Deep Time Winter Jackets

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cmonkey
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Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by cmonkey » Fri Oct 16, 2015 9:22 am

Lets talk deep time winter jackets.

Seeing today's autoblog I am reminded that I need to invest in a jacket that ideally will last me a decade+, particularly now that I'm walking to the bus each day and winter is approaching. I noticed a post saying that the Northface brand isn't that great any more.

Anyone have any experience with Columbia jackets? I was looking at this one in particular but I'm not convinced this would last as long as I'd like. It is a 3 in 1 and so I could use the outer coat as a rain coat in wet weather and use the inner jacket in the winter.

I have seen arcteryx mentioned on here but they look a little touristy/fashion oriented.

What do you wear?

Slevin
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Re: Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by Slevin » Fri Oct 16, 2015 9:46 am

We need to preface this discussion with a couple more statements from you. What kind of climate do you live in? If you live in the rainy PNW I'm going to give you a much different approach than if you live in Arizona or New Mexico.

As a guy from the Rocky Mountains, my winter generally consists of lots of snow and cold weather, but rarely rainfall. This has led me to end up picking up a Fjallraven Sarek jacket that can be waxed/unwaxed depending on the climate, which is one of the more long-lasting types of jackets (you can still pick up good condition vintage Fjallraven jackets from the 80s on Ebay, but they're not necessarily cheaper than the new stuff). Since I use a layering approach to warmth, my outer shell is generally just a shell, and I add layers underneath depending on the temperature outside. It works for winter hiking/ snowshoeing/ skiing/ walking to work etc. I picked it up on 50% off clearance in the middle of the summer, which allowed me to buy it for a little under $200. Now that winter is approaching you will likely not find quite as cheap of a deal.

Obviously this approach will not work as well in the much more wet climates.

If you are looking for an all-in-one jacket like the one you posted above I would have to recommend Patagonia stuff. They always make quality garments that they stick behind, and if you need it patched or repaired they are always ready to help. If you look around the inspiration thread you can find a video of people repping their old vintage 20 year old+ Patagonia garments. Arcteryx is along the same line of quality, but they care less about materials sourcing/ fair labor costs. If you don't care about this sort of thing they are just as good of garments as Patagonia, and both are likely to last a decade long with constant wear.

cmonkey
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Re: Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by cmonkey » Fri Oct 16, 2015 10:17 am

I am in north Illinois, so lots of cold, wind and snow generally. No rain.

JL13
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Re: Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by JL13 » Fri Oct 16, 2015 11:00 am

An Arcteryx jacket may cost you $400 and last 15 years, but if you're not rock climbing a regular brand jacket will probably last you 15 years as well and cost $40 on clearance. The more flexible you are with style the easier this will be. Check rei-outlet.

The best solution may be two different jackets - a midlayer and a shell. The really warm coats can only be used on the coldest days, but a midlayer + shell combination can be used separately in the spring and fall as well. Which is cheaper:
-a jacket that lasts 15 years that you wear 100 times, or
-a jacket that lasts 7 years that you wear 500 times?

Illinois is much colder than where I live, but I can bike in a shell + midlayer + t shirt comfortably in 15F. If it's safe, you might want to try slowly adding layers and see where you get comfortable (rather than over-buying and realizing later that you bought too much insulation!).

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Re: Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by jacob » Fri Oct 16, 2015 11:32 am

I don't have THE recommendation because I haven't found the optimal ONE jacket for all kinds of IL weather yet.

The "famous" Northface from the 1990s (I consider Patagonia to be a worthy heir. Not Columbia) is great for spring and fall thunderstorms. If you stuff a fleece AND a woollen sweater under it, it's barely warm enough for -30F wind chill when you're active. However, if you don't mind being a little chilly, it's good for all but the worst of Chicago winter days. Forget about sitting down outside for an hour in this configuration though. Possibly it would work over a down pile jacket, but I haven't tried it. This is very flexible and packs to almost nothing. The shell is useful up to 65F maybe.

