On cold days when you know you're going to need extra coverage, the best insulated jackets trap warmth close to your body without the bulk of a longer coat. They could be made of fleece, wool, down, or synthetic down alternatives, but what they all share in common is a water-resistant shell over soft insulation. Some are solo workhorses while others are light enough to be layered. There are even the ultra-versatile three-in-one jackets that feature a windbreaker shell that can be worn independently of your insulation.
Insulated jackets work by trapping air in tiny pockets close to your body, but what type of insulating material you want is a matter of preference. Here are some things to consider:
- Down: While pricey, down is the warmest and loftiest of them all; it offers incredible lightness that packs down easily into a small footprint. However, it loses all of its superpowers if it gets wet. (A reliable shell is key here). You may see down measured by its "fill power," with offerings ranging from 450 to 900 fill. The higher the number, the warmer it will be for its weight.
- Synthetic down alternative: This vegan-friendly option will keep you warm even when wet and is still fairly pillowy and easy to pack. It’s heavier and not as airy as the real deal, and perhaps less long-lasting since the filling can start to break down after a few years. Synthetic down is usually measured in grams per square meter (GSM). For the warmest offering, look for 100 to 200 GSM.
- Fleece: A versatile favorite because it’s budget-friendly and comes in several weights, fleece can range from 100 to 300 GSM. Most insulated jackets rely on a fleece in the 200-gram range because it won’t make you sweat under a waterproof shell and can comfortably be worn as a light jacket on its own.
- Merino wool: While not budget-friendly, wool is absolutely worth investing in if you can. The sustainable insulator is hypoallergenic and moisture-wicking, naturally breathable, and odor-resistant. It keeps you incredibly warm even when wet, and regulates temperature so you don't overheat. Coats can range in weight from 170 all the up to 400 grams, with 235 grams being considered midweight.
For the outer shell, water-resistant fabrics include polyester and nylon, which have the additional benefit of being quick-drying if you do get damp — and a durable water-repellent finish (DWR) will guarantee you stay dry.
With all that in mind, here are the seven best jackets to keep you warm when the temperature drops.
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1. A Sleek Down Jacket That's So Warm
This metallic down jacket from Eddie Bauer comes in a sleek package, but it certainly packs loads of warmth. It comes with 650-fill power down insulation that's responsibly sourced and the outer shell is made with 100% water-resistant nylon (boasting a DWR finish), for a jacket that's ready for any weather. The three pockets — one on each side with zipper closures plus a hidden interior pocket — provide plenty of places to tuck valuables, and the higher collar blocks out gusts and percipitation. "It looked paper thin, lol! But WOW is it warm!!!" one fan noted, adding, "I used it the 1st morning after a snow blizzard still thinking ah this isnt gonna keep me warm so I took another coat of mine as a backup! Wow o Wow! It kept me so warm and when I got inside the building I was SO HOT! had to take it off! Then i was able to fold it into a tiny square and put it in my backpack, another thing I was impressed about! [...]For the price it is SO WORTH IT!"
For a slightly less warm but incredibly packable option, you might also consider this budget-friendly hooded down jacket.
- Available colors: 5
- Available sizes: X-Small – 3X (including petite sizes)
2. A Hooded Down-Alternative Jacket With Après-Ski Vibes
This vegan alternative to the stylish down jacket above has an apres-ski style in animal-friendly materials. Columbia's Peak To Park insulated jacket features a polyester shell is designed to be exceptionally durable and water-resistant, with synthetic down alternative fill that's stitched to maximize its loft for added warmth that moves with you (no weight is listed, however). The warm, generously sized hood is removable, and the faux fur trim is designed to be thin enough to be tucked into a pocket when you don't need it. "Nothing but good things to say for this coat," one fan wrote in their updated review after a thorough test drive. "It is super warm. I wore it out on a 10-15 degree morning with just a tank top and it was comfortably warm."
