Active Clothing

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

Francesca Krempa

Photo: Stocksy /Boris Jankovich
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.

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 — $299.00

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

Best splurge

Norden, Rozamund Cire Puffer — $525.00

If you’re going to drop big bucks on a warm jacket, I highly recommend this long puffer from Norden. For starters, it’s warm—the outer and lining are made from a rip stop nylon to block the wind, while the fill is plush polyfill that’s warm down to -4 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.

No customer reviews yet

Best under $200

L.L. Bean, Women's Mountain Classic Down Parka — $179.00

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 on Amazon

WenVen, Women's Winter Thicken Puffer Coat — $82.00

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

Best for freezing temperatures

Arc'teryx, Sensa Parka — $599.00

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 Sensa features the brand’s warmest blend of synthetic insulation without being bulky or puffy. The sleek, slim silhouette makes it stylish enough to use as an everyday jacket, while the technical features (that fill2-layer GORE-TEX fabric, breathable fabrics) are enough to keep you cozy when it starts to freeze.

What customers say: “When I got this, I thought – ‘there is no way this is going to be warm enough because it feels thin.’ I was so wrong. It’s the most lightweight and warm winter coat I have ever owned,” — Arc’teryx customer

Best budget

Columbia, Women's Suttle Mountain long — $160.00

Another budget-friendly option is Columbia’s Suttle Mountain Long Insulated Jacket. 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

 

Best for snow sports

Patagonia, Insulated Powder Bowl Jacket — $479.00

Scour any “best of” lists for snow and ski jackets and you’re sure to see the Powder Bowl. It has everything you want out of a resort or backcountry jacket—reliable insulation that doesn’t compromise movement, GORE-TEX fabric that actually stops moisture in its tracks, tons of pockets for hands-free storage, and more.

The $479 price tag isn’t cheap by any means, but it is a quality product that’ll keep you warm, dry, and comfortable on the slopes.

What customers say: “The Powder Bowl jacket is my new go-to on any ski day! I throw a better sweater layer under it on colder days, or just rock it with a base layer on a warmer day (plenty of those this season). I love the fit of this jacket, it is a slender fit and is long enough to hit me just below the hip,” — Backcountry customer

Best maxi coat

The North Face, Triple C Parka — $350.00

For fans of the all-over sleeping bag feel of a maxi-coat, I recommend The North Face Triple C Parka. It’s packed with 550-fill responsibly-sourced down which is warm and cozy, especially with the extra length. While long and puffy, it’s not marshmallow-y and still gives you a silhouette.

What customers say: “This parka is both stylish and comfortable. Not to mention it is extremely warm during cold nights. I was nervous buying it at first but I’m so glad because now it my go to jacket during the winter,” — The North Face customer

Best cropped coat

Prana, Hellbore Jacket — $239.00

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

Best quilted coat

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.

Best waterproof coat

Outdoor Research, Women's Carbide Jacket — $299.00

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.

Most packable

Mountain Hardwear, Ghost Whisperer 2 Hooded Down Jacket — $325.00

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

Best for running

On, Insulator Jacket — $299.00

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

Most eco-friendly

Noize, Meg Long-Length Parka — $270.00

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

Most stylish

Backcountry, Stansbury Down Hooded Jacket — $160.00

Fashionable but totally functional, this colorblock coat by Backcountry wins for “Most stylish.” As for warmth, it’s packed with 750-fill goose down that packs down when you need it to be compact and stuffed away. As for style, I love simple design is elevated by a trendy color palette that’s sure to stand out on and off the slopes.

What customers say: Love the look and fit of this jacket. It has a nice matte finish, big hood (with ability to cinch down for a tighter fit), and a nice cuff design. Ordered the Orion Blue and it’s beautiful in person!” — Backcountry customer

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