Tough yet looks good. In addition, Columbia tends to run a bit big and boxy and the Barlow Pass in no exception.
The Bright Puffer
The Duffle coat is that coat that looks like the child of the classic winter coat and the parka. Its look is iconic and easy to spot, usually with a hood, square pockets, wooden buttons and a unique cut and design.
The parka has surged in popularity as of late. I highly recommend you pick one up in either black or green. Uniqlo Non-Quilt Down Jacket. Alpha Industries Fishtail Parka. The puffer jacket is an excellent jacket for when you want to keep warm and still look good. It's a little heavy for the warmth it provides, but we loved the features that it has, including an internal chest pocket and a stash pocket, and a high collar that comes up over your nose when fully zipped.
As you've read above, other options are lighter or less expensive, but if you're looking for something that is also "outdoor chic," the Patagonia Down Sweater is hard to beat. We tested a narrow range of down jackets in this review. We focused on the light to mid-weight category and did not include super fat belay or expedition style parkas. These down jackets are lightweight, fairly compact, reasonably affordable, and offer stand-alone insulation down to around 32F, but can be used as part of a layering system to keep you warm in much colder temperatures.
The list of potential uses for a highly versatile layer like these is nearly endless. They are perfect for wearing in the evenings around town or while camping during the shoulder seasons, as an everyday around-town jacket during the winter, or as a warm layer or overcoat for colder seasons in the mountains, regardless of activity. All of these models feature down insulation, long known to provide the best warmth-to-weight ratio, with the caveat that they lose their warmth-trapping loft when they get wet.
While most of these jackets now use some form of hydrophobically treated down coupled with external DWR applications to add water resistance, people who are concerned about their jacket getting wet should also check out our Best Men's Synthetic Insulated Jackets Review.
When they were available, we chose to test the hooded versions of all these jackets, because a hood adds both warmth and versatility. Not everyone likes a hood though, or if you are specifically looking for something to layer with, too many hoods in your layering system can get in the way, so we also point out which jackets also come in hoodless versions. To be able to give you the best possible advice on buying a down jacket, we chose to rate each contender on a scale of for six different metrics: We weighted each of these six parameters based upon how important we felt it was to the overall performance of a down jacket, i.
Adding together the scores for each metric gave us a final, overall rating, which you can peruse in the table above. Note that in our ratings we were comparing the products to each other, and not the entire outdoor apparel market as a whole. So when we say an option is highly water resistant, that is compared to other down jackets, and not to a rain jacket. Most of our testing and scoring took place on adventures in the field, but in some cases, we also devised specialized tests to help us better understand how each jacket scored for a given metric.
Below, we break down the ins and outs of each of the six scoring metrics, including the crucial factors, how we tested for it, what percentage it counts in the final score, and what were the best jackets for that particular metric. In all cases, ratings were given compared to the competition.
For that reason, just because a product scored poorly does not mean it is not worth owning or using, as all of these jackets are among the best available on the market today. For users who have a particular purpose or use in mind, or who place greater importance on a specific metric, we recommend diving deep into the individual reviews, focusing on what is most important to you, rather than looking only at overall scores.
One of the metrics that we don't score for but do consider in our reviews is the value of a product. While we are always trying to find the best products possible, sometimes those can be the most expensive too, which isn't always going to work for everyone.
If you need an option that will get the job done without setting you back a ton of money, take a look at our Price vs. We've graphed each model's score X-axis according to its price Y-axis. Those that lie on the bottom of the graph but towards the right have excellent value.
Warmth is the most important criteria when selecting a jacket, because, after all, if not for its warmth, why do we need one? Since it's so important, we decided to weight each model's score for warmth as 30 percent of its total score. The primary measurement of warmth in a down jacket is down-fill power. Fill power numbers for the jackets we tested range from lowest quality up to highest quality.
The fill power represents the ability of the down to loft up and create insulating dead space. Since trapped air within a jacket's baffles is what insulates you from the cold outside, the more loft a jacket has, the warmer it will be. However, fill power does not translate directly to warmth. To fill a particular space, one company could use a little bit of very high fill down to accomplish the same thing as another company that uses a lot of lower fill power down.
