- A good winter coat should keep you warm in cold weather without weighing you down. Bonus points if it looks good, too.
- If you’re searching for a winter coat that will keep you warm and dry without any frills, consider picking up The North Face Metropolis III Hooded Down Parka.
- If you’re looking for men’s styles, check out our guide to the best winter coats for men.
Part of the problem with finding a satisfactory winter coat is that it’s really hard to tell whether a jacket will be warm enough for the dead of winter until you’re wearing it in the dead of winter. Sure, the coat might seem cozy from the comfort of a dressing room. But is it really going to stand up to subzero temps once you bring it outside?
When shopping for a winter coat, it’s essential to keep your lifestyle and location in mind. Are you looking for a heavy-duty parka? Something stylish to keep you warm from the office to the train station? A full-on duffle coat for Arctic temperatures?
Regardless, winter coats are getting cooler by the second. It’s certainly possible to both be warm and look stylish at the exact same time. Not every option on this list will appeal to everyone’s individual aesthetic, of course, but they will all keep you warm without much of a style sacrifice. And that’s pretty important.
Types of insulation:
Down: Still the most popular fill for winter coats, down is the name for the fluffy layer of under-feathers harvested from ducks and geese. That fluffiness serves a purpose: down’s thousands of tiny air pockets trap and retain heat, keeping the wearer warm. It’s also ultra-compressible, lightweight, and breathable. However, down loses its insulating powers when it becomes wet, and it can take a while to dry out. Plus, lower-quality down can harbor dust and debris, triggering allergies in those who are sensitive to such things.
Water-resistant down: No down filling is completely water-resistant, but polymer-treated down is definitely better at wicking away moisture. It also tends to be very expensive and still doesn’t handle dampness as effectively as synthetic insulation.
Synthetic insulation: Made from a combination of water-resistant compressed fibers, synthetic insulation mimics down in its ability to trap warm air via tiny holes. Synthetics are often heavier than down, and they’re not quite as compressible, but on the upside, they dry faster and are often significantly less expensive. Some common synthetic fills: Thinsulate, Polarguard, Thermolite, Dryloft, and Hollofil.
Down/synthetic insulation: Coats made with a combination of down and synthetic materials either have a mix throughout, or are designed so that some areas are down-filled (like the core) and others (the arms, for example) contain synthetic insulation.
A word on fill power:
Down is rated according to fill power, which is represented by the number of cubic inches one ounce of down occupies (to test it, the down is compressed by a weight in a glass cylinder and then allowed to bounce back). The better the quality of down, the higher the fill power, with numbers typically ranging from 300 to 900. Down outerwear typically falls between 600 and 800, with anything higher considered premium.
Here are the best women’s winter coats:
- Best overall: The North Face Metropolis III Hooded Down Parka
- Best affordable coat: Orolay Women’s Thickened Down Jacket
- Best wool coat: L.L.Bean Lambswool Polo Coat
- Best coat with a lifetime guarantee: Patagonia Down With It Parka
- Best winter parka: Fjällräven Singi Down Jacket
Prices and links are current as of 1/28/2020.
The best winter coat overall
You can’t get much cozier than a puffer coat, and The North Face Metropolis III Hooded Down Parka is the best of the best – warm and not too puffy.
Sometimes, you just need to be warm. On those occasions, you can’t go wrong with the Metropolis III Hooded Down Parka from The North Face. It’s a long-length quilted goose-down puffer coat designed to fit from the neck to the knees.
Despite the description, it’s not actually that puffy. The silhouette is rather sleek, albeit designed to withstand bone-chilling temperatures.
The coat comes with a cozy removable hood, which is nice if you’re not a hat lover or when it isn’t needed. The material is water-resistant, making it ideal for snowy weather. It’s also machine washable.
The North Face coats are exceedingly well-reviewed, and the Metropolis III, in particular, has a high rating among Nordstrom shoppers.
One shopper wrote of the Metropolis II, “I’ve had the opportunity to wear this in temps below 15 degrees F and have been comfortably warm. I love the fact that the coat is very lightweight and even stylish as far as winter down parkas go.”
