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Best Winter Jackets for Extreme Cold: Wrap Up Warm This Winter!

Best Winter Jackets for Extreme Cold
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Updated February 5, 2024

Ah, winter—it’s the season of festive fun, bright, sparkling, frosty mornings, and rosy-cheeked gatherings around the nearest fire. It’s also the season of freezing your extremities off, as icy winds blast down the back of your neck and frozen slush falls from the sky. Keep winter at bay this year with our picks for the best winter jackets for extreme cold.

What to consider when buying winter jackets for extreme cold

Materials

“Materials may vary, but in general you’ll want to look for jackets that are water resistant, wind resistant, and insulated, at a minimum,” says Laurel Manville, product development manager at Eastern Mountain Sports. “Look for a durable, multi-layer construction. If the exterior of the jacket is seam sealed and waterproof, that will help protect the insulation from getting wet.”

Length

“Jacket length is important,” says Manville. “Varying lengths of parkas will provide more coverage for warmth, but too long may be less comfortable when sitting, or not functional for many activities. Look for two-way zippers or side slits with zips or snaps to add ease and flexibility to a longer jacket.”

Insulation

“If you typically run cold, going for a water- and windproof jacket with insulation will be your best bet,” says Kelly Evans, CMM of men's and youth apparel at Christy Sports. “Down is the warmest insulation, but there are a variety of amazing synthetic options, too!”

Our top picks for the best winter jackets for extreme cold

Best budget winter jacket for extreme cold: Helly Hansen Alpha 4.0 Jacket

Budget is pretty subjective when it comes to winter jackets, as anything designed to keep the cold and wet out will almost certainly not come cheap. While not the least expensive coat on this list, in terms of feature-stuffed value for money, this one is a winner. “The Alpha 4.0 Jacket by Helly Hansen uses proprietary waterproofing and insulation to keep you warm and dry,” says Evans. “It's a great bang for your buck!” Helly Hansen also made our lists for the best fleece jackets for men and the best ski pants for men, in case you need to round out your winter outdoor wardrobe.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: S-2XL
  • Colors: 7
  • Material: Shell: 85% polyamide, 15% elastane; lining: 86% recycled polyester, 14% elastane
  • Insulation materials: 100% recycled polyester
  • Price at time of publish: $475

What we like:

  • Articulated sleeves
  • Helmet-compatible, detachable hood
  • Lined pockets
  • Adjustable powder skirt
  • Waterproof and windproof
  • Breathable
  • Fun range of colors

What we don’t like:

  • Potentially a little too warm for vigorous activity

The bottom line:

A great value coat with a ton of useful features, designed to keep you warm and dry no matter what.

Best budget winter jacket for extreme cold
Helly Hansen Alpha 4.0 Jacket

Helly Hansen Alpha 4.0 Jacket

Best down coat for extreme cold: Rab Infinity Down Jacket

For hardcore insulation, nothing beats down. Think about it—have you ever seen a shivering goose? Our pick for the best down jacket for extreme cold is this super-warm option from Rab. “The Rab Infinity Down Jacket is worth the price for the added protection of Gore-Tex Windstopper in the outer layer,” says Manville. “It also boasts 800 fill power down for added warmth.” For the truly chilly, pair it with heated gloves for unparalleled coziness.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: S-2XL
  • Colors: Black, ink, marmalade, Orion blue
  • Material: Gore-tex Windstopper
  • Insulation materials: 800FP European goose down with Nikwax
  • Price at time of publish: $525

What we like:

  • Made using 24% recycled materials
  • 800 fill power insulation

What we don’t like:

  • May not be as durable as some winter jackets

The bottom line:

A ridiculously warm jacket for extra-frozen days.

Best down coat for extreme cold
Rab Infinity Down Jacket

Rab Infinity Down Jacket

Best puffer winter jacket for extreme cold: EMS ‘67 Down Jacket

For a more streamlined and sporty take on the classic puffer, the ‘67 down jacket is worth your time. “This jacket features 800 fill power, water resistant down, and a water resistant, recycled nylon shell,” says Manville. “It has best in class warmth in the puffer style category and is packable into its attached stuff sack for a great on-the-go option.” The included stuff sack also makes this a great jacket to toss into your luggage for vacations to colder climates.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: S - 3XL
  • Colors: Anthracite, white and anthracite, olive
  • Material: 100% recycled nylon
  • Insulation materials: 800 fill power down
  • Price at time of publish: $299.99

What we like:

  • Sleeker than traditional puffers
  • Super warm

What we don’t like:

  • Not many color options

The bottom line:

An insulated, stylish puffer that’s perfect for warmth without too much bulk.

