Winter Parka Confusion!

6:24 p.m. on December 28, 2008 (EST)
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hi everyone!

I am hoping someone in this forum can help me find the kind of warm winter parka a need. I am so overwhelmed by the choices I can't even chose which category to start with!

I'm a cold blooded reptile... always cold. I find gloves useless since my hands generate no heat (at any time of year) to warm the glove up, to warm my glove up... I even wear them in the summer. This has nothing to do with winter coats, except to suggest I need a bit more help to warm up and stay warm :-))

I currently use my old military green Parka, labeled "Parka Extreme Cold" with polyester fill. (?) It's great use in and out of the car only. Otherwise, I layer under my outback coat and depend on some old, but warm Damart insulated Undies for warmth. I'm defeated here at an temps below 25F. I think I've been cold my entire life with no warm solutions... and I'm sick of it!

I seek a coat for temps below freezing with wind chills added giving me a max low (so far) at -40F to a high of 25F. The wind is just brutal.

I care for and ride horses out in this weather, so i need something that breathes, breaks the wind, and repels the snow melting on my shoulders... or getting dumped down my collar for, trees. :-) I hood to use would be great too!

Layers are not so bad when I'm not in the saddle, but once I'm on my horse I seldom get back off for 1-4 hours. Shedding layers is just not possible. So as I warm up, I need to vent and unzip. not remove clothing.

I've thrown out of given away every non-insulated water proof jackets. no matter how much the material proclaimed to be breathable or vented, I'd have my arms completely wet and my back and shoulders soaked in no time at all. It was like it was raining inside my jacket! I still have no raincoat because of this, but the winter coats at least show more promise for venting and breath-ability.

So I see that most of the warm coats are nothing more than liners for a shell. I really want my coat to be all in one since I have other coats to wear in warmer weather! So how do I get a warm coat that includes a windproof and water resistant shell? It has to suffer being jabbed with branches and rubbed on trees as I gallop in the woods. I don't see a category to look in for this... the 3-in one coats could work, but the liners seem very poorly insulated, plus I'd never be using the coat's various pieces separate.

I do see the sense that a synthetic insulation like Primaloft or lamilite is better to pull the moisture away and keep me warm. I look at all these coats and eliminate the down choices, there are still many coats left. Worse, few have primaloft as an option. Instead I see things like Marmloft, thermaloft, polyester, and other brand names. I wish to avoid thinsulate. It's warm fo the summer, but not this.

So there are these choices of insulation that may often may not be any good or the same insulation with various names. I see no way to compare these to each other or down in he coat ads. 800g of down is warmer than 650. But 130g of pirmaloft compared to the down or to 200g of marmaloft.... I don't get it! Is thee a chart of all these absurd insulation choices compared to an amount of down? i.e. 33g down = x primaloft = x thermoloft

Then there are choices of the out shells of coats. Good heavens!

If anyone has advice on categories, materials, or specific coats, please let me know. I'd like to stay below 250 dollars if possible.

Thanks so much!


10:13 p.m. on December 28, 2008 (EST)
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I think you may be asking for the impossible. First of all, under $250, then bulletproof, vents, and warm at -40F.

Bill and Kutenay can recommend the parka but my deep winter parka is a TNF Goretex 700 fill Baltoro from a few years ago. It's replacement, the Himalayan, retails for about $500. It would not stand getting bashed by thorns and whatnot.

For outerwear, I'd buy a Driza-Bone riding coat made out of oilcloth (impregnated cotton). I have one and it's about as durable as anything you will find. Then I'd wear a parka of some kind under it.

10:38 a.m. on December 29, 2008 (EST)
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There seemed to be hundreds of coats reviewed on this website for under 300! I looked at the Mountain Hardwear coats like the Sub Zero Parka n the Altrec site (ladies coats) for all such low prices!

If this coat all the bells and whistles on it's own and can stand dashing through trees and undergrowth... plus last me another 10 years, I could go up with the price a bit. Hmmm, bulletproof... then I wouldn't need my bright yellow extras for hunting season! LOL however, I pocket to reach my sidearm without burrowing would be a plus too!

I already have a 20 year old Aussie oilskin coat, similar to as Drizabone but with the older heavy oiled canvas. I have a lighter weight coat of the same style that is waterproof and so far breathable. It's only a shell. All my medium length oils skins have already been ripped to shreds. :=)))

My husband and I share the military issue Goretex shell. That darn thing doesn't breath much, but maybe with a synthetic filled liner it would work? It's an option of a shell is needed.

I know I'm looking for the impossible coat, but the closest compromise anyone knows of would be a good start... I'll try and prioritize here:
1) warm and windproof! Actual temps will range no lower than -10 for me so far... I don't know where we'll be sent next. NE or IL on a windy nasty AF base, or worse case Alaska. More hopefully CO where we have a little house in the mountains, at least until the passes close. I'm basing my temps on the coldest I've been out in to ride of feed the horses!
2)A shell that is part of the warm insulated coat. OK, not all my riding is bashing through the forest. I do have the Aussie coat, heavy leather chaps, and my helmet which is more useful as a ramrod. hehe However, for the rest of the time... I need the warmest most windproof and durable fabric I can find, and afford! Water resistance is a must at least on the shoulders. Consider the warmth needed for very little activity in these temps. I have no idea whatsoever...
3) synthetic insulation?
4) hood ad all the pockets and zippers for gear. Sounds easier to get to than saddle bags... plus if my horse runs off I still have what I need. :-)

I hope this helps to narrow it down!

Here's my rainproof lightweight coat, with lots of room:

Here's my usual winter wear with damart under the Aussie coat with heavy chaps... minus the hat. LOL This set-up weighs at least 20 extra pounds!

1:04 p.m. on December 29, 2008 (EST)
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have you thought about going the "old fashioned" way? get a real shearing coat. just like the old mountain men. wool is still one of the most breathable and warm fibers. the leather outer will handle riding in the trees. give that a thought

3:52 p.m. on December 29, 2008 (EST)
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My Drizabone is the oiled canvas. It is about 20 years old. I bought it in a tack shop in Sydney.

You may want to look at the Integral Designs jackets. Bill has a Dolomitti with Primaloft instead of down and I think he took that with him to Antarctica. Look back through some of the threads and you should find some posts about that particular jacket.

7:05 p.m. on December 30, 2008 (EST)
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I think those old mountain men must have froze to death! I had a shearling coat and boots a long time ago. Looked cool, but was not near warm enough, nor wind and water resistant!

Then there is keeping it clean. It seems every odor and hair in the barn collects on and in fleece, even the fake stuff. my oil skin coat has never had soap in 20 years. It's banned to the barn and truck.

I'd prefer something I can wash or at least without fuzzy fabrics that attract horse and cat hair, and worse. Even a nylon outer layer can be wiped off of horse drool and such. :-)

My Aussie duster is the same age as your Drizabone, Tom. Made by the Outback Trading Company, it's "oilskin" oiled canvas. How much does your weigh? I just weighed mine at 6 pounds, with no liner! It will leak in constant rain, otherwise it's done well. I'd like to strip it of the old dirty coating and re-coat it instead with Linseed Oil. Have you ever tried this? I brought into the house last night and this morning my husband was hunting around for the source of the lovely odor. LOL white cat and horse hair has become part of the coating along with every bit of dirt and dander.

Onto the jackets... I went to the BX/PX today and only found a few jackets that mentioned what insulation if any they had. I Only saw a men's McMurdo Parka (550gdown) and a woman's NF Nuptse Jacket with 700g down (which was split int percentages of feathers and wn. The woman' jacket was only in a Xs, but the other looked like a military Parka with a heavy shell and fill.. the whole thing was stiff ad heavy... and no pit zips!? Anyway, I don't think down is a great idea for me. So much for shopping in the real world!

This Dolomite jacket sounds nice. The outer shell especially! I'm a bit confused on the insulation described as 5oz Primaloft... Is there a comparison anywhere to how much down this would be like? same as 3 layers PT200 fleece means nothing to me... compare it to 650g down and I'd understand! LOL Also, why are some of these warmer jackets sold without pit zips? In fact this jacket only has 3 pockets!! Furthermore the description says it's ideal for layering over or under a shell, but the many reviews I found make it sound like a stand alone warm jacket.

"This versatile, all season lightweight jacket is ideal as a layering piece in exceptionally cold conditions (same loft as 3 layers of PT200 fleece). Wear it under your shell jacket, slip it on over your shell if you are stopping for a short break or use it on its own around camp or town. The Dolomitti Jacket can also be used in conjunction with a primaliner and bivy bag as part of a light weight sleep system."

I have more questions the more coats I look at on the intenet. Thanks for you patience!!

11:36 p.m. on December 30, 2008 (EST)
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Insulation terms... very confusing

I see a bit on continuous-filament and short fibers, quilted and not... geez!

First, can anyone give an approximate guess (LOL) of how much prima loft equals how much down? ALos, I see different terms used for primaloft, but not always weights.

Here's all the Primalofts I see, max ever is 200g. Then there is versions of PL

PrimaLoft ECO insulation consists of 50% recycled material (?)
PrimaLoft ONE
Primaloft Sport (I see 100-133g here mostly)
PrimaLoft(R) 100% polyester (Aren't they all?!)
Primalof (no other words)

60g, 80g, 100g, 133g, 200g I see no others! I really need an idea of what 133 or 200g could equal. This is difficult to choose!
One Description I found:
Primaloft is a short staple insulation that is heat bonded into a light, warm, and compressible structure. It is these short fibers that give Primaloft its down like feel.

Most jackets had no weight listed, like this one:

highest weight I found: (trees would eat this one up. :-( )
200g/m2 Primaloft® Sport 133g/m2 Primaloft® Sport

Then there all of these other insulations I found. I assume all insulation except down is nylon or polyester? Good heavens!

100g 100% recycled polyester
MicroTemp™ insulation
Polarguard is a continuous-filament, resin-bonded insulation. Being a continuous insulation this is what gives Polorguard its stiff, uncompressible feel.
ThermaTek non-quilted insulation
ultrasonic quilted Heatseeker 100g"
Sonic quilted flex insulation 100 g
EXCELOFT® synthetic insulation (50g / m2 )
recycled polyester fiber fill
3-oz Climashield Green continuous filament polyester (40% recycled),
60-g Thermogreen polyester (90% recyc
85% down, 15% feather Fill power: 650
recycled polyester mesh.
Ecotherm™ insulates even when damp, compresses easily and features 90% recycled fibers. (called Thermogreen from another seller of same coat!)
polyester fleece (another polar fleece?)
ThermicMicro is an exclusive insulation made from a combination of hollow and solid staple fibers
Heatseeker 80 g
laminated ThermaTek non-quilted insulation
There's more... but I think this a start. Perhaps these fit into categories? Like this one: hollow and solid staple fibers

When you (anyone here who answers) are picking a non-down synthetic insulation.... how do you chose between all of these and understand what level of warmth you'll get with different weights? I still think the highest amount in grams of all synthetics I've seen is 200. The 700 Fill down coat (quilted) I saw today seemed so thin and light I can't imagine it being very warm. SO it's almost better I order these coats on facts and not by picking it up. :-))))

Thanks again!


2:49 a.m. on December 31, 2008 (EST)
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Bill and Kutenay should be able to shed some light on the insulation issue. You might find a comparison chart on the net somewhere, but I've never seen one. Primaloft is supposed to be the closest to down compared to other synthetics, but that's about all I know about it.

I have a Nuptse. It is reasonably warm. I have worn it in Yosemite in about 15F weather over a fleece jacket, but I wouldn't wear it for anything much colder.

My Drizabone is heavy. No idea how much though. I have just used it as a raincoat, but it's not something I'd take camping. U've never had to recoat it, so no advice there. I do know that whatever it is coated with rubs off the leg straps onto my pantlegs.

3:25 p.m. on December 31, 2008 (EST)
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Hi Tom, I hope there's an insulation guru here. :-))) Then I can ask about taped seems and pit zips... both of which seem very necessary, but not always on each coat. :-))

I went to the other BX today and tried on a NF Summit Plasma jacket. It fit nicely and I wore it for about 20 minutes in the store. I was still chilly when I took it off. It has Primaloft, but not how much is in here! I was not pleased with the workmanship with cheap velcro closures that caught up every thing they touched. The The zippers were not easy to zip up either and kept catching. I think this the 3rd NF jacket I've seen in person. The Nuptse was down filled 700g, but seemed then and light enough to let air through the stitches. I'm not so impressed with North Face products SO far!

The McMurdo jacket I saw looked the best so far, but I read the reviews on shedding feathers. My down pillows do this and it is frustrating.