Note: We previously recommended the Metropolis II. We’ve updated our recommendation to the newer Metropolis III, a similar parka that offers more wind resistance and uses recycled materials. However, it is slightly heavier. – Erin Mayer
Pros: Sleek design, not too bulky, super warm, water-resistant with detachable hood, improved wind resistance, use of recycled fabric
Cons: Slightly heavier than the Metropolis II, pricey
The best affordable coat
It’s not often that a winter coat becomes an online sensation, but the Orolay Thickened Down Jacket is the exception.
I’m always skeptical of items that have thousands upon thousands of reviews online but that I’ve never heard about in real life. The Orolay Thickened Down Jacket is a hit with its fans and a number of fashion experts. Plus, I have proof people wear it – I saw a former co-worker of mine in the jacket at New York Fashion Week.
This puffer coat, which became a sensation a couple years ago, has a “downtown cool” silhouette with a high-low hemline and oversized front pockets. It’s well-priced for a 90% duck down jacket that will actually keep you pretty warm. It’s not the winter coat you’ll want to wear in extreme cold, but it’s certainly cozy enough for the walk from the train to your front door.
This coat has been compared to the more expensive options from Canada Goose, though it’s worth mentioning that it is not waterproof, so you’ll probably want something else for rainstorms or intense snow. – Erin Mayer
Pros: Stylish, relatively inexpensive for down, unique design
Cons: Not waterproof
The best wool winter coat
You don’t need a down jacket to stay warm in winter – the wool L.L.Bean Classic Lambswool Polo Coat can do the job and provide some style, too.
If you’re not a fan of puffer jackets or anything stuffed with down, wool is warm enough to withstand cold temperatures and allows for a more sophisticated look than many other materials.
The L.L.Bean Classic Lambswool Polo Coat is a 3/4-length jacket with lapels and three buttons down the front. It’s a simple, timeless silhouette that will go with anything. It comes in four colors, including a fun raspberry shade of pink and traditional olive green.
“This coat is warm and comfortable,” one L.L.Bean shopper wrote. “The fabric is notably good: dense but soft. The lining is very well done, with what looks like sturdy sticking. The fit was as expected, with room for a couple layers underneath.” The coat is also recommended by Good Housekeeping. – Erin Mayer
Pros: Lined wool jacket warm enough for colder climates, sophisticated silhouette that goes with more formal outfits
Cons: May need to size up if you want to layer
The best with lifetime guarantee
If you’re tired of going coat shopping year after year, Patagonia’s Down With It Parka could last you a lifetime.
On the surface, the Patagonia Down With It Parka is your average long puffer jacket. It has quilted fabric, a detachable hood, a zipper obscured by a front placket, and princess seaming along the waistline for definition.
There are a few details that make this jacket special, however. The outside is made of 100% recycled polyester. Inside, the jacket is stuffed with what the brand calls Traceable Down, which is “duck down traced from parent farm to apparel factory to help ensure the birds that supply it are not force-fed or live-plucked,” according to the company
Like all Patagonia outerwear, the Down With It Parka comes with an “Ironclad Guarantee” that allows you to have the coat replaced or repaired at any time. The coat is not waterproof, but the knee-length silhouette and roomy hood will give you plenty of cover from wind, rain, and snow.
The Patagonia Down With It Parka also comes in a shorter style if you prefer something trendier. – Erin Mayer
Pros: Recycled materials, detachable hood, lifetime guarantee
Cons: Not waterproof or packable
The best women’s winter parka
Fjällräven’s Singi Down Jacket has a feminine fit, classic parka style, and a rugged design that’s made to last for decades.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to go ski, snowshoe, or hike in the snow-covered forest, you need a more active-friendly parka that can take you where you need to go. Fjällräven’s Singi Down Jacket is that parka.
Having tested this jacket myself during an intense surprise snowstorm in New York City, I stand by the protective warm and durability of this jacket, and many other happy Fjällräven fans agree with me.
