When’s the perfect time to purchase a pack of parkas? NOW! That’s right as spring sales take effect, get a new parka now and you have something to look forward to next winter.
Gearapalooza is back, baby! Green Moxie and Eat Drink Travel have teamed up to test out and recommend the best in winter clothing and gear.
What gear can withstand an Arctic climate? What coats keep you toasty warm but are light as a feather? What’s the best in boots and backpacks? Is there such a thing as heated underwear?
You want to know. Can’t blame you. Because after all, there is nothing worse than being cold and miserable in the wilderness (or waiting for a streetcar).
Our rigorous process included asking our team to nominate that one piece of gear that is their trusty sidekick. The stuff that just keeps on giving and lasts for decades, no matter what you put it through.
So we put this gear to the test in three climates: downtown Toronto, Northern Ontario, and Finland’s Arctic. And while it’s true that some of the gear just didn’t make it, we found some things that we absolutely love — items that we know will be with you for a long, long time and many wild adventures.
Here’s our roundup for the best in winter parkas, which were scored based on functionality, design, and innovation:
Fjällräven’s Luhkka Down Cape (Editors’ Choice Award)
Initially, we had our doubts about this piece. After all, where the hell would we wear a knee-length cape?
But the Luhkka cape was a lifesaver while traipsing around Finland’s arctic and crazy frigid Toronto. We loved this unisex cape’s water- and wind-resistant fabric, and the lining filled with 95% goose down. The hood with synthetic fur edging also gives your noggin extra protection. Throw this bad boy over your coat and shell garments, and you’re all set!
The design is inspired by the Sami peoples of Northern Scandinavia, who wear traditional Luhkkas as reinforcement garments. And let’s face it: after centuries of living north of 68, these people know their shit about surviving winter extremities. In Finland’s arctic, the cape kept us toasty on the dog sled and reindeer safari, sheathing us from the icy winds like a puffy duvet. One word of advice: invest in the down-filled version of the Luhkka cape. Yes, it’s more expensive than the synthetic one, but it gets the job done. We tried another piece of clothing with synthetic filling, and it just wasn’t warm enough.
Fjällräven gets an A+ for its efforts to implement ethical corporate policies and practices. This Swedish company promises “no live plucking, no force feeding, no mulesing” and does not use real fur in its products. They also utilize sustainable materials and modes of production, and are a business partner to the Fair Labor Association. Go Fjällräven!
Fjällräven’s Sarek Winter Jacket
Durable and functional, the Sarek is a great outer layer for winter. The spacious design makes it perfect for layering, as our tests revealed that it isn’t all that warm on its own in harsh winter climates. I loved the many pockets and the ‘secret’ inside pockets were perfect for traveling with valuables.
Perhaps the most interesting features is that the jacket is impregnated with Greenland wax which makes it more resistant to wind, water and snow. Utilitarian and wonderfully practical, we recommend this jacket for those who are serious about keeping heat in and winter out.
Stio’s Hometown Down-Hooded Parka
Just try to pry this piece from our cold dead hands! We absolutely loved this mid-length Stio’s Down-Filled Hooded Parka for its silky and lightweight outer shell, as well as its incredible insulation. Inside, the parka is packed with 650-fill goose down for the ultimate warmth; but it’s also light as a feather and compact enough to be smooshed into a travelpack. Zipped up head to toe, we felt snug and cozy, ready to endure the winter elements…while looking a bit like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
From our testing, this parka can endure frosty temperatures up to -20 degrees Celsius or so. Anything chillier, you may need to add some additional layers. We threw the Luhkka cape on top and it was the perfect combo for taking on arctic weather.
Outdoor Research’s Aria Storm Parka
This parka has a badass outer shell that karate chops wind gusts in half. It’s made with waterproof Pertex® Shield, a fabric that feels like sandpaper and resists rain, sleet, and snow. The parka is also stuffed with 650 goose down and has a removable hood. We don’t mind saying, our testers looked adorable in this getup. The design hugged our lady curves and scored major points for cuteness.
Similar to Stio, the Aria Storm Parka is great as an everyday winter coat, but you may need extra layers to stay toasty if you’re headed into extreme climates.
As a bonus, Outdoor Research just signed onto the Responsible Down Standard for Fall 2015 and moving forward. Just recently, Outdoor Research’s Technical Apparel Product Manager was recognized by the Outdoor Industry Association Sustainability Working Group for his dedication to the outdoor industry’s chemicals management efforts.
Big Agnes’ Hole in the Wall Jacket (Green Moxie’s #1 Choice)
We saved the best for last! While Lisa loved Fjällräven’s Luhkka Down Cape, this was my favourite by a long shot. The Big Agnes Hole in the Wall jacket is so lightweight you will barely even know it’s there and it rolls up really small so it make the perfect traveling companion. Made from the same materials as their innovative sleeping bags, the Hole in the Wall jacket is toasty and comfortable; like a sleeping bag for your soul. This jacket adds so much warmth for just 14oz of weight and it’s pretty stylish too.
We’ve had it outdoors in -40°C with just a shell over the top and the only thing that got cold were my toes. It breathes well and allows full movement so it’s perfect for outdoor activities. We took it snowshoeing, dog sledding, on a reindeer safari, and winter camping and it held up, no matter what we threw at it!
As always a funny and informative post. Niki your rocking the Sarek, Canadaian mittens and all. I could not believe that the “Hole in the Wall jacket” was really the name of the jacket. Great photo of you standing in a hole in the wall wearing the jacket and laughing.
Woops, I spelt Canadian wrong.