woman standing outside in winter jacket
(Photo/Eric Phillips)

The Best Women’s Winter Jackets of 2021-2022

Whether you’re looking for the perfect coat to commute in a snowstorm, an extremely durable layer for adventure, or a cozy jacket for après, we’ve got you covered with the best women’s winter jackets.

If you live in a wintry environment or plan to visit one, you definitely don’t want to be sidelined for lack of cold-weather protection. Whatever activity you plan to enjoy, be it ice fishing or hunting, alpine skiing, or strolling snow-covered streets, these winter jackets will help regulate your body heat at just the right level. The best women’s winter jacket also shields you from wind, snow, or drizzle.

If you’d like to learn more about the types of winter jackets and their nitty-gritty features, scroll through our buyer’s guide and FAQ at the bottom of the page. Otherwise, jump right to a specific jacket category below:

The Best Women’s Winter Jackets of 2021-2022

Best Overall: Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie

patagonia down sweater hoody

This 800-fill Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie ($279) withstands wind, resists moisture, and is lightweight for its level of warmth. We took this jacket on rolling hikes, bike rides, and walks on crisp bluebird days during 5-degree lows and with dry blizzard conditions in Colorado’s Elk and Sangre de Cristo mountains. We stayed dry throughout, thanks to the shell’s DWR finish, which resists moisture.

Heavier amounts of water noticeably dampen the exterior, though it rebounds. This hoodie easily withstood bitter gusts, and the elastic cuffs are comfortable and block wind. When fully zippered, the reinforced neck rise doesn’t slouch, which protects the lower half of the face. But the hood shape is a little too snug to comfortably wear a helmet.

We found this is an excellent everyday down jacket with great style and protection for the winter season. It’s awesome to pull on after cardio activity, like a winter run. And it maintains loft and warmth even with snowfall and some moisture.

Specs:
  • Weight: 400 g
  • Key features: Ethically sourced Traceable Down, 100% recycled ripstop polyester shell and liner, interior chest pocket doubles as a stuff sack with clip-in loop for a carabiner
Pros:
  • Stylish
  • Cozy
  • Lightweight
Cons:
  • Not waterproof

Check Price at REICheck Price at Backcountry

Best Budget: Land’s End Ultralight Packable Down Coat With Hood

land’s end ultralight packable down coat with hood

The 800-fill Land’s End Ultralight Packable Down Coat With Hood ($186) is a warm hug on a freezing day. This knee-length jacket protects our pants from getting soaked when we’re knocking snow off the rig and keeps us warm when running errands.

It’s the perfect choice for heading to the gym or riding a bike around town in cold or snowy weather. For this amount of protection at less than $200, the price is a steal.

The jacket’s temperature rating is to keep you cozy in 3 to 29 degrees, which we found accurate. The jacket is filled with HyperDry down, so the down is water repellant and retains warmth. Overall, we found the jacket was surprisingly durable and shielded snow and weather well.

Specs:
  • Weight: Unavailable
  • Key features: Length reaches just above the knee, hooded, two-way front zipper, packable into its own pocket
Pros:
  • Water-resistant shell
  • Down is hydrophobic
  • Economic price tag
Cons:
  • Zipper feels a bit cheap (but hasn’t failed)
  • Inherently less packable than other hip-length jackets

Check Price at AmazonCheck Price at Land’s End

Best for Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding: Picture Organic Haakon

picture organic haakon

Picture produced this hardshell with sustainability at the forefront. The polyester face fabric of the Picture Organic Haakon Jacket ($350) is made with 58% biosourced polyester fibers from sugarcane byproducts and doesn’t sacrifice durability or warmth. The design boasts pockets galore: six exterior zip-enclosed pockets and two interior pockets.

We tested the Haakon throughout a winter season of skiing and snowboarding at Colorado’s Crested Butte Mountain Resort, where the high-altitude lifts are often met with brutal wind chill and temperatures frequently drop below zero degrees.

The jacket kept us warm while sitting on the lift or skiing in sub-freezing conditions, thanks to the body-mapped construction and Coremax liner, which blocks the cold in just the right spots. The jacket is bulky enough that we won’t wear it backcountry skiing, but it’s perfect for enjoying in-bounds terrain in a variety of temperatures.

We can wear a long-sleeve fleece beneath it mid-winter and feel cozy. The waterproofness withstands big snowfalls without soaking up moisture. On warm spring days, we appreciate the underarm vent because the jacket can get toasty — it isn’t the most breathable.

Specs:
  • Weight: 1,060 g
  • Key features: YKK zippers, fully taped seams, wrist gaiters with thumbholes
Pros:
  • Tons of pockets
  • Provides great warmth while riding or skiing at the resort
  • Eco-friendly focus in the design
Cons:
  • Heavier-set shell
  • Hood is a tad tight when pulled around a helmet

Check Price at evoCheck Price at Mountain Steals

Best Synthetic Down Jacket: Sync Performance Stretch Puffy Jacket

sync performance stretch puffy jacket

Have you ever gone snowshoeing or fat biking with a down jacket on beneath a shell? The internal heat that builds up can be stifling, as many lack ventilation and underarm zippers.