Fjällräven has been making outdoor gear that can handle the extreme cold and powerful snow of Scandinavia since it was founded in 1960. Skiiers, hikers, snowshoers, and adventurers of all types love the company’s outwear because it is made to last.
The G-1000 canvas fabric on the outside of the Singi jacket is made from a blend of recycled polyester and organic cotton that’s durable. You can wax it down for added water-resistance or leave it bare for more breathability.
The jacket has a wealth of pockets, too, and they’re roomy, so you can stuff your gloves, phone, sunglasses, and whatever else you need into them for safekeeping.
To keep you warm, Fjällräven uses a mix of 80% goose down and 20% feathers for the 600 CUIN filling. Because the Swedish company is heavily focused on sustainability, the down is responsibly sourced. That means you don’t have to worry about the maltreatment of the geese who gave their feathers and down for your warmth.
You won’t find real fur on this parka, either, which is a relief to animal lovers. Instead, the hood has a removable faux-fur ruff that’s of much higher quality than the scraggly looking faux fur you find on cheaper coats.
Even though the build quality is exceptional, what really makes this winter coat shine is the attention to detail. Fjällräven adds unique little touches to the design like its iconic fox design on the button snaps and arm patch. The leather zipper pulls are also imprinted with the little fox.
The shape of the jacket is surprisingly feminine, too, and it has drawcords so you can accentuate your waist and not look shapeless in the snowy weather. I love the extra details because they make the jacket stand out. The extra color options – like the deep reddish-purple garnet shade I chose – make a big difference, too.
The Singi jacket also happens to have the best hood I’ve ever found on a winter coat. It doesn’t fall in my eyes, it stays in place, and it truly blocks out incoming snow and wind gusts.
This parka would have been our overall pick if it wasn’t for the high price tag. Still, we absolutely recommend you consider this parka if your budget allows. – Malarie Gokey
Pros: Sustainable down, rugged design, feminine fit, good color options, made to last, very warm, water-resistant
Check out our other winter gear guides
To test these boots, we dunked them in a tub filled with icy water and tried to make them slip on patches of ice. We wore them on cold days to see how warm they were and stepped into deep puddles on rainy days to test water resistance. We walked for miles on snowy stretches of sidewalk in New York City and waded through snowbanks in Central Park to vet these boots. Here are the best women’s winter boots.
A good winter coat will keep you warm and dry even when the snow is falling and the wind is howling. A great winter coat will keep you warm, dry, and looking good, too. Here are the best winter coats for men.
The word “beanie” is a catch-all that encompasses a ton of different styles, from slouchy cuts to ultra-fitted ones with a variety of embellishments and fabric variations. The sheer number of options is overwhelming, so we did the work of narrowing it down. Here are the best beanies you can buy.
Your choice of scarf can make or break your comfort level in the wintertime. Opt for one that’s wooly and warm and you’ll be toasty. Choose a too-thin fabric and you, well, won’t. Scarves are also a great opportunity to infuse a bit of personality into your winter wardrobe. And when you get bored with your outerwear, you can always pick a new scarf to mix things up. Here are the best places to buy scarves online.
A good pair of thermal gloves can make all the difference on a cold winter day. We did the research to find the best thermal gloves you can buy to keep your hands nice and toasty for the rest of this winter and for many more winters to come. Here are our picks for the best thermal gloves.
Your body loses a significant portion of its heat through your head, so keep yourself warm this winter with a great winter hat. The winter hat makers we’re featuring offer hats in myriad styles, so once you’ve narrowed down the type of winter cap you need, you should be able to find several fine options from each brand. Here are the best places to buy winter hats.
Mittens keep your hands warmer than gloves, so if it’s cold where you live, work, or play, slip a pair on and keep the chill out. Here are the best mittens to keep you warm.
Make the most of that winter wonderland this year by keeping yourself warm and dry with well-made snow pants when you’re skiing, sledding, or generally romping about in the snow. Here are the best snow pants.