As winter rears its head, you may find yourself scrambling to ready your cold-weather wardrobe. The last few years have seen record lows and plenty of freak weather across the country. If you’re anything like us, then, you’re probably ready to pack your bags, head for the hills, and hunker down until you get the all-clear. Just one problem — you’re going to need a jacket that’s ready for the worst the weather has to offer.
Enter the anorak. Warm and insulating yet weather-resistant and watertight, it’s a type of outerwear that’s ideal for the coming transitional months. Because let’s face it, on those days when it’s not quite cold enough for a parka yet just a bit too wet for a fleece, you’re not left with many suitable options. With an anorak, however, you can have it all. Keeping this in mind, we’ve rounded up 12 of what we deem to be the best anorak jackets on the market, including everything from top-notch technical pieces to stylish wardrobe-essentials. No matter which option you choose, though, know that you can’t go wrong with a little less zip.
What Exactly Is An Anorak Jacket?
While there’s no denying that anoraks are hotter than ever, there seems to be little agreement as to what the term actually signifies. So let’s set the record straight. Anoraks originate from the Greenlandic word, “annoraaq,” meaning, “a garment made using caribou pelts or seal skin.” Originally created for warmth and water resistance while hunting, such jackets were characterized by their hip-length, pull-over design, and hooded protection. Of course, today, we use cutting-edge synthetic insulators and materials with GORE-TEX and DWR.
However, the fundamental principles still hold true. That is to say — an anorak is any type of hooded pull-over jacket. Specific materials may vary depending on the manufacturer (as does the zipper length), but anything that opens from neck to hem is not considered an anorak.
L.L.Bean Mountain Classic Anorak
L.L.Bean absolutely nailed the ’90s look with its Mountain Classic Anorak. Though there are some subtler blocked options as well, this retro multi-color pick is perfect for those who want that vintage vibe. Made from wind- and water-resistant suplex fabric, it comes complemented by some Bean Boot lace zipper pulls and an old-school Katahdin graphic. As an added bonus, L.L.Bean made this coat packable, meaning you can stash it away in its own pocket when not in use.
Patagonia Isthmus Anorak
Another heritage-inspired option, the Isthmus is based on an Anorak jacket from Patagonia’s back catalog. However, just because it sports a classic look doesn’t mean that it’s outdated in design. On the contrary, it’s packed full of modern-day, eco-friendly innovations, like a nylon shell made from recycled fishing nets and a PFC-free DWR finish. Stuffing into its own zippered flap pockets and fitted with an adjustable hood, the result is a jacket that’s as smart as it is sustainable.
Fjällräven High Coast Lite Anorak
For all the wonderfully robust coats that have become a trademark for Fjällräven, the Swedish outdoor clothing brand sure knows how to scale it back when it needs to. Also one of the less expensive options it makes, the High Coast Lite Anorak is more of a ⅗-zip than a traditional anorak, bringing more versatility and making it easier to throw on or take off. Made of 100% polyester and weighing around 7.5oz, the jacket is wind-resistant, water-resistant, and super breathable for windy day hikes. This one stands out amongst Fjällräven’s other half-zips for a reason.
The North Face Denali Anorak
A more fashion-forward option for urban environments than a typical technical or outdoor jacket, The North Face’s Denali doesn’t look like it would perform as well as it does, but is a great crossover coat for everyday wear and commuting. Built with 50D recycled Polartec fleece with nylon overlay and a DWR finish, this anorak comes in orange, yellow, blue, and “Wasabi” and sports an adjustable three-piece hood, a side seam zip, as well as an array of gear pockets.
Lululemon Water-Repellent Fleece Hiking Anorak
Helping usher in the era of athleisure, lululemon has had a handful of reliable half-zips over the years. Recently, the Canadian clothing giant came out with a new style-forward technical anorak for hiking. Defying the conceit that a traditional half-zip can’t be both soft and resilient against Mother Nature, the new jacket is deceptively water-resistant despite the soft fleece construction, thanks to the DWR finish. Also on-brand is the four-way stretch you get out on the trail, which these coats aren’t typically known for.