Our solution: the Sync Performance Stretch Puffy Jacket ($299) with synthetic insulation. We’ve reached for this jacket countless times for nail-biting temperatures — between -10 and 10 degrees — while skiing and riding the slopes at Crested Butte Mountain Resort and Telluride Ski Resort in Southwest Colorado.

Even with windchill, this jacket holds the body heat yet is breathable when we hop into the trees or charge moguls and work up a sweat. This performance puffy is very pliable and stretchy — including the hood — and doesn’t feel fragile. The shoulders feature additional fabric reinforcements, so skis can’t slice in when we carry gear around.

Specs:
  • Weight: approximately 453 g
  • Key features: 50/50 PrimaLoft Black ThermoPlume and polyester insulation
Pros:
  • Extremely warm
  • Breathable
  • Flexible
  • Streamlined fit
Cons:
  • No underarm vents

Check Price at Sync Performance

Best for Backcountry Adventure: Ortovox 3L Guardian Shell Jacket

ortovox 3l guardian shell jacket

One of our most dependable jackets in the backcountry has been the Ortovox 3L Guardian Shell Jacket ($750). The interior merino wool is paired with a waterproof/breathable Dermizax EV fabric made by Toray for the exterior.

Whether we throw this windproof jacket over a puffy for a freezing snowmobile ride to our backcountry ski line or wear it uphilling on ridgelines with piercing wind, this hardshell is among the most breathable we’ve used.

The cut is super comfortable with a tall, soft collar. An ergonomic, protective hood slides over a helmet. The fabric is stretchy, supple, and soundless yet tough, showing no wear and tear after four seasons of use with a heavy daypack. It’s never been soaked from heavy snow.

The two front pockets are deep, compatible with a pack’s hipbelt, and fit a notepad or large device. One features a merino mesh layer to preserve a cellphone battery. There are zipper-enclosed pockets on the arm and interior chest.

Fortunately, the two-way underarm zippers dump heat while on the climb. The jacket is also free of PFCs, which are harmful to the environment. This is a great jacket for high-output activities and outside work.

Specs:
  • Weight: 741 g
  • Key features: Merino wool insulation, 20K/20K waterproof-breathability
Pros:
  • Very breathable
  • Tenacious construction
  • Soft and mobile with no crunch
  • Well-constructed pockets
Cons:
  • An investment
  • Other jackets feature a greater quantity of pockets

Check Price at Ortovox

Best Down Jacket: Dark Peak NESSH

dark peak nessh

Dark Peak snuck in as a dark horse in our testing and, girl, did it impress. This Kickstarted brand hit the scene with a bold promise to be “the warmest jacket in the world.”

But an Arctic expedition jacket this is not. Rather, for every jacket purchase, Dark Peak donates another jacket to someone in need without a home. (“Each jacket sold keeps two people warm,” hence, the warmest jacket in the world.)

But beyond its charitable commitment, Dark Peak makes a stunningly capable and good-looking puffy. The outer and inner fabric use 10-denier ripstop nylon, and 850-fill goose down provides both high-loft warmth and packability. Two-way zippers accommodate belays, and the hood is both cinch-able and helmet-compatible.

Plus, Dark Peak uses those designs and materials in a very thoughtful way. The fit is a good compromise between athletic and roomy, so it’s great for layering under a big shell, or with a midlayer underneath.

A DWR coating on the outer is a standard but also welcome addition. And a pair of wrist gaiters with thumb loops make a unique, comfy, and useful addition. There are also two hand pockets, two big interior stash pockets, and a zippered chest pocket on the inside. You can bring all your stuff!

What’s more, the NESSH ($206) comes in five color options (we’re partial to maroon), and the price beats out many competitors thanks largely to the brand’s direct-to-consumer model. If you’re looking for something that does everything well, this should be among the options you consider.

Specs:
  • Weight: 320 g
  • Key features: Athletic yet roomy, wrist gaiters with thumbholes, DWR coating
Pros:
  • Five pockets
  • Modest price
  • Philanthropic mission
Cons:
  • Down is not hydrophobic

Check Price at Dark Peak Gear

Best Lightweight: Arc’teryx Cerium SL Hoody

arc’teryx cerium sl hoody

This light, packable, 850-fill lofty down jacket is exemplary for adventuring and hiking in the winter or year-round. It’s a solid layering piece to stuff into the backcountry ski pack.

One tester used this jacket as an outermost layer for backcountry ice climbing in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains in zero- to 10-degree temperatures. Her routes included multipitch and mixed (rock and ice), vertical and overhanging frozen faces, and chimney moves.

The jacket and hood’s insulation kept us warm even with wind, which we couldn’t feel through the fabric. The Cerium SL Hoody ($359) gets top marks for range of motion. We also really liked the elastic cuffs on the sleeves, which our hands can easily tuck into.

The exterior fabric is supple, fairly durable, and DWR treated to repel moisture — though in a blizzard or rain, it’s a safer bet to wear this jacket beneath a shell. There’s one interior chest pocket and two hand pockets to hold a few items.

After several years of testing, the small, robust zipper has yet to fail. This is a solid choice to keep on hand for emergency scenarios and outdoor missions.

