The 7 Best Women’s Parkas – [2020/2021 Reviews]

Winter fashion often struggles to balance fashion and function these days. The best women’s parkas have to look good for a night out on the town or skiing down the slopes.

With years of experience living and teaching others to ski in a mountain town, I know what get’s a thumbs up and what to avoid.

Now I’m going to recommend a handful of some of the top winter parkas for women.

Best Women’s Parkas

 The North Face Thermoball Parka4HOW Women’s Fur Hooded ParkaHelly Hansen W Blume Puffy Parka
editors choice
Style:PuffyParkaPuffy
Hood:YesYesYes
Waterproof:YesNoYes
Insulation:PrimaLoft® / ThermoBall™SyntheticHigh loft - Synthetic

For more of my cold weather gear recommendations, have a look through these popular Outside Pursuits guide links: Women’s Winter Boots, Women’s Hoodies, Women’s Rain Boots.

Quick Answer: The 7 Best Rated Parkas For Women – 2020

  1. The North Face Women’s Thermoball Classic Parka II
  2. 4HOW Women’s Fur Hooded Parka Jacket
  3. The North Face Women’s Arctic Parka II
  4. Columbia Women’s Morning Light II
  5. Orolay Women’s Thickened Down Jacket
  6. Helly Hansen W Blume Puffy Parka Jacket
  7. Eddie Bauer Women’s CirrusLite Down Parka 

Here is a feature comparison of my top rated women’s parkas with a comparison table and our buyers guide below will help you choose a parka for you.

Women’s Parka Reviews

I had to start our list today with something relatively practical. This nylon puffy-inspired parka does a great job of balancing modern outdoor fashion with a practical design that’s more than just good looking.

Let’s start with fashion. This parka runs from the hood (not removable) all the way down over the hips. It’s a long parka that could actually run a danger of restricting movement.

Fortunately, TNF did a good job of including a top and bottom zipper so you can free up leg movement if you want.

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Inside this parka is ThermoBall insulation which mimics goose down. Since the jacket itself isn’t necessarily waterproof it’s good to see synthetic insulation. This type of insulation stays quite warm even if you get wet in a surprise cloud burst!

At the end of the day, there are 6 different styles and colors to choose from and I think one of them will appeal to most people but that’s for you to decide.

The best women’s parkas that has enough performance to keep you warm and happy in surprise weather.

 

The North Face Women’s Thermoball Classic Parka II at a Glance:

  • Style: Puffy
  • Hood: Yes
  • Waterproof: No
  • Insulation: PrimaLoft® / ThermoBall™

Okay, so we started with the trendy puffy style jacket but I know that style isn’t for everyone.

This time we’ve got a faux-fur lined jacket with a big fluffy collar that feels a bit like something a very fashionable arctic explorer might wear!

There’s something timeless about the appeal of fur lined winter clothing. It started as a practical way to slow down wind and snow buffeting around the head.

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Today it might often be more of a fashion statement but the practical function remains largely unchanged.

Cut at the waist, this jacket has a single-direction zipper. There are adjustable drawstrings around the waist for a form-fitting look and cuffs around the wrists help block out drafts and snow.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you manage to make a mess of this jacket it’s supposed to be dry cleaned so that’s a bit of a bummer.

It’s worth mentioning that the jacket is available in black and drab green – both good looking winter colors.

The best women’s winter parka for outdoor fashion that will project just enough protection from the winter elements!

 

4HOW Women’s Fur Hooded Parka Jacket at a Glance:

  • Style: Parka
  • Hood: Yes
  • Waterproof: No
  • Insulation: Synthetic

TNF comes back with another parka that has some technical features rounded out with fashionable looks.

There’s more to this jacket than just good looks and that’s important because I want you to stay dry and safe during those winter storms.

During the winter snow, a waterproof coat might not even be necessary. Those frozen snow crystals just bounce right off the parka and never get a chance to soak through.

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When those freak spring showers catch you halfway down the ski run, however, getting wet can be dangerously cold!

That’s why I made sure to include a good waterproof parka on this list for those of you who don’t want to compromise on protection from the elements!

On top of all that you can also take the hood off this jacket. For skiers and snowboarders, this is a must-have because nothing sucks more than getting a hood full of snow that dumps down your neck while you’re out on the mountain.

Best for those wet spring days when showers are as likely as snow.

