- If you don’t have a parka and you live where the mercury drops below freezing, it’s probably about time you added one to your closet. Winter’s about to get a lot more manageable.
- We tested nearly a dozen parkas, and our favorites come from Triple F.A.T. Goose, Fjällräven, Save the Duck, and L.L.Bean.
A parka is a wintertime essential for much of humankind. Without one, layering enough to stay warm can be a nuisance.
But oh, what a sea of decisions: How thick does it need to be? Do you need the hood to be lined with fur? How do you feel about faux fur? We’re still left to ponder pockets, length, and lining. And what on earth does “fill power” mean? While all of the above may or may not be critical decisions, they’re all things we have to consider.
A parka is something we hope to invest in for the long haul, and a parka that doesn’t last more than a few seasons is, in our humble opinion, not a parka at all.
Here’s what to look for in a parka
Let’s start with the filling, and what fill power means. Measured in cuin, fill power represents how many cubic inches of loft one ounce of a given variety of feather occupies at maximum (unencumbered) loft. 800 fill power is considered to have superior insulating quality, while anything south of 600 starts to become less insulating and also heavier at the same time. Still, fill power does not necessarily tell you how warm a parka might be because it doesn’t denote how heavily packed the down is inside your coat. Some brands, like Triple F.A.T. Goose, do share the contents of their jackets (9 ounces in lighter models, 15.5 ounces in heavier ones).
What the fill power of a down does tell you is how well the quality of a given down traps air and, in effect, warmth. Precious as it may be, a lightweight 800-fill-power down packed lightly and loosely into a jacket might not do nearly as much as a heavier 400-fill-power down stuffed to the edges of each compartment. Another thing to keep in mind, especially for travelers, is that the higher the fill power of a down, the lighter the weight of it by volume, which can result in a lighter jacket overall.
While fill power does dictate something about the quality of a down, what really matters is how densely packed a down is inside the baffles, or the compartments that compose a down jacket. Without those compartments, the down would drop and collect and sag along the hem.
The outer lining of a parka can require a little explanation, too. Parkas are not generally waterproof but water-resistant (treated with wax, DWR, or other coatings), which might come as a shock, but then we don’t generally reach for a parka when it’s raining. We also tend to be active outside when wearing them, and so they need to be a little breathable.
Work up even the slightest sweat and a jacket that thick and warm will quickly do the rest of the sweating for you until you’re unbearably drenched. That said, we’ve worn all of the parkas below in a bit of rain and come out dry, but it’d be best to look for something that’s fully waterproof if you’re spending much of your winter in, 35-degree Fahrenheit rain for any prolonged period of time.
We also have to discuss fur, which is commonly used in trim and lining. Yes, it feels wonderful, and there’s no denying its beauty. But it comes at a high cost in many regards. We’ll get into the sustainability and ethics surrounding fur later on, and in the end, it’s your decision. We’re not judging.
Length is another big concern both for style and function. While it’s stylish to have jackets cropped at the waist or even above the waist, the bomber cut doesn’t necessarily make a whole lot of sense on the functional side of the debate. Still, people on the shorter side often don’t want a jacket that comes down to their calves, while taller folks might look like they’re walking on stilts with a short hem. We’ll leave that to you, too, though.
Here are the best men’s parkas you can buy:
- Best parkas overall: Triple F.A.T. Goose
- Best faux fur parkas: Fjällräven
- Best sustainable parkas: Save the Duck
- Best affordable parkas: L.L. Bean
Updated on 12/23/2019 by Owen Burke: Updated copy, added Save the Duck as a most sustainable option, and adjusted formatting and pricing. After careful editorial consideration (and debate), our editorial team has decided to discontinue our recommendations of fur products. Herein, we’ve recommended fur-free parkas we’ve worn and tested by brands we know and trust. Some of these brands still carry fur, and we’ve linked to their sustainability statements to let you decide where you want to shop (and whether you want to purchase fur). We’ll continue to test more fur- and down-free parkas throughout the winter in our ongoing search for the perfect winter parka.
