Keeping warm for less!

Affordable Outdoor Clothes for Winter

by Debra Karplus

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You just moved to Minnesota where winter temperatures can drop to minus forty with snowfalls over three feet. You've landed a great job working in a Duluth school, but one of your responsibilities is daily bus duty, a rather sedentary but chilly activity. That down winter jacket that you've had for years is gradually losing its filling. And your feet become soggy and cold on wintery days. Its probably time to buy a new winter coat and snow boots.

Before you go shopping, it's helpful to learn how the body loses its heat in cold weather. According to the National Institute of Health, heat from the body is radiated to the skin through the blood stream. Exposed skin releases body heat to the outside air if it's colder than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. That's especially true in places like the head and neck.

Do you need more than one winter jacket?

Begin by considering exactly how you'll use your new winter jacket. You definitely need to think about the range of temperatures you'll be in when wearing your garment. If you're simply in and out of the car, you don't need as much warmth as you would if you walk to work or enjoy winter hiking. If you need mobility, then you want a shorter jacket rather than a longer length coat.

Synthetic materials like Primaloft typically cost less and may be easier to wash and maintain, but they tend to be heavier to drag around yet less warm than natural materials, such as down or wool. Think about the fact that water fowl and sheep stay warm with the "coat" that nature gave them. So why wouldnt you? The natural materials for winter coats and jackets may also last longer, so despite their higher cost, you may be able to wear them for a few extra years. And if you stay away from some of the name brands, you can possibly get a decent price on a high quality winter jacket thats warm enough for your needs.

Related: Cleaning Down-Filled Items, which rates winter coats, shows down being warmer than synthetics. Woolen coats are seldom sold in outdoor shops and tend not to keep the body as warm.

Check sale prices for Winter Jackets and Boots on Amazon.

So, do you need more than one winter jacket? You can keep your older jacket around for outdoor winter tasks, such as shoveling snow or hauling in firewood, for example. You can get great deals at yard sales and thrift shops for jackets where quality is not as important. There are great deals online, but you wont have the opportunity to actually try on the jacket for fit and appearance, so its best not to risk that. Perhaps your best option is to shop after the Christmas holiday or at the end of the season just before spring garments appear in the stores for the best deals on a brand new jacket.

These boots are made for walking. Or are they?

When it comes to snow boots, you again want to determine the outdoor temperatures you expect to be walking or working in. Different pairs of boots will specify intended use and temperatures. You definitely want to select waterproof, not just water resistant, and find out how long the waterproof feature is expected to last. Perhaps you will need to buy a bottle of waterproofing liquid at about $3 per bottle to keep your new boots adequately waterproofed.

Be sure to bring the right pair of socks when you go to try on snow boots. If you are shopping off-season, those skimpy little white socks that you play tennis in are way too thin to try on with winter boots. Be sure to ask about the warranty that comes with the waterproofing of your new boots. Do your best to walk around the store wearing the boots you intend to purchase, wiggling your toes. And be sure to closely scrutinize the seams, especially where the fabric attaches to the bottom of the boot, to determine if the boot is well-made and, in fact, will keep your foot warm and dry.

What other winter gear might you need?

According to, although body heat is lost through the feet, hands and neck, approximately 75% is lost through the head, so be sure to have a hat and/or ear covering. Depending on how much hair you have and how thick it is and how much wind you expect to be in, you may want to invest in a hat or perhaps just a winter headband or ear muffs. Hoods on jackets and parkas are nice, but if you need to turn your head often, the hood will not turn with you, and you will be looking into the hood.

Something to keep your hands warm is a must. Gloves give you dexterity, but mittens give you warmth. Gloves and mittens come in a variety of materials, some of which will keep you warmer and drier than others.

Stay warm this winter by purchasing the appropriate outer garments for your needs.

Reviewed October 2017

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

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