How to Choose a Great Winter Coat: What to look for, avoid, and some of our favorites!

This post may contain affiliate links where we earn from qualifying purchases.  Find out more in our disclosure.

There’s no escaping it – winter is practically here (or if you live farther north, you’ve been basking in it’s glory for weeks)!  The air is getting cooler, the days are getting shorter and everyone’s wardrobe is starting to change.

You see it at the store too.  Where once were isles of flip-flips and wading pools, you will now find boots, and snow shovels, and every fancy looking coat you can imagine.  Oh, the coats.  I’ll admit, I have a serious weakness for coats.  The cute, the fluffy, the furry, the bright, the cozy…they all seem to beacon me over, enticing me to buy.  Send me to any ski shop, department store, or even Target and Costco and I MUST look at the coats.  Sadly, through the years, we’re learned the hard way that not all coats are created equal – far from that!

Like the “cool” coat we bought at Target for Mason when he was 3.  It stayed reasonably dry, looked nice and only cost about $30.  Oddly, Mason was always hated cold that winter, and complained a lot about it.  We thought he was just being 3.  That is until we bought him a better coat the next year and he was just fine.

Or how about the Columbia coat we bought Chloe at a garage sale.  It was such a deal that I bought it even though it wouldn’t fit her for a year.  Sadly, even though it was the right size, the arms and chest were so loose that she was constantly cold (lots of air trapped inside that coat).  Any time it was remotely cold, we had to have TONS of layers on her.

Then there was the department store coat we bought one of the kids.  Again, it looked nice, had some “technical” features and was a great deal.  It got worn around town on chilly days, and then the first day we took it skiing, we noticed a MAJOR problem.  It wouldn’t zip up past the neck without seriously choking them.  Sadly, too late on that one for a return…argh!


Yes, we’ve had our share of crappy coats.  If you’re doing any sort of outdoor adventure this winter (which if you’re reading this are), getting a great coat is one of the best purchases that you can make.  Since you can find coats practically everywhere, here are some features to look for.

What to look for in a GREAT COAT:

Fit:  Make sure that the coat fits well.  You want something that will cover the torso and arms, even when wiggling around.  Also, make sure to leave some room for layering.  We suggest trying on the coat you’re going to buy, wearing the layers that you would wear skiing.  Even though it’s tempting to size-up, don’t get too carried away or that extra room in the coat will just make you freeze (lots more cold air will get trapped inside).

Waterproof/Water Resistant:  With winter comes snow.  Be smart and get one that will keep you DRY!

Price:  Unless you have found an amazing sale, price is a good judge of quality.  Plan on spending at least $60 for a good coat (for adults AND kids).

Cuffs:  Make sure that there are good elasticized cuffs at the wrists.

Waist:  Look for a coat that has a way to cinch it up at the waist.  In nicer adult coats, you will find a powder skirt, but in smaller kids coats, a drawstring is more common.  This will be a lifesaver on extra cold days.

Hood:  This one is more of a preference, but we are HUGE fans of hoods.  On cold, windy days, they are a life saver and do a great job of trapping in more heat to keep you toasty.

Insulation:  Although there is no magic weight or filling, make sure there are no gaps or holes in the insulation (a common problem in inexpensive “puffy” coats).

Grow cuffs:  These are a feature that have recently been introduced into some kids coats, and they are one of the best things ever.  They come with sleeves that you can extend (by cutting some threads) to get an extra year or two of wear out of your coat.  If you have the option, get this!


What to avoid when buying a coat:

Coats with buttons/snaps instead of zippers

Wool or rubbery materials

Inexpensive puffy coats (we’ve been there…it’s just bad news)

Sleeves or torso that are too short

Don’t buy a coat at a discount store…there’s a 90% chance you’ll regret it later.


Great Coats To Buy This Year

*Make sure to check back in on Monday November 18th where you will have a chance to win one of these coats!

Snow Dragons

We got introduced to Snow Dragons a few years ago with Mason.  The salesman told us that their coats were just as good as a more recognized brand like Obermeyer, and after a few years, we couldn’t agree more.  We got all the features that we found in high-end coats, but at a much better price.  Top that off with the fact that they have grow cuffs and Mason wore his for 2 years and it was the deal of the century.

This year, we got to try out the Snow Dragons Snappy Jacket and Bailey Bibs for Chloe and have been just as thrilled!

Snow Dragons Snappy Jacket and Bailey Bibs

Although it’s early in the year, this set has already had plenty of time to wow us!  Although the initial price may look a little high, shop around – we regularly see them for amazing deals online and at stores (Also, remember that you can wear these for a few years so it really is an amazing deal).  Here’s what we thought of the set:

Snappy Jacket, available in sizes 2-7, $100 

What we loved:
– Detachable hood that actually stays on
–  The colors…I swear this is one of the cutest coats I’ve ever seen!
–  It has a trim fit without being too big
–  Waterproof/breathable fabric
–  Zippered pockets (to keep “treasures” safe)
–  Grow Cuffs in the sleeves so I know we will get several years of use out of it

What we didn’t like:
–  I wish the neck was bigger.  It was fine right now, but I think that a year down the road it might be too tight to pull her face down into when the wind blows.

Bailey Bib, available in sizes 2-7, $75

What we loved:
-Wide shoulder straps and a high neckline that prevent it from falling off the shoulders (a common problem with traditional bibs)
–  Soft fleece upper that will add a nice extra layer of insulation
–  Grow Cuffs in the legs – perfect for my tall girl
–  Reinforced knees
–  Waterproof

What we didn’t like:
Nothing.  These are fantastic pants.



Boulder Gear

Snow Dragons is great for smaller kids, but for bigger kids and adults, we really love Boulder Gear.  We’ve had a pair of their snow pants in our family rotation for a few years without any problems (and they were used when we got them…these things really LAST).

Boulder Gear Resolute Tech Jacket, $225

This jacket is one of the top jackets that Boulder Gear makes and we instantly were drawn in by its technical features and great construction.  It’s a shell with light insulation allowing you to layer underneath it so you’re always dressed for the weather.  Here’s what we thought about it:

What we loved:
-Waterproof shell and tapped zippers to keep water out
-Clean design that won’t go out of style soon
-Wrist cuffs with thumb loops – AWESOME!
-Fabric has a little stretch so it really moves with you
-Powder skirt – a good fit and comfortable without restricting movement
-Pit zips…no more stinky coats!
-Internal pockets specially designed for your phone and ipod
-Goggle pouch with wiping cloth attached
-Full hood that cinches up to keep it on

What we didn’t like:
-It was a little bit baggy.  Andrew is tall and skinny so needed to order a bigger size so it would have enough arm length, making it pretty baggy through the  torso.  It would be great to see a trimmer fit available.
Although it is expensive, we have no doubt it will last.  Even though that $225 price tag might be hard to swallow, after shopping around you’ll quickly find that this is on the lower range for a jacket with this many technical features!  Overall, it’s a slick, stylish design that won’t disappoint on your outdoor adventures!


Boulder Gear and Snow Dragons provided this clothing to facilitate this review.  However, these are our honest opinions that are not influenced by others!


3 thoughts on “How to Choose a Great Winter Coat: What to look for, avoid, and some of our favorites!”

  1. Our son started wearing Boulder Gear ski pants when he was 12 or so. They seemed to grow with them and he wore them forever. Then were passed down to other members of our family. When we finally had to donate them, they still looked great and had a lot of wear to go.
    We love Boulder Gear.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top