

  • Fill: Synthetic down
  • Size options: XS-XL
  • Weight: 15 oz.
  • Style options: 6 colors available

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We love the Big Agnes Luna Insulated Jacket because it has a really complimentary fit. Other winter coats can make you feel a little lost, but this one hugs your body and shape thanks to vertical and horizontal quilting. This also helps the Downtek fill stay in place, which is a synthetic down that keeps you warm and dry.

Another feature that makes this jacket a great fit is that the hood and hem have adjustable drawcords, which also help keep out wind and other undesirable elements such as snow. The hood has a visor so you get all the coverage, but you still have maximum visibility. There are thumb holes to assist in insulating your hands and bridge the gap between your sleeves and gloves.

What We Like

  • Chest pocket doubles as a stuff sack
  • Thumb holes
  • Synthetic down is light and warm like down, but keeps you dry
  • Textured zippers
  • 6 color options

What We Don't Like

  • Inner and outer layers cannot be worn separately
  • Reviews mention sleeves fit a little snug

BUY: Big Agnes Luna Insulated Jacket

Best Waterproof Winter Jacket - 686 SMARTY 3-in-1 Form Insulated Jacket

686 SMARTY 3-in-1 Form Insulated Jacket

SPECS

  • Fill: Synthetic
  • Size options: S-XL
  • Weight: 4 lbs. 10.1 oz.
  • Style options: 1 color available

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If you live in an area where winter means a ton of precipitation, the 686 SMARTY 3-in-1 Form Insulated Jacket is definitely one you'll want to consider. Starting with the shell, it features two-layer fabric with a durable water-repellent finish and fully taped seams for extra protection. The powder skirt protects your lower half from water and the hood is also waterproof and helmet compatible.

There are multiple pocket options, including a front-hand pass pocket with a key clip. There are also internal pockets and there is an audio cord outlet if needed. The 160 grams of synthetic fill will keep you warm, and there are underarm vents to keep you cool if you are more active. The side panels are made with the flexible material poly fleece, which allows you to move freely.

What We Like

  • Thigh length provides more protection
  • Adjustable bottom hem
  • Hook and loop cuffs
  • Underarm vents

What We Don't Like

  • Heavy in comparison to other winter coats
  • 1 color option

BUY: 686 SMARTY 3-in-1 Form Insulated Jacket - Men's | Women's

Best Running Winter Jacket - UA Storm ColdGear® Reactor Performance Jacket

UA Storm ColdGear® Reactor Performance Jacket

SPECS

  • Fill: Synthetic
  • Size options: XS-3XL
  • Weight: 10.58 oz.
  • Style options: 2 colors available

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The UA Storm ColdGear® Reactor Performance Jacket is great for running in winter because the synthetic fill is super warm, breathable, and dries fast. It's also very lightweight, weighing only 10.58 ounces, so it won't weigh you down. It's made out of 100% polyester which helps trap the warmth from your body heat.

Even though it doesn't have a hood, the neck collar is a funnel style to keep you protected from the wind. The fabric is woven into a ripstop, or square pattern, that is very stylish. They also added front pockets that you can zip to keep your phone, keys, and other necessities secure as you move.

What We Like

  • Ribbed cuffs
  • Water-repellant
  • Variety of size options
  • Great fit, not too tight or too loose

What We Don't Like

  • Not suitable for colder temperatures
  • Reviews mention fit may be too short if you have a longer torso

BUY: UA Storm ColdGear® Reactor Performance Jacket - Men's | Women's

Best Winter Jacket for Extreme Cold - Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka

Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka

SPECS

  • Fill: Down
  • Size options: S-XXL
  • Weight: 2 lbs. 14 oz.
  • Style options: 1 color available in men's, 4 in women's

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Depending on where you live, winter can get downright frosty. As far as warm winter coats go, the Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka can help combat the inevitable February chill. This is insulated with 700-fill-power recycled down which is a strong warm-to-weight ratio. Even though this jacket has two layers, there is enough space to layer with a warm jacket underneath if you find yourself facing extreme weather.

The zip-out jacket is hip length and the shell jacket is thigh length. The two-way zipper allows you to zip up from the bottom if you want to give yourself a little more space. The handwarmer pockets have zippers and snap-flap closures and there are also two inner chest pockets that are more secure. The outer shell is waterproof and breathable, so you stay dry and comfortable.

