How to buy a winter coat

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When you live in Canada, a winter coat is more than just a fashion item. It’s a matter of survival! So how do you choose one that best meets your needs? There are many factors to take into consideration.

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Style

The first step should be to determine what kind of coat will best meet your needs. While there are jackets made specifically for high intensity winter sports, you might only be looking for a coat to wear around town and back and forth to work. Some jackets include a mix of features allowing them to serve both purposes, looking great and performing well on the ski slopes as well as around town!

Insulation

A major consideration when searching for a winter coat is what kind of insulation it should have; down or synthetic. Synthetic is generally somewhat bulkier and weighs more than down does, but it’s less expensive and is better in wet weather.

Outer Shell

The outer shell provides protection against wind and precipitation. Again, there are two main options to choose from. A weatherproof shell made from Gore-Tex is the best choice for an area with lots of wet weather while a coat with a water resistant exterior treated with DWR is sufficient for an area that sees more snow than rain.

Hood

An insulated hood goes a long way toward providing adequate warmth on cold winter days. An adjustable hood that is equipped with toggles so that it can be tightened when the wind picks up is ideal.

Pockets

Whether you’re looking for a casual, around town coat or a more technical winter jacket for outdoor sports, pockets are just plain practical! Look for one with insulation on the outer side of the pockets that you might use to keep your hands warm. Many winter coats also come equipped with an audio compatible, inside pocket that allows you the option of listening to tunes while out and about. This pocket can also be a safe spot to carry important cards or spare cash when you’re going to be too active to carry a purse or a bulky wallet.

Cuffs

Rib knit inner cuffs are ideal for keeping cold air from going up your sleeves.

Closures

A storm flap either outside or behind the zipper is another very important factor in weather resistance and warmth. Two-way zippers are a great addition to any coat longer than waist length as they allow the wearer to sit down in comfort.

Fit

Once you’ve found the kind of coat that will best serve your needs and determined that it has all the features needed to ensure that you’ll stay warm in the worst of weather, fit is the final consideration. It’s always a good idea to leave room for layers underneath.

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This one, purchased earlier this week, ticks all the boxes for me. It’s long enough to cover my hips which is important when spending any amount of time outdoors at low temperatures, but unlike a full length coat, I’ll be able to wear it for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. It has synthetic insulation and is cold weather rated for -30ºC (-22ºF). Here on the prairie, our winters are dry and the snow is powdery, so the Hyper-Dri HD1 shell, which is breathable and water repellant in light rain and snow, should serve me well. The zip off hood with faux fur lining can be cinched in to keep my ears toasty warm and there’s a hidden drawcord in the waist so that it can also be pulled in for a fitted look and to keep cold air out. Storm cuffs in the sleeves serve the same purpose and I can use the zippered front pockets to warm my hands. A flap behind the two-way zipper will keep cold air from entering there and when it’s particularly cold out, I can turn the collar up and zip it right to the top to keep my chin warm!

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a brand new winter coat. I wore the last one for many years and finally replaced it with a second-hand one from the thrift store two years ago. I am not a fan of our long, cold winters, but with this brand new coat, I’m ready to face it head on!

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Bring it on, winter! My new coat and I are ready!

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