Where can I buy a neoprene coat?
December 15, 2009 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find a neoprene winter jacket? I'm imagining something that's relatively thin, but wind-resistant and very warm. Is this even practical?

I just bought some neoprene gloves (similar to these), and they are amazing. They're really warm, but still thin enough to allow good dexterity. In fact, my hands are now considerably warmer than the rest of my body.

I immediately thought that I need a neoprene jacket to even things out. The only thing I found was this, but it looks too much like a biking jersey to me. Is there anyone else out there selling neoprene jacket?

Alternatively, would something like this work? I realize that wetsuit material is designed to have the layer of water between your body and the wetsuit (I could duplicate that with a fleece jacket, right?), but my gloves work so well, I imagine that a wetsuit top like that would be really warm. Am I horribly wrong here?
posted by niles to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A lot of soft-shell jackets aren't far off from neoprene. You might look into those and see if they accomplish what you want.
posted by JMOZ at 11:39 AM on December 15, 2009

You might try looking at the REI One jackets and comparable North Face jackets - I assume they aren't made of Neoprene due to breathability issues, but they are very warm for the thickness of material. They are wind resistant and moderately water resistant.

However, if you really want to try out neoprene, here's a fishing/hunting supply place that carries Neoprene jackets.
posted by benzenedream at 11:47 AM on December 15, 2009

My guess is that you don't really want a neoprene jacket, since it's not going to breathe. I've worn a shorty wetsuit under a paddling jacket when I was trying to stay warm, and the end result was that instead of keeping a warm layer of water between my body and the rest of the world, it kept a warm layer of sweat between my body and the rest of the world. Soft shell jackets are going to get you what you want.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:55 AM on December 15, 2009

Here's a possibility.
posted by bearwife at 12:00 PM on December 15, 2009

As already mentioned, neoprene doesn't breathe; if you've ever worn a cheap plastic raincoat, the effect is similar...you're almost as wet on the inside as it is on the outside.

Technical clothing is awesome - Goretex Windstopper technology is probably the best known, although there are other brands of wind and water resistant/proof and breathable fabrics available. Any outdoor store (REI, MEC, etc.) will have a nice selection of weights and styles from shell to insulated jackets for keeping your core toasty. Good luck!
posted by faineant at 12:26 PM on December 15, 2009

As craven_morhead says, you're describing a soft shell. They are great (I just slipped mine off as I clicked the link to this question), but not a substitute for a real "winter coat" if you live in a cold area. Soft shells have good wind resistance (through not quite the same as a good traditional shell), and they'll certainly help keep you warm, but they aren't nearly as waterproof as a traditional "hard" shell. You might want to read about soft shells. They are great for Spring though!
posted by zachlipton at 12:31 PM on December 15, 2009

I recently made a hoodie out of a schoeller fabric (i want to say flexshell or something?) It feels like thin neoprene on the outside, and super soft fleece on the inside. This stuff is so waterproof that i can ride around in a heavy rain for an hour and it will just barely start to soak through...and then it will dry out super fast thereafter

It cost like 35/yard but its the most incredible material. I got it at Rose City Textiles in Portland, OR. I don't know if they ship, or if you're interested in making your own.

http://www.schoeller-textiles.com/ I think they have a list of jackets that use their materials in it. SO amazing.
posted by furnace.heart at 12:36 PM on December 15, 2009

I got a soft shell a few months ago and it is an absolute lifesaver. Windproof, water repellent, and surprisingly warm even with nothing on under it. Absolutely fantastic.
posted by knapah at 1:37 PM on December 15, 2009

Maybe not "Wisconsin in winter" warm with nothing on under it, I should add.
posted by knapah at 1:37 PM on December 15, 2009

As zaclipton says, soft shells are great when used for their intended application. I wouldn't get a neoprene jacket as you're going to get sweaty.
I tend to use a soft shell for general meandering around town, but if I'm going to be somewhere really cold then I'll go for my down jacket or the combination of shell & fleece underneath. Most outdoor websites will advise you on layering rather than one jacket suits all.
posted by arcticseal at 1:51 PM on December 15, 2009

Lotsa thin layers are definitely the way to go.

My preferred winter combo is a pricey goretex hard shell with cheap stuff underneath it. It's 30 today, and I'll walk home in just the jacket and my dress shirt. Add a down vest and a thin wool sweater over a shirt and it's fine at -5F for extended periods of light activity. Wool gets damp, but it's always warm.

