Investing in a good winter jacket that withstands the cold, snow, ice and rain is a must for anyone interested in winter hiking and camping, or simply anyone who lives in a state that drops to freezing temperatures (there is the odd day here and there in Texas… although this season has been exceptionally warm). While paddlesports is our thing, we’d be missing out on helping you outfit your adventure if we didn’t carry a winter outerwear selection of familiar brands like Columbia, Mountain Hardwear and The North Face.
So, how do you choose a winter jacket beyond factors like design, color and pricing?
The way overcoats work is they trap warmth to your body, keeping your body temperature up. You’d assume the thicker the jacket, the warmer you’re guaranteed to be. Not necessarily. One of the most popular, effective forms of insulation is down, which is known for its extreme warmth and compressibility. Down feathers are lightweight, making down jackets like The North Face FuseForm Dot Matrix Down Jacket for Men and Women or Mountain Hardwear’s Dynotherm Down Jacket especially handy for hikes because they keep pack weight low. If you’re already carrying a heavy load, your jacket doesn’t have to add to it.
It should be noted that although these North Face down jackets are coated with a durable water repellent (DWR) to prevent the feather insulation from clumping, they’re not recommended for prolonged exposure to high moisture (aka, it’d be best if you didn’t get these jackets soaking wet).
If you live in a climate that doesn’t get too cold in the winter, consider wearing Mountain Hardwear’s Thermostatic Jacket as a standalone jacket. It’s technically designed to be a mid-layer for climbers that gives them extra insulation underneath a heavier jacket. But if you’re in a relatively warmer climate, this jacket will provide enough water and wind resistance to be comfortable on its own. And it compresses into its own pocket! Packing can’t get any easier than the super lightweight clothes you’re wearing folding into themselves and serving as their own luggage.
On the other end of the spectrum, areas that get bitter winters call for a parka. If you’re a winter hunter (or if you’re just really into camo), the Columbia Widgeon Quad Parka is the one for you. Its longer length and fully removable hood ensures maximum warmth and the material is breathable and waterproof. This is a snow jacket through and through.
So we’ve covered some of the jackets we offer for mild to extreme cold climates, but what about places prone to rain? If you’re looking for a jacket that can handle some serious downpour, there’s Columbia’s PFG Storm Jacket.
With a name like that, how could you need feel prepared for the worst conditions? It’s got a handful of similar features as the others – a hood, the ability to compress into its own pocket – but this is your go-to rain jacket, built specifically to keep water out.
That covers a few picks from each of our main three outerwear brands, but that’s not all we’ve got! Be sure to browse our full selection, and as always, reach out with any questions you have about what you’re looking for.