- Buyer's Guide
Stay Warm: The Best Winter Jackets for Men 2021
Winter jackets, in my opinion, are one of the single most important items of clothing you can buy. They’re the perfect hybrid between the pack and apparel world. There are winter jackets for every occasion, and as technologies advance, they continue to become more and more impressive in their performance. But with every brand having at least one or two options in their stable, how do you decide what’s the best winter jacket for you?
Well, I’ve been testing the ultimate motherload of winter jackets for the last ten weeks. Hand-selected from the world’s best brands with serious jacket know-how and reputations, and then whittled down to the best performers.
To help you choose, I’ll talk about insulation technology, when to choose layering or heavy winter jackets and parkas, and what might work best for your situation.
Let’s dive in!
How to pick the right jacket for you
When it comes to cold weather winter jackets, it isn’t as simple as “that looks great” (although that certainly comes into it!). Before purchasing, you really should consider your use cases, and which jacket is going to suit your lifestyle best. For example, if you’re living in an urban environment, you might be looking for a blend of warmth and dryness (cities are traditionally damper and thaw far quicker than rural areas). Whereas if you are a serious hiker who is hard at work reaching peaks, you may want a good layering system or a great down jacket that can be packed in and out quickly during varying conditions on your ascent. Don’t be a magpie and pick something just because it’s shiny, make sure it fits your needs! And so to make it easier to choose, I’ve separated our winter jackets into three categories: Performance, Style, and Hybrid.
When should I use layers?
Layers. They’re not just ways to hide our feelings like Shrek. They are an incredibly critical part of staying warm and safe, particularly if you are being active. On the whole, the more exposed you are to the elements, the more layers work in your favor, as you can use them like a personal thermostat. Hiking is the perfect example. When you start out in the forest you may have three layers on: A base layer for moisture management (wool), a fleece light insulation (polyester), and a jacket (either extra insulation or weatherproof). Once you reach a rock scramble, you may drop down to just a base layer and fleece as you exert more energy. When you finally reach the peak you are likely to throw your down layer back on to stave off the chill as you refuel.
Now, these layers are likely to vary in your climate. In my world on the East Coast, I’ve had brutal temperatures dropping well below zero, so extra insulation is my priority as I’m not too concerned about rain. However, someone in the Pacific Northwest is going to likely need some rain defense. Their three-layer system might be a wool base layer, down or synthetic insulation, and a shell.
In a casual setting, your layering needs are always going to be comfort based rather than performance focused. For example, if you are wearing a beasty parka, chances are you won’t need many more layers than what you are wearing to your destination (like a flannel). If you’re going for a lightweight option, you’ll find yourself wanting a t-shirt, shirt, sweater, and then jacket. Similarly to the previous section, your mileage may vary, so consider how and when you’ll be using your purchase!
Down or synthetic?
The age-old question when discussing winter jackets, and in particular insulated jackets is “down or synthetic?”. The answer is not a straightforward one. Down (goose or duck plumage) provides the greatest warmth to weight ratio on the market. It works by trapping air between the feathers and creating your own barrier against the cold. They are extremely lightweight and packable, which makes them a favorite of those in the outdoors.
However, it is not without its faults. When it gets wet it loses much of its insulation power. And due to the need to create pockets (baffles) to hold the feathers, you can often find “cold spots” in down jackets, where a little air might creep through. Many manufacturers combat this by creating their own variation of baffling to provide as much coverage as possible.
Due to the lightweight nature, down jackets are often not super tough. Synthetic insulation, on the other hand, is traditionally made in sheets (continuous filament). It can insulate when wet, and it is a lot more robust, making it less prone to cold spots and damage. Synthetic insulation is usually more breathable than down, as there isn’t the need for a retention layer of fabric to keep down in.
However, they too have faults. It is hard to compress a synthetic jacket in the same way you can pack a down jacket into its own pocket or stuff sack. And they also don’t always provide the same level of warmth to weight that down can.
Is there a warmth rating for jackets?
Down is measured in fill-power which tells you the quality of the plumage used in insulating a jacket. Higher fill-power means better loft (fluffiness) and as such has greater insulating efficiency and performance. The big benefit of fill-power ratings is that it often does indicate compressibility. A 1000 fill-power jacket will be considerably more compressible than a 600 fill-power jacket, it’ll also cost more. Although, fill-power alone does not tell you how warm a jacket will be. It combines with the amount of fill weight (not always easy to find) to provide an imperfect formula for warmth. For example, a 1000 fill-power jacket that has only 20g of fill will not be warmer than a 500 fill-power jacket that has 100g of fill. Truthfully, there isn’t a tried and tested perfect formula for jacket warmth, which is why you rarely see an exact temperature rating on a jacket.
Synthetic insulation can also be a confusing place to shop! There are many different manufacturers of the insulation, and to some extent, that is personal preference. There isn’t a direct measurement like there is with fill-power. When it comes to the type of insulation it comes down to short staple or continuous filament. Short staple insulation is softer, and has more loft, and is easier to compress, similar to down. However, this does make it more fragile and prone to cold spots. Continuous filament is more traditional for synthetic insulation and is used for its robust nature, although it does lose its compressibility.
There isn’t a right or wrong when it comes to insulation type, it is a matter of preference. In fact, both types of insulation are making great strides closer to one another. Many down jackets now feature hydrophobic down, treated to have extra water repellency. While a lot of synthetic insulation uses new pattern constructions to mimic the loft of down even more so. There are also hybrid winter jackets that use a combination of the two to capitalize on the benefits of both.
How did I choose the below list?
The majority of these jackets were chosen and tested in my local cold wintry climate (Northeastern United States) and are selected for everything from day-to-day adventures to serious excursions into the wilderness. I’ve been out in bitter 50mph winds, trekked through snowstorms in 4ºF, and tried to hike through 40″ of snow! Thanks to this year’s intense winter, these jackets have truly been pushed to their limits! In the same breath, I’ve strolled around town in the casual pieces, worn them to a family dinner, or just grabbed them quickly while running errands. Over the last ten weeks, I’ve tried to put these into almost every situation that they were designed for.
There are many innovative picks here. Similar to many of our buying guides, these winter jackets were chosen on individual merit, rather than as a comparative list. It’s also worth noting that many of these winter jackets can be found at competitive prices as the sales begin to roll.
So, without further ado, here are the best winter jackets you can buy today.
These are the pieces designed to help you excel while you explore, adventure, and push the boundaries. Performance winter jackets usually have features to enhance your ability to function in more extreme situations. These features might include pit zips, a helmet-compatible hood, harness or bag-compatible pockets, stretch cuffs, and the like.
Best Waterproof Performance Shell – Triple Aught Design Stealth Hoodie LT
What’s it good for? Staying dry while active. Quiet performance.
Length: Hip (with drop tail)
Notable features or materials: PolarTec® Neoshell® Membrane
Why you want it: Excellent design, comfortable in use, functional pockets, fully taped seams, rugged as hell.
Why you might not: Tactical aesthetic, not insulated.
In the wild: Gone are the days of a crinkly waterproof jacket announcing your every move, whether that be on a tactical mission or just taking a sip of your drink! While the traditional hardshell still has its place, the folks at Polartec® have changed the perception of what a waterproof membrane can be with their revolutionary Neoshell®. When you put that type of material into the hands of a brand like Triple Aught Design, the expectations are high. I’m happy to say that the Stealth LT over-delivers.
Aesthetically, it is very understated. The flattering fit would not look out of place in either the forest or a town center. It does have the necessary tactical elements like hook and loop Velcro patches for morale/insignia, a rear hunter’s pocket (double entry), two chest pockets, two arm pockets, and a left forearm pocket. The construction is second to none, with YKK AquaGuard zippers, zipper garages, adjustable cuffs, and a drawcord hem reinforcing the Stealth LT’s reputation as a leading performance piece.
Regarding performance, this was a joy to hike in. Truly. The Neoshell® membrane allows you to focus on the trail, or the scrambling, or wherever else you may adventure. The breathability and flexibility of this jacket have to be seen to be believed. I personally love the fact that I rarely have to worry about layering with this piece (unless brutally cold!). The Stealth has enough wind resistance to keep you warm in the static moments, but the breathability to keep you moving without having to de-layer during high output. The pit zips are useful for those of us who run extra hot, or just for the occasional heat dump.
I was pleasantly surprised by how well this moves with you. I’m used to shells having a certain rigidity to them, but I never once felt restricted in the Stealth LT. The hood is a great size, comfortably fitting over winter hats, and provided extra wind protection around my neck when not deployed. The drop tail hem adds splash protection and comfort when you’re taking a load off.
Best Wet Weather Down Jacket – Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket
What’s it good for? Hiking, Alpine Adventures, Layering
Insulation? 153g recycled 700 fill-power RDS® down with Nikwax® hydrophobic finish
Notable Materials: Recycled 30D Nylon Pertex Quantum
Why you want it: Excellent for layering, high-quality hydrophobic down, included stuff sack, great value for money.
Why you might not: Slim fit.
In the wild: There are thousands of down jackets to choose from these days, and not all of them are created equal. Thankfully, the team at British company Rab Equipment have been specialists in this field for years and continue to excel. The Microlight Alpine is an exceptional down jacket that performs across the board. I think it is the perfect down puffer for many. It is an excellent blend of high-quality materials, performance, and style which means it can come with you anywhere.
