Snow Jackets
November 30, 2004 2:51 PM   Subscribe

For people living in areas where it snows each year: How many types of jackets do you use in a year? As in windcheaters, fall, light winter, heavy snow, etc. If you have more than one jacket that falls in the same class only list the most practical one, and please also give a brief description of each.
posted by riffola to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (44 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Living in Minneapolis:

-Spend most of fall in a hoodie
-Multi-pocketed Columbia jacket for coldweather hiking
-Knee-length black wool coat for general winter stylishness
-Puffy Michelin Man-style goosedown coat for deep-winter outdoor activity where the black wool job wouldn't be practical
-and then back to the hoodie when it starts to thaw.
posted by COBRA! at 2:59 PM on November 30, 2004

In Yellowknife, NWT I use two; a thin fleece jacket (thin and fleece, zippered) for fall and spring and a thick winter coat (well insulated, waist length, no hood). Sometimes I need to wear the fleece inside the coat.

Here in Saint John, NB I should be using a raincoat in addition to those two I mentionned above, but even though I've been here for 5 years it seems like it would be a waste since I'm going home eventually. Obviously I use the heavy coat a lot less here. Also, I got a faux leather type Point-Zero spring/fall coat that seems to last me most of the cold months here.
posted by ODiV at 3:05 PM on November 30, 2004

Ottawa, Ontario:

A light nylon shell (windcheater) for late spring/early fall, from about 10 to 15 C, and for aerobic activities down to -10 C or so (with layers).

A heavier DWR shell (triple layer), my rain coat in summer and ski jacket in winter. I've used it as a shell down to -30 or so, with a three or four layers underneath.

A heavy insulated coat (an oil skin with insulation) as a car coat, so that I can just throw a single layer on over my work clothes. It's good below freezing, comfortable down to -25 C or so.

So that's three I wear routinely. I also have:

a windcheater vest for biking,

a couple of fleeses that work like jackets, and

a micropore bike jacket for cool mornings (below 10 C) and for the rain (with pants). Also doubles as a xcountry ski jacket.

You can get away with two: a shell (which combines with a sweater in cooler weather and a heavier coat for below freezing.
posted by bonehead at 3:07 PM on November 30, 2004

Fairbanks, Alaska:
  • hooded sweatshirt for breezy summer nights;
  • fleece jacket liner for the end of spring and the beginning of fall;
  • windbreaker that i used to use when i lived in Homer, but sits in my closet now that I do not live by the ocean;
  • heavy winter jacket that is longer than my waist by Columbia that incorporates a windbreaker-esque shell with a zip-in down interior that can be exchanged with a zip-in fleece interior
I usualy use any combination of those four, but when it's -40° (that would be either C or F: they are the same at negative forty) or colder in January it is often a combination of all of those four.
posted by rhapsodie at 3:13 PM on November 30, 2004

I've used one single winter jacket in Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal, for years. If it's too cold, I throw a sweater on underneath. Can't no cold hold me down.
posted by Succa at 3:13 PM on November 30, 2004

(Aside: I have never heard of it called a windcheater before, only a windbreaker. Interesting.)
posted by rhapsodie at 3:14 PM on November 30, 2004

Southern New Hampshire, used to be Rochester, NY. I own a series of jackets, but the truth is I don't usually put them on during the workweek. I'm going from the garage to the parking lot at work and a jacket just makes me uncomfortable in the car. Weekends it's a fleece unless things get really cold and then I bust out a big, ugly Eddie Bauer jacket I got my freshman year in Rochester for the Arctic conditions.
posted by yerfatma at 3:16 PM on November 30, 2004

Response by poster: NYC:

Black light nylon unlined windcheater with a hood for light rain
Dark blue lined windcheater for fall
Heavy multi-pocketed snow jacket with a hood

The reason I asked this question is that I was thinking about buying a jacket to use during early winter when the lined windcheater is not enough and the snow jacket is too much, I don't like wearing sweaters much so layering is not something I automatically do.