I also have a Filson double machinav. This will work in -30F (with the underlying fleece + sweater), also while sitting down. It is great for cold/freezing camping trips. However, if there's heavy snow, it will stick to the jacket and turn you into a snowman in short order. Don't worry, it won't melt into the jacket because the insulation is just that good. The collar is a 100 year old design though, so it sucks, but I've solved that problem with a big neck gaiter that goes up to my ears and back of the head and then a beanie on top pulled down to my eyebrows. It looks like a two-piece balaclava but is much more flexible and since the beanie has some hockey slogans on it, I don't look like a mall ninja. Being wool, the jacket still works up to 50-55F because it breathes better than tex. As for rain ... sure if you get caught out, it'll take a while to soak but afterwards it'll take days to dry. But at least wet wool isn't as deadly. Also, if it gets covered with snow and you take it inside ... This jacket is not at all layering-flexible. It is also superheavy---which also means it's much much harder to destroy than tech materials. However, it has a game pocket (that fits a 12" laptop albeit in a somewhat uncomfortable way) and various other ways to carry heavy luggage. I easily carry 3 different pairs of gloves, gaiter + hat, a compass, and an EDC kit without overstuffing it.

Basically, the first jacket was designed for trips into the wilderness. The second jacket was designed to live in the wilderness.

I have a little experience with waxed cotton. This is practically water proof; much more so than *tex. However, it doesn't breathe at all so it's only comfortable at less that 55F. Also, there's a strong smell of crayons at higher temperatures which sensitive noses will complain about. If it's cold, it's pretty solid though. And it's way easier/less chemical or technical to maintain than tex clothing. You can make your own wax. It's easy to sew. No glue. No fancy zippers to blow out. Also quite tear-resistant (more so than plastic materials). Especially when waxed.

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Re: Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by JL13 » Fri Oct 16, 2015 11:53 am

-30f? good god.

In that case you probably want a midlayer, a shell, and then a puffy on top of that?

Another big question is what kind of style are you after? *tex will look technical/active while wool (a la Filson) will look a bit more traditional.

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Re: Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by jacob » Fri Oct 16, 2015 11:57 am

J_L13 wrote: In that case you probably want a midlayer, a shell, and then a puffy on top of that?
Puffy over shell?! No, shell over puffy over fleece over sweater over poly baselayer.

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Re: Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by JL13 » Fri Oct 16, 2015 12:39 pm

Guess it depends on how big the "puffy" is. The concern is that you'd have to size up the shell so large that it becomes useless by itself. At that point might as well buy an insulated shell.

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Re: Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by cmonkey » Fri Oct 16, 2015 1:02 pm

Illinois will definitely get -30F windchill chill readings. Many times lower than that.

I am mainly thinking of that week in February that we always drop to -20F actual during the early mornings and I need to walk that half mile @ 5:30 AM (in the open air, no trees) to the bus and wait for 10 min or so. The Filson looks more like a light jacket than an insulating winter coat but I do like the more traditional look. I'm not wanting to look like a ski-jock.

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Re: Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by jacob » Fri Oct 16, 2015 1:17 pm

Haha, it's definitely anything BUT light ... (it's TWO layers of 24 oz wool, so a rough calculation has it at 5--6 pounds, unloaded!). However, given how expensive it has become (I paid $240 for mine about 10 years ago), I'd rather sink my money into an Alpha SL, if I had to spend that much.

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Re: Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by C40 » Fri Oct 16, 2015 1:41 pm

A lot of those outdoor sport type brands have weight as a very important design goal. You aren't going to be climbing mountains in this coat, I assume, so those types of coats (like the Alpha SL, I assume from a quick glance) are probably not going to provide as much value for you as others can. I'd guess that coats designed for work, rather than sports, would fit your needs better. (So styles like Filson, Carhart, etc over styles like Arcteryx. I don't mean those brands specifically, but rather the styles, materials production methods, etc.)

Layers work very well and are more versatile. I've gotten a ton of use out of a $30 Jacket from target worn over various combinations of layers (wool base, then some cotton or whatever in between my shirts and the outer jacket).