The recycled P.U.R.E Nikwax® hydrophobic down is the industry leader, and will allow you to keep pushing through, staying warmer for longer when out on the crag. Not only that, Rab has rejigged the Microlight with a mixture of micro and nano baffling to make sure that the warmth is in all the right places. The Pertex Quantum outer shell has a DWR coating that makes this jacket as close to waterproof without a membrane as you can get.
It is incredible how much warmth this packs when you throw it on as the sun goes down or the winds pick up. Not only that, this is a great layering piece, so when it gets horribly bitter, you can easily add a shell on top. All of the pockets (one chest, two hand warmers) are harness/bag compatible so you can access what you need easily, even when under load. The down-filled hood has a stiffened peak to keep it off of your face, helmet or not. It’s not easy to find fault with this down jacket. And at $280 you are getting the best quality down, excellent features, a versatile product, and saving the environment by wearing a performance jacket that is almost entirely recycled. That is hard to beat.
Best Windproof Down Jacket – Rab GORE-TEX® Infinity Light Down Jacket
What’s it good for? Windy and bitter days on the mountain or in the wild.
Insulation? 190g 800 fill-power RDS® down with Nikwax® hydrophobic finish
Notable Materials: GORE-TEX® InfiniumTM Windstopper®
Why you want it: Warm, windproof, lightweight, stuff sack included.
Why you might not: A larger jacket, designed for the coldest days.
In the wild: Similarly to the Microlight Alpine above, Rab have created the perfect addition to any adventurer’s quiver. Let’s begin with the name. The Infinity Light is, well, light! At a hair over 600g (size XL), it is easy to wear comfortably or pack into a bag. This jacket was designed for mountaineers, but I found it to be just as extraordinary as a winter hiking jacket. A few of my test days dropped below 0ºF and I wouldn’t have known it when wearing this majestic piece. The GORE-TEX® InfiniumTM Windstopper® outer (13D nylon ripstop) is a barrier to the elements and this jacket is almost completely waterproof: it is truly robust too thanks to the ePTFE membrane. The 10d AtmosTM nylon liner is also exceptionally soft and feels like you’re putting on your favorite sleeping bag when you don it.
However, the biggest problem with windproof winter jackets is usually their breathability – not here! I wore this without issue on 10-mile hikes and didn’t feel the need to disrobe. There is a beefy two-way YKK® Vislon® that allows you to move freely or belay comfortably if you’re mountaineering. The hood can fit over a helmet easily and features the same 800 fill-power Nikwax® treated down insulation. With a brilliant warmth-to-weight ratio, excellent weatherproofing, and surprising breathability, you’d be foolish to leave this at home on adventure days.
Best Tough Down Jacket – ThruDark SF PATRIOT JACKET
What’s it good for? End of the world missions, brutal snowstorms.
MSRP: £595 (free shipping to US)
Insulation? 850 fill-power Italian Goose Down
Notable Materials: Cordura® and Dyneema® Reinforcements
Why you want it: The warmest of the warm. Tough as nails. Great pocketing and zip openings. Lightweight.
Why you might not: Tactical jacket, designed for the coldest days in the harshest places.
In the wild: So many superlatives could describe the SF Patriot Jacket from the British Special Forces chaps at ThruDark. However, I keep coming back to one: beast. This jacket feels like it could take you Beyond the Wall, finish off the White Walkers, and get you home in one piece.
The outer shell uses Pertex® Quantum ripstop, which is both highly weatherproof and breathable. At ThruDark, they’ve reinforced this jacket at the shoulders with a Cordura® X Dyneema® blend. If you don’t know about Dyneema, where have you been!? Fifteen times stronger than steel, it often features in boats’ anchoring ropes, special forces gear, and essentially in any place where it will get abused. With the SF Patriot, that includes your shoulders, meaning you can carry it all without worrying about the traditional failure point of most down jackets. Despite the tough and rugged nature of both Cordura® and Dyneema®, these patches still move with you. It doesn’t feel like you are weighed down or restricted by this nigh on indestructible armor for your jacket which is a subtle feature, but pleasantly noticeable in use.
While all this robust construction is great, is this ready to keep you warm enough when conditions turn? The simple answer is yes. This jacket is the warmest that I tested. I was nervous as I prepared for my hike in a snowstorm that ended up dumping an extra 10″ to an already whiteout landscape. I put on my base layer and threw the Patriot over the top. The outside air temperature? 4ºF/-16ºC. I had a backup down layer in my bag, but I should have left it at home. I didn’t need it, and past the trailhead it didn’t even enter my mind again. The loft of the 850 Italian down traps warmth quickly, and you can feel the benefits immediately.
