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Moving from FL to IA, need help winterizing

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    Moving from FL to IA, need help winterizing

    I'll be moving from FL to Iowa in a few months. I have never experienced a real winter and am looking for those that live in colder locales to offer suggestions for the must-haves of winter wear. I'm trying to get an idea of what to buy when everything goes on sale. I just picked up a wool blend peacoat from GAP outlet for $45 and have 8-10 merino sweaters. I'm sure these will only get me through October, so I am looking to you guys for some guidance.
    Countryside Man of Letters

    This sounds like a perfect question for BenR, but I will say that the single-warmest article of clothing I own is a leather bomber jacket. Beyond that, I layer (sometimes as much as 5 layers). However, I've never lived anywhere as cold as Iowa.


      Im up in MN for a little context. A heavy wool peacoat will get you through a lot of winter. But ultimately there are just some days that function trumps fashion. You'll probably want some sort of very warm Columbia/Patagonia/north face coat. Boots (like real winter boots) are a must for the snowy winters. Lined leather gloves mostly work unless you're going to spend a lot of time outdoors, then you need mittens. A warm hat: cashmere or something that is insulated and wind proof. Finally, scarves. I own about 8 and wear them constantly. On the bitter days I will wear a base layer of some sort (long underwear) because I commute and wait outside a lot.
      "You don't need money to dress better than you do" - Salvatore Romano


        I'm in Calgary. Warmest jacket I have is a snowboarding brand 686, white down filled leather and heavy, jacket is about 5lbs. Otherwise it's double breasted peacoat and scarf, and now a 3/4 length overcoat soon.

        I keep nice shoes at work (strands and fifth aves), wear shoes I don't care about to and from work or else my ralph lauren winter boot things.

        Thick socks are a must,leather gloves also work wonders for keeping in heat.

        Now I do have a front attached garage and I park about a 1 minute walk from car to inside building so I may be spoiled.

        But that down filled leather works amazing when I'm out in the cold, or a really good ski/snowboard jacket. I have a nice red rosignol jacket thats also very very warm that I got from Winners for much much cheaper and much more deserving of the price asked for.


          Gloves are good. Mittens are better. You will probably want a pair of each... one pair of midweight gloves, and one pair of heavyweight mittens.

          Hats. A wool watch cap is your best bet, as it is both simple and functional (and inexpensive). You can get merino wool ones from Sierra Trading Post cheaply. Standard-issue military watch caps are also available cheaply, though they will be itchier. Don't settle for acrylic, get real wool.

          Scarves. Once again, wool is your friend. Sierra Trading Post also has great deals on wool scarves. Keeping your neck and face warm does a lot to improve your overall cold weather comfort.

          Layering. Layering is key to cold weather comfort. The basic principle of layering is that you can break up garments into one of three categories: Baselayers, mid-layers, and outer layers. Baselayers should be soft, comfortable, and capable of wicking away moisture to keep you dry and comfortable. Mid-layers should do the bulk of the work in terms of heat retention. Outer layers are your armor against the world, and should be water-resistant and/or windproof. And don't think that layering is just for jackets. You can layer basically any garment. I sometimes wear a thick pair of wool socks over a thin pair of athletic ankle socks; a pair of knit gloves under mittens; even multiple hats at one time. And don't forget long underwear. Your legs need some lovin' too. The unpleasantest cold weather experience of my life occurred when I was in college in Minnesota. It was January, probably -15*F, and extremely windy. I was perfectly fine on my walk to class when I was walking with the wind. But on the way back to my dorm, walking against the wind, I nearly froze my legs off. They were both literally beet red and burning in pain when I looked at them later. I was all bundled up elsewhere but only had jeans on my legs. These days I wear long johns as a matter of course whenever the temp drops below 0. It's easy enough to change out of them in a bathroom if they get too warm later on.

          Outