When working outdoors during the harsh winter months, having the best winter jacket is crucial. If you work long hours doing construction (or other intense manual labor), it is important to have the warmest winter jacket.
If your hands or body freeze up you become less efficient and less mobile. You are also prone to injury when you tense up from the cold. Since safety on the job site is number one, the best way to stay safe in the winter is to stay warm. How do you do that? With the best winter jacket or the best heated jacket that keeps you warm throughout the whole workday.
Table of Contents
The Best Winter Work Jacket
The best winter jacket should not only keep you warm but help you to work more effectively outdoors as well. It should also provide a high level of mobility and flexibility without sacrificing durability. The best jacket for working in the winter should also have conveniently located pockets with at least some pockets being secured by zippers, so your belongings and tools don’t easily fall out when working (especially if you are working high up on a beam or in a crane).
A good winter jacket should also be made out of a high quality materials as well. Check the stitching, as this is a quick indication of whether the jacket is well made. Triple stitching is best. Also, check the placement of pockets as this can give a quick indication of whether or not the jacket will be good to work in. Visualize yourself wearing the jacket and using it, see if it seems to make sense for you to wear at work. And last but not least, be sure to aim for a reasonable price if cost is a concern.
Name brands is another big factor when it comes to coat quality. As always, Carhartt tops the list in terms of quality. Following closely behind is Portwest, Dickies, Milwaukee and Ororo.
8 Best Winter Jackets for Men Working Outdoors in Cold Weather
Fabric: 100% Cotton Sandstone Duck / Quilted Flannel-Lined Interior
Weight: 12 Ounces
Special Feature: Rib-knit cuffs & waistband which are designed to keep out the cold
Although Carhartt does not cold rate their jackets, the Carhartt J130 should keep you warm down to temperatures around 20 degrees. This coat is one of the best work coats because this jacket is not too stiff compared to most in its class. This coat will allow you to have more mobility and work more efficiently. It is one of the go-to choices for working outdoors in the winter on the job site.
It has an adjustable hood (drawstring), two front pockets and two pockets on the inside of the jacket. The lining inside is flannel which allows you to keep warm when wearing it. It also protects well against the wind with its sandstone duck exterior.
This jacket is imported from Mexico, so those that want an American-made Carhartt, see below. This coat is machine washable but it is recommended to wash on cold and to hang dry.
A good option for those who want an American-made work jacket or are looking for a coat able to withstand lower temperatures, is the Carhartt J140 Duck Quilted Flannel-Lined Active Jacket. This winter jacket is made in the USA (of imported parts) and is both water-repellant and wind-resistant. This jacket can withstand cold temperatures of around 10 degrees. With the added cold protection you will lose mobility, so if ease of movement is a concern just go with the J130.
Fabric: 98% Cotton, 2% Spandex / Thinsulate Synthetic Lining
Weight: 10 Ounces
Special Feature: Flex elbow & shoulder stretch, allow for greater mobility
Another great jacket from Carhartt is the Full Swing Cladwell Jacket. Ever reach up only to have your jacket go sliding up your back? Well, not any more. This winter jacket is known for the additional flexibility it provides. It is specially created to guarantee maximum comfort on the job site. This is the type of jacket that not only keeps you warm but is also excellent to wear while working any job, no matter what the mobility requirements are.
Stretch panels under the arms ensure the coat does not bunch up when working. There is also significant bending room around the elbow with the flex elbow. Even the shoulders contain a stretch panel which allows for more range of motion. This coat will allow you to move your arms quite comfortably and get the job done a lot easier. This winter coat will not hinder work performance, even on jobs that require hard-hitting motion.
Even though the material allows for flexibility, the unique fabric blend makes it an extremely durable and reliable. It also comes with triple-stitching so you can rest assured that it will stand up to harsh treatment and harsh conditions. It even has a zippered chest pocket, hand pockets, an inner zipped security pocket, and a detachable hood.
Fabric: 100% Polyester
Special Feature: All-weather jacket with adjustable heat settings
If you are looking for innovative options to keep the cold away, the Ororo Men’s Heated Jacket wins hands down. Forget about layering when the temperatures cool down or being stuck in the wrong coat during an unseasonal snow storm. This is a jacket that makes those problems go away with its unique temperature control system and adjustable heat settings.
This jacket comes equipped with three carbon fiber heating elements that ensure sufficient heat production across the body. This addresses core heat distribution in the mid-back, right and left chest. What is particularly interesting is that the jacket heats up rather quickly and retains the heat for a very long time.
You can set the intensity of heat as per your convenience to low, medium or high. Tests conducted by the company on this coat show that at 77 degrees Fahrenheit you can crank it up to high and hit an internal temperature of 131 degrees. Although that is impressive, it did not indicate how it performed in the cold.
It is powered by a 7.4V UL/CE battery and lasts close to 10 hours. The battery is tucked into a lower left corner pocket. The battery can also double as a USB port for tech types.
This jacket has a lot of features and will serve you well in the cold as long as you do not mind replacing the batteries every so often. However, will all of these features it does not hamper user convenience a bit. The coat is lightweight and flexible.
This jacket comes with a detachable hood and is machine-washable (but do remember to remove the battery before washing). The only downside to this jacket is it does cause sweating, perhaps due to an issue of fabric breathability.
If you are looking for a heated jacket but don’t want to splurge due to the high cost of a heated jacket, another option is to buy a heated vest to put underneath your jacket. One of the best options for this is the Prosmart Heated Vest Polar Fleece, which features two carbon fiber heating elements. It also comes in two models so you can choose which regions of your body you want heated.
Fabric: 100% Ring-Spun Cotton Duck
Weight: 12 Ounces
Special Feature: Blanket-lined body, nylon-lined sleeves
It goes without saying that Carhartt workwear jackets are your best friends in the harshest of winters. The Carhartt Chore Coat is no exception. This 100% cotton jacket comes with a blanket-lined body and quilted nylon lined sleeves. Another great coat for when you want comfort and warmth in the same package. It’s also water-repellant and wind-resistant.
This coat is stiff but not too stiff. Its bi-swing design allows for extra stretch in the shoulders. This makes sure that you experience a bit more comfort and can undertake most types of work wearing this coat.
This is also an expertly crafted coat of high-quality and durability. The main seams of this jacket are all triple-stitched to guarantee it holds up. It also has rivet-reinforced pockets (two in the chest and two in the lower-front). Carhartt even states that its fabric “only gets better with time.”
However, this is a buttoned jacket so there are no zippers. That said, it is a little more stylish than the others mentioned with a corduroy hood with hidden snaps for attaching an optional hood.
It is considered middle of the road in terms of warmth rating. Carhartt only has three ratings of warm, warmer and warmest. This cost falls into the “warmer” category.
Quick Fact: Carhartt jackets will have 2-4% shrinkage over their lifetime.
Fabric: 100% Nylon / 70% Acrylic & 30% Polyester Lining
Special Feature: DWR finish, enhanced water resistance
The Dickies Diamond Quilted Jacket is a lightweight and affordable winter work jacket that should last you for years. The diamond-shaped stitches make it very durable and also improves the overall insulation of the jacket. This is not your typical “heavy” jacket so do not expect the level of warmth of Carhartt or that you can wear this all-year round in any weather as this is not that kind of coat.
However, this jacket is specially crafted to maximize comfort and convenience. The sleeves are fitted so they will not become an obstacle for you if you use your hands and arms a lot. The fitted sleeves will not gather together and bunch up either.
The pockets of this jacket are designed to keep your hands warm. They are also deep so you do not have to worry about the top part of your hands sticking out.
The DWR finish is phenomenal. It is a finish that ensures the jacket has enhanced water resistance and repellant properties. It allows this coat to be worn in any weather condition, be it rain, sleet, or even light snow. It is also great for those damp days.
One major complaint about this jacket is that it is too short. It does comes in a “big and tall” version though. Though it is one of the cheapest jackets on this list.
Fabric: 100% Polyester
Weight: 15.5 Ounces
Special Feature: Extreme cold protection
If you are looking for an affordable coat that provides extreme cold protection, the Portwest Coldstore Jacket offers maximum value for the money. This is an extremely practical coat that serves many purposes.
First, with its reflective strips, it keeps you safe and completely visible even in the worst of weather conditions. Second, with its quilt-lining it is rated for -40 F so it will keep you warm in even the coldest possible conditions. Third, it is extremely convenient with its 5 pockets: 3 front pockets, 1 pocket for your ID and 2 inside pockets.
Some additional features include a parkway hood, a drawstring adjustable waist and an abrasion resistant exterior. One of the best jackets for workers who want to stay safe and warm without breaking the bank, the Portwest Coldstore is a one of the best choices.
Fabric: 550 Fill Down Insulation
Weight: 49.6 Ounces
Special Feature: Waterproof with stormflap
The North Face Gotham III is a multi-functional winter jacket stands out for its ability to provide good warmth without hampering flexibility. This waterproof down jacket is also built to last.
The Men’s Gotham III comes with an adjustable hood, a removable faux-fur ruff and a breathable seam-sealed 2L shell. It also comes with a secure media-compatible pocket for holding an MP3 player or smartphone. This pocket also has a slot to pass the cord through the jacket, making it one of the best coats for rocking out on the job.
The storm flap and waterproof down are the best features of this jacket and make it great for working outside in the rain. The flap also has a snap closure which covers the center front zip. This adds to both to the aesthetics of the coat all the while providing maximum insulation.
While not as rugged as a Carhartt, this jacket is stylish and versatile. This makes it great for the worker who wants a functional coat that looks good too.
Category: Mountain Jacket
Fabric: Pertex Quantum Pro With 800 Fill European Goose Down
Weight: 21.3 Ounces
Special Feature: Helmet-compatible hood
The Rab Neutrino Pro Jacket, a relatively lightweight mountain jacket, may not be easy on your pocket but it can guarantee maximum comfort in any type of winter weather. In fact, this coat is rated to withstand alpine conditions up to 4000m. This is the type of jacket that is considered ideal for hiking but could also be great for use in an outdoor work environment.
The material is extremely durable which makes it ideal for tough conditions. It is also extremely comfortable though it might be a bit thick in the arms for those who have to fit in small spaces.
The hood of the jacket is attached to the main body. It is also helmet compatible and has a wire peak. The drawcord for the hood is tucked away inside the inner flap so is sure not to get pulled inadvertently. It also comes equipped with two zip hand pockets and an inner zip pocket.
The price of these jackets is the main downside. With a price well into the $300-$400 range, it is not a coat for everyone. It is also not the type of coat you would want to see get ruined if you work in an area where there is risk of tears. However, if you have a job that requires mostly standing around out in the cold weather, this is the ideal choice.
Best Heated Sweatshirts for Cold Weather Workers
Special Feature: Quick heated front and back zones
The Milwaukee M12 Heated Hoodie is a great hoodie for outdoor workers. Not only does it have quick heat technology, which heats three times faster than other heated sweatshirt brands, it also has a waffle weave thermal interior which holds in the heat.
This particular hoodie is great for construction workers because it is hard hat compatible. It’s also wind and water-resistant as well. It has four pockets which are reinforced, great for holding tools as well as your personal belongings. Two of the pockets are large pockets on the outside in the lower front (like most hoodies), one pocket is internal (used mainly to hold your cell phone/wallet use) and one pocket is used to store battery packs.
As for the heating mechanism, it is one-touch and there are 3 options: high, medium, and low. On the lowest setting the 12V battery will last around 6 hours. However, if you put it on the highest setting you will only get about 1.5 hours of heat time. It is recommended to purchase extra batteries if you plan on using this sweatshirt for extended periods of time. The heat zones are in the center of the chest and the center of the back.
This particular sweatshirt comes with both a battery pack and charged. It also comes in three different colors: black, red, and grey.
Best Sweatshirts and Shirts to Wear Under Your Winter Jacket
Fabric: Cotton-Polyester (50/50 Blend)
Weight: 10.5 Ounce
Special Feature: Handwarmer pockets
If you are keen about a functional hoodie that is also affordable, the Carhartt Midweight Hooded Sweatshirt fits the bill completely. This is a great hoodie to put on underneath a lighter weight jacket to help increase warm.
This jacket also comes equipped with an attached hood and adjustable drawstring. It also features a brass zipper and rib-knit cuffs for additional cold and wind protection. The front handwarmer pockets are also a great feature for extra cold days.
Fabric: 100% Polyester
Weight: 10.6 Ounces
Special Feature: Breathable and stretchy
If you are looking something that offers a bit more comfort with a lot less bulk compared to the Carhartt, the Under Armor Half Zip is a good choice. It can be worn alone safely to around 50 degrees but will provide much-needed warmth on the coldest days under your winter jacket.
The material is stretchy so it will not disrupt your work and with added breathability you can be sure you will not drench yourself with sweat. In fact, it is so lightweight you probably won’t even recognize it is there. Great for workers who are looking to heat up without adding any extra bulk.
Fabric: 100% Merino wool
Weight: 17 Ounces
Special Feature: Rapidly wicks away moisture
The Minus33 Merino wool sweatshirt is one of the best wool shirts for working outdoors. In fact, it was designed specifically for outdoor work. This shirt works best as a base layer or as a mid or insulating layer.
This shirt is made of 100% 18.5 micron Merino wool. The special qualities of Merino wool make it ideal as workwear. For one, it is lighter and softer than regular wool. This means you can wear it without feeling itchy like you would with regular wool. Secondly, it wicks away moisture extremely well. This means that it keeps you dry, even in damp or rainy conditions.
It also very comfortable to wear, especially when working a job that requires a lot of movement. It is first and foremost tagless, aka no itchy neck. It also has flatlock seams specifically designed to reduce chafing. The stretch cuff also keeps the cuff in place and makes it perfect for use with layering as well as wearing gloves.
All in all, one of the best work shirts you’ll ever find. However, it does come with a hefty price tag. With its durability and expert craftsmanship, it will hold up for a long time though. So, buy one and then just wear it into the ground.
How To Decide on the Best Jacket for Working Outdoors in Winter
There are a number of factors to pay attention to when looking for the best jackets for working outdoors in winter. Such factors include comfort, convenience, technical characteristics and warmth.
- Type of Insulation: The relative insulation of the jacket is crucial. This ensure your jacket can withstand even the coldest work conditions. If cold is a concern, look for a down/synthetic blend as it will not only keep you warm but will also handle a high activity level.
- Weight: Having a lightweight jacket is best for working outdoors in the winter. A heavy and bulky jacket will only slow your performance. If it is too heavy, it may also be difficult working in it for long periods. So make sure you opt for one that is not too heavy.
- Fabric: The fabric of the jacket decides on the relative durability of the product, especially for workwear. Cotton duck is perhaps the most durable fabric. Canvas is also a good choice if durability is concerned.
- Design: The jacket you choose should be designed in such a way as to ensure it is practical to use when working. Look for special designs that enable better room for stretching in the shoulders, underarms and elbows. Also, look for coats that are resistant to riding up the back.
Safely Working Outdoors in the Winter
Maintaining normal body temperature is the most important thing you can do when working outdoors. The body alone cannot compensate enough for a high amount of heat loss and thus hypothermia sets in. Hypothermia means the body cannot use its normal functioning to heat up on its own. So, if you are working outdoors in the winter the only thing you can do to prevent it is to wear warm clothing.
Clothing acts as an insulating layer that protects the body. In order to clothe yourself properly in the winter, you must layer your clothing. Proper layering around 32 degrees usually includes three layers: contact layer (the layer closest to you), inner insulating layer (the middle layer) and an outer shell (winter jacket). Anything below 32 degrees requires additional layers for maintaining an adequate body temperature.
Working Outdoors in Winter: How To Layer Your Clothes
Layer your clothes is a must for working outdoors in cold weather. As mentioned above, there are three main layers that are generally used around freezing temperatures. Extra layers can be added for temperatures below freezing. The three main layers are discussed below.
1. Contact Fabrics
The first layer closest to your skin is the contact fabric. This fabric has one major job, to wick moisture away from the skin and transfer it to your outer layer. This layer should not be thicker than one-eighth of an inch.
Any fabric that absorbs moisture is a poor contact fabric. Cotton is the worst contact fabric. Polypropylene and polyester are the best contact fabrics. Nylon is in the middle of the road (though it’s best as an outer shell). Wool is also a good contact fabric even though it absorbs moisture because of wools unique property of holding air inside its fibers.
Some people prefer cotton close to the skin because of the level of comfort it provides. It can, however, be dangerous because as it retains moisture and sweat it loses its insulation properties. In cases where you can repeatedly warm up and dry your clothes, you can get away with wearing cotton for a contact layer, but as a general rule of thumb it is best to veer away from it if you know you’ll be working up a sweat or exposed to wet conditions.
2. Insulating Layer
Generally speaking, there are two main types of insulating layers. The first is called a “high-loft insulator.” A high loft insulator is usually a thicker material made of very lightweight (low density) material(s). It has small spaces which trap the air and stop it from moving. This dry, stagnant air serves as an excellent insulator.
The two best materials for high loft insulation are down (made from goose feather) and polyester fiberfill (a synthetic material which mimics down). You will see down listed as the material if its present in clothes you’re buying. The synthetic material may go by several different names or some proprietary name by the manufacturer. Look for names like Polarguard or Hollofill, or similar.
Neither real down or synthetics works very well when they’re wet. So, for a high loft insulator to work best you must keep it dry. You do that by wearing the right outer shell (winter jacket).
Thin insulators, like Thinsulate or Thermolite, can also be worn as an insulating layer. Thin insulators work similarly to high loft insulators, however, they only require half the amount of fabric (sometimes less). In these fabrics microfilaments trap the air and keep it from moving, creating that dry, stagnant pocket of insulating air.
One benefit of thin insulators over down or down synthetics is that it dries faster and therefor is better in rainy or damp conditions. These materials also have better heat reflection, meaning as you wear it you’ll get more heat back to you. This makes thin insulating fabrics better than high loft insulators when working out on the coldest of days in the winter.
The only downside to thin insulators is weight. Down may be thicker, but it weighs much less and is nearly as good. This is something to consider if you move around a lot on the job or do a lot of heavy lifting.
3. Outer Shell (Winter Jacket)
The outer shell layer is the layer you wear on top of the other layers, aka your jacket or coat. This layer must be able to withstand wind, rain, snow, abrasion, and while also remaining breathable.
Light nylon fabrics can often be good for the outer shell. Ripstop and taffeta are two of the most well known and offer very good protection. However, the only issue with them is they are not as durable as some other materials and may not resist abrasion as well.
Medium weight nylon is an alternative if you want the benefits of nylon and a little more durability. Taslan and Supplex are two types of medium weight nylon fabrics which offer extra durability and act much like cotton. This means that they are not only more durable but also more comfortable. That said, they are medium weight so they do weigh more than lightweight nylon.
Cotton-nylon and polyester-cotton blends are two great synthetic outer shell fabrics. They’re very abrasion resistant and do an excellent job shielding from the elements.
To keep water out, there are a few different materials which help. Neoprene is often applied on top of many nylon fabrics. Another common additive is polyurethane to nylon. Some other manufacturers have proprietary materials they add to stop water from penetrating the outer layer.
For winter work, it is important to understand why breathability is important. A breathable shell layer is often times the best choice for winter work. However, if it is freezing rain type conditions, you will want a waterproof layer. No company currently manufactures anything that will fulfill this criteria. The only solution to this is to wear a wool work shirt underneath your outer shell because of its unique property of being able to insulate well even in damp/wet conditions.
Conclusion: Best Winter Jacket
Looking for the best jacket for working outdoors in the winter does not have to be difficult. Use a bit of common sense and try the jacket out at home before wearing it at work. Pretend you are doing your job and see how it feels. If it does not feel good at home, return it before you wear it out. Please be sure to suggest any winter coats that you recommend or have tried in the comments below.
If you enjoyed this article, check out our article on the Best Coveralls and Overalls for Working Outdoors in the Winter.