- Available colors: 14
- Available sizes: X-Small – 3X
3. A Heavy-Duty Reversible Jacket With Plush Fleece
The North Face has a reputation for cold-weather fleece, and the brand's twice-insulated reversible Mossbud insulated jacket is no exception. With a DWR finish, the windproof recycled polyester shell sheds rain and snow like a duck to keep you warm and dry. Underneath you'll find a layer of synthetic insulation in addition to 225 grams of mid-weight deep-pile Raschel fleece that's even warmer than the weight suggests due to its plush texture. "Soft, warm, and comfortable," one fan wrote. "The 'fur' is so soft and silky...I could fall asleep wrapped in it."
- Available colors: 12
- Available sizes: X-Small – Large
4. And An Affordable Insulating Layer With A Cult Following
Although this lacks a waterproof shell, Columbia's Benton Springs jacket certainly can function as part of a layering system — and it makes a great standalone jacket as well. Columbia engineered their fleece for peak heat retention and this jacket has over 20,000 reviews on Amazon from fans who rave about how great the jacket it is for the great price. The polyester fleece is quick-drying and doesn't absorb water — and in a 250-gram weight, you'll be plenty cozy in almost any weather. Plus, an elastic drawstring keeps out drafts on the worst days. "It is easy to layer (if needed) & provides significantly ample protection against the elements to keep my body warm as well as not shiver like a MF," one big fan gushed. "So lightweight, insulated as all get out, super duper cute and makes me feel like a fashionable puffy penguin."
If you're looking for a more one-and-done solution, the next pick on this list has you covered.
- Available colors: 41
- Available sizes: X-Small – 3X
5. A Sustainable Merino Wool Jacket That’s Worth The Splurge
For an all-natural insulator that's an alternative to down, merino wool has you covered. Although it seems spendy compared to other jackets on the list, the Stratus wool insulated jacket was designed to function as a high-end down alternative, which means it was engineered for high-performance warmth. With a water-resistant recycled polyester shell over natural wool — along with a company mission dedicated to environmental and ethical transparency — it's as close to sustainable a jacket as you can get. The weight of the wool is 180 grams, so it's a relatively lightweight pick, however, reviewers raved of its warmth. "It is very very warm, especially considering how thin and compact it is," one shopper pointed out. "In the winter, I wear this under a Goretex shell and it helps me through cycling everyday to work in the windy, rainy Scotland. A bit on the expensive side, but worth every penny. I am officially Icebreaker fan. I would probably be hunting for a spare one soon." Thoughtful details from pull tabs on the zippers to an interior media pocket with a port for earphones contribute to its go-to status.
- Available colors: 4
- Available sizes: Small – X-Large
6. This 3-In-1 Insulated Fleece Jacket That Actually Reflects Your Body Heat
A souped-up version of the classic three-in-one jacket, the Columbia Kaleidoscope II jacket features high-tech thermal technology to keep you ultra-warm. The proprietary lining features tiny metallic dots that basically act like a wearable radiator and amplify your body heat for greater comfort. A waterproof-yet-breathable polyester shell and interior fleece layer (in an 80-gram weight) give you ultimate versatility without sacrificing coverage. The rib knit cuffs (with thumbholes!) and a tall stand collar and chin guard combine with a drawstring at the bottom to completely blot out wind. "I can't even express how surprised I was with this coat. I read glowing reviews in advance of ordering, but when it arrived I was not at all convinced this could withstand a cold Nebraska winter. It's so lightweight and feels like a spring jacket. But letmetellya....I've not had a cold day yet; even in single digit weather," one reviewer raved.
- Available colors: 10
- Available sizes: X-Small – 3X
7. And This 3-In-One Waterproof Ski Jacket That Fans Love
A waterproof windbreaker shell with a removable insulated puffer jacket lining is perfect for travel or camping but especially practical for everyday. The shell is made from waterproof polyurethane treated with Teflon (yes, really) for durability, and a detachable hood, plus underarm vents, give much-needed airflow if you start to overheat. The insulated jacket underneath has a cotton-based insulation in a puffer style, and while no weight is provided, it promises to keep you warm in temperatures down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. There are also buckles at the collar and cuffs to secure the inner layer inside your windbreaker so you never have to worry about your layers getting twisted. "I live in MN and just went outside where the temp feels like 22 degrees. I couldn’t even tell it was cold. It’s very insulated and warm," one reviewer reported.
- Available colors: 10
- Available sizes: Small – XX-Large