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Best Overall: Arc’teryx Atom Hoody at Backcountry "A great choice for wearers who keep active in the cold."
Runner-Up, Best Overall: The North Face Thermoball Jacket at Amazon "A moderately priced, water-resistant jacket."
Best Eco-Friendly: Everlane The ReNew Long Puffer at Everlane "Made of 60 renewed plastic bottles."
Best Waterproof: Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket at Backcountry "It's windproof, water-resistant, and warm."
Best Wool: L.L. Bean Classic Lambswool Polo Coat at L.L. Bean "A lightweight, quarter-length style jacket with a flattering fit."
Best for Men: Arcte'ryx Camosun Parka at Backcountry "Called near perfect' by top winter-gear reviewing sites."
Best Plus Size: Columbia Women’s Heavenly Jacket at Amazon "One of the best parts is the length."
Best for Extreme Cold: Canada Goose Expedition Parka at Amazon "This is the iconic brand’s warmest coat."
Best for Kids: North Face Thermoball at Amazon "This synthetic down jacket is toasty and breathable."
Best for Versatility: Helly Hansen Rain Jacket at Amazon "Great for chilly spring days, crisp fall ones, and cold winter ones."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Arc’teryx Atom Hoody
It’s hard to define what, exactly, the very best winter jacket is — after all, climate and weather, as well as aesthetics, can all play a huge part in what you need from a jacket and your experience of it. However, for a good all-rounder that’s not too much of a hit on the wallet, Arc’teryx’s Hoody is a great choice for wearers who keep active in the cold (so good, in fact, that everyone at the company’s head office owns one). The Coreloft insulation is tucked throughout the horse, arms, and hood, while under the arms there’s plenty of stretch with breathability built right into the Polartec fabric. The taffeta outer, even with its water-resistant finish, isn’t going to be great in heavy precipitation, but on lighter days or in dry weather, this jacket is fine as an outer layer. However, it’s also designed to be thin enough to use as a mid-layer if you need to throw a shell on over it — making this a great choice for mild winter days.
It's also available for men here.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: The North Face Thermoball Full Zip Jacket
This excellent lightweight winter jacket from The North Face is a moderately priced, water-resistant jacket holds up in wind, sleet, snow, and rain, and the 15D ripstop nylon means it will hold up for more than a few seasons of use. The ThermoBall in the jacket’s name refers to The North Face’s proprietary partnership with Primaloft: The fibers in this jacket are designed to mimic down, so you get all the warmth (one study says equal to 600 fill-power goose down) without all the bulk — and because it’s synthetic, even if the jacket gets damp, it’ll still retain its loft. It performs best in mild winter temperatures (around 40 degrees), but get a size up if you want to be able to add layers. P.S. It’s our favorite pick for little ones, too.
It's available for women here.
Best Eco-Friendly: Everlane The ReNew Long Puffer
Popular for its ethically-sourced products, Everlane offers high-quality wardrobe staples at a good value, and the ReNew Long Puffer is no exception. Constructed of 100 percent recycled polyester, the stylish puffer is made of 60 renewed plastic bottles — so you'll look good while reducing your carbon footprint. This winter jacket will keep you warm, too, as it's filled with recycled Primaloft insulation and can withstand 15 to 30 degree Fahrenheit temperatures. Along with its water-resistant shell, the jacket offers practical features including oversized pockets, a drawstring hood, and a hidden drawstring waist.
Best Waterproof: Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket
If you spend most of your time outdoors, take a look at Patagonia's Nano Puff Jacket. The ultra-lightweight jacket can stand up to all the elements, as it's windproof, water-resistant, and warm, thanks to highly compressible 60-g Primaloft insulation with 55 percent recycled content. So, even when it's wet, the winter jacket maintains 98 percent of its warmth. Even more, its shell is made of 100 percent recycled polyester — a true testament to Patagonia's eco-conscious brand. The Nano Puff may be a bit thin compared to other winter jackets on the market, but it also makes for a great layering piece.
Also available in a men's version here.
Best Wool: L.L. Bean Classic Lambswool Polo Coat
While down jackets and parkas are the go-to's for staying warm in winter, you can't go wrong with wool, either. This 100 percent, Italian lambswool coat from L.L. Bean is a soft, classic option with Thinsulate polyester insulation that's made for 30-degree to -20-degree Fahrenheit temperatures. The lightweight, quarter-length style jacket has a flattering fit and can pair with any outfit, from a casual day out to a dinner party. With four colors to choose from (Heather Gray, Camel, Navy, and Hickory Heather), the coat is also available in a range of sizes for regular, petite, and plus options.
