As it pertains to winter Other areas that we paid attention to the fit were the collar, the hood, and the length of the hemline at our waist. A notable exception is our Best Buy Marmot Fordham. The Woolrich Bitter Chill deserves mention for being on the warmer side of the fleet. Neither a DWR finish nor hydrophobic down will keep your down completely dry, but they make nice lines of defense against light to moderate precipitation.
Analysis and Test Results
For that reason, just because a product scored poorly does not mean it is not worth owning or using, as all of these jackets are among the best available on the market today.
For users who have a particular purpose or use in mind, or who place greater importance on a specific metric, we recommend diving deep into the individual reviews, focusing on what is most important to you, rather than looking only at overall scores.
One of the metrics that we don't score for but do consider in our reviews is the value of a product. While we are always trying to find the best products possible, sometimes those can be the most expensive too, which isn't always going to work for everyone.
If you need an option that will get the job done without setting you back a ton of money, take a look at our Price vs. We've graphed each model's score X-axis according to its price Y-axis. Those that lie on the bottom of the graph but towards the right have excellent value.
Warmth is the most important criteria when selecting a jacket, because, after all, if not for its warmth, why do we need one? Since it's so important, we decided to weight each model's score for warmth as 30 percent of its total score. The primary measurement of warmth in a down jacket is down-fill power. Fill power numbers for the jackets we tested range from lowest quality up to highest quality.
The fill power represents the ability of the down to loft up and create insulating dead space. Since trapped air within a jacket's baffles is what insulates you from the cold outside, the more loft a jacket has, the warmer it will be.
However, fill power does not translate directly to warmth. To fill a particular space, one company could use a little bit of very high fill down to accomplish the same thing as another company that uses a lot of lower fill power down. Since most of the jackets in this review have a similar ideal temperature range, using higher fill-power down tends to mean that the jacket will be lighter and also more expensive.
Conversely, jackets that use low fill power down will usually be heavier and less costly to provide the same heat-trapping loft. Lightweight down jackets are typically made using sewn-through baffle construction that helps produce a lighter weight and less expensive contender. The baffles are the individual compartments that hold down and are needed so that it doesn't all sink to the bottom. Sewn-through construction means that the fabric on the outside of the jacket is sewn to the material on the inside, creating a baffle, which is typically oriented horizontally, although some are square shaped.
This design makes them lighter, thinner, and less expensive. On the downside, sewn-through baffles create thin places near the seams where there is no down, and trapped heat can escape. There are a few different alternative techniques for generating baffles besides the sewn-through method, but the only other one used by jackets in our review is the welded or bonded baffle construction.
These two names describe a similar technique where the outer and inner fabrics of a model are "bonded" together using chemicals or glue free from any stitching. The Columbia Outdry Ex Gold and the Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded are the two jackets that use this method , which in general offers better water and wind resistance, as no holes or threads are compromising the outer layer of the jacket. However, we also noticed that this style has more massive gaps between baffles where there is no insulation, and so doesn't automatically lead to a warmer design.
Though thickness, loft, and method of construction have a lot to do with warmth, it's not only about fill quality and amounts. The design and features of a jacket, such as a hood and drawcords, the thickness and quality of the outer material, how well the jacket fits, etc. How well you keep the cold out is as important as how well you keep the heat inside.
To test these jackets for warmth we used them each countless times on adventures during the late fall and early winter: We also tested them side-by-side on a frigid, windy morning in the mountains to best tell how they compare against each other.
Although they do not come with temperature ratings like sleeping bags, we feel these jackets offer good-to-adequate stand-alone warmth down to freezing and can help you stay warm in much lower temperatures used as part of a layering system. However, in our testing, a few jackets stood out for their warmth.
The Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody uses super high fill down to create a thick, cozy, and very lightweight jacket that was warmer than all the others. Likewise, the Rab Microlight Alpine provided top of the line warmth, in no small part because it did an excellent job of sealing off all the openings to keep the heat in and the cold out.
Although not as good as those two jackets, the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody was also among the most comfortably warm jackets in this review. The higher, further, and steeper we take ourselves, the more important the weight of what we take becomes.
The utility of an object comes in measuring how much use you get out of it for how much energy is expended carrying it. The warmth-to-weight ratio of a jacket is a key measure of value, and a down jacket has the highest warmth-to-weight ratio of any technical insulated jacket. Additional ounces are added or subtracted to a jacket's weight by the fabric and design features. Frequently, durability and other critical features such as a hood are sacrificed on the altar of ultra-light design, to the detriment of the final product.
