As temperatures begin to drop, it’s time to start gearing up for the pandemic fall and winter ahead. For many of us, the colder months will be different than they were in years past. Many of us will continue to work remotely, which means no early morning commutes through the snow. Some of us will choose not to travel to visit family members in other parts of the country during the holiday season. As it becomes less pleasant outside, we’ll spend more time at home than ever before, except for the moments when we step outside for a walk and fresh air.
If you’re in the market for a new coat or jacket, you’ll be glad to find that brands have developed a range of innovative styles that are perfect for our pandemic lifestyles. This year, several brands have focused on creating outerwear that is ideal for getting exercise in the cold by creating coats that provide plenty of warmth but that also allow for movement and ventilation. These styles will work well as you hike or jog through nearby parks, or play outside with your kids. Another big trend: eco-friendly outerwear. Instead of using new plastic, many are now using plastic derived from plastic water bottles; instead of using new goose down, they’re using reclaimed down.
Every year, we test the latest, most technically advanced coats and jackets on the market and recommend the ones we believe achieve both great performance and beautiful design. Here are the six best styles for men and women we’ve found this year.
This season, Lululemon has launched a new collection called the Navigation Stretch Down, which is designed for wearers to move comfortably as the mercury dips. What sets this outerwear apart is its two-way stretch fabric, which means that these jackets adapt both to your body as well as to your movement. They’re also made with the brand’s proprietary construction method that creates channels of insulation throughout the jacket, filled with goose down, which ensures that the warmth stays locked in. And they are water-repellent, so you’ll stay dry when it rains.
These pieces are incredibly lightweight and come in many silhouettes, from a vest designed to be a base layer to a jacket designed for high warmth. I like that the jacket is temperature-regulating. You can wear it indoors without burning up, but when you step outdoors, your body heat creates insulation to keep you warm. They’re also minimalist, so they go with whatever you’re wearing.
One of the most fun jackets of the year for men, women, and kids is Ralph Lauren’s Custom Packable Jacket. On a simple online interface, you can choose the silhouette you want, from a vest to a hoodie or mock neck. Then you can pick the color for the base, sleeves, lining, and zipper. Finally, you can have the jacket and pouch that comes with it personalized with your name on them.
The jacket itself is lightweight and warm, perfect for wearing indoors on chilly days, then popping outside for some exercise. And Ralph Lauren has also worked to make the jacket as sustainable as possible. It uses recycled nylon and polyester fabrics, along with the company’s own down alternative made from recycled plastic bottles. And since each of the jackets is manufactured on demand, when a customer places an order, there’s no wasted inventory.
Filson is known for creating durable, well-made jackets, and these two parkas are no exception. Both are warm, hard-wearing, and full of little details that ensure you’ll get decades of use out of them. The hems of the pockets, for instance, are lined with leather, so they won’t fray. And the exterior shell is made from a material that is both water- and abrasion-resistant.
These coats are built for cold climates. Filson uses goose down for these jackets, but has been very thoughtful about sourcing the material from an ethical, sustainable supplier called Allied Feather + Down. On the coat, there’s a “Track My Down” tag, which allows you to see where the goose was raised and how it was treated.
The coats are equipped with lots of thoughtful little features, like hand-warmer pockets and cuffs that prevent cold air from entering. My favorite feature is the faux fur trim that keeps your neck and face warm as you brave the freezing weather. They’re also equipped with zippered vents on the side, so that you don’t get too hot when you’re outside walking at a fast clip.
Scandinavian outdoor brand Fjällräven has expertise in creating outerwear for the cold. These jackets are designed for trekking, hiking, and other demanding outdoor activities, so they’re full of practical details, including seven pockets, an adjustable hood, and gear loops for attaching gloves or other equipment and accessories.
These jackets are minimalist, lightweight, and comfortable enough for everyday wear. And unlike many other jackets on the market, these are machine-washable, so you can clean them after a smoky weekend by a campfire. The company has created its own fabric blend made from organic cotton and recycled nylon, and it is designed to stay in use for many years, through tough wintery conditions.
Canada Goose’s HyBridge series is designed to blend warmth and range of motion. This coat is the warmest in the collection, designed for temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit. The company has developed a material called Dynamic Knit that it uses under the arms for a better fit and to allow you to move comfortably. The quilting pattern is also designed for optimal movement. It is hip length, but the back hem is slightly longer than the front, to keep more of your back warm.
This coat is designed for you to spend as much time as possible outdoors. It has reflective details on the back of the hood and the brim, so you’ll be visible at night. When it rains, the waterproof fabric on the hood and shoulders will keep you warm. And the cuffs, which include a thumb hole, are designed to keep the wind out.
Allbirds launched as an eco-friendly sneaker brand, but this year it expanded into apparel. Its puffer jackets for men and women use the same careful approach to sourcing. The exterior of the jackets is made from materials that are similar to what the company uses for its shoes, blending merino wool and tree-based fibers called Tencel Lyocell. The lining is made from recycled nylon and the insulation is constructed using recycled polyester.
The brand has treated its jackets with a water repellant that is free of harsh, harmful chemicals. Like every item in its collection, Allbirds has identified the carbon emissions involved with making its jackets and offset them. These are versatile jackets that help you transition from fall to winter. Their soft exterior and high neck will keep you cozy, and the insulation will keep you warm as the cold front arrives.
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