Best for Men: Arcte'ryx Camosun Parka
Called “near perfect” by top winter-gear reviewing sites, the Camosun from Arc’teryx — a company that leads the way when it comes to outdoor gear — is arguably one of the very best winter jackets out there for men. It has N150p-x GORE-TEX fabric with two layers of PacLite that keep the snow and rain out and the air circulating, while insulation is strategically bolstered in areas most likely to feel cold and lose heat: 750 fill-power goose down is placed in the core and sleeves, while synthetic fill is used where the body is most likely to hit some moisture (elbows, under the arms, hood). The jacket also does a great job holding up against the wind — even strong winter gusts won’t get through this. We like the fact that the hood is removable if you want to rock your own hat — and we also love the sleek minimalist styling that makes this jacket just as sharp for the office as it is technical for sportier settings.
Best Plus Size: Columbia Women’s Heavenly Long Hooded Jacket
Columbia is one of the best — and most reasonably priced — winter jacket manufacturers out there, and their Heavenly jacket will have you feeling just that. It’s really warm, thanks to the brand’s proprietary Omni-Heat Thermal insulation with synthetic down lining, which will stay lofty even in damp weather — users report wearing it in below-freezing temps with a flannel shirt underneath and staying toasty. However, even with the synthetic insulation, it still packs down tightly, so if you’re heading to a colder destination from a warmer home, it won’t take up too much room in the suitcase. One of the best parts, however, is the length: The top-of-thigh hem keeps your hips and bum covered and warm, unlike shorter down jackets that are a little more common. We also like all the ways to adjust this jacket for protection against drafts: You can draw in the hem and cuffs for greater comfort and to keep cold from sneaking in.
Best for Extreme Cold: Canada Goose Expedition Parka
Canada Goose is one of the best names in the biz — and yep, it comes with a price tag. This, however, is the iconic brand’s warmest coat, made for temperatures -25 degrees Fahrenheit and below. Inside, the coat has 625 fill-power duck down to keep wearers warm, plus an incredible hood so that your head doesn’t lose heat. Wind, sleet, and snow is kept from permeating the jacket’s fabric thanks to the Arctic-Tech outer shell. (We also like the 10 exterior pockets — plus one interior — that keep valuables safe thanks to zipper and velcro closures.) Just because it’s insanely warm doesn’t mean it’s meant for everyone, however — if you consistently live or work in below-freezing temps, then go for it; if you just need a winter coat for your commute, this might be a little too much jacket for you. Users rave about the coat but suggest going down a size, even two, as the coat tends to run large (even considering base layers).
It's also available for women here.
Best for Kids: North Face Thermoball
The full-zip version of this North Face synthetic down jacket (and no, there’s no reason girls couldn’t wear this) is toasty and breathable — two things you definitely want when you’re buying a winter jacket for your active kid. Independent gear reviewers love how light and compressible the PrimaLoft insulation is, as well as the brand’s proprietary ThermoBall technology, which is designed into the jacket to ward off water and, should rain or snow hit, dry extremely quickly. We like the drop-tail hem that provides extra protection when kids sit down and how it packs down into its own pocket, as well as the reflective strips that keep your kid spottable when the sun starts to set early in the day. And because aesthetics are important, we like how the modern quilting is both sporty and smart. It does run a bit small, so size up — especially if you want room for base layers.
It's also available for girls here.
Best for Versatility: Helly Hansen Squamish CIS Rain Jacket
Helly Hansen is a Norwegian brand known for great coats and jackets made for the mountains and the ocean, so you can bet the company knows how to keep wearers dry and toasty. This rain jacket will do the job during chilly spring days, crisp fall ones, and cold winter ones — just add and remove the inner fleece lining from the outer weather-resistant shell as necessary. It’s also engineered with Helly Tech Protection, which is water- and windproof, but also plenty breathable to keep air circulating. Designed, like all Helly Hansen coats, for active usage, we appreciate the details that have gone into this coat’s design: For example, there’s velcro on the hood so you can adjust it to sit further forward or backward (this is especially helpful for those that tend to wear their hair up). You can actually expand on the jacket’s potential as the inner jacket is compatible and interchangeable with all mid-layers from the brand’s CIS line.
It's also available for men here.