An ultra-light jacket that doesn't keep you warm or that falls apart after limited use doesn't have a lot of value. To test weight, we weighed jackets on our scale as soon as they arrived. In the cases where a contender came with an included stuff sack for compression, we included that in the item's overall weight, since weight tends to matter more when it's being carried than when it's being worn.
To find the best fit for our head tester, some of the jackets we ordered were size Large, while others were size Medium. Despite their differences in stated size, they all fit our head tester pretty much ideally, so we compared weights straight across the board, regardless of jacket size.
From our testing, we noticed that weight seems to be a product of three factors: Using a higher fill-power down means that you get the same loft with less filling, so higher fill jackets tend to be lighter, and there is a little trade-off here except for added expense. Similarly, using a thinner fabric can make a jacket lighter, with the compromise, in this case, being durability.
Lastly, to save weight, some models have far fewer features, such as pockets, zippers, or draw cords, while others use much lighter and smaller zippers to shave half an ounce here and there. The trade-off for using less or lighter features can again be durability in the case of super small gauge zippers or the lack of ability to fine-tune the fit if a jacket eschews the use of drawcords.
The lightest jacket in this year's review was once again the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded , which came in at 7. Despite its low weight this jacket had a hood, zippered pockets, and a hem drawcord, and was surprisingly warm given how light it was.
The insulating capacity of untreated down is almost completely negated by water, so jackets insulated with down have historically had a bad reputation in wet environments. While a down jacket is never an excellent idea for a rainy day, having some level of water resistance is important simply to protect the down. All of the jackets reviewed accomplish this to some degree by applying a Durable Water Resistant DWR coating to the jacket.
DWR coatings are chemical applications designed to repel water before it has a chance to be absorbed by the face fabric and, subsequently, the down inside. By helping to keep the face fabric dry, DWR coatings allow a jacket to breathe better should moisture accumulate on the inside from sweating. The only downside to DWR coatings is that they vary widely in quality and durability. Once a DWR coating has worn off, you must reapply. Unfortunately, this can happen in as little as a few uses.
Water resistance can also come by using treated down that has a DWR coating. Because we do not have access to the down inside a jacket, we found it difficult to test how useful these DWR applications are at creating hydrophobic down. In years past we only reviewed a couple down jackets with hydrophobic down used inside, while this year there were four that made our selection of the ten best, suggesting that this is a technology that companies think improve the performance of down that comes in contact with water.
Never-the-less, despite soaking these jackets in the shower, we found it difficult to accurately compare the performance of the treated down versus regular down. In general, our scores in this metric were a reflection of the performance of the DWR coating and the face fabric, although we chose to award bonus points to jackets that used hydrophobic down. The most water resistant down jacket was, without doubt, the Columbia Outdry Ex Gold , specifically designed to be waterproof on the outside.
This model was like combining down insulation on the inside with a rain slicker on the outside, and while it came with a few drawbacks, water resistance certainly was not one of them.
While we can think of a few improvements we would make, we think this jacket is an intriguing start to the niche of waterproof down jackets.
Our Top Pick for Wet Weather is the Rab Microlight Alpine , which combines water-resistant Pertex microlight shell fabric with an impressive DWR coating, Nikwax treated down, and a hood that keeps the rain out of your face. While it wasn't wholly water proof , this is the down jacket we would want to take to wet climates, with the caveat that we would still do all we could to keep it as dry as possible.
And with its combination of Q. Shield water resistant down and a durable and high-quality outer DWR coating, the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded also received high scores for water resistance. This metric accounted for 15 percent of a product's final score. Unlike heavy overcoat-style down parkas, these mid- and lightweight down jackets are designed to be worn while you recreate. Whether you wear them over the top of your other clothes, or as a warmth layer underneath a shell jacket, the fit needs to be conducive to movement.
For this reason, we prefer jackets that are sleeker fitting and not excessively baggy, although your specific body type will dictate what constitutes a good fit.
For us, an ideally fitting jacket is one that mimics the shape of the body, so that it moves as we do, but is also large enough to wear a layer or two beneath. We try to avoid jackets that are overly baggy in the torso, as we find them to be annoying when we are wearing a pack or trying to look down at our feet when skiing or climbing. There's also the fact that they have more dead space that needs to be warmed up using your body heat.
We are also very particular about the length of the sleeves, as well as the shape of the jacket through the shoulders and upper back and chest. Simply put, we want our jacket to be ready for any activity, and no matter what we are doing — ice climbing, skiing, scrambling — we are likely to be moving our arms about and sometimes swinging them over our head.
