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Best Women’s Insulated Jacket: For All-Day Warmth When You Are on the Move

Best Women's Insulated Jacket
Dorothy Tobias
Written by Dorothy Tobias

Staying warm in the winter months is absolutely required by women who love activities like skiing, snowboarding, and climbing, but this is easier said than done. When was the last time that you’ve shopped for a jacket without being overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices you have? It’s safe to say that it was quite a tricky affair.

Fortunately, the best women’s insulated jacket will help keep you warm from casual use to sporting activities, so it’s all worth the trouble. The research and development poured into warm insulation over the past few decades have vastly improved what were once limited options. Jackets with synthetic insulation are often an active woman’s top choice because off all the great qualities of natural down while also fixing its negative characteristics.

Women's Insulated Jacket

Image credit: blistergearreview.com

Insulated jackets now maintain heat longer even when wet, and continue to improve on breathability. Through it all, one question remains: How should you choose between the increasing numbers of synthetic insulated jackets available today? Don’t fret because we are here to help!

In this article, we have provided a brief guide on how to choose a women’s insulated jacket based on a number of factors. On top of that, we have reviewed a couple of jackets from top-rated brands, which you can take as our personal recommendations. Let’s take a look!

Our Top Picks

ProductAvailable SizesMaterialsPackabilityPrice
The North Face ThermoballXS to XXL15D nylon ripstop, synthetic insulationPacks into its own hand pocketCheck price on Amazon
Mountain Hardwear ThermostaticXS to XL15D nylon ripstop, synthetic insulationPacks into its own hand pocketCheck price on Amazon
Patagonia Nano PuffXS to XLSynthetic insulationPacks into its own internal chest pocketCheck price on Amazon
Columbia Kaleidaslope IIS-XL50% triple ripstop polyester, 50% recycled polyesterDoes not pack into its own pocketCheck price on Amazon
Outdoor Research UberlayerXS to XLSynthetic insulation, fleece liningNot specifiedCheck price on Amazon
Arc’teryx Atom ARXS to XLSynthetic insulationNot specifiedCheck price on Amazon
Outdoor Research CathodeXS to XLSchoeller underarm, polyester shellPacks into its own pocketCheck price on Amazon
Patagonia Nano-AirL to XLNylon ripstop fabricDoes not pack into its own pocketCheck price on Amazon
Rab StrataS to MDown insulation, polyester fabric in body and hood, nylon in sleeves and hemIntegrated stuff sackCheck price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying

Certain characteristics are important factors to consider when looking into the wide world of women’s winter wear:

Brand

One of the things you may notice while browsing our recommendations for the best-insulated winter jacket below is that they seem to focus on only a few particular brands. Perhaps you might wonder why. It’s because these brands fully understand what it takes for women to keep warm while being active in a winter climate.

Insulated Jacket Brand

Image credit: othboutique.ca

Fellow outdoor enthusiasts and backcountry athletes have developed these select brands. Their equipment stands up to thorough testing in all conditions, and in many different environments. Given their company histories, we feel that we can completely trust their outdoor gear no matter what the environment.

Water-Resistance

When selecting an insulated jacket for the winter times, you’ll naturally need to consider its water resistance capacity. After all, a jacket that gets soaked wouldn’t do much for you, and it will make you feel colder rather than warmer. Not only will that be uncomfortable, it can also be dangerous as you may end up with hypothermia.

Insulated Jacket

Image credit: shop.flylowgear.com

Although, this doesn’t mean that you should automatically disregard the other brands. What you should pay a close attention to is the material of the fabric. If it’s made of polyester, chances are it’s at least water-resistant if not waterproof.

Flexibility

As promised, all the insulated jackets we are going to recommend to you in this article will have a certain degree of flexibility so you’ll still be able to move around freely rather than being confined to only the most basic of movements. But how exactly do you know which jackets are flexible and which are not?

The most important thing to pay attention to here is the fabric. Polyester is good because it’s usually quite stretchy and flexible while also fitting snugly so you won’t lose any warmth. But polyester alone isn’t enough. You’ll also need to take the ripstop lining into consideration.

Insulated Jacket Flexibility

Image credit: road.cc

Usually, the ripstop lining uses nylon to increase durability. Unfortunately, poor nylon stitching will clinch the fabric too tight and make it lose its flexibility. So make sure the stitching is well-done.