Since most of the jackets in this review have a similar ideal temperature range, using higher fill-power down tends to mean that the jacket will be lighter and also more expensive. Conversely, jackets that use low fill power down will usually be heavier and less costly to provide the same heat-trapping loft.
Lightweight down jackets are typically made using sewn-through baffle construction that helps produce a lighter weight and less expensive contender. The baffles are the individual compartments that hold down and are needed so that it doesn't all sink to the bottom.
Sewn-through construction means that the fabric on the outside of the jacket is sewn to the material on the inside, creating a baffle, which is typically oriented horizontally, although some are square shaped.
This design makes them lighter, thinner, and less expensive. On the downside, sewn-through baffles create thin places near the seams where there is no down, and trapped heat can escape.
There are a few different alternative techniques for generating baffles besides the sewn-through method, but the only other one used by jackets in our review is the welded or bonded baffle construction. These two names describe a similar technique where the outer and inner fabrics of a model are "bonded" together using chemicals or glue free from any stitching.
The Columbia Outdry Ex Gold and the Mountain Hardwear StretchDown Hooded are the two jackets that use this method , which in general offers better water and wind resistance, as no holes or threads are compromising the outer layer of the jacket. However, we also noticed that this style has more massive gaps between baffles where there is no insulation, and so doesn't automatically lead to a warmer design. Though thickness, loft, and method of construction have a lot to do with warmth, it's not only about fill quality and amounts.
The design and features of a jacket, such as a hood and drawcords, the thickness and quality of the outer material, how well the jacket fits, etc. How well you keep the cold out is as important as how well you keep the heat inside. To test these jackets for warmth we used them each countless times on adventures during the late fall and early winter: We also tested them side-by-side on a frigid, windy morning in the mountains to best tell how they compare against each other.
Although they do not come with temperature ratings like sleeping bags, we feel these jackets offer good-to-adequate stand-alone warmth down to freezing and can help you stay warm in much lower temperatures used as part of a layering system.
However, in our testing, a few jackets stood out for their warmth. The Arc'teryx Cerium LT Hoody uses super high fill down to create a thick, cozy, and very lightweight jacket that was warmer than all the others.
Likewise, the Rab Microlight Alpine provided top of the line warmth, in no small part because it did an excellent job of sealing off all the openings to keep the heat in and the cold out. Although not as good as those two jackets, the Patagonia Down Sweater Hoody was also among the most comfortably warm jackets in this review. The higher, further, and steeper we take ourselves, the more important the weight of what we take becomes.
The utility of an object comes in measuring how much use you get out of it for how much energy is expended carrying it. The warmth-to-weight ratio of a jacket is a key measure of value, and a down jacket has the highest warmth-to-weight ratio of any technical insulated jacket.
Additional ounces are added or subtracted to a jacket's weight by the fabric and design features. Frequently, durability and other critical features such as a hood are sacrificed on the altar of ultra-light design, to the detriment of the final product.
An ultra-light jacket that doesn't keep you warm or that falls apart after limited use doesn't have a lot of value. To test weight, we weighed jackets on our scale as soon as they arrived. In the cases where a contender came with an included stuff sack for compression, we included that in the item's overall weight, since weight tends to matter more when it's being carried than when it's being worn.
To find the best fit for our head tester, some of the jackets we ordered were size Large, while others were size Medium. Despite their differences in stated size, they all fit our head tester pretty much ideally, so we compared weights straight across the board, regardless of jacket size.
From our testing, we noticed that weight seems to be a product of three factors: Using a higher fill-power down means that you get the same loft with less filling, so higher fill jackets tend to be lighter, and there is a little trade-off here except for added expense.
Similarly, using a thinner fabric can make a jacket lighter, with the compromise, in this case, being durability. Lastly, to save weight, some models have far fewer features, such as pockets, zippers, or draw cords, while others use much lighter and smaller zippers to shave half an ounce here and there. The trade-off for using less or lighter features can again be durability in the case of super small gauge zippers or the lack of ability to fine-tune the fit if a jacket eschews the use of drawcords.
