Warmest Winter Coats For Women 2024

Warmest Winter Coats For Women 2024

When the temperature drops, your outerwear becomes even more essential than usual. The warmest winter coats for women can conquer everything from subzero cold to wet, snowy conditions to bitter winds. To find the true champions out there, I spent months testing more than a dozen different options, in extremely cold weather and freezing rain, and interviewed technical outerwear experts. In the end, The North Face Arctic Parka emerged as the best warmest winter coat for women to wear everyday due to its versatility and optimal insulation, and with the newly updated version’s enhancements, there’s even more to love. The warm and cozy REI Norseland Insulated Parka 2.0 won for the best value pick.

We tested all types of outerwear to find the warmest winter coats for women.


But since no one jacket is perfect for every person or climate, I tested a range of options for specific uses. Here are all the winners, along with expert advice and details on how I picked the best winter coats for women at the end. And to keep you fully outfitted for winter, I also tested the best women’s winter boots.

The North Face

The North Face Arctic Parka

Sizes: XS to 3X | Colors: 9 total, including TNF Black and Almond Butter | Shell materials: 100% recycled polyester with non-PFC durable water-repellent | Length: Mid-thigh | Insulation: 600 fill-power recycled waterfowl down | Hood: Yes, insulated

Best for:

  • Everyday cold-weather wear
  • Versatile outdoor adventures
  • Daily work commutes

Skip if:

  • You want the full-body protection of a longer-length parka

The North Face Arctic Parka is a warm, weatherproof and stylish winter coat for everyday wear. It’s not too heavy-duty for daily errands, yet robust enough to withstand all but the harshest winter conditions. I’ve tested a past season model along with the newly updated version, which has a few key upgrades that solidify its status as the best women’s winter coat. It’s insulated with 600 fill-power recycled waterfowl down, the ideal amount for a warm winter jacket. The two-layer waterproof and breathable exterior fabric is made from 100% recycled polyester and treated with a non-PFC (aka, better for the environment) durable water repellent (DWR) finish, providing excellent protection against wind, rain, snow and cold temperatures. The Arctic Parka protected me from the usual winter chill and, with proper layering, even kept me warm during an extremely cold polar vortex, enduring temperatures as low as -22 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Arctic Parka is insulated with 600 fill-power recycled waterfowl down and the two-layer … [+] waterproof shell is made with 100% recycled polyester.


The Arctic Parka has a trim fit and streamlined design that’s more city-friendly than your typical oversized parka. (If you wear heavy sweaters or multiple layers, you may want to size up). The length hits mid-thigh, offering good coverage and freedom of movement when walking. A cinchable elastic drawstring defines the waist, with the toggles hidden inside the handpockets so you don’t have to unzip the jacket to make adjustments. The two-way zipper glides well, and I was able to do it up with heavier mittens on. The older version featured knit cuffs that were cozy, but not the best at keeping out snow; the updated elasticized cuffs have a thumbhole, and are less bulky and better at accommodating gloves. The zippered hand pockets have a soft brushed lining, though they aren’t insulated, and the interior pocket is big enough to hold your smartphone.

The hood doesn’t detach, but it’s warm and cinchable to the face, plus the removable faux-fur trim does an excellent job of blocking cold wind. Previously, I was not fond of the older parka version’s front storm flap, which used hook-and-loop closures that often snagged on scarves. The North Face has remedied this problem by switching to snaps, enhancing the jacket’s overall functionality to the point where there’s nothing to detract from its appeal.


REI Norseland Insulated Parka 2.0

Sizes: XS to 3X | Colors: 6 total, including Falcon Brown and Raisin | Shell materials: Nylon | Insulation: 650 fill-power RDS duck down | Length: Mid-thigh | Hood: Yes, fleece-lined

Best for:

  • Everyday wear
  • Most winter activities
  • Urban commuting and city life

Skip if:

  • You need a waterproof winter coat

The REI Norseland Insulated Parka 2.0 is a versatile and reliable winter coat that caters to a variety of scenarios. It offers great value because it’s warm and stylish, with features that are typically found in winter coats that cost a lot more. It’s insulated with 650 fill-power duck down, which is excellent for an everyday coat, striking a balance between being lightweight and cozy without feeling bulky, and its durable construction should have it lasting for many years.