What We Like

  • Inside lining wicks moisture
  • Hidden cords to adjust the hem
  • Chest pocket doubles as a stuff sack
  • Versatile

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive
  • No thumb holes

BUY: Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka - Men's | Women's

Best Winter Jacket for Hiking - Wolverine Cirque 2.0 Hooded Jacket

Wolverine Cirque 2.0 Hooded Jacket

SPECS

  • Fill: Synthetic
  • Size options: XS-XXL
  • Weight: 11 oz.
  • Style options: 3 colors available

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We love the Wolverine Cirque 2.0 Hooded Jacket because it makes hiking during winter as comfortable as possible. The nylon fabric paired with the stretchy synthetic insulation makes this jacket very light and durable. It's also very warm and features a mid-layer that is specially designed to handle the alpine weather. The outside is treated with durable water repellent, but it is recommended to pair this jacket with an outer shell for more wet conditions.

The dual colors are paneled on the jacket adding extra flair. The hood offers frontal neck coverage and is also insulated to trap heat and protect you from the icy air. There are three zippered pockets total, two hand pockets and one chest pocket, so you can keep your important items close and secure.

What We Like

  • Drawcord can adjust the hem
  • Unique colors and design
  • Insulated hood
  • Flexible material moves with you
  • 3 zippered pockets

What We Don't Like

  • No thumb holes
  • Needs an outer shell for more wet environments
  • Expensive

BUY: Wolverine Cirque 2.0 Hooded Jacket - Men's | Women's

What to Look for in a Winter Jacket


Weight

The weight of winter coats varies based on the material and what's used for insulation. Usually, longer coats and coats with hoods weigh more because there is more material. If you're considering winter jackets and you need something that is rated for colder temperatures, but is relatively light, down fill is a great option. If your coat is just for day-to-day use, a synthetic fill may be a little heavier, but you most likely won't notice.

Fill

Speaking of fill, the insulation of winter jackets can be natural, such as down feathers, or you may see many brands mention they use a synthetic fill. Down is composed of feathers from ducks and geese, and offers the most warmth for the least amount of weight and bulk. The fill power is measured using volume, and a higher number means a warmer winter coat. However, if down gets wet it can't hold heat very well until it's dry and it takes a long time to dry.

Synthetic fill is an indistinct name for a vast range of branded technologies between different options of winter coats. Unlike down, it can keep you warm even if it gets damp and it dries quickly. It's also a more cost-effective insulation than down. Synthetic fill is measured in grams per square meter and can heat very effectively. Although, it does weigh slightly more than down.

Shell

If you opt for a winter jacket with down insulation, having a water-resistant or waterproof shell will keep it from getting wet so it continues to keep you warm. A lot of places will get precipitation at some point during winter, so it's a good idea to have a water-resistant shell at the very least. Even though this may cost more upfront, it may save you in the long run since you won't need to purchase an additional rain shell.

Lining

The lining of the best winter coats is going to be something that keeps you comfortable. For the most part, the liner fabric is smooth and may have advanced technology that reflects your body's heat for extra warmth. Some options for winter jackets include liners that have fleece or quilted lining, but these won't be as flexible and breathable as other materials such as polyester.

Temperature Rating

The temperature rating you will need is solely determined by the climate where you live and how long you intend to wear your jacket outside. Down and synthetic materials can have temperature ratings for subzero temperatures, but these are going to be more costly. These are worth the investment because they keep you comfortable during a very uncomfortable season. However, if you don't live somewhere that gets really cold, you'll want to opt for winter coats rated for higher temperatures. If the temperature rating is not listed, the fill that is used along with how much they use can give you an idea of how warm a winter jacket is.

Coverage

Winter coats come in different lengths and have different features such as a hood or vents built in. If you tend to have a mild winter, a traditional length winter coat is usually a safe bet, but if it rains or snows a hood is an excellent addition. If it's very windy and cold, a longer coat will insulate your body below the torso, as well as protect you from that nasty wind chill more than a shorter coat. Choosing a warmer winter coat with vents built-in gives you a nice airflow so you don't get overheated or start to sweat.

Value

When determining your budget, it's important to think about the intended purpose for use and climate. Winter jackets that mention three-in-one, are usually more expensive but are more versatile because they're like having three different jackets in one. Winter coats with down insulation are more expensive than synthetic fill, but you might consider this option if you're trying to get something really lightweight. If you want to keep your budget lower and don't live in a place where you get precipitation and lower temperatures, you'll find great inexpensive options for winter coats.

FAQs About Winter Jackets


Which types of winter jackets are the warmest?

Down and synthetic fills will be the warmest. It's always a good idea to check the temperature rating and how much fill is used.

How can you tell if a winter jacket is good quality?

Looking at the material, fill, zipper quality, and reviews are all good places to start. If possible, try it on and move around to see if it's comfortable and mobile.

What is the thinnest warmest material?

Down is the thinnest and most lightweight material that will keep you warm.

Should winter jackets be tight or loose?

Generally, you want it to be a little loose so you have coverage during any activity or movement and so it remains flexible. Choosing a size that is relatively loose will also give you some space if you want to wear a hoodie or layers underneath.

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