Friday, January 25, 2013

One Small Green Change: Down Winter Coat

I came home from 40 degree (F) Washington DC (more on that later I promise) to -9 degree Columbus. BRR! The light winter jacket I've making do with this year because my good wool coat is a bit too snug (ahem) just isn't going to cut it no matter how many layers I wear under it.

I need a new heavy winter "play" coat. Something I can wear sledding, skiing, and trudging through snow to the mailbox. Wool is warm and more eco friendly but once it gets wet, you stand a good chance of getting hypothermia on the toboggan run.

In my opinion a wool outer layer isn't practical for a winter ski coat since shushing snow can soak your coat.

Who am I kidding? My ski coat gets wet more from falling and skiing on my face in spectacularly graceful ways than from kicking up snow and outperforming Shaun White on a snowboarding half pipe.

Anyway. I need a new warm heavy winter coat that isn't too bulky to play in the snow. If it can be made from more eco friendly materials that would be awesome. I want this coat to perform well and last. I am willing to pony up the cash for that (although if I can get it on sale that will be the icing on the cake.)



I looked at coats made from recycled plastic bottles. I wasn't sure if they would be any warmer than my light winter coat once the fiberfill smooshed down as those coats do. I decided to go with what people have been telling me is the warmest insulating layer and went with a down winter coat.

I haven't had a down coat because I heard down sometimes sheds, is too bulky for my small frame, and you have to dry clean it - not something I want in a play coat that may need cleaning more often than a wool dress coat.  I ordered a Arches Power Down Jacket from Free Country (on sale!) because they say it is machine washable in cold water. I placed my order and hoped the coat won't make me look like the Pillsbury Doughboy's sister.

The coat came a little smashed. Free Country said that might happen and to fluff up the down by shaking the coat around a bit. I put mine in the dryer on air dry (no heat) with a couple of tennis balls for 10 minutes. It worked.

But is it warm?

I was a little concerned because this down coat is not like the big puffball down coats I see everyone else wearing. I shouldn't have worried because this sucker is warm. I unzipped the front of the jacket to show how you can zip the attached lining layer to trap more air inside the coat for more warmth with less poof.

I took these photos in my front yard standing in three inches of snow. I'm wearing a waffle weave long sleeved shirt and under my coat. I surprisingly toasty warm!

My Free County coat has unexpected touches like a detectable hood (I'm usually not a hood girl. I'm still deciding whether I'm going to keep it on or not), and separate internal phone, MP3 player and ear bud, and money pockets - perfect for not losing those important things while playing in the snow.

I thought the sleeves were too long (a common thing when you are fun sized) until I realized there is a thumb hole in the liner. It is a gauntlet. Oh.

The gauntlet feels a little strange under winter gloves but fine under mittens. I usually tuck it up my sleeve if I wear gloves. 

The only downside I can find is Free Country coats run a little small so take your measurements and check their size chart before ordering. I got a medium and it is a little snug in the hips where I keep my extra weight for a snowy day. Husband said it is more incentive for me to start exercising. He's right.

What is your experience with down? Do you have any care tips for me?

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Disclosure: Free Country provided a sample for this review. This did not effect my opinion as all opinions are my own and long term readers know I am highly opinionated.