The attached hood is lined with fuzzy high-pile fleece that makes it extra cozy, and elastic … [+] drawstrings allow you to cinch it tighter to your face.

Ebony Roberts For Forbes

The Norseland 2.0 has a roomy fit that allowed me to comfortably layer a thick sweater underneath for extra warmth on extremely cold days. The parka hits mid-thigh, with a little extra drop-down coverage in the back to help hold onto heat without restricting movement. To further improve mobility and add ventilation, it has a two-way zipper in the front and 6-inch side zippers, which are particularly useful when navigating steps or during active outings. And the zippers are conveniently outfitted with pull tabs that allow for use with thick gloves on.

The parka isn’t waterproof, but the outer nylon shell is treated with a DWR finish that works well to shed light rain and snow, and a storm flap over the front zipper adds extra wind protection. However, if you’re outside in heavy, wet snow for extended periods of time, moisture will start to soak into the fabric, particularly the fleece hood. If your winter is a wet one, consider a waterproof winter coat, like The North Face Arctic Parka.


Patagonia Tres 3-In-1 Parka

Sizes: XS to XXL | Colors: 5 total, including Northern Green and Smolder Blue | Shell Materials: 100% recycled polyester | Insulation: 700 fill-power recycled duck and goose down | Length: Above the knee | Hood: Yes, removable

Best for:

  • A wardrobe staple you can use year-round
  • Nearly any winter conditions you’ll find yourself in
  • Urban and outdoor activities

Skip if:

  • You’re looking for extreme warmth

The Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka is great if you live in an area with heavy snowfall and frequent rain. This versatile coat consists of a rugged outer shell and a zip-out down puffer jacket, which can be worn separately or combined, allowing it to adapt to a wide range of weather conditions, from mild and rainy to cold and snowy. It’s a practical choice for winter, no matter what the forecast calls for.

The exterior features Patagonia’s H2No Performance Standard fabric, a robust two-layer waterproof and windproof material made of recycled polyester. It also has a PFC-free DWR finish for added protection. The outer shell has a detachable hood large enough to fit a beanie, and the extended brim did an excellent job of keeping snow and rain off my face. The inner insulated jacket also delivers exceptional warmth for its weight, courtesy of its 700 fill-power recycled down and heat-trapping horizontal baffles. While it may not be as toasty as some other options, like the Outdoor Research Coze Down Parka, it’s more compressible for travel.

The Tres 3-in-1 has a rugged outer shell and a zip-out down puffer jacket, which can be worn … [+] separately or combined.

Ebony Roberts For Forbes

The Tres 3-in-1 Parka offers a tailored fit that’s not too snug, with a length that hits just above the knee, providing unrestricted movement and a stylish look. Wrist zippers on the outer shell allow thicker gloves to be tucked under the cuff, and both coats feature zippered hand pockets for added convenience (although the pockets on the outer shell aren’t very warm). It’s one of the more expensive jackets I tested, but it’s a great investment because you get three jackets in one, providing you with almost year-round use.



Tentree Daily Parka

Sizes: XS to XL | Colors: 2 total, including Meteorite Black and Black Olive Green | Shell materials: 100% recycled polyester | Insulation: PrimaLoft (75% recycled polyester) | Length: Mid-thigh | Hood: Yes, attached

Best for:

  • Those looking for a warm down-alternative coat
  • Cozy everyday protection

Skip if:

  • You need a fully waterproof jacket

The Tentree Daily Parka stands out as a meticulously crafted winter parka with synthetic insulation from a brand renowned for its commitment to sustainable everyday wear. This cozy, oversized, water-resistant coat—created from 63 recycled plastic bottles, according to Tentree—is made with a recycled polyester shell and high-performance PrimaLoft insulation that mimics the loftiness of a good-quality down. Tentree gives this jacket a temperature rating down to around -13 degrees Fahrenheit, and while you’d need additional layers to stay warm in those conditions, I kept toasty in -5-degree weather, and its resilient outer shell adeptly handled slush and light rain, making it a versatile option for chilly, damp shoulder-season days.