If you do overheat while exerting, you can dump any excess thanks to the great YKK® AquaGuard half zip down the chest and the same YKK® two hip zips on the side. I also found these hip zips useful when you’re really working, and they allow you to move freely when ascending steeply or taking those wide steps through heavy snow. Obviously, they also help with quick on/off, but you won’t want to take it off!
I was really impressed with how it shed heavy snow during my testing. It didn’t wet out at all, even in the heavy storms that I mentioned. For a jacket that is as robust as this, it is also deceptively light. I didn’t have that “jacket fatigue” where you can’t wait to get it off. In fact, if anything, I was so cozy I wanted to keep it on! In line with their military background, there are two hook and loop Velcro patches where you can attach insignia or morale patches to personalize your Patriot. Two fleece-lined Napolean pockets and a large fleece-lined kangaroo pocket enhance the exterior. I found these to be great for keeping vitals close by and your hands extra warm in moments of stillness. Internally, you have a striking heritage liner that completes a wonderfully executed jacket.
ThruDark’s heritage is clear. Their products are inspired by the items they wish they had during their years of service in the British Special Forces. However, this is more than a military-inspired piece of gear to add to the collection. It is an excellent performance piece that stands out in a market saturated by the same down winter jackets, just with different logos. The SF Patriot will turn heads, but more importantly, it will keep yours warm.
Best Ultralight Down Jacket – Mountain Hardwear Men’s Ghost Whisperer™ UL Jacket
What’s it good for? Backpacking, thru-hiking, climbing, camping, layering.
Insulation? 1000 fill-power RDS® certified down
Notable Materials: 1000 fill-power RDS® certified down!
Why you want it: 189 grams. One hundred and eighty nine grams.
Why you might not: Delicate. Specialist piece.
In the wild: If you count your ounces while packing for your next outdoor adventure, and you can’t bear the thought of extra weight, this down jacket is for you. Mountain Hardwear’s Ghost WhispererTM series are award winners, and with good reason. They fit excellently, they are packable, and they are deceptively warm for items that are so lightweight. Well, if you thought they couldn’t get any better, they can. The UL (Ultralight) version of their Ghost Whisperer jacket is a unique item. Weighing in at an impossibly light 189g, you wouldn’t even know you are carrying this. An ultralight ripstop nylon shell will handle most activity well, but this isn’t for bushwhacking! It aims to give you great warmth, very quickly. The 1000 fill-power (yes you read that right!) RDS® down heats you up within moments of slipping it on and maintains warmth very well.
Often, with ultralight products, you lose a lot of features, but not here. The GWUL has two zipper hand pockets, elasticated cuffs, and a drawcord hem. These features are usually reserved for jackets at least twice the weight! It also packs down into its own pocket, so it can easily live in your backpack, if not your shell pocket for the moments you need it. I also like the fact that this isn’t super skinny when it comes to fit. As a broader chap, sometimes I have to size up, which can often leave me with billowing sails of fabric around my midsection. I’m glad to say that isn’t the case here.
While this is a specialist jacket, it’s hard to ignore its versatility in practice. I’ve taken this with me on the slopes as an insurance piece, on hikes, and even nipped into town wearing it (Mountain Hardwear has great understated style!). This is a jacket built on the foundations of an already impressive product line, but rather than resting on those laurels, MH have taken the Ghost WhispererTM line to the next level.
These winter jackets are for everyday enjoyment. Stylish, functional, and head-turning. Rather than activity-focused nuances like the performance pieces, these winter jackets have comfort and lifestyle-focused additions such as fleece-lined pockets, cell phone pockets, and more luxurious material choices such as leather pull tabs, or brass poppers on pockets.
Best Waxed Cotton Parka – Cockpit Herringbone Waxed Parka | Waxed Cotton Parka
What’s it good for? Wet walks around town, great pockets
Notable features or materials: Herringbone Waxed Cotton
Why you want it: Classic military style, luxury materials, MiUSA.
Why you might not: Rather heavy, and a little boxy.
In the wild: Cockpit are known for their sheepskin and leather bomber jackets, all built to the same specification as they were 80 years ago. However, there are more strings to their bow as is proven here with the Herringbone waxed parka. Inspired by military styles from the 1990’s, this PrimaLoft® insulated parka is perfectly refined for the civilian lifestyle.
As a purveyor of all things waxed cotton, I love the tactile experience of this jacket. The Herringbone twill cotton feels excellent straight out of the box, the hearty cotton cinch cord is robust, and the embossed brass snaps proudly display the Cockpit insignia. The subtle herringbone pattern only enhances the luxurious feel of this jacket and catches the light wonderfully. I’ve had many comments regarding this style, and that’s before they even saw the WWII camouflage parachute cloth lining, which harks back to Cockpit’s heritage. This isn’t just a city piece though. While it is too heavy for a serious ascent, it is perfect for damp and dreary rambles, or shorter trails. Equipped with pit zips, you can easily regulate your temperature once you get going and the snap-adjustable cuffs give you room to pair with gloves if necessary.