Packability

Packability is quite important if you plan to wear the jacket on long-distance trips such as alpine climbing or backpacking. You’ll want a jacket that compresses as small as possible so it won’t take up much space in your backpack.

Patagonia Jacket

Many manufacturers have taken this into consideration, and today, some insulated jackets come with integrated stuff sacks. Meaning, they can be packed into their own pockets—be it the hand pocket or the chest pocket. This way, it eliminates the need to carry a separate stuff sack. This makes the jacket easier to carry around with you.

Insulation

Naturally, the insulation is an important factor to consider. It doesn’t matter how flexible or packable the jacket is if it doesn’t keep you warm. As aforementioned, most of the jackets on this list come equipped with synthetic insulation. Synthetic is preferred not only because of the flexibility that it offers, but also because it dries quickly and is also cheaper.

Goose down

That doesn’t mean that you should completely disregard jackets with down insulation, however. In the end, it depends on your own individual needs and priorities. If you consider warmth to be more important than flexibility or price, jackets with down insulation will be the more appropriate choice.

Best Products on Today’s Market

After learning a little bit about the features to be considered in an insulated jacket and the brief history of the best sportswear companies, let’s see our top choices and why the products found their place in our little list.

The North Face Thermoball Jacket

Price: $118 – $300The North Face Womens Thermoball

Weight: 2 pounds

Specific features: Packable into hand pocket, water-resistant, hem cinch cord, zippered hand pockets, internal zippered chest pocket, ThermoBallo synthetic insulation, zipper closure, 15D nylon ripstop

Best use: Casual

Being warm and stylish isn’t always easy, especially because most downs just end up making people look like colorful puffy marshmallows. The North Face Thermoball Jacket, thankfully, moves away from the bulky tendency in order to focus on women’s fit, form, and color.

Probably one of the most fashionable downs on the market, no matter what your color preference, this jacket will come in it. In fact, it probably even has a few colors you didn’t even know existed.

The Thermoball insulation works similar to down by creating tiny air pockets to better capture warm air and keep you warmer longer than other fabrics could. The synthetic insulation is built to mimic the qualities of natural down, but with the added benefits of being water-repellent and having a much better price point.

This is created to be a fitted jacket, but in reality, it runs a bit big. You might want to go a size smaller if you want it to fit like a glove.

PROS:

  • Comes in many colors
  • Great insulation that’s similar to down but cheaper
  • Water-resistant
  • Easy to pack. Folds into its own pocket
 CONS:

  • Runs big

Related: You can match the jacket with this The North Face Cable Minna Beanie. This beanie also comes with almost all color varieties on the spectrum, so you can have fun mixing and matching.

Check the price on Amazon

Mountain Hardwear Thermostatic Jacket

Price: $66 – $199Mountain Hardwear Thermostatic Jacket

Weight: 0.6 pounds

Specific features: Compresses into integrated pocket, pack compatible, packable into hand pocket, elastic cuffs, dual hem cinch cord, zippered hand pockets, Thermal.Q Elite synthetic insulation, 15D ripstop nylon, water-resistant

Best use: Casual, as backcountry middle layer for alpine climbing or hiking

Do you like a jacket that comes with a lot of outdoor adventure features? Look no further than the Mountain Hardwear Thermostatic Jacket. It’s not just warm, but also absolutely loaded with convenient features that have been tried and tested by experts in the field. What does this mean?

The way the jacket easily packs down into its own pocket makes for easy carrying, and this way, it won’t take up much space in your backpack. It even has a specific loop when compressed so you can simply attach it to a harness or backpack.

Its pockets (both hand warmer, and chest pocket) are all harness and backpack compatible, which means you no longer need to rearrange everything simply to grab something out of your pocket. Finally, it uses synthetic down which always keeps its warmth even in wet conditions.

Unfortunately, the material of this jacket is not very compatible with the zippers on the pocket. Meaning it gets caught quite often. This should not be a deal-breaker, but it is definitely a bit of a hassle.

PROS:

  • Easy to pack. Folds into its own pocket
  • Great insulation
  • Water-resistant
  • Convenient because the pockets are harness and backpack compatible
 CONS:

  • The zipper gets caught in the jacket’s fabric rather often

Related: If you plan to undertake alpine climbing in this jacket, don’t forget to also protect your lower half against all the snow. This Arctix Youth Snow Pants will not only do the job nicely – its pattern will also make you quite noticeable against the pure white backdrop so you won’t get lost.

Check the price on Amazon

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

Price: $180 – $289Patagonia Women's Nano Puff

Weight: 0.75 pounds

Specific features: Windproof, water-resistant, recycled materials, zipper closure, DWR coating, internal chest pocket that doubles as a stuff sack, adjustable hem cinch cord, storm flap, zippered hand pockets, PrimaLoft Gold Eco synthetic insulation

Best use: Casual, climbing, running, commuting

Another award winner on the list, this is the Editor’s Choice for Classic Climbing according to Patagonia, and it definitely isn’t a surprise especially when you consider all the features. Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket is water resistant and windproof, making it perfect for climbing, running and day trips.

It packs down especially small, which is helpful when you start your day in the frigid morning temperatures only to have the day warm up in the afternoon. Its internal chest pocket also doubles as a stuff sack so you won’t need to carry a separate sack to store this jacket in.

Keeping with Patagonia’s goal of recycling, reusing and reducing, it also uses fabrics that have the bluesign seal of approval. This means the fabrics meet specific targets in terms of waste reduction, environmental safety, and worker safety. For the environmental crusaders among us, this jacket speaks specifically to the ideas you hold dear.

It is clear that Patagonia’s goal was the creation of a lightweight jacket when they manufactured this one. That goal, unfortunately, came with a trade-off in fit. This jacket runs small so you might want to go up a size when you purchase this.

PROS:

  • Water-resistant and windproof
  • Easy to pack. Folds into its own chest pocket
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Lightweight
 CONS:

  • Runs small

Related: This jacket is not only great for mountain climbing but also as casual wear for when you plan to have a night on the town. You can complete your stylish attire during such occasions by purchasing this SWANKYSWANS Ava Sparkle Clutch Bag too. The bright pink color compliments Nano Puff’s perfectly.

Check the price on Amazon

Columbia Kaleidaslope II Jacket

Price: Approx. $65Columbia Kaleidaslope II Jacket

Weight: 1 pound

Specific features: Interior security pocket, comfort-cuffs with thumbhole, Omni-Heat reflective thermal insulation, water-resistant, 50% triple ripstop polyester, 50% recycled polyester, zippered pockets

Best use: Casual, day trips, as middle layer

The Columbia Kaleidaslope II Jacket is one of the best price-points on the list, but just because it’s more economical doesn’t mean you are losing out on quality. Columbia has its own proprietary thermal technology called Omni Heat Thermal Reflective. This system uses reflection as a means of heat conduction.

Inside, this jacket looks like a disco ball, but it’s all in the name of keeping you warm. It even goes above and beyond the duty of a typical jacket by extending the sleeves with a comfort cuff with thumbhole, plus having a taller fur lined collar; now your hands and neck can stay warm too!

It’s water resistant and thankfully also stain resistant. Unlike some of the other synthetic options, this jacket, in particular, is great for exercising outside, without inducing excess and unnecessary sweat.

Unfortunately, it’s not suited for long-distance hiking or backpacking trips because it’s not very packable. It cannot be folded into its own pocket. You’ll have to purchase a separate stuff sack for this one.

PROS:

  • Affordable price
  • Great insulation
  • Water and stain resistant
  • Breathable
  • Slim fit
 CONS:

  • Not very packable

Related: If you plan to wear this jacket for exercising outside, you should complete your attire with this ELAN Sweat Wicking Headband. This headband is made from a sweat-wicking material, so while Kaleidaslope’s breathable and non sweat inducing fabric got your body covered, this headband will secure the rest.

Check the price on Amazon

Outdoor Research Uberlayer Hooded Jacket

Price: $132 – $315Outdoor Research Uberlayer Hooded Jacket

Weight: 1.1 pounds

Specific features: Breathable, windproof, water resistant,  zipper closure, synthetic insulation, fleece lining around the collar, lifetime warranty

Best use: Backpacking, skiing, hiking, climbing, casual

This jacket has received many major awards over the past few years in winter outdoor gear categories. In many cases, the product testers put the jacket on but then refused to take it off because it performed so well under a variety of conditions.

Despite not being particularly puffy, the Outdoor Research Uberlayer Hooded Jacket offers the same warmth as down and the same fast-drying feature as fleece. Just as important is the fact that it is windproof, water resistant, lightweight and breathable.

That’s right, this is one of the few insulated jackets that claim to be breathable. Especially when working through variable conditions in the backcountry, it’s an extremely important but often overlooked feature.