Some jackets have sleeves that are too short, causing them to ride up above our wrists when our arms are outstretched. Likewise, we found some the jackets to have constrictive fits around the shoulders, upper back, and chest that impede our freedom of movement, and affect the overall fit. Other areas that we paid attention to the fit were the collar, the hood, and the length of the hemline at our waist.
In particular, we loved how the sleeves were plenty long and the cut of the shoulders spacious enough for us to perform any conceivable movement without impingement.
While it was big enough to layer beneath, the cut was also sleek enough not to impede our motion. 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.
When wearing a trench-coat-length parka, the need for two-way zippers becomes apparent. The extended length can inhibit stride, and wearing a long coat while seated can be awkward and uncomfortable without this feature. The Haglofs Torsang Parka is a long coat with a separating zipper on the bottom. Getting this zipper started is annoying, but once rigged it runs smoothly. Cuff closures can be simple elastic closures, a snap closure, or Velcro, but a good winter parka needs them.
They seal out the snow and cold and integrate well with gloves. Open cuffs with internal gaskets, like those on the Arc'teryx Camosun and Woolrich Bitter Chill , combine fashion and function. The Haglofs Torsang has soft inner gaskets with velcro closed outer cuffs. This is perhaps the best of both worlds. Other features that may be important to you include internal phone pockets with headphone ports, skirts to seal out the cold, or built-in face warmers. We liked the feature set on the Canada Goose Expedition Parka.
It has almost a dozen pockets, a snow skirt, and a drawcord waist, not to mention a fur-trimmed hood. Both come with an array of pockets, including an internal Napoleon pocket referencing the famous pose that has a headphone channel, so your electronics stay dry. Other jackets, like the REI Co-op Down , are bare-bones models with little more than two hand pockets.
Our personalities show through our clothing choices, winter jackets included. This review includes parkas that could be worn to a nice restaurant and a Broadway show, and others that are clean and simple but are more at home walking the dog. While technical jackets might be at home in the mountains, they are easily worn in urban settings and can let some of your outdoorsy personality show through. Casual urban parkas don't usually work the other way. They are likely missing crucial elements for safe winter adventurings, think hoods or full waterproofing.
Most of the models reviewed have an extended cut, which adds warmth and weather resistance. It also gives them a different look than the waist-length athletic cuts that most backcountry-inspired jackets have. We liked the style of the Patagonia Jackson Glacier and Arc'teryx Camosun , which are both stylish enough to dress up but also perform well while snowshoeing or ice skating. The dapper Woolrich Bitter Chill scores well in this category as well.
Across the board, we tested different "looks" to find something for everyone. Our newest jackets are polarizing in terms of fashion. Except for the OR Whitefish. Its subtle style is unanimously appreciated.
Our most fashion-conscious tester roundly approves of the look of the Whitefish. This same tester did not like the look of the Haglofs Torsang. This tester's summary of the Torsang was as follows — "It looks like a tube. You look like a blood sausage". Not all testers are so disapproving of the Torsang's style, but this opinion is strong enough to be worth noting.
With few exceptions, quality winter outerwear is expensive. For a quality winter parka, expect to invest. On the upside, that investment will pay off for a few years of consistent use, depending on your activity levels.
Are you going to be in contact with razor-sharp winter climbing gear, like ice axes? Or will you only be using the parka to get from home to the bus stop all winter? After investing a large sum of money in a winter jacket, we want to feel like our investment is protected, so we like the lifetime guarantees offered by companies like Canada Goose and Patagonia , who stand by the craftsmanship and materials of their products.
One of the most critical durability considerations is a jacket's outer fabric. Solid, heavy-duty, canvas-like exterior materials can withstand more abuse than the thinner shell of, say, the REI Co-op Down Hood.
Zippers, snaps, and Velcro get a lot of use, so we looked at these closures to make sure they are durable enough.
We gave our highest score in this category to the Canada Goose Expedition Parka. The large zippers, durable outer material, and quality construction make this jacket last. Similarly, the Canada Goose Chilliwack Bomber is quite rugged. We are concerned about the durability of the technical models tested.
These are frequently around sharp ice climbing tools, and the thin shell on the REI Co-op Hooded won't hold up well to a wayward ice screw or axe. Quality options like the Arc'terxy Camosun are less worrisome.
It didn't scuff or abraid when loading wood or tossing skis over the shoulder. A winter jacket needs to do a lot of things. And it needs to do them well. For all around, day-to-day wear, comfort, fashion, and protection need to align in a the whole is greater than the sum of its parts kind of way. The search is difficult. We hope that our efforts here help you. We know that many will take our initial recommendations and purchase an award winner.
