Eventually, winter will come. Or, you will go and look for it.
Most likely, there is something special about hiking in winter-time.
So, we need to be prepared.
As they say, there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
Here then, I present to you a review of the best winter hiking jackets of 2020 in all their glory. So even if you’re still keen to go out on the trail in plunging temperatures (and you’d be mad not to) you’ll be nice and toasty and warm.
I’ve included a balance of men and women’s garments – but note that many products will be available for either sex.
As ever a buyer’s guide and FAQ will follow.
Altogether now…jingle bells…jingle bells…jingle all the way…
- TOP 15 Best Winter Hiking Jackets 2020
- Little Donkey Andy Men’s Insulated Jacket
- Camel Crown Women’s 3-in-1 Winter Jacket
- Mountain Warehouse Men’s Fell 3 in 1 Jacket
- Columbia Men’s Pouration Jacket
- The North Face Women’s Venture 2 Jacket
- Marmot Women’s Roam Waterproof Rain Jacket
- Outdoor Research Men’s Cathode Hooded Jacket
- Helly Hansen Men’s Odin Stretch Hooded Jacket
- Jack Wolfskin Men’s Amply Texapore Jacket
- Jack Wolfskin Women’s Troposphere Jacket
- Helly Hansen Men’s Dubliner Parka
- Arc’teryx Women’s Atom Lt Hoody
- The North Face Men’s Thermoball Jacket
- Black Diamond Men’s First Light Hoody Jacket
- Berghaus Men’s Long Cornice Gore-Tex Jacket
- Looking at the Best Winter Hiking Jackets
TOP 15 Best Winter Hiking Jackets 2020
Little Donkey Andy Men’s Insulated Jacket
Review: As always we begin at the budget end of the spectrum with this insulated hiking jacket from Little Donkey Andy.
It’s a 95% polyester with a 5% spandex blend, a warm and highly breathable design that incorporates quilted panels to retain heat while allowing the chill to escape.
The spandex helps assist movement so it’s great if you’re being active while also being lightweight enough to use as an underlayer in extreme cold conditions.
- Great price.
- Lightweight and breathable.
- Quality not as good as more expensive brands.
Camel Crown Women’s 3-in-1 Winter Jacket
Review: A budget offering for the women now with this Camel Crown 3-in-1 winter jacket that is super versatile. It packs in loads of useful features such as adjustable cuffs and removable hood, waterproof zippered pockets and drawstrings.
It’s wind and weather-resistant with tapered seams and hardwearing technology to help keep the elements at bay. A fleece lining keeps you nice and warm, but it’s fully customizable if you want to wear it in layers.
A man’s version is also available.
- Excellent price for what you get.
- Stylish design.
- Practical features.
- Versatile use.
- The material might be a little noisy for some.
Mountain Warehouse Men’s Fell 3 in 1 Jacket
Review: This Mountain Warehouse entry is also of the 3 in 1 style with a removable inner fleece.
It’s made from 100% polyester, is water and wind-resistant, with a packable, adjustable hood and multiple pocket options – including two zipped security pouches at the front of the water-resistant shell.
The hem and cuffs are also adjustable, while the garment has been thoroughly tested to keep you warm in wintery conditions.
- Excellent price.
- Choice of colors.
- Not as water-resistant as other jackets.
Columbia Men’s Pouration Jacket
Review: Columbia, of course, featured heavily on our best outdoor clothing brands list, which you should check out so you’re in the know about the big movers and shakers in the outdoor apparel world.
This waterproof and breathable Pouration jacket is designed to be layered, but I’ve included it anyway as it makes a terrific hiking jacket no matter the weather.
The 100% nylon full-dull ripstop fabric keeps you warm and dry, while at the same time being able to fold down into your pocket should you get too hot on the trail. For really cold conditions, though, don’t forget your thermals.
- Great price for a quality company.
- Stylish and functional.
- Amazing choice of colors.
- Not suitable in really cold weather when used on its own.
The North Face Women’s Venture 2 Jacket
Review: From arguably the most famous outdoor clothing brand in the world comes this stylish Venture 2 model jacket brought to you by The North Face. It has fully sealed seams, and is made from a 40 denier and 70 denier DryVent 100% nylon ripstop nylon.
The hood is fixed but it is fully adjustable, with a fitted cut that is both flattering and practical.
Underarm vents help with breathability, and there’s a brushed chin guard for extra comfort when zipped all the way up.
- Attractive design.
- Practical features.
- Excellent protection from the elements.
- Again, not suitable for extreme weather without layering up.
Marmot Women’s Roam Waterproof Rain Jacket
Review: Marmot aren’t going to be very far behind in the outdoor clothing stakes and this is a real belter from them.
