Women’s Insulated Parka & Jacket Roundup

Kristin Sinnott in the Kuhl Spyfire Parka. (photo by Patrick Sinnott)

Intro

If you live where it snows — or where it’s cold enough to snow but it doesn’t — then a long, warm jacket has likely either found a place in your closet or you’re making room for one.

Here we’ve rounded up several of the big, warm coats that we’ve been using to stay warm and comfortable this winter, with plenty of options that are ideal for casual use and some that can also work well for days on the mountain. All of the pieces here are designed for women, but if you’re looking for men’s options, check out our previous Winter Parka Roundup.

Outdoor Research Super Transcendent Down Parka

Face Fabric: Gore Tex Infinium with Windstopper 2L, 100% polyester 50D plain weave (upper jacket), 100% recycled polyester 20D ripstop (lower jacket)

Insulation: 650-fill responsibly sourced goose down

Lining: 100% polyester 20 D ripstop

Blister’s Measured Weight (size XS): 697 g

Back Length: 92 cm (from cuff seam to bottom hem)

Reviewer: 5’1”, 103 lbs. Chest 32.5”, Waist 25”, Hip 33.5”

Size Reviewed: XS

MSRP: $ 349 (some on sale for $175)

Best For: Casual Wear, Urban Outings, Some Active Use

Outdoor Research Super Transcendent Down Parka

Sascha Anastas: The Women’s Super Transcendent Down Parka feels like a really warm, plush sleeping bag but features a feminine, tapered cut. That makes for an incredibly cozy down parka that also looks sleek and flattering.

At 5’1”, my petite physique is often lost in big, baffled, long down jackets / parkas, but they’re still my favorite kinds of jackets to wear. Fortunately, the fit of the Super Transcendent works really well for me. I reviewed a size XS and found that the waist tapers exactly at the narrowest part of my waist, which is often not the case with my shorter torso. The cut flares a bit at the hips making for a roomy but not baggy fit through the hips. There is no elastic cord drawstring at the waist to cinch down the waistline, but since the waist tapered at the right place, I found that I didn’t really miss the drawstring. The jacket extends almost down to my knees, offering coverage of my entire upper legs.

One of my favorite features of this parka is its stretchy sleeve cuffs (which also have thumbholes). The cuffs minimized the cold that could sneak in between the jacket and my mittens, and also made for a less bulky look. There are also roomy hand pockets at the hips, an internal mobile-device pocket at the left chest, and on the right inner panel is a large mesh stow pocket that can easily fit a hat, a scarf, or most wallets. Additionally, the front zipper can be zipped open from the bottom up, making the Super Transcendent an option to throw in my climbing pack as a warm layer for belaying on a cold day.

I was impressed by the style / cut of this parka, especially when compared to other long parkas, but I also found that the Gore-Tex material used on the front panel (the darker-colored fabric) made this parka more resistant to wind and some precipitation than some of the other parkas here (although not as wind resistant as the Fjallraven Nuuk). I live in a pretty windy part of Colorado and found that, even on the gustiest days, I tended to be well protected from the wind in the Super Transcendent, especially when I cinched down the drawstring around the face and the back of the hood.

The material on the lower arms and skirt of the parka is very soft, though not as durable. I ended up getting the zipper caught in the material, which tore a small 2-mm hole in the fabric adjacent to the zipper and near the bottom hem. The parka features responsibly sourced, 650-fill-power goose down and I found that the jacket was plenty lofty and warm, even for my coldest days here in Colorado. That said, I found the Fjallraven Nuuk to be slightly warmer overall, even though the Nuuk was slightly shorter. I tended to wear this one most frequently for everyday use, out on the town (pre-pandemic), and for hikes with dogs on cold days.

