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8 best winter coats for men that will bring warmth to your wardrobe

Stay toasty with these technical jackets made by some of our favourite brands

Paddy Maddison
Monday 20 September 2021 16:33
<p>From Iceland to the French Alps, we tested these outer layers in teeth-chattering conditions </p>

From Iceland to the French Alps, we tested these outer layers in teeth-chattering conditions

With summer fading fast, now’s the perfect time to start thinking about investing in a good winter coat. Light jackets, shells, fleeces and hoodies will get you through most of the year, but there’s no substitute for some proper heavy-duty outerwear when the cold weather takes hold.

A good winter coat should be substantial, robust and provide a considerable amount of insulation. It should be something warm enough to wear over a T-shirt down to around 1-5C, with room enough to layer up for anything colder. But what are the best winter coats on the market right now?

To answer that question as best we can, we put a wide range of winter coats to the test – some over the course of several years – and detailed our thoughts below. Our testing took us to various locations, including Iceland and the French Alps, but the majority was conducted in the famously chilly environs of North East England, in a mixture of rural and urban environments.

How we tested

We wore them for all our day-to-day winter duties, which included everything from hikes in the hills to standing around in the freezing cold last winter, clutching a pint when the pubs could only serve takeaway drinks. This actually proved to be a surprisingly effective test.

Here are our top picks of the best men’s winter coats, why we chose them and what we feel makes them worthy of your consideration this winter.

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The best winter coats for men are:

  • Best overall – Fjällräven nuuk parka: £430,
  • Best value for money – Carhartt WIP trapper parka: £125,
  • Best for sustainability – Patagonia isthmus parka: £220,
  • Best for urban environments – Uniqlo hybrid down hooded coat: £109.90,
  • Best for forward-thinking design – Klättermusen farbaute jacket: £600,
  • Best for classic looks – Holubar deer hunter parka: £560,
  • Best for balancing style and function – Fjällräven vardag lite jacket: £275,
  • Best for layering – Craghoppers talo jacket: £200,

Fjällräven nuuk parka

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

You can always rely on Fjällräven for tough, heavyweight outdoor gear, and this beast of a parka is no exception. It’s made from a highly durable and surprisingly soft polyamide fabric and is fully waterproof and windproof. It’s also packed full of synthetic insulation, which is extremely warm (not to mention cruelty free), and boasts ample room for layering up without feeling overly bulky.

The nuuk parka performs brilliantly in the cold and it looks great too – unmistakably outdoorsy, but doesn’t look out of sorts when pottering around town at the weekend or taking the dog for a walk. And fans of pockets, rejoice. This coat features a whopping 15 of them, cleverly placed and thoughtfully designed for maximum functionality and practicality... but never at the expense of looks.

This is, in our opinion, the ultimate winter coat. That said, there are a few small points to note before buying. Firstly, although there is a drawcord for adjustment in the hem, there is no adjustment at the waist. This didn’t bother us at all during our testing but its absence will be notable for some. Secondly, sizing is very much on the large side. Most of the coats we tested for this review were medium but we had to take a small in the nuuk, which still left plenty of room for layering underneath. If you’re going to buy one (which you should) we’d advise going one size down from your usual.

Carhartt WIP trapper parka

Best: Value for money

Rating: 9/10

Carhartt WIP’s trapper parka has been a mainstay for as long as we can remember. We’ve had ours since 2015 and it’s still going strong, even after many winters of heavy use. It’s a classic parka design, featuring two slanted chest pockets, two large front pockets, an internal velcro pocket, an arm pocket, fleece-lined hood with removable trim, concealed ribbed cuffs, drawstrings to the hem and waist, and synthetic insulation throughout.

All of that aside, what really sells this jacket for us is the level of durability in relation to cost. While it isn’t cheap, it is cheaper than most other coats of a similar standard. It feels heavy-duty. The face fabric is thick and tough, and ours still looks as good today as it did fresh off the hanger all those years ago.

We’d also say that it’s perfect for UK winters in terms of the level of insulation it provides. A lot of parkas are overkill for most UK conditions, but this coat gets it just right. Teamed up with a hoodie, there’s nothing it can’t handle, and it’s plenty warm enough with just a T-shirt the rest of the time.

Patagonia isthmus parka

Best: For sustainability

Rating: 9/10

This timeless parka from Patagonia has everything you need to fend off the winter in style. It’s simple, practical and versatile enough to work across your entire wardrobe. There are plenty of pockets, a cosy fleece lining and a good amount of adjustability in the body, cuffs and hood.

Where the isthmus parka really shines, though, is its sustainability credentials. Everything that can be is made from recycled materials, including the face fabric, the insulation and the fleece lining. The fabric is actually something called “netplus”, which is woven from recycled fishing nets to help reduce ocean plastic pollution. A nice idea, and certainly something that will sway some in their decision making.

Performance-wise, it’s great too. While it’s not geared up for the absolute coldest of conditions, it’s more than sufficient for UK winters, particularly when worn layered with a fleece or lightweight insulated jacket.