The best men’s parka overall
- Triple F.A.T. Goose
Triple F.A.T. Goose’s Wyndmeir is plenty warm and waterproof, making it a great all-around pick for both the dead of winter (with a bit of layering) and the shoulder seasons. Although it may not be the most sustainable or the most affordable, the brand’s line of parkas is the most comfortable and best-insulated we’ve tried.
Packed full with 700-fill-power down, Triple F.A.T. Goose‘s line is an Insider Picks favorite, and several of our writers have deemed it their go-to brand for winter parkas.
While the market may be moving away from natural down (and fur, which the brand also offers), Triple F.A.T. Goose is on the relatively responsible side of things when it comes to sourcing down (and arguably fur, too). The brand’s down is never live-plucked or force-fed, and is inspected, tested, and certified by the International Down and Feather Testing Laboratory (IDFL). You can read about the company’s fur and down policy here.
If you’re in a somewhat milder climate like the maritime, the Wyndmeir is not fully waterproof but treated with TFG’s Atmoshell+, and it’s sealed at key seams for better water repellency without compromising breathability. It’s also filled with a less down, leaving some room for layering when it gets really cold.
The best part of the Wyndmeir? It’s much more affordable than most, if not all 700-cuin down parkas. That’s partly because it contains 9 ounces of down compared with other parkas’ 15.5 ounces. It’s hard to contrast this with what other brands offer because they don’t openly advertise the down contents of their parkas. We will say this: Each of the parkas we’ve tested from Triple F.A.T. has been generously endowed with down, and warm as can be.
Pros: As warm as parkas get, TFG offers a wide range of styles and prices on parkas
Cons: Not fully waterproof
The best affordable parka
- L.L. Bean
L.L.Bean’s parkas are made with quality 650-fill down, are rated for temperatures down to 45 degrees below Fahrenheit, and have a waterproof coating for half the price of comparable parkas.
If you’re on a budget (and quite frankly even if you’re not) it’s hard to make a case against L.L. Bean’s parkas. They’re loaded with pockets, windproof and waterproof, and warm as anything.
L.L.Bean tests its parkas in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, which might not be the harshest or coldest place on earth, but for most anyone’s intents and purposes, the brand’s outerwear stands up to the elements and a good deal of wear and tear.
Where sustainability is concerned, L.L.Bean uses DownTek down, which is RDS-certified. And while we don’t know the exact amount of fill, it’s not the heaping amount Triple F.A.T. Goose uses, but it’s plenty to keep you warm.
Our current favorite parka from the brand, the Baxter State Parka, is made overseas, and the company does not let on where, exactly, on the product page, leaving us a little concerned about the amount of social responsibility the company takes on abroad. Also, this is a fairly high-quality jacket for the price, which also suggests they may be cutting some corners, though we can’t say for sure. You can read L.L. Bean’s policies on sustainability here.
With seven exterior pockets and three on the interior, you’ll have no problem fitting everything you need on your person for your daily slump across town to the office or your intrepid wintertime trek up a mountain. Good luck finding everything again, though.
The hood comes with a wire insert that allows you to shape it around your head, which we like a lot, though that’s subjective. You can also just zip the faux fur ruff away and forget about it altogether. We also tried the Maine Mountain Parka, which is similar, and we were very impressed with the quality.
Pros: Affordable price, high-quality and heavily packed down, waterproof (but somewhat breathable)
Cons: Faux fur can be a little ratty (but you can ditch it)
The best faux-fur parka
Fjällräven’s parkas are a perfect hybrid of street savviness and adventure readiness with their durable canvas exteriors, sustainable down fill, and (removable) faux fur hoods.
Fjallraven has been around since 1960 when it started with framed backpacks to better distribute weight for hikers. The company has branched out in the years since, and its parkas are some of the warmest around.
Lately, Fjallraven has turned its focus on sustainability, and the company is working with Stockholm University to save the Arctic fox. It’s also one of the few brands that can prove that all of the down used in its parkas is 100% traceable, and it happens to be at the top of the nonprofit Down Four Paws’ Cruelty-Free list.
The outer lining of Fjallraven’s parkas is made of the company’s signature G-1000 waxed polyester and cotton blend. It’s durable, but it is nowhere near waterproof, meaning this is not a good jacket for wet snow, sleet, or rain. While you’ll stay mostly dry, it will eventually absorb water, get extremely heavy, and maybe even soak through in some spots. You can, however, wax it further to increase the water resistance.
