So what are the best all-around winter jackets? Having a warm jacket is crucial to not only enjoying your time outside, but to surviving your next winter adventure. So, what makes a winter jacket? It comes down to insulation-down or synthetic and an outer shell that will protect you against wind, rain and snow. The key to staying warm is staying dry! If you’ve been following my blogs, you know all about why staying dry is so important. If you’re a new reader- welcome! I’m so glad you stopped by.
Staying dry= staying warm, because once you get wet- from either sweat or the weather, your body temperature will drop, rapidly. In fact, water can actually draw body heat about 25 times faster than air, at the same temperature as water. Does that make sense? I won’t get too technical, after all you’re looking for a new winter jacket, not a crash course in chemistry and biology. So, just know, the key to staying warm is staying dry.
When choosing a winter coat make sure it’s well insulated and it has a waterproof/windproof layer that will prevent water and moisture from penetrating the fabric. Also, if you tend to sweat while outside in the cold, choose a winter jacket that is breathable too. If you’re climbing up the side of a mountain and you’re sweating bullets and your coat isn’t breathable- meaning it doesn’t allow moisture to evaporate through the fabric, you will get too hot and that sweat will have nowhere to go.
When moisture becomes trapped two things may happen- you start to take layers off, because well, you’re on fire! Don’t do this! By taking layers off, you will release all that precious body heat you’ve worked so hard for and you’ll get chilled. On the other hand, if you get too sweaty and that moisture just hangs out like a stray dog that won’t go away, your layers will become soaked and you’ll start to lose body heat that way! If you’re going to be hiking, skiing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing chose a winter coat that is breathable!
Also, make sure the jacket moves with your body. You don’t want your jacket to restrict your arms or shoulder span, especially if you’re ice climbing! One more thing: go one size up when it comes to your winter coat. You want plenty of room for your base layer and middle layer to fit underneath, without restricting you! Okay. Time to go shopping? Who’s buying?
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This Utah based company sets the bar when it comes to designing a durable, warm and all-around awesome winter jacket. You may notice the name of the company, Fortress Clothing, from television. It was recently featured in several news segments and outdoor shows for its innovative and patent insulation: AERIS.
The foam-like insulation has the ability to keep you warm, even when the jacket gets wet. How about that? If you don’t believe me, you can see for yourself. The CEO of Fortress is known to jump into ice-covered lakes with his gear on, to prove how well the jacket, pants, and other Fortress gear holds up when submerged in icy water.
The jacket is also wind resistant, to keep you warm even when the wind kicks up. Plus, this jacket can be worn pretty much all year. What? How can that be? According to Fortress, the classic jacket will keep you warm -35 to 40 degrees F. This jacket is designed to be worn with an outer shell, which the company sells too! The Fortress Classic Jacket rings in at $249. Pros: year-round jacket, lightweight, well insulated, move around without being restricted. Cons: need a shell to go over this jacket.
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If you work in the oil fields in North Dakota, you know how fierce the weather can be. Sub zero temperatures and relentless winds can be brutal, if you aren’t wearing the right gear. In fact, Fortress Clothing was created to provide cold weather workers the protection they need! The gear is also designed for everyday wear and for adventure seekers. The Fortress Arctic Extreme Jacket has the patented AERIS insulation.
In this jacket, the company uses 1 inch of insulation to keep you warm from -60 degrees to 30 degrees F. Pretty amazing. The jacket will even keep you warm if you fall into icy waters. Right now, the Fortress Arctic Extreme Jacket is on pre-order for $349. Pros: it holds up to every weather condition you can imagine, keeps you warm when submerged in water. Cons: can only pre-order at this time!
Canada Goose-Emory Parka
If you’re heading to Alaska in January, planning an expedition to the North Pole or if you live in Wisconsin, this coat is for you. Canada Goose makes perhaps the warmest coats on the planet. I know, bold statement. But, hear me out. Canada Goose makes its coats using plumage- the fluffy down beneath the feathers of a duck or goose. This is the best natural insulator in the world, literally.
Iditarod champions wear Canada Goose, arctic explorers and Olympic athletes do too! So, naturally you would as well! In addition to providing ultimate warmth, Canada Goose is also stylish and always in season! It’s also water/wind resistant.
A Canada Goose coat is an investment- this coat rings in at $995. Gulp. Yes, that’s a lot to spend on a coat. But, what it may be the only winter coat you’ll ever need to buy. Maybe someday your kids and grandkids can wear it too! Pros: well insulated, durable, warm, holds up to wind and snow, fur lined hood. Con: Expensive.
Arc’teryx Ceres SV Parka
With 850 down-fill for insulation, there’s no way you’re going to be cold in this winter jacket. This jacket is specifically designed to be worn in extreme cold. Think: Mount Blanc, Mount Everest and Denali. Even if you aren’t attempting to summit the largest peaks in the world, this jacket will keep you warm, but not too warm. It’s waterproof, wind resistant and designed to move with your body.
Pros: lightweight, warm, hood contours to your head-stays in place, down insulated and moves with your body, chin/neck protection. Cons: Expensive with a price tag of $849.
Fjallraven Singi Down Jacket
The Fjallraven Singi Down Jacket is insulated with 80% goose down and 20% feathers. This insulation will keep you warm, without all the bulk! While it’s designed for the most adventurous folks on the planet, you can also wear it to your kid’s soccer game on Saturday.
