Best Hiking Jackets For Cold Weather – 2021 Picks for Men & Women

Before hiking in cold weather, one of the most important things you should prepare for is your clothing. What you will wear is critical when you are outdoors and exposed to cold, wet, and snowy conditions. This will make all the difference between having a comfortable experience or a nightmare.

Your winter or cold weather hiking clothes will usually consist of three layers: a base layer, a middle layer, and a shell layer. Depending on the conditions, you might not need to wear the shell layer. But you will need the base and the middle layers to keep everything warm and toasty. In this post about the best hiking jackets for cold weather, we will focus on the mid-layer, which will also serve as your hiking jacket. 

Our Top Picks At A Glance

Best Overall For Women
Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody Women's | Versatile and Lightweight Synthetic Insulated Hoody | Continuum, Large
Best Overall For Men
Mountain Hardwear Men's Absolute Zero Parka - Shark/Black - Medium
Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody Women's | Versatile and Lightweight Synthetic Insulated Hoody | Continuum, Large
Mountain Hardwear Men's Absolute Zero Parka - Shark/Black - Medium
Made From 94% Polyester, 6% Elastane
Made From AirShield Nylon Ripstop
Weighs 0.71 lbs.
Weighs 2.81 lbs.
Best Overall For Women
Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody Women's | Versatile and Lightweight Synthetic Insulated Hoody | Continuum, Large
Arc'teryx Atom LT Hoody Women's | Versatile and Lightweight Synthetic Insulated Hoody | Continuum, Large
Made From 94% Polyester, 6% Elastane
Weighs 0.71 lbs.
Best Overall For Men
Mountain Hardwear Men's Absolute Zero Parka - Shark/Black - Medium
Mountain Hardwear Men's Absolute Zero Parka - Shark/Black - Medium
Made From AirShield Nylon Ripstop
Weighs 2.81 lbs.

The right hiking jacket is responsible for providing you additional warmth by preventing your body heat from escaping. It will help keep you warm and dry while providing you some protection against the elements. It can also help you avoid some serious issues like hypothermia. So to survive your hike, make sure to choose your jacket carefully. To help you with that and to narrow down your options, here’s a list of the best cold weather jackets for hiking.

Best Hiking Jackets for Cold Weather

Our Top Pick For Women: Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody Women’s

  • Insulation Type: Synthetic
  • Insulation: 60g Coreloft Compact synthetic fibers
  • Fabric: 94% polyester, 6% elastane
  • Hood: Yes
  • Weight: 11.3 ounces
  • Waterproof/Water-resistance Construction: Updated Tyono 20 face fabric for added protection against wind and moisture and durable water repellent (DWR) finish for light rain. 

Versatile, lightweight, and warm, the Arc’teryx Atom LT is among the most trusted and best-loved hoodies today. With its Coreloft Compact 60 synthetic insulation, updated Tyono 20 face fabric, DWR finish, and highly breathable Dope Permeair 20 liner, this is a warm jacket you can use for everything. From cool days to windy and cold weather conditions, this jacket can surely keep you comfortable. 

The Arc’teryx Atom LT is so versatile that you can wear it as a mid-layer during snowstorms and freezing temperatures or as an outer layer during the end of fall or early spring. While it may not be the most affordable synthetic jacket you’ll find, it is a great lightweight option for active movement. 

Runner-Up for Women: Outdoor Research Refuge Hooded Jacket

  • Insulation Type: Synthetic
  • Insulation: 60g VerticalX polyester fabrics
  • Fabric: Polyester
  • Hood: Yes
  • Weight: 1lb 1oz
  • Waterproof/Water-resistance Construction: water- and wind-resistant and resilient against harsh climates

Hike in confidence with the Outdoor Research Refuge Jacket and keep yourself safe and warm on your cold-weather adventures. With wind and water resistance and VerticalX high-loft insulation, you can wear this jacket even in the harshest winter climate. It is lightweight, warm, and very comfortable, making it an excellent option for your mountain missions. 

The Outdoor Research Refuge Hooded Jacket is designed with ActiveTemp technology, which allows it to adjust to your body’s temperature. With it, you can keep cool and dry during your high-exertion hikes. This is one of the best insulated jackets around that looks good and perfect for layering.

Our Top Pick for Men: Mountain Hardwear Absolute Zero Parka

Recent Price Drop!
Mountain Hardwear Men's Absolute Zero Parka - Shark/Black - Medium
  • MAXIMUM WARMTH: 800-fill RDS-certified Q.Shield Down with welded, watertight baffle construction
  • HOOD: Low profile, insulated, fixed hood with one-handed drawcord for quick fit adjustments
  • CONVENIENCE: One-handed hem drawcords for quick adjustments
  • SEAL IN WARMTH: Soft, stretchy, internal cuffs seal in warmth
  • Insulation Type: Down
  • Insulation: 800 fill Q-Shield down
  • Fabric: AirShield Nylon Ripstop
  • Hood: Yes
  • Weight: 2lb 13oz
  • Waterproof/Water-resistance Construction: Dry Q Core offers waterproof protection without sacrificing breathability. 

Here’s our top pick for men, the Mountain Hardwear Absolute Zero Parka. It is designed by climbers who understand all the requirements of a good mountaineering and hiking jacket for extreme cold conditions. With a welded and waterproof construction, this jacket can provide you the protection you need in high altitudes and even in the harshest conditions. It is packed with an 800 fill Q-Shield Down insulation, allowing you to stay warm and dry during your entire trip. 

While the Mountain Hardwear Absolute Zero Parka isn’t as warm and as durable as Canada Goose Parkas, it is lighter, more breathable, and less bulky. All these features provide you with more mobility, which is very important when hiking. 

Runner-Up for Men: Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody

  • Insulation Type: Synthetic
  • Insulation: 60g Coreloft Compact synthetic fibers
  • Fabric: 94% polyester, 6% elastane
  • Hood: Yes
  • Weight: 13.2 ounces
  • Waterproof/Water-resistance Construction: Updated Tyono 20 face fabric for added protection against wind and moisture and durable water repellent (DWR) finish for light rain. 

The Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody is one of the best insulated jackets on the market – and for a good reason. It makes a great mid-layer or a standalone jacket, providing the perfect combination of functionality and breathability. It is a lightweight jacket that’s wind-resistant and versatile. It’s also designed with synthetic insulation, making it quick-drying, durable, and able to keep you warm even in wet weather conditions. 

Overall, the Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody makes the perfect jacket for the cold weather. It is warm but won’t cause you to overheat while outdoors. This is due to its highly breathable Dope Permeair 20 liner that helps regulate your temperature during higher output activity such as hiking. It also has a low-profile StormHood with a mini hood brim, which helps reduce wind chill and protects you from light rain. 

Cold Weather Hiking Jackets Buying Guide: Things to Know Before You Buy

A good winter jacket for hiking will provide you as much comfort as possible while keeping you protected during your outdoor activity. However, with many jackets around, how would you know if one is any good for hiking? Well, to help you make an informed decision, here are the features you need to look out for: 

1. Material

When it comes to the mid-layer, it is all about the insulation. This is the key feature of any cold weather jackets. Generally, you have three insulation material choices – synthetic, down, and fleece. Here’s a quick look at each one of them. 

Fleece

For mild weather conditions, a fleece jacket will be sufficient. It stays warm even when damp, and it dries fast. This material also breathes well so that you won’t overheat with it. The downside, however, is that wind can blow right through it. Thus, stealing your warmth. So you might need to wear a shell layer or rain jacket over it. 

Depending on the forecast, you can choose from lightweight, midweight, or heavyweight. However, in cold temperatures and bad weather, it will not be enough to keep you warm and comfortable. 

Down

This material offers the most insulation. It is also high compressible, making it easy to pack. Since down is inside a shell material, this type of jacket can provide you some protection against water and wind. When it comes to down jackets, you can choose from 450 to 900 fill-power. The higher the number, the more efficient it is. 

The drawback, however, is that down loses its insulating efficiency when it gets wet. So if you are anticipating wet weather, snow, rain, humidity, or even sweating, best look for a water-resistant down or go with synthetics or down/synthetic hybrids instead.

Synthetic

Synthetic insulation may not be as warm, durable, or compressible as down, but it is better in retaining its insulating ability when damp. It also dries fast and is usually cheaper. And since it is always inside a shell material like down, it offers added protection from wind and water as well. Overall, for rainy and wet weather conditions and strenuous activities, this is your best option. 

When choosing synthetic jackets, look for the fill-weight. These are numbers like 60g or 40g, where a higher number means more warmth and thickness. 

2. Hood

Another feature your hiking jacket should have is an adjustable hood. See, you will lose a lot of heat through your head and neck. So wearing a hood will keep that from happening, helping your body stay warmer. 

3. Pockets

A jacket for hiking should have drop-in pockets where you can quickly stash your gloves or hat. These are large open pockets found inside the jacket. It should also have outer pockets with zippers or flaps for added protection against rain. 

4. Adjustment Features

Usually, a good hiking winter jacket includes adjustment features to make it more comfortable and convenient. Here are things you need to look out for:

  • Drawcord: You can find this at the bottom hem or, for some jackets, at the waist. This cord provides extra protection against wind and cold air from under. 
  • Cuffs: Having cuffs can help seal out cold air and wind. Most jackets will have Velcro tabs, which are easy to adjust.
  • Hood Adjuster: This will help make sure your hood fits your head firmly and help seal off some wind and cold air. 

5. Waterproof Construction

It will also help if you choose a jacket with waterproof or water-resistant properties, especially if you’re going with down insulation. This will make sure that its performance won’t be affected even when you encounter some light rain. If you have the budget, consider insulated shells with a waterproof/breathable fabric. This will provide you the protection you need from the elements, and with it, you don’t have to buy a separate rain shell. 

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