Whether it’s made with down or synthetic filling, a parka will keep you plenty warm when foul weather strikes. And the best women’s parkas deliver style and utility in a sleek water-resistant package. To find the right one for you, here are a few things to consider.
Down makes the warmest winter coat, full stop. It’s light, packable, breathable, and feels like you’re wearing a duvet with sleeves. The amount of warmth in a down parka is measured by something called fill power on a scale from 300 to 900. The higher the number, the warmer the down is likely to be. Most down parkas fall between 400-500, but it’s possible to find higher numbers.
However, down loses its superpowers when it gets wet and becomes clumpy. For that reason, look for coats that have durable water-repellant (DWR) finish to prevent any water from seeping in. Down can trigger allergies in some, and there have been concerns about animal welfare, although now it's common for down to be ethically sourced. Look for the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certificate when you’re shopping for a humane parka. For a less expensive, cruelty-free option, you can also get a good synthetic down alternative.
Synthetic insulation and down alternative is commonly made with polyester. The hypoallergenic fill is cruelty-free, of course — but it’s also budget-friendly and still keeps you warm when it gets wet (unlike down) and is quick to dry, on top of it all. You’ll sometimes find its insulation noted in grams. Most mid-weight jackets weigh between 50 to 100 grams, but heavier options can hit 200 grams and above. For jackets that are primarily designed with fashion in mind, however, you might not find this number listed.
Additional details to look for on a warm coat include extra fleece lining and drawstrings or Velcro at the hood, cuffs, or waist to keep drafts out.
Whether you’re after a cute coat for winter or an expedition-worthy layer that puts substance over style, these nine parkas are the warmest things ever. You'll find them organized into two categories (down and synthetic) so you can quickly shop the ones you're interested in.
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