Pros: big pockets to hold cell phones, gum and fruit leather. Well made, hood and longer style protects your legs when sitting down. Also, this jacket is great for the mountains and for long walks in the park! Cons: not waterproof and it’s pricey: $600.
The North Face Gotham II
The North Face Gotham II is a well-made, down jacket designed to keep you warm while ice skating or ice climbing. With 550 down-fill insulation, the Gotham will keep you nice and toasty on the coldest of days. In fact, this jacket is for extreme cold. But, that can vary from person to person. My extreme cold is 30.
However, your extreme cold may be -25. Whatever the temperature, the Gotham will keep you protected from the cold. Pros: well insulated, durable, nice hood and it’s wind resistant. Cons: not sure it will hold up in a blizzard. It’s not water proof. When down gets wet, it loses its insulation properties.
Marmot Fordham Jacket
The Marmot Fordham Jacket keeps you warm, while looking pretty cool. The jacket is riff on Jacket your grandpa may have worn when you were a kid. It’s really stylish! The jacket is insulated with 700 fill down. When shopping for winter coats, the higher the fill count, the warmer the jacket. This jacket is designed to be worn in the city, on the slopes or around the property. Pros: stylish, really warm, keeps weather away, pockets for your phone and iPod, can wear layers underneath. Cons: Detachable hood.
Mountain Hardwear Downtown Coat
The Mountain Hardwear Downtown Coat is lightweight, waterproof and keeps you warm on the coldest of days. 600 down- fill insulation makes this stylish jacket a winner for one of the warmest winter coats around. If you’re running to the grocery store in a blizzard or need an extra warm coat at the cabin- this is the one for you.
It also comes in a version just for men too. The jacket is also fleece lined down the back, to add extra warmth when you sit down on the cold bleachers at a late fall football game. Pros: insulation, faux-fur lining around the hood, internal waist adjustment, super warm. Cons: long length may get in way during activities such as skiing or cross-country skiing.
Mountain Hardwear Men’s Ghost Whisperer Jacket
This jacket is lightweight with special pockets of down, to keep heat evenly distributed throughout your body. It can be worn alone or as middle layer- depending on your activity. The jacket is also made with special Q Down- a Marmot product, which keeps you warm, even when the jacket gets wet.
The outer shell is made out of 100% nylon. Great jacket for backpacking, watching sports, day trips or as a layer underneath a heavier duty shell. Pros: water resistant down insulation, warm, stylish, affordable. Cons: doesn’t hold up to wind very well, runs small.
Columbia Sportswear Men’s Bugaboo Interchange Jacket
The Columbia Sportswear Bugaboo Interchange Jacket is everything you’ve ever wanted in a warm winter coat. A nylon shell and fleece liner, this jacket keeps your body heat where it belongs and prevents wet weather from soaking into your clothes and bones. The jacket is breathable- which prevents you from getting too hot. For those really cold days, the jacket works with your heat to stay warm with Omni Heat. Omni Heat is a special Columbia patented product.
This jacket is lined with silver dots that reflect heat back to you- keeping you extra toasting when the temperature suddenly drops! Pros: really warm, Omni Heat, breathable, waterproof and windproof, adjustable sleeves, can wear jacket several ways, take the liner out or leave it in. Cons: The jacket runs short- doesn’t protect your backside from cold weather.
Outdoor Research Men’s Transcendent Hoodie
With 650 fill down, this jacket keeps you warm no matter what Mother Nature has in store. The jacket is lightweight and water-resistant. Water-resistant means it will keep you protected in a light drizzle. If there’s a blizzard, you may want to get inside or put a waterproof outer shell over the jacket. You can pack this jacket anywhere, the pocket doubles as a stuff sack! Pros: lightweight, warm and can be worn alone or under an outer shell. Cons: isn’t waterproof.
The North Face Men’s Thermoball Hoodie
Don’t be fooled by the name of this jacket. It’s far from a hoodie you wear around the house. But, if the power went out, you may find yourself snuggled up in this jacket for a couple hours. It’s that comfortable! The jacket uses synthetic insulation known as Thermoball, to keep you warm all day long. The jacket is also water-resistant.
This is a great jacket to wear on a cold, sunny day! Leave this jacket at home if you’re heading to Seattle in January- it won’t hold up well to heavy rain. However, a light drizzle in this coat and you’ll be just fine. Pros: Warm, lightweight, nice hood to keep head and neck warm, pocket inside the jacket for your phone or iPod. Cons: isn’t water-proof, wind may make its way through the jacket.
Arc’teryx Men’s Cerium LT Hooded Jacket
When you need to be outside in sub-zero temperatures for hours on end, this is the jacket you want to be in. With 850-goose down for insulation, the cold weather doesn’t stand a chance! The down is lined in areas where you need the extra heat, like your arms.
Synthetic insulation is also used in key zones of the jacket to keep you warm, even when this coat gets wet! Pros: really warm, comfortable, keeps wind and water away, jacket moves with your body. It also comes in a variety of colors. Cons: expensive. Runs small, order a size up if you are layering.
See also our article entitled “Best Ski Jackets Brands?”.