Kuhl Spyfire Parka

Face Fabric:

Fabric 1: Shell Fabric: MIKROTEX 100% 20D 24 high filament Nylon with DWR

Fabric 2: Yoke Overlay: TUFFLEX 88% Nylon, 12% Spandex

Fabric 3: Underarm gusset: 88% Nylon 12% Spandex

Insulation: 100% 800-fill Goose Down (non-force-fed/not ‘live-plucked’)

Blister’s Measured Weight (size M): 330 g

Reviewer: 5’10″, 118 lbs; Chest: 31″; Hips: 35″; Waist: 31″

Back Length: 78.8 cm

Size Reviewed: Medium

MSRP: $319.00

Best For: Lifestyle, light activewear (light hiking, walking)

Kuhl Spyfire Parka

Maddie Hart: During the winter months, I am usually the first to get cold. As a result, I always have an extra layer in my car or tied around my waist. While the Front Range of Colorado where I am is milder than other locations in the state, we still have plenty of cold days during the winter. This season, the Spyfire Parka quickly became an ideal outer layer to keep me warm on the below-freezing days.

While this parka is not the puffiest / packed with the most down, it has still kept me warm in temperatures ranging even into the single digits Fahrenheit (about -17 to -12°C). The parka’s longer cut (it hits me mid-thigh) is great for keeping my butt and upper legs warm. I also liked the length for getting into a cold car in the morning; the added coverage kept my butt warm on a cold seat. The Spyfire also has added length around my face, allowing me to zip it all the way up to keep my neck warm. I would often find myself tucking my chin into the zipped-up parka, which I always appreciated. The sleeves also have a spandex cuff around the wrist, which I found very nice in terms of helping to prevent the sleeves from riding up and adding an extra seal against the winter elements.

The Spyfire Parka has multiple pockets: two large pockets in the front, one small pocket on the left upper arm, and one on the inside breast area. The multiple pockets allow for plenty of space to stash keys, a phone, and even a small wallet. The hood has elastic pulls to allow you to tighten it around your head, which I often used when we would walk to get coffee on windy mornings.

Kristin Sinnott in the Kuhl Spyfire Parka. (photo by Patrick Sinnott)

The fit of this jacket was another aspect I really enjoyed. In most jackets, I tend to look like a box since I have a very small chest and a relatively small waist, but I’m 5’10”. The size Medium Spyfire was a bit big, but I found this extra space to be advantageous, as it allowed me room to add additional layers underneath for very cold days. And even with the additional space, the coat has a more fitted cut around the waist, which I think would be flattering for many body types. While this jacket may not be warm enough on its own for single-digit or sub-zero ℉ days, it most definitely can be layered on the coldest of days and is potentially a bit more versatile than some of the heavier pieces here when the temps aren’t extremely cold.

Mammut Fedoz Parka

Face Fabric: Polyester: Pertex® Quantum material with PFC free DWR treatment, made from recycled yarn

Insulation: 650-fill-power recycled down

Lining: Polyamide Woven

Blister’s Measured Weight (size XS): 682 g

Back Length: 89 cm

Reviewer:5’1”, 103lbs, Chest 32.5”, Waist 25”, Hip 33.5”

Size Reviewed: XS

MSRP: $319

Best For: Cold Days, Urban Outings

Mammut Fedoz Parka

Sascha Anastas: The Fedoz Down Parka is what I would consider to be one of the more traditional / classic down parkas we have here. It is the jacket I tend to grab most often when I am headed out to do errands around town, or when I go to a work meeting on snowy mornings (pre-pandemic days), or can even wear over a more dressy outfit out to dinner (again, pre-pandemic days). In this sense, it’s a classic-cut parka that’s designed for more urban outings, though I’d still call it pretty versatile.

The jacket is plenty warm with a 650-fill-power responsibly sourced down. While the fill / baffles are a bit thicker than the Outdoor Research Super Transcendent Parka, this Mammut piece still feels cozy and I didn’t feel overwhelmed / totally suffocated by the extra down. This was in part due to the pre-shaped sleeves that I found to be perfectly long but not too thick to restrict movement. The length of the jacket falls about one inch above my knees, offering full warmth to my upper legs. The front zipper can also unzip from the bottom to make accessing a pant pocket easier. There is a cinch cord at the waist which is accessible from the inside of the front panels and tends to cinch more in the back than in the front, making the otherwise boxy fit a bit more shaped and feminine. The elastic cord cinches the waist slightly above my hips, making it feel slightly like an Empire waist, which added to its urban style. The baffles from the hip down are stitched diagonally and also made the otherwise boxy cut a bit more feminine.

My favorite things about this jacket are the front fleece-lined zipper pockets that are located just under the waistline. I found that no matter what, my hands tended to end up in those pockets. They’re deep enough for mobile devices, wallets, dog leashes and I often used this pocket to carry my black lab’s tennis ball to and from the dog park. There is also a small internal zipper pocket at the right breast in which I could also fit my large mobile device. I also love the thick, vintage-style elastic cuffs. Measuring just over 2.5 inches wide, these cuffs felt like wrist bands from the 80s and didn’t allow for cold air to sneak up the sleeve. This wide elastic was also incorporated in the back of the neck to keep air from entering into the back of the jacket. The hood could be cinched with two cords at the neck, but the hood was relatively small, especially when compared to the hood of the FjallRaven Nuuk Parka or the Outdoor Research Super Transcendent Parka, and I found I never really needed to cinch down the hood.

Overall, I tended to wear this jacket most often out of the other parkas I reviewed due to its versatility and warmth (also those comfy front pockets were pretty hard to beat). While less suited for technical activities, I would have no problem throwing this into my climbing pack for a really warm belay jacket, for long hikes beyond the dog park, and over my ski bibs for pre-pandemic après hanging out.

Fjallraven Nuuk Parka

Exterior Fabric: Nylon w/ waterproof / breathable membrane

Interior Fabric: Polyester

Insulation: Supreme Microloft synthetic insulation

Blister’s Measured Weight (size XXS): 1445 grams

Back Length: 80 cm

Reviewer: 5’1”, 103lbs. Chest 32.5”, Waist 25”, Hip 33.5”

Size Tested: XXS

MSRP: $500

Best For: Maximum warmth for around town & urban excursions

Fjallraven Nuuk Parka

Sascha Anastas: The Nuuk Parka is a waterproof jacket that features Fjallraven’s Supreme Microloft synthetic fill and a vintage style. It’s also super warm, very heavy, and is definitely more bulky than sleek. But it does feature a gentle waist cinch that cinches the back for a more flattering / sleeker fit.

The Nuuk Parka has a fleece-lined hood with an incredibly soft, removable faux-fur trim. The hood is quite roomy but has a slim velcro panel that halves the size of the hood so that the fur lining can fit snug on the cheeks when the hood is on. The Nuuk’s collar is quite wide and is also pretty bulky, which is a definite plus in stormy / windy conditions, but can feel a bit cumbersome when it’s not storming outside. However, the bulkiness of the collar can be reduced by unzipping the detachable fur lining from the hood.

Another great aspect of the Nuuk Parka is the number of pockets — I counted ten! There are deep cargo pockets on the front panels, two slim flap pockets at the chest, a flap pocket on the right sleeve, and fleece-lined oblique pockets accessible on the sides at the waistline that are optimal for warming up your hands. There are also two media pockets located on the inside of the front panel (with a headphone port), and then on the outside, there is a slim, subtle pocket to the right of the main zipper that’s a perfect home for your wallet and is deep enough for even the largest of smartphones.

By far my favorite aspect of the Nuuk Parka is its length. I initially thought the parka length was a little too long (even in the size XXS), but after a few really cold walks, I quickly became a fan of the mid-thigh length. In addition to the waist cinch that creates a very flattering “skirt,” there is a cinch drawstring at the hem that also slims the bottom and seals in warmth when the wind is howling. So if you’re not sure you want a knee-length parka but still want something very warm, the Nuuk should be on your radar.

While it wouldn’t be my top choice for rain or really wet snow, the Nuuk Parka would be the first jacket I’d choose in really windy conditions or the coldest of cold conditions, thanks to its extra coverage and warm insulation. The fit does run large, especially in the shoulders and arms, so I would recommend going down a size for most folks. But the good news is that Fjallraven offers the Nuuk Parka all the way down to a size XXS.

Patagonia W’s Insulated Prairie Dawn Parka

Face Fabric: 100% Organic Cotton Canvas

Insulation: 90% recycled polyester, 10% polyester

Lining: 70% recycled polyester, 30% polyester

Blister’s Measured Weight (size S): 1032 g

Back Length: 83.8 cm

Reviewer: 5’10″, 118 lbs; Chest: 31″; Hips: 35″; Waist: 31″

Size Reviewed: Small

MSRP: $279.00

Best For: Lifestyle, Outdoor Work

Patagonia W’s Insulated Prairie Dawn Parka

Maddie Hart: There are scenarios in the winter when a puffy coat with a thin face fabric isn’t ideal. The Prairie Dawn Parka makes for a great alternative. Its canvas exterior makes for a functional, yet cool-looking coat. I grew up wearing Carhartt coats to the barn I rode my horse at; this Patagonia jacket has a similar feel. But I immediately noticed how much less bulky the Prairie Dawn Parka felt compared to a traditional Carhartt jacket, making it superior to the coats of my childhood barn days.

While this coat may not look very warm, I was very surprised by how toasty it kept me on cold days. The fuzzy lining on the inside of the body kept my core warm, an essential part of staying comfortable on cold days. The longer cut, hitting me on my upper thigh, added some additional warmth to my legs. The back of the coat is slit and has a stretchy elastic cord through it, allowing you to cinch the jacket tight around your lower legs or leave it loose for added mobility.

One interesting aspect of this coat is that the zipper starts at about the beltline, leaving added space at the bottom, which is not closed by the zipper. There is a button at the bottom of the front to close the jacket, or you can leave it unzipped for additional mobility. The ability for movement is really nice for running errands, house projects, shoveling snow, or anything that requires a bit more range of motion.

The Prairie Dawn Parka also has an elastic drawstring around the waist, allowing you to tighten it down to prevent air from flowing up the jacket. This is a nice feature for added warmth but also allows you to customize how you want the jacket to fit around your waist. I found that cinching this just a bit prevented that “boxy” jacket look.

This coat has become my go-to for pre- and post-runs. It is warm enough to get me to my car and to the trailhead or track on below-freezing mornings. When I throw it on after, it is not too hot for the drive home, but prevents me from getting chilled. The Prairie Dawn Parka also makes for a great winter town coat. The functionality of this jacket makes it useful for a variety of needs, whether that be shoveling snow, outdoor home tasks, or running errands. And if you frequently find yourself tearing through lightweight, puffy jackets, this one should hold up much better.

Flylow Kenzie Jacket

Fabric:

  • Body: 100% Polyester with DWR
  • Shoulders: Intuitive™ 2-layer
  • 10k/10k waterproof breathable membrane

Insulation: 800 fill RDS-certified goose down

Reviewer: 5’8”, ~125 lbs. Chest 34”, Waist 26.5”, Hip 36”

Blister’s Measured Weight (size M): 667 g

Back Length: 31.25 in / 79 cm

Size Reviewed: Medium

MSRP: $325

Best For: Cold days on and off the mountain

Flylow Kenzie Jacket

Kristin Sinnott: My closet is full and my small house seems to keep getting smaller and smaller due to all the gear designed for a specific purpose, rather than a more universal application. The Kenzie Jacket stands out among other insulated parkas and technical ski jackets in my closet because I am just as likely to throw on the Kenzie to run errands on a cold day as I am to wear it skiing in the resort. The Kenzie could easily be my 1-jacket quiver for cold days.

