The 8 Best Insulated Jackets for Women of 2022

Stay warm, even in negative temperatures with these cold-weather jackets

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The right jacket can make any outdoor weather great weather for an adventure. In cold weather, choosing the right balance of warmth, waterproofness, wind repellency, and breathability is the ticket to dressing so that your outing will be memorable for the right reasons—not for being cold, miserable, and challenging. 

If a jacket is too warm, you can get sweaty inside. And sweat freezes, which is cold and unpleasant. But if a jacket isn’t warm enough, you’ll be chilled and uncomfortable. Highly aerobic pursuits, like skate skiing, ski touring, running, and fat biking will be best served by a jacket with more breathability and less insulation. For high output activities—in all but the most intense weather—a jacket without a waterproof membrane works best. For more sedentary activities, like sitting on a chair lift, a waterproof breathable membrane will better retain body heat. For resort-based skiing and riding, pick a jacket that will block wind and that has enough insulation to keep you warm on the lift, with ways to vent so you don’t overheat when you ski or ride back down.

Most jacket insulation is down or synthetic. Down is usually a lighter and more cozy feeling, but if it gets wet from sweat, rain, or melting snow, it loses its loft and loses its warmth. (Although, some down is now treated for water repellency.) Most synthetics are warm when wet, but they may not feel quite as luxurious to put on. Some jackets now combine down and synthetic insulations. And many brands are working on replicating the unique feel of down in a synthetic. 

Most insulated jackets have a durable water-repellent (DWR) treatment on the outside. With wear, that coating will wear off, but it can be replaced with a wash-in treatment for the type of insulation the jacket has. 

These are our picks of the best insulated jackets to get you bundled up and outside in 2021-2022.

Best Overall: Orvis Women’s Pro Insulated Hoodie

Orvis Women’s Pro Insulated Hoodie

Orvis

What We Like
  • Elastic thumb loops

  • Advanced coating for enhanced wind and weather protection, also available as a vest

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn’t use enough low impact materials

For me, the best jacket is the one I’ll get the most use out of. Orvis’ Pro Insulated Hoodie is one of the most versatile jackets made for active people. The Pro Insulated Hoodie has body-mapped insulation inside, with 80 grams of feather-light and extremely breathable PrimaLoft Gold Active in the core and arms, and an additional 80 grams of body heat regulating Polartec Alpha in the side panels and sleeves. The combination of the two best-in-class insulations made this jacket magically always feel like it was the right temperature.

The insulation is the filling in a sandwich of 20D mechanical stretch ripstop nylon with a proprietary coating that enhances the wind and weather resistance. The jacket, which was made for fisherwomen, but is a great layer for any outdoorswoman, is highly abrasion-resistant. Not only was it no match for a shrubby, snowy bushwhack to get to riffle, but it survived an all-day excursion up several trailless peaks in New York’s Adirondacks. Fleecy handwarmer pockets helped warm up my cold fingers fast.

The scuba-style hood, while not helmet-compatible, was good for layering and it never drooped over my eyes. I was able to wear the hood under a climbing helmet on a cold belay day. The zippered chest pocket was glove-friendly, and a super deep hidden internal pocket stored snacks, spare gloves, and more until it was time to use it as a stuff sack for this jacket. Layer it or wear it alone or over a mid-layer. The jacket is form-fitting but not tight.

Sizes: XS to XL | Insulation: PrimaLoft Gold Active, Polartec Alpha | Waterproofing: DWR coating | Weight: 5.6 ounces | Impact: 45 percent recycled PrimaLoft Gold

Best Budget: Jack Wolfskin Women's DNA Rhapsody 3-in-1 Jacket

Jack Wolfskin Women's DNA Rhapsody 3-in-1 Jacket

Jack Wolfskin

What We Like
  • Eco-conscious choice

  • Compatible with other 3-in-1 Jack Wolfskin short system jackets

What We Don't Consider
  • Doesn’t stretch

  • Fleece isn’t as warm as synthetic fill or down insulations,

A shell, a fleece, and a fleece-insulated shell in one, Jack Wolfskin’s DNA Rhapsody is a lot of jacket for the money. The windproof and waterproof breathable outer shell jacket is two layers with a hanging mesh liner that kept it from feeling clammy on my skin when I wore the shell without the fleece liner.

The fixed hood on the shell kept wind and water off my head and out of my face when I got caught in a spring squall hiking Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak. In winter, I wore the shell with the inner fleece. In spring, summer, and fall, I wore the fleece solo for early morning hikes and dog walks. Together, the fleece and the shell were a highly functional winter storm-ready duo that kept me warm and dry.

Handwarmer pockets in both layers held my phone and other essentials when I wore them alone or together. The fleece has an internal stuff pocket big enough to hold a bike water bottle. Pairing and unpairing the layers was straightforward. Three tabs on the shell thread through three loops on the fleece, and the front zippers mate, too. In this jacket, I felt like I was ready for nearly anything Mother Nature served up.

