Baby, it’s cold outside.
You’re not imagining it. Winter temperatures in the United States are, in fact, getting colder thanks to climate change. More than 1,600 daily records for cold were either tied or broken last winter, and this year we’re in for more of the same. We’re increasingly experiencing new cold weather patterns like the polar vortex, the bomb cyclone, and a range of other storms with equally exotic names.
If you’re thinking about buying yourself or a loved one a warm jacket to cope with the cold, we’re here to help. We’ve been keeping track of the best, most compelling innovations in the outerwear market over the past year. We bring them to you here. We’ve studied each item carefully, and tested them to make sure they live up to their promises.
The coats on this list are designed to span a range of price points. We’ve also included some options for slightly more temperate weather–such as trench coats–for those of you in less frigid parts of the country. If you’re lucky enough to be in a warm, sunny place right now, spare a thought for this writer, who is walking around bundled up like the Michelin Man here in Boston.
A Stylish Smart Jacket
Innovative Boston-based apparel brand Ministry of Supply is the brainchild of former MIT-trained engineers who wanted to create technical clothes that make everyday life more comfortable. We’re particularly excited about the brand’s most recent invention, a smart jacket that adjusts to your body heat.
The jacket, which comes in both men’s and women’s styles, can be turned on with the help of a phone app or a smart assistant like Amazon Alexa. Inside the jacket, there are three thin fiber elements that almost instantly heat up the jacket with 10 watts of power. It automatically adjusts the temperature based on the weather outside, your body temperature, as well as how much you are moving.
Besides the technology, the jacket has other cool features. It has a wireless charging port, a waterproof exterior, and a removable hood. The jackets have been in production for months, but they are now finally available for purchase. But expect to fight off the tech-obsessed folks on the wait list who have been holding their breath for this jacket to drop.
$495, Ministry of Supply
Eight billion tons of plastic are now polluting the planet, and, since the material does not decompose, we are stuck with it forever. Most of it ends up in landfills and oceans. If these facts fill you with angst, Everlane may have a solution for you.
The company is making a push to remove all new plastic from its operations, from office supplies to packaging to actual clothes by 2021. And just in time for the holidays, it has launched the ReNew collection, which consists of puffer jackets, fleece pullovers, and parkas, which are all made using recycled plastic. The collection effectively diverted 3 million plastic bottles, turning them into functional layers that will last a long time.
Even better: The garments are affordably priced. The warmest, thickest, longest coats cost $175. But if you’re looking for jacket to wear around the office or outside on cool days, I recommend the ReNew lightweight puffer, which costs $88 for women and $98 for men. Each jacket uses between 15 and 16 plastic bottles, and is stuffed with PrimaLoft insulation that will keep you warm at temperatures that go down to 35°F. Both the men’s and women’s jackets come with a mockneck that keeps your neck warm.
Canada Goose is known for creating heavy-duty coats that are able to withstand even the coldest elements. The brand has been popular with mountaineers, but it also became a celebrity favorite after camera crews and actors on cold weather sets discovered how warm the coats are.
While Canada Goose’s classic coats are long, featuring fur-lined hoods and enormous logos on the side, it has begun developing more subtle styles that pack in a lot of new technology. This year, it released a new coat for women called the Ockley, which features a brand-new fabric called the Feather-Light UL that is designed to generate warmth while maintaining a thin, sleek silhouette. And unlike many synthetic fabrics that trap heat but do not release moisture, this new fabric is breathable, which means that you stay warm, while not sweating.
Importantly, the Feather-Light UL is designed to be soft so that it feels warm and comfortable to the touch, rather than plasticky against your body. The coat comes with an exaggerated collar that wraps around your neck and face, providing additional warmth. Importantly, the coat can be worn in temperatures as low as 5°F. I tested this coat in the frigid Boston weather and was surprised by how fabric so thin kept me so toasty.
$750, Canada Goose
A Commuter’s Dream
Lululemon has a Vancouver-based innovation lab called White Space, which I wrote about earlier this year. Unlike many other activewear brands, Lululemon’s lab does not focus exclusively on professional athletes or even sports, per se. Instead, the scientists there are focused on the activity that people incorporate into their daily lives, like taking the train to work or attending a low-intensity yoga class during their lunch break.
Enter the men’s Cold City Parka, which is specifically designed for the commute. The coat is designed to look sleek but also keep you warm and dry. It contains ethically sourced down and the seams are sealed, ensuring that it is entirely waterproof. It also contains several vents that allow the wearers to regulate their temperature, depending on how active they are. Many commuters feel cold while they are running to catch the subway, but then immediately feel hot when they are on the train. The venting here releases heat from the body.
The Architectural Choice
Another innovative coat that launches this season is the Halstrom IV coat, from the outwear startup The Arrivals. The coat comes in men’s and women’s versions. The brand was cofounded by an architect, so all the coats in the collection are designed to blend functionality with creative lines and silhouettes.
The Halstrom is unique for its modular design. The coat consists of a waterproof shell and a down liner. You can wear the pieces separately or together, which effectively means this is three coats in one.
While there are other jackets on the market that can be taken apart, few have the same kind of quality and attention to detail as this one. It has a hood that comes with a buckle, so you can adjust it to keep your face warm. It comes with pockets that allow you to easily access your things even if you’re wearing both layers. Each Arrivals piece has a lifetime warranty.
$595, The Arrivals
A Trench Coat For Power Players
There’s a new trench coat made by Argent, a brand that is a favorite of powerhouse women like Kamala Harris, Arianna Huffington, and Hillary Clinton. The brand was founded by women who were disappointed by the poor design of much of the office wear available on the market. The brand is known for its functional features, including pockets galore.
The new technical trench is made from a synthetic Swiss, heavy-weight fabric that provides warmth, but is also water- and wind-repellant, contains four-way stretch, and controls moisture. The coat has an interior mesh pocket for you to store your phone, which means you can quickly glance inside your jacket to check your notifications. There are also special spots for pens (or a stylus), credit cards, and key cards.
When I tested the jacket, I liked how durable it was. You don’t have to worry about getting coffee or lipstick on it because you can wipe it off. And the fabric is wrinkle-free, so you can bring this jacket with you when you’re traveling, and it will look great even if you’re been on a plane, or you stuffed it in your suitcase.
A (Splurgy) Trench To Live In
Much like Argent, menswear brand Outlier incorporates technical features into the clothes. It refers to many products as experiments, since the founders try to incorporate new fabrics and technologies into garments in entirely new ways. (You may be familiar with the brand’s first product, a pair of trousers designed to allow men to bike to work but still look smart when they showed up at the office.)
Outlier’s trench (Experiment #106) doesn’t use polyester, but rather supermarine cotton, an expensive cotton fiber that has water-resistant properties. This material was used in uniforms that soldiers wore during World War II, and was highly prized because it is extremely breathable and windproof, and it repels water. Supermarine cotton became less popular when synthetic fabrics like Gore-Tex took over, but Outlier believes it is worth coming back to this material because it looks better and is more comfortable than synthetic materials because it is more porous and breathable.
This piece is indeed very sleek and has a beautiful drape thanks to the cotton. But at nearly $1,000, this is the expensive item on our list and definitely fits into the luxury category. Think of it as the modern update of the Burberry trench coat.
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