I saw some Jack Wolfskins and Columbias this time. The Columbia Powder Lake Jacket looked like the best made of the bunch with a very durable shell. The insulation on this coat is the most confusing of all! LOL WHat is this stuff?
Lining: 100% Nylon Embossed Toss Up Bug 210T
• Lining: 100% Nylon 210T Taffeta with 100% Polyester 150g Microtemp Insulation

Is there a way I can separate my questions into different posts and questions... that might make it easier for people to understand and answer? I don't mean to be confusing... it's just I like to research all my options and spend my money on the right choice. I've made plenty of bad ones and wasted money already. I have a Land's End 3 in i jacket (which looks better made than that NF one!) wish arm too short and tight. It does seem warm, but I've never taken off the tags and wet out in it because of the fit. it took them 3 months to ship it here, so too late to return!

SO far, brand names really seem to matter as does the insulation. I am beginning to wonder if there IS a Primaloft jacket out there as warm as a down one!! What of other insulations?? I leave for Egypt a few days (here's where to money is going!LOL) WHen i have the time, I'll try to look at specific jackets for sale. I just realized the hundreds of jacket reviews on this site include jackets no longer for sale... narrows it a bit.

until then... Any opinion on brands and quality?

4:25 p.m. on December 31, 2008 (EST)
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Some people are just very cold all the time. Adding more clothing to a cold person...just keeps them cold. For example, I use a 0 degree F sleeping bag all year. I'm not sure there IS a sleeping bag that will keep me warm at really low temperatures, so I don't go camping in the winter.

Where am I leading with this? I think you need to google "Raynaud's". I'm not a doctor and am not pretending to be. However, I think you might find some tips that will help. As I type this, my right hand(computer mouse hand) feels about 10 degrees colder than my left.

As far as coats go...perhaps you should look into snowmobiling coats rather than hiking/skiing coats. Snowmobiling coats are designed to be used while sitting, block high winds, and might be more likely to have venting options.

2:46 p.m. on January 11, 2009 (EST)
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Hi MT! I couldn't agree more with you. I don't mention gloves and boots here just for this reason... I can put all sorts of layers on my hands and feet only to have them remain cold. LOL I've resorted to Elecrtic insoles and socks years ago, and have a set old old Lectic gloves. I'll post about the gloves separate. It's time for a non-sweaty update here. Yes, I DO have the symptoms of Reynauds, though military docs could care less of such things.

Luckily, this doesn't seem to effect my torso temp much. As long as there is heat radiating from my skin, warm clothes will have a chance to keep me warm. I also sweat a LOT in warm clothes and am concerned about staying warm when wet.

I looked into Snowmobiling coats, but these were not very impressive. I used to have kid's snowmobiling suits when I was young. :-)I did snow mobile when older, but is was with layers over my SMB suit. My hands and feet seldom lasted long!

Even though I am sitting on my horse, my body is moving a lot and my heart rate is up in the "cardio" levels for me. I need all the bells and whistles to keep me vented and dry while riding. I can't strip off layers as I go. :-)) i guess I'm stuck with synthetic insulation here! I never thought it would be so hard to find the warmest coat out there, not in down. the down jackets sure sound nice, like the chillywack, but i'd get it all wet with sweat. I'm a person whi can sweat while cold. Argh!

11:25 a.m. on January 20, 2009 (EST)
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Lusitano , fear not mister-e is here!

I used to manage an outdoor store a number of years ago. So I have a lot of love for gear. I was the go-to guy at my company for questions related to technical fabric differences. Reps from vendors have more knowledge then myself, but then they got payed more HAH.

Oh yes, your questions. I didn't see you mention what layers you're wearing under your parka, so let me start there. You have a few choices here. The absolute warmest being merino wool. Merino wool is not your standard wool, it doesn't have the itch of Grand-Ma's wool of yester-year, and won't hold the stench of day old sweat they way many synthentic base layers will, although many of today's base layers are treated for this. Take a peek at Patagonia's Number 4 baselayer (previously called expedition weight). Patagonia is running a 30% sale, but act fast it will end soon. In the more expensive, warmer wool arena . My personal choice is stuff from Smart Wool. They do run expensive , at $70 dollars for the bottom, and upwards of that for some tops. But well worth it, an investment if you will. has some one sale for women @ 35% off in their outlet (click on 'outlet' on the site).

For an insulating layer you have many choices, something mid-weight outa do. To keep that sweat from building up , I'd stick with synthetic breathable choices. The R2 jacket from Patagonia is a very nice choice. Quite warm for it's weight, and very breathable., currently has them on sale for 30% off .

The choices oh my the choices, so many. Fret not, it's not as confusing as it seems. Let me break it down for you:

Prima loft vs Prima-loft sport: Prima loft is the warmer choice of the two, the latter designed for more active use. Both versions retain warmth at 24% higher than standard synthetic fibers. This is to the fact that the fibers are treated .

