A coat should be stylish and durable, sure, but what we’re looking for first and foremost during winter’s chill is outerwear that’s all about deep, comforting warmth, which can be harder to find than you might think. What’s the best material to choose? If I opt for down, am I going to look like I’m wearing a comforter? Can I count on wool to keep me warm when the temps drop below 30? What’s the deal with synthetics? Here’s more intel for you to make your decision—in addition to the 26 best winter coats for your consideration.
The 26 Best Winter Jackets to Buy Right Now, from a Classic Puffer to a Textured Teddy Coat
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What’s the Warmest Material?
Truth: There is no one warmest material. Plus, your desire for keeping warm should be balanced with the activity you’re using your coat for. (Just imagine wearing that ankle-length puffer to go on a hike, or rocking a Gore-Tex ski parka to a fancy dinner, and you get the picture.) Here’s a few of the most effective materials at keeping out the cold (and, in some cases, wet) and why they’re on our shopping list.
Down (Natural and Synthetic)
Ultralight, ultrawarm and ultra-packable, down is nature’s comforter, and synthetic down is the man-made version. Down is a sort of mini feather that grows on the underside of a goose that traps warm air next to the body of the bird. In the past few decades, the ethical considerations of down harvesting and the complications of ensuring a humane supply chain have inspired many consumers to consider synthetic down, which is allergen-free and less prone to collecting dust and mold. Whether natural or synthetic down, the more ounces of fill, the greater the warmth. One caveat? When it gets wet, down loses its insulating ability and can become a soggy mess.
When DuPont chemist William Gore started a company in his Delaware basement in the late 1950s, little did he know he’d change the face of outdoors activity forever when, after a decade of work, his son stretched a polymer to create a super-strong, microporous material that has low water absorption but allows breathability. Gore-Tex started being used in clothing in the mid-‘70s, and the trademark is shorthand for waterproof, windproof and breathable garments that would later go everywhere from the ski slope to outer space. While technical fabric innovations have advanced in the years since, Gore-Tex is still among the top blue-chip choices for waterproof material.
Wool and Polyester Fleece
According to the International Wool Textile Organization, wool is warm because it creates a “microclimate for the body that can quickly adapt to changing situations,” retaining or releasing heat or moisture. As for wool’s reputation for feeling scratchy? Wool experts say that the material is only irritating when its fibers are spun too wide. Superfine Merino wool, for example, is soft and actually beneficial for people who suffer from eczema or dermatitis. Polyester fleece, by contrast, is warm precisely for the opposite reason—it traps body heat because it does not have the capacity to breathe.
And now, on to the coats.
1. everlane The Quilted Teddy Coat
We love a good long coat to keep our legs extra toasty throughout winter, but adding all that extra fabric does run the risk of enveloping us whole and making it look like we’re sporting a comforter out on the town. Not so with this Everlane number, which comes with an adjustable drawstring waist and Sherpa paneling, both of which help define your waist.
2. orolay Women's Thickened Down Jacket
Famously dubbed “the Amazon coat” this iteration has six big pockets and a set of side zippers that come in handy when you want to cool down. The fleece-lined hood is a bonus for the snow.
4. the North Face Arctic Down Parka
We adore this North Face parka for its lightweight design that doesn’t sacrifice a single degree of warmth, and which is guaranteed to keep you toasty warm even in the dead of winter. It’s also both wind and waterproof, and comes in eight colors to fit your style.
5. farm Rio Black Animal Sky Puffer Jacket
Farm Rio has a bunch of very fun, multi-colored puffer coats to choose from, but this one caught our eye thanks to the robe-like silhouette and bold belt, which we fully plan to repurpose over other outerwear. Plus, because the background of the print is black, it will still go with just about anything in your wardrobe.
7. J.crew Summit Parka In Italian Stadium-cloth Wool
J.Crew is one of our absolute favorite places to pick up classic, quality outerwear, and this faux-fur trimmed parka is definitely at the top of our list. It comes in five beautiful colors and is guaranteed to keep you nice and warm even in mid-February’s frost. (P.S. The faux-fur is also removeable if that’s not really your style.)
8. The North Face 1996 Retro Nuptse Jacket
We’re over the moon that this throwback style is back en vogue, whether you were first introduced to the Nupste trough Biggie Smalls or Conrad Anker. But what’s even better about the 2021 version is that it is one of the brands most eco-friendly designs to date and is made from 100 percent recycled fabrics.
9. Madewell Courton Cocoon Coat In Plaid
This cozy wool coat plays off the shacket silhouette without actually looking too trendy. Which means you’ll get far more use out of it in the years to come, wearing it with everything from jeans and sweatshirts to sleek leather pants and sparkly tops.
11. Bernardo Softy Glam Ecoplume Packable Puffer Coat
The diagonal quilting on this puffer coat help emphasize (or create the illusion of) an itty-bitty waist. But the real reason we adore this coat is because of the hidden inner zip which makes it look like a coat with double layers without adding any bulk.
15. L.l.bean Classic Lambswool Duffel Coat
We adore the classic toggle closures down the front of this wool coat, but we also love the hidden inner zipper, which makes it much easier to get in and out of your jacket. The inside is lined with a layer of Thinsulate insulation to keep you warm, even if you wind up in an unexpected rain storm.
19. Asos Curve Faux-leather Spliced Trench Coat
This two-tone coat is surprisingly warm, thanks to the faux-leather back, but we still suggest layering it over other warm layers to really keep you cozy. That said, it is a mighty cute option that works for multiple seasons, making is a must-have in our humble opinion.
20. Stoic Shell Anorak
For those who prefer a pullover design, we highly recommend this affordable topper by Stoic. The benefit of an anorak cut is that no snow or rain can sneak in through your zipper or collar, plus you’ll look mighty cool as you hit the ski slopes (or the grocery store) in color-blocked style.
22. J.crew Flurry Puffer Jacket With Primaloft
A plain black puffer is always a good investment, but we’re much less likely to grow tired of a springy floral print, like this super-warm Liberty number. (P.S. Don’t forget to pick up the matching puffer pants as well for the coziest winter look ever.)
23. 66 North Thorisjökull
Best for truly frigid locations, this heavy-duty parka is surprisingly lightweight as well as entirely waterproof. The hood is detachable if you’d rather sport a hat or ski helmet and the inner lining is a logo-adorned print that fits right in with the current logo-mania trend.
26. Backcountry Oksfjord Down Parka
For those who constantly complain about cold legs, we suggest picking up a longer puffer, like this quilted design by Backcountry. It comes with an adjustable hood and a zipper that goes both ways so you can give your legs more wiggle room if necessary, or zip it all the way through for maximum warmth.