Whenever winter is approaching, I always dread the cold that comes with it. If a winter coat is on your shopping list this season read on. This article will provide you with the information needed to make an educated decision, plus I provide some of my favorite brands at the end based on price, warmth and of course style.
Men’s Winter Coat Articles on Muted
Types of Winter Jackets
Before I start going over the technical aspects of winter coats, we need to figure out what kind of winter coat you need. Below I go over the three types of winter coats we’ll be discussing in this article.
Technical Winter Jacket
Technical jackets are for those who need a coat that can provide free movement for athletic activities in the cold, who need additional protection from the elements in a lighter shell, and a moisture management features to handle sweat.
Extreme Cold Weather Winter Coats
Extreme cold weather winter coats are the type of coats worn by arctic explorers. If you‘re going to be in freezing temperatures for an extended period of time this is the type of jacket you’ll want. These jackets are full size and usually not packable. They should come with a power fill rating, along with temperature ratings. They also come with technical features like storm flaps, full-bellow snow pockets, hand-warmer pockets, adjustable waist drawcord, recessed cuffs, and of course a water-repellent shell. If you’re looking to buy a coat in this category expect to pay a little more for the protection.
Casual Winter Jackets
Casual winter jackets focus a little less on absolute protection and fill power ratings and more on style, comfort, and in some cases storability. These coats are great for tooling around the city and for traveling. They can also be packable which is great for times when you’re moving inside and outside like airports and need to throw your coat in your weekender or backpack.
Casual winter coats also have certain features. These include inner cell phone pockets that support earphone access, faux or even fur-lined hoods, and detachable hoods. Casual winter jackets are not recommended for extreme cold weather conditions. For extreme cold weather stay with technical winter jackets or extreme cold weather exploration coats or even ski jackets.
What is Fill Power Rating?
Fill Power estimates how much loft a specific down has. The more loft the higher the fill power rating the more warmth it provides. In the US, loft is measured by placing down in a cylinder and compressing it using a weight. Most loft evaluation results lie between 300-900 or more. A decent quality coat will have a fill power rating of between 400-600, whereas 600-800 would be awesome. Anything above 800 will be best in terms of class and quality. These kinds of jackets can handle the coldest temperatures during any season and anywhere in the world.
What Are the Key Elements of a Quality Winter Jacket?
When buying winter coats, particularly coats that I intend to use for extended exposure to the elements, I look for technical specifications for the items listed below. If the specs aren’t available for things like the fill power rating or the shell, then I usually move on because brands will tout the features of coats that meet higher standards.
This is a thin shell that prevents the penetration of water. It offers superior protection from rain, and snow by using barrier materials such as H2NO, eVent or even Gore-Tex. This layer, however, offers little in terms of insulation.
There are three kinds of insulations: down feather insulation, synthetic fleece, and synthetic fibers. Down feathers and synthetic fibers are, however, the most used in creating insulation for winter jackets.
Down – This represents the original type of insulation and still serves as a standard for nearly all winter jackets. With the necessary care and maintenance, the loft volume for down can be maintained for years.
Down performs poorly in rainy conditions and wet environments. This is because down feathers bundle when wet. Designers try to overcome this flaw by adding a weatherproofing layer such as a DWR coating to help the jacket hold up in wet environments.
Synthetic – Synthetic insulation comprises plastic fibers, spun and fitted into clothing to mimic those in down insulation. Synthetic fibers don’t clump when in contact with water, giving this insulation an edge over down insulation.
The only downside of this type of insulation is the packing down and quality reduction of the synthetic fibers due to the constant compression and expansion during the jacket’s lifetime. This makes the jacket lose its ability to retain warmth over the long run.
Features to look for in a Winter Coat
Since most of our body heat is lost in our extremities a hood is essential for adding warmth. Removable hoods add a finer touch to a winter coat and can be removed in warmer weather to reduce bulk.
Pockets (Hand Warmers)
If you’re going to be out and about in your winter coats an assortment of pockets is a must. Pockets can be fur-trimmed or just plain, so long as the interior is capable of keeping your hands warm.
Wrist and Cuffs
Cuff closure systems are important when looking for a quality winter jacket. They keep the warmth in and snow and moisture out.
Rib-knit cuffs are ideal but may restrict the type of gloves you wear. Loose cuffs may be stylish but will definitely let the cold in easily into the coat.
It is important to make sure you look for zippers that are waterproof. These closures may also be protected by storm flaps for additional protection in keeping the rain and wind out.
Now that you’re more knowledgeable on winter jackets, here’s a tip to serve your shopping needs: the warmest winter coats come from the top brands, those that have made a name for themselves in the apparel industry over the years. Here are my top winter coat brands to get you through the winter.