On the hunt for the warmest, most durable winter jacket? We've got you covered.
The snow has arrived, and you'll need the right gear to stay warm this year. A winter coat may be the most important (and expensive) apparel purchase you make this season. But it can make the difference between shivering uncontrollably and facing the weather with confidence. Check out our tips for picking the perfect coat, and be sure to bundle up before you head out into the cold.
Insulation, whether down or synthetic, traps body heat to keep you warm. The amount and quality of the insulation will determine how warm your coat will be. Down insulation is the warmest and most durable, lasting 10-20 years with proper care.
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The warmth of down is determined by both the fill power and weight. Fill power indicates the quality and volume of the down. Your best bet is to pick a coat with 650 fill power or more, but you'll also need to pay attention to the quantity of down. A thicker parka will have more fill weight, which means it will be warmer. These two factors interact to determine the overall warmth of the coat. In other words, a heavy, 650 fill power jacket could be just as warm as a lighter weight, 800 fill power jacket.
The problem with down is that it loses some of its insulating properties when wet. While many down jackets feature a durable water-repellent finish, the coating might not last as long as the coat itself. For this reason, you may want to choose a jacket with synthetic insulation, which is designed to mimic down while retaining more of its warmth in wet conditions.
The Best of Both Worlds
Some jackets, like the Arc'teryx Camosun Parka, feature hybrid insulation designed to offer the benefits of both down and synthetic insulation. Alternatively, try layering a lightweight synthetic jacket underneath a down coat. This option is more versatile, since you'll have two jackets to wear alone or layer in extremely cold weather, and you'll also find less expensive options. Our favorite synthetic jacket is the North Face ThermoBall Jacket for its excellent warmth-to-weight ratio. Layer it under the Patagonia Down With It Parka for superior warmth.
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The numerous available features can make it difficult to choose the right coat. A hood is the most important, since it offers additional warmth and weather protection. A hood with fur will be especially warm, and a removable hood can be handy if you want to get rid of some of the bulk when you don't need it.
Closures are another important feature, since basic zippers and loose wrist cuffs can let in the cold. Look for a coat with rib-knit cuffs to keep the draft out. You'll also want a waterproof zipper or a coat with a storm flap to keep the cold air from sneaking in.
Some coats have headphone channels, underarm vents, or various pockets that might be important to you. The task of finding the right coat might seem daunting, but picking the features that matter to you most will help narrow down your options.
Buying a Winter coat can set you back, but there are inexpensive options available. Here are a few coats that will keep you warm without draining your savings account.
Do you have a warm, cozy jacket you'd recommend to other Denverites? Let us know in the comments.