P.S: Windcheater is the Queens English word for windbreaker.
posted by riffola at 3:19 PM on November 30, 2004

I also live in Minneapolis, and COBRA! just described my jacket stylings perfectly.
posted by Zosia Blue at 3:25 PM on November 30, 2004

flagstaff, arizona:

before you laugh: our elevation is 7000' and today's temps here were: 37 (f) high, 3 (f) low... full disclosure: there's some snow on the ground, not a lot, but some.

i loooove my windproof fleece vest. i wear it almost constantly from october to april. i couple it with a gore windproof shell when it gets really cold; i use this set up for most applications, including my daily bicycle commute to work. the shell has a hood, which can be useful at times too.

i typically ski in a slightly heavier fleece-lined shell and a windproof gore jersey... on cold cold days i add the aforementioned vest between them...

i have a few heavier jackets, vests, fleece pullovers, etc. but i rarely wear them, honestly. i find bulk advantageous only when i am standing still out in the cold. i don't have any fancy big city wool-type jackets.

you didn't ask but i will volunteer this: i find the secret to staying warm is a) several warm but thin layers at least one of which is windproof... and b) something beanie-ish on your head... and c) good gloves.
posted by RockyChrysler at 3:30 PM on November 30, 2004


- Aug/Sep: windbreaker What are "windcheaters?"
- Oct/Nov: "fall jacket," enough to provide some warmth without making you sweat. Often worn unbuttoned.
- Nov-Mar: "winter coat," past the waist and as heavy as you can get it. Gloves, scarf, and hat come with.
- Apr: "spring jacket" (same thing as fall jacket")

In the spring you can go pretty quick from a heavy jacket to no jacket at all. Some days you'll start out with your winter coat and spend the rest of the day carrying it around since it's too warm to wear it once the sun comes out.
posted by BradNelson at 3:37 PM on November 30, 2004

Chicago: three jackets.
  • A Gore-Tex jacket, low on insulation but cuts the wind and, more importantly, the rain.
  • A fleece, sans hood. Good down to about 5 C if it's windy, and 0 C if it's not. Worn under the aforementioned jacket if it's cold, wet, and shitty out, but not yet snowing (as it is today.)
  • A nice calf-length parka (the MEC Snowline Parka1, I think it's called) for when it's not going to get above freezing.
Also, the above combination of coats & such served me just fine when I was growing up in Winnipeg, where they know from cold. And as a male graduate student in physics, you can bet that I own the exact minimum amount of clothing required to keep me warm, sane, and unmocked.

1Actually, all my outerwear is from MEC. Someone once recognized me as a fellow Canadian while I was in Dublin, solely because of the MEC logo on my jacket.
posted by Johnny Assay at 3:45 PM on November 30, 2004


- Heavy winter coat, regular duty--wool, ankle-length polo-coat style
- Heavy winter coat, wet duty--leather trench coat with pile lining, ankle-length
- Heavy winter coat, special occasion--cashmere, ankle-length trench coat
- Midweight winter jacket--alpaca/wool, hip-length
- Light winter/spring coat--wool, ankle-length wrap
- Light winter/spring leather coat--trench coat, ankle-length
- Raincoat, regular duty--trench coat, ankle-length
- Raincoat, special occasion--trench coat, ankle length
- Light spring coat--linen, fingertip length
- Persian lamb coat--ankle length, worn only for super-special occasions

I think that's it. Oh, they're all black, except for the winter jacket, which is charcoal gray. I also don't think this is too many coats at all (although my husband does). I am contemplating buying a shearling coat for when it's unbelievably cold, but I don't really have the closet space for it.

"Windcheater" UK = "windbreaker" US.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:52 PM on November 30, 2004


Cold/Very Cold: Leather bomber jacket.
Warm/Not as cold: T-shirts and sweaters.

I'll wear a windbreaker when I'm motorcycling on summer evenings.
posted by esch at 4:06 PM on November 30, 2004


I have two spring/fall coats (one long and one short) and two winter coats (one long, one short). I have other coats, really, but they're old coats that have been replaced by new coats and are no longer worn, but which I keep because, I dunno, I enjoy trying to stuff more things in my closets, or something. My short coats are both currently leather, one insulated for winter, one light for spring/fall, but that's a coincidence. My long spring/fall coat is a classic overcoat, not quite waterproof, but good enough for handling rain. My long winter coat was specifically purchased for dressy occasions and is black wool. I wear it even with jeans when it's windy because it offers more coverage.

Where I grew up in Northern BC, however, I had more seasonal variety. I had a really light summer coat, a mid-range early spring/late fall that was lined, but not heavy, plus a heavy winter coat, and also a 'holy fucking christ it's cold' winter coat that was probably only worn a week or two a year, or for skiing, but was worth it when it was -35 and windy. Same number of coats, but for weather, rather than fashion reasons. Of course, if I lived there now, I'd probably have two of all of those with the possible exception of the 'holy fucking christ it's cold' model.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:07 PM on November 30, 2004

Salt Lake City

For around town:
Quilted Down Jacket

For Skiing:
Fleece Jacket as a base layer
Thin Jacket with Hood - Waterproof Layer for not so cold days
Thicker Jacket with Hood - Warmer than the first for colder days. Hood keeps the heat in and keeps the snow off my head when I'm on the lift
Soft Shell - this is a new one and I'm stll testing it out. Waterproof breathable layer for warmer days. No hood. Good for resort cruising on warmer days and for backcountry touring, when I'm sweating like a pig hiking uphill through waist deep snow.
posted by trbrts at 4:09 PM on November 30, 2004

Western Michigan (lower peninsula):

- Light, hooded, waterproof shell for Spring and Autumn, to be combined with any number of cardigans and sweaters as conditions dictate.
-Black fleece-lined car jacket for late-fall, early winter workwear.
-Hooded Goretex Insulated Anorak, 1 size too large for layering. This is the heavy duty jacket for nasty, windy, 9- inches-of-snow-falling-overnight weather. Combined with a polartec vest underneath, its never failed to keep me toasty.
posted by Chrischris at 4:19 PM on November 30, 2004

Vancouver, BC and poor

- 3/4 trench thin black leather jacket (that I bought when I had a "real" job almost 3 years ago) with a variety of layers underneath, season dependant
- no umbrella, just switch to a more water-resistant pomade
posted by PurplePorpoise at 4:22 PM on November 30, 2004


1 raincoat, doubles as windbreaker if necessary;
1 light wool coat with hood, ass-length for fall, spring, and bike riding (hood is good when it rains & is too cold for raincoat and when you come out of the bar at two and it's dropped ten degrees);
1 medium wool coat, no hood (winter; that is, when I have to have a hat)

What I am missing: lighter jacket.

And yeah, if I were you, I'd fill that gap with something wool.

Am I the only one here who thinks it's weird that so many people wear fleeces?
posted by dame at 4:22 PM on November 30, 2004

Fleece is much cheaper than wool. At least that is my reasoning for wearing fleece.
posted by rhapsodie at 4:24 PM on November 30, 2004


--leather coat/suede jacket (3/2) for the fall & spring and for layering under the Big Winter Coat, infra, of varying lengths from waist to mid-thigh
--wool coats, lightweight (3) for late fall, all mid-thigh length
--trenchcoat with removable wool lining, for early fall & spring rainy days (my only waterproof coat)
--wool coats, midweight (2), for winter, calf-length
--Big Winter Coat, heavy weight wool, with hood, ankle-length, roomy enough for a lighter jacket to be worn underneath when necessary
--Dad's arctic duty Air Force uniform overcoat, heaviest weight, but lacking in hood (which is essential for keeping the back of the neck warm) and weighs too much, really, to wear for long. I use it for walking the dog in the snow.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:25 PM on November 30, 2004

Fleece does not smell like a wet dog when it rains, which is why I think a lot of people like it. My leather-and-pile coat replaced a fleece coat.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:32 PM on November 30, 2004

Toronto, Ottawa, around there, either in town or out.

A thick button-up fleece sweater I wear basically at all tiimes throughout the whole winter, inside or out, and when I go out I'll put a windbreaker or a single-layer medium wool army surplus style jacket. The windbreaker I use the rest of the year as a jacket/raincoat with no liner and I do the same thing spring/fall with the wool one. If it's really cold I'll wear another sweater underneath, as I find the layering thing wayyyy more preferable to some thick and sweltering anorak.
posted by syscom at 4:34 PM on November 30, 2004

Also in Minneapolis: Two. A a black wool coat for most of the winter, and then my columbia parka for when your tears start to freeze to your face.
posted by nathan_teske at 4:36 PM on November 30, 2004

Near Rochester, NY:

--London Fog parka for fall (October-early November); I add an extra layer under it (a windbreaker or sweater) from mid-November to early December.
--Ankle-length Eddie Bauer down coat, waterproofed, when the snow puts in an appearance; it looks like I'm wearing a quilt. (I call this the "armored coat.") I usually wear a sweater underneath as well.
posted by thomas j wise at 4:39 PM on November 30, 2004

KW, Ontario:

- Rainjacket/windbreaker.
- Big fluffy jacket for really cold wintertime.
- Spring / Summer jacket with thin insulation.