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Re: Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by C40 » Fri Oct 16, 2015 1:41 pm

Also, many people buy way more coats than they need, so places like Goodwill are often worth checking out

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Re: Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by cmonkey » Fri Oct 16, 2015 1:46 pm

jacob wrote:I'd rather sink my money into an Alpha SL, if I had to spend that much.
Ha yea that's the ski-jock! Although the black one doesn't look bad.

I am liking the look of the Filson (but not the price of the one) so I think looking for something similar might be a good direction. They have some cheaper items. A good work coat that I could use for outdoor homestead activities (winter time chicken keeping!), so something that is flexible yet thick and warm. Wool looks promising.

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Re: Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by JL13 » Fri Oct 16, 2015 2:07 pm

At that temperature too...it's not just keeping the torso warm, but everything else. Any exposed skin is going to be very uncomfortable. I'd likely be wearing a balaclava + scarf + hat. At least something to cover the neck/mouth/nose.

As an interim solution...while you're shopping for the perfect wool overcoat at the right price...search craigslist for ski jacket. Easily had for $20 and very comfortable!

Yes it's not the look you're looking for, but you can't beat the price and comfort!

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Re: Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by jacob » Fri Oct 16, 2015 3:15 pm

Filson is suffering the same fate as Northface and turning into something of a fashion brand :-( after being discovered by the "urban lumberjack" crowd (mea culpa) which probably explains part of the price increases. (The other reason is inflation + Made in The USA labor costs. Technology simply can't make this cheaper. You get what you pay for.). Also check out woolrich, northern outfitters, cabella, ... In particular, hunting outfitters are a great source of outdoor clothing that's built somewhat sturdier than hiking/climbing clothes. There are many small family/one-man shows out there. Expect to pay through the nose for those.

For work clothes, it's hard to beat Carhart in terms of utility/price. Filson makes some tin cloth (waxed high weave cotton) but that's way more expensive. And it's not warm.

If you're a wuss, Milwaukee (of grey-red tool fame) makes a battery powered jacket. I'd hate to rely on batteries, but there it is.

Arcteryx started out as a high-end climbing and military supplier. The Alpha SL is a long jacket (covers the ass) intended for hiking. That's another thing to consider. If you have to wear a suit jacket underneath ... does the jacket extend below the suit jacket? Oh yeah, if you don't mind the mall ninja dork look(*), military surplus is an excellent source of warm jackets.

(*) No insults intended. I'm personally halfway there in many aspects. Tactical stuff is just too damn convenient with all the pockets and the velcro and zippers in just the right places.

I should probably also mention Scottevest in case you like lots of pockets. (Mainly of electronics stuff. Think iPhone/hydration/traveler crowd.)

I actually don't bother with dedicated pants solutions. Long underwear + normal pants usually does it for me. If it gets really cold (-20F with -40F windchill) I put a pair of thin workout pants on top of that. If it gets super gnarly (-25F with -50F+ windchill), I use my sailing bibs instead. Filson does make some wool bibs that match the Mackinaw. I've been eyeing them ... but I find it hard to justify since I'd probably never wear them. Basically, if you have leg muscles and use them [when you're out in the cold], the legs are pretty damn good at supplying their own heat. This depends strongly on whether you're generally moving or sitting, e.g. around a camp fire.

FWIW, jackets are somewhat of a consumer fetish for me and as C40 points out, I'm one of those who have too many (4 at the moment). I'd like to have the best (for my purposes) since I wear them daily for many years. However, a perfectly reasonable solution can be had for very little money. However, I consider the difference between a $75 ski jacket (which I wore for the first 20 years of my life) and a $300 arcteryx or filson or similar to be "mindblowing" Wheaton levels apart. It doesn't really matter if it's mainly used to get from the house to the garage or from the bus to the shop ... but if you need/want to walk/bike 3+ miles every day, it's the difference between "sucky" and "whatever" whenever it's raining, the wind is blowing, or the polar vortex fails to contain the arctic air.

PS: IL is hard to dress for [in the minimalist sense] given that it ranges between -20F and +100F as well as seasons of practically no rain and seasons of almost daily thunder storm deluges. CA was much easier.