An ingenious side pocket layout features three separate compartments to keep your hands warm and … [+] your items secure.

Ebony Roberts For Forbes

The Daily Parka has an understated contemporary style suitable for various occasions, with performance-enhancing details like a soft chin guard, taped seams for enhanced protection and a storm flap that securely snaps over the two-way front zipper. The soft, stretchy internal cuffs effectively keep wind and snow at bay, and they comfortably layer under gloves. The insulated hood has a short curved brim that keeps falling snow off my face and a drawcord for customization, but it’s on the smaller side and doesn’t accommodate a beanie as well as some hoods.

What sets this parka apart is its ingenious side pocket layout, featuring three separate compartments to keep your hands warm and your items organized and secure (the pocket opens from the top, and twice on the side: one hand-warmer pocket with a soft brushed lining and one secure zippered pocket). The zipper can be finicky though, and the limited size range will leave some people looking elsewhere.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose Cypress Hooded Jacket

Sizes: 2XS to 3XL | Colors: 8 total, including Black and Silverbirch | Shell materials: 100% recycled nylon | Insulation: 750 fill-power RDS duck down | Length: Knee | Hood: Yes, insulated

Best for:

  • Exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Seasonal transitions
  • Layering under an outer shell

Skip if:

  • You need a robust everyday winter coat

Canada Goose is known for making high-quality winter gear, and while the Cypress Hooded Jacket is one of the lightest winter coats in their fleet, the 750 fill-power down insulation—the highest fill power of any coat I tested—ensures exceptional warmth for its weight, and kept me as warm as some jackets that were twice as heavy. The recycled ripstop nylon shell fabric feels luxe, and details like an adjustable belt make for a beautifully tailored silhouette that’s chic enough to pair with office attire, and yet somehow doesn’t seem out of place hiking and playing outdoors. For such a supple fabric, I was impressed with its ability to repel water, but if you want to get even more wear out of the Cypress, it fits nicely under a rain jacket for extra shoulder-season warmth.

The Cypress Hooded Jacket’s removable backpack straps allow it to be carried hands-free over the … [+] shoulders.

Ebony Roberts For Forbes

The jacket’s longer length and adjustable hood provide added warmth, making it suitable for a variety of environments, from city sidewalks to mountain trails. The Cypress also features a storm flap under its two-way zipper for added protection against the elements, and side vents with snap closures for added comfort. The stretchy cuffs help seal in warmth by preventing cold air from entering the sleeves of the jacket, and articulated sleeves and underarm gussets enhance the fit and range of motion. Removable backpack straps allow it to be carried hands-free over the shoulders, and it’s travel-friendly, packing down into the interior pocket. It’s the combination of luxury and functionality that make it a top choice for those seeking a versatile, well-made winter jacket that’s warm and stylish.


Lululemon Wunder Puff Long Jacket

Sizes: 0 to 14 | Colors: Black, Medium Forest, Psychic | Shell materials: 100% recycled polyester | Insulation: 600 fill-power RDS goose down | Length: Calf | Hood: Yes, removable

Best for:

  • Full-coverage warmth
  • Stylish everyday wear

Skip if:

  • You need a coat you can be active in

The Lululemon Wunder Puff Long Jacket provides head-to-toe warmth, thanks to its 600 fill-power goose down insulation and a plush exterior shell that not only feels luxuriously velvety but also has a fair amount of weather resistance. It excels in situations where you won’t be moving much, like sitting in the stands at a hockey game, commuting in cold weather or walking the dog in frigid temperatures. The Wunder Puff’s long length may not be ideal for highly active days, but the two-way front zipper offers flexibility to accommodate movement and regulate body temperature. Although big and puffy, the oversized style manages to make any outfit look chic, including sweatpants, and it compresses small enough for travel.

