I'm looking for jacket sugestions for the late fall and winter months here in northern Utah, specifically Logan. I'm originally from Tennessee so I'm used to some cold winters days, but nothing like I've been warned will be here. I'm up for layering so I don't need to get the best of the best jacket, more just fit into my budget and keep me warm when layered with long sleeve shirts and a hoodie. Any suggestions will help!
@Tina30 thanks for reaching out - sounds like an exciting (and cold) transition for you! In terms of keeping warm, there are a few principles to think about:
Hope this helps to get you started!
Unfortunately I am not familiar with Utah weather but I did learn a lot about cold weather when I moved from New Jersey to Maine and ended up working in the wilderness. Keeping worm (or cold) has a lot to do with how thermal energy is transferred, Convection, Radiation, Conduction. In your case (unless you’re holding a lot of ice), its mostly Convection (blowing of air) and Radiation (Heatwaves produced by your body).
One of the best ways to manage your temperature is though layering, as the different layers provided different types of insolation or protection depending on your needs. There are three areas of insulation/weather protection; Base Layers (the material directly touching your body), Insulation Layers (the material between your base layer and shell), and Outer Shell (the material furthest away from your body). All layers are more or less equally important depending on your environment and requirements.
The base layer, or as some people call it long underwear, is the clothing directly in contact with your skin, it’s job is to wick away moisture from your skin, keeping you from losing heat by evaporation. The base layer is usually somewhat thin and porous but you can find thick base layers too. This and all material is best to be anything but cotton. Cotton retains moisture and will not let it evaporate easily, making you cold. All of my base layers are polyester of some %mix but no cotton.
The middle or insulation layers are the ones that capture your body heat the most. This should be anything except cotton but if you are going in and out of buildings, this is the layer or part of this layer that is ok with being cotton. This layer is going to trap air and let your body heat it up, with the warmest being closest to you and coolest farthest. This is typically porous material, mine is usually wool as it also allows for moisture wicking and is very warm. You can have as many of these layers as is necessary to keep you warm, your only limit may be mobility if you have too many on!
The third and Outer Layer is the Shell, its job is to protect you and all your warm material from rising/blowing away or getting wet. This is typically a non-porous material such as a raincoat and you can find Shells in many different thicknesses and styles. I have a used ski jacket I found at the Salvation Army for $1.50, it by itself is no longer warm but it still prevents the wind from reaching me and prevents snow from melting onto my warm layers. If you have a Shell with a waist band (or make one yourself) this is best as you can tighten, or loosen, the bottom of it to manage heat loss though the bottom of the jacket as many do not get tucked into pants.
All of these layers can be as thick and dense as you want with as many different materials for different requirements. In general, the more layers you wear and the thicker those layers are the quicker you will warm up which is great if you are not going to be very active. However, the more active you become, and more heat you produce, the fewer layers you want to prevent sweating.
I was able to care for my initial cold weather needs from the Salvation Army and as I was able to save and learned more about how active I was I eventually adjusted my clothing.
P.S. A lot of people like to use a single, heavy, warm coat. It can work but it is hard to manage your heat and sweating. With laying you can take or add on as you please to manage heat and sweat.