Active Clothing

‘I Live Where It’s Literally Always Freezing, and These Are the Best Winter Coats for Extreme Cold’

Photo: Stocksy /Boris Jankovich
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When you either live a really cold place, or are vacationing in a really cold place, women's winter coats for extreme cold are essential. There's cold places and then there's really cold places. I, for one, live in a really cold place. Lake Placid, New York is a small tourist town tucked away in upstate New York. Not, like, the Castkills upstate. Like, Canadian border upstate. Come winter, temps regularly hit below freezing. The icy, snowy weather mixed with the access to mountains and elevation have landed it not one, but two winter Olympic games. Simply put, the place is freakin' cold.

Best winter coats at a glance

Living in what is effectively the tundra, I have learned to dress for such volatile weather. And while things like snow boots and fleece-lined leggings are very-much needed, the one essential I recommend for keeping out the chill is a winter coat for the extreme cold. It's a non-negotiable. And not just any old winter coat but the right winter coat—these are the pieces that keep you warm when the temps hit the negatives or keep you dry when a snow squall blows through during your casual evening stroll.

If you're gearing up for a long, chilly winter and are in the market for a new coat, you've come to the right place. Take it from someone who lives in a cold place—these are the best women's winter coats for the extreme cold.

The best women's winter coats for the extreme cold

Best overall: Patagonia Down With It Parka — $329.00

This is my go-to parka that I’ll toss on for running errands, walking the dog, weekend getaways—just about anything. It comes down to your knees, which, IMO, is perfect parka length. As for the specs: It’s filled with a recycled 600-fill down that’s warm without being stuffy or chunky, so you can layer in comfort. If you’re looking for a solid overall pick, this is a solid bet.

What customers say: “I love this coat for everyday life in really cold conditions… if I’m wearing this, I know I’ll be warm. And if it’s snowing, I’ve got the hood. Cozy and not too bulky. Love it,” — Patagonia customer

Norden Mia Cire Puffer
Best short puffer: Norden Mia Cire Puffer — $109.00

This short puffer from Norden is super warm and the right length to so you can move around easily. It’s lined and insulated and has an adjustable hem so you can cinch it to keep the warmth in. The pockets are micro-polar lined, and there’s a lined inner pocket to store your phone, too. The jacket is designed to withstand temperatures down to -13 degrees Fahrenheit.

But it’s also sustainable—the brand uses repurposed and recycled materials with manufactured in partnership with eco-friendly organizations, then packs them in biodegradable shipping materials. It’s warm and good for the planet, making it well worth the money.

What customers say: “I own a few puffers but this one is my favourite. I love that it falls perfectly on the hip and the colour compliments any outfit,” —Norden customer

Canada Goose Shelburne Water Resistant Down Parka
Best splurge: Canada Goose Shelburne Water Resistant Down Parka — $1,295.00

This water-resistant Canada Goose parka may be pricey, but is loaded with features to keep you warm. It has a 625-fill-power down insulation, has a removable extended hood trim, and snap closures on the cuffs and the back to lock in heat. It has interior and exterior pockets, as well as handy backpack straps inside that let you carry your jacket hands-free.

What customers say: “Who knew a PARKA could look so good on? Now I see why this Canada Goose parka is so popular, it doesn’t make you look big and bulky which is hard to do with a heavy winter coat. It is very stylish,” — Nordstrom customer

Best under $200: L.L. Bean Women's Mountain Classic Down Parka — $189.00

You can’t beat L.L.Bean for affordable, high-quality winter coats. The Mountain Classic Down Parka is filled with 650-fill DownTek down insulation that’s rated for temps down to 10 degrees. The recycled shell repels moisture and stops the wind chill, too, without clumping the down or getting it wet. For less than $200, this jacket is a winner.

What customers say: “Love this coat! It is lovely and warm, fits very well and doesn’t feel like I am a Michelin man. It covers my entire torso to mid thigh and has lots of thoughtful details that make it so convenient,” — L.L.Bean customer

Best with faux fur hood: WenVen Women's Winter Thicken Puffer Coat — $83.00

This jacket has more than 1,775 5-star reviews, thanks to its snuggly fill, thigh-length design, and added fur-trim parka. It’s crafted to be totally sealed against cold temps and has a thick layer of insulation for protection and warmth, plus a double enclosure and windproof ribbed cuffs to keep the chill out. It’s also waterproof.

What customers say: “I live in Cleveland, Ohio and weather can get really bad here in the winter. but when I wore this jacket I didn’t worry about how cold it was. It kept me hot the whole winter… I would highly recommend it,” — Amazon customer

Orolay Down Jacket
Best on Amazon: Orolay Thickened Down Jacket — $88.00

This jacket, nicknamed “the Amazon coat,” has been the star of many an Instagram feed. It’s affordable, stylish, and warm. It has a fleece-lined hood, side zippers to let you wear it looser, and so many roomy pockets (six) that you’ll almost never need to carry a bag again.