Specs:
  • Weight: 204 g
  • Key features: Strong zippers, excellent packability, high warmth-to-weight ratio
Pros:
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Highly tear-resistant
  • Super warm
Cons:
  • Not a top choice for super damp, rainy, wet conditions

Check Price at Arc’teryxCheck Price at CampSaver

Best for High Cardio: Stio Alpiner Hooded Jacket

stio alpiner hooded jacket

We often reach for the Stio Alpiner Hooded Jacket ($289) for big-output uphill sessions when we work up a sweat but need protection from the cold, mist, or fluffy flakes. It’s a perfect piece for outdoor runs or nordic ski sessions. This is also a great layer for longer backcountry tours or in-bounds ski or snowboard runs when we need an extra layer beneath a non-insulated shell.

This comfortable lightweight shell offers great mobility, like when bending over to adjust bindings or reaching for pole plants on steep segments. The material is breathable yet provides enough warmth for sharp zero-degree morning uphill workouts on the ski slopes.

Specs:
  • Weight: 312 g
  • Key features: 20-denier nylon face fabric is DWR treated, two exterior hand pockets, one exterior chest pocket
Pros:
  • Excellent performance piece
  • Very breathable
  • Water-resistant
Cons:
  • Fabric shows pilling beneath pack straps after two seasons
  • Fitted wrist cuffs are stretchy but not the easiest to pull over a beefy watch
  • A bit snug across larger chests in the women’s cut
  • Not completely waterproof or windproof
  • Only three pockets

Check Price at Stio

Best for Plus Sizes: Columbia Bugaboo II Fleece 3-in-1 Interchange Jacket

columbia bugaboo ii fleece 3-in-1 interchange jacket

For the price and quality, this jacket is darn hard to beat. Columbia’s Bugaboo II Interchange Jacket ($200) comprises two pieces: a separate fleece liner layer and an Omni-Heat-equipped two-layer shell. Critical seams are sealed, and when worn with both layers together, the fleece provides a boost of extra warmth. Reviewers rave about its warmth, good price, and overall quality, and you get three winter jackets in one.

One thing we look for in our best jacket choices is fit accuracy, especially in this case. The majority of plus-size reviews said this jacket fits well overall and in the chest, arms, and hips. Plus, it was stylish and flattering when on. However, a few thought the fit felt a bit tight when sitting and bending.

This jacket comes in 1X, 2X, or 3X sizing. To get the best fit possible, the jacket also has an adjustable hood, adjustable cuffs, and adjustable hem.

Specs:
  • Weight: Unavailable
  • Key features: Omni-Heat thermal reflective liner, hood, seam-sealed waterproof and breathable, zippered hand pockets
Pros:
  • 10,000mm waterproof rating on exterior shell for rainfall
  • Removable hood
Cons:
  • Could use more pockets

Check Price at AmazonCheck Price at Columbia

Best of the Rest

Basin and Range New Wingate Down Jacket

basin and range new wingate down jacket

Looking for an around-town winter jacket that will keep you warm and stylish? Then you need to meet the New Wingate Down Jacket ($190). The 550-fill down is lofty and warm. And the nylon outer shell is durable enough to withstand years of use. We’ve worn this during blizzard conditions and stayed toasty running mountain town errands.

We especially like that the adjustable storm cuffs keep cold wind out. And the insulated hood kept our ears warm even when we forgot our hat at home. The hood has a faux fur lining, which is removable if that’s not your style.

We’ve heard concerns about this jacket being too narrow through the hips, but our testers had no such problem. We were easily able to layer a sweater underneath and zip it fully.

This isn’t the jacket to choose for light packing or backcountry adventures. But for après-ski outings and in-town adventures, it’s a wintertime winner.

Specs:
  • Weight: Unavailable
  • Key features: Length reaches the thigh, 100% nylon face fabric, fixed hood, four exterior pockets
Pros:
  • Super stylish
  • Durable fabric
  • Blocks wind
  • Deep hand pockets
  • Elastic storm cuffs protect the wrists
Cons:
  • Not a very packable choice
  • Doesn’t double as an athletic down jacket
  • Front snaps atop the zipper can be cumbersome to use

Check Price at Amazon

Patagonia Powder Bowl Jacket

patagonia powder bowl jacket

The Patagonia Powder Bowl Jacket ($399) handles a heavy load of moisture yet is supple and roomy for midlayers. The recycled 150-denier fabric is tough and treated with a DWR finish.

In various snow conditions and climates, this eco-friendly 100% recycled polyester face fabric kept us completely dry and comfortable. On Colorado powder days, the jacket never absorbed snow while making deep powder turns on a snowmobile in a blizzard.

When snowboarding on Vancouver Island, the damp chairs and high humidity at Mount Washington Alpine Resort never soaked our back or arms thanks to this two-layer GORE-TEX jacket. The waterproof/breathable and windproof design has watertight zippers.

With the underarm vents, helmet-compatible hood, and visor, this shell is a solid, environmentally conscious choice for inbounds or uphill exercise. It’s prepared to meet all conditions from blizzards to rain. The interior feels soft, and the exterior is supple.