It’s an excellent hiking jacket for when the weather turns bad, lightweight yet resistant, with a water-repelling/moisture-reducing MemBrain hydrophilic laminated fabric providing excellent protection in moderate rain, snow, and wind.
It has tapered seams, a fixed adjustable hood, zippered pockets and snap cuffs. And it’s not a bad price at all considering it’s a Marmot.
- Excellent weatherproofing.
- Machine washable.
- Lightweight design.
- Not for use in extreme conditions.
Outdoor Research Men’s Cathode Hooded Jacket
Review: With a 100% nylon 22 denier ripstop shell, 100% polyester 75 denier stretch double weave panels, and PrimaLoft Gold 100% polyester insulation, the Cathode doesn’t just sound impressive – it’ll keep you nice and toasty on the trails, too.
Water-resistant, wind-resistant, and breathable, with a hybrid-mapped construction, this jacket is lightweight yet durable enough to do the job required of it.
It’s got loads of extra features that are very useful, but to be honest, this is possibly the best jacket for winter hiking you can get – certainly at this price, anyway.
- Warm, dry and breathable.
- Versatile for any outdoor activity.
- Choice of colors.
- Not the most aesthetically attractive jacket in the review.
Helly Hansen Men’s Odin Stretch Hooded Jacket
Review: Norweigian company Helly Hansen make outdoor apparel for anyone venturing into extreme conditions at sea or in the mountains.
This is a beautifully designed, lightweight yet durable insulated hiking jacket that manages an excellent balance of heat retention and breathability. It’s ideal for exerting yourself on those colder trails.
The stretch lining aids with unrestricted movement, while the 80 grams of PrimaLoft Gold insulation will ensure it will keep out the cold. The DWR finish helps repel light rain and snow, and the sculpted hood is both stylish and practical.
- Striking, stylish design.
- Lightweight yet warm.
- Choice of colors.
- Let me know in the comments if you find one.
Jack Wolfskin Men’s Amply Texapore Jacket
Review: German outdoor clothing specialist Jack Wolfskin also offer some outstanding designs when it comes to their portfolio. They’re known for their stylish but practical apparel and this Texapore jacket is an excellent example of that.
Machine washable, made from 100% polyamide and highly weatherproof, this jacket is slightly longer in length than most for added protection on your hike. It offers a built-in draw-string hood, and is abrasion-resistant, making it ideal to be worn with a rucksack.
Possibly the best winter backpacking jacket around.
- Extra length.
- Super stylish.
- Quality manufacturer and build.
- Insulated liner can be added.
- Perhaps needs the added liner for really cold conditions.
Jack Wolfskin Women’s Troposphere Jacket
Review: Just when I thought the men’s jacket was stylish (although a different design) Jack Wolfskin produce this beautiful looking woman’s Troposphere model.
It’s made from down and polyester, with a weatherproof exterior that is stretchy and highly effective at keeping the elements at bay. It has a warm, synthetic fiber inlay, two hand pockets, a chest pocket, an inner pocket and a cable duct for headphones for listening to your tunes while on the go.
It’s such an attractive fit, I wish I could wear one myself. One of the best jackets for hiking in cold weather around.
- Beautiful design.
- Highly weatherproof.
- Loads of pocket options.
- Choice of cool colors.
- Sizing issues might be the only negative – make sure you check thoroughly before purchase.
Helly Hansen Men’s Dubliner Parka
Review: Moving in a different direction style wise is the second entry for Helly Hansen – a parka jacket with a faux-fur lined hood.
It’s made from 100% polyester, with front patch pockets and featuring a 2ply Bluesign approved fabric construction with HellyTech fabric which offers excellent waterproof, breathable, and windproof protection.
It boasts Primaloft Black insulation throughout its three-quarters length style, and is fitted to within an inch of its life – so beware if you’re on the larger side when it comes to sizes.
- Urban style for the great outdoors.
- Excellent price for a HH.
- Great choice of colors.
- Will runs a little slim for some.
- Still need to layer up in colder temps.
Arc’teryx Women’s Atom Lt Hoody
Review: You will usually find Canadian brand Arc’teryx near the upper echelons of the price range when it comes to their outdoor gear and apparel. They are one of the world leaders in the field, after all.
Built by mountaineers for mountaineers, this Atom example has Polartec technology and is made from 88% Polyester and 12% elastane for a comfortable stretch fit. It offers Coreloft insulation with a Tyono 20 denier 100% nylon shell.
Basically, it means it’s extremely weatherproof while being very lightweight. You’ll barely feel this as a hindrance to your progress on the trails, as much as you’ll barely feel the cold when it hits. Top-quality stuff.