The lightest jacket in this year's review was once again the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Hooded , which came in at 7. Despite its low weight this jacket had a hood, zippered pockets, and a hem drawcord, and was surprisingly warm given how light it was. The insulating capacity of untreated down is almost completely negated by water, so jackets insulated with down have historically had a bad reputation in wet environments.
While a down jacket is never an excellent idea for a rainy day, having some level of water resistance is important simply to protect the down. All of the jackets reviewed accomplish this to some degree by applying a Durable Water Resistant DWR coating to the jacket.
DWR coatings are chemical applications designed to repel water before it has a chance to be absorbed by the face fabric and, subsequently, the down inside. By helping to keep the face fabric dry, DWR coatings allow a jacket to breathe better should moisture accumulate on the inside from sweating. The only downside to DWR coatings is that they vary widely in quality and durability. Once a DWR coating has worn off, you must reapply.
Unfortunately, this can happen in as little as a few uses. Water resistance can also come by using treated down that has a DWR coating. Because we do not have access to the down inside a jacket, we found it difficult to test how useful these DWR applications are at creating hydrophobic down.
In years past we only reviewed a couple down jackets with hydrophobic down used inside, while this year there were four that made our selection of the ten best, suggesting that this is a technology that companies think improve the performance of down that comes in contact with water.
Never-the-less, despite soaking these jackets in the shower, we found it difficult to accurately compare the performance of the treated down versus regular down. In general, our scores in this metric were a reflection of the performance of the DWR coating and the face fabric, although we chose to award bonus points to jackets that used hydrophobic down.
The most water resistant down jacket was, without doubt, the Columbia Outdry Ex Gold , specifically designed to be waterproof on the outside. This model was like combining down insulation on the inside with a rain slicker on the outside, and while it came with a few drawbacks, water resistance certainly was not one of them.
All things considered, casual users and those looking for maximum coziness should stick to down, but the Hyper Puff is a powerhouse performance piece for the right people. Well built; fit allows room for layering. Low fill power for the price.
Similar to Canada Goose, Fjallraven makes good-looking outdoor gear that toes the line between casual and performance at least casual levels of performance.
G is an outlier these days but super durable and does resist moisture surprisingly well you can add beeswax to aid in the process. We do have concerns about its warmth: Keep in mind that this coat runs large and should allow plenty of room for layering, which can be a good thing but impacts sizing.
Warm; excellent materials and build quality. Slightly heavier and more expensive than the Rab Neutrino Endurance. Montane makes premium performance products and the Deep Heat is no exception.
First, you get 9. The shell is a high-end Pertex Quantum Pro, which is reasonably tough yet lightweight and weather resistant. And the jacket comes with a host of other handy features for serious adventurers including a helmet-compatible hood, water resistant zippers, and a waterproof dry bag make sure to remove the jacket from the dry bag for long-term storage.
Both use premium fill down but the Montane has a little more of it. The two jackets offer tons of warmth and excellent coverage around the head and face, and both are built for climbing yet have a clean enough look for everyday use. See the Men's Montane Deep Heat.
A waterproof winter parka. Pricey and fit can be a bit roomy. And some people find the hood to be a bit large and the pockets to be small for gloves. For a women's-specific model with a very similar overall design, see Arc'teryx's Patera Parka below. See the Men's Arc'teryx Therme. Super warm and great coverage. Design can be a bit polarizing. Most importantly, this jacket is super warm with 9.
For protection from snow and rain, the jacket has wax and polyurethane coatings that will help moisture bead off. And this parka offers great coverage: To be sure, the design of the Kuhl Arktik Down Parka can be polarizing.
The zippers, buttons, and shoulder panels are meant to stand out, and particularly in the Raven colorway the Carbon is a bit more muted. Tough yet looks good. Not super warm and fit is a bit snug. This burly winter parka uses fill down, which is high for its category, has a super durable denier polyester shell, and reinforced elbows to help avoid wear and tear.
