Blow, blow, thou winter wind


Me: Hi, I’m moving to a colder region and I’m doing a little research on what type of winter coat I should get. [Please note: This was an unnecessary lie. It was the first thing that came out of my mouth.]
Rep: Ski jacket. They’re fleece lined, waterproof, and windproof.
Me: Oh, okay. What about a pea coat? Or something with cashmere?
Rep: They’re not warm.
Me: Oh, so, when I see people wear them…are they just wearing a lot of layers underneath?
Rep: Yea. They’re not warm. They just look nice.
Me: What about something like a parka?
Rep: They’re not warm.
Me: So what’s the most popular jacket now?
Rep: Ski jacket?
Me: Yea.
Rep: Columbia.
Me: What’s the best selling now?
Rep: We sell more urban coats.
Me: What does that mean?
Rep: Name brand coats. They’re not warm.
Me: Like what?
Rep: Rocawear. They’re high priced because they’re  name brand.
Me: Ok, thanks.

So that was my phone conversation with a sales rep from a Milwaukee-based Burlington Coat Factory. I figured, if anybody, they would understand cold weather, right? But apparently they’re more of a function-over-form kinda city.

It’s going to be cold in Ireland…and rainy…and probably windy. With the exception of one person, most of us have lived or are living in cold-weather regions and are pretty well equipped. This post is for you, D.

Wool is a highly resilient fiber and the best part is that it keeps you warm even when it’s wet. The fabric absorbs water vapor and maintains a dry insulating air next to your body.  Also, natural materials tend to breath better than so when you’re running from place to place and happen to work up a sweat, it’ll give you the room your body needs to allow the moisture to evaporate so you’re not freezing once your body slows down.


Synthetic (e.g., polyester/nylon) materials are what you’d find on the typical ski jacket. You can find stuff that’s waterproof, but the best part about synthetic materials over natural materials is that it’s a better wind breaker. Cold air I can handle — it’s always the wind that gets me.

Down is amazing not only because it’s comfortable but because it’s extremely insulating. It’s critical to wear layers in the cold because warm air radiating from your body gets trapped, with each layer acting as another form of insulation. Down works similarly in that the feathers trap air to retain heat and keep you warm. It’s also super lightweight and compressible. True story: I climbed Mount Fuji one summer a couple years ago and it became so cold as we got to the top — um, about 12,000 feet up, thank you very much. All I had on was a t-shirt and sweatshirt, but my friend busted out a giant Nautica jacket from her backpack and it basically saved my life — that and the crazy expensive ramen noodles I had at one of the resting stations.

Cotton may a good for layering but because it’s highly absorbent, it’s not typically advised when it comes to providing warmth. Once wet, it takes longer to dry, which isn’t good in terms of outerwear. As an undershirt, it tends to hold the moisture against your body, which may actually make you more cold (especially if you’re like me and sweat a lot).


6 Responses to “Blow, blow, thou winter wind”

  1. 1 dailysbydiana

    Very useful tips…Can I count on you to pull out a Nautica jacket?

  2. hahaha uh..


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