When the temperature drops and rain, snow, and wind start to howl, you’ll want a winter coat you can trust to keep you warm and dry. Quality matters when it comes to the weather performance of outerwear, especially when conditions are severe. That’s why your decision on which winter coat to buy is such an important one.
We put a ton of hard work into finding and testing the best winter coats on the market to make it easy to find one that’s right for you.
Related:Best Winter Coats for Women
Check out this quick list of our favorites if you’re in a hurry, or continue scrolling to see our full list with in-depth reviews.
- Best winter coat overall for value & versatility:REI Stormhenge
- Warm & stylish winter coat at a value price:The North Face McMurdo
- Best winter coat for technical use:Rab Neutrino Pro
- Versatile two-piece winter coat:Patagonia Tres
- Comfortable & durable winter coat:Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Parka
- Best budget winter coat:Columbia Penns Creek II
- Very warm & durable winter coat with a vintage look:Marmot Fordham
- Lightweight winter coat with maximum coverage:LL Bean Ultralight 850
What’s Most Iimportant To You In a Winter Coat?
PRICE – We can attest that expensive winter coats are often well worth the cost for their high-quality materials, weather performance, and flattering fit. But there are also some great value options out there that perform nearly as well for a more affordable price.
WARMTH – In places with mild winters, a light or midweight coat might be all you need to stay comfortable outside. For those in climates with frequent sub-freezing temperatures, it’s worth considering warmer and heavier options. Warmth is also greatly affected by your activity level. Remember, you’ll heat up quickly once you get your heart rate up.
WATERPROOFING – Modern down jackets are often made with tightly-woven fabrics and DWR coatings that repel water if you get caught in light precipitation. Most down jackets are not waterproof enough to stand alone in heavy rain and will eventually start to absorb moisture. We usually recommend buying a down jacket that’s compatible with your favorite rain shell.
LENGTH – While the choice between a long and a short coat generally comes down to style preferences, we can offer a few pieces of advice that might help you decide. Parka-length coats are usually warmer because they provide more coverage. More length can be a good thing if you’ll be sitting or inactive outdoors, but long coats can be a bit more awkward to move in. Shorter jackets that come just to the hip don’t offer quite as much warmth, but they’re generally easier to walk in and work better for high-output activities. If your coat isn’t waterproof, you’ll also need to consider whether you have a rain jacket in a length that will layer with it.
Best Winter Coats of 2023
BEST WINTER COAT OVERALL FOR VALUE & VERSATILITY
WEIGHT (LARGE): 1 lb. 11 oz.
INSULATION: 850-fill-power down / synthetic blend
PROS: Affordable, very warm, waterproof, lightweight & compressible, breathable (pit zips), shorter length is easy to move in
CONS: Less coverage than a parka
BOTTOM LINE: The REI Stormhenge Down Hybrid Jacket is an all-around excellent choice for active people who want a warm and waterproof coat for an affordable price. It’s packed with top-quality 850-fill-power down, which makes it exceptionally efficient at trapping body heat without feeling bulky or weighing you down. The shorter length of the Stormhenge doesn’t provide quite as much coverage as a parka-length coat, but it stays out of the way and it’s easier to move in for sporty activities. And, if you start to overheat, this is one of the few winter coats that has pit zips for ventilation. The Stormhenge is hands-down one of the best values around, and it’s one of our favorite winter coats for walks, chilly camping trips, and snow days in the mountains.
WARM & STYLISH WINTER COAT AT A VALUE PRICE
WEIGHT (LARGE): 3 lb. 4.6 oz.
INSULATION: 550-fill-power down & synthetic fibers
PROS: Very warm, waterproof, built-in face/neck gaiter, dual entry hand pockets, hand-warmer chest pockets, removable faux-fur ruff
CONS: A bit heavier & bulkier than some
BOTTOM LINE: The North Face McMurdo Down Parka is a truly excellent value, considering that similar coats often cost twice as much. The McMurdo is fully waterproof and its oversized baffles are packed with a ton of 550-fill-power down to keep you warm and comfortable in harsh conditions. We love how protective this coat feels when the wind is howling, and the deep hood and long length add even more of a sense of shelter. We recommend the McMurdo to budget-conscious men who want a stylish and substantial-feeling winter coat that works just as well in the mountains as it does around town.