Specs:
  • Weight: 814 g
  • Key features: 28K/20K waterproof/breathability rating, eco-friendly
Pros:
  • Very waterproof
  • Super supple fabric
  • Durable
  • Eco-friendly face fabric
Cons:
  • Not the best choice if insulation is needed against frigid wind
  • Pricier end

Check Price at PatagoniaCheck Price at evo

Wintergreen Northern Wear Expedition Shell Anorak

wintergreen northern wear expedition shell anorak

An all-around arctic powerhouse, Annie Aggens is the director of polar expeditions at PolarExplorers, a guide service for North Pole, South Pole, and subpolar adventures. She’s a certified International Polar Guide Association Master Polar Guide and co-author of the “Encyclopedia of Outdoor and Wilderness Skills.”

To protect against wind, Aggens wears the Wintergreen Northern Wear Expedition Shell Anorak ($365). Typically, she wears the jacket on North Pole Last Degree Ski Expeditions, North Pole Dogsled Expeditions, South Pole Ski Expeditions, and crossings of the Greenland Icecap. She’s usually on skis when she wears the Anorak.

The Anorak is ideal for dry, cold environments. The design offers full wind protection but no insulation. This is perfect when she’s generating a ton of heat by pulling a sled or working alongside a dog sled. The design is roomy, extends to the mid or upper thigh, and has a fur ruff that protects her face from icy wind.

Specs:
  • Weight: 1,361 g
  • Key features: long, protective hood, DWR treated nylon shell, two-way zipper
Pros:
  • Shield against wind
  • Ideal for dry conditions
  • Great for high-output activity
Cons:
  • Not insulated or a good choice for low movement
  • On the heavier side

Check Price at Wintergreen Northern Wear

The North Face Mountain Light Triclimate

the north face mountain light triclimate

We used The North Face Mountain Light Triclimate ($399) in 15-degree lows, wet snow, rain, sleet, and high freezing winds on frigid walks and ski patrol tail guiding. The jacket is a two-in-one style: The 550-fill jacket increases the wind and water repellency of a down by pairing it with a zip-on waterproof GORE-TEX exterior shell that’s 100% windproof.

This jacket is amazing for variable weather and high wind. With the shell, we found the jacket’s insulation compares to the 800-fill Summit L3 Down Hoodie. We didn’t feel any movement restriction while raising our arms or bending at the waist, and the hood covers a helmet.

Specs:
  • Weight: 771 g
  • Key features: Responsible Down Standard, 100% recycled polyester liner with non-PFC DWR finish
Pros:
  • Waterproof and windproof
  • Pit zips
Cons:
  • Arms don’t offer much extra length
  • The shell and liner compress better when detached

Check Price at The North Face

Helly Hansen LIFAloft Hybrid Insulator Jacket

helly hansen lifaloft hybrid insulator jacket

The Helly Hansen LIFAloft Hybrid Insulator Jacket ($200) is very wind- and water-resistant and kept us warm while glassing for animals. This lightweight synthetic insulator fared well in a frigid environment while hunting in 6- to 26-degree temps, during snowfall, and 30mph gusts.

While hiking from 9,000- to 12,000-foot altitudes, the breathability was impressive. The side panel stretch allowed us to comfortably layer the jacket over a belt’s knife and pistol.

The zipper is backed so cold air doesn’t leak in and when closed, the collar offers face protection. Plus, the jacket is super compressible with large zippered hand pockets.

Specs:
  • Weight: 350 g
  • Key features: PFC-free fabric
Pros:
  • Water-resistant and windproof
  • Very lightweight
  • Hybrid design dumps heat while providing insulation around core
Cons:
  • Shell fabric was extremely loud

Check Price at Helly HansenCheck Price at evo

Norrona Trollveggen PrimaLoft100 Zip Hood

norrona trollveggen primaloft100 zip hood

The Norrona Trollveggen PrimaLoft100 Zip Hood ($269) is an all-around solid jacket for working and playing outdoors. A whitewater raft guide and ski instructor worked 12-hour shifts at a sugar beet farm in North Dakota while wearing this synthetic jacket. She pulled it on in early mornings and late evenings, in 25-degree lows and 15 mph gusts. Despite a bit of rain, the water beaded on the outside of the shell, and she felt protected from the sting of wind.

Through shoveling dirt, beet sample collecting, and trail running, the jacket’s freedom of movement was top-notch. The jacket’s low profile delivers plenty of insulation even though it feels especially light. It works as an outer shell or layered under a work jacket without adding bulk. And the hood fits over a ski helmet.

Specs:
  • Weight: 482 g
  • Key features: Packs into stretch interior pocket, soft interior face collar, YKK front zipper, harness-compatible hand pockets, PFC-free DWR, Bluesign and Oeko-Tex Certified fabric
Pros:
  • Extremely durable
  • Highly windproof
  • Lightweight
Cons:
  • Not the most breathable option

Check Price at CampSaver

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Women’s Winter Jacket

Non-Insulated

Some winter jackets offer no insulation, which makes them versatile for a huge range of conditions. You can pull on this waterproof, breathable layer to stay dry when you’re running errands and protected from the sun or snow chafing when you’re sledding or skiing.