When it comes to storage, this beauty has all of your options covered. A left sleeve pocket is big enough for a cell phone or notebook, and the two large front pockets can hold any extra accouterment you might need for your adventures. Internally, two zippered pockets store valuables while you’re out and about. The waxed cotton will hold off all but the heaviest, consistent downpour, so adventures are easy when the PrimaLoft® insulation is keeping you toasty into the low twenties.
There is something unique about putting on this jacket compared to other winter jackets. Perhaps it is the hearty weight or the heritage? Ultimately, I think it’s the bespoke nature of it. As it is worn continually, it begins to mold to your body shape with each stroll, becoming more and more like you. There is something organic about it that you don’t get with more high-tech performance winter jackets. I can’t wait to see how this ages with me.
Best City Down Parka – Triple F.A.T. Goose Huron Men’s Waterproof Parka
What’s it good for? Warmth, Style, Magnet Magic, Waterproof
Insulation? 15.5 oz 700 fill-power White Goose Down
Notable features or materials: Atomshell+ waterproof fabric, Coyote Fur, Magnetic Closures
Why you want it: WARM, WARM, WARM. Sleek city style. Waterproof.
Why you might not: Big jacket, designed for the coldest days.
In the wild: Let’s be very honest, the main priority for the majority of us in winter is to stay warm and dry. The good news is, with the Triple F.A.T. Goose Huron Parka, you can now do both of those things outside as well. This stylish parka is designed for some of the coldest places on earth, with 700 fill-power down to keep the cold at bay. Even with the brutal winter we’ve had on the East Coast, with many days well below zero, I haven’t once suffered when using this. Somewhat uniquely for a parka though, the Huron is also waterproof. Thanks to its three-layer, breathable Atomshell+ construction, this jacket has a 20,000mm hydrostatic head! Once you add seam sealing and a HeiQ eco-friendly DWR coating, this is a very weatherproof parka which makes it perfect for city dwellers where weather systems seemingly change constantly!
This parka is also very customizable, with a removable coyote fur ruff, a removable hood (which also has a shapeable wire and drawcord), and drawcord waist adjustment should you want to change your jacket’s silhouette.
The construction is not the only impressive thing about this parka from the folks at Triple F.A.T. Goose though. The functionality is equally excellent. The magnetic snaps on the front placket give you instant protection from the moment you zip the jacket. Initially, I foolishly thought they would be gimmicky and annoying; I was wrong! It actually makes the parka a joy to use! The same magnets on the pockets give you extra peace of mind that your pocket contents are secure. Speaking of pockets, six external fleece-lined pockets proved to be really useful. I like the fact that you can both store your items AND keep your hands warm all at the same time. Another great feature is the storm cuffs with thumb holes that you can fold out of the way if they aren’t in use!
All of these features and technologies feature in a very sleek silhouette that isn’t aggressive on the eye. A simple, small PVC logo on the arm is the only external branding. I’ve been very impressed by this parka, and I think it is a dark horse for winter jackets in the parka scene. While $800 is a lot of money, the feature set, performance, and style make this a worthy investment.
Best Quilted Jacket – Relwen Quilted Tanker – ON SALE NOW!
What’s it good for? Everyday Heritage Style
Insulation? 100% recycled polyester fill
Notable features or materials: Peached Taslan Faille
Why you want it: Stylish update to a classic favorite
Why you might not: Lightweight jacket, not waterproof.
In the wild: In the heart of Ohio, Relwen continues to update and refine classics for the modern gentleman. Their legacy continues with this tanker, which puts a tasteful spin on the quilted winter jackets of yesteryear. The peached taslan faille shell has suede-like characteristics, with all the softness but none of the nap that ends up all over your other clothes and furniture. A 73/27 nylon cotton blend gives you the best of both worlds and has a water-resistant PU coating to keep milder weather at bay. The lining is a polyester ripstop and the insulation comes from a 100% recycled polyester fill. This lightweight jacket is surprisingly warm and made those milder winter days all the more bearable, particularly the tall collar which kept any gusts from chilling me all the way through.
There are subtle details that enhance this country chic style, such as the brass zippers and snaps, leather toggles, and a small applique logo on the left hem. Large hip pockets house gloves and hats with ease, while a zippered chest pocket on one side and a snap flap on the other provide more secure storage for EDC essentials. This is a perfect weekend jacket, one that wouldn’t look out of place ambling around local shops or heading to a backyard fire pit.
Best Casual Down Jacket – Rab Horizon Down Hoody
What’s it good for? Heritage style with modern features.
