Difference between a Parka and a Jacket
By Theydiffer - August 5, 2016

Wondering which is better to fight off the cold? You’ll see these two words thrown around a lot in online catalogues or in magazines. Check out our guide to find out which one will best suit you, no pun intended.


Casual jacket

A jacket is an upper body garment which usually comes down to the waist or just below; it usually has sleeves and closes up on the front or side. It is normally less warm than a coat by design. The jacket is made to be less fitted, lighter, and less insulated. While some jackets have become fashionable, others are used as protective clothing.

The word jacket can be traced back to the Middle French word jaquet, which directly translates to a small tunic. It is now known as jaquette in Modern French. In the US, native speakers often use the words jacket and coat interchangeably.

There are so many kinds of jackets out there and they are used for many purposes. From baseball jackets with collar, waistband, and zippers at the front, boleros worn by women and bullfighting matadors, to the flak jackets worn by bomb disposal experts, jackets have indeed made their way to our closets as well as our backs.

Parka vs Jacket

What’s the difference between a parka and a jacket, then?

A parka was designed by Caribou Inuits to fight off the harsh Arctic weather. Well-insulated and often water-proof, it reaches almost down to the thighs in length and has a hood lined with fake or real fur. Jackets are waist length garments for the upper body with sleeves and can be buttoned or zipped up at the front or sides. They are also designed as a less warm garment than a parka, with light, casual versions available for summer, and elegant designs worn for formal occasions.

The parka was designed to fight off the cold and is still worn today for that purpose, although it has become fashionable to wear the parka in the winter. There are so many kinds of jacket out there; it has come to be a more fashionable and versatile garment for both men and women through the years, and can be worn at any time of the year.

Comparison chart

Parka Jacket
Extends down to the thighs, sometimes almost to the kneesUsually reaches waist length or extends just below the waist
Heavy and bulky, except in modern high-tech versionsLess insulated and lighter
Designed for the extreme cold and wind, and for winter sportsServes many purposes and seasons