Uniqlo hybrid down hooded coat

Best: For urban environments

Rating: 8/10

This refined-yet-affordable take on a classic down parka is perfect for those looking for a versatile outer layer for winters in the city. It’s subtle and understated, which means it goes with almost anything, and the modern, minimalist aesthetic means it doesn’t look overly outdoorsy.

It’s also very reasonably priced for a down parka. At just a shade over £100, it was the most affordable of all the down parkas we tested, while still providing a serious dose of insulation and plenty of style points to boot.

We’d recommend this to anyone looking for a stylish winter coat who doesn’t want to pay over the odds.

Klättermusen farbaute jacket

Best: For forward-thinking design

Rating: 8/10

Klättermusen’s knack for pairing cutting-edge design with on-the-mountain performance has made it one of the most exciting outdoor brands around. This technical insulated parka is a great example of what the Swedish company does so well, delivering off-kilter looks and quirky design elements but in a pragmatic, performance-orientated way.

Although it looks complex, the coat itself is a relatively simple affair, offering two front pockets, a hood and a zip front. But it’s the little details that make it such a fantastically unique piece of kit. Take the asymmetric zipper, for example. It may look like a stylistic decision, but it’s actually placed like this so as not to interfere with other zips when worn as part of a layering system. Even the drawcord adjusters to the cuffs are different to anything else on the market, while still being highly functional.

Best of all, the farbaute jacket is made entirely of natural materials. Everything from the organic cotton face fabric to the responsibly sourced down filling is naturally occurring, making it environmentally friendly as well as warm, practical and nice to look at.

Holubar deer hunter parka

Best: For classic looks

Rating: 7/10

The Holubar deer hunter is an iconic jacket worn by none other than Robert De Niro himself in the 1978 film of the same name. It’s a classic mountain parka that’s brimming with retro cool and is sure to earn you nods of approval from movie buffs and outerwear connoisseurs alike.

We’re big fans of the simple, classic design. There are no overblown technical features or futuristic fabrics, just good old-fashion cotton and down insulation for warmth. Another cool feature is the detachable internal collar, which provides an extra line of defence against the cold (and looks pretty neat too).

This is a great-looking coat, but if you want something to go marching up mountains in, the deer hunter is not it. It is warm, but there are some slight issues with cold spots where the insulation moves around. It’s not enough to stop us from buying one, but it’s certainly something to be aware of if you’re looking for a serious heater of a jacket.

Fjällräven vardag lite jacket

Best: For balancing style and function

Rating: 9/10

We’ve tested a lot of jackets over the years, and Fjällräven has never put a foot wrong. This retro-looking padded coat encapsulates everything we love about the Swedish brand’s gear: it’s rugged, it’s practical, it’s stylish and it’s brimming with retro details and throwback styling. Granted, this isn’t one of Fjällräven’s more technical pieces, but it does everything you need it to as long as you’re not planning a K2 attempt for Christmas.

What we loved most about the vardag lite jacket is Fjällräven’s trademark rugged build quality. Is it lightweight and ultra technical? No, but it’s not supposed to be. Outdoor brands these days get so hung up on weight and packability that they forget about durability and longevity. But this thing, with its thick G-1000 wax-cotton fabric and reinforced press studs, is probably going to be getting passed around by our grandchildren.

Looks-wise, it’s a winner too. That colour-block finish is eye-catching, but not obnoxiously so, and we’re big fans of the retro Fjällräven patch in place of the usual leather fox emblem. It’s a great winter coat for anyone looking for a solid all-rounder that doesn’t disappoint in the style stakes. Oh, and the little mobile phone pouch in the front pocket is a really nice touch too.

Craghoppers talo jacket

Best: For layering

Rating: 8/10

We know we said winter coats should have some degree of insulation. However, in milder winter conditions, a layering system consisting of a base layer, insulated mid layer and an outer shell can work even better. This way, you can add or remove layers to coincide with fluctuating temperatures, and this understated shell from Craghoppers allows you to do just that.

The talo jacket has a mid-length cut that covers the backside, which is helpful in cold weather, and has a simple design that lends itself nicely to anything from hiking gear to casual wear. It’s made from Gore-Tex fabric, which blocks water from coming in while allowing vapour to escape, meaning it’s perfectly equipped to keep you warm and dry on even the wettest of days.

We found this jacket to be very warm when combined with a mid-layer for insulation, as the fabric completely deflects any wind and rain. It’s a great option for those transitional winter months where it’s still not quite cold enough for a full-blown parka, but too chilly to rely on a light jacket or fleece alone.

The verdict: Men’s winter coats

Fjällräven’s nuuk parka is the clear winner. It’s pricey, but it’s a very warm and functional coat that’ll no doubt still be seeing action a decade down the line. If you’re looking for something a little lighter, the brand’s vardag lite padded jacket is a great-looking option that’s warm enough for UK conditions without being overkill.

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