The Kenzie jacket is a bit longer than an average ski jacket, hence why I included it in this roundup. Between the extra length, supple face fabric, 800-fill-power goose down, and tall wrap collar with a magnet cuff closure, you can really snuggle into this jacket when out and about. Add to that the removable powder skirt, durable and waterproof fabric on the shoulders, and underarm vents, and you have a jacket perfect for cold days spinning laps on the mountain.

I tested a size Medium and found it to be a great size — the cuffs hit at the top of my hands and the jacket extended well past my hips. I tended to not wear bulky layers underneath since (1) I didn’t need them to stay warm and (2) the arms felt a little tight when the layers were really bulky. The Kenzie jacket has a very slight princess cut design to it. It doesn’t balloon out at the bottom but it also isn’t too narrow around the waist. The side snaps (2 snaps on each side) and a two-way zipper can also be opened up to allow for full mobility. I tend to keep the jacket fully zipped but I unsnap the sides when skiing. I find it creates a nice silhouette but still provides enough range of motion for boot packing, lift riding, and skiing.

Kristin Sinnott in the Flylow Kenzie Jacket, Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

While there are so many features that Flylow got right with the Kenzie Jacket, there are a few that I don’t love. None of them are deal-breakers, but I do need to mention them. For one, the main zipper tends to get caught on the inside flap of the jacket near the top, and while it only takes a few attempts before I ultimately free the zipper from the fabric, it is frustrating to fidget with a zipper on a cold day.

Another element I don’t love about the Kenzie are the pockets. The pockets are designed more for casual wear than for a day of skiing or riding. With only 3 pockets (2 handwarmer pockets and one interior chest pocket), I found myself looking to ditch some items in my pant pockets because there weren’t enough options in the jacket.

The interior pocket is located on the right side, and since I’m right-handed, this is not the most ideal location for a quick phone grab. And that pocket is just a little too small to easily access my phone as I repeatedly do when I am skiing. Whether I’m recording notes on skis I’m testing or trying to communicate with my husband, having a readily accessible phone is important to me. When not skiing, the microfleece-lined handwarmer pockets are cozy and soft for cold, gloveless hands. I did find that silicone cases (like I have on my GoPro) have a tendency to get caught up on the fabric a little and if I added heavier objects like my cell phone to the hand pockets, it weighed the jacket down a bit.

The last frustrating feature, the reportedly helmet-compatible hood, also needs mentioning. The hood just barely fit over my Glade Tenmile ski helmet, and in general, I found it fairly uncomfortable to wear. The hood made the collar tight against my mask-clad mouth and it was almost impossible to ski with the hood up. The hood works well when paired with a ski beanie but when skiing, I leave the hood down.

With all that said, if you are looking for a warm winter coat that can double as a ski jacket for cold days, the Kenzie Jacket is a great option. I find I reach for mine more often than I do my other dedicated long, insulated parkas. I like that I don’t have to keep shuffling jackets based on what I plan to do each day.

Spyder Timeless Long Down Jacket

Face Fabric: 100% Recycled Polyester

Insulation: 700 fill-power goose down

Lining: 100% Polyester

Reviewer: 5’ 3”, ~115 lbs. Chest 34”, Waist 25”, Hip 34.5”

Blister Measured weight: 543 grams

Back length: 32 in / 81 cm

Size Reviewed: Extra Small

MSRP: $299

Best For: Around town

Spyder Timeless Long Down Jacket

Analisa Price: I really want to love this jacket. A long puffer is the perfect addition to my WFH wardrobe, since I can get dog-walking, grocery-shopping chic at a moment’s notice by covering all my sartorial sins, but this one’s not my favorite due to the pockets and asymmetrical zipper. The rest of the jacket is built symmetrically, with on-seam pockets sewn in at hip level along the princess seams. The pockets are quite narrow and shallow to begin with, but the off-center zipper eats into the left pocket’s real estate to the point that my hand doesn’t even fit, much less my mask, wallet, phone, and keys that come with me when I’m running errands. And the hip-level placement means that anything that does fit in the pockets has to be zipped in. If not, anytime you reach down for that bottom-shelf liquor or morning puppy “deposit” and bend at the waist, all the contents get ejected.

