Bro Where's Your Canada Goose: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Winter Coat Continues (Part Deux)
New Yorkers survived winter storm Jonas. Interestingly enough when you Google “winter storm Jonas fashion” you get this. If you were stuck in the storm without proper attire what on earth where you thinking? You also need to immediately read our Men’s Editor, Jon Rich’s, titillating first installment in “Bro Where’s Your Canada Goose”. You then need to read the below part two of the article series which lays out key points to factor in as you shell out some serious cash for an investment winter coat. Remember our mantra friends “cost per wear”. Jon show us the way…
In my last article I shared my winter coat epiphany moment with you. The three or so months of arctic weather that we, in NYC, must endure finally pushed me into shelling out cash to purchase proper outerwear. But, before I did that, I studied by scouring the internet and making several field trips to my favorite stores. I had to ensure I was making the best possible decision. After all, spending nearly $1,000 on an article of clothing should never be a rash move. Like every big purchase, you have to know the fundamentals. Sit back and allow me to give you a brief tutorial on how to buy your next winter coat.
First, let’s start with the style. Generally, with men’s winter coats, you have the parka and the bomber. The parka is longer, hitting around mid-thigh length and sometimes longer. Parkas are also usually hooded and have a lot of pockets. The bomber – named after the jacket style worn by fighter pilots – is waist-length, without a hood and usually only has a couple of side pockets. Basically, the parka is more functional, and the bomber more stylish. In fact, for quite some time, the parka has had the unfortunate reputation in the winter outerwear community of being the Lincoln Town car of winter coats; heavy, oversized and ugly, but it did the trick to keep you warm and toasty.
However, Canada Goose, along with other brands, has recently changed that by taking your old man’s over-sized, brown L.L. Bean (apologies to my lobster homies in Maine!) jacket and transformed it into a sleek, iconic staple of urban fashion. Across the board, today’s parkas are now slimmer and more stylish. I highly recommend getting one. As I said, they are way more functional than bombers. The length is especially important in the cold because, as my mother says, “you should always try to cover your tush”. Having experimented with both short and long coats in the cold, I can tell you that mom was, yet again, spot on. While wearing a bomber might make you look like a Canadian James Dean (or actual Canadian treasure, Ryan Gosling), walking all cool in the cold, but trust me, you will not be happy when your lower half starts to freeze. My advice – unless you plan on wearing ski pants with your bomber, skip it and buy a parka. Again, most brands now have a standard, slimmer silhouette, so don’t worry about looking like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (Ghostbusters!) out there. Instead, you’ll look more like Drake.
Next, the coat’s outer layer or shell. Let’s keep this simple – say it with me – waterproof, or technically, water resistant. While I understand that many coat brands offer soft, puffy, nylon shells, I think they’re a waste. Why spend a significant amount of money if the whole operation could fall apart during a sleet or snowstorm? That’s especially true with down jackets because unless you’ve recently been hatched from a glowing space egg, you should know that down stops working when it’s wet.
My recommendation is to look for shells that are made from tightly-woven nylon or cotton/nylon strands, which creates “twill”. The fibers are also treated with chemicals to create a breathable, waterproof and windproof barrier. Some brands call the finished product “tech fabric” and some refer to the treatment it receives, such as “Teflon™ coated”. It’s pretty much all the same, and the important point is that it keeps you warm and dry.
Fill. Goose down or polyester? Obviously, that’s a trick question. Always “get down” when you buy a real winter coat. If you really love polyester, you can run out and buy up all the poly-fill, quilted Barbour jackets to your heart’s desire when the temperature rises above the freezing mark. But when that wind chill strikes, you want to be goose-warm. Down is far lighter and superior for heat insulation. When picking out a coat, look out for the “fill” and the ratio of down to feathers (yeah, there’s a difference). “Fill” is basically a measure of how light and warm the filling is. The higher the number, the lighter and warmer the filling. In other words, the higher the fill count, the smaller volume of down that is needed to achieve greater warmth. Most nice jackets have around a 550 to 700 fill, but don’t get so caught up in that. Trust me, you’ll never notice such a small difference on your nightly trip to the corner store to pick up organic ketchup. I would, however, pay slightly more attention to the fill ratio. Most “down” coats are not really fully down. They’re usually a combination of down – which is the soft, warm plumage located underneath a goose’s feather that provides lightweight insulation packed in with the actual feathers. Good jackets have at least a 70/30 ratio of down to feathers. Some brands have higher ratios, but again, just like that piece of kale that’s currently stuck between your teeth as you read this, you probably won’t notice.
Trimming. One distinguishing feature of today’s winter jackets, including Canada Goose, is that sleek, fur trim around the hood. Now, do we go with real or fake fur? Promise you’ll sit still and maintain your cool? Okay. Ready? Real fur! Yeah you heard me. Almost all of the nicer brands use real fur, as opposed to fake. Why? Well, first and foremost, fake fur is purely decorative, while real fur is highly functional, providing an extra layer of warmth for your head. Real fur blocks frigid air before it hits you, creating a nice, toasty cocoon to help keep your body temperature normal. Don’t believe me? Go try one of these coats on and you’ll see.
You may also be wondering what kind of fur these brands use. Or, maybe not. I’m going to tell you anyway. Most brands use either coyote (mostly from Canada) or Asiatic raccoon. Coyote fur, which is the only fur Canada Goose uses, is longer, usually sandy colored and uneven. Canada Goose specifically uses coyote fur because of its uneven strands, which the company claims is the best for blocking the wind and that it maintains its warmth when wet. Asiatic raccoon fur, which many other brands use, is shorter, softer and more even than coyote fur. Aesthetically, it’s objectively “prettier”, and some brands, which I will more fully discuss in the next segment, dye the fur other colors, like black or white, for dramatic effect. However, raccoon fur is just as warm. Keep in mind that different brands often use only one kind of fur on their hoods, so if you like that brand, you’re stuck with one kind of fur.
For those of you who might be against wearing real fur, that’s perfectly fine. If you’re on the fence because of ethical issues, most brands, including Canada Goose, are at least somewhat transparent about how they source their fur on their websites. Either way, the choice is yours so be empowered and make style choices that work for you.
Okay, next up in article thirty-five of this series (just kidding), I will make some stellar jacket recommendations for you, including, you guessed it, Canada Goose. Your tush will thank me on the next freezing day.
Jon Rich is In the Midfield's Men's Lifestyle Editor. He is also a practicing attorney in NYC.
Deanna, co-founder @ThanksMom