We also know that many are digging deeper into the information. We are happy to oblige readers on every level, as well as to take your feedback on how we can better help you make your choices.
Select a good winter jacket, hunker down, and enjoy the changing seasons. The Best Winter Jackets for Men of Displaying 1 - 5 of Updated September We justed revisited our selection and added in some familiar old products and some new gear. Currently, we're on the hunt for a synthetic Editors Choice counterpart.
We purchased the Haglofs Torsang with this in mind, following up on exciting online reviews. What we found was excellent wet weather performance, but a style, warmth rating, and fit that just didn't light our fire.
We're holding off on granting this second Editors Choice award, but we're out there looking. Patience is a virtue in pursuit of the best gear on the planet. See all prices 4 found. See all prices 2 found. A selection of tested jackets. From time to time we add in new jackets and reconfirm our impressions of older ones. Clockwise from upper left: The Canada Goose coyote fur hood lining is controversial, it's also really warm. Down Fill Power and Fill Weight — As we discuss more in our Buying Advice article, higher down fill power numbers denote higher quality down feathers.
This translates into lighter, warmer down fill that is also more compressible. Ultimately though the amount of insulation, not the quality , is what determines a jacket's warmth. The amount used, usually measured in ounces, is described by a jacket's fill weight.
Manufacturers usually advertise a jacket's fill power but not its fill weight. To get a jump on winter jacket testing we took evening motorcycle rides in mountainous autumnal temperatures to simulate colder, more rugged conditions.
We eventually got into some rain and snow as well. Removable faux fur lining and an integrated facemask help you stay toasty when wearing the McMurdo III. Despite its slim appearance, the Editors' Choice-winning Arc'teryx Camosun Parka is very warm, thanks to body-mapped down and synthetic insulation.
Wheather you choose a DWR treated jacket or a layered shell with a waterproof membrane like Gore-Tex and a DWR coating on the outer fabric, you have to take good care of it to keep it waterproof.
Detergents strip DWR treatments from the fabric but letting the jacket's get dirty makes the waterproofing less effective. When you DWR finish wears off they all will , use a wash-in or spray-on waterproofing to restore your winter jacket's weather resistance. A large, comfortable and adjustable hood does a great job of keeping you out of the weather. If a jacket claims to be waterproof, make sure that the seams are fully taped.
Stitches punch tiny holes in the fabric. If they are not taped, they become an easy entry for moisture. The ski skirt on the Canada Goose Expedition Down Parka seems odd since you wouldn't want to hit the slopes in this sleeping bag of a jacket. But it works wonders to keep drafts at bay. Fleece linings are comfortable, but can be binding. Haglofs mitigates the issue by lining the lower hem and the sleeves with smooth, light nylon.
Comfortable knit cuffs keep snow out and your wrists warm. What are the downsides of the Neutrino Endurance? Second, Americans may have problems with the European-style left-hand zipper, which can take a while to get used to. These issues aside, the Rab is an exceptionally warm and comfortable winter piece.
Large fit and a drop in build quality. As the name implies, this jacket uses premium fill down, which is much more packable and warm for the weight compared to the fill version.
The Magma also includes a soft-touch 15D Pertex Quantum shell, adjustable waist hem, and small interior zippered pocket—all features missing on the cheaper REI Co-op model. The Magma impressed us with the high quality down and materials, but falls short in a few key areas. Performs like a high-end down jacket but with better water resistance. A little heavy; poor cuff design. The Black Diamond Cold Forge breaks from tradition with a hybrid down and synthetic blend, but earns a spot on our list because it delivers what you want in a premium down jacket: The use of synthetics also means the Cold Forge will continue insulating when wet and dry much faster than pure down fill.
At 20 ounces, there are lighter and more packable options that deliver similar levels of warmth. Besides these minor complaints, the Cold Forge is a fantastic down piece, and the unique insulation is a major selling point for those in wet climates.
More expensive and no warmer than the cheaper Rab Neutrino Endurance. You get approximately 8 ounces grams of fill down along with a Pertex Quantum shell for moisture protection. It has some advanced features like a helmet-compatible hood, a two-way main zipper for belaying, and elasticized cuffs that do a good job staying out of your way during physical activity.
But the jacket still looks the part for city wear in the frigid months, making it a nice option for just about any type of winter use. Patagonia also offers a standard Fitz Roy jacket, but we recommend steering clear as it only has 4. Impressive warmth for the weight. Thin 7D shell is too fragile for our tastes. Montbell is at the forefront of lightweight warmth, and you will have a hard time finding down jackets with a better ratio of fill weight to total weight Western Mountaineering and Brooks Range are contenders.
