Updated: June 5, 2015

Parka Reviews and Buying Guide:

A parka is a style of jacket that is meant to protect you from severe cold and even windy conditions. Many parkas are stuffed with down or synthetic fibers to keep you warm on those cold winter days. Hooded parkas are most common since they help keep your head and ears warm from the elements. Manufacturers produce parkas for both men and women and the lastest 3 in 1 models give you the ultimate in options. You have an outer layer which is usually a water-resistant shell that works best in wet weather or mild temperatures. If there is no moisture in the air but the temperatures are colder, then go with the fleece liner which will keep you warm. If conditions are not only cold but wet, wear the liner and shell together for a warm, dry fit. It used to be that one size fit all with jackets, but now there are so many varieties and style designs you can really branch out and find something that fits you.
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A parka should be snug around the waste, have a convenient draw-string pull for the hood with an easy to manage snap to keep out all wind and rain, and feel somewhat "heavy". As we mentioned above many of the newer styles offer parkas that breakdown into just shells or fleece liners, so don't worry if the jacket feels heavy when you have it on. Parkas are designed for all activities from severe mountain expeditions, to casual skiing, and made with down, leather, gore-tex, etc. If you buy a parka from a reputable outdoors store like REI or LLBean then you should be able to find a jacket that will keep you warm in most conditions. The top brands include Columbia Sportswear, North Face, Patagonia, LL Bean, LandsEnd, Mountain Hardwear, and Marmot. If at all possible try on the parka before buying, even if you are purchasing online go to a local store first and see which size fits you comfortable and test out the various styles with snaps, zippers, hoods, drawcords, etc. When I recently went to the North Face outlet to buy my parka I tried on several before I found the right fit. The salespeople in the stores were informative and helpful in guiding me to the correct decision based on my uses for the jacket. Many of the online stores like Backcountry.com and Altrec.com have live online chat you can use to talk with a professional over the computer and ask questions. I found this very useful when ordering an item for my wife. We have tried to give you an idea of which brands and products are considered the "best of the best" down below with prices, descriptions, and where to buy. Most of the online mountaineering and outdoors websites now have lots of consumer opinions posted on their sites with reviews of most of the items for sale. RECOMMENDED - You can browse the top selling mens coats, parkas, and jackets online here. All the most popular womens parkas are here.


Best Winter Parka:

The North Face has perhaps the best reputation when it comes to outdoor clothing and mountaineering accessories. We found The North Face McMurdo Parka ($200) was rated very high in several comparisons between the top parkas. The hood with the fur trim was a bit much for us, but reviews show that the parka rates well in many categories. It's waterproof, breathable, seam sealed, has a detachable hood, 2 vertical chest pockets, 2 horizontal pockets, and 2 hand pockets. The parka also comes with plenty of internal storage space and is insulated with 550 down fill. Pricing varied by website, but we did see some closeout sales on Campmor.com for this particular jacket. Check out their site first for the best prices. RECOMMENDED - Another top seller in this category is the Columbia Sportswear Men's Titanium Blade Run Parka, it sells for about $180 and is really two separate jackets in one. The outer shell is light and breathable while the inner liner keeps you warm on the slopes or on your way to work.

Best Rain Parka:

There are parkas made just to protect you from the rain. These tend to be lighter shells with not much inner lining to keep you warm but very effective at keeping the water out and you dry underneath. We like the Columbia Sportswear line of rain parkas with most listed online at Columbia.com. The ROL Jacket is an inexpensive option that is windproof, waterproof, and the hood has a drawcord with visor. The Trail Model Rain Jacket ($59) from LL Bean gets excellent reviews since it's both waterproof and lightweight making it great for hiking in wet weather or fishing in the elements.

Women's Parka:

The Patagonia Women's Downtown Loft Parka ($300) is a stylish jacket that comes in forge grey, black, prussian blue, or feather grey. Meant for use in cities as well as in the mountains it covers women down past their waist with down (800 fill-power premium European goose down). There is a 2 way front zipper with flap. The hood will stow into a shawl collar and the outer material is water repellent. We read reviews on several sites like Backcountry.com from owners and they say the jacket works great in cold weather climates like Chicago, Cleveland, and NYC. Women like the design which allows them to wear it to work but not give up any style points. RECOMMENDED - We suggest browsing the best selling ladies parkas and jackets on Amazon.com. They carry all the leading brands and plus sizes with some manufacturers (Columbia Sportswear).

Warmest Parka:

Lots of people want to know which is the "warmest" parka on the market. We went to mountaineering websites and looked in their forums to read just what the experts and experienced outdoorsman have to say. Over and over again we heard that the Rock & Ice from Feathered Friends rated as the warmest available parka on the market with 21 ounces of 750-fill down and a windproof shell with either Epic or PTFE (like Gore-Tex). Other contenders for the top title include Marmot's Parbat and the Mountain Hardwear Sub-Zero. All these parkas/jackets will set you back $400+, so no need to spend that kind of $$ unless you are headed to Denali or some of the higher summits in the world. For the average owner of a parka, these may be too warm. We read several comments in an online discussion board that the Rock & Ice and even the newer Icefall Parka can be too warm in milder climates. I bought the The North Face Himalayan Parka ($500) since I prefer North Face parkas and it rates well with the experts. The Himalayan Parka could be one of the lightest yet warmest jackets on the market. The 850-fill down keeps you warm and the breathable outer shell will help you stay dry inside. Again, all these parkas are made for extreme cold and expedition climbing.