Whether you live somewhere with mild temperatures or sleet-filled winter months, dealing with precipitation and temp drops is all about finding the right cold weather jacket. In this guide, we’ll cover different fabric technologies and features to help you decide on a winter jacket that’s perfectly suited for you.
Determining Your Needs
Men’s winter jackets come in a wide variety to suit any lifestyle. Style considerations, proper fit, weight, durability, and moisture protection are things to consider when you choose your winter outwear.
Lightweight winter jackets that keep your core warm are ideal for activities like hiking or skiing, while a well-insulated cold-weather jacket with a hood and room for layers is ideal for commuting to work.
Winter jackets have a ton of feature combinations that make it easy to find a jacket that works for your local weather. If wet, snowy winters are common where you live, hardshell jackets are great for their ability to keep you dry. If your location is dry but endures extremely low temps, hooded jackets with a plush, dense fill will help keep you warm.
Jacket Insulation Types
Each type of jacket insulation has compelling features and ideal uses. Understanding these profile factors will help you to choose the best winter jacket for your needs.
Jacket Insulation Categories
- Down – Made from duck or geese feathers, down insulation protects you by trapping the heat from your body in its fine fibers. Jackets filled with down are lightweight and great for active outdoor uses, but you’ll want to avoid down in wet or damp conditions as it loses its insulation capabilities when wet.
- Synthetic – Instead of using feathers, synthetic fills use polyester to trap your body heat and recycle it for warmth. These fills aren’t typically as soft as down, but they do maintain their warmth better in wet conditions.
- Hybrid – Hybrid jackets combine the flexibility of thinner, lightweight jackets with thicker insulations near your core. These jackets are known for strong construction, fitted cuts and flexible materials. They work well in varying temperatures, but aren’t ideal for extremely frigid or wet conditions.
- Shell – Shell jackets aren’t a type of insulation, but they add extra warmth to lighter cold-weather jackets or work well on their own for weather that’s too warm for a heavy jacket. Shells are ideal for hikes and long runs where your internal temperature will rise as you get started, but you’ll need a jacket with more coverage for more extreme temperatures or long stretches in cold weather.
Jacket Insulation Materials
- Graphene – Graphene-infused jackets use this material as a conductor to move heat and energy throughout the jacket. Some graphene-infused jackets even come battery-powered to heat up quickly.
- Polyfill – Polyfill is made from recycled polyester and is another down alternative. Its versatility is ideal for keeping you warm and dry in more mild winter temperatures.
- Primaloft – Primaloft is a synthetic microfiber insulation with functional features similar to down – it’s an insulator that traps warm air. While down may be a bit warmer, Primaloft is more durable and dries quicker.
Waterproofing and Breathability
Waterproofing and breathability help you stay dry and regulate your body temperature in cold, wet environments.
Jacket Waterproof Rating Chart
Fabrics have a waterproof rating system that rates them on a scale of how much water they can handle before it makes its way through the fabric.
|Best For (Activity/Temp)
|5K – 10K
|Some resistance – Only light rain or light snow. Best to avoid moisture for extended lengths of time.
|10K – 15K
|Light resistance – Can handle moderate rain or snow but won’t keep out heavy pressure or withstand long-term exposure.
|15K – 20K
|Heavy resistance – Can withstand some pressure under heavy rains and heavy, wet snow.
|Ultra resistance – Withstands pressure and can handle heavy rain or wet snow for longer.
Does increasing water resistance decrease breathability?
Yes, for good reason. Because waterproof fabrics create a barrier between your jacket and the elements, they’re often constructed of dense fabrics with heavy seams. What you lose in breathability, you’ll gain in waterproof technology.
Winter jackets for men are made in a variety of construction types and materials to help you find the ideal combination of durability, breathability and warmth.
- Oxford weave – Features crossed threads that create a thick texture that is known for its durability.
- Polyester – Noted for its durability and strength, its ability to withstand moisture makes it a great choice for many hybrid insulations and uses in jacket exteriors.
- Sherpa – Made from fleece and features soft, cozy construction that’s flexible and warm but retains moisture.
- Nylon – Lightweight, strong and flexible, but isn’t as wind or moisture-resistant as other materials.
- Pongee – Typically made from silk but sometimes incorporates cotton or linen, and is stronger and more dense than polyester while remaining breathable. It’s often used in jacket linings to funnel heat into insulation layers.
- GORE-TEX – Made by fusing a layer of ePTFE between two layers of fabric, making it an incredibly water-resistant fabric that’s breathable from the inside.
Seams and Stitching
- Plain seam – Create the smoothest finish of a jacket but may not be the strongest seam.
- Double stitched seam – Use parallel or crossed constructions to reinforce arms or pressure areas but may not be as flexible.
- Clean finish seams – Combine the clean exterior look of a plain seam with a reinforced constructive stitch inside the garment for added durability.
- Straight stitch – Often used at the edges of sleeves and collars for a neat, clean appearance.
- Overlock stitch – Often used as finishing stitches, usually to attach zippers to lapels and cuffs.
- Flatlock stitch – Creates a flat seam and superior comfort by attaching edges without overlapping them.
- Full taped – Full taped jackets, aka fully taped jackets, reinforce seams using waterproof tape to provide maximum protection against rain, snow and moisture.
- Critically taped – Jackets with critically taped seams only tape and seal seams that are at the greatest risk of letting in moisture. Generally, critically taped jackets will have a lower waterproof rating than full taped jackets.
How To Determine Proper Fit
To determine a proper fit, pay attention to factors like movement, room for layers and the right length for your height.
Form-fitting jackets are generally better for optimum mobility. Loose or oversized jackets for winter can come with extra bulk that makes it hard to move freely. For cold-weather runs and hikes, choose a jacket that fits snugly to the body so you can focus on your movement and not on your clothing.
Room for Proper Layering
One jacket or layer likely won’t do in the coldest temperatures, especially for extended periods. Jackets for camping adventures or extreme temperatures should have enough room for shells and sweaters.
While a knee-length jacket might give the appearance of more warmth, it can sometimes restrict movement. For men’s jackets, choosing a waist-length fit is best to maintain your flexibility and keep your core warm.
Pockets, ventilation, and adjustable hoods are just a few additional features to look for in your winter jacket.
- Adjustable hood – Zippers, drawstrings or cords let you tighten your hood to add another layer of protection against wind and moisture.
- Rise-up collar – Rise-up collars add a barrier against the elements and can also cover the space below your hat.
- Zippers – Side zippers let you create a custom fit, while zippered pockets ensure your belongings won’t fall out as you move through your day.
- Multi pockets – When hiking or camping, the ability to carry extra supplies is ideal. Jackets with roomy and functional pockets add versatility to your winter jacket.
- Chest pockets – Chest pockets make it easy to grab your essentials while you’re on the move.
- Internal stow pocket – an internal stow pocket lets you keep your most vital possessions, like your phone and wallet, protected against the elements.
- Elastic cuffs – Elastic cuffs help create a seal that keeps heat inside your jacket.
- Bungee waistband closure – Bungee waistbands help keep your body heat trapped inside your jacket.
- Reversibility – Reversible jackets can offer versatility in style and construction, giving you options for breathability and wicking away moisture.
- Ventilation – Interior ventilation allows body heat to circulate, preventing overheating or excess sweating.
Choosing the right cold-weather jacket for your needs involves various factors like style, fit, durability and moisture protection. By assessing your needs based on activity and weather and understanding different insulation types and materials, you can find the perfect winter jacket to keep you warm and comfortable all season long.