What customers say: “SO WARM. So stylish! I am so in love with this coat. It seems very well put together and heavy and sturdy. I am usually a size L/XL in everything and the large fits perfectly with the zippers up on the sides. It gets a bit narrow around the hips but it’s adjustable so it’s fine! Absolutely love this coat,” — Amazon customer

Arc'teryx Thorium Parka
Best full-length: Arc'teryx Thorium Parka — $455.00

If you do live in a place where temps frequent below zero, I would recommend investing in an Arc’teryx jacket. The brand is beloved for all-things cold-weather, and while expensive, their products are worth it.

The Thorium is a full-length parka with an insulated hood and the whole coat is insulated with responsibly-sourced goose down to keep you warm from head to toes. It’s lightweight and has a water-resistant exterior, too.

No reviews yet

Best down alternative: Columbia Women's Suttle Mountain long — $160.00

The Columbia’s Suttle Mountain Long Insulated Jacket has a heat-reflective lining and a synthetic down lining. For light snow, rain, and wind, this toasty coat is a no-brainer. Plus, it’s feature-friendly, with extras like a sherpa-lined hood (to keep your ears snug) and a 2-way zipper that can allow for better mobility.

What customers say:I bough this coat this past weekend and got to use it these last few days as it’s been pretty cold and windy here in Chicago. So far so good. It has kept me warm and I honestly love how flattering it looks as long as you get the correct sizing,” — Columbia customer

 

Helly Hansen Powchaser Lifaloft Insulated Jacket
Best insulated for snow sports: Helly Hansen Powchaser Lifaloft Insulated Jacket — $245.00

This jacket has everything you want out of a resort or backcountry jacket—reliable insulation that doesn’t compromise movement, an exterior that actually stops moisture in its tracks, a helmet-compatible hood, underarm vents, pockets for hands-free storage, and more.

No reviews yet

Stio Environ Jacket
Best shell jacket for snow sports: Stio Environ Jacket — $326.00

Waterproof and breathable, the Stio Environ jacket is made with recycled fabric and will keep you dry and warm on the mountain. It has a removable hood, underarm vents, pockets inside and out, and a snow skirt for those long days on the slopes or tubing hills.

What customers say: “Super comfortable and great for layering on the cold days but also provides the perfect protection with a simple base layer. I ordered a size up to comfortable layer and still be able to move on the mountain,” — Stio customer

The North Face 1996 Retro Nuptse Jacket
Best retro: The North Face 1996 Retro Nuptse Jacket — $320.00

Throw it back to the ’90s, 1996 to be exact, which is when the original version of this puffer was introduced. This version still has that retro look, but with modern touches. It’s made of recycled fabrics, and has 700-fill down, a water-repellent exterior, and a stowable hood. The jacket also packs itself into the right hand pocket.

What customers say: “This jacket is perfect. So warm yet fitted and not bulky. I would highly recommend,” — The North Face customer

Prana Hellbore Jacket
Best cropped: Prana Hellbore Jacket — $156.00

If you’re on the opposite spectrum and like a cropped fit, check out the Hellbore jacket by Prana. Like all of Prana’s products, it’s eco-friendly, ensuring the down is responsibly sourced, while meeting the bluesign ethical manufacturing standards.

It’s snug, but just note—it is a bit boxy. There is an adjustable drawstring at the hood and hem for you to customize your fit though, so if you do prefer a slimmer look, pull that baby tight.

What customers say: “This jacket is warm and light and delicious to wear! The fit is true to size, and I get compliments on it everywhere I go… I am so happy that I bought it, and look forward to wearing it for a long time,” — Prana customer

Athleta Whisper Featherless Parka
Best quilted: Athleta Whisper Featherless Parka — $229.00

Not everyone likes the Jet Puff fluffernutter look of a down jacket. That’s okay—you can get something slim that still stays warm, like this parka from Athleta. Instead of down, it’s filled with a lightweight alternative to traditional feather fluff. The result is a featherlight coat that is quietly cozy without overdoing it.

What customers say: “Love the weight of this jacket, cuddly and cozy but lightweight. Fit is generous without being too much and the fabric is beautiful and soft. And it has a double zipper! Unzips from top and bottom, only good quality outerwear has this anymore. Love this jacket, very happy,” — Athleta customer.

Outdoor Research Women's Carbide Jacket
Best waterproof: Outdoor Research Women's Carbide Jacket — $179.00

This award-winning jacket is built for the slopes but can be worn just well off them, too. It’s made with three sturdy layers of waterproof protection that keep you dry and warm (but never sweaty or sticky). Just note, It’s technically a shell which means it’s made for layering and keeping your clothes dry from wind, rain, and snow (aka, layer up).