The Mirage Parka weighs less than 13 ounces yet packs an impressive 5. What makes the Mirage Parka undesirable for generalists is the 7D shell, the thinnest on the list. This means that you really have to be careful when wearing the jacket for everything from avoiding snags on protruding twigs to tearing the shell on a climbing harness.
And if you are the careful type who babies their gear, go for it. But there is a sacrifice with this kind of warmth at this low of a weight, and that generally is a shortened lifespan for your jacket. See the Men's Montbell Mirage Parka. Innovative design and very comfortable feel. Down jackets are known more for warmth than range of motion, but Mountain Hardwear is aiming for a game changer in this regard.
The StretchDown line was launched a couple years ago, featuring a flexible polyester shell material with welded seams for comfort that is reminiscent of a synthetic layer. In our testing, however, it became clear that the jacket is not a backcountry piece.
Despite good looks and comfort, we found that the StretchDown falls short of the options above in terms of warmth to weight and packability. Where the StretchDown excels is as an everyday jacket.
The knit shell fabric is very tough, and the clean styling wears well around the city even the logo is very understated. Stylish design and burly shell fabric. Low quality down and expensive. As mentioned above, the Ovik Lite has a decidedly casual build that limits its appeal for backcountry use. Waterproof and very warm. Heavier and bulkier than a typical down jacket, which makes it less versatile.
It features premium fill down, a fully waterproof 2-layer shell a rarity in the down jacket world , and nice touches like pit zips and a two-way front zipper to regulate heat. As with the Magma above, REI does not provide the fill weight here, but the Stormhenge is one of the warmest options on this list. As a result, it lacks in versatility for uses like backpacking or climbing, but the waterproofing and warm build make it viable for everything from cold winter walks to downhill skiing.
High-end look and feel. For commuting, urban use, and après-ski, the Lodge Jacket is a very attractive option. See the Men's Canada Goose Lodge.
Can feel drafty in cold conditions and the fit is a bit trim. At less than 7 ounces total, the SL is an ultralight jacket for fair-weather spring, summer, and fall backpacking trips, as well as a midlayer for winter sports.
We recently took the new hoody version on a trekking and bikepacking adventure through Mongolia and came impressed with its packability and build quality. Keep in mind that the Cerium SL does have its limitations. Given the meager 1. A casual piece from Marmot at a reasonable price point. Low fill power and sheds feathers. Marmot is known for outerwear, and rain jackets in particular. With fill down, it does have one of the lowest fill powers on this list competitors like the REI Co-op Down Jacket and Outdoor Research Transcendent use fill down.
Aside from price, the Marmot Tullus is pretty bare bones. But if you can find it on sale, the Tullus is one of the cheaper down jackets available from a top brand.
Down Sweaters The down sweater is the most casual category of down jacket. But they perform well for everyday use, travel, light adventuring, and layering for winter sports. The temperature range for these jackets depends on factors like layering and exertion, but we find that down sweaters are suitable for approximately 35 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit 2 to 15 degrees Celsius. Ultralight Down Jackets Ultralight down jackets are designed for backpacking, climbing, backcountry skiing, and other outdoor pursuits where every ounce matters.
These down jackets generally have similar fill weights as down sweaters, but are ultralight due their use of premium down fill power , thin shell fabrics denier , and minimalist zippers and pockets. They are high quality jackets in general, and if you are willing to take a little extra care to avoid damaging the shell, we prefer ultralights over down sweaters due to their warmth-to-weight ratio and athletic fit that's easy to layer.
They still look great too, although the designs do have more of a performance cut. They also are far puffier than the other categories with more down, and as a result take up quite a bit more space in your pack.
Because of this, we only bring them along if the extra warmth is absolutely necessary. At the warmest end of the spectrum are heavyweight winter jackets and parkas. It all starts with that lofty and premium warmth that can only be found in a down-filled product. Down insulation functions so effectively because the loose clusters of feathers are great at trapping body heat.
But unlike down sleeping bags, which have an official EN rating system that tests and measures their warmth on a concrete scale, down jackets are more like the Wild West. Below is information that should help you fill in the gaps.
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The classic duffel coat is a mainstay in menswear. The toggles give it a more relaxed feel than buttons might, but its slim silhouette still makes it contemporary. Plus, if it was good enough for sailors navigating icy waters, it's good enough for your commute. 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 best men's winter coat overall Patagonia Why you'll love it: The Patagonia Men's Topley Jacket offers the warmth of a parka in a handsome, stylish jacket that looks right at home above a .