 

The North Face Women’s Arctic Parka II at a Glance:

  • Style: Parka
  • Hood: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Insulation: Down

If you’ve read any of my work you already know that I always recommend Columbia gear. Why? They do a great job of balancing performance and affordability.

Every time! As one of the longer parkas on our list, this horizontally-banded puffy style jacket rocks a two-way zipper.

Why? Because it’s long enough to actually get in the way of your legs while you walk and that could bother some people. So, if you need more room to move just pull the bottom zipper up a few inches.

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Inside the jacket is the Omni-Heat tech that allows for reflection of body heat. Of course, the jacket itself is still well-insulated but the Omni-Heat dots take it a step further.

These reflective dots help direct radiant body heat back inward which increases warmth while still allowing the parka to be breathable.

In 5 different colors, you’ll find elastic cuffs and a non-removable hood up top.

Best for an affordable jacket packed with insulation technology that will help you stay warm.

 

Columbia Women’s Morning Light II at a Glance:

  • Style: Puffy
  • Hood: Yes
  • Waterproof: No
  • Insulation: Omni-Heat – Synthetic

I’d be remiss not to cover what appears to be one of the best-selling parkas on the market right now. Orolay brings us this extra-plush parka in 5 colors that can’t seem to miss with the crowds!

There’s something undeniably super-size about this parka thanks to the large quilted segments that hang loosely. The hood isn’t any different – it’s oversized and fluffy with a generous faux wool liner.

If baggy clothing and a loose fit bother you, you’ll want to skip this jacket altogether.

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One thing to note is that instead of a two-way zipper there are two independent side zips on this jacket.

These add a design and style element while also allowing you to open up the bottom of the jacket to allow more leg movement.

Inside the jacket is a duck down filling that keeps the jacket lightweight and extra poofy! Since the parka isn’t waterproof, however, you’ll need to be careful not to get wet. Down won’t keep you warm if it gets wet.

Best for the loose fitting parka look with extra-large everything!

 

Orolay Women’s Thickened Down Jacket at a Glance:

  • Style: Parka
  • Hood: Yes
  • Waterproof: No
  • Insulation: Down

Helly Hansen is one of the bigger names in winter gloves and gear for men and women. I thought it only fair to include this popular parka with its massive furry hood and 11 various colors to choose from. There should be something here for everyone.

Let me fill you in with one of the coolest features of this parka that I love. Because not everyone needs a hood and those who do don’t always want a fur hood… there’s a solution!

On this parka, you get not only a removable hood but also removable faux fur!

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Moving past that, there are a couple of other technical feature to check out. Since it’s 100% polyester it’s going to have a soft feel and texture but poor waterproof performance.

Maybe not the best choice for wet spring and fall conditions.

You get tons of high loft synthetic insulation though. Even on the coldest days, you should be cozy with a good layering system and the 200gr insulation.

Best for extra thick synthetic insulation and a fully customizable hood!

 

Helly Hansen W Blume Puffy Parka Jacket at a Glance:

  • Style: Puffy
  • Hood: Yes
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Insulation: High loft – Synthetic

Bauer gear is one of the big names in the game. This one I picked out not only for the name but I also really like the affordable price and down insulation. Let’s take a deeper look.

I’m a fan of the moderate fit on this jacket. They distinctly designed it to fit over mid layers without getting too bulky.

Of course, as the name implies, the puffy-style jacket is made with lightweight polyester.

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It’s slim and doesn’t weigh much especially compared to some of the large, bulky parkas on our list.

Maybe the biggest drawback of this parka is that it isn’t fully waterproof. Instead, the jacket relies on DWR treatment to help repel water from the surface of the jacket.

That means you’ll stay dry for a while in a light drizzle but don’t expect to escape from a downpour without getting wet. While it is possible to wash at home – I recommend using something like Nikwax Down Detergent to be safe.

The best women’s down parka for a blend of fashion and function that’s right at home during mid-winter chills.

