Winter is bearing down on us fast, and it’s time once again to pick out a winter coat. If you're lucky, you found one years ago that has remained fashionable and hardy through multiple winters. But the chances are you're sick of what you wore non-stop for a good 3 months or more, even if it’s as warm as ever.
As I’m sure you're aware, there’s an endless array of coats available at vastly different
prices. All retailers make the same promises: warmth, style, and comfort. In the past, I’ve been all too willing to believe them. The first coat that looked nice and fit my price range, I’d buy.
Inevitably, I’d be disappointed. “Warm” is relative, and I’d end up kicking myself for not
having searched a little longer.
At the same time, what could I have done better? I’m desperate not to go through another freezing winter with a substandard coat, and so I compiled a checklist of what to look for in the perfect winter coat.
What do you need it for?
My winters are relatively boring. I’m not one for ski resorts or freezing hikes. I have no need for a coat that withstands the most extreme conditions. In theory, I should be buying a very different coat to someone who loves adventuring in the snow.
While that might seem intuitive, many designers promise that their coats suit all conditions. Look, I’m not saying they're lying. There are definitely coats out there that are engineered to adapt to their wearer’s needs. However, that does not mean you should not look at specifications.
When you have a clear idea of what you need, you can focus on the features that actually count. Temperature rating will mean a lot more to you, and you'll be fully aware of whether to prioritise warmth over water resistance or vice versa.
Once you have a clear answer to this question, make decisions based on the following
criteria (all before you even start looking).
Insulation is one of the most important factors in determining a coat’s specifications. It can mean the difference between a cozy winter and a winter of discomfort. The two main types of insulation are down and synthetic, and each serves a different purpose. Down is warmer and lighter, but in a wet climate, it is more likely to lose its warmth and never dry. Synthetic is not quite as warm, but retains its properties even in heavy rain, and will dry within hours.
If you're buying a winter coat to see you through action-packed trips, style may not be that important to you. Practicality is a much higher priority, and chances are, you're not going to look good bundled up from head to toe no matter how hard you try.
However, if you need a coat for day-to-day use within the city, you might place more
emphasis on looking good. It could be worth paying a bit more for something you don't feel embarrassed to be seen in. Even if you don't care about what others think, you don't want a coat you can’t stand the sight of.
There is a lot of debate over whether temperature ratings actually mean anything.There are those who say that no approximation can be anywhere near accurate, as not only do people feel cold in different ways, but there are also different types of cold. Also, there’s no standard measurement system.
Nonetheless, a temperature rating can give you a general idea of what to expect. In other words, they'll tell you whether the coat was designed for mild weather, cold weather, or extreme cold.
And while keeping warm is your major concern, give some thought to whether you're the sort of person who overheats easily. A coat that is just too warm is incredibly frustrating, as you'll have to bear the heat rather than freezing.
Of course, all designers will claim their coats are high quality, and price itself is no indication of quality. But you can take your own time to examine the seams, look for holes, and read the labels. Impressive craftsmanship is an indicator of high quality. Also, ensure that the store or company has a returns policy in case it does not live up to your expectations.
The above factors are going to be your main priorities, but don't overlook the small things.Look out for coats with cool features. A removable hood is a good start. Pockets for everything, including headphones, phones, and tablets, will prove incredibly useful in the long run. North Aware’s Smart Parka even includes pockets and holders for Apple AirPods, as well as built-in gloves and a connected scarf.
There are some extra tips to keep in mind that will help you choose your perfect winter coat.
● Be patient: I know how frustrating it is to go from one store to the next or spend
hours online researching every coat available. But ultimately, this initial frustration is
worth it to ensure your entire winter is comfortable.
● Make sure it leaves a bit of space for layers underneath. Even if the coat itself is
warm enough, there’ll be times you want to take it off without having to freeze.
● Donate your old coat. It might be worth nothing to you, but it can be a lifesaver for
someone without the money to keep warm in the winter.
● Consider portability. If you're going to be traveling overseas, a coat that won’t double the weight of your luggage is necessary. Also, keep in mind that some coats get damaged when compressed too much.