Winter Clothing Technology — Features of Winter Apparel
Make sure you’re all set for whatever the winter brings by getting a coat made with the best features. Many of the newest winter coats have utilized modern technology to provide optimum protection against the cold and snow. Use this guide from Freestyle Ski & Board Shop to pick out the best coat for winter activities, including skiing and snowboarding, in sizes for men’s apparel, women’s clothing and kids’ outerwear.
Having a waterproof coat can be useful if you plan to be out in the snow. If your skin gets wet when you’re outdoors all day in the winter, it can lead not only to discomfort but an increased risk for frostbite.
Typically, a ski coat will be labeled as either waterproof or water-resistant. Waterproof coats have a special membrane (like Gore-Tex) as well as a Durable Water Repellency (DWR) finish that keeps moisture from saturating the fabric (similar to wax on a car). That coating can be reapplied over time as it wears off. Water-resistant coats have a DWR finish but lack the membrane.
Consider looking for a coat made with a hydrophobic membrane like Gore-Tex that will keep water out while allowing water vapor to be released from inside. If you plan to be exposed to a lot of snow, like when snowmobiling or skiing on powder, a coat that’s labeled as waterproof is a superior choice to one that’s just water-resistant.
There are two main options when it comes to insulation fill for a winter coat:
- Down: Down is a great insulator, but it doesn’t perform well when wet. Look for high fill power of 500 or more, with 800-900 being in the premium range. Down is often mixed with regular feathers, but the best coats have at least 70% down.
- Synthetic: This material is a better choice for insulation if you’ll be exposed to moisture. A jacket with synthetic fill might not be quite as warm or lightweight as down, but that might not be an issue if you plan to be active while wearing it.
Keep in mind that a thicker coat isn’t always warmer and better, especially if you’re planning to be active. A super-thick coat can restrict your movements, so it might not be a safe choice for snow sports like skiing or snowboarding. In addition, you could end up overheating if you choose a coat that’s too thick for the weather or for your activity level.
One of the best new technologies in winter clothing is a reflective material called Omni-Heat. This type of liner is often included in winter coats to reflect heat back toward the body. Jackets with this technology may refer to the specific Omni-Heat name or use the term “infrared” in the specifications.
Keeping the warmth in is another challenge with winter gear, which is why it helps to look for certain fit styles when you shop for outerwear. A coat with elastic cuffs, a drawstring waist and other methods of creating a tight seal at the opening will help to trap heat in rather than letting it escape.
Top Winter Clothing Brands
If you’re looking for winter jackets with great features, the following are some of the best options:
- The North Face Men's ThermoBall Snow Triclimate Jacket
- Obermeyer Women's Sojourner Down Jacket>
- Roxy Quinn Jacket
When you’re ready to shop for a new winter coat, keep this guide handy to make sure you know which features to look for.