The removable hood offers substantial warmth and can be buttoned to shield the mouth, providing … [+] extra protection against harsh cold and wind.

Ebony Roberts For Forbes

The Wunder Puff has a casual, relaxed fit that easily accommodates layering, and a cinchable drawcord waist allows for personalized tailoring (I’d recommend sizing down for a more slim-fit look). The removable hood, while not adjustable, offers substantial warmth and can be buttoned to shield the mouth, providing extra protection against harsh cold and wind. The coat has four zippered pockets: two small internal pockets and two cozy hand pockets (each with an internal mesh sleeve for further safekeeping of small items). The sleeves extend over stretchy interior cuffs that lay snug against the wrist, effectively preventing heat from escaping and accommodating both thin and thick gloves comfortably. The storm flap snaps down over the front zipper to prevent drafts, and though the zipper occasionally exhibited minor sticking, it didn’t detract from the overall appeal of this exceptionally warm and stylish cold-weather coat.


Patagonia Down With It Parka

Sizes: XS to XXL | Colors: 6 total, including Forge Grey and Obsidian Plum | Shell materials: 100% recycled polyester | Insulation: 600 fill-power recycled duck and goose down | Length: Knee | Hood: Yes, insulated and removable

Best for:

  • Temperatures above zero
  • Flexing between errands and outdoor activities
  • Cozy comfort

Skip if:

  • You regularly contend with rain

For a nice-looking down jacket that’s as at home on city streets as it is on mountain trails, the Patagonia Down With It Parka is comfortable and stylish. It’s knee-length, with 600 fill-power recycled duck and goose down that makes it warm without weighing it down. This isn’t a parka for extreme cold, but it will keep you warm in temperatures above zero. The exterior fabric has a luxurious satin finish, and it sheds dry snow and light rain perfectly fine. However, anything heavier will eventually soak into the fabric, and it does take a while to dry out.

Diagonal baffling on the front looks more tailored and streamlined than most puffy jackets.

Ebony Roberts For Forbes

For a material that feels so soft and plush, it does an excellent job at cutting the wind, with a snap-down storm flap that adds even more protection. The two zippered hand pockets are lined with soft microfleece, and they’re tucked under the down, so hands stay extra warm. With the hood pulled up and my face tucked inside the fleece-lined collar, I felt comfortable and cozy standing in cold, blustery weather.

The cut is figure-hugging without being too snug, and the diagonal baffling on the front looks more tailored than most puffy jackets, giving off a streamlined appearance that works well over office or dinner attire. The two-way zipper is durable and easy to use with mittens on. If you need full weather protection, consider the more robust Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka or The North Face Arctic Parka.

Outdoor Research

Outdoor Research Coze Down Parka

Sizes: XS to XXL | Colors: 3 total, including Brick and Solid Black | Shell materials: 100% recycled nylon | Insulation: 700+ fill-power RDS down | Length: Below the knee | Hood: Yes, insulated

Best for:

  • The coldest winter days
  • Extended time outdoors

Skip if:

  • You experience mild winters

The Outdoor Research Coze Down Parka will keep you the warmest in extreme cold or situations where you aren’t generating a lot of body heat. Insulated with 700+ fill-power down and extending below the knee, it feels like being wrapped in a big cozy sleeping bag, with an oversized insulated hood that does an excellent job of shielding the face from wind and snow, and an extra-thick down collar that’s wide enough to tuck your chin into. The nylon shell also did an impressive job of resisting light rain and snow for a material that feels so soft, and even given all its warmth, the parka doesn’t feel bulky or cumbersome to wear.

The Coze Down Parka features short side zippers that release heat and improve mobility.