Best puffer winter jacket for extreme cold
EMS ‘67 Down Jacket

EMS ‘67 Down Jacket

Best parka winter jacket for extreme cold: The North Face Men’s McMurdo Parka

“Due to their length, parkas are the best option overall for extreme cold,” says Manville. “The North Face McMurdo parka has great features and style to keep you warm and dry.” These features include lined pockets, a faux fur-trimmed hood with an adjustable drawcord, and 600 fill power recycled down insulation. Shopping tip: The North Face also makes some of the best winter boots for men.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: S-3XL
  • Colors: Black, coal brown, almond butter, faun gray
  • Material: 100% recycled nylon
  • Insulation materials: 600 fill power recycled water fowl down
  • Price at time of publish: $400

What we like:

  • Interesting color selection
  • Windproof
  • Waterproof

What we don’t like:

  • A minority of customer reviews mention issues with the zipper

The bottom line:

A reliable, warm parka in a range of stylish colors.

Best parka winter jacket for extreme cold
The North Face Men’s Mcmurdo Parka (Size: 3XL): Almond Butter/Black

The North Face Men’s Mcmurdo Parka (Size: 3XL): Almond Butter/Black

Best winter jacket for skiing and snowboarding: Helly Hansen Carv Lifaloft Ski Jacket

“For more active pursuits, you want something with synthetic insulation in combination with a waterproof, breathable shell fabric,” says Manville. “You also want to make sure your jacket has features that are sport specific, like a powder skirt to help protect snow or even wind gusts from coming up your jacket.” Her pick to cover all these bases is the Helly Hansen Carv Lifaloft ski jacket, which does all she says, and more.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: S-2XL
  • Colors: Cobalt, terrazzo, red, black
  • Material: 86% polyester, 14% elastane
  • Insulation materials: 100% polyester (95% recycled)
  • Price at time of publish: $375

What we like:

  • Waterproof
  • Windproof
  • Breathable
  • Helmet-compatible hood

What we don’t like:

  • Some fading may occur with brighter colors

The bottom line:

A slope-friendly jacket to keep you warm and dry in any conditions.

Best winter jacket for skiing and snowboarding
Helly Hansen Carv Lifaloft Ski Jacket

Helly Hansen Carv Lifaloft Ski Jacket

Best long coat for extreme cold: Helly Hansen Active Long Winter Parka

“The difference between a parka and a long coat can be subjective, but generally parkas can be considered at least thigh -, and long coats at least knee-length,” explains Manville. “This Helly Hansen parka has more of the traditional long coat, knee-length style, but is a great option for a less traditional long jacket, featuring more active styling and synthetic insulation for better performance in a range of conditions.”

Specifications:

  • Sizes: S-2XL
  • Colors: Navy, black, nimbus cloud
  • Material: 100% polyester
  • Insulation materials: 100% polyester (40% recycled)
  • Price at time of publish: $350

What we like:

  • Stylish design
  • Adjustable hood

What we don’t like:

  • Not fully waterproof

The bottom line:

A stylish, extra-long winter jacket to keep more of you warmer, for longer.

Best long coat for extreme cold
Helly Hansen Active Long Winter Parka

Helly Hansen Active Long Winter Parka

Best light jacket for extreme cold: Jack Wolfskin Alpspitze Down Hoody

Since this jacket was designed for speeding down ski slopes, it’s warm, but also lightweight enough to fold easily into a small backpack, or even just be tied around your waist when not needed. Featuring a windproof, water-repellent design, with a helmet-compatible hood for those using it on the mountain, it’s supremely practical for pretty much any outdoor winter activity.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: S-2XL
  • Colors: Black, dove, hedge green, phantom, wild brier
  • Material: Polyamide shell and lining
  • Insulation materials: Goose down, feather, polyester
  • Price at time of publish: $369.95

What we like:

  • Packs up into its own small sack
  • Lightweight

What we don’t like:

  • On the expensive side for a smaller jacket

The bottom line:

A lightweight, warm, convenient jacket ideal for layering.

Best light jacket for extreme cold
Jack Wolfskin Alpspitze Down Hoody

Jack Wolfskin Alpspitze Down Hoody

Best waterproof winter jacket for extreme cold: Mountain Hardwear Weather Down Parka

When looking for a waterproof winter jacket, Manville recommends checking for one with seam-sealed, multi-layer construction. Her personal pick is the Mountain Hardwear Weather Down Parka: “The hardshell face is waterproof and windproof, and in terms of insulation, it has 650 fill power down to keep you warm.” It also has lots of pocket space, and a snap-close split hem for better mobility.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: S-2XL
  • Colors: Dark Caspian, black, trail dust
  • Material: 100% nylon
  • Insulation materials: 650 fill power RDS-certified down
  • Price at time of publish: $379

What we like:

  • Waterproof
  • Windproof
  • Insulated

What we don’t like:

  • Colors are kind of dull

The bottom line:

An ideal option for those dealing with very cold, wet conditions.

