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For some, winter is a season to be endured. For others, it's one to be celebrated. One thing is certain, though: regardless of how you feel about the snowy season, a high-quality winter jacket is an essential piece in any traveler’s wardrobe.
All jackets should offer insulation, of course, but those who pride themselves on braving the outside world also need waterproof/breathable coverage, hoods, and other features to keep you protected from the elements. Those who plan on enduring the cold for shorter jaunts, like from a café to the subway to the museum, can likely get by on jackets that weigh less and offer a more sophisticated aesthetic. Skiers will want a jacket with amped tech features, like removable powder skirts or a dedicated ski pass pocket. Our selections run the gamut, from big puffy parkas with faux fur-lined hoods to those ideal for quick jaunts through the world’s coldest concrete jungles.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Black Diamond Mission Down Parka
Some may think that the boisterous amount of insulation found in the Mission Down qualifies as overkill. But based on the very simple fact that it’s always easier to get cooler (by ditching a layer or unzipping a jacket), this parka wins points for its warmth, versatility, and style. It comes with Gore-Tex Thermium, a new insulated shell construction that’s highly water-resistant and breathable, with taped seams that further protect the insulation. That blast of warmth comes from PrimaLoft Gold, a blend of 30-percent synthetic and 70-percent goose down, with a 20D Pertex microlight inner lining that also has a DWR finish to repel moisture should snow or rain sneak inside while half-zipped.
The Mission Down is marketed as a ski jacket and includes loads of sport-specific features like a zip-in powder skirt, an internal stretch pocket with a media port, and low-profile cuff tabs. But its other elements — a single-pull cord to adjust the helmet-compatible hood, two concealed zippered chest pockets as well as two zippered hand pockets and two internal drop pockets, and an overall refined aesthetic — make it just as much of a go-to option off the slopes.
Black Diamond has been making some of the outdoor industry’s best mountain equipment since 1957, though their apparel line is relatively new. If the Mission Down Parka is any indication, they’re heading in the right direction.
Best Value: Prana Zion Quilted Jacket
Constructed of stretch nylon, the Zion Quilted Jacket will marry with all your winter exploits without restricting your movement. It comes with a PFC-free DWR all-weather finish to shrug off the wet stuff, with 100 grams of Primaloft ECO insulation composed of 60-percent recycled polyester that carries into the hood to keep you warm when it’s really coming down. The quilted pattern also helps you stand apart from the neon winter jacket set, with a sharp overall pattern, rib-knit cuffs, and laser-cut overlay film accents.
Travelers will appreciate the internal security zip pocket, sized to fit your smart device and passport, as well as zippered hand-warmer pockets and an external zippered chest pocket ideal for quick-grab items like your boarding pass or hotel room key. The Zion Quilted jacket is available in black and cargo green.
Best for Really Cold Climates: Helly Hansen Longyear Parka
There is Florida cold and then there’s Arctic cold. The former can probably be tackled with a hoodie, but for really frigid weather you want a jacket that doesn’t just keep you warm. You want something that offers refuge, like the Longyear Parka from Helly Hansen.
The coat features 600-fill power down insulation that’s been responsibly sourced from Allied — the pioneer in producing innovative and sustainable down. Protection from the wind, water, snow, and freezing rain comes from the proprietary Helly Tech construction, including a waterproof/breathable outer as well as fully sealed seams to prevent the water from soaking in, or the heat from bleeding out. The hem drops about mid-thigh, with an overall masculine appearance that’s softened slightly by the faux fur-lined hood, which is fully adjustable — and yes, you can ditch the faux fur if you like.
The jacket also boasts loads of other tools to seal out the cold, including a full center zip reinforced with buttons and adjustable cuffs, a high color anchored by two strips of burly Velcro, and two buttoned hand pockets and a zippered chest pocket. An inner waist adjustment gives the jacket a bit of shape (a nice touch for when you’re active), and reflective elements keep you visible when exploring those long winter nights.
Best for Maneuverability: Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Jacket
Most puffy coats fit like a sack, which can make high-octane activities like hiking, biking, or mountaineering a clumsy affair. As its name implies, Mountain Hardwear’s StretchDown hurtles this issue thanks to its stitch-free construction and a super-stretchy knit fabric that lets the jacket fit snug and move freely.
The jacket's trim fit also maximizes heat retention, a factor that’s reinforced by stretch-weld channel construction on the baffles, which traps more warmth than standard stitching. Insulation comes from RDS-certified 750-fill down that’s been treated with Q.Shield, which infuses the down fibers with permanent water repellency to keep you warm in the unlikely event that the insulation gets wet.