Ebony Roberts For Forbes

The Coze Down Parka has a relaxed rectangular shape that doesn’t cinch at the waist, so it’s less universally flattering, but there’s plenty of room to wear heavier layers underneath, and the looser fit prevents cold spots by allowing warm air to circulate better. It’s the optimal pick if you’re willing to sacrifice a little style for added warmth. Practical features include a two-way front zipper and short side zippers that allow you to release heat if you get too warm, and they improve mobility in certain scenarios, like getting into a car or climbing stairs. The coat has two lined hand pockets, a big internal stash pocket that’s perfect for keeping your gloves warm when you’re not wearing them and a small internal zippered pocket that keeps valuables secure. Soft, stretchy wrist gaiters with thumb loops add extra protection from the cold, and when worn with mittens or gloves, it was impossible for snow to find a way in.

If mobility is a priority to you, Outdoor Research also offers the Coze Down Coat. It’s shorter but just as warm as the parka version, and it’s available in a wider range of colors and sizes (XS to 4X).

Other Excellent Women’s Winter Coats We Tested

While these coats didn’t earn a top spot for one reason or another, they still made the best women’s winter coats shortlist, and since everyone’s needs are different, you may find your perfect fit among these contenders:

32 Degrees

32 Degrees Shield Tech Maxi Poly-Fill Coat

While this might not compete with the goose down coats on our list, 32 Degree’s Shield Tech Maxi Coat is surprisingly cozy and warm, according to Forbes Vetted deputy editor Kari Molvar who purchased this coat last year and regularly wears it on chilly New England days. “I’m always freezing so I appreciate that this coat feels like a wearable sleeping bag,” she says. “It has a two-way zipper as well so you can unzip the bottom to make it easier to walk or adjust your temperature. For less than $50, I’ve been blown away at much great this coat is.”

Helly Hansen

Helly Hansen Senja Insulated Winter Parka

This robust waterproof and windproof parka has a heavy dose of recycled polyester insulation that mimics the feel of down. When I tested it, I found it incredibly warm, with a detachable faux-fur ruff for extra protection around the face, thick knit cuffs that keep out the cold and an adjustable waist that gives it a more fitted shape. Just keep in mind that it can feel heavy to wear, and it fits tighter in the shoulders than other coats, making it a little harder to move around in, especially when doing something like shoveling snow.


Athleta Cozy Day Hybrid Coat

Deputy editor Kari Molvar wears this coat for in-between weather, when you don’t need a heavy coat but a lighter jacket is not enough. It’s made from a combination of high-pile fleece with synthetic insulation and falls just above the knee. “It has side vents, which is great for movement and to prevent overheating, and the back is made from smooth performance nylon,” she says. “It runs a little big so my advice is to size down.”


Arc’teryx Coelle Parka

This lightweight knee-length parka performed well in every outdoor situation I wore it in. The two-layer Gore-Tex construction can take on stormy weather, and the recycled polyester Coreloft insulation is impressively warm for how lightweight it is. The exterior fabric feels supple, and it’s full of little details that reflect the high quality, like multiple adjustment points on the hood and soft lined pockets. The fit is streamlined and modern, but it didn’t feel all that flattering. The straight boxy shape allows for layering, but it’s roomy in the midsection, and I found myself wishing I could cinch in the waist.


L.L.Bean Sherpa Fleece Jacket

This classic Sherpa Fleece Jacket from L.L.Bean is a favorite of deputy editor Kari Molvar who purchased it this winter. “It’s the perfect mid layer since you can wear it on its own or underneath warmer coats for extra protection,” she says. “The fleece is cozy and doesn’t pill, and the collar is just high enough to keep out the wind without rubbing against your chin.” For $99, the price and quality can’t be beat, and Molvar adds that this pick runs true to size.


Columbia Suttle Mountain Long Insulated Jacket

I found this jacket to be warm, comfortable and reliably weather resistant. The synthetic insulation is bolstered by Columbia’s Omni-Heat technology, a reflective space blanket–like interior lining that traps body heat, and overall this combo is warm for most days (but not the warmest). The coat’s slick exterior sheds snow well, but it is more “swishy” than other coats, and while the fleece-lined hood is cozy, the faux-fur trim is noticeably faux. The Suttle Mountain has a generous fit that accommodates shoulders and hips without looking boxy, and it’s available in a more inclusive size range than most (XS to 3X).