- Market leading brand.
- Attractive and stylish fit.
- Premium materials and construction.
- Good luck finding one.
The North Face Men’s Thermoball Jacket
Review: The North Face are at it again with this versatile Thermoball jacket which is available in more colors than the rainbow.
The clue is in the name, with lightweight insulation that will keep you toasty warm, while offering a 100% ripstop nylon, durable water-repellent finish
It can even pack into one of its own pockets, making it super-portable as well as offering excellent protection from the elements while out on the trails.
It’s a stylish, head-turning jacket that will cater for anyone’s fashion sense.
- Name to trust.
- Excellent waterproofing and insulation.
- Highly portable.
- Crazy choice of colors and designs.
- A hood would have been nice.
Black Diamond Men’s First Light Hoody Jacket
Review: It wasn’t going to be too long before Black Diamond got in on the action, one of the premier mountain sports manufacturers in the world. This lightweight hiking number is made from a shell Schoeller stretch-woven nylon with NanoSphere technology.
It’s insulated with 60 grams of Primaloft Silver which is 100% polyester. There’s a built-in hood which is fully adjustable and compatible with helmets in case you’re skiing or snowboarding. It is fully breathable ensuring that you’ll stay cool even when at maximum exertion.
Altogether a highly versatile jacket from Black Diamond that offers plenty of protection without making you sweat for it.
- Excellent breathability.
- Versatile use.
- Choice of colors.
- Again, let me know if you find one.
Berghaus Men’s Long Cornice Gore-Tex Jacket
Review: Perhaps surprisingly, the top spot in this review (certainly pricewise) is taken by Berghaus, who usually come in around the mid-level range. However, the UK company manufacturers some top quality outdoor gear and this is no exception.
Made with that ever impressive Gore-Tex technology, it has a roll away adjustable hood, and offers completely waterproof protection so you’ll stay dry when the heavens open.
You can adapt it to attach an internal fleece should the temperature really drop, but all-in-all it’s a top-quality hiking jacket with loads of features that’ll keep you sheltered from the storm.
- Gore-Tex technology.
- Outstanding weatherproofing.
- Zipped OS map pocket.
- It’s on the expensive side.
Looking at the Best Winter Hiking Jackets
It’s not quite as simple as liking the color and adding to basket. Sometimes, you need a little guidance in choosing the best winter hiking jacket for you.
As such, I’ve included a handy little buyer’s guide and FAQ section here – just so you know what to look out for.
It’s not usually up there as a priority, but I find that the brand of outdoor apparel really makes a difference in the quality – and your peace of mind that you’re getting your money’s worth.
Everyone has their favorites, and some are much better than others, so consider that when you’re purchasing your new winter hiking jacket.
If push came to shove I would say that The North Face, Helly Hansen and Arc’teryx make the best gear, with Jack Wolfskin, Columbia, Marmot and Berghaus not far behind.
However, it does come down to personal preference, so go with what you know.
It might all seem quite complex when it comes to figuring out all the materials – that’s because it is.
But it doesn’t have to be.
Most jackets are made from either nylon or polyester, with an infusion of spandex, to assist with comfort and to not restrict movement.
High-end jackets often utilize Gore-Tex technology for unbeatable waterproofing and breathability. But that stuff certainly doesn’t come cheap.
You might see jackets that have 40 denier or 75 denier or other such strange figures.
The denier number relates to the measurement of the linear mass density of fibers…
Wait, watch this video below and it will explain it much simpler than I can.
Basically, my main concern with the materials would be fourfold – how lightweight is it? How weatherproof is it? How breathable is it?
And does it feel really, really, really nice next to my skin?
I believe this time that the jackets with built-in insulation in the review (not all are blessed with this luxury) are all synthetic down.
This is effectively polyester fibers that give the impression of duck or goose down – and is much more useful as it absorbs very little moisture compared to the natural counterpart.
While duck or goose down offers outstanding heat retention, it’s not at all practical when it gets wet.
You might notice there’s a brand name often associated with synthetic insulation. Try not to be alarmed – this is just to confuse you even more.
All joking aside, insulation brand names include PrimaLoft, G-Loft, Polartec and Climashield to name but a few.
If your jacket is lined with down from one of those brands, you’re likely getting a quality synthetic down that will keep you warm and snug as a bug in a rug.
But not all hiking jackets incorporate it, so you will most likely need to layer up for the colder months.
For the gold standard of weatherproofing, you have to turn to Gore-Tex.
This is why any jacket utilizing this technology automatically makes the price sky-rocket.
But there is simply nothing better for keeping the elements at bay.