There are a ton of other synthetic fibers on the market, as you may have seen. The major advantage being the stay-warm-when-wet factor, over down. Of course there are choices for water-proof down parkas too. Such as the Primo-Down Jacket from Patagonia, 700-fill power quality down. It comes with a hefty 600 dollar price tag, but is currently on sale at $420.

Outside of this there are the time-tested eVent shell down jackets and parkas from feathered friends. A Seattle based company , that hand makes their products to your specifications if requested,

In the synthetic arena I'd take a look at the Fisson SV from Arc'teryx. I can tell you from personal experience this is the single warmest synthetic parka on the market. 200 grams of Primaloft laminated into a fully waterproof gore-tex pro shell. It comes with a massive insulated hood. But it will run ya $599 smackaroos. Lucky for you this is the right time to shop, end of season sales are all over the web.'s outlet section has 'em on sale for women starting at $449. Search around see if you can find a lower price. What makes this parka so warm, asides from the heavy insulation is the fact that Arc'teryx has designed it so the insualtion does not shift, which means no cold spots. Of course the lack of stitching doesn't hurt. currently has the now discontinued Arc'teryx Patriot SV. This has the same insulation as the Fission SV, without the insulated hood (but it does have a waterproof hood that can be stowed). It also adds ski-specific features such as the laminated powder-skirt . The Patriot SV is now on sale for $385, from $550.

If your're looking to keep that price-tag under your $250 mark, I'd go to LL bean and see what you can find. They offer a few water-proof insulated choices. Such as the Stowaway parka. A Prima-Loft instulated, Gore-Tex shell , running at $199. Contact them to get details on the amount of insulation used.

Over all bang-for-the-buck. I think the Patriot would be the best choice. Though the hood isn't insulated. The cut is long enough to cover your rear, and hey it's on sale!

Good luck to you, and have fun with the horses!

6:52 p.m. on January 24, 2009 (EST)
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Hey thanks mister E (ed?) LOL I just missed an Fisson SV from Arc'teryx on ebay for $135. I couldn't keep my eyes open and got outbid in the end by 5 cents. :-(( The other jacket you mentioned was only left in smaller sizes.

I ended up finding the Arc'teryx Titan jacket with 200g Prima L Sport on sale for $375... instead of $600. it was a lot of money, but I snatched it up. I now see Fissions with the stow Away hood for good prices, but Oh well. I hope my choice was OK.. it's not here yet to try out. If not, perhaps a Fission will show up again! DO you think the Titan might compare? If not, I'll keep hunting...

I wear Damart Double force 5 with a Turtleneck and heavy flannel or fleece as my base layers. my father and Grandfather used this stuff, it's synthetic and very warm, and ugly. The Merino wool sounds nice, but the sales I found were still not very good! Maybe I'll find a leftover this summer.... somewhere. :-)


10:34 a.m. on January 25, 2009 (EST)
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You should do fine with the Titan. It has the same 200g insulation as the Fission does, as well as the insulated hood. The difference is the Titan was designed with skiers in mind. Thus it has ski-specific features, like the Recco reflector, and powder skirt. The fit is a bit fuller than the fission as well. Your base layers seem fine, and ya should be able to pick up more modern, less ugly smart wool layers on sale soon ;). Post and update once you've used the jacket!

7:27 a.m. on January 27, 2009 (EST)
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I'm still looking for a backup purchase... a real deal. Is the Ar. Kappa as god as the Titan or Fission?

Hoe I still have cold weather left by the time these reach me. Shipping is sometimes 3 months. I'm still missing one christmas package... the last I'll likely get from my father. :-(((

11:03 p.m. on February 7, 2009 (EST)
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3 months shipping??!?! Are you on Mars? lol

The Kappa AR uses 133grams of Primaloft, and a windstopper membrane.

So it's less warm , windproof , and highly water resistent. It's also shorter cut, compared to the SV series. Arc'teryx uses the 'AR', 'SV', and so on to give the buyer a guidline of intended useage. It goes like this:

SV= Severe

AR= All around

LT= Light

MX= Mixed conditions

SL= Superlight.


So the SV pieces are longer cut, warmer, more features and so on. The AR series are shorter in cut, less insulation and good for all uses, ..-all around .Hope this helps, and tell Santa he's slow! ;)

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