Best Winter Jackets: How to Cut Through the Clutter and Find Yours

Don’t shiver this winter! Here’s a guide to selecting the best winter jacket for what you do in the cold.

It’s cold outside—but that can be a good thing! Winter weather means snow skiing and toasty campfires, ice skating and skiing, walking through quiet snow-covered woods and across iced-over lakes. But to enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer in the cold months, you’ll need the best winter jacket to match the conditions. Make the right choice, and you’ll enjoy every crisp, cold day. There are so many winter coats and jackets out there that it’s easy to be overwhelmed, but we’ll walk you through what you need to know to make the best choice for your winter days. Puffy coat? Lots of layers? Down or fleece? We’ve literally got you covered.

Best Ski Jacket: MOERDENG Men’s Waterproof Ski Jacket Warm Winter Snow Coat

Best Heated Winter Jacket: HOTOUCH Men’s Heated Jacket Detachable Hood Coat

Best Women’s Winter Jacket: Orolay Women’s Down Jacket Coat Mid-Length

Best Men’s Winter Jacket: Eddie Bauer Men’s CirrusLite Down Hooded Jacket

Best Girl’s Winter Coat: Outdoor Kids Puffer Jacket for Toddlers or Girls

Best Boy’s Winter Coat: Outdoor Kids Puffer Jacket for Toddlers or Boys

Best Winter Hunting and Ice Fishing Coat: Cabela’s StrikerIce Climate Series Jacket System

Best Budget Winter Coat: RedHead Radius Windproof Softshell Jacket for Men

Features to Consider When Shopping for Winter Jackets

A great winter jacket is designed specifically for how you spend your time outdoors. Winter coats for everyday wear need to check two boxes: warmth and fashion. If you’re skiing or snowboarding, you need specific performance features, such as adjustable cuffs. Extreme cold calls for plenty of insulation—and more. Hunting jackets need to keep you warm whether you’re trailing a buck all day or sitting quietly outside for hours. And if you’re on a budget, we found a way that you can spend less than $55 and still stay warm.

Related: Why One Hunter Says You Can’t Beat a Wool Winter Coat

Do You Need a Ski Jacket or a Snowboarding Jacket?

Winter snow sports are terrific—you’re outside, with family and friends, challenging yourself and getting some great exercise—unless you’re shaking with cold, or shivering under wet layers of clothing.

That won’t happen with a great winter coat designed for skiing and snowboarding. To stay warm, dry, and stoked on the slopes, you’ll want a winter coat designed for active wear. Look for coats made with helmet-friendly hoods, adjustable cuffs so you can cinch them down over gloves, and plenty of pockets so you can carry a smartphone, snacks, and a scarf. And while a great ski jacket doesn’t have to be 100 percent waterproof, you’ll definitely want a highly water-resistant shell to turn away light showers and melting snow.

Best Ski Jacket: MOERDENG Men’s Waterproof Ski Jacket

Packed with Features

This sleek jacket is designed specifically for downhill skiing, with performance-related features such as adjustable cuffs with a stretchable glove hole. MOERDENG

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If skiing is in your plans, you’ll want a winter coat made to fit when you’re wearing gloves, a helmet, and several layers. The Moerdeng waterproof jacket does that, and has a waterproof and windproof outer shell cut with a relaxed fit, so you can move without restriction. You’ll appreciate the slightly oversized hood that will keep you warm and easily slip over a safety helmet.

Are You Outside For Extended Periods Of Time In Harsh Conditions?

You can get by with a light jacket or vest for running to the mailbox on a cold winter afternoon. But if you spend hour after hour outside, working on the job site, or enjoying outdoors sports such as hunting and ice fishing, or spending time outside with family and friends, you’ll want to dial up the cold-blocking properties of a winter jacket.

One way to boost the warmth is to layer multiple lighter layers. Another way is to rely on technology. Heated jackets use battery packs to warm up safely designed heating elements sewn into the product. Smartly designed heated coats put these warming panels in the chest and back areas, to warm your core and keep warm blood flowing all the way to fingers and toes. When shopping for a heated jacket, look for battery packs that can be easily recharged—USB capability is super convenient—and that will last for most of the day.

Best Heated Winter Jacket: HOTOUCH Men’s Heated Jacket Detachable Hood

Core Heat Winner

With nearly nine hours of warming heat spread over three heat zones, this heated jacket is perfect for sedentary activities such as watching sports. HOTOUCH

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This super-warm winter coat is lined with fleece for a first layer of protection from bitter cold, but has three carbon fiber heating elements to crank up the toasty across your chest and back. There are three settings, so you can choose your heat level and adjust it to the temperature and your activity level. It’s easy to recharge the battery, and the coat is machine washable as well.

Do You Need an All-Around Winter Jacket for Everyday Wear?

Winter fun can mean hitting the ski slopes, going on a winter hike, or tying on skates and hitting the ice. But it also means going to work, walking sidewalks and parking lots, spending time in a cold car before the heat cranks up. There are many winter coats for men, women, toddlers, and children. You may like the way a certain one looks on you or your kids, but you need to be sure it’ll keep you warm while you’re going about your everyday life.

Best Women’s Winter Jacket: Orolay Women’s Down Jacket Coat

Flattering Fit

A great women’s winter coat doesn’t have to be a dumpy jacket. This well-tailored down coat shines in both performance and great looks. Orolay

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Filled with lofty duck down and cut to a mid-thigh length, this winter coat for women is a great option. A two-way front zipper is a huge bonus for comfort, and a stand-up collar and large hood will seal in body heat for hours. Cut for a slim fit, there’s still ample room for layering for cold weather, while the jacket makes for a stylish entry into the winter world.

