How to Select the Best Thermal Jacket for the Cold Winter Months

thermal jacket

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As it gets cold outside and the days get shorter, it’s tempting to want to hole-up in the house with a good book and warm cup of tea.

There’s nothing wrong with a nice relaxing evening indoors, but that can also get boring quickly. You don’t want the cold weather to stop you from enjoying your outdoor activities like biking or hiking.

The trick is to find the right thermal jacket, but how do you know which one is right for you?


Things to consider when looking for a thermal jacket


There are lots of thermal jacket brands out there all promising the same thing: warmth. Most aren’t cheap, either. It’s important to take a few things into consideration before making a purchase.



Take into weather conditions and activities into consideration before committing to a purchase.

  • Down: Nothing beats down for warmth and durability. A down thermal jacket can last for years. Unfortunately, down doesn’t hold up so well in wet conditions and it’s pretty pricey.
  • Synthetic: Synthetic isn’t quite as durable as down, but it’s made with wearers in mind. These jackets are usually easier to wash and dry. Plus, they usually hold up well in wet conditions.
  • Fleece: If it doesn’t look like rain, fleece is a cozy and warm choice either as a mid or outer layer.



Some jackets offer stretchable side panels, fitted hoods, extra pockets, and other features. Take your activities into consideration.

Do you need a thermal jacket with a fitted hood and side adjustments for running? Should you opt for something with specialized panels for wind resistance? If you’re pretty active, you might want something more lightweight.

Lots of coats don’t come with hoods. Do you usually rely on the convenience of a hood or do you consider hoods more of a bother?


Amount of insulation

Jackets come with different amounts and types of insulation. You may want to purchase a mid-layer jacket to cut down on weight.

If you want one jacket to rule them all, you’re probably better off biting the bullet and buying a jacket with thick insulation and a protective outer layer.

Different types of insulation contribute to their breathability and ability to wick away moisture.



If you typically layer up and carry a backpack, you’ll probably want a jacket you can stuff into your bag. Not all jackets compress very well.

Try folding it up in the store or read reviews online. Down typically retains its shape better after frequent folding and packing than synthetic.



If you plan on layering, make sure to buy a size up. If you aren’t buying online, wear your other coats to the store and try them all on together. Remember, you want something comfortable and flexible.

Do you need a reflective jacket?

If you live in an urban area or jog at night, a reflective jacket is an absolute must. Can’t find a reflective jacket in your price range or style?

No problem: just search for some reflective tape or ribbons you can stitch onto the coat. (Just make sure you don’t ruin the jacket’s integrity.)


Some of the best thermal jackets


Now that you know what you want, you need some options.


REI Co-op Activator SI

Unlike most thermal jackets, the REI Co-op Activator SI costs less than $200. It looks modern yet timeless and comes in several colors. Unfortunately, it’s a little heavy and doesn’t offer a hood.


Columbia Omni Heat

The Columbia Omni Heat is one of the best options on the market. It’s warm, versatile, waterproof, and costs less than $200.

The heat reflective jacket keeps warmth inside the coat while the breathable outer layer keeps moisture away. The Columbia Omni Heat also provides lots of pockets so it’s perfect for all activities.


Rab Xenon X Hooded Jacket

If you’re an active person, the Rab Xenon X Hooded Jackets is your perfect solution for the winter blues. It’s got a warm interior, breathable exterior, and packs well in small bags.

This jacket also helps repel wind, rain, and other elements. Downside? Its style isn’t perfect for every day wear.


Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody

If comfort is your most important aspect, the Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody has you covered. Its flexibility and breathability make it perfect for active folks all winter long. Looking for a thermal jacket that’s more like a hoodie? This is it.


Find your jacket


Now all you have to do is get out there and find it. Remember to keep your activities in mind. Read reviews and do your research before making a purchase.

If possible, try to test out coats at the store before buying online to ensure you’re buying the perfect fit.

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