When winter’s temperatures settle into the biting sub-zeroes, your best option for staying warm is the iconic arctic parka. Today’s iterations draw from mid-century military designs, placing equal weight on function and warmth, but utilize modern waterproofing and wind-proofing innovations. Met with down fill and an optional fur hood lining, cold weather doesn’t stand a chance.
On top of its functionality, the parka is an easy design to incorporate into any wardrobe, complementing a wide range of different aesthetics. In the case of cold-weather outerwear, the aphorism “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” readily applies, and the parka is still the best. Shop a few of our favorites below.
Best Overall ParkaThe North Face Recycled Mcmurdo Parka Read More
Best Upgrade ParkaWoolrich Luxe Wool Long Parka Read More
Best Affordable ParkaColumbia Marquam Peak Fusion Parka Read More
J.Crew PrimaLoft Franconia Parka Read More
Everlane The ReNew Short Parka Read More
How to Wear a Parka
Once you’ve found the right parka, it’s all about wearing it the right way — and yes, there’s definitely a right and a wrong way to wear one. It’s all about striking that delicate balance in the extreme cold. Ideally, your parka is packed with warming insulation, so to avoid overheating, don’t go overboard on the layers beneath.
When in doubt, keep it simple: Start with a base layer, like a thermal henley or a long-sleeve tee, and then add one top layer, as you would with a regular outfit worn indoors (think a flannel shirt or a crewneck sweatshirt or sweater). Your parka is going to keep you plenty warm beyond that, but we’d suggest sticking with tried-and-true cold-weather picks rather than simply throwing your parka on top of a T-shirt.
On your lower half, stick with what you know: Cold weather trousers or heavier canvas work pants are going to combat snow and precipitation readily, while, for instance, heavy blue selvedge denim might weigh you down. Think lightweight yet warm (leave any warm-weather trousers squarely in storage). Your parka should provide enough coverage, protection and warmth to get you from point A to point B with mobility in mind, and the rest of your winter ensemble should follow suit.
What to Know About Parka Insulation
Your parka should ideally level things up when it comes to insulation – you want maximum warmth in the winter cold, after all – but not every type of insulation is created equal.
The best insulation for your parka should provide durability while fighting back against blizzards, and perhaps that’s the reason why many parkas use down insulation. Made from goose or duck plumage, down is a packable and super-lightweight insulation.
Here’s the catch: It doesn’t insulate if it gets wet, and it also dries slowly. When shopping for a down parka, look for the fill power (a measurement that determines how many cubic inches of volume filled up by one ounce of down).
To avoid the pitfalls of down on its own, water-resistant down insulation might provide the best alternative, yet parkas insulated with this material are more expensive than average.
There are also synthetic versions of down, which blend compressed, water-resistant fibers with actual down itself – that way, you’re getting performance capabilities and the warmth of down. This is a solid hybrid option if you anticipate taking on more active pursuits.
On the other hand, some of the best parkas for men are made entirely with synthetic insulation, all the better to dry quickly and perform well if the fibers get wet. Like the fill power on a down parka, parkas with synthetic insulation feature a warmth rating – in this case, they’re rated by the gram weight per square meter of synthetic fill. When in doubt, the higher the better (i.e. warmer). The key when shopping for one of the best parkas for men? Prioritizing warmth, performance and yes, a dash of style as well.