For clothes, short sleeved polo shirts during summer, long sleeved ones during winter. I never wear shorts, although I could during the summer.

Myself, I hardly wear a jacket at all unless it's time to put on the toque and gloves.
posted by shepd at 4:45 PM on November 30, 2004

When I lived in Detroit, I used three: a windbreaker for late spring/early summer, a really heavy-duty winter coat for winter, and a medium-weight leather jacket that I'd wear when it was too cold for the windbreaker but still above, say, 20 degrees.

Now that I live in Seattle, I have cut it down to two: the windbreaker and a medium-weight wool jacket I wear in the winter. It's not cold enough for the windbreaker yet and in fact I left it at the office accidentally last night, so I didn't wear a jacket today at all and it was fine.
posted by kindall at 4:57 PM on November 30, 2004

Saratoga Springs, NY -2 one wool overcoat and a surplus arctic Border patrol coat .
Boston, MA- I have one wool coat that I got in February because the sweatshirt wasn't keeping me warm.

The wife has a jean jacket, a puffy vest, a fleece coat, and a fancy wool coat.

I find that it's generally never cold enough in Boston until about November then it's wool coat weather until about April.

I guess I would add a rain coat for the rainy times, but an umbrella works for me.
posted by rodz at 5:14 PM on November 30, 2004

Near Philadelphia, PA.

Light Houndstooth Jacket for midsummer-early fall
Heavier sweater/leather vest jacket for fall.
Leather Jacket for fall-winter with thinsulate liner installed once it dips below 35F.
On the coldest days, I will don a sweater underneath my leather jacket.
posted by The White Hat at 5:42 PM on November 30, 2004

Black leather jacket (cut like a denim jacket) for fall/spring (50s and 60s)
lined denim jacket (fleece inside) for fall/early winter (40-60)
Black leather motorcycle jacket (for 30s-50s)
Tan suede car coat (w/ zip-in liner when needed) for general winter wear
Brown microfiber parka for winter (lightweight but very warm (teens-50s)
assorted fleece or hooded or insulated shirts/pullovers
And one more winter coat to be purchased this winter : >
posted by amberglow at 5:54 PM on November 30, 2004

Fleece thing for cool (30-50F) + dry.
High tech rain jacket over aforementioned fleece thing for cool + wet
Insulated leather 3/4 jacket for urban cold (<3 0f)br> Dorky looking down coat for rural cold or urban bitter cold (<15)
posted by TimeFactor at 6:14 PM on November 30, 2004

Fargo. North Dakota

one surplus police jacket with liner (good for fall and early winter)

picture here

one woolen russian parade coat- thick, huge, and impervious to the cold- looks sinister as hell, too. after wearig this, i'll never go back to any columbia jacket or similar junk. the soviets had this cold weather thing down.

picture here
posted by fake at 6:28 PM on November 30, 2004

Black leather motorbike zipper jacket (leather) sometimes worn with fleece hoodie into late fall
Old suede coat worn with various layers on a lot of winter days
Medium-weight Kanuk parka for really cold days

But then the cold doesn't bother me all that much.
posted by zadcat at 6:37 PM on November 30, 2004

Boston: 6 coats. In order of frequency of use:
-Full length wool topcoat for v. cold weather
-Heirloom WWII woolen peacoat for cold, windy weather (it was my grandfather's and is relatively rigid, but it blocks gusts well)
-Fake-fur puffy jacket for non-windy days in the 40s and for looking sassy
-Leather blazer for early autumn evenings
-Knee length cloth coat with fur collar (v. cold + dressy)
-Air Force issue raincoat with zip-in lining for being outside in sleet/snow
posted by amber_dale at 6:38 PM on November 30, 2004

Vancouver-ish, BC:

- Eddie Bauer rain jacket/windbreaker (black, hip length, unlined, can be cinched at the waist), mostly used in Spring/Autumn with varying layers underneath, toque and gloves tucked in pockets.

- Columbia-type fleece lined coat (yellow, hip length, can be cinched at waist), used for the coldest months (December through March), toque and gloves tucked in pockets, scarf optional.

- Varying sweatshirt-weight and cardigan-style sweaters used when not too cold and/or in light rain (and I don't want to wear the Eddie Bauer).