It’s perfect for every adventure you have in mind, and like all Outdoor Research’s products, it is literally guaranteed forever!

This jacket is a risk-free purchase, but it does not come without caveats. This jacket is water-resistant but not waterproof, so it’s best for you to add another shell layer on top of it when the weather takes a turn for the worse.

PROS:

  • Very versatile
  • Breathable
  • Great insulation
  • A risk-free purchase thanks to the lifetime warranty
 CONS:

  • Not waterproof

Related: As aforementioned, you’ll need a layer of softshell jacket if you plan to venture to places where there’s a high chance of rain. This Outdoor Research Aria Hoodie will do the job nicely. The 100% polyester fabric makes this hoodie totally waterproof.

Check the price on Amazon

Arc’teryx Atom AR Hoody

Price: Approx. $299Arcteryx Atom AR Hoody

Weight: 1.5 pounds

Specific features: Helmet compatible, durable, water resistant, zippered hand pockets, zippered internal chest pocket, Coreloft synthetic insulation, DWR coating, adjustable hem cinch cord, storm flap, lifetime warranty

Best use: Alpine climbing, hiking, skiing, backcountry, climbing

What would be the best way to describe this top of the line mid-layer jacket? Well, it’s just like a sleeping bag, only much more wearable. Warm – extremely warm – comfortable, and excellent to wear as a mid-layer or as just a jacket itself in warmer weather.

Each aspect of Arc’teryx Atom AR Hoody is not only built to keep warmth in but also to be adjustable—making it extremely versatile for a variety of situations. There are adjustable hem draw cords, stretchable cuff to allow for layering, chin guard, wind flap, gusseted elbows, and it’s extremely compressible.

The patented Coreloft synthetic insulation is also extremely resilient and maintains warmth even when wet. Plus it dries out very quickly. Like the other top of the line brands, Arc’teryx is also well known for its product quality and exceptional warranty, this jacket is warrantied for life!

There isn’t much to say when it comes to the cons of this jacket, except perhaps the fact that it runs small and the actual product’s coloring is a bit different from how it may appear on your computer screen.

PROS:

  • Great insulation
  • A variety of useful extra features
  • Compressible
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Water-resistant
 CONS:

  • Runs small
  • The actual color is a bit off

Related: For those times of the year when spring is fast approaching so it’s getting a bit warmer, wearing this jacket with a long-sleeved shirt underneath might be a bit too much. You should wear this Arc’teryx Motus Sleeveless Top instead. This is the perfect attire for any light exercise regimens.

Check the price on Amazon

Outdoor Research Cathode Hooded Jacket

Price: $85 – $199Outdoor Research Women's Cathode

Weight: 0.75 pounds

Specific features: Specifically stretch features, water-resistant, packable in pocket, storm flap, zipper closure, adjustable hood, Pretext Quantum polyester shell, Prim aloft One insulation, Schoeller’s underarm

Best use: Hiking, middle layer, climbing, alpine climbing

Notably, down jackets do not tend to be particularly stretchy, which is why if you want a jacket that allows you to have a free range of movements, you’ll want one with a synthetic insulation instead.

In activities which require more dexterity and flexibility than most, such as mountaineering, climbing, mountain aerobatics, finding a jacket like the Outdoor Research Cathode Hooded Jacket can make those activities much more feasible.

This jacket comes with stretchy fabric in all the key areas under the arms, which also allows for much more breathability. These underarm patches ensure that the jacket moves with you when it matters the most. It also is able to neatly pack into its own pocket, for when the strenuous activities bring the heat up enough to mean a jacket is no longer required.

Functionality-wise, this jacket does pretty much all that it is advertised to, but the same cannot be said for the design. The color of the actual product is noticeably different from how it may look on your computer screen.

PROS:

  • Flexible and stretchy
  • Good insulation
  • Packs into its own left-hand pocket
 CONS:

  • The color is a bit off

Related: This jacket is the perfect choice for those of you who plan to take on outdoor activities that require you to have a wide range of movements, such as climbing. While climbing, you’ll need to have this Mosher Mountain Gear Climbing Chalk Bag close by. It’s easy to carry and the chalk balls inside will really improve your grip.