I leave the big goose down coat at home unless it's seriously cold and I'm planning on standing still for 20+ minutes at a crack.
posted by paanta at 2:05 PM on December 15, 2009

Nothing beats mother nature, i.e. wool. If you don't have animal hair allergies, that is the way to go.
posted by randomstriker at 2:58 PM on December 15, 2009

I think I have a softshell jacket that is similar to what you are looking for. I have thinner soft shells I use as a windproof layer but this thicker and has a fleecy lining bonded to the fabric. Its waterproof rating is 20,000mm, meaning that jacket's fabric can withstand supposedly 20,000 millimeters (almost 66 feet) of rain in 24 hours before its wearer gets wet, and I stood outside for 3 hours during a recent freak storm without any real ill effects, including sticking my arm directly under the stream coming from an overflowing spout. its UK own brand I got in a sale but it was sold as a snowboarding jacket.

I still wore a down jacket when it was cold (and dry) recently but partly because I do very badly in any kind of cold, I've successfully layered the snowboarding jacket in other conditions.
posted by tallus at 4:12 PM on December 15, 2009

In regards to neoprene not breathing, I actually picked up some silk liners that have made my gloves a lot more comfortable. It's been so good that I completely forgot about that. I suppose a jacket would be a lot worse than gloves.

The soft-shell information looks great, so I'll be doing some research and marking best answers over the next few days.

If anyone else has ideas, I'd still love to hear them.
posted by niles at 4:16 PM on December 15, 2009

I work for the company that makes that jacket, and while I think it's pretty amazingly warm, I wouldn't wear it for non-cycling purposes. Cyclists need that kind of layering because of the breeze generated while riding, which is not necessary for walking or standing around. I recommend a long wool coat, tall boots, wool socks and a big furry hat. You can save the neoprene for the gloves. A big point for staying warm is wearing a shirt that fully tucks into your pants, so your posterior is not "air conditioned."
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:10 PM on December 15, 2009

You might want to take a look at Zyflex jacket. It works pretty good for me, breaths well and has held up for 4 winters. It even does relatively well in a light rain. Before you make a decision read what Zyflex material is all about to make sure it fits your needs.
posted by bkeene12 at 8:14 PM on December 15, 2009

Since we're just recommending soft shells now, I've been rocking a Patagonia guide jacket for a year and a half now. Can't recommend it enough. Best soft shell ever, in my opinion. I ride my bike year round in Chicago, and with good layering underneath this has been (almost. I didn't wear it those few days last january when it was -15 with wind chill in the 40's) the only jacket I need. I wore it with a thin wool base layer and cotton middle layer the other day when it was 0° in the morning with -25 wind chill. I wore it with just the base layer this afternoon on a 15 mile ride back from the office with the temps at 14°. I wear it out and about a lot too, and I think it looks pretty spiffy to boot.
posted by Hello, Revelers! I am Captain Lavender! at 8:20 PM on December 15, 2009

I should also mention the jacket I was talking about doesn't really cut it in heavy rain since it's just water resistant.
posted by Hello, Revelers! I am Captain Lavender! at 8:22 PM on December 15, 2009

I used to have a neoprene jacket with fleece lining. It was as insanely warm and awesome as you imagine, much much warmer and more rugged than any softshell I've seen on the market. Made by Helly Hansen it was given to me by my sailor Dad back in the late 80s and it was probably 20 years old then. I don't know if they still make them but you might try yacht supply companies or call Helly Hansen.

It was really warm. Wear it with just a t-shirt in a snowstorm kind of warm and also fairly bulky and non-compressible so a softshell might work better for you depending on what you're doing.
posted by fshgrl at 11:26 PM on December 15, 2009

Building on fshgrl's point, I think a neoprene coat would be great if you're lobster fishing or sailing in inclement weather. Otherwise, go the soft shell route. Look for GoreTex and windstopper fabrics. It's worth trying on a number of them too, since they come in significantly different weights. I have a heavy and a light softshell, and use them both in different weather/layering situations.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:57 AM on December 16, 2009

It turns out that I had a great soft shell type jacket lying around. I forgot how warm and wind-proof it was, and combined with the powers of laying, I've been keeping very warm with not a lot of bulk. Thanks for all of the answers!
posted by niles at 2:02 PM on January 31, 2010

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