Insulation? 650 fill-power recycled GRS Down
Notable features or materials: Pertex® Quantum Eco Recycled Ripstop
Why you want it: Stylish, Recycled Materials, Value
Why you might not: Not an out-and-out performance piece.
In the wild: Rab are at it again here, creating excellent winter jackets, at excellent prices, with excellent materials and exemplary ethics. The Pertex® Quantum Eco ripstop shell, the Pertex® Quantum Eco nylon lining, and the Nikwax® hydrophobic down on this jacket are all recycled, an avenue I’d personally love to see more companies go down. This is a great piece for cruising around town, casual walks, or throwing on at the car after your latest adventure.
As is always the case with Rab, this is just a delight to wear. The 650 fill-power warms you up quickly, while the snap closure and hip zip make it easy to get this smock on and off as quickly as you need. A lycra binding around the hood keeps it on during those windy episodes, and a kangaroo pocket is the perfect spot for your wallet and keys, or cold hands (the elasticated cuffs help keep the cold out too). And if you need a little more security there is a YKK® zippered pocket internally.
The heritage styling (including retro logo!) takes inspiration from Rab’s back catalog, and this smock will fit in wherever you find yourself. It’s been with me on many errands, some great walks, and even cozy evenings at home. I’ve had to keep an eye on this one, my wife is rather fond of it too!
Best Classic Leather Bomber – Orvis Spirit II Shearling And Leather Flight Jacket
What’s it good for? Old-school Cool
Notable features or materials: Sheep Nappa Leather and Shearling
Why you want it: Stylish, Warm, Head-turner
Why you might not: Leather isn’t for everyone! Short length.
In the wild: In all the best action movies, all of the classic stars wear a leather bomber. If it’s good enough for Steve McQueen and Tom Cruise, it’s good enough for me! However, traditional bomber jackets are actually really quite bulky. After all, they were designed to keep you warm 10,000ft in the air! Orvis have remedied this with their streamlined, street-ready version of the archetypal bomber jacket. The Spirit II is the perfect blend of style and function and is an exceptional statement piece. The shearling collar is removable, so if you’re feeling like a quiet day, you can slide under the radar. The Nappa leather is supple to the touch, and will only get better with age, while the rib knit cuffs and hem keep the cold at bay.
There are two fully lined snap pockets (perfect size for a flask!) and a zippered sleeve pocket on the left arm. The jacket has a cotton lining that looks just as refined as the rest of the jacket. While this isn’t your jacket for the bitter snowstorm days, it is surprisingly warm for an uninsulated jacket. This is an heirloom piece that is going to tell all your stories, the more you wear it. After all, no one has to know you weren’t really in Top Gun.
The Best Down Bomber – prAna Baadwin Bomber Jacket – ON SALE NOW!
What’s it good for? Everyday Warmth
Insulation? RDS® 650 fill-power down
Notable features or materials: Bluesign® approved Shell
Why you want it: Warm, water-resistant, great all-rounder.
Why you might not: Bombers can be boxy!
In the wild: The bomber jacket is one of the oldest styles around and a fan favorite. However, usually, they aren’t insulated! There’s waxed cotton, leather, perhaps you even have a synthetic favorite. The eco-minded team at prAna have taken the bomber up a level by insulating it with RDS 650 fill-power down, weatherproofing it with a PFC Free DWR, and adding lots of details that will make this your go-to daily workhorse.
Starting with the high loft down, it feels luxurious the moment you put it on. The healthy fill gives you pillow-like comfort while you wear, so you might find yourself snuggling into it at times, like I have! Taped seams support the highly water-resistant DWR coating to give you extra weather protection, and the fleece-lined hand pockets and a cozy double collar add to your indulgence.
Don’t be fooled by its cozy characteristics though, this is tough like any other bomber. I had no issues when using it as my wood chopping jacket. A quick brush down and you’d have no idea that it was covered in wood chippings and sawdust just moments before. I was impressed with how well the face fabric held up to abuse. It gave me confidence that this could be a really excellent everyday jacket. It is breathable and stretchy too, which makes all the difference in the moments where you’re chopping extra logs or walking a few more miles.
Simple details like leather zipper pulls and a clandestine embroidered logo complete the understated style, while an interior zip pocket keeps your essentials safe. This bomber jacket is an excellent addition to prAna’s line-up, and I think you’d be hard-pushed to find a better value bomber, with better ethics.
Best Trucker Jacket – Flint and Tinder Wool-lined Waxed Trucker Jacket
What’s it good for? Casual wear, work wear, wet days. Classic Style
Insulation? Wool Lined
Notable materials and features: High-quality American and Japanese materials, MiUSA.
Why you want it: Classic styling updated with excellent materials, will only get better with age.
