For the coldest winter months, these heavyweight jackets and parkas bring the warmth
When the coldest winter months arrive, it’s time for a serious jacket. Our picks for the best and parkas of 2022-2023 are among the warmest on the market—they are packed with down fill (or synthetic on occasion) and built to stand up to freezing temperatures and howling winds. They run the gamut from casual pieces designed for around-town use to performance options built for the backcountry. Some toe the line nicely and are fully capable of handling double duty. For more background information, see our winter jacket comparison table and buying advice below the picks.
Our Team’s Winter Jacket Picks
- Best Overall Winter Jacket:
- Best Value in a Winter Jacket:
- Most Versatile Parka for Everyday Wear:
- Best for Performance Use:
- Best Expedition Jacket for Extreme Cold:
Best Overall Winter Jacket:
Fill: 600-fill-power down
Weight: 3 lbs. 4.6 oz.
What we like: Warm, waterproof, and reasonably priced.
What we don’t: Heavier and less packable than a more performance-oriented jacket.
You certainly can spend a lot more for a winter jacket, but we love the combination of quality and value offered by the McMurdo Parka from The North Face. This parka covers all of the important bases: it’s warm, waterproof, blocks the wind, and is decently breathable for use in milder temperatures. In addition, we appreciate the upper-thigh-length cut, which offers good coverage while still allowing for plenty of mobility. And with a recent update, TNF incorporated a few key sustainability measures, including the use of recycled down and fabrics and a PFC-free DWR treatment. Last but not least, the $400 McMurdo will set you back considerably less than many of the more expensive parka options below.
What are the shortcomings of The North Face McMurdo Parka? It has a decidedly casual look and feel, meaning that it isn’t designed for the backcountry. In addition, you won’t get the same warmth for the weight or compressibility as some of the pricier jackets on the list that use thinner shells and 800-fill-power down or higher. But these shouldn’t be huge issues for around-town use, which is exactly why many people buy the McMurdo. And the cherry on top: we really like the looks of the jacket (thankfully, the faux fur along the hood is removable, as that could have been a deal-breaker). On the women’s side, the Arctic Parka doesn’t share the name but has many similarities including full waterproofing, a cozy interior, and a removable faux fur lining on the hood.
Best Value in a Winter Jacket:
Fill: 850-fill-power down; 180g & 80g synthetic
Weight: 1 lb. 15.8 oz.
What we like: Premium warmth, strong waterproofing, and a nice feature set at a great price.
What we don’t: Not everyone will like the mix of technical and casual features.
REI’s Stormhenge 850 was a game changer when it hit the market a few years back. Here was a value-priced winter jacket that had true technical chops, including premium 850-fill-power down and a waterproof shell. The Stormhenge has since been refined, and the latest version tacks on synthetic insulation in areas most prone to moisture (like the cuffs and hood), a longer cut for more coverage, and additional storage (we especially like the interior zippered pocket). Importantly, REI has kept core components of the original, including the 2-layer waterproof construction with full seam taping and pit zips for dumping heat. For just $259, the latest Stormhenge is a truly remarkable value.
In terms of categorizing the Stormhenge and who it’s best for, that’s a bit tougher. It has many similarities to a belay jacket or ski shell including the waterproofness and technical features, but the streamlined look and classy colorways could work just fine in the city too. In addition, its warmth falls into an in-between spot: It’s insulated enough for temperatures into the low 20s Fahrenheit with only a light baselayer, but it can’t match a higher-end alternative like the Rab Neutrino Pro below. Despite the nitpicks, we think the Stormhenge Down Hybrid is a very strong offering from REI that provides a hard-to-beat combination of features, performance, and price…
Most Versatile Parka for Everyday Wear:
Fill: 4.2 oz. of 700-fill-power down
Weight: 2 lbs. 14.1 oz.
What we like: Clean styling, excellent weather resistance and coverage, and nice versatility.
What we don’t: Pricey for a casual piece.
Finding a winter jacket that is both warm and looks the part for everyday use can be a challenge, but Patagonia toes the line nicely with the Tres 3-in-1 Parka. This jacket is well-insulated, comfortable, fully waterproof, and has clean lines that work well in a variety of situations. Additionally, the versatile 3-in-1 construction gives you the option to wear just the waterproof shell on rainy days or zip in the down inner layer when the mercury drops. It’s true that the Tres doesn’t offer the range of movement of more performance-oriented jackets, but it’s a great option for around-town use and cold spells in places like the Midwest and East Coast of the United States.
Comparing the Tres 3-in-1 to other casual models on this list, the 700-fill-power down is higher-quality than the 600-fill used in The North Face McMurdo, our top choice. And importantly, the parka-length cut offers more warmth and coverage than just about anything outside of Canada Goose. On the flip side, the jacket is expensive (it is Patagonia, after all), and parkas always can be a bit tough to dial in fit. But we love the design and full waterproofing, which makes the Tres incredibly versatile for everything from wet shoulder season days to frigid conditions in midwinter. For maximum warmth, see Patagonia’s Frozen Range below; for a non-waterproof alternative, check out their
Best for Performance Use:
Fill: 7.5 oz. of 800-fill-power down
Weight: 1 lb. 4.6 oz.
What we like: Tons of premium down at a reasonable price.
What we don’t: Somewhat technical look and feature set.
The North Face McMurdo above trends toward everyday use, but there are a number of more performance-oriented winter jackets to choose from. Taking warmth, backcountry-ready features, and value into consideration, our favorite option for the 2022-2023 season is the Rab Neutrino Pro. Most importantly, you get a whopping 7.5 ounces of 800-fill hydrophobic down (that’s also certified to the Responsible Down Standard), which is considerably more than popular down jackets from brands like Arc’teryx and Patagonia that cost nearly as much. And while the Rab is far from waterproof (we caution against wearing down in wet conditions), the 100% recycled Pertex Quantum Pro shell does a great job fending off light moisture.
What are the downsides of the Neutrino Pro? It has a somewhat technical look, although the clean design and dark color options make it viable for city use as well. Second, the 20-denier shell fabric is respectable in the performance category and helps with weight and packability, but the jacket is more fragile than the more casual options on this list (as with any down jacket, you’ll have to be careful about snags and tears). Finally, Rab is a U.K.-based company and Americans will have to get used to the European-style left-hand zipper. But we love the warmth, feature set, and reasonable price point, which is why the Neutrino Pro is ranked here…
Best Expedition Jacket for Extreme Cold:
Fill: 625-fill-power down
Weight: 3 lbs. 5 oz.
What we like: Super warm and stylish.
What we don’t: Very expensive.
At the high end of the winter jacket spectrum is Toronto-based Canada Goose. These jackets are the real deal: they’re extremely warm, well-built, and downright fashionable for those that want a sleek look. Our top pick from Canada Goose is the Langford Parka, which hits a nice sweet spot between Arctic and urban use. With 625-fill duck down (it’s ironic that the company uses mostly duck down and not goose) and a thick and durable Arctic Tech shell, they claim that the Langford can be worn down to a freezing -15°F. This is the company’s second-warmest tier of jacket with the famous Expedition Parka viable down to -25°F.
Aside from the awesome warmth, craftsmanship, and looks, our biggest issue with Canada Goose is price. The Langford is a staggering $1,495 (the Antarctic-ready Expedition Parka is a whopping $1,695), but Canada Goose doesn’t use premium down like Arc’teryx or other high-end brands. In fact, the Langford is only a small step up from the $400 The North Face McMurdo in down quality, although it has more fill and is noticeably warmer. But if you run cold, need the extra insulation, or appreciate the styling, Canada Goose has a valuable corner of the market.