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I’ve collected my fair share of coats and jackets throughout the years. Bomber, chore, Chesterfield, trucker, trench, biker: You name a style, and I probably have it. My collection is vast and diverse; I have plenty of options, each suited for a given season and occasion. For winter, when the temperature drops to a debilitating degree and the streets are blanketed in snow, there are only three coats that suffice.
The first is a long parka from Canada Goose. When I look out my window and see a squall or hear Al Roker say that a storm is looming, this is the option I reach for instantly. The extremely durable outer shell, made of a water-resistant polymer, and the incredibly insulating goose down keep me warm and dry like none other. What’s more, the tailored silhouette is so flattering, allowing me to walk into the office with style. The second is a black puffer jacket from The North Face, the same one I wore when I was kid, only bigger. I’m a product of the ’90s, and I’m from the Bronx, which means I was conditioned to believe that it’s simply the coolest. Gucci agrees with me. Last is a big brown hoodless fur from Dennis Basso. Though exceptionally warm and cozy, it’s the most impractical of the lot, especially when it snows. I wear this one on cold winter days when the sky is clear. It also allows me to show off my collection of beanies. Yes, I have a lot of those, too.
As you can surmise, the best winter coats are all about combating bitter gusts, sleet and the all-around chill that the season is known for. They need to protect you from inclement weather and retain as much body heat as possible. Styles padded with goose down or lined with shearling are excellent. Top that off with a sturdy shell—preferably treated leather, nylon or any polymer that’s water- and abrasion-resistant—and you can rest assured that your suit will stay dry. But don’t forget that it also has to look good. Thankfully, there are brands that specialize in outerwear, hitting all these points with aplomb, which we’ve gathered below. Some started out in mountaineering and Alpine sports, others as fashion labels, but all have styles that’ll more than suffice come winter.
Most Durable Coat
Ask most arctic explorers what brand they prefer, and they’ll likely extol the virtues of Canada Goose. For over six decades, the outwear label—first called Metro Sportswear, then Snow Goose—has been churning out styles built for the most adverse conditions. They act as a fortress, the ultimate protective barrier in the harshest of winters. Case in point: the Citadel Fusion Fit parka. The shell is made of Arctic Tech, the brand’s extremely durable and water-resistant proprietary fabric, and the lining is stuffed with 625-fill power down. And if that isn’t enough, the silhouette is streamlined, perfect for walking down city streets.
Most Versatile Coat
Patagonia was founded in the ’70s by Yvon Chouinard, a rock climber who understood what was needed to combat the elements. Throughout the decades, the brand continues to live up to his legacy, amassing a vast assortment of styles primed for the coldest environments. Any one of its insulated outerwear will work great, but the hottest commodity, the coat that sells out regularly, is the Tres 3-in-1 parka. Why? Perhaps because you’re getting three toppers for the price of one: a waterproof shell, an insulating zip-out jacket with 700-fill power down and a breathable liner—all of which detach. Perhaps it’s because of the magnetic snap-flap closures. Or that it’s sustainably made. The right answer: all of the above.
Best Heavy-Duty Coat
Massimo Rossetti is a sportsman and avid explorer. He’s traveled the world, from trekking through the deep forests of Iceland to sailing the high seas. But it was his time in Anchorage, Alaska, meeting the 210th Rescue Squadron, that inspired him to create Parajumpers. The officers take to the skies in helicopters, outfitted in heavy-duty uniforms equipped with hooks, clips and other details that aid in their missions—something Rossetti wanted to bring to the masses. This down jacket, for example, features bungee-style fastenings, lanyard clasps and adjustable velcro tabs on the cuff. Most importantly, the jacket is incredibly insulating. It’s as close to what servicemen wear in the tundra as it’s going to get.
Most Eye-Catching Jacket
Aether’s coats all have a cinematic quality; they draw the eye instantly. This should come as no surprise, considering that the brand was founded by Palmer West and Jonah Smith, two erstwhile movie producers. The duo makes it a point to offer styles that push the boundaries of design, playing with colors and fabrics, all while keeping the silhouettes sleek. Their Torino coat is a great example of this sentiment. It comes in a striking red color with black panels and is cut to flatter. What’s more, the jacket is waterproof, wind-resistant, abrasion-resistant and seam-sealed. It’s a star.
Best Reversible Jacket
Nobis is a brand that emphasizes performance, offering outerwear that is meticulously constructed to keep you warm while allowing you to move with ease. Its Oliver puffer, for one, is made of a three-ply micro denier exterior, a nylon that’s as lightweight as its hardwearing. It’s also water-resistant, windproof, breathable and machine washable. And if all this isn’t enough, the jacket is completely reversible, with one side puffy and the other smooth.
Best Fitted Jacket
Arc’teryx’s coats are rock solid. In fact, Rock Solid was the company’s original name before it rebranded itself in 1991. Several years later, it introduced a line made of Gore-Tex, a breathable, waterproof fiber that’s now become an industry standard. As a leader in outdoor apparel, pieces specially made for harsh conditions, Arc’teryx has always been ahead of the curve. It offers styles, like this jacket, that are incredibly insulating, protective and sharply tailored. It’s the kind of topper that’s great for trekking, strolling and everything in between.
Most Unique Jacket
If you’re a techwear enthusiast or true fashion lover, C.P. Company needs no introduction. But here’s a refresher: Massimo Osti founded the company in 1971, gaining renown by infusing military-style construction into everyday wear. He was one of the first to experiment with fabrics, paying close attention to the technical aspects of a garment and how it performed in the real world. This jacket definitely lives up to this reputation. It’s made of quilted ripstop, a polyamide that’s both water- and abrasion-resistant, and padded with down—which is surprisingly not so common when it comes to winter coats. But as we all know, C.P. Company doesn’t do common.
Most Ergonomic Jacket
A decade after founding C.P. Company, Massimo Osti (the man truly deserves more recognition) created Stone Island. He brought the same technical prowess to the secondary line, but experimented more with dyeing and creating colors that gave garments greater dimension. They were also more ergonomic, allowing wearers to move with ease. Now under the direction of Carlo Rivetti, the brand continues to offer the same kind of quality, evidenced by this lightweight but completely insulating puffer.
Sleekest Puffer Jacket
Visit any lodge in Montbeliard, Aspen or Cortina D’Ampezzo, and you’re bound to see a bevy and puffers from Moncler. Founded in the ’50s, the storied brand has become synonymous with high-end skiing, a label that imparts instant cachet. Its renown is rooted in unquestionable quality; every stitch and placement of panels is carefully considered, and the materials are always the best of the best. Not to be outdone is the brand’s signature glossy surface and the sleekness of its designs. They may be built for the slopes, but they work just as great, if not better, for walking down the streets in winter.
Best Classic Coat
Woolrich is as classic as they come. The company has been in business for over two centuries—a tremendous feat to achieve in an industry that sees brands come and go at a rapid rate. The key to Woolrich’s longevity? It doesn’t offer flash-in-the-pan styles. It offers stalwarts, pieces that, no matter the era, will always be de rigueur. But this doesn’t mean the brand doesn’t evolve with the times. In fact, it continuously improves its fabrics and how they are constructed. A great example is Woolrich’s iconic Arctic anorak, which is made of its signature Ramar Cloth, a water-resistant and wind-resistant material that’s incredibly durable. Factor in the detachable fur trim on the hood and pockets lined with Polygiene ViralOff, a material that kills viruses, and you have a coat that’ll last a lifetime.
Most Elegant Puffer Coat
Mackage offers an assortment of styles for every season, but it specializes in coats for winter. Indeed, the brand is not lacking in parkas, bombers, and puffers. There are plenty to choose from. But the one that tops our list is the Antoine, a down coat with an elegant nylon exterior that’s made to resist wind and water. The construction is near faultless, and the streamlined silhouette wraps around without adding too much bulk. It also features a detachable bib, which will come in handy when you get in a snowstorm.
Best Oversized Coat
Rick Owens, Paris Fashion Week’s reigning prince of darkness, is renowned for his forward-thing designs. He toys with proportions and fabrics, elevating standard styles to new heights. Prime example: This Peter coat, with its oversized silhouette that mimics a duvet. Yes, its large and enveloping, but if you’re the kind of fella that likes to make a statement with fashion, Owens, in more ways than one, has got you covered.
Coolest Puffer Jacket
The North Face’s jackets are street-style icons, worn by a number of celebs. But before it became fodder for the paps, the brand’s goose-downs—noted for their boxy shape—was a mainstay in ’90s hip-hop culture. Biggie, Method Man and LL Cool J have all rapped about The North Face it in their tracks, influencing a generation of urban dwellers. In 2021, Gucci seeing The North Face’s hold on the zeitgeist, partnered with the outerwear label on a collection that had many standing on blockbuster lines. It was so fruitful that a sequel just had to happen. It’s a collaboration that instantly imparts luxury and swagger; it’s cool to the core.
Best Shearling Jacket
Overland creates styles made for the Great Outdoors, but look polished enough for urban settings. The brand’s best-selling B-3 Bomber jacket, for one, is made of rich Nappa leather and lined with plush shearling, one of the most insulating materials out there. It also features a detachable hood, buckle details on the collar and elegant top-stitching. It is beautifully brawny. Considering all these characteristics, it’s hard to believe that the topper is only $695. But seeing is believing.
Best Eco-Conscious Coat
When Everlane launched over a decade ago, its goal was to offer quality basics, all sustainably made, at prices that spoke to a broad range of people. Sounds simple enough, but with the market so saturated with brands tooting the same spiel, most of which is smoke and mirrors, Everlane needed to break through the noise. And it did. Now, the label is a juggernaut, with its styles selling out often. One of them is the ReNew parka, a coat made from 55 renewed plastic bottles and filled with Primaloft insulation. It’s so reliable and effective in winter that it’s no wonder it flies off the virtual shelves.