Best Men’s Winter Coat: Eddie Bauer Men’s CirrusLite Down Hooded Jacket

Lightweight Warmth

Almost as light as air, this solidly constructed puffy jacket for men is a great outer shell, and can even be used as an insulating layer with a waterproof shell over the top. Eddie Bauer

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With technology and materials borrowed from hardcore mountaineering coats, this men’s winter coat is ready for everything from a morning on the slopes to a night on the town. The premium 650 down has tons of loft for the excellent insulation that made puffy coats famous. It easily compresses so you can pack it in a daypack or overnight bag and never be without a first line of defense against bitter winter weather.

Best Girls Winter Jacket: Outdoor Kids Puffer Jacket for Toddlers or Girls

Cute and Fun

Getting girls to like a winter coat is often challenging, but this puffy jacket has great looks. Outdoor Kids

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The lightweight insulation and quilted construction cut down on bulk, and the plush Sherpa hood lining adds a fashionable touch. There are great handwarmer pockets on the front, and with a high collar to protect chilly necks, this winter jacket can double as a ski coat and snowboarding jacket.

Best Boys Winter Jacket: Outdoor Kids Puffer Jacket for Toddlers or Boys

All Boy

Outfit that young man in style with either a camo puffy coat or one in red and black plaid. Outdoor Kids

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It can be difficult for a boy to keep a winter jacket on, much less to like it. That’s what makes this winter coat a winner. Your little man will like to wear a cool looking puffer. And it’s very reasonably priced, so if he loses it—another factor with boys—you won’t be out a big chunk of change.

Do You Need a Winter Hunting Jacket or Ice Fishing Coat?

Hunters and ice anglers have specific winter coat needs. These jackets need to be built tough enough for harsh conditions and hard use. They need to insulate the wearer across a wide variety of conditions–when you’re moving, when you’re sitting still, and when you need to pack a jacket for storage or transport.

That’s why a great hunting or ice fishing jacket comes with a bit of extra technology, whether that’s a high-quality insulating fill material or design features. If you’re headed to the snowy woods or out on an all-day ice fishing adventure, think about dialing up your winter protection to a coat inspired by the great outdoors.

Best Winter Hunting and Ice Fishing Coat: Cabela’s StrikerIce Climate Series Jacket System

Tough and Warm

The StrikerIce jacket in brown and camo doubles as a top-notch winter hunting coat. Cabela’s

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Hunters and ice anglers need a high-quality winter coat that will breathe when they’re walking to the duck blind or moving around on a frozen lake, but hold in tons of warmth for long hours of non-movement. This waterproof/breathable coat has a removable fleece liner, so you can take off the outer layer when walking tough terrain or drilling holes, and put it back on when sitting on stand or waiting for the flags to fly. It even has flotation foam built in so you’ll always feel safe on the ice.

Do You Need a Cheap Jacket?

What matters most in a winter coat is how well the jacket holds in your heat. You can pay more for bells and whistles such as adjustable cuffs and two-way zippers, but they won’t necessarily keep you warmer. When you’re looking for a less-expensive winter coat, consider buying a jacket designed for layering. They’re a bit lighter, so you can wear them in a wider range of temperatures. You can pair one with a larger outer shell or wear one over a favorite sweater to boost the warmth.

Best Cheap Jacket: RedHead Radius Windproof Softshell Jacket for Men

Hardcore Softshell

It has a windproof, water-resistant finish, and is perfect for pairing with a sweater or under a larger shell. RedHead

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You don’t have to have a coat designed to conquer Everest to stay warm on a cold winter day. This windproof and water-resistant jacket is great on its own for chilly, sunny days. And the sleek polyester exterior makes it a perfect choice for layering under a rain shell or a heavier coat. A water-resistant exterior makes it easy to brush off the snowflakes, and the hook-and-loop cuffs are a bonus for a custom fit to hold in every bit of body heat.

FAQ: Three Common Questions About Winter Jackets

What is a puffy jacket?

A puffy jacket is a super lightweight down coat—or some other insulation type—that gives it lots of warming loft. Puffy coats are quilted for ease of movement and to help the insulation stay in place. They’re a great choice, and super fashionable.

How can I wash a down coat?

The best way to wash a down coat is to use a front-loading washing machine, which doesn’t have an agitator that can damage the down. Buy down-specific laundry soap, and follow the directions printed on the tag inside the jacket. Dry the jacket on low heat, and toss a couple of clean tennis balls into the dryer to help restore the down’s loft.

What does it mean to “layer” in the winter?

To “layer” in the winter means wearing multiple layers of lighter garments under a winter coat to help hold in heat between the layers—and sometimes to top it with a water-resistant shell if there’s any chance of getting wet. The one big advantage in dressing in layers: You can remove or add a jacket or vest to keep from sweating during active work or play.

A Final Word on Shopping for the Best Winter Jackets

A great winter coat will keep you unconcerned about spending time outside. Some of the best winter jackets are specifically made for active sports such as skiing and snowboarding, and coats destined for more relaxed wear such as attending sporting events. Always match a winter jacket’s insulation type and design features to how and where you’ll be wearing it, because once you’re cold, you’re going to want to stop whatever it is you’re doing.