Two internal drop pockets are great for stashing your gloves or hat. On the outside, you'll find two zippered hand pockets as well as a zippered pocket on the left side of the chest. The cuffs are also stretchy and integrate nicely with a pair of gloves, so you don’t need Velcro cuff closures. A dual-sized hem closure at the hips helps seal in the heat.
Best for Urban Exploration: Icebreaker MerinoLOFT Venturous Jacket
Though winter can be harsh in urban locals, what with wind and snow whipping through skyscraper-lined streets, a warm refuge is always close-by in the form of museums, shops, coffee houses, and bars. For that reason, you don’t really need a bomb-proof jacket rated to handle sub-zero temps. That’s where the MerinoLOFT Venturous Jacket comes in.
Designed to reflect the bomber jackets of yore, this outer layer from merino wool wunderkind Icebreaker utilizes that famed wool as its core source of insulation. Dubbed MerinoLOFT, it offers a natural alternative to synthetic down, with wool fiber batting layered into the rectangular baffles that’s warmer and lighter than lesser jackets with the same design.
The machine wash-friendly jacket carries a water-repellent poly outer shell with nylon lining at the sleeves and no-stink, warm-when-wet merino lining across the body. Side seams have been removed for comfort, especially when sporting a day pack, and the rib cuffs, collar, and hem blend merino with Lycra and nylon for stretch. Storage configuration remains simple, with two zippered hand pockets. The metaluxe vision center zip closes at the collarbone, so you may need a scarf or a high-collar sweater or hoodie to layer out the elements. It comes in black and gray models, as well as the slightly more fashion-forward tobacco/jet heather model.
Best Stealthy Insulation: Acr’teryx Camosun Parka
Some travel experiences demand serious warmth without looking like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man, and the Camosun Parka delivers the alpine-level protection you need in a fashion-forward manner. The outer construction uses N150p-x Gore-Tex two-layer fabric, which basically means you get full weatherproof/breathable protection and a very soft feel without sacrificing long-wearing performance.
Naturally, all the jacket's seams are taped to seal out the wet stuff, while the internal insulation may be one of the smartest on the market. It uses Arc’teryx’s Down Contour Construction and Composite Mapping to put place down and synthetic insulation where you need it most, with 750-fill power European goose down at the core and sleeves, and Coreloft synthetic at the cuffs, hood, and under the arms — areas that are more prone to water exposure.
Unlike other jackets with removable hoods, there’s no sign that a hood should be there when you ditch it. The collar zips high up on your neck, the hem drops to the upper thigh, and articulated sleeves and gussets under the arm let the jacket move with you. Inside, you get one security pocket ideal for your smartphone or passport, along with two hand pockets with hidden zippers. The jacket is available in Hecate blue, black, and Agra orange. With an MSRP hovering near $650, it ain’t cheap. But it’ll last for years of rugged abuse.
Best for the Style-Obsessed: Aether Ion Jacket
A modern update to the classic bomber jacket that’s been a staple of the military and the urban scene for decades, the Aether Ion Jacket layers in a lot of high-end tech features without sacrificing on style. It comes with 800-fill power down from grey geese, with an outer nylon shell that’s both wind- and water-resistant. But all that gear-speak doesn’t capture how plush the jacket feels when you slip it on.
Simply put, this jacket feels as good as it looks, thanks to a cozy inner liner and stretchy rib knit at the collar, cuffs, and hem. Storage is ample without overdoing it, including two zippered hand pockets and an internal pocket. The exposed center zip is also well designed, burly without being chunky. Given the collar pattern isn’t designed to cover your neck, you’ll probably want to accessorize with a scarf or wear a hooded mid-layer. It comes in sizes that range from XS up to XXL, in colors that cover the gamut of urban chic (blue, gray, and black), and includes a lifetime warranty.
Best for Retro-Chic Warmth: Outdoor Research Baja Down Pullover
A decidedly earnest throw-back to the glory days of the 1970s, the Baja Down Pullover merges an anorak-style design with Outdoor Research’s long history of providing serious warmth for play in the outdoors. The insulation is robust, with 800-fill responsibly-source power goose down that’s been layered into the 100-percent 10d nylon outer shell, which is both wind- and water-resistant.
Inside, you’ll find a cozy 20d nylon lining as well as an internal stuff pocket. A zipper runs along the left side of the jacket for easy on/off, with a quarter-length zipper running from the mid-chest up to an adjustable, insulated hood. At only 9.2 ounces, it’s one of the lightest jackets on our list and packs down to about the size of a grapefruit, so you can stash it in your pack till you need it. A big kangaroo pouch-style pocket sits at the stomach — ideal for hand-warming or stashing your head amp or smart device.
Our writers spent 20 hours researching the most popular winter jackets for men on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 10 different jackets overall, screened options from 12 different brands and manufacturers, read over 15 user reviews (both positive and negative) and tested 4 of the jackets themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.