Designs without insulation typically have room to add a midlayer and base layer beneath for chilly or cold days. They’re great for warm spring turns at the ski resort or while winter hiking or snowshoeing when you accumulate heat.

Take note of the ambient temperatures where you usually go on winter days, if there is windchill, your body temperature, and any health needs. A non-insulated jacket could be the right one for you.

Insulated Jackets

Other winter jackets are insulated, offering warmth for cold or windy locations. It can take less planning, as you can wear an insulated jacket over a base layer without as much consideration for what midlayer to bring along.

In cold conditions, an insulated jacket is perfect for wearing after a gym workout, before you step into a frigid car, and for running errands. Insulated jackets can be prime for freezing conditions and long ski lift rides with hair-raising gusts.

They’re a good idea for the backcountry to pull on at the top of sweaty climbs, which are often wind-exposed. For some folks and conditions or activities, these jackets can pigeonhole them into donning too much warmth.

The type and warmth level of insulation varies across each jacket from flannel to down-filled panels or synthetic proprietary fabrics. Also, some insulated jackets are more water- and wind-resistant than others based on the type of fill, surface fabric, and how both have been constructed or chemically treated.

Down vs. Synthetic

Some jackets in this guide are made with down, and others are filled with synthetic insulation that mimics down. A handful of designs blend the two materials.

Synthetic insulation is made from polyester fibers and designed to imitate down clusters and properties with a few key differences. If you compare two equal-weight jackets, down is warmer than this alternative.

But synthetic insulation retains warmth even when wet. It’s also easier to wash and usually comes at a lower price point.

  • Pros of Down: excellent warmth-to-weight ratio, comfort, compressibility, lightweight, high inherent warmth
  • Cons of Down: inability to insulate when wet, more difficult to wash, pricier

Overall, in super-wet or mixed weather and when weight isn’t an issue, synthetics can be a better, safer choice. The Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie is a down-fill jacket. In comparison, the Sync Performance Stretch Puffy Jacket is a synthetic insulated jacket.

If it’s cold and dry, down is optimal despite a higher cost. To go deeper, check out our guide to the best down jackets to keep you covered in the cold.

woman zipping up patagonia winter jacket
(Photo/Eric Phillips)

Active Insulation

Within synthetic jackets, active insulation is another progressive subcategory to know. These technical garments are designed to dump extra heat and dry fast so you don’t have to remove the jacket during vigorous activity.

Some designs are a visible hybrid with a breathable mesh fabric beneath the arms and insulation that surrounds the chest and back. But these layers also need to be durable, warm, and wind-resistant. It’s a tricky balance.

Active insulation is best for high-output action. The Stio Alpiner Hooded Jacket and Helly Hansen LifaLoft Hybrid Insulator Jacket both offer active insulation.

Fill

Fill power measures the loft and quality of the down. To calculate fill, a one-ounce sample of down is compressed in a cylinder. Generally speaking, the higher the number, the warmer the jacket — though the fill power isn’t the only variable affecting a jacket’s warmth.

But the higher the fill quality, the less down is needed to create the same warmth. This is because it’s able to trap more air and warmth within the jacket. Higher fill power is also more compressible, loftier, more lightweight, and pricier.

Fill power ratings range from 300 to 900 and even greater. Most of the jackets on this list are in the 800-fill range, with a few clocking in above or below. Generally, the quality increases with the fill number:

  • 400-500: fair quality
  • 600: good quality
  • 700: great quality
  • 800: excellent quality
  • 900 and above: highest quality

The other thing to consider is fill weight.

Fill Power vs. Fill Weight

A down jacket’s fill power is the down’s quality and amount of loft. You’ll see jackets labeled as 600-fill or 800-fill, for instance. The fill weight, which is measured in ounces, reflects the density or amount of that down stuffed inside the jacket.

So when two 700-fill jackets have different weights, we know the heavier one is warmer.

On the other hand, if two down jackets weigh the same with different fill power (such as two 15-ounce jackets with 650 fill and 800 fill), the higher fill jacket is going to be less bulky, lighter, and more compressible.

It’s also trickier to compare jackets with differing fill power. But in general, the lower the fill power, the less loft and warmth are provided.

woman standing in snow wearing patagonia down sweater
(Photo/Eric Phillips)

Water Resistance & Hydrophobic Down

Down does not perform well when wet. And this is one of the places synthetic jackets tend to win out. In the past decade, there has been a growing use of hydrophobic down.

Essentially, the down feathers are coated in a water-resistant polymer. It still doesn’t match the water-resistance of synthetics. But for light precipitation, hydrophobic down can’t be beat. The face fabric of some down jackets is treated with DWR to help block light moisture, too.

Waterproofness

A waterproof jacket is ideal for being outside in wet snow, rain, or drizzly weather. The top-tier standard for waterproofness is GORE-TEX, which is a membrane integrated into various jacket designs. The material is waterproof, windproof, and breathable. Many brands likewise have a proprietary version of waterproof/breathable fabrics.

Waterproofness is measured by the amount of water that can be placed atop a fabric before it leaks. The rate of waterproof jackets varies from 5,000 to 20,000 mm or greater. The latter end of the spectrum leads to a less breathable fabric.