Why you might not: Not the greatest coverage for ultra-cold days, no hood.
In the wild: Huckberry’s in-house brand Flint and Tinder have been producing excellent value MiUSA variants of timeless classics for a few years now, and they continue to impress across the board. The Trucker jacket is one of their most successful pieces and now has three different versions. This wool-lined version is a perfect winter piece for those in milder climates, and an excellent transition jacket for others.
Built from a tough, robust 8.25oz shelter cloth (from right here in New Jersey!), the trucker is actually waxed on both sides for extra warmth and protection from the elements. Don’t worry though, you won’t get all of your favorite sweaters and shirts waxy, because the body is lined with a luxurious recycled Japanese wool cloth, and the arms are lined with quilted polyester. All of these delightful materials are then amalgamated to give you the final product. Detailing is understated with Flint and Tinder antiqued buttons, two simple hand pockets, an internal slip pocket, and a button flap chest pocket.
This jacket feels tough when you put it on, and I have had no issue using it for the more menial tasks around the home, but in the same breath, it’s been great to throw on for the days at the brewery. I know how well this is going to age and take on a life of its own, and I can’t wait to see that continue to happen the more I use it.
Looking for winter jackets that can do it all? These winter jackets are the best of both worlds and leave you with space in your wardrobe!
Best Eco-Friendly Parka – Houdini Fall In Parka
What’s it good for? Waterproof, synthetic insulation, great coverage.
Insulation? PrimaLoft® Silver Hi-Loft Eco
Notable features or materials: Bluesign® approved lining and Eco Circle® Shell
Why you want it: Synthetic insulation, great coverage, waterproof, subtle style
Why you might not: Full coverage length takes some getting used to
In the wild: The Swedish brand Houdini may not be the first name on your lips when you think of outdoor brands, but they should be. They continue to create well-thought-out and environmentally conscious products. When I say environmentally conscious, I don’t just mean using recycled products, I mean a fully closed loop. That’s right, not only in production. Once you are finished with this parka, they want you to return the item to them (for credit) so it can be recycled and live another life. Every element of this parka is recycled, from the shell, to the lining, to the insulation.
The outer shell is flexible, soft to touch, and almost entirely silent. Not only is it fully waterproof (20,000mm HH), it is also breathable and lightweight, with two-way stretch, which makes it great for most day-to-day tasks. The fluorocarbon-free DWR enhances its weather resistance, and the windproof nature of the EcoStorm® membrane means you don’t have to worry about the wind. I think that this is an excellent alternative to down insulated winter jackets since the Bluesign® approved PrimaLoft® Silver Hi-Loft Eco mimics the plume and loft of down, with better wet-weather performance.
Weighing in at only 895g (size Large), it is almost hard to believe you are wearing a full-length parka. I love the length, and it did take me a little time to get used to the jacket reaching my knee. However, once I was used to it, I missed that extra coverage when I wore other winter jackets. The two-way zipper allows you to adjust based on your activity level. The other impressive feature of this jacket is that it is very compressible, which is usually not a feature associated with synthetic insulation when compared with down. The Fall In Parka easily rolls up and compresses into its hood which makes it infinitely more usable and portable. It’s not often that you can pack up a full-length parka and throw it in your bag to take with you anywhere.
The understated style of the Fall In also gives it an edge over the traditional parka, no fur here, no down, but equally as warm. It is happily at home on the city streets or in the wild, and I think it is as close to the perfect parka as I’ve come across.
Outdoor Hardwearing Parka – Fjällräven Singi Down Jacket
What’s it good for? Hardwearing, classic Scandi style
Insulation? 295g 600 fill-power down (80/20 goose/feather split)
Notable features or materials: G-1000® Heavy Duty
Why you want it: Tough parka that can take a beating, traditional style that fits multiple use cases.
Why you might not: Lower fill-power than other parkas, heavy.
In the wild: Fjällräven are the Scandinavian sorcerers who have been making some of the best outdoor products that the market has seen for years. From their iconic backpacks to industry-leading trousers and notable innovation, Fjällräven continues to lead the industry. Take the Singi Down Jacket as an example of their masterful mix of tradition and technology. This may just look like another parka, but it is in fact a jacket that is both incredibly robust, comfortable, and functional.
The G-1000 is an excellent exterior fabric that is a blend of polyester and cotton (65/35) and while weatherproof in its standard state, it can be reinforced with as many layers of extra wax as you like. This unique feature allows you to refine this jacket for your specific environment. If you live in a cold dry climate, leave it as is. Living in a damp environment, add as many extra layers of their wax as you need to keep the weather at bay.