Sizes: XS to XXL | Insulation: Heavyweight 100 percent recycled polyester fleece  | Waterproofing: Two-layer waterproof breathable shell jacket | Weight: 1 pound, 15.1 ounces (Small) | Impact: Made with 90 percent Bluesign-certified textiles, 30 percent Bluesign-certified components, and 100 percent recycled fleece

Best Synthetic: The North Face Women's Thermoball Full-Zip Jacket

4.9
The North Face Women's Thermoball Full-Zip Jacket

Courtesy of Bloomingdale's

What We Like
  • Overstuffed baffles look like down

  • Balls of insulation are super effective at trapping body heat

What We Don't Like
  • Cut short

  • Heavier than a goose down jacket

For nearly a decade The North Face has been refining its balled synthetic insulation. It mimics down—balls of synthetic insulation move around inside the baffles more like down feathers than blankets of strand insulation, giving the jacket an organic feel.

This super warm jacket features square baffles fully stuffed with Thermoball, including in the form-fitting hood. Wear it as a summit hoody, a belay jacket, or as a layer on super cold days. It’s a jacket that has accompanied me on months of adventures without any dip in warmth. This version is made from post-consumer recycled polyester, which made me feel even better about wearing it.

Sizes: XS to XL | Insulation: ThermoBall Eco post-consumer recycled polyester | Waterproofing: DWR | Weight: 14.1 ounces | Impact: ThermoBall Eco post-consumer recycled polyester, recycled nylon

Best Warmth to Weight: Columbia Women's Infinity Summit Double Wall Down Hooded Jacket

Columbia Women's Infinity Summit Double Wall Down Hooded Jacket

Dick's Sporting Goods

What We Like
  • Zipper secures hood in place

  • Hand pockets are fleece lined

What We Don't Like
  • Chest pocket extends up and is awkward to load

  • The reflective lining blocks the delicious feel of down

To build the Infinity Summit Double Wall Down Hooded Jacket, Columbia started with the highest quality down, then made it even warmer than nature could by lining the jacket with a shiny gold fabric that reflects body heat and blocks cold while remaining breathable. The regular cut jacket has stretchy binding at the wrists instead of Velcro. That makes it easy to layer under a shell and to wear with gauntlet gloves. The hip cut is adjustable with the waist drawcord. And when you’re not wearing it, the jacket packs into its chest pocket. 

Sizes: XS to XXL | Insulation: 800-fill goose down | Waterproofing: N/A
| Weight: N/A | Impact: RDS certified down

Best for Skiing/Riding: Burton [ak] Flare Down Jacket

Burton [ak] Flare Down Jacket

Burton

What We Like
  • Cuff thumb loops

  • Pass pocket

  • Body-warmed phone pocket

What We Don't Like
  • Not as versatile as some other jackets

A fully featured down jacket for snowboarding and skiing, not only is the Flare waterproof enough to handle a deluge, but the dropped tail, long angle-cut sleeves, and high neck made it warm enough that I was comfortable riding the lift up and ripping down the resort. The relaxed-fit Flare is made for movement with a spacious cut that’s flattering but not binding.

Pockets galore, including a body-warmed media pocket, kept the tunes cranking even in extreme cold. The hood is helmet-compatible, but because the fleece-lined neck came up so high, I rarely used it. When I wore this jacket on warm days, pit zips dumped heat. But most days, the “Living Lining,” which senses body heat, collected more moisture when I was hot and closed down when I was cold, so I always felt just right. 

Sizes: XS to XL | Insulation: 90/10 RSD down 800 fill | Waterproofing: Gore-Tex two-layer fabric | Weight: 2 pounds, 7 ounces | Impact: RSD down

Best for Everyday: prAna Women's Emerald Valley Jacket

prAna Women's Emerald Valley Jacket

Moosejaw

Slipping into this knee-length down coat was like being wrapped in a hug. That made the Emerald Valley Jacket my new favorite jacket for cold-weather travels, trekking from the gym to home, and going out with friends. It’s warm but mid-weight, with slits along the side seams and a two-way zipper to ease walking. A mid-torso cinch drew the jacket to make it more shapely and to keep out the cold. This is the first full-length parka I’ve worn that packs small enough to pack for a trip. It rolled into a suitcase, taking up minimal space. But for travels, I usually just stuffed it in my carry-on so I could use it as a pillow for the drive or flight. The hood zips off if the high neck is warm enough. Silicone-tipped zipper pulls were glove-friendly.

Sizes: XS-XL | Insulation: RDS certified 650 fill down | Waterproofing: DWR-treated nylon | Weight: N/A | Impact: Bluesign certified, RDS-certified 650-fill down, PFC-free DWR

Best for Nordic Skiing/Running: Daehlie Challenge Jacket

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What We Like
  • Highly breathable

  • Only insulated where you need it

What We Don't Like
  • Warmth appropriate to high output activities only

Made for Nordic skiers, but great for runners, snowshoers, fat bikers, and more, the wind and water repellent softshell Challenge jacket has an insulated weather blocking front and a sweat-wicking back so aerobic athletes can be warm while you’re working out in a jacket that won’t trap sweat. The Challenge was cut long enough to cover my butt—an area that’s always cold. Stretchy, long-cut cuffs slipped over or under gloves and didn’t get hung up in pole straps. The locking zipper let me control my venting and adjust on the fly. And the jacket was machine washable, so when I got it stinky, I threw it in with the rest of my load.