 

Eddie Bauer Women’s CirrusLite Down Parka at a Glance:

  • Style: Puffy
  • Hood: Yes
  • Waterproof: No
  • Insulation: Down

Women’s Parka Comparison Table

Parka StyleHoodWaterproofInsulationRating
The North Face Women's ThermoballPuffyYesYesPrimaLoft® / ThermoBall™4.6 / 5.0
4HOW Fur Hooded Parka JacketParkaYesNoSynthetic4.4 / 5.0
The North Face Arctic Parka IIParkaYesYesDown4.3 / 5.0
Columbia Women's Morning LightPuffyYesNoOmni-Heat - Synthetic4.6 / 5.0
Orolay Women's Down JacketParkaYesNoDown4.2 / 5.0
Helly Hansen W Blume Puffy ParkaPuffyYesYesHigh loft - Synthetic4.1 / 5.0
Eddie Bauer CirrusLite 2.0 ParkaPuffyYesNoDown4.2 / 5.0

How to Choose the Best Women’s Parka for You

best parkas for women

Parka Materials

Nylon

Winter jackets often fall back on this synthetic fabric because it’s lightweight, wind and water resistant, and durable! Maybe the biggest drawback, however, is that nylon has a characteristic plastic type look and feel.

If you don’t like that slippery shiny nylon feel you might be able to find a parka with a similar material…

Polyester

Similar to nylon, polyester is better known for a softer feel and less abrupt texture. Polyester fabrics are, perhaps, slightly less durable but similarly good at blocking wind and rain when done correctly.

Cotton

Sometimes you’ll get a cotton parka or some components of a parka made from cotton. Usually cotton is a “no-no” fabric in outdoor gear because it dries slowly and has poor insulation when wet.

I’d wager to bet that many parka wearers, however, aren’t using their parkas in serious outdoor conditions (you probably have a raincoat or ski jacket for that). For that reason, a little rain on your parka when leaving the movie theater probably won’t be life threatening so it may not be something to worry about.

ladies parka coats
The North Face Parka with Nylon Shell vs Helly Hanson with Polyester

Waterproofing

Parkas are a winter coat, right? Yeah.

Winter coats tend to be insulated and waterproof. But do they really need to be?

Well, think about it this way. If you’re out in the snow your coat probably doesn’t need to be waterproof. Snow hits your coat and bounces off – it’s frozen!

If, however, you lay or sit in the snow or get caught in a warm weather system with wet snow or sprinkles you may get wet!

Waterproofing isn’t really necessary for parkas most of the time. However, if you expect to be heading out in conditions that might get damp you may want to prioritize a waterproof parka.

Personally, I wouldn’t worry too much about breathable or non-breathable parkas. Instead, look for a jacket that’s within your price range and has a reliable waterproof fabric. Most name brands like Mountain Hardwear, Columbia, and The North Face, for instance, have good waterproof gear.

Of course, waterproof coats come with the drawback that they often cause sweat and moisture buildup inside the jacket.

Nylon parkas with a good DWR treatment will be quite water resistant and in most cases would be a better alternative to waterproof anyways due to the lower likelihood of sweat buildup inside.

Insulation Types

Parkas come in essentially two different types of insulation. Of course, insulation in your jacket is responsible for keeping you warm when those temps drop so it’s a pretty important topic.

Synthetic

This type of manmade insulation is good in a lot of ways. Synthetic insulation comes in a ton of different varieties but they boil down to a few simple concepts.

This insulation is great when wet. It loses very little of its insulation value wet which is great in fall and spring if you run into surprise storms.

Synthetic insulation is also allergen-free so if you happen to have animal allergies you’ll be safe here.

Maybe one of the biggest advantages of synthetic insulation is that it’s cheap!

Down

Down comes from ducks and geese and is available in many different levels of quality.

Down insulation is rated in fill power which is how “poofy” a given weight of down insulation is. For instance, 900 fill power down is “poofier” than 600 fill power down.

Down insulation is much more expensive than synthetic and the higher fill power down is more expensive again.

Parka Hoods

womens parka coats with fur hood
Helly Hansen Women’s Blume Puffy Parka

Winter jackets have hoods – it’s just how it goes, right? Well, yes and no!

Parkas with hoods are great for around town, a night out, or hanging at the ski lodge. However, those hoods are an issue if you plan to ski or snowboard.

Most skiers and snowboarders these days wear helmets and your parka hood will most likely not be compatible with said helmet. If you leave that hood dangling while you’re out on the slopes it will inevitably get filled with snow and dump down your back at some point. No good.

So, for a best-of-both-worlds compromise look for a parka with removable hood. There are several parkas on our list like the Helly Hansen with removable hoods like this and it makes a great choice for those who want fashion and function.

