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Best Winter Jackets for Extreme Cold 

Whether extreme cold is a typical part of your winter living or just your outdoor pursuits, having the proper clothing is an important part of staying warm. Probably the most essential piece is a winter coat for freezing temperatures. But not all winter coats are created equal.

The North Face McMurdo Parka gets our top rating for best overall winter jacket for the coldest temperatures. A great winter jacket, this parka is warm, keeps you dry, and has extra features for the price point.

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6 Best Jackets for Extreme Cold 

Best Overall Jacket for Extreme Cold – North Face McMurdo Parka

best-winter-jackets-for-extreme-cold
Image by The North Face

Specs:

  • Insulation: Down
  • Fill Power: 600
  • DryVent 2L 100% recycled nylon for water and wind protection
  • Draft flap
  • Multiple secure pockets

An expedition-grade jacket without the price, this parka is our top pick for a winter jacket for extreme cold and weather. A windproof jacket—check—a waterproof shell—check. The two-layer DryVent™ fabric offers breathable and waterproof protection with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) Care finish to repel wet snow and other moisture.

The 600-fill power-down insulation offers warmth in cold temperatures. A two-way front zipper with a draft flap offers additional defense against cold wind and other elements. Hook and loop cuff tabs and an adjustable drawcord hood secure the coat to the body for a barrier against the bitter cold.

A relaxed fit allows for layering underneath. One thing that the coat is missing to keep out the cold is a draw cord for the hem. Two secure inner chest pockets and dual-entry front pockets keep keys, lip balm, and cell phones secure and dry. Both men’s and women’s versions offer a removable faux fur hood trim.

Best Luxury Jacket for Extreme Cold – Canada Goose Expedition Parka

best-winter-jackets-for-extreme-cold
Image by Canada Goose

Specs:

  • Insulation: Down
  • Fill Power: 625
  • Oversized for layering
  • Nine pockets to store essentials
  • Customizable hood

When you think high-end, Canada Goose comes to mind with products built to keep anyone warm in the extreme cold weather of Canada. Scientists in Antarctica designed the Canada Goose Expedition Parka to withstand temperatures of as low as -5°F (-20°C). The fit of this Arctic parka hits mid-thigh.

With 625 down fill power, this coat is extremely warm and water resistant. An interior drawcord at the waist, a snow skirt, and a storm flap underneath the main zipper keeps the elements out. Velcro closures over the two-way zipper help regulate temperature and allow for freedom of movement.

A customizable hood trim and multiple colorways help you look fashionable no matter the temperature. Six exterior and three interior pockets fit gloves, keys, and other essentials. If the expedition parka is too much for everyday wear, the Canada Goose Langford Parka is a good alternative.

Best Budget Extreme-Cold Jacket – REI Co-Op Stormhenge Down Hybrid Jacket

best-winter-jackets-for-extreme-cold
Image by REI

Specs:

  • HydroWall two-layer waterproof, breathable nylon shell
  • Mapped hybrid insulation
  • Helmet-friendly adjustable insulated hood
  • Pit zips for temperature control
  • Internal pockets and hand pockets

This hybrid jacket features a mix of down and synthetic insulation, making it versatile for wet and dry cold conditions. It has a fully seamed HydroWall two-layer waterproof and breathable nylon shell, along with DWR-treated down to resist wet environments.

Insulation is mapped to the body, with synthetic insulation in those areas of heat production and hot spots for moisture, while 800-fill goose down makes the coat warm and compressible. Pit zips allow for additional temperature adjustment along with an easy-to-manipulate hem and hood.

Baffles eliminate cold spots while seam-free shoulders help the jacket withstand wear and tear. The relaxed fit allows you to choose what to wear underneath. Available in a range of sizes and colors, this winter jacket also comes in a longer parka version in women.

Best Versatile Extreme-Cold Jacket – Rab Neutrino Pro

best-winter-jackets-for-extreme-cold
Image by Rab

Specs:

  • Insulation: Down
  • Fill Power: 800
  • 20D recycled Pertex Quantum Pro ripstop nylon for water and wind resistance
  • Anatomic arm baffles for freedom of movement
  • Adjustable hood for use with helmet
  • YKK® zipped internal chest pocket and two YKK® zipped hand pockets

From the outdoor apparel company Rab, the Neutrino Pro is a great jacket no matter what you’re doing—from shoveling snow to snowshoeing. Versatile for a variety of activities, this coat for extreme cold features 800-fill goose down and 20D recycled Pertex Quantum Pro ripstop nylon for durable water and wind resistance.

We love this jacket for its properties that keep you warm without the bulk. Allowing for freedom of movement, the anatomically designed arm baffles allow for freedom of movement. An adjustable hood allows for helmets.

Weather protection is traded a bit for breathability, but the two-way zipper can help with that, along with making the fit of a harness or backpack more comfortable. Velcro adjustable cuffs help keep the elements out. Taller wearers will appreciate the longer drop hem. When not in use, pack it away in a small drawstring bag.

Best Extreme-Cold Jacket for Outdoor Pursuits – Patagonia Micro Puff Storm

best-winter-jackets-for-extreme-cold
Image by Patagonia

Specs:

  • Two-layer H2No waterproof/breathable outer fabric
  • 90-gram PlumaFill insulation
  • RECCO® reflector for avalanche protection
  • Insulated hood compatible with multiple helmet styles
  • Generous-sized pockets

The Patagonia Micro Puff Storm has the features one looks for in a cold-weather jacket made for active outdoor adventure. The perfect combination of 100% recycled waterproof shell with PlumaFill Synthetic insulation, this lightweight jacket is ideal for changing winter weather.

The adjustable storm gasket at the hem keeps snow and cold from creeping in. Elasticized cuffs offer additional protection from the weather. The regular fit allows you to pair it with your favorite wicking base layers.

Mesh pockets disperse moisture and heat. Two zip hand-warmer pockets fit skins, a ski adjustment tool, and other must-haves. The insulated hood is compatible with a helmet—whether it is a ski helmet or a climbing helmet—and the firm brim keeps out blowing snow and wind. The jacket also features a RECCO® reflector for backcountry safety.

Best Work Wear Extreme-Cold Jacket – Carhartt Montana Loose Fit Insulated Jacket

best-winter-jackets-for-extreme-cold
Image by Carhartt

Specs:

  • Insulation: Synthetic
  • Rain Defender® DWR finish
  • Wind Fighter® technology for wind protection
  • Drawcord hem and hood for extra coverage
  • Inner and outer pockets

Carhartt is known for its durable line of products when you need to get stuff done no matter the task or conditions. Their Montana Loose Fit Insulated Jacket was built for extreme cold-weather protection with 100% recycled polyester faux-down insulation and a Rain Defender® DWR finish.

The sherpa fleece lining offers comfort while retaining heat for regulated body temperature. Wind Fighter® technology takes on any cold gusts while working outdoors. A drawcord adjustable hood and drop tail hem keep cold air and moisture from seeping in. Storm cuffs at the wrist close off the glove and jacket gap.

Inner and outer pockets offer plenty of storage for that stud finder or other tools. One of the warmest coats in their lineup, the Carhartt Montana Loose Fit Insulated Jacket is available in a wide range of sizes in both regular and tall. The comparable women’s version is the Montana Puffer Jacket.

Tips for Buying a Jacket for Extreme Cold 

From the frozen tundra to the alpine, finding a jacket for extreme cold weather doesn’t have to be an extreme challenge. With insulation being the main factor, look for higher fill counts for down coats or synthetic insulation that will meet your needs temperature rating-wise.

Each jacket will also have additional features, from a two-way zipper to DWR finishes, for durability, warmth, and functionality. Find those extras that set the jacket apart for your own personal application.

Materials 

Look for materials that offer the most weather resistance, including Gore-Tex and other waterproof membranes or DWR for water resistance. Some jackets feature more durable materials to keep the jacket performing for years to come no matter the level of usage.

Insulation

Insulation is the most important feature of extreme cold weather. The warmest jackets will be made from down or synthetic insulation. Synthetic insulation does better in wet weather, while down is lighter and more packable.

Features 

Features should add to the jacket’s ability to keep the wearer warm in the coldest environments. These may include an adjustable hood to tighten around the face, cuffs you can velcro or cinch down, and a longer hem to cover the waist. 

Are you looking for a new hiking jacket? Check out our list of suggestions.

Fit 

A proper fit can help maintain warming properties. The jacket should not restrict movement but should also not be too loose or have excessive bulk.

Allow room for layering. Hem length should hit below the waist. Sleeves should fully cover the wrists. 

Also check out our guide to layering for winter hikes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What materials and insulation should I look for in an extreme-cold jacket? 

For extreme cold, choose a jacket that is both windproof and waterproof for the coldest of conditions. Insulation should have a high fill power.

Is there a difference between synthetic and down insulation?

Yes. While both have great insulating properties, down insulation is made from the undercoating of waterfowl. Down loses insulating properties when wet.

Synthetic is often made from recycled polyester fibers and maintains warmth even when wet. It is bulkier and compresses less than down.

Learn more about down vs synthetic jackets.

What features do I want in an extreme cold jacket? 

For optimal warmth and weather protection, look for features that help keep warmth in and the elements out. These features include adjustable cuffs, a hem, and a hood to tighten or loosen.  

How should I care for my winter jacket? 

The best way to care for your winter jacket is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Wash it with a specific detergent for the material construction to remove dirt. Repair damage as soon as possible. Store in a cool, dry place.

Recap: Best Winter Jackets for Extreme Cold 

Start by looking at the insulation when looking for the best winter jacket for extreme weather conditions. If you live in wetter conditions or plan to use the jacket for skiing or other winter activities, synthetic insulation may be a better choice than down.

The North Face McMurdo Parka is our go-to as one of the best winter jackets for extreme cold. Not only does it feature a high fill count, but the jacket also offers additional details for keeping warm, including a two-way zipper with a storm flap and drawcord hood.

For any winter jacket made for extreme weather, you can expect to pay more because of the heavier-duty materials, additional features that keep the warmth in, and durability. Keep in mind that the best jacket is the jacket that keeps you warm.

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