A good winter coat is a wardrobe staple for every child, but it can also represent a major investment for parents. Having an idea of the styles and types available, as well as knowing where and when to shop for these coats, can help you save money and make sure your child is nice and warm this winter.
Choosing the Right Type of Coat for Your Child
Winter coats come in a variety of styles, which are suited to different activities, climates, and ages. As you prepare to shop, be sure you're choosing the correct coat type for your situation. It also helps to view pictures of girls' winter coats and boys' winter coats to get a little inspiration about which styles might suit your child.
One of the warmest options for a winter coat is down insulation. However, down has a few advantages and disadvantages. Some children are allergic to the tiny feathers, and down loses its ability to hold warmth if it gets wet. It's also one of the most expensive options you can buy, and it isn't easy to wash. On the other hand, it's very lightweight, wicks sweat away from the skin, and holds up incredibly well. In general, this is an option for a child who lives in a very cold climate, participates in a lot of outdoor sports and activities, and isn't about to go through a growth spurt.
You can buy down coats from local stores, as well as many Internet retailers. Consider these shopping options:
- Marmot Boys' Guides Down Hoodie - This very warm coat, sold by Zappos, is a great choice for kids who live in cold areas of the country. Unlike many down options, it can be machine washed and tumbled dry. It comes in black only and sizes XS through XL. This coat retails for $135.
- Marmot Girls' Montreaux Down Coat - This knee-length coat, sold by Amazon, will keep your little girl warm whether she's wearing pants or a dress. It has a fur-trimmed hood and a fleece lining, and it comes in blue or black. This coat is available in girls' sizes XS through XL, and it retails for about $165.
- The North Face Girls Lil' Crympt Jacket - This cozy down option is warm enough for very cold weather, and it's stylish enough to turn heads. Made by a very well-respected brand and sold by Moosejaw, this coat comes in teaberry pink and turquoise blue. It's available in sizes S through XL and retails for about $90. A boys' version is also available.
Coats with Synthetic Insulation
Kids' winter coats made with synthetic insulation can be just as cozy as down coats, although they don't offer warmth without bulk like down does. In many cases, they are also a more practical choice. Coats with synthetic insulation are easy to care for, relatively affordable, and readily available from a number of retailers. They also stay warm when they get wet, and tuey come in a variety of weights to suit your climate. This type of coat is a good choice if your live someplace cold, have a child who is still growing quickly, and you need to be able to wash the coat easily.
Seasonally, you'll find these coats in many stores, and you can buy them online almost any time of the year. The following options may make a good choice:
- Patagonia Girls' Nano-Puff Jacket - This mid-weight synthetically-insulated coat resists water and wind, and it's made by Patagonia, a trusted name in outerwear. It's best suited for climates where it doesn't get terribly cold, but it can also be worn with another layer on really chilly days. It comes in two colors and sizes XS through XXL, and it's also available in a boys' version. It retails for about $100.
- Columbia Boys' Starside Reversible Jacket - This polyester fiberfill jacket is puffy and warm for those cold winter days. It comes in navy or black, both of which reverse to a patterned fabric. Available in boys' sizes 8 through 16, it retails for $115 on Amazon.com.
- Patagonia Kids' Dynamite Duo Jacket - Sold by Moosejaw, this reversible jacket has plenty of warm insulation. One side features a fuzzy Sherpa layer, and the other is a weather-resistant nylon. It's a unisex design that comes in grey or dark brown. Available in sizes S through XL, this coat retails for about $95.
Three-in-one coats are a versatile choice, especially if you live someplace that sees very cold to moderately cold weather. These coats consist of a zip-out liner, usually made of fleece, and a fiberfill outer layer. These two layers can be worn individually, or you can zip them together to create a really warm coat for your child. The only downside to this type of coat is that all the zippers can be confusing for young children who are just learning to dress themselves. This style is ideal for kids who are comfortable with zippers and for parents who want to get their money's worth out of the coat.
You can find these coats seasonally at local retailers, or you can buy them off-season at a number of Internet retailers. Consider these options:
- White Sierra Boys' Snow Day Three-in-One Jacket - Featuring a water-resistant outer layer and fleece liner, this jacket from Amazon.com is a great choice for changing weather conditions. It comes in orange or chartreuse and has a stowable hood for snowy days. Available in sizes XS through XL, this coat retails for an affordable $50.
- Girls' Snowfoil Three-in-One Jacket - This cute and practical coat from Eddie Bauer is a good choice. It has a weather-proof outer layer and a fleece inner layer, both of which are machine washable. It comes in vibrant purple or berry and is available is sizes XXS through XL. This coat retails for $100.
- Patagonia Boys' Three-in-One Jacket - Sold by Moosejaw, this versatile boys' jacket features a waterproof, insulated outer shell and a cozy fleece inner liner. It has multiple features to seal out blowing snow and is a very warm choice. It comes in two colors, sizes XS through XXL and it retails for about $230.
Wool or Dressy Coats
If you live in a warmer climate or want a kids' coat that will look stylish and a bit more formal, wool and dressy coats are options to consider. Girls' pea coats and boys' pea coats both look nice with everything from jeans to dressier outfits. There are also girls' dress coats that look spectacular over dresses and nicer slacks.
Shopping Tips for Kids' Winter Coats
You can expect to spend anywhere from $40 to well over $200 on your child's winter coat, so for many families, this purchase represents one of the most expensive children's clothing purchases of the year. When you consider the coat's important job and the fact that your child will wear it every day during the winter, that helps justify the expense. However, there are also a lot of ways you can save money and ensure you get a quality product that will also make a great hand-me-down. Keep the following tips in mind.
Buy at the End of the Season
One of the best ways to save on winter coats is to buy the next size up at the end of the winter season. Many retailers put coats on sale in February, and you can sometimes save as much as 50% on your child's coat for the next winter. You'll need to be able to predict your child's size, but for most parents, this isn't too difficult.
Don't Wait Too Long This Season
If you don't buy the season before, don't wait too long to shop this season. Often, retailers will sell out of specific sizes and colors quickly, which means you may not have the selection you'd like. If your child has some definite ideas about what he or she would like to wear, you should head to the store in early October to select the winter coat together.
Look for Quality Brands
Certain brands have a reputation for offering high quality outerwear for children. According to customer ratings on REI.com, some of the best brands include:
- Columbia - Reviewers praise the quality materials and the soft feel of the fabrics. The products are also popular with kids.
- Marmot - Style, functionality, and durability are among the top reasons reviewers love this brand.
- The North Face - Reviewers love this brand for its durability, lightweight options, style, and comfort.
Keep Your Child's Age in Mind
If you're buying for an older child who isn't growing quite as quickly, you may want to invest in a more expensive coat. However, if you are buying for a toddler or younger child, you can typically expect to get one year of wear out of a coat. This may affect how much you want to spend. In addition, the style and color of the coat should be age-appropriate. If you're in doubt, bring your child along to get his or her opinion.
Remember Your Climate
The coat you choose will have to be appropriate for your climate. In warmer areas, your child may only need a lightweight jacket for winter. However in colder climates, you can expect to need a coat that will keep out wind, snow, and below-zero temperatures. Check the thickness and warmth of a coat before you decide.
Keeping Your Child Warm
There are a lot of great kids' coats on the market, and it's easy to become overwhelmed by the choices. Knowing the options and keeping a few smart shopping strategies in mind will help ensure that you purchase the best coat to keep your child warm this winter.