BEST WINTER COAT FOR TECHNICAL USE
WEIGHT (LARGE): 1 lb. 5.5 oz.
INSULATION: 800-fill-power down
PROS: Very warm, lightweight & compressible, breathable
CONS: Not waterproof, less coverage than a parka
BOTTOM LINE: The Rab Neutrino Pro is a technical coat that’s loaded with top-quality 800-fill-power down for maximum heat retention with minimal weight and bulk. The Neutrino Pro features solid hardware, durable high-tech fabric, and excellent craftsmanship that make it worth every penny. It’s one of our favorite winter coats for backcountry trips because it’s incredibly warm, yet it compresses down to the size of a one-liter water bottle when not in use. The Neutrino Pro is also a great choice for travel or whenever you need lightweight insulation for bitter cold conditions.
VERSATILE TWO-PIECE WINTER COAT
WEIGHT (LARGE): 2 lbs. 11 oz.
INSULATION: 700-fill-power down
PROS: Versatile (layers can be worn together or separately), waterproof, removable hood
CONS: Expensive, a bit heavier & bulkier than some, not as warm as some
BOTTOM LINE: A top-quality coat like the Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parkais well worth the price if you’ll be wearing it every day for months at a time. The bombproof shell and midweight down inner are perfectly suited to climates that have wet, chilly winters. The Tres is beautifully designed with a tailored fit and high-end materials that make it feel both durable and luxurious. What we love most about this coat is that it’s essentially two high-end jackets in one. Wear the waterproof shell as a raincoat in mild temperatures, use the down inner jacket alone on dry days, or wear them together when you need ultimate warmth and weather protection. Because the Tres is so versatile, it works great for many seasons from fall to spring, which makes it well worth the price in our eyes.
COMFORTABLE & DURABLE WINTER COAT
WEIGHT (LARGE): 1 lb. 9.6 oz.
INSULATION: 700-fill-power down
PROS: Exceptionally comfortable, great mobility, durable outer fabric, lightweight & compressible
CONS: A bit expensive, not waterproof, not as warm as some
BOTTOM LINE: We’re loving the Mountain Hardwear Stretchdown Parka – a warmer version of the Stretchdown Hoodie, which holds down a place on our Best Down Jackets list for its exceptional comfort. The Parka is longer for more backside coverage, and it has a high collar and insulated fleece-lined hand pockets for cozy protection in winter conditions. Our favorite thing about the Stretchdown is the ultra-stretchy fabric that makes it easy to move in and highly durable. Because of these features (and being reasonably packable), the Stretchdown Parka is perfect for everyday wear, travel, and for anyone who tends to be tough on gear.
BEST BUDGET WINTER COAT
MSRP: $240 (often on sale for much less)
WEIGHT (LARGE): 2 lb. 12 oz.
INSULATION: Synthetic down (polyester) & reflective lining
PROS: Affordable, lightweight, dual entry hand pockets, removable faux fur ruff
CONS: Not waterproof, less breathable than some, not as warm as some, limited hood adjustments
BOTTOM LINE: If you’re looking for an affordable coat for mild winter weather, consider the flattering and comfortable Columbia Penns Creek II Parka. Its synthetic insulation and space-blanket-like lining trap your body heat to keep you warm without being cumbersome or bulky. It’s unclear how much thermal reflection the silver-dot lining actually does, but it works well as a vapor barrier. This means it’s very effective at retaining significant warmth, especially while you’re active. Because the Penns Creek is lightweight and a bit less breathable than some coats, we recommend wearing a base layer top and a fleece underneath it to help manage moisture and dial up the heat. The Penns Creek is an attractive and practical budget coat that you can wear from town to trail.
VERY WARM & DURABLE WINTER COAT WITH A VINTAGE LOOK
WEIGHT (LARGE): 2 lb. 13 oz.