The jacket is reinforced at the shoulders, which gives you an idea of how they envisaged this being used: in the wild. You can comfortably wear packs with this parka and not worry about any adverse effects, even under heavy load. The interior lining is a soft, supple polyamide that feels close to silk and makes for an enjoyable wearing experience. There are six exterior pockets that allow you to store gloves, hats, flasks, knives, hatchets, or whatever else you need to go about your day.
There are many tasteful details on this jacket, from the synthetic fur hood liner to the contrasting blue interior lining. However, the leather pull tabs are my favorite. They are simple but elegant and continue to age wonderfully the more I use this jacket. A drawcord at both the waist and hem, a zippered pocket, and two large mesh pockets give you plenty of internal organization too. The classic Scandi styling makes this stand out, to me at least, in a winter jackets category that can be dominated by “fancy” materials and styling.
This is a jacket that will stand the test of time, both stylistically and functionally. I’ve used this as my “working” jacket in the garden because of the durability, and my casual jacket on ambles and low-key hikes because it fits in anywhere. If you’re looking for one parka that can do it all, I think this is it.
Best All-Round Jacket – Western Rise AirLoft Jacket
What’s it good for? This jacket can truly do it all.
Insulation? Toray 3DeFX+
Notable features or materials: Unique insulation
Why you want it: This is the “Swiss Army Knife” of insulated jackets.
Why you might not: you might require a ‘specialist’ jacket.
In the wild: In the autumn, I was fortunate enough to test out the AirLoft jacket prototype and I was instantly smitten. Now that I have the production version in my true size, it’s a full-on love affair.
I have used this in every conceivable situation in my day-to-day life and I think it is the best synthetic mid-layer/do-it-all jacket there is. I have taken it running, hiking, snowboarding, coaching, and traveling. It has excelled in all of them. This jacket, to me, really is the perfect blend of stretch, warmth, and breathability. I keep being surprised at how well my temperature is regulated, regardless of what I’m doing. That is why I’m calling this the best all-rounder jacket because I can go from a hike straight to dinner and no one would notice. The styling is perfect for this too because it is understated and minimalist. No shiny logos, just a simple print on the neck interior.
The rear game pocket is excellent for keys, wallets, gloves, hats, and even a water bottle! While the front hand pockets provide ample space to warm cold paws. This jacket shows up many other leading brands because of its genuine versatility, not in spite of it. It is hard not to sing from the rooftops about this piece, it is simply that good.
Best Down Ski Jacket – Arc’teryx Macai Jacket Men’s
What’s it good for? Cold trips to the mountain, and the town!
Insulation? 80g 750 fill-power European Goose Down, CoreloftTM 100 and CoreloftTM Compact
Notable features or materials: Removable hood and powder skirt for conversion to town wear. Gore-Tex ® N40p 3L Shell
Why you want it: Luxurious insulation, intelligent functional features, stylish.
Why you might not: Expensive, primary use for winter sports.
In the wild: As winter jackets go, this is the Aston Martin of ski jackets, and it truly feels worthy of that comparison. This is a luxurious jacket, one that you don’t want to take off. Arc’teryx are industry leaders in all things outdoors, and here, they have taken all of their combined expertise from their outdoor and lifestyle lines and fused them into an exceptionally adaptable jacket.
The Macai’s primary purpose is to keep you warm and dry on the slopes, and it makes light work of that thanks to the brilliant combination of down and synthetic insulation. Thanks to their composite mapping, you will find Coreloft™ in the areas that are prone to moisture (hem, hood, underarms), and the 750 fill-power down can be found in the core and sleeves to keep you incredibly comfortable. This combination of insulation has been touted by others before, but I have found the Macai to be the most “successful” so far from a comfort standpoint. I haven’t had any cold spots where I wish there was more down, or any wetting out where I wish there was synthetic.
However, we all know that insulation needs to be protected! GORE-TEX steps in here with a wonderful three-layer windproof, breathable, and waterproof shell that will protect you even on the harshest days. Mesh-lined underarm vents, watertight zippers, and a helmet-compatible hood round out a feature-packed jacket for the slopes. This kept me perfectly warm at -34ºF, yes you read that right (thanks, Lake Placid!) and I was astonished. It is worth mentioning that even on balmier days (20ºF to 30ºF), the pit zips and breathable GORE-TEX shell have kept me regulated well too!
This is not all though. Arc’teryx are well known for taking on customer feedback and refining and improving their products, including their winter jackets. Thus, in this iteration of the Macai, the hood and powder skirt are now removable, should you want to cruise around town in a more subtle fashion. I think this is an excellent feature. It truly eliminates the need to travel with another jacket, as the styling is sleek enough to go with your more relaxed attire.
It is undoubtedly an investment at $999, but if you are someone who wants the best resort jacket there is to offer, deals with brutally cold mountains, and spends a lot of their time in ski-towns throughout the winter months, this has your name on it.