Be prepared for extreme backcountry weather with this lightweight, waterproof and windproof jacket that features a durable yet breathable ripstop exterior, Relaxed Fit and adjustable hood that leaves room for a helmet and extra layers.
This is the gold standard among polar researchers and adventurers for good reason. Canada Goose Expedition Parka. The table above details the Overall Performance score of each winter jacket we reviewed. Read on for specifics about how the jackets faired in each metric that helped comprise this overall score. Additional details can be found in each contender's individual review. Every purchase is an exercise in value assessment. What am I getting for what I'm paying?
With winter jackets, you consider your climactic needs, your metabolism, comfort and stylistic factors, how much you'll wear it, and your budget. Thankfully, there is a vast range of options, in terms of price and value, on the market.
See the chart below to compare each jacket's score with its price. The best values have the highest scores and the lowest prices. They show up in the bottom right corner. To see which jacket a dot represents, hover over it with your mouse.
As you assess your value needs, here are a few thoughts for your consideration. First, comfort in uncomfortable conditions is a rare blessing. The right jacket turns the gnarliest of weather into a pleasant romp through a snow globe. Suitable materials will last longer, and you will get more bang for your buck. Insulation materials vary in both price and durability. Goose down insulation keeps its loft and insulating value much longer than synthetic insulation does.
Within down insulation, the rating systems describe weight and insulation value, not durability. More expensive down is warmer per weight, but it won't necessarily last longer than less expensive down.
Finally, good weatherproofing is costly. Sealed seams, tight pockets, and protected zippers take effort, design, and pricy materials. If you really want and need to guard against wet and wind, you will pay for it. 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.
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Insulated Recycled Content Hooded. Standard fit Attached, adjustable hood zippered handwarmer pockets Ribbed cuffs and hem. For full-coverage during winter's worst, shield yourself in this weatherproof hooded parka that's insulated with responsibly sourced fill goose down insulation for reliable warmth.
When the rain just won't stop, don't let that keep you from hitting the trails. Layer up with a waterproof jacket that's lightly insulated for added warmth on cool, rainy days. Layer for the campsite with this warm full-zip fleece that offers heavyweight warmth.
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