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Re: Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by jacob » Fri Oct 16, 2015 3:21 pm

BTW, the Sarek (of Vulcan?! ;-) ) jacket that Slevin posted looks absolutely great in terms of design. I want one! Unfortunately, I don't think it would work very well for IL in terms of general use. If you don't wax it, it's only going to be good during winter, since half an hour in the rain during spring and fall is going to soak it. If you do wax it, it's going to be too warm between Mar and Oct. During winter, you'd have to oversize it enough to stuff a few liners underneath it. But the hood looks awesome.

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Re: Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by jacob » Fri Oct 16, 2015 3:30 pm

@J_L13 - Windchill actually isn't really a factor since only Darwin Award candidates(*) leave anything exposed during the fun days of Jan-Mar because anything but full coverage causes frost bite. When wind chill dips to -50F (Windy City, remember, lots of wind), the eyelashes want to freeze together every time you blink; the nostrils want to flash freeze. It feels weird.

(*) There's a lot of these around here. I don't know how they do it. Seemingly wearing some thin fashion jacket and getting away with it too. Probably live next door and wait 5 minutes for the train hoping to make a run to the nearest SBUX if the train is delayed.

On really really cold days, I put a balaclava underneath my gaiter+beanie solution. Personally, I think the gaiter+beanie solution is genius [IMHO] because it allows full-range of turning the head, unlike most jacket hoods. I never liked scarves. Too much wasted material. I have one of these on my "wish list" though.

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Re: Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by jennypenny » Fri Oct 16, 2015 5:13 pm

jacob wrote: I have one of these on my "wish list" though.
I hope you don't walk by any schools on your way to work in that. It definitely qualifies as Stranger Danger. ;)

You can do the same as that^^ with a scarf and a boonie.


The warmest overcoat I've ever owned was a long wool cape from Ireland. I think it traps the body heat better. Easier to make than a coat, too.

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Re: Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by Ego » Fri Oct 16, 2015 7:21 pm

I
C40 wrote:A lot of those outdoor sport type brands have weight as a very important design goal......

Layers work very well and are more versatile. I've gotten a ton of use out of a $30 Jacket from target worn over various combinations of layers (wool base, then some cotton or whatever in between my shirts and the outer jacket).
WRT weight/bulk, it depends on the commute mode. It is easy to throw a bulky rain jacket or heavy wool coat in the car for use if the day changes. For public transit users, cyclists and walkers, bulk and weight become factors because the items must be lugged around.

I agree that layers are much more practical. I brought my rain shell (Beta LT) and packable insulating hooded jacket (Atom AR) which can be used together. I also brought a Patagonia Houdini, an ultra-lightweight hooded jacket that has been treated to repel moisture and packs down smaller than my fist . I've found that in really cold conditions the Houdini, with the hood up and cinched tight around my face, provides as much warmth as the Atom AR when worm beneath the rain shell. I also have a thin balaclava and a buff.

Patagonia makes Houdini pants as well. I'm going to get them when I get home because there are many days in SoCal where it is cold in the early AM (mid 40s) but turns into shorts weather later in the day.

The best place to find this stuff is at the REI garage sale. Looks like there will be one near you in a few weeks....

http://www.rei.com/events/rei-garage-sa ... ago/122911

I don't know how they are elsewhere but in SoCal people have been know to camp out. I've never done that but I have arrived an hour before they opened to wait in line.

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Re: Deep Time Winter Jackets

Post by Slevin » Fri Oct 16, 2015 10:04 pm

jacob wrote: If you don't wax it, it's only going to be good during winter, since half an hour in the rain during spring and fall is going to soak it. If you do wax it, it's going to be too warm between Mar and Oct. During winter, you'd have to oversize it enough to stuff a few liners underneath it. But the hood looks awesome.
The best part is that you can just Remove the wax from the jacket during the season change. Yes it takes a little bit of time to do such a thing, but it keeps you from needing several different jackets. This of course does not deal with the bulkiness factor.

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