The Warmest Parkas for Below-Freezing Temperatures


A good, warm parka is a barrier to wind and cold temperatures, and is an insulation device to prevent heat loss. If you are looking for a suitable parka for sub-freezing conditions, there are several criteria to look at to ensure getting the best possible parka for your conditions.

Humidity and Precipitation

  • Below freezing temperatures (under 32 degrees Fahrenheit) occur in dry or wet environments. A parka designed for one is not necessarily a good option for the other. If you live in a cold and damp region such as the Northwest, coastal Alaska or the New England seashore, avoid using a goose down parka unless it has a waterproof shell. Instead, the best possible option for a sub-zero parka is using a parka that is packed with synthetic material such as Qualofill or Holofil. Unlike goose down, these fibers maintain heat retention and thermal qualities even when wet.

Dry and Semi-Arid Conditions

  • Your best option for a sub-freezing parka in a dry environment like the high country in the Rockies or the high desert of eastern Washington and Oregon is goose down. Down is a very lightweight material that is an exceptional insulator. Goose down packs down smaller than most synthetic fillers. Down does not retain thermal qualities when wet, making it a poor choice for wet environments, but a great choice for semi-arid and dry environments. Look for down parkas with a minimum 650 down rating. The absolute best down rating is an 800 fill rating.

Shell Materials

  • The fabric that holds the insulation is as important as the insulation itself. When looking for the best option in a sub-freezing parka, choose one with a breathable and waterproof shell. Look for fabrics such as Gore-Tex or H2No. This allows the body to sweat without the insulating material accumulating the moisture from the evaporated sweat.

Parka Choices

  • If you walk into most outdoor outfitters or outdoor sports stores you find a vast selection of winter parkas. Look for a temperature rating tag on the coat. Make sure to find one rated below 32 degrees, and if at all possible, find one with the red octagon announcing the parka is a "Windstopper" fabric, as well as breathable. This means the parka has a wind shell barrier in addition to the breathable fabric and insulation.

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