I braved the Arctic to test the warmest winter coats: Here are my key takeaways

The Arctic really put winter coats to the test. (Photo: Getty Images)

Every winter, the game is on to find the perfect winter coat — a tall order, considering it’s a challenge to find outerwear that’s not only warm and functional, but stylish, too. But where to begin?

How about in the most serious of wintry conditions… like just below the Arctic Circle?

That’s where I went recently — to Luleå, Sweden, to be exact. And it was seriously freezing. Luckily, I brought five top-rated warmest winter coats with me — from The Arrivals, Eddie Bauer, Uniqlo, Triple F.A.T. Goose and Columbia — to test in the city’s sub-zero temperatures. Keep scrolling to find out how each one fared.

Top pick: The Arrivals Halstrøm IV Woman Down Filled Modular Snow Parka

Yahoo Lifestyle Fashion Editor wears The Arrivals  Halstrøm IV Woman Down Filled Modular Snow Parka (Photo: Julie Tong)

If you’re not familiar with The Arrivals, you might want to be: It’s a direct-to-consumer outerwear label started by Jeff Johnson, a former architect, and Kal Vepuri, a former tech investor (past investments include Warby Parker and Reformation). They set out to design an outerwear line that is structurally functional, but aesthetically beautiful — similar to how an architect approaches the construction of a building.

Vepuri said in 2015, “We decided that we wanted to create something unique in the apparel category that blended the merits of an architectural design approach with an online, direct-to-consumer retail model.” I’ve heard about The Arrivals for a long time and had seen their outerwear popping up on stylish women all over New York City. However, I was curious to see if their coats truly hold up in extreme conditions.

So, are they as warm as they are beautiful? Hint: Resoundingly, yes.

The 3-in-design in The Arrivals Halstrøm IV Woman Down Filled Modular Snow Parka. (Photo: The Arrivals)

The design 

The coat’s sleek and minimalistic three-in-one design immediately caught my eye. The outer shell is made of a waterproof nylon and the interior is lined with a detachable down jacket. I found it super easy to snap off the buttons and remove the liner or snap it back in when I needed more warmth. The hood is detachable, as well.

The waterproof shell of T he Arrivals Halstrøm IV Woman Down Filled Modular Snow Parka. (Photo: The Arrivals)
The hood is detachable on T he Arrivals Halstrøm IV Woman Down Filled Modular Snow Parka. (Photo: The Arrivals)

You can choose to wear the coat exactly how you want to, and that’s what I loved the most —the personalization factor. While in Luleå, I wanted maximum warmth and coverage, so I wore the full jacket as it is. However, while I was indoors, I removed the shell and wore the down liner only, which was the perfect mixture of warmth and cloud-like comfort.

As a New Yorker, living where rain is a given during the winter, I’m excited to try out the waterproof shell. It looks super sleek on and is a fashionable alternative to wearing a plastic raincoat.

The Arrivals Halstrøm IV Woman Down Filled Modular Snow Parka (Photo: The Arrivals)

Comfort level

It’s like putting on a warm and toasty marshmallow that’s super chic, too. The outer shell is lightweight, elegant and slimming too. However, the down jacket liner is probably the best part of the coat because of how plush and warm it is.

I will caution you that the coat is on the heavier side when assembled as a whole. However, I personally don’t mind it because that means more warmth overall. Then, there’s the option to disassemble it when you want to wear a lighter winter jacket.

Warmth level

According to The Arrivals website, the winter coat is “designed and tested to endure extreme weather conditions,” in temperatures less than 30°F. Luleå’s temperatures ranged from -2°F to 7°F  and for me, it 100 percent lived up to my expectations. It’s the warmest coat I’ve ever tried and coming from a fashion editor, the most stylish I’ve ever had. If you live in an area where the winters are extreme and harsh, this coat is a must.

The 3-in-1 design allows you to wear your coat just how you like it. (Gif: The Arrivals)

Size and fit 

I suggest choosing your regular size. Even without sizing up, there’s still enough wiggle room to layer underneath (even though you don’t really need to). In Luleå, I was worried about not wearing enough layers, but all I had on was a thin zip-up from Eddie Bauer and Columbia’s Omni-Heat top and Omni-Heat tights

Overall takeaway

If you want to invest in a fashionable winter coat that checks all of your boxes (warm, stylish, functional) this is the best of the best. The $595 price tag may seem steep at first, but compared to Canada Goose and Moncler, this winter coat is the best bang for your buck. If you do the math, you’re essentially getting three coats for the price of one. Trust me, this is the long term investment coat you’ve been waiting for.

Shop it: The Arrivals Halstrøm IV Woman Down Filled Modular Snow Parka, $595, thearrivals.com

Second pick: Eddie Bauer Women’s Lodge Down Duffle Coat

Eddie Bauer Women’s Lodge Down Duffle Coat (Photo: Eddie Bauer)

Eddie Bauer is one of those brands deeply rooted in American heritage, with a history tracing back to 1920. Since then, it has continued to maintain a loyal community of mountain climbers, snowboarders and skiers who trust the brand for its quality performance gear. As someone who does not ski, mountain climb, or snowboard, I wondered: Can this seemingly ordinary coat be just as extraordinary?

The design 

At first glance, this Eddie Bauer seems like any other coat. Upon closer look, the technical design is where it shines. The coat is made of a polyester shell with StormRepel® durable water-repellent (DWR). It’s filled with 650 fill premium down insulation. Translation? It has a sleek quilted design that allowed me to swiftly move throughout Luleå’s wintry conditions without feeling like a Michelin man — and it kept me super warm along every step. Compared to most puffer coats I’ve tried over the years, this one was much more flattering and less puffy overall.

Comfort level

As one shopper put it, “My body feels like it is snuggling in bed under my down comforter.” This coat is super soft, ultra comfortable and surprisingly lightweight. My favorite part is the fleece lining along the collar, inside pockets, cuffs and upper body lining. There is even a double-zip design so you can adjust to comfortably sit. The hood has a faux-fur ruff and is detachable too. There is a two-way zip design so you can adjust when you’re standing or sitting and you can snap the front buttons close for a more seamless look. 

The interior upper body features a soft and warm fleece lining. (Photo: Eddie Bauer)

Warmth level

This coat is listed has a -60°F moderate activity temperature rating. I’d say this is accurate. Even while I was trekking through the snow in sub-zero temperature, I loved how long it extended down helping to circulate heat throughout most of my body. The faux-fur hood  and snap closure especially came in handy when Luleås windchill was unbearable.

(Photo: Julie Tong)

Size and fit 

I recommend choosing your regular size. For me, this coat was not too bulky or too thin. It has a slim fit throughout compared to most winter coats, but relaxed overall. To ensure you find your own best fit, you can choose between petite, regular, tall and plus in addition to your normal size. If you prefer your coat to be a little tighter around the waist, there is an adjustable drawcord waist you can use to tighten or loosen the coat. Because I’m short,  the coat came down to my ankles. (Note: I had the regular fit, not petite).

Overall takeaway

If you’ve been searching for a long down winter coat that is simple and understated, this is the one for you. It’s not flashy or or too “high-fashion,” but just right. Because of its simple design, the coat’s appeal spans all ages. You can be in your 20s or 60s and it is still a seamless addition to your winter wardrobe. There’s a reason this coat has amassed over 1,000 ratings with an average of 4.4 stars.

To sweeten the deal, it’s currently on sale for less than $200! Try it yourself today. I promise you won’t regret it.

Shop it: Eddie Bauer Women’s Lodge Down Duffle Coat, $196 (was $279), eddiebauer.com 

Honorable mention: Columbia Women’s Heatzone 1000 Turbodown II Jacket

Columbia Women’s Heatzone 1000 Turbodown II Jacket (Photo: Columbia)

I was very skeptical as to whether or not this lightweight, short-length jacket would keep me warm in the Arctic. But I brought it with me anyway, because I was intrigued about testing its Omni-Heat technology in the city’s sub-zero temperatures.

The design 

It’s in between a parka and a puffer coat with its two-tone shell design. I personally love it because it looks more modern and edgy compared to a traditional puffer jacket. The most interesting part is its Omni-Heat thermal-reflective lining, which not only feels innovative, but it’s unlike any other jacket I own.

(Video: Columbia)

Comfort 

The jacket is extremely lightweight and very comfortable to wear all day long. In the past, one of my grievances with certain winter coats were that they may keep me warm outside, but as soon as I step indoors, I start sweating immediately. This one is actually breathable! Note, the Omni-Heat thermal reflective lining has a waffle texture which is surprisingly soft to the skin, but you might not be used to it at first.

Warmth level

The jacket’s heat technology is the jacket’s key selling point. It uses 60g Omni-Heat™ Thermal Insulation which is a thermal-reflective lining that helps retain heat. I wore it while snowmobiling through Luleå’s snow-covered forest and was shocked to see how warm it kept me.

Luleå, Sweden forest. (Photo: Julie Tong)

Size and fit

It runs true to size. There’s enough room for light layers. I’m 5’2″ and it hit just below my waist.

Overall takeaway

If you’re looking for a jacket to wear on an everyday basis, but not in extreme weather, this is the jacket for you. It’s something lightweight you can throw when you’re grocery shopping, walking your dog, or heading to the gym and will still keep you ultra warm. You can easily pack it for a quick winter getaway and it won’t take up too much space in your luggage or weight.

If you act fast, you can snag this lovely jacket for 30 percent off the retail price. At $315, it might seem like a splurge, but when you look at the cost per wear, it’s a no brainer. You’re not just pulling this jacket out once or twice a year, but wearing it throughout winter, from start to finish.

Shop it: Columbia Women’s Heatzone 1000 Turbodown II Jacket, $315 (was $450), columbia.com

The editors at Yahoo Lifestyle are committed to finding you the best products at the best prices. At times, we may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page.

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