Sizes: XS to XL | Insulation: Thermore Eco down | Waterproofing: Bionic Finish Eco DWR | Weight: 6.95 ounces | Impact: Recycled insulation

Best for Extreme Cold: Helly Hansen Women's Verglas Polar Down Jacket

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What We Like
  • Zonal insulation

  • Silky soft shell fabric

What We Don't Like
  • Cuffs are tight

Down insulation has advantages. So does synthetic. This hybrid jacket combines the best of both worlds into one winter puffy that’s super warm without the Michelin Man bulk. Helly Hansen starts with its proprietary insulation made in partnership with Primaloft. LIFALoft is lighter than standard polyester insulation because it has more body heat-trapping air pockets, and it’s hydrophobic which means it won’t absorb water. Helly uses double layers of offset baffles to prevent cold spots and to help the jacket mold naturally to the body.

The baffles, which look like standard down jacket baffles on the outside of the jacket and like gills on the inside, are filled with LIFALoft anywhere they might get wet from sweat or weather like the upper back and under the arms. The baffles are filled with Allied 800 fill down everywhere else. Angled baffles are sewn into a satiny 7D ripstop Nylon in a pattern flattering to the female figure.

I get complimented on this jacket every time I wear it. I appreciated the pocket options: handwarmer pockets, a chest pocket, and two internal stuff pockets. It’s the perfect jacket to wear under a shell backcountry or resort skiing on a cold day. The waist cinches shut, and the hood has elasticized sections to help it stay put.

Sizes: XS to XL | Insulation: LIFAloft and 800-fill down | Waterproofing: PFC-free DWR | Weight: 1 pound, 8.7 ounces | Impact: Bluesign approved, RDS down

Final Verdict

Orvis’ Pro Insulated Hoodie (view at Orvis) is up for more than standing in a snow-banked river casting for spawning salmon. I wore it hiking, biking, climbing, skiing, and more. It earned top honors for its warmth and versatility for active outdoor pursuits.

What to Look for in an Insulated Jacket

Fit

Buying an insulated jacket that fits well is key because insulation works by creating spaces that trap body heat. If a jacket is too big, your body will have a lot more space to warm up before you feel warm. If it’s too tight, some of the air spaces will be compressed, reducing the jacket’s warmth. 

Insulation

Most jacket insulation is down or synthetic. Down is usually lighter and more cozy feeling, but if it gets wet from sweat, rain, or melting snow, it loses its loft and loses its warmth. Some down is treated for water repellency. Most synthetics, whether polyester fleece or a polyester-based ball or strand insulation, are warm when wet, but they may not feel quite as luxurious to put on. Some jackets now combine down and synthetic insulations to harness the properties of both. And many brands are working on replicating the unique feel of down in a synthetic. 

Price

The warmer a jacket is for its weight, the more expensive it will be. Opt for higher fill power if you’re looking for a compressible jacket for technical missions. For everyday use, lower fill power down and bulkier synthetics can feel good even if they’re heavier. 

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What's the best way to wash and care for an insulated jacket?

    Most down and synthetic jackets can be washed on a delicate cycle in a standard washing machine and dried in the dryer. Use an insulation-specific detergent, like Nikwax Down Wash or Tech Wash. You may want to follow the wash cycle with a treatment to reinvigorate whatever waterproofing the jacket has, whether that’s a waterproof breathable membrane or DWR.
    Most of Nikwax’s technical fabrics washing products have a sister product for reinvigorating weather repellency. We like Nikwax products because they work and they’re eco-friendly. Always follow the manufacturer’s care instructions.

  • How many grams of insulation should I look for?

    Don’t shop for a jacket based on grams of insulation. Down’s warmth is measured by fill power, while synthetic’s warmth is measured by grams. But other important factors, like whether a jacket has a membrane or a body heat reflective layer, or how the insulation is baffled can all influence warmth.
    Buy a jacket that matches the activities you’ll use it for. A mountaineering jacket and an around-town jacket may have the same warmth at drastically different weights and price points.

  • Are insulated jackets waterproof?

    Insulated jackets may or may not be waterproof. For high output activities, often a jacket without a waterproof membrane works best. For more sedentary activities, like sitting on a chair lift, a waterproof breathable membrane will better retain body heat. Most insulated jackets have a water-repelling DWR treatment on the outside. With wear, that coating will wear off, but it can be replaced with a wash-in treatment.

Why Trust TripSavvy

Berne Broudy has been reviewing outdoor gear for more than 20 years for more than a dozen endemic and non-endemic publications.

Methodology

Products were selected through extensive testing during a variety of cold-weather activities including skiing, running, biking, hiking, and climbing in cold weather environments in Vermont, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, New Mexico, and Arizona.

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