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What to Look for in Your Next Winter Coat

Buying Guide

Learn how to pick out the perfect winter coat and get a few cosy options sure to withstand the chilliest of days.

Last updated: June 9, 2022
6 min read
What to Look for in Your Next Winter Coat

Whether the temperature drops a few—or a few dozen—degrees, there's nothing like a warm winter coat to keep you toasty. Frigid winter weather can make getting out and staying active a challenge. But winter can also be a playground to flex your style while you stay warm and in shape, whether you're suiting up for cold-weather running or just looking for the right winter coat (or coats) for everyday use.

We've got fleece, winter jackets and winter parkas to help you navigate everything from a cold breeze to freezing temperatures. Here's how to choose the perfect winter coat, so you look and feel your best on the way to the gym.

What to Look for in a Winter Coat

  1. 1.Insulation

    Most outerwear is filled with either down or synthetic insulation.

    • Down insulation is sourced from the soft inner plumage of ducks and geese. The warmth of a down jacket is measured in fill power, which typically ranges from 300 to 900. A higher fill power indicates a higher loft and insulating efficiency, but it doesn't indicate how warm it will be. The volume of the fill is important too. For example, a lofty 600-fill coat may be just as warm as a packable 800-fill coat.
    • Down benefits: Down is ultralight and traps body heat effectively.
    • Down downsides: Down loses warmth when it gets wet from rain or snow and it's slow to dry.
    • Synthetic insulation is made up of polyester filaments that have been spun in various sizes and intertwined to trap pockets of air and keep you warm, just like down. Warmth for synthetic insulation is measured in grams of a square meter. Weights typically range from 40g to 120g, with higher weights providing more warmth.
    • Synthetic benefits: Synthetic insulation keeps you toasty even in wet conditions. It's resistant to abrasion and keeps you warm without the puffiness of down, which makes it a better choice for most athletes.
    • Synthetic downsides: Synthetic insulation can be heavier than down and doesn't typically hold up as long.
  2. 2.Weather Resistance

    A jacket's outer shell is the only thing standing between you and the frigid winter air, so make sure it's constructed with its seams sealed to keep moisture out. Some coats have a durable water-repellent (DWR) coating to provide water resistance. While a water-resistant shell will keep you dry in a drizzle, you may need a fully waterproof coat or waterproof shell to withstand heavy rains or snowstorms. If strong winds are an issue, choose a coat with a wind flap over the zip for wind resistance.

  3. 3.Fit

    Long or short, loose or snug? A long winter coat keeps your legs and hips warm in extreme cold, but also restricts movement. Choose a winter coat with a short hem for winter running. A looser fit jacket is great for layering over a hoodie or fleece, but make sure the coat fits snugly at the cuffs and collar to avoid the creep of cold air.

  4. 4.Pockets

    Hand pockets keep your fingers warm if you leave your gloves at home, especially pockets lined with fleece and other cosy materials. Handwarmer pockets also provide extra storage. Some coats have zipped pockets, which can help keep electronics dry and items from falling out. Other coats have open pockets on the outside or interior drop-in pockets for easy access to your hat and gloves.

  5. 5.Hood

    To keep your head warm and dry, look for a coat with a hood. Some coats have removable hoods for versatility, insulated hoods for warmth or adjustable hoods for a snug fit that blocks out the cold air.

  6. 6.Other Winter-Coat Features

    • Drawcord: A drawcord or drawstring keeps cold air from entering underneath the hem of your coat.
    • Cuffs: Elastic or adjustable cuffs create a snug fit to keep out the cold.
    • 3-in-1 Design: Some jackets have an insulated midlayer that zips out from the outer shell, allowing you to wear each piece alone or together for maximum warmth.
    • Vents: Underarm or core vents can keep you from overheating when you exercise in the cold weather.
    • Zip: A two-way zip provides ventilation and mobility.
    • Storm Flap: This flap covers your collar to minimise cold air on your neck

Responsibly Sourced Materials

While there is no industry standard or accepted certification for sustainability in apparel, some jackets are more environmentally friendly than others. Look for products that reduce waste and carbon emissions. Many Nike winter jackets are made from recycled insulation, so you can stay ultra-warm while maintaining a small footprint.

Coats for Every Weather

Coats That Take the Chill Off

On cooler days when your time outside is brief, an easy, lightweight layer can do the trick. Consider grabbing a Nike Therma Hoodie, which provides lightweight insulation with double-brushed microfibre fleece designed to retain heat. Or opt for a coat made from Nike Tech Fleece, which features plush foam layered between soft cotton jersey fabric. The best winter coats come in your favourite colour and style and include the features you need, whether that's a hood for sudden showers, a pocket for your smartphone or a zip for ventilation.

Coats That Keep You Cosy

Once temperatures dip down under 7°C, you'll want a coat with synthetic or down insulation to keep you toasty. Nike synthetic insulation replicates the look and feel of down, but it won't lose its insulating properties during wet weather. If you're looking for a jacket that is breathable but still keeps moisture out, keep an eye out for Nike Storm-FIT garments. Nike Storm-FIT coats have a laminate-coated layer of microfibre polyester that keeps water and wind where it belongs, while still allowing your sweat to evaporate.

Coats That Make You Downright Toasty

When it's so cold that you just want to curl up by the fireplace, keep moving and cosy up in one of our warmest winter coats instead. Look for a thigh-length parka that covers your hips and has an adjustable hood to keep the cold off your head and neck. If you opt for down insulation, look for a fill power of 700 or higher or grab a heavier weight synthetic parka. Snow protection will be important as well, so look for a jacket that is windproof and water-resistant or waterproof. You may also want fleece-lined pockets to keep your hands cosy.

If you're facing extreme cold temperatures, you may want to layer an insulated jacket over a lightweight fleece and long-sleeve performance base layer. Warm air gets trapped between layers of clothing, so having the right gear to wear underneath your coat will keep you extra toasty. And don't forget a pair of gloves or mittens and a beanie.

Coats to Try Out

It's hard to know if you picked the right coat until you wear it in winter weather and test it against frigid winds and bitter cold. If it turns out you need a warmer coat or another size or want a different style, return it to Nike within 60 days free of charge—no matter why you change your mind.

Want to layer on even more warmth? Pair any of our loose-fitting jackets and parkas with a gilet or top your winter look with a knit beanie. No matter your cold-weather style, we've got you covered.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Best Coat for Winter?

The best coat for winter should support your winter activities while keeping you warm. Depending on your needs, you may want a down-filled coat or one with synthetic insulation. The coat you choose should at least be wind and water-resistant. If you expect heavy snow or rain, choose a coat that is waterproof.

What Is the Warmest Winter Coat?

The warmest down coat will have a high volume and a fill power of 900. The warmest jacket with synthetic insulation will have a weight rating of 120g per square meter.

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