Adidas Terrex Free Hiker Made to Be Remade Padded Anorak
adidas’ brand-new Terrex Free Hiker Padded Anorak is part of its Made to be Remade series, which favors sustainable apparel solutions. Not only that but the anorak is unabashedly insulated, with low-profile quilted synthetics for warmth, making this a nice option for those who want the benefits of both a half-zip and a puffer. A nice piece of technical wear in its own right, the coat sports an adjustable hood, a drawcord hem, and backpack-friendly front frogmouth pockets that reroute waist straps behind them.
On Waterproof Anorak
A solid pick for runners, On’s Waterproof Anorak is an exercise in technical perfection, combining a three-layer membrane with a water-repellent coat for an iron-clad defense against the weather. However, element-proofing alone isn’t enough in a running jacket, and so On has also fitted it with hidden vents for airflow, an elastic pull-tie to keep the hood out of the way, and a hydrophilic liner for breathability. When you consider that it’ll even pack into its own inner storage pocket, the Waterproof (and windproof) Anorak makes for a value proposition too good to pass up.
Arc’Teryx Fraser Anorak
Arc’Teryx’s urban-ready anorak is deceptively capable despite the unassuming minimalist silhouette. The GORE-TEX fabric is already waterproof and breathable but is given a bump with GORE C-KNIT tech, which makes it lightweight and windproof to boot, designed to be your go-to everyday option. Another brand that specializes in robust clothing, the Canadian outdoor experts equip this anorak with a hood that adjusts easily with a single pull and a shell that’s structured to help you move with ease when out and about.
Klättermusen Fjorgyn Anorak
A survival anorak if we’ve ever seen one, Klättermusen’s Fjorgyn has been available for longer than most of the options on this list. A lighter take on the brand’s classic Anorak, this model weighs just over 7oz and is constructed with Polyamide 7 denier fabric coated with proprietary Duracoat for abrasion resistance. The brimmed hood can be adjusted in three places to track head movement, while the waist hem adjusts to help water runoff. Other features include front and rear reflectors for visibility and taped seams for added waterproofness.
Beringia Tsurugi Jacket 2.0
Just because this Tsurugi Jacket sports a diagonal zip doesn’t make it function any less as a half-zip. There’s a method to Beringia’s madness, with proprietary Täsmä fabric that took three years to develop and a construction that’s made to adapt to any weather condition while still remaining breathable, waterproof, and stretchy — which many anoraks are not. More than capable as a windbreaker — blocking 99.9% of outside air — or a raincoat, the Tsurugi slashes through most winter environments and weighs just over 13oz.
Alps & Meters Alpine Anorak
At nearly $700, the Alpine Anorak is definitely an investment, but it’s a small price to pay given everything that you’re getting. Inspired by the outerwear of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, the stylish coat sandwiches a 10k/10k membrane beneath a heavyweight British Millerain waxed cotton shell to deliver a jacket that’ll keep you dry inside and out. Moreover, Alps & Meters has fitted it with plenty of ski-friendly features, like a pass pocket at the sleeve, some reinforced fabric at the seat, and an integrated face mask inside the hood. Backed by a 100-day on-mountain trial, you can even return it — no questions asked — if it’s not up to your standards.
Norrøna lofoten GORE-TEX Pro Anorak
Made for life on the slopes but sporting a slim profile for casual winter outings as well, Norrøna’s lofoten Anorak is constructed using triple-layer 70D recycled nylon with GORE-TEX Pro for insane breathability, waterproofness, and total windproofness, made even more effective thanks to the longer cut. The underarm zipper extends from the waist to the elbow and the storm hood can be adjusted with one hand. Other features include a large kangaroo pocket accessible from both sides, a two-part snow skirt, Velcro-adjusted cuffs, hand pockets, and integrated hand gaiters.
The Best Winter Hiking Boots
If you love being outdoors no matter how cold it is, check out our guide to the best winter hiking boots to buy this season.