Updated July 16, 2012

Buying a Winter Jacket

La Nina is Back - Stay Warm with Infographic Guide to Winter Jackets

As another La Nina winter approaches, CreditDonkey guide on winter jackets helps families stay warm and on budget this winter.

For the second winter in a row, La Nina will influence weather patterns across the country, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The winter outlook brings the possibility of another Snowmaggedon storm, causing severe outbreaks of cold and snowy conditions. The episodes typically last a few weeks and are difficult to predict more than one to two weeks in advance.

"A versatile, high-performance winter jacket is a must-have this winter," said Charles Tran, founder of the credit card comparison website, CreditDonkey. "It's worth paying for quality, and our infographic helps consumers learn how to choose the best winter jacket. Plus, savvy consumers can use credit to pay for a warm winter jacket in the six months between November and May without breaking a sweat."

Match Your Needs with Your Environment

With the many outerwear design and textile features available, wise consumers will pay only for the options that best suit their needs. Before comparing price and design differences, consider:

  1. Your Context—Is your jacket mainly for casual use getting in and out of the car and short walking distances? Will you be exposed to the weather for long inactive periods while waiting for a bus or train? Will you wear your jacket for active sports or outdoor recreation? Is there any possibility you will depend on your outerwear in extreme conditions that threaten your safety?

  2. Your Environment—What do you know about the outdoor environment and weather conditions where you plan to wear your outerwear? In the United States, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) annually forecasts general winter weather conditions. This year, NOAA provides the following description of projected weather patterns:

    • Pacific Northwest: colder and wetter than average. La Niña often results in below-average temperatures and increased mountain snow in the Pacific Northwest and western Montana during the winter months. This may set the stage for spring flooding in the Missouri River Basin.
    • California: colder than average and wetter than average conditions in northern California and drier than average conditions in southern California. All of the southern parts of the nation are at risk of having above normal wildfire conditions starting this winter and lasting into the spring;
    • Northern Plains: colder and wetter than average. Spring flooding could be a concern in parts of this region.
    • Southern Plains and Gulf Coast States: warmer and drier than average. This will likely exacerbate drought conditions in these regions.
    • Florida and south Atlantic Coast: drier than average, with an equal chance for above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures. Above normal wildfire conditions.
    • Ohio and Tennessee Valleys: wetter than average with equal chances for above-, near-, or below-average temperatures. Potential for increased storminess and flooding.
    • Northeast and Mid-Atlantic: equal chances for above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures and precipitation. Winter weather for these regions is often driven not by La Niña but by the Arctic Oscillation. If enough cold air and moisture are in place, areas north of the Ohio Valley and into the Northeast could see above-average snow.
    • Great Lakes: colder and wetter than average.
    • Hawaii: above-average temperatures in the western islands with above normal precipitation during the winter. Some drought recovery is expected across the state with Kauai and Oahu having the best potential for full recovery.
    • Alaska: colder than average over the southern half of the state and the panhandle with below average precipitation in the interior eastern part of the state.

  3. Textile Basics

    • Natural fibers are labeled by their common name: cotton, linen, ramie, silk, and wool. Special varieties of cotton, such as Egyptian and Pima, may be named. Specialty fibers, such as angora, alpaca, camel, cashmere, llama, mink, and rabbit may be called “wool” or listed by their specialty names.
    • Manufactured fibers (made of petro- and agrochemicals) used in apparel and furnishing textiles are labeled according to generic class names. Individual trademark names may be given by manufacturers to accompany generic names to identify unique textiles.
    • Finishes are applied as the last step in manufacturing textiles. Fabrics used for outerwear are often treated with a DWR (durable water repellent) finish, which is sometimes called a Deluge DWR finish. A flocking finish gives a fuzzy texture. Some finishes are given trade names by manufacturers, but many common finishes are routine and are not noted on consumer product labels. Fabrics with high-performance finishes are often specially labeled because finishes are costly and can add to the consumer expense for outerwear.

      Finishes may change such fabric properties as:

      • appearance
      • texture
      • water repellency
      • moth repellency
      • flame resistance

Buy More, Not Less, Outerwear—But Pay it Off By Summer

Many of our parents and grandparents used an old-fashioned layaway plan to pay for a new winter coat during the summer and early fall months without busting their end-of-the-year holiday budget. A well-managed 0% apr credit card today can be used for the same purpose. And that’s a good thing because market research presently suggests contemporary consumers do not like to think about winter during the summer months, so they put off buying warm outerwear until they really need it.

Once you have selected outerwear with the features that match your needs, calculate a monthly payment plan that will cover the total cost by May or June. This is a way to pay a small part of the cost of your outerwear during each week that you use it, much as a mortgage spreads the cost of a home across your working career.

Outerwear for Children Should Meet Important Safety Guidelines

Drawstrings—The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in July 2011 designated children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T through 12, with neck or hood drawstrings, and children’s upper outerwear in sizes 2T through 16, with certain waist or bottom drawstrings, as substantial product hazards because drawstrings can catch or become entangled with objects, such as a car door or playground slide. The CPSC recommends that parents or caregivers completely remove the hood drawstrings from all children’s upper outerwear, including jackets and sweatshirts, sized 2T to 12. The agency is interested in receiving consumer reports of incidents or injuries from this type of product.

Car seats—Insulated winter outerwear can pose a safety hazard for infants and children who ride in car seats because the loft of the insulation, which would collapse in a collision, can cause parents or caregivers to fail to tighten safety straps properly. Insulated jackets and snowsuits can also cause overheating.

The following are safety guidelines offered by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin:

  • Dress an infant in warm, normal clothing like long pants and a sweatshirt. Buckle him or her into the infant seat and cover the entire seat with a blanket, tucking in the sides around the baby. They you can put other blankets over the top as needed. Make sure nothing is behind your baby’s back. There also are car seat covers that fit over the top of the child once they are snugly buckled in. Again, it’s important to make sure nothing is behind your baby’s back.
  • For older infants and toddlers, take their coats off before buckling them into the car seat. Once the harness is snug, put their coats back on them backwards over their arms.
  • Bring an infant carrier car seat into the house after each use. Young children, especially infants, are not able to regulate their body temperature. Placing them in a cold car seat can be dangerous. For older infants and toddlers, warm up your car before buckling them in their seat.

With La Nina on the way, how do you plan to stay warm this winter?

(Graphic Design by Marcelo)

Annette O'Connor is a contributing features writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Annette O'Connor at annette@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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