Guest Author - Lisa Linnell-Olsen
If you live or play in a cold environment, a warm winter jacket is an important item. How well your jacket performs for you will determine how comfortable you are, and relates directly to how good you will feel. Winter jackets are expensive items, so choosing the best jacket for the money becomes a significant decision.
There are a variety of jackets available, in several different weights and styles. Getting the right jacket for your needs will get you the warmest jacket. Getting a jacket that is really designed for Antarctic researchers will be too warm for skiing in Colorado. The result is you sweat inside your jacket, and get chilled. The Antarctic jacket will also be very heavy and bulky, restricting your movement and making it difficult to ski.
Here are some features to consider when shopping for that winter coat:
The old adage ďcotton killsĒ has a lot of truth in cold weather. Absorbent cotton will keep you wrapped in cold wetness. Do not get a winter jacket for cold weather made of cotton.
Rather, look for synthetic materials. down, or wool. You want your jacket to be a good part of your layering system of clothing. You want your perspiration to be pulled away from your skin. You want to have an insulating layer, which is often made from lofty materials like down. Lastly, you want to consider if you need a water-resistant or waterproof shell that keeps you from getting outer moisture on you. Outer layers are often made from breathable synthetic fabrics.
Having a jacket that is heavier or bulkier than what you need is not comfortable, and can restrict movement. It also isnít any fun to be dressed like a marshmallow if you donít require that much bulk or loft in your coat.
Many down jackets may look bulky but they are great insulators, and come in fashionable and functional cuts. Down is very lightweight for the warmth it provides, so try on that puffy jacket and see if it is the right one for you.
You may need more than one jacket for the winter season. You have the option of buying fleece or down vests for additional warmth around your core, and wearing a jacket over that. There are also many jacket systems that come with a detachable vest or two jackets that zip apart.
Donít forget to check the care label before you buy. If your jacket gets wet or seriously soiled, it probably wonít keep you warm until it is cleaned. If your jacket must be dry cleaned or hand washed and that is not convenient for you, consider another jacket.
If you know you will be wearing your jacket for serious winter activity like skiing or snowboarding, look for zippered ventilation. Winter parkas and fleece jackets are available with zippered areas that can be unzipped to allow extra heat escape. This gives you the option of opening the vents when you are warm from activity, then zipping back up as your muscles cool down. Vents are often located in the underarm/side area to allow for rapid cooling.
Another feature to consider is a technology pocket. These are pockets that can hold items like an iPod, cell phone or handheld GPS unit. Battery powered technology items will die if the battery becomes cold. A pocket designed to keep the item close to your body to keep it warm from your body heat can even become a safety issue. Many outdoor enthusiasts were able to get needed help after calling emergency services from their cell phones. A GPS cannot help you find your way if it isnít operating because of a dead battery.
Reflective materials are another feature to consider. If you are going to be along roadsides in the dark, (more likely for children) winter gear with reflective trim can help you be spotted by drivers. If you will be wearing a headlamp, you will still need something on your back to create visibility. If you have a jacket without reflective trim, you can sew small pieces of reflective tape on the front and back of your jacket.
The appearance of your jacket is worth considering. If you dislike an otherwise good quality jacket so much that you wonít wear the jacket, it will not do you any good. This must be weighed against need, however. Our Colorado skier or Detroit school child can find a functional and attractive jacket. Our Antarctic researcher has far fewer choices.
Winter jackets are important investment pieces. Finding the warmest winter jacket means considering the above factors and your activities. You can also look at honest reviews of jackets and other winter gear items. Reviews are available right here at BellaOnline's Winter Sports under the subject clothing and gear.