- Looking forward to wearing the MetaFilter hoodie I ordered last week.
posted by deborah at 7:31 PM on November 30, 2004

Okanagan Valley, BC:
a lined leather jacket if it's chilly
a wool longcoat if it's cold
a ski jacket if I'm engaged in snow sports
Joe Rocket Ballistic 3.0 w/zip linings if I'm on my motorcycle, and sometimes wishing I wasn't too cheap to put heated grips on the bars.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:53 PM on November 30, 2004

I should probably note that I usually have a pair of wool-linered leather gloves and an earband tucked away in the jacket/longcoat in case I'm going to be walking any sort of distance. And I'm not afraid to wear longjohns and woolly socks.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:56 PM on November 30, 2004

Calgary, AB:

-Down vest is handy, with a polyester long sleeve and a sweater underneath, or layering on really cold days.
-Uninsulated shell for warmer days, and running in.
-Insulated shell for warmer days when I'm not wearing much more than a t-shirt underneath, or colder days with a sweater.
-Windstopper shell when it's windy, which works very well. Good for a running jacket when it's really cold.
-Fleece jacket on its own when not too cold or not too windy, or as layering under:
-Gore-tex 3/4 shell, when raining/snowing or when I need lots of layers, and doubles as a good ski jacket. Good for wet snow days.
-Leather insulated car coat, great for more formal dressing in colder weather.
-Wool pea-coat, heavy for really cold days or when I need something more formal.

It's amazing what a touque and gloves can do to your overall comfort in cold weather...budget for a good hat, pair of gloves and a scarf.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:04 PM on November 30, 2004

Southern Ontario (near Toronto):
- Light synthetic shell for temperatures above 10c and rain;
- Polartec fleece jacket for temperatures between 9c and -5c;
- Polartec fleece and shell combo for -5c to -10c or so;
- GoreTex and Thinsulate parka /w big hood for -10c and below

There's also a hooded sweatshirt to throw in the mix between the third and fourth options, it all depends on how cold I expect it to be at my destination (or on public transit, depending). Cooler destination, such as when public institutions likes schools/universities haven't yet turned on the heat means I'll want to keep some kind of jacket on, so a combo is appealing. Once the heat gets turned on (too high, usually) the parka is better because I can wear lighter clothes underneath once I get inside.

I never wear headgear, as it's not really that cold here. A hood will do the trick 90% of the time.
posted by onshi at 8:08 PM on November 30, 2004


Light: Cheap ass nylon windbreaker. Okay for light rain as long as it's not at all cold.

Medium: Pea coat style below the butt nylon insulated jacket. Okay for light chilly rain. Not okay for coldness.

Heavy: Literally heavy ancient wool below the butt pea coat. Okay for coldness. Not okay for heavy winds or serious precipitation.

This is my first winter in Chicago. I need Johnny Assay to give me a practical outwear make-over, like a Canadian, physicist, straight Fab Five, except there's only one of him.
posted by jennyb at 8:11 PM on November 30, 2004

Seacoast New Hampshire, in order of increasing temperature:

1. Columbia down parka, Gore-Tex shell, for serious winter weather.
2. 1040s wool pea coat: so warm, and blocks the wind better than anything, but heavy. Not for precipitation.
3.Light purple jacket of some type of synthetic -outdoor sunny-day sporty thing
4 Red fleece interpretation of a peacoat - all-purpose
5.Navy blue fleece vest
6. Red Breton canvas fisherman's shirt (as overshirt)

What I'm missing: a long, black cloth coat for dressing up. Nothing looks dorkier than a girl wearing a big-ass parka over her winter-holiday cocktail dress.
posted by Miko at 8:44 PM on November 30, 2004

jennyb: Buy a down jacket.

And as for the original post: layers, layers, layers.

I grew up in the north, but now live in Texas. A hoodie and a fall jacket separately or in combination pretty much covers my needs.

Also, two proverbs:

"If your feet are cold, put a hat on."

"There's no such thing as bad whether, only bad clothing."
posted by Doohickie at 8:45 PM on November 30, 2004

bad weather! bad weather!

Dang typos!
posted by Doohickie at 9:43 PM on November 30, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for the list you all. It helps me figure out what I'm missing. I do have a leather jacket, a fleece pullover, and a woolen bomber type jacket that I hate, so it's good to see what's needed, and yes as much as I'm not used to layering, it's the way to go. Thanks for the tips too!
posted by riffola at 5:09 AM on December 2, 2004

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