Check the price on Amazon

Patagonia Nano-Air Jacket

Price: $199 – $249Patagonia Nano-Air Jacket

Weight: 0.8 pounds

Specific features: Breathable, water resistant, stretchy, warm, adjustable hem cinch cord, zippered hand pockets and one chest pocket, 60-g FullRange insulation, DWR coating, nylon ripstop fabric

Best use: Hiking, middle layer, climbing, alpine climbing

If you are a Patagonia specific hiker, but are looking for increased breathability and stretch than the Nano Puff jacket reviewed earlier, then the Patagonia Nano-Air Jacket is the best option. Unlike the Nano Puff, the Nano-Air aims to make a jacket catering to lifestyles and outdoor activists that are on the move!

Not only does the outer fabric stretch, but the insulation is built to be equally as flexible. Its breathability also doesn’t affect the outer fabrics water-resistant nature. This also means that it can easily fend off the unintentional coffee stain!

The 60-g FullRange insulation is guaranteed to be able to keep you warm even during rather extreme outdoor activities such as alpine climbing during the winter. It’s also rather lightweight on top of being harness and backpack compatible so it’s quite easy to carry even though this jacket, unfortunately, does not have that convenient extra design feature where it packs into its own pocket.

PROS:

  • Breathable and stretchy material
  • Great insulation
  • Water-resistant
  • Harness and backpack compatible
 CONS:

  • Does not pack into its own pocket

Related: As this jacket is quite stretchy, you can wear a thicker inner layer if you want to, such as this Dylan by True Grit Stadium Pullover. It won’t make you look bulky because the jacket will mold itself around the inner layer to fit like a glove.

Check the price on Amazon

Rab Strata Hoody

Price: $98 – $150Rab Strata Hoodie

Weight: 0.8 pounds

Specific features: Integrated stuff sack, water resistant, wind resistant, flexible, adjustable hem cinch cord, lycra quilted cuffs, 1 zippered chest pocket, 2 zippered side pockets, Polartec Alpha down insulation, polyester fabric in body and hood, nylon in sleeves and hem

Best use: Hiking, as middle layer, climbing, alpine climbing

Tested in the real wilderness, Rab’s experienced athletes have refined the key characteristics over and over again, testing it in harsh backcountry weather conditions. Over time the Rab Strata Hoody has become known as the perfect jacket for fast-paced outdoor adventure. Rab, being a climbing directed brand, specifically kept alpine climbers in mind when it originally designed this jacket.

It also was built around the understanding that you want to be extremely warm when the weather isn’t in your favor and has used Polartech Alpha innovative down insulation, a hood that fits over and under helmets, and a wind and Water resistant outer layer. Rab has made sure that the Strat hoody is fitted to women’s build but without compromising any warmth.

For a jacket with down insulation, this product comes with a relatively affordable price tag. It also comes with an attractive design since it’s a slim fit jacket that won’t make you look bulky, but it unfortunately only comes in very limited color options. Pink is not for everyone.

PROS:

  • Great insulation
  • Affordable price for a down jacket
  • Water-resistant
  • Slim fit
 CONS:

  • Very limited color options

Related: This jacket has good flexibility, so it’s great for climbing. Don’t forget to also purchase this prAna Chalk Bag if you don’t already have one. Chalk is a climber’s lifeline so a bag that has the capacity to hold plenty of it will definitely come in handy.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

This ends our product reviews. Taking everything we’ve had to say into consideration, there is definitely a warm and protective jacket out there which perfectly suits your winter time needs. Make sure to pick a jacket that’s resistant to moisture, windproof, activity proof, and above all cozy.

While the jackets we’ve reviewed above are good for pretty much any kind of outdoor winter activities, there is no one size fits all solution. How well a particular jacket serves you, will depend on your own needs as well as what kind of activity you plan to undertake, so be sure to make your choice accordingly.

Women's Insulated Jacket

Image credit: marwoodveneer.com

When you aren’t restricted by cold, the options seem limitless, so we want to know – where do you plan to go with your new winter jacket? Do you plan to go there while wearing one of the jackets we’ve reviewed for you above? Or do you have a favorite insulated jacket of your own that you think deserves to be on this list? Feel free to let us know in the comments!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dorothy Tobias

Dorothy Tobias

Dorothy is a full-time writer, who loves traveling, good food, and understands the beauty of a night spent under the stars. She likes to discover new experiences wherever she goes and she feels most comfortable in her tent, with her favorite sleeping bag. Dorothy started camping with her family when she was 4 years old and remained loyal to the practice throughout the years. Today, she is an experienced backpacker and camper and knows everything there is to know about products in this niche.