INSULATION: 700-fill-power down
PROS: Very warm, durable, removable hood, comfortable fleece cuffs
CONS: A bit bulky, not waterproof
BOTTOM LINE: You can’t go wrong with the classic Marmot Fordham Jacket if you want warmth, comfort, and a touch of old-school style when you walk out the door. Its oversized baffles are brimming with fluffy 700-fill-power down to protect you on even the most frigid winter days. The Fordham’s water-resistant outer fabric is much tougher than that of the average down jacket too, so you can wear it with confidence no matter what you decide to get into. To top it off, fleece wrist cuffs and plenty of draw-cord adjustments keep body heat in and condensation out. We recommend the Fordham Jacket for casual, non-technical use when you want maximum warmth in cold, snowy conditions.
LIGHTWEIGHT, WARM & PACKABLE DOWN COAT FOR FALL, WINTER, & SPRING
WEIGHT (LARGE): 14.7 oz.
INSULATION: 850-fill-power down
PROS: Very warm, lightweight & compressible, packs into its own pocket
CONS: Not waterproof
BOTTOM LINE: The LL Bean Ultralight 850 Down Hooded Jacket is a great option for those who want a coat they can use for multiple seasons as part of a layering system. It’s warmer than most 3-season down jackets since it’s filled with a higher-than-average amount of the loftiest down available, but we still find it comfortable in the more mild temperatures of fall and spring. Because of the 850 Down’s mid-level thickness, it’s still very lightweight and compressible, so you can easily pack it up when you’re on the go. The Ultralight 850 Coat is also an awesome value because it’s made with the best quality down on the market, yet it’s priced competitively.
Need More Gear Advice?
If you liked this list, you’ll love the CleverHiker Gear Guide where we test and recommend tons of outdoor adventure gear from a variety of categories. here are some links to popular articles:
Critical Winter Coat Considerations
WHAT IS FILL POWER? – Fill power is a measurement of the “fluffiness” of the down. The higher the number, the more efficient the down is at insulating. The warmth of the jacket also depends on how much down it’s stuffed with (typically in oz.), so it’s important to look at both fill power and fill weight. Just remember, the greater the fill power, the loftier the fibers are. This means that you need a smaller amount of high-quality down to trap the same amount of body heat that a larger amount of low-quality down would. So high-fill-power jackets are usually slimmer, lighter, and more packable. The warmest down jackets will also have hoods, cinches at the cuffs/hem, and wind-proof fabric to help retain maximum body heat.
WHEN HIGH FILL POWER MATTERS – 800+-fill-power down products like clothing, quilts, and sleeping bags are generally much more expensive than lower-fill-power products. But for activities like backpacking where weight and bulk matter a lot, it makes sense to spend more money for high-efficiency down that compresses easily to fit into a backpack and fluffs back up when you need it. For times when packability and weight aren’t as important however, a super puffy jacket stuffed full of lower-fill-power down will keep you just as warm.
To learn more about where down comes from, hydrophobic coatings, and more, check out our Best Down Jackets Guide.
Why Trust Us?
We fully understand how tough it is to find trustworthy gear advice, and that’s one of the main reasons we built CleverHiker. We live for outdoor adventure, and we take these guides very seriously. Here are some of the reasons you can trust us:
- Our choices are completely independent and based on personal experience.
- We’ve logged over 10,000 trail miles and test outdoor gear for a living.
- We own and field test every product we recommend, which is sadly not the norm.
- We travel to industry trade shows to learn about upcoming product innovations.
- We constantly update our guides when new products launch.
- We treat our recommendations as if they were for our family and friends.
- We’re lifelong learners and we’re always open to constructive criticism. If you think we’ve missed a product or got something wrong, we’d love to hear your feedback.
We hope this guide helps you find the perfect winter coat for your needs. If you have more questions or a suggestion, we’d love to hear from you! Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on our latest posts then visit our Facebook page and Instagram to join the community conversation.
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Thanks for reading and happy trails!
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