  • 0-5,000 mm: Resistant to light rain, dry snow
  • 6,000-10,000 mm: Waterproof for light rain and dry, non-heavy snow
  • 11,000-15,000 mm: Waterproof for moderate rain and dry, non-heavy snow
  • 16,000-20,000 mm: Waterproof for heavy rain and wet snow
  • 20,000 mm and greater: Waterproof for heavy rain and dense, heavy snow

One of the most waterproof jackets on our list is the Patagonia Powder Bowl Jacket, which provides 28,000 mm. Many jackets are 10,000 mm, which is adequate for many skiers and riders, for instance. What you need depends on the environment.

Other factors that make a jacket waterproof are the face fabric treatments, which can be eco-friendly formulas or chemicals that are toxic for the environment. Jackets can also have sealed seams to block moisture.

Breathability

For high-output activities — like powder skiing, snowshoeing, or winter hiking — it’s good to aim for a jacket with breathability of 10,000 to 15,000 g. Nordic skiers, winter runners, backcountry splitboarders and skiers, and uphill tourers should look for even more breathability: 20,000 g or more.

woman snowboarding in winter jacket
(Photo/Xander Bianchi)

Durability

The shell fabric is an important factor for both durability and packability. Ultralight jackets tend to be made with a lighter, thinner shell material. Denier is the measurement used here. A lower denier rating means the outer fabric is lighter and more prone to tears.

For backcountry excursions, the lower weight can be a worthy tradeoff. But for daily use, a higher denier is recommended. And if you do get a tear, there’s always the reliable duct tape or Noso Puffy Patch repair option.

Ventilation

Often, winter jackets offer ventilation by way of underarm zippers, which help to regulate body temperature. This feature is great for warm-blooded folks or those who venture in warm conditions and for skiing on powder days when your body works hard to make turns.

Some underarm zippers are longer than others. Quality-wise, YKK zippers are the toughest. Not all jackets provide pit ventilation, including most down jackets like the Sync Performance Stretch Puffy Jacket, which is fine for super cold conditions.

Collar & Hood

An ergonomic collar and hood are significant features for face, head, and neck protection against sun, snow, sleet, hail, wind, or rain. Pulling up a hood can help the body retain heat in chilly conditions.

Jacket collars vary in height and ideally have an interior chin guard that feels snuggly against the face, a key component on a windy day on the sidewalk or a gusty chair lift.

Hoods can be helmet-compatible, which is a priority if you need extra protection and warmth around your face and neck on a lift ride or during a snow or wind storm. Some hoods are adjustable via elastic pulls, like the Ortovox 3L Guardian Shell Jacket.

Others have an integrated visor so they don’t collapse beneath moisture. A handful of hoods are removable, while others are fixed.

skier wearing winter jacket in snow
(Photo/Will Rochfort)

Sleeve Cuffs & Powder Skirt

Powder skirts can be a great addition to a jacket for powder days to prevent fluffy flakes from flying up and soaking your base layers or lower back. It’s a nice addition for sledding or skiing. Some powder skirts are removable, and some have attachment points to connect to your ski or snowboard pants.

Sleeve cuffs generally have a Velcro closure, though some designs have additional snaps that vary in width. Many cuffs have an inner wrist gaiter — a stretchy fabric for warmth that sometimes has thumbholes to help secure the fabric over the top of the hand.

Pockets

Most jackets include two exterior hand pockets with zip closures, which can be low or placed higher for compatibility with a backpack belt or harness for ski or splitboard mountaineering. Other exterior pockets can include small pouches on the arm or the chest. Deep, wide, higher-placed exterior pockets can be nice for stowing a smartphone or notebook in the backcountry.

Interior pockets often have a zip closure, ports for headphones, or mesh construction with an elastic band at the top. These can be great for chambering a credit card or ID.

Deep, wide interior pockets can be essential for holding backcountry skins, especially if the temperature is crisp and you need to prevent the glue from freezing over between use. Occasionally, a pocket is insulated to help extend the battery life of your smartphone.

Examine what you’ll need to carry, the adequate pocket size, and if the pockets are located in the most comfortable place for you.

Fit

Generally, ski jacket designs land in two camps — trimmer with a more streamlined, athletic fit or roomier and boxier with a more relaxed silhouette. Both can be comfortable. If you’re wearing a backpack in the backcountry, it can be better to wear a well-fitted jacket so the fabric doesn’t get pinched up.

A handful of jackets are longer and stretch down to the knees over the backside, which is so nice for bike commuting or staying warm in a cold seat. Some jackets even reach the ankles for a full-on blanket to-go.

Size-wise, each manufacturer has its own size charts for male and female models. Be sure to take your personal measurements and match them up with the size charts, which can differ across brands.

Some companies provides more size inclusivity with broader offerings including Columbia, Obermeyer, and L.L.Bean. Everyone’s body is unique, so check the exchange and return policy before you buy.

group of women skiers wearing winter jackets
(Photo/Eric Phillips)

Weight

A jacket’s weight can become an important factor for climbers, backcountry splitboarders, and skiers who often need to stash their jacket in a pack and can’t sacrifice space for bulk. Some uphill athletes want to wear a jacket for weather protection but only need a light layer.