Eddie Bauer

Eddie Bauer Sun Valley Down Parka

This parka offers a comfortable trim fit with ample room for everyday movement without feeling bulky. It features a cozy insulated hood, cute detailing on the front paneling, soft fleece cuffs and a detachable faux-fur ruff for a stylish touch. However, it’s more suited for moderate climates and quick outings, as wet, sloppy snow tends to soak into the fabric, and it’s not windproof. Though not the warmest or best for wet weather, it provides ease of wear in milder climates and boasts an extensive range of colors and sizes, including XS to 3X, tall, plus and petite options.

How I Tested The Best Winter Coats For Women

First, I spoke with three winter apparel experts to find out what makes a great winter jacket and to get their advice on how to successfully shop for a new one. I interviewed the director of PolarExplorers, Annie Aggens, an International Polar Guide who has led expeditions to Earth’s coldest places, including the North and South Poles. I also spoke with Mimi Nuelle, vice president of merchandising at outdoor retailer Backcountry, and Peggy Leisz, women’s apparel sales lead at REI Co-op in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Those conversations led me to spend hours researching options, looking for a diversity of styles and a wide range of sizes (I have winter coat recommendations for sizes XXS to 3X). I relied on my years of experience covering outdoor apparel to pick over a dozen top contenders for everyday activities. I wore these coats through two winter seasons—roughly 6 months of wear. Throughout the winter, temperatures ranged from an extremely cold -22 to a milder 45 degrees Fahrenheit, with plenty of heavy snowfall, freezing rain, and wind. I donned each coat a minimum of six times while I walked my dog, shoveled snow and ran errands in the mountain town I live in, as well as the nearby city. I also wore each jacket on a 3-mile winter hike (but first, I playfully tested each coat by rolling on the ground and creating a few snow angels to see how they fared when exposed to snow).

To find the best women’s winter coat, I prioritized key factors such as warmth, weather resistance, comfort, mobility, construction quality, material durability and design versatility. To gauge their performance, I assessed how well each coat suited its intended use while also considering overall value. I paid close attention to specific aspects, including breathability, resistance to drafts, ease of movement and flexibility, fit around the waist, arms, shoulders, and hips and whether the fabric made a “swishy” noise while walking. Additionally, I closely examined the features that contributed to a jacket’s comfort and usability, assigning scores based on the design of the hood, the placement of pockets, zipper quality and the coat’s ability to provide customizable fit. I also did a fit check, looking for flattering silhouettes and fashionable styles that fit a modern, active lifestyle.

I also did a handful of other tests in a more controlled way, like using a digital thermometer with a temperature gauge sensor on my chest to help evaluate heat retention, and misting jackets with a spray bottle to check for water resistance (noting whether water beaded up and rolled or soaked into the fabric). All this led me to identify the use cases that each winter coat would be best for, ultimately narrowing down the contenders to a single best overall option, The North Face Arctic Parka, and a handful of others more specialized for specific needs, like the best value REI Norseland Insulated Parka 2.0 and the versatile Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka.

How To Pick A Winter Coat

Choosing the right winter coat is about understanding your needs, says Nuelle. “Think about what you’re using it for. How cold do you get? Do you need to pack it down or travel with it?” If you plan to be active snow shoveling or hiking, you’ll want a lightweight jacket that breathes well; for cold environments, a heavier parka can help you fend off a chill. Once you’ve got an idea of what you need, look at:


There are a few factors that contribute to a winter coat’s warmth, but much of it comes down to the insulation. You’ll typically find two types to choose from: down or synthetic (or both). “The warmest jackets tend to have a combination of down and synthetic located in different parts of the jacket,” says Leisz.