The asymmetrical zipper also causes issues with the wrap-style hood. Spyder added a fashion-forward element where the left and right side overlap, instead of the standard zipper that tucks under the chin. However, this creates a 10-inch zipper placket near the top of the jacket and it invariably gets stuck in the zipper.

Apart from those elements, the Timeless Long Down Jacket is a fairly standard, lightweight jacket. It mostly runs true-to-size, but it tapers below the hips like a pencil skirt, and I’ve found myself unzipping the bottom of the two-way zipper for a little extra range of motion. It’s been a comfortable layer for Seattle high-pressure systems when the weather is dry and between 30-40°F / -1 to 4°C.

Value is an interesting conversation for this jacket. At $299 retail, the Timeless Long Down jacket isn’t the most expensive piece here, but you can certainly find less expensive alternatives. Goose down like that used in the Timeless commands a higher price (usually 30-50%) compared to duck down, since down is a byproduct of the poultry industry, and duck’s on the dinner menu more often. Goose down also gets a better reputation in apparel since they’re the only birds able to produce premium, 850+ fill-power down. But Spyder could’ve potentially built this jacket with 700-fill-power duck down and passed on some savings to customers. That’s how many budget and private-label brands are able to sell 650-fill, RDS-certified alternatives to this jacket for a third of the price.

Jack Wolfskin Madison Avenue Coat

Fabric: Texapore Twillsuede

Insulation: Microguard ecosphere

Lining: Nanuk 300 highloft heather

Weight: 1020 grams

Back Length: 33.5 in / 85 cm

Reviewer: 5’4”, 130lbs. Chest 34”, Waist 27.5”, Hip 34.5”

Size Reviewed: Small

MSRP: $289

Best for: Around town

Jack Wolfskin Madison Avenue Coat

Kristie Robson: My coat collection, which my husband informs me is not lacking, is almost completely comprised of puffies, tech-y fabrics, and jackets intended for sport. This is my comfort zone and works for my Boulder lifestyle most of the time, though occasionally, I yearn for something slightly less sporty. The Jack Wolfskin Madison Avenue Coat will be my go-to coat this winter as it combines a sporty feel with a tailored and dressy look.

The Texapore outer fabric has a soft look and feel, while being windproof and waterproof. It’s also quieter than my puffies, again making it feel like a good choice for wearing out to dinner or a party. The microfiber taffeta lining is incredibly soft around my neck and face — no collar chafe here.

This jacket has plenty of pockets; the hand pockets are large enough that my hands don’t scrape the zippers and I can sink them inside, while the inner chest pocket can easily hold a phone. It shouldn’t go unmentioned that the insulation is Jack Wolfskin’s “Microguard ecosphere,” which is a 100% recycled synthetic insulation. I appreciate being able to choose materials with a smaller carbon footprint.

We don’t get many super cold days in Boulder, but I definitely need a parka this winter for outdoor, socially-distanced visits. The Madison Avenue Coat falls below my hips, which is a length I like for walking the dog or taking the kids to the playground, as it doesn’t impede movement but still offers more coverage than a waist-length piece. I tested a size Small, which is a consistent size for me across most brands. The jacket fits well and is comfortable on the first try, however, it is too tight across the shoulders when I layer a thicker hoodie or sweater underneath. In a colder climate, I would size up in this jacket to accommodate layering. Overall, this is a great jacket for wearing around town and walking on colder days in a variety of climates and it looks stylish for going to dinner or a party.

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