Occasional resort skiers and snowboarders take laps with a backpack on and might need to store their jacket as the conditions warm. If you’re using your jacket for everyday errands and social events, weight will be less of an issue.

The lightest weight winter jackets in our top picks are 200 to 400 g. The Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie is 400 g, Sync Performance Stretch Puffy Jacket is 453 g, and the Stio Alpiner Hooded Jacket is 312 g. The Arc’teryx Cerium SL Hoody is the lightest at 204 g.

Many jackets range from 500 to 800 g, while heavier jackets can be 900-1,400 g. The heaviest options are the Picture Organic Haakon at 1,060 g and Wintergreen Northern Wear Expedition Shell Anorak at 1,361 g.

The tradeoff you’ll see is that lighter options often cost more, and heavier jackets can be beefier, more durable, and more affordable. Ultimately, don’t compromise a jacket’s safety or comfort features and adequate warmth to drop weight.

Responsibly Sourced Down

Outdoor industry brands have made an effort to source down ethically without animal cruelty and create transparency in the global supply chain. Various certifications exist such as the Responsible Down Standard, the Patagonia Traceable Down Standard, and the National Sanitation Foundation’s Global Traceable Down Standard.

Without meeting such standards, abuse can become part of the supply chain. Synthetic choices can set some folks at ease.

Eco-Friendly & Recycled Materials

Beyond responsible down, winter jackets have an opportunity to include a bunch of eco-friendly design traits. Some jackets are created with PFC-free DWR treatments like The North Face Mountain Light Triclimate. Or the jacket is designed to withstand elements without a chemical DWR treatment at all.

Other designs are made with recycled materials from recycled down to recycled polyester. A few examples include the recycled ripstop polyester shell and liner in the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie, Patagonia Powder Bowl Jacket, and The North Face Mountain Light Triclimate.

Other layers guarantee Fair Trade sewing. And the Norrona Trollveggen PrimaLoft100 Zip Hood, for instance, has both Bluesign and Oeko-Tex Certified fabric.

Price

It’s easy to spend $250 to $500 on a winter jacket. And that’s no small investment. The main thing to consider when looking at your budget is the end use.

If you’re regularly packing into the backcountry, an ultralight, super-packable, rather expensive jacket may be necessary. On the other hand, if you’ll mostly wear it around town, something like the budget-friendly Land’s End Ultralight Packable Down Coat With Hood ($186) or New Wingate Down Jacket ($190) will keep you warm for less than $200.

Why You Should Trust Us

Our team has tested, reviewed, and published winter jacket guides for women for several seasons. For this guide, we considered the most popular, highly acclaimed, well-made, and size-inclusive winter jackets made for a range of conditions and across prices.

To challenge and determine the best designs, our product testers have worn these jackets across a spectrum of snowy environments in the Rockies including ski resorts across Colorado from Crested Butte Mountain Resort to Arapahoe Basin Ski Area.

We’ve cruised on our bikes, walked in blizzards, and left the gym in these jackets. We also backcountry skied, splitboarded, snowmobiled, and skimo raced in Colorado’s Gunnison Valley, one of the coldest, snowiest destinations in the United States. The crew of testers ranged from AIARE-certified backcountry venturers to lifelong resort skiers.

woman climbing while wearing winter jacket
(Photo/Xander Bianchi)

FAQ

What Are the Different Types of Winter Jackets?

After you learn the different types of winter jackets, you might need to get one of each! Our favorite choices in this guide are all functional, well-made choices for being outside. They’ll protect you in weather on your commute, walking the dogs, or at the ski hill. But they’re each a little bit different:

Down Jackets

  • Provides warmth
  • Some designs are stylish and tailored to everyday use, while others are great for winter activities like ice climbing
  • Length can reach the hip, knee, or ankle
  • Example: Patagonia Down Sweater Hoodie

Synthetic Jackets

  • Warmth layer
  • Ideal for very wet environments and a mix of snow and rain
  • A good choice for alpine skiing or snowboarding in very cold conditions
  • To clarify, synthetic jackets can also be called insulated shells
  • Example: Norrona Trollveggen PrimaLoft100 Zip Hood

Active Insulation Jackets

  • Lightweight, streamlined, athletic jacket that is breathable yet insulated
  • Nice for cardio activity like nordic skiing or running
  • Some designs are hybrid with two types of visible fabrics strategically placed
  • Example: Helly Hansen LifaLoft Hybrid Insulator Jacket

Shells

  • Waterproof or water-resistant and block wind
  • These jackets are most often not insulated
  • Offer more range of motion than insulated synthetic jackets
  • Great for high-output cardio activity like shoveling, backcountry snowmobiling, or powder skiing
  • To clarify, a synthetic jacket is often called an insulated shell
  • Example: Ortovox 3L Guardian Shell Jacket

3-in-1 Jackets

  • A waterproof or water-resistant shell zips into a separate jacket liner
  • The interior jacket could be a fleece, synthetic fill, or down fill
  • You can wear the jackets separate or together
  • Good budget option
  • The performance and material quality isn’t as high as other shell or insulated options
  • Example: Columbia Bugaboo II Fleece 3-in-1 Interchange Jacket

How Do I Choose a Winter Jacket?