Remember – water-resistant, water repellent and waterproof are not the same.
Make sure you choose a winter hiking jacket that is going to stand up to a downpour if those are the conditions you’ll likely to be out in.
And look for jackets that are windproof, too – you don’t want that blowing right through you when you’re out on an exposed hillside.
Likewise, you’ll need a pair of good quality winter hiking boots to help you overcome whatever nature decides to throw at you on your trek. So check them out and get yourself kitted up like a pro.
Here’s something of a disclaimer – as you might be wondering why a lot of these “winter” hiking jackets are lightweight.
I’m very much a fan of layering – especially when you’re going to be working up a sweat while hiking.
Heavy winter jackets might well be amazing at keeping you warm and dry, but if you’re exerting yourself while you’re on the go, you’re going to be dying inside.
I believe that many of these jackets are versatile enough to use in all weather conditions, providing you layer up with an inner fleece or thermals underneath.
You can always take off and add more layers as the situation demands it. But with one big heavy winter coat – you’re stuck with that and not many options for adapting to the conditions.
Just something else to bear in mind – how heavy is the hiking jacket? Personally, I always try to err towards the lightweight variety for total freedom and unrestricted movement.
It’s super easy to carry if you need to take it off, too.
Does it have one? Does it need one?
I would say a decent hiking jacket does need to offer a hood. If not one that is built-in, but at least one that can roll out should the clouds start to gather.
Of course, it’s not essential, it’s just I think most hikers will be happy with the option as you never know when the conditions are going to change suddenly.
As well as a hood, a hiker should also have access to some awesome hiking gloves so follow that link to find a quality pair that’ll keep your digits as snug as the rest of you.
What other bells and whistles does the hiking jacket possess?
Snap cuffs, tapered seams, drawstrings, quality zippers and fastenings…
And pockets. Don’t forget about the pockets.
One feature I really like the built-in Ordnance Survey map pocket of the Berghaus jacket. That’s a real winner for hikers.
It’s little touches like that which can often make the difference in choosing the right product for you and your needs.
Some people like having access to a breast pocket.
Others need something internal for valuables.
Maybe you’d like an earphone jack so you can plug in your devices and listen to music?
Consider what kind of extras you would like integrated in your winter hiking jacket before you make your decision.
Trust me, having a pocket in the wrong place is a logistical nightmare that can cause an existential crisis.
As ever, cost comes into play and they can vary wildly in the outdoor clothing world.
It is possible to pick up a bargain though, and I believe I’ve made some rather excellent picks here if I do say so myself.
None of these choices are really going to break the bank, compared to what could have been included – going well beyond the $500 mark.
Always buy the best you can afford, but the most expensive one might not always be the best. Shop around and read more of my reviews in the process.
How Much Should I be Spending on a Winter Hiking Jacket?
Well, this is entirely up to you and it depends on how much you can afford.
As I mentioned above, there are bargains to be had, but I would encourage you to spend that extra bit more on something that is really good quality and is going to last.
Hiking jackets will be going through some serious wear and tear, so you should invest in something that will be able to take a beating.
And that usually means stretching the purse strings a little further.
How do I Wash My Winter Hiking Jacket?
By their very nature, hiking jackets are likely to get pretty filthy – especially if you’re out in rough weather.
The good news is that most jackets will be 100% machine washable, so you can just bung it in with the rest of your clothes and worry no more.
Others might need a cleaning specialist or as a hand wash only.
The simple thing to do it always make sure to adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions. That way you’ll prolong the life of your garment and you’ll get plenty of use out of it for years to come.
What Else do I Need for Hiking in Winter?
As well as the jacket, you’re also going to need a really good pair of winter hiking pants, so have a look at that link and see if you can pick out something that’s right for you.
Layering up is important – especially with lighter hiking jackets – so you should consider thermal underwear and fleece tops to keep the heat in.
Don’t forget to make sure they are made from breathable fabrics, as you need your clothing to be able to wick away moisture from your skin.
Aside from all the other kit already mentioned, such as good boots, pants, gloves, hats and other apparel, it might be worth getting yourself a good hiking headlamp – which will be a godsend in those dark winter months and could be a really useful safety addition.
You can already feel the chill in the air as we enter the fall, and to be honest that’s a good thing because this summer has been a scorcher.
But winter doesn’t mean staying indoors, so get ready to continue exploring those trails with the best winter hiking jackets of 2020.
In the meantime, why not download my e-book about solo travel? It’s packed full of really useful information for staying safe when you’re wandering the globe on your own.
And leave me any comments below about your favorite hiking gear or apparel.
Happy hiking everyone!
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