Best waterproof winter jacket for extreme cold
Mountain Hardwear Weather Down Parka

Mountain Hardwear Weather Down Parka

Most stylish winter jacket for extreme cold: Triple Fat Goose Staden Down Parka

Stylish and practical don’t always go hand in hand—that’s why Triple Fat Goose’s insanely warm but beautiful coats are such a good find. They’re definitely not cheap, but with their sleek look, waterproofing, windproofing, 750 fill power recycled down, fleece-lined pockets, and insulated, detachable hood, they’ll get you through the worst of the winter while standing out from the sea of black puffer jackets.

Specifications:

  • Sizes: S-5XL
  • Colors: Black, navy, red
  • Material: 90% polyester, 10% spandex main body, 100% recycled nylon inner lining
  • Insulation materials: 90% down, 10% feather
  • Price at time of publish: $800

What we like:

  • Gorgeous design
  • Incredibly warm and comfortable
  • Waterproof and windproof

What we don’t like:

  • Expensive

The bottom line:

A stylish but still supremely practical winter coat.

Most stylish winter jacket for extreme cold
Triple Fat Goose Staden Down Parka

Triple Fat Goose Staden Down Parka

Best winter jacket for extreme cold on Amazon: Canada Goose Langford Parka

While there are plenty of cheaper options on Amazon, in terms of a winter jacket that really stands up to the elements, this one is hard to beat. “Canada Goose comes to mind when talking down jackets or extreme cold,” says Manville. “You’re paying a premium, but the warmth ratings by degree, the attention to detail, and the lifetime warranty are elements not to be missed.”

Specifications:

  • Sizes: XS-2XL
  • Colors: 6
  • Material: 83% polyester, 17% cotton
  • Insulation materials: 625 fill power duck down
  • Price at time of publish: $1,095-$1,450, depending on size/color

What we like:

  • Adjustable, down-filled hood
  • Fleece-lined pockets

What we don’t like:

  • Very expensive

The bottom line:

A pricey but reliable option, delivered to your door.

Best winter jacket for extreme cold on Amazon
Canada Goose Men's Langford Parka,Black,Small

Canada Goose Men's Langford Parka,Black,Small

How we chose the best winter jackets for extreme cold

We made selections incorporating a mix of expert advice (from Laurel Manville, product development manager at Eastern Mountain Sports, and Kelly Evans, CMM of men's and youth apparel at Christy Sports), first-hand experience, and thorough research to ensure all of our picks have overwhelmingly positive customer reviews.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What brand of jacket is the warmest?

“Many outdoors brands have their version of the ‘warmest’ jacket,” says Manville. “In some cases you can pay a premium for them! Because down has a better warmth-to-weight ratio, the ‘warmest’ may be a multilayer down parka with at least 750+ fill power down, and with a hard shell outer that’s waterproof and windproof. Multilayer constructions are better than just a puffer alone to help keep the wind and weather at bay.”

What kind of jacket do you need for 0-degree weather?

“Make sure the exterior layer of fabric has waterproof and windproof protection,” reiterates Manville. “A multilayer construction is best, so if there are baffles—the little pillows created by stitching insulation—you want to make sure they’re not stitched through the entire jacket and you have a solid layer for protection. For insulation, down is preferred for the warmth-to-weight ratio. Look for at least 650 fill power down, but the more the better, so you may want to look for higher fill power options.”

Manville also suggests looking for the following features if you’re going to be somewhere particularly cold.

  • A jacket that’s fleece or “cozy” lined, as well as being insulated
  • A hood that’s lined internally or has a fur/faux fur trim, and a hood cinch that can provide a secure closure if it’s extra cold or windy
  • Cuffs with the ability to tighten to keep air drafts out of your sleeves
  • Depending on the length of the jacket, a cinch at the waist (often on the interior) or at the bottom hem to help prevent drafts from coming up into the jacket

What are the good and bad things about synthetic insulation materials?

“Overall, synthetic insulation has made great strides in technology and is a sensible choice in more moist climates like the PNW or New England,” says Evans. “If synthetic insulation gets wet, it still performs. The con with synthetic is the warmth will never fully measure up to down on the coldest of days.”

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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