Take a look at the average temperatures and weather conditions where you most often go outside in the winter. Choose a jacket that will keep you comfortable and dry in that environment according to how much body heat you’ll build during your activity.

Backcountry jackets are typically more robust and streamlined with features for off-piste travel. They’re usually more expensive.

If you want a jacket that works well for heat-building activities like shoveling the driveway or snowshoeing, consider a non-insulated jacket you can add layers beneath. If you want a cozy jacket for cold-weather walks, low-output commutes, or mellow groomer skiing in cold conditions, look at insulated jackets.

You’ll also want to mull over your preferred style and features like the number of pockets, thumbholes in the wrist gaiters, and a hood.

At the end of the day, finding the best women’s winter jacket is a matter of personal style, end use, and budget.

What Is the Warmest Winter Jacket?

The warmest winter jackets are down jackets closely followed by synthetic-filled winter jackets.

When Should You Wear a Down Jacket?

A down jacket holds heat around your body’s core in order to maintain a comfortable level of warmth when the temperatures drop. Down jackets options exist that are plush, stylish, or longer for everyday use. And there are lighter, packable designs for year-round backcountry adventures.

What’s the Difference Between a Down Jacket’s Fill Power and Fill Weight?

A jacket’s fill power is the down’s quality and amount of loft. You’ll see jackets labeled as 600-fill or 800-fill, for instance. The fill weight, which is measured in ounces, reflects the density or amount of that down stuffed inside the jacket.

So when two 700-fill jackets have different weights, we know the heavier one is warmer.

On the other hand, if two down jackets weigh the same with different fill power (such as two 15-ounce jackets with 650 fill and 800 fill), the higher fill jacket is going to be less bulky, lighter, and more compressible.

It’s also trickier to compare jackets with differing fill power. But in general, the lower the fill power, the less loft and warmth are provided.

What Warmth Should I Choose for a Down Jacket?

Down jackets have a huge variance of warmth. Some jackets are constructed to withstand below freezing or sub-zero temperatures, while others are a match for summer, spring, and fall backpacking or camping trips. Here are the broad categories of jackets depending on their fill weight:

  • Lightweight: 85-113 g (3-4 ounces) of down fill, three-season jacket, skiing midlayer
  • Moderate weight: 141-170 g (5-6 ounces) of down fill, more warmth for sub-freezing temperatures
  • Heavier weight: More than 170 g (6 ounces) of down fill, tenacious design for winter conditions

The combination of the fill weight and fill power changes how warm a jacket is. The higher the fill power and higher the weight, the more heat the jacket retains.

How Heavy Should My Down Jacket Be?

Super lightweight and lightweight down jackets are very compressible and a great choice for cramming into your pack for emergency use. They often cost more.

Those weights range from 226-425 g (8-15 ounces). Midweight options bump up to the 567 g (20-ounce) range. Heavier-set down jackets are around 850 g (30 ounces).

How Should a Winter Jacket Fit?

You don’t want a winter jacket to fit tight, because activities like sledding, shoveling, or skiing require a lot of freedom of movement. Plus, it’s nice to wear a comfortable, wicking synthetic long-sleeve beneath the jacket, and also a fleece midlayer if the temperatures plummet. Usually, both athletic and relaxed winter jackets are a bit roomy, so you can fit a base layer and midlayer beneath, if needed.

Size-wise, each manufacturer has its own size charts. Be sure to check the size charts and make your personal measurements to match up your size, which can differ across brands.

How Much Does a Winter Jacket Cost?

Winter jackets are long-term investments and worth the money for the protection and comfort they provide in a cold, wintry environment. The most economic options usually range from $150 to $300, and the average cost is $300 to $400.

The hardiest designs can reach up to $750 and are good for long days in variable conditions like backcountry skiing, ice climbing, or snowmobiling.

How Long Should a Winter Jacket Last?

A winter jacket breaks down for a multitude of reasons, including exposure to sunshine, rain, and snow. The materials wear due to the rub points of a heavy pack, brushing against equipment, and even contact with human skin. Frequency of use, roughness of the activity, and overall user care are factors that dissolve a jacket, too.

If you use your winter jacket for everyday activity, the jacket will deteriorate faster. Be sure to follow the care instructions, which are unique for each jacket and located on the interior label.

With so many variables, the exact lifespan of each jacket can’t be predicted. We typically find ourselves using our favorite well-constructed winter jackets for 5 or 6 years but less if we’re donning it for the backcountry.

If you take good care of your jacket or use it for select activities, you can easily assume the product life will be longer — maybe a decade.


female skier in maroon jacket downhill skiing
The Best Women's Ski Pants of 2021-2022

Whether you frequent backcountry mountains or a local resort, we've got the best ski and snow pants for women. Read more…

Best Women's Winter Boots Review
The Best Winter Boots for Women in 2021-2022

We tested the best winter boots for women in 2021-2022, including winter hiking boots, snow boots, extra-warm boots, and winter rain boots. Read more…