FAQs About Women’s Parkas

Q: What happens if my down parka gets wet?

A: Contrary to some belief down insulation isn’t harmed when wet. However, it can be harmful.

When down gets wet it loses most of its insulation value which might lead to you getting quite cold. In some cases, this could be a threat of hypothermia – get inside and get warm ASAP.

Once your down parka has had a chance to dry, however, the insulation will be as good as new and warmth will be restored! Don’t chuck it in the dryer until you check the garment tag though! Down parkas can be very sensitive to washers and dryers and you may ruin it.

Pro Tip: Down has a tendency to bunch up leaving thick and thin spots around the garment. Check for thin spots and shake the down back into place to even it out after it has dried.

Q: What’s the best way to store my parka?

A: Some of the parkas on our list are able to pack down into tiny little balls for transport and storage. For instance, the Eddie Bauer CirrusLite can pack into its own pocket.

This feature is great for putting it in your luggage or carry on. However, during long-term storage, packing down can be harmful to the garment.

For down parkas, hang them in a closet during the summer where they can have room to puff up.

Synthetic insulation, on the other hand, has no problem being stuffed into a tight little ball for months at a time. It will come out just fine but your parka might be wrinkled!

Q: Is a parka good for winter sports?

A: Parkas aren’t what I would call the garment of choice for winter sports. They tend to be long and get in the way of leg movement for skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing. On top of that, these garments are usually quite form fitting which can be restrictive to movement.

Now, I’m not saying you can’t use a parka for winter sports. If you find the right one and it fits/performs well enough then you probably can do it!

I will say that a more efficient setup for winter sports would be a good layering system with a hardshell jacket in most cases.

At the end of the day, it’s totally possible to enjoy winter sports in a variety of clothing and equipment so if it works for you then get after it!

Q: How can I make my parka warmer?

A: If your parka by itself isn’t warm enough then the problem is most likely wind. Most parkas are created with what’s called sewn-through seams.

Sewn-through seams pinch the outer layer and inner layer together with a row of threads to create those quilted puffy lines that are so iconic today. The problem with that is then those seams lose their insulation value and essentially act like holes in your parka’s warmth layer!

It’s silly, but the reason manufacturers do this is because the alternative (called sewn baffles) is super expensive to do! It would double the price of your parka to have these more advanced and warmer seams added.

So, what to do?

If you really need extra warmth just block the wind with an outer layer. Use a raincoat or a skiing jacket like a hardshell to stop the wind. Your parka can then do its job of keeping you warm!

Q: Can I repair my parka if it has a hole?

A: For nylon and polyester parkas and puffys this is a pretty easy fix. Cotton parkas or designer-style parkas, however, aren’t something most of us can fix.

To repair a hole in a nylon or polyester parka or puffy jacket all you need is silicone seam sealer and a patch of nylon or polyester fabric. You can find nylon and polyester outdoor fabric at any fabric shop.

When you’re ready, just use some McNett Seam Grip and apply a thin layer all the way around the tear. Now place the patch fabric over the Seam Grip you applied and press in place for a few hours with a heavy book.

Use a layer of wax paper to make sure the Seam Grip doesn’t stick to the book you used to hold it down!

Of course, this will leave a patch on the outside that will be noticeable. It’s kind of like a battle scar among outdoor people though – are you really one of us until you have a few patched holes on your jacket?

Outside Pursuits Overview

There are tons of women’s winter parkas out there and, frankly, everyone has their own tastes and preferences. While I don’t pretend to know what women want (that would be a fatal mistake, amiright?) I did do my best to present a variety of options.

In our article today you’ll find fashion parkas, outdoor parkas, and even waterproof parkas!

That pretty much covers the spectrum of what parkas can be and I hope you’ll go back and read the buyer’s guide for some good tips on how to pick out a good winter parka for you.

Notice:

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Casey Fiedler

I am an avid outdoorsman with experience in naturalist education, outside adventure education, ski instruction, and writing. In addition to my outdoor hobbies, I’m a huge fan of punk rock. I have launched several start-ups. (or business ventures) When exploring the backcountry, I usually carry less than 10 pounds of gear. Years of experience have taught me to pack light. I enjoy sharing my experiences of backcountry education teaching and guiding through writing.

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