And although the Whitefish is not waterproof, it resists moisture and wind fairly well. It is, however, one of the toughest models around and great for those who plan on putting their jacket through the ringer. See the Men's Outdoor Research Whitefish. A decent value for a winter-worthy piece. Winter jackets are an expensive bunch, but budget-oriented brand Columbia offers some interesting options in this category. However, the Barlow Pass is far from perfect and you get what you pay for here.
In addition, Columbia tends to run a bit big and boxy and the Barlow Pass in no exception. But we do like the feature set, which includes plenty of pockets, a generous hood with a removable faux fur collar, and even some fleece lining on the interior around the back of the neck for added comfort. Synthetic insulation polyester Weight: By far the cheapest winter coat on this list. Heavy, stiff, and could be warmer. How is this jacket so inexpensive? The insulation and shell of the Caterpillar Insulated Parka are straight polyester—no lightweight insulation or modern waterproof fabrics here.
In addition, you get ample storage with four large front pockets and one on the sleeve. Is this jacket for climbing mountains? A little lacking in warmth; slim fit. Starting with design, it has an H2No Performance shell on the outside, along with a removable fill down liner on the inside. Moreover, the outside is waterproof and seam taped, which results in excellent weather protection in wet snow and rain. And even the liner has a DWR treatment for use in light precipitation.
What are the downsides of the Patagonia Tres Parka? In addition, the down insert is decently warm and the outer shell does a nice job at cutting wind, but in the coldest of conditions you still will want to add layers underneath. See the Women's Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka. Super soft liner; premium look and feel. Arms are a bit short for some people. When shopping for a down winter parka, you have a number of similar looking options from respected outdoor brands.
This jacket is warm with fill down, has good length, and a super cozy hood with a removable faux fur liner. The inside of the jacket has a fleece liner that is noticeably soft to the touch, and the outside has a DWR treatment to help with light precipitation. Add in some classy colorways, and the Montreal is a really nice all-around parka for the cold.
Coming back to the all-important fit factor, a number of people have complained that the arms on the Marmot Montreal are on the short end.
But if you can get the fit dialed, the Montreal is a winner. Zipper and hood are subpar. Updated for last winter, this popular parka performs well in tough weather but also looks the part for everyday wear. Like the Tres, the Arctic II is fully waterproof to keep you dry in a range of winter weather conditions, yet also packs a decent punch in terms of warmth.
Along with the good value come a few compromises. And like other products from The North Face, fit is a bit boxier than we would prefer although this can be good for layering.
Clean design, easy to move in, and a good amount of down for the price. Less leg coverage than a parka. The Down With It from Patagonia is a good-looking and versatile jacket at a very reasonable price. We like the length, which works well for city wear but also can double down for light adventuring like winter hiking and snowshoeing.
What do you sacrifice by going with a jacket instead of a parka? The obvious answer is leg coverage—the Patagonia Tres and other options on this list end around the thigh, which can make a pretty big difference when wearing jeans or other non-insulated pants in cold weather if you want more length, Patagonia does offer a Down With It Parka version.
Warm, waterproof, and looks great. The sleek Patera is the whole package: The biggest hurdle in choosing the Patera Parka is price. However, you do get some serious return on your investment. The full waterproofing is a very nice feature, and few casual pieces use best-in-class Gore-Tex. You also get a tough yet smooth denier shell, which can handle everyday wear and tear much better than the thinner options above. And we appreciate the non-puffy style of the Patera: See the Women's Arc'teryx Patera Parka.
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You'll have your choice of options, and be able to grab the best before everyone else. Now the only question is: What to buy? We've got you covered with the 10 coats every guy should know once the temperature drops. The Best Winter Jackets for Men of By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor. Wednesday September 26, Share this article: Shopping for a winter parka is an experience that immediately entangles you in a morass of options and complicating factors. When you just want a winter jacket, you don't want to be confused by hunting or ice climbing. These lightweight sporty jackets mean business! Athleisure and casual dressing have even made their way into the workplace, making trends like technical jackets and track jackets perfectly acceptable (and even trendy!) to rock with your button-down and slacks.