Down is the soft, fluffy layer of fine feathers found underneath the tougher exterior feathers of ducks and geese. Down provides exceptional warmth for its weight because the lofty clusters of down feathers create tiny air pockets that act as insulators, trapping body heat. Down can be compressed easily, allowing it to be packed tightly. High-quality down is durable and can last for many years with proper care. “Fill power” is a measure of how fluffy down is. Higher fill power is generally considered higher quality because it’s warmer for its weight. For an everyday winter coat, I found fill powers between 550 and 750 provide adequate warmth without being overly bulky. I included only down jackets made with recycled down or those that come with Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certification or an equivalent.

Synthetic insulation is usually made of polyester. The advantages are that it can retain warmth when wet, dries quickly, is easy to care for and usually costs less than down. It can be bulkier and heavier, but the best synthetic insulation closely mimics the feel of down. Synthetic insulation in winter jackets is typically measured in grams per square meter, and this indicates the density or thickness of the synthetic insulation material used in the jacket. Higher numbers indicate a thicker or more densely insulated garment, which generally provides better warmth.

Whether to opt for down or synthetic insulation depends on the climate, says Aggens. “If it’s going to be wet, then I’m going to go for a coat with a synthetic fill. If it’s really dry and hardly ever wet, then I’m going with down because it’s so much lighter and usually so much warmer.” However, the drawback is that it loses its insulating power when it becomes wet. “If you’re in an area that gets a lot of moist precipitation or wet snow,” Aggens adds, “then that jacket has to have a really good water-repellent finish on it.”

How much insulation a jacket contains isn’t the only factor that contributes to warmth. Features like the thickness of the exterior fabric, collar height, hood design, length and wrist cuffs also play a role. Brands may provide a temperature rating or a comfort range, but use these ratings as a guide only, as there’s no standardization among jackets, and they often won’t keep you comfortable at the lowest temperature they’re rated for.


“Length is a critical factor,” says Nuelle. If you plan to be active, a shorter length can offer more mobility, but if staying toasty is your goal, more coverage typically means more warmth. “Thigh-length is warmer than hip-length, and shin-length is even warmer.”

Weather Resistance

If you face heavy snow, frequent rain or slushy conditions, a waterproof coat is essential for staying dry. For light precipitation and milder climates, a water-resistant winter coat may be perfectly fine, especially if it’s treated with a DWR coating to further help the jacket resist water.

Wind resistance is also crucial to prevent cold-air infiltration, so look for exterior fabrics that are robust enough to keep out drafts. Sealed seams further block out the elements, and the most weatherproof jackets will be fully seam-sealed, while other jackets will feature targeted seam sealing in vulnerable areas that need extra protection, like around the shoulder and head.


Performance features can add value to a winter coat, but they can also make it more expensive. When choosing your winter coat, consider features that enhance your comfort, but don’t spend extra money on those you don’t need, says Leisz. “Look at those fine details: What do you think is the most useful to you every day? What features do you think you will utilize?”

Fleece-lined pockets and a bigger hood are the creature comforts Nuelle goes for, but for you, a cinchable waist or adjustable cuffs might be where you find most value. Storm flaps and water-resistant zippers keep out snow, while drop-in pockets can be handy for storing your hat or gloves. A jacket that packs into its own pockets might be the most ideal for travel, while a thick faux-fur ruff might be the extra weather protection you need. If you plan to be active, articulated sleeves and a two-way zipper will make for better ease of movement.


A durable jacket will last for many seasons, providing you with reliable protection year after year. While they can have a higher upfront cost, they often provide better value over time. You get more use out of them, and they maintain their performance, so you won’t need to replace your coat frequently. When looking for a durable jacket, consider the quality of the insulation and exterior fabric and look for quality high-wear components like snaps, zippers and drawcords.

My Expertise

I’m a freelance writer who’s covered outdoor gear and apparel for close to a decade. I’m a frequent contributor to Outside Magazine and have written multiple product review guides for brands like REI Co-op, as well as other notable product review publications. I’ve interviewed dozens of experts on how to choose the right outdoor gear, I’ve toured gear testing labs and I have tried countless products in the field. For Forbes Vetted, I’ve written about the best women’s winter gloves, women’s winter boots, sleeping bags, rain jackets, workout apparel and more.

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