What customers say: “For skiing, which I do a lot, I prefer a shell so to have full control of the layers underneath. This jacket is perfect for early and late season on the mountain. It’s thinner and lighter than my mid-winter, harsh weather shell, and the powder skirt is partially mesh which, again, is perfect for those warmer days,” — Outdoor Research customer.

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2 Hooded Down Jacket
Best packable: Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2 Hooded Down Jacket — $211.00

Like its name suggests, this down puffy from Mountain Hardwear packs down in a pinch, so you’ll forget anything’s there. Seriously—it weights under 8 ounces, meaning it’s perfect for indoor and outdoor adventures alike.

What customers say: “It’s so lightweight yet so dang warm and toasty when it’s freezy; yet is not too bulky or hot when temps are mild. It’s the absolute perfect jacket for backpacking/camping because it weighs and packs down to nothing,” — Backcountry customer

On Insulator Jacket
Best for running: On Insulator Jacket — $300.00

The outside of this jacket is a weather-resistant material that sloughs off rain, sleet, and snow. But the inside features a wool insulator designed to keep you snug as a bug whether you’re running up a mountain or down the road. It’s airy and durable, built to stay to warm stride after stride.

What customers say: Loving this jacket. Stylish and useful for daily and jogging. Light yet warmer than the weather jacket,” — On customer

Best mid-length: Noize Meg Long-Length Parka — $162.00

Noize is a one-stop shop for all things cruelty free, eco-friendly, and sustainably-made. This mid-length heavyweight parka does a darn good job keeping the cold out when the temps drop. In true Noize fashion, there’s no bird feathers or animal fur—everything is vegan, so you can look good and feel good, too.

What reviews say: “Love the entire make of this parka… It’s really stylish and will go with literally anything. It feels like a warm heavy blanket on you and I love the hood too!! 10/10 recommend,” — Noize customer

Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket
Best sustainable: Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket — $206.00

Cotopaxi is a certified B Corp, which means ethical sustainability is built into all of their products. This down jacket is not only warm, water-resistant, and lightweight, but it’s also made with responsibly-sourced down. It has elastic binding at the hood and cuffs to keep heat inside, and it comes in three colorful patterns. One percent of company revenues also goes to the Cotopaxi Foundation to help alleviate poverty.

What reviews say: “This is the warmest jacket ever. It is incredibly lightweight and extremely comfortable. I would highly recommend not to mention how many compliments I receive when wearing it and how many people ask me what the brand is,” — Cotopaxi customer

Marmot Highlander Down Jacket
Best lightweight: Marmot Highlander Down Jacket — $112.00

Fashionable but totally functional, this Marmot jacket lets you stay warm without much bulk. It has 700-fill down insulation and a weather-resistant fabric, and zippered pockets help keep your valuables safe.

What customers say: “Fit is true to size. Lightweight but very warm. Does not make me look like the Michelin man like other down jackets!” — Backcountry customer

Everlane The ReNew Long Puffer
Best casual: Everlane The ReNew Long Puffer — $174.00

This long puffer is versatile and casual enough to pair of jeans or joggers, so you’ll want to wear it all season long. It has a drawstring hood and drawstring waist, and oversized front pockets for convenience. Bonus: It’s also made of recycled fabric and filled with recycled primaloft insulation.

What customers say: “This coat was exactly what I was looking for! I wore it while visiting Montreal last weekend and it kept me warm, even during long stretches of walking around in the snow. I felt really stylish and the pockets are super spacious,” —Everlane customer

lululemon Wunder Puff Jacket
Best color: lululemon Wunder Puff Jacket — $298.00

This puffer has a cinchable waist so you can pull it in tight, or leave extra room to layer underneath. It’s water-repellent and has a removable hood, and it comes in 11 different colors so you’re sure to find something to match your wardrobe or mood.

What customers say: “Love this jacket. It looks so cool on and is really comfortable. The material is soft and it’s cosy and warm. I feel like I’m wrapped up in my duvet when I wear it,” —lululemon customer

J. Crew New Cocoon Coat
Best wool: J. Crew New Cocoon Coat — $375.00

A classic wool coat is a closet essential. This one from J. Crew is made with wool/nylon blend and has a cocoon style that will wrap you in cozy warmth. It’s lined, has a standing collar, and flat welt pockets for a sleek, stylish look.

What customers say: “So happy I snagged this coat—it fits well (tts for me—I was worried I should have sized down, but it’s perfect). The fabric and shape are gorgeous and classic. Definitely recommend,” —J. Crew customer

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