Patagonia's Down Parka
Puff Daddy: Patagonia's Down Parka (Thierry Desfontaines)

Cold Play

Slimmed down and styled up, expedition parkas are taking back the streets. Winter doesn't stand a chance.

Patagonia's Down Parka

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SHIVERING CITY DWELLERS have long donned mountaineering mega-jackets as cold-weather commuting wear, giving the Michelin Man look a modicum of street cred. But until recently, fashion and technical innovation among the puffies advanced at, well, a glacial pace. Fortunately, companies like Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, Patagonia, and others are perfecting both function and form these days, producing a new fleet of streetwise, cold-cheating, fluff-filled wraps that will carry you from the Himalayas to Manhattan. Among the many noteworthy details: precipitation-proof fabric that shields goose down from the wet; welded insulation compartments; and some refreshingly hip-hop designs. At long last, breaking out the big coat won’t land you in Style Court.

Patagonia's Down Parka

Patagonia's Down Parka Puff Daddy: Patagonia’s Down Parka

PATAGONIA packed its new DOWN PARKA with bales of 800-fill fluff, then coated the ultralight nylon shell with Deluge, its house-brand water-repellent finish. The result? A wearable sleeping bag that will keep you cozy in a howler above 14,000 feet. The lightweight construction means the jacket is highly compressible—so it won’t bloat your style when the weather clears. Meanwhile, reinforced nylon patches on exposed shoulders and sleeves keep the down inside, where it belongs. $300; 800-638-6464,

Helly Hansen's Trail Parka

Helly Hansen's Trail Parka Helly Hansen’s Trail Parka

Busting out at nearly four and a half pounds, HELLY HANSEN‘s TRAIL PARKA—the heaviest in our lineup—makes the cold go away, whether you’re braving Michigan Avenue or McMurdo Station. The weight comes from 650-fill down innards, a rugged nylon shell with a water-resistant Teflon coating, and a periscope-style faux-fur hood for total face protection. $300; 800-435-5901,

Nike ACG's No Sew Down Jacket

Nike ACG's No Sew Down Jacket Nike ACG’s No Sew Down Jacket

NIKE ACG‘s new NO SEW DOWN JACKET seals out winter sleet with hot-glued insulation chambers throughout the microfiber shell, keeping the 650-fill down in place with less bulk and no leak-prone stitching. Tests in Oregon last winter confirmed that the Swoosh’s proprietary water-repellent finish turns pounding rain to harmless silvery beads, while the No Sew’s roomy, stylish cut means you can wear it for that after-work cocktail without your date wisecracking about George Costanza. $225; 800-344-6453,

Mountain Hardwear's Voodoo Belay Parka

Mountain Hardwear's Voodoo Belay Parka Mountain Hardwear’s Voodoo Belay Parka

You could go topside on the Staten Island Ferry in January with the VOODOO BELAY PARKA from MOUNTAIN HARDWEAR. A proprietary ripstop nylon shell protects the top-drawer Primaloft One, which, unlike down, holds in the heat when damp. Fleece-lined pockets will thaw your digits, while the oversize hood slides easily over a ski or bike helmet. Coolest of all: Two interior water-bottle pockets keep essential liquids from becoming solids. $195; 800-953-8375,

Marmot's Mountain Down

Marmot's Mountain Down Marmot’s Mountain Down

For hipsters who want to look ruggedly cool, MARMOT‘s 700-fill goose-fluff MOUNTAIN DOWN should be a great fit. Reinforced elbows and shoulders fend off sharp rocks and taxi doors, a proprietary waterproof-breathable nylon shell locks out the wet, and an insulated removable hood serves as a feathery nest for your egg. This piece doesn’t slack on the core wilderness needs, yet a stylish, roomy cut with serious quilting—and the fact that it comes in baby blue—gives you cosmopolitan cachet. $250; 800-627-6680,

From Outside Magazine, Nov 2004 Lead Photo: Thierry Desfontaines

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