During testing last fall, I spent a day wearing the Kyl parka while fishing from a small exposed boat in 30-degree temperatures and high winds. I was wearing nothing but a t-shirt underneath, and it was toasty as could be. I even unzipped it a bit at times.
Sadly, the Kyl is no longer with us, and you’ll only be able to grab one while third-party retailers’ supplies last.
We’ve just begun testing the brand’s new Expedition Down, which comes with a DWR water-resistant finish, an adjustable hood, and 700-fill-power goose down (90%) and feather (10%). There aren’t quite as many pockets in the Expedition Down, and the design is a bit more sleek and urban than Fjallraven’s typical wares, but it is plenty warm. We’re still fans of the brand’s other, more classic models like the Barents, Singi, or Yupik; they all offer more substantial pockets, some of which are hand-warming (a feature the Expedition Down is missing).
If you want the most technical parka adorned with the plushest real fur, then look elsewhere, but if you’re seeking something sustainable and practical yet fashion-forward enough to pull off in town, we think Fjallraven is the best option.
Pros: Durable, utilitarian but still stylish
Cons: Not waterproof, pricey, low/entry-level fill power, real fur substitution is not available to those who want it
The best sustainable parka
- Save the Duck
Save the Duck is a new parka brand that’s out to end animal cruelty surrounding the outerwear industry. No natural down, no natural fur, and no animal products.
Foregoing down for the brand’s proprietary Plumtech polyester fiber to create a thermal padding, Save the Duck‘s coats are entirely synthetic and, more or less, cruelty-free. It’s a lofty, heat-retaining, and highly effective alternative. It might not feel quite as fluffy or have the same memory as 800-fill down, but it does the job, and it’s not derived from animals.
The shells of the brand’s parkas are either made with a 60%/40% cotton and pressed nylon blend and treated with a water-resistant finish, or triple-layered 100% polyester (also treated for water-resistance).
The lining, part nylon and part polyester, is sufficiently smooth, and mostly durable, though a couple of the inside pockets (save for the phone pocket) seem a little light and prone to tearing, so we’d recommend not overloading them. The exterior hand pockets, which land over the breast, aren’t the thickest (or warmest) either.
Otherwise, the hardware all suffices, the elastic wrist cuffs are a nice if not-so-technical touch, and the coat is plenty warm (Save the Duck rates it for temps between -4 and 23 degrees Fahrenheit).
Pros: “Cruelty-free,” plenty warm (in spite of not using down), water-resistant
Cons: Pockets could be heftier and warmer
A note on sustainability and the ethics around fur and down
The sustainability and ethics surrounding down and fur are murky.
Down is slightly more clearcut and traceable: Many of the brands in our guide, including Fjallraven and Triple F.A.T. Goose, put their down through rigorous testing to identify whether or not the down was plucked from live animals.
Triple F.A.T. Goose puts its down through the International Down and Feather Testing Laboratory (IDFL) to meet the Responsible Down Standard (RDS). Then there’s the Global Traceable Down Standard (Global TDS), which is certified by the NSF and slightly more rigorous in requiring parent farm certification. That means that whatever farm an egg or a hatchling came from must be certified, too. Otherwise, the RDS and Global TDS are almost identical, and both essentially uphold the Five Freedoms, ensuring that the ducks and geese whose feathers and down are collected are not live-plucked, malnourished, or mistreated.
There are a host of similar testing labs that exist to reinforce animal welfare standards, but the two mentioned above are the most prominent, and it’s difficult, if not near impossible, to make heads or tails of how rigorously they test.
Fur can come from animals that have been farmed (as is often the case with foxes and minks), or it can come from wild animals. Coyote fur, which is usually what you’ll see adorning parkas, is generally trapped or hunted. A lot of brands, such as Triple F.A.T. Goose and Canada Goose, source coyote fur from places where they’re deemed to be a problem species, either by way of overpopulation, mange, or invasiveness. Many brands make sure to list compliance and cooperation with game trapping laws and standards set forth by the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) in Canada and the Best Management Practices (BMP) standards in the United States.
With hunting (either by bow or firearm), animals are targeted and shot with the intention of a clean and quick kill. With trapping, the animal is snared and stuck there until they starve or freeze to death (or until a trapper comes along and puts them out of their misery).
The fact of the matter is that whether animals sought for their fur are trapped or hunted, many of them are killed solely for their hides, and that’s something you’ll have to be okay with if you decide to purchase fur. In many if not most cases, fur is not a byproduct of the meat industry, and in the case of coyotes and foxes (which are two of the most popular furs for parka trim), the meat can’t even become pet food due to the risk of mange, heartworms, rabies, and more.
If you’re still after fur, we get it. Fur looks and feels great, and does offer a moisture-wicking barrier and warmth that no synthetic material can match. Some of our favorites on the fur front are Triple F.A.T. Goose (comparable to, if not better than Canada Goose) and Moose Knuckles.
Other great places to buy men’s parkas
- Canada Goose/Facebook
Check out our other winter gear buying guides
Puffer jackets provide warmth without weighing you down, making them perfect for layering in extreme cold or for use as your only jacket on milder days. These compressible, packable jackets can tuck away into a bag, or in some cases, even a pocket, so they’re ideal for travel or trekking. Here are the best men’s puffer jackets you can buy:
- Best puffer jacket overall: Cotopaxi Fuego Down Jacket
- Best waterproof puffer jacket: Columbia Titanium OutDry Ex Gold Jacket
- Best ultra-packable puffer: Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket
- Best stylish puffer: Backcountry Silver Fork 750 Jacket
- Best ultralight puffer: Outdoor Vitals StormLoft Ultralight Down Jacket
A good winter coat will keep you warm and dry even when the snow is falling and the wind is howling. A great winter coat will keep you warm, dry, and looking good, too. Here are the best men’s winter coats you can buy:
- Best winter coat overall: Patagonia Topley Jacket
- Best waterproof: Columbia OutDry Ex Gold Down Hooded Jacket
- Best for working: Caterpillar Heavy Insulated Parka
- Best for extreme cold: Mountain Hardware Absolute Zero Parka
- Best versatile parka: Fjällräven Kyl Parka
The word “beanie” is kind of one of those catch-alls that encompass a ton of different styles, from slouchy cuts to ultra-fitted ones with a variety of embellishments and fabric variations. The sheer number of options is overwhelming. After all, when you can buy a beanie anywhere, how do you narrow it down?
You could do a ton of research on the topic. Or you can read on for our top five favorite picks for men and women from around the Internet. Here are the best beanies you can buy:
- Best beanie overall: The North Face Shinksy Beanie
- Best budget beanie: Carhartt Acrylic Watch Hat
- Best pom-pom beanie: Patagonia Vintage Town Beanie
- Best high-tech beanie: Tenergy Wireless Bluetooth Beanie
Your choice of scarf can make or break your comfort level in the wintertime. Opt for one that’s wooly and warm and you’ll be toasty. Choose a too-thin fabric and you, well, won’t. Scarves are also a great opportunity to infuse a bit of personality into your winter wardrobe. And when you get bored of your outerwear, you can always pick a new scarf to mix things up.
These five brands are your best bet for warm, attractive options that will keep you cozy all winter long. Here are the best places to buy scarves:
- Best scarves overall: J. Crew
- Best stylish scarves: Topshop and Topman
- Best plaid scarves: Barbour
- Best warm scarves: Patagonia
A good pair of thermal gloves can make all the difference on a cold winter day. We did the research to find the best thermal gloves you can buy to keep your hands nice and toasty for the rest of this winter and for many more winters to come. Here are the best gloves you can buy:
- Best overall: Ozero Thermal -20°F Suede Leather Winter Gloves
- Best for men: Carhartt Men’s W.P Waterproof Insulated Gloves
- Best for women: The North Face Women’s Etip Gloves
- Best touchscreen gloves: Vbiger Winter Warm Touch Screen Gloves
- Best for working: Ergodyne ProFlex 817WP Thermal Waterproof Utility Gloves
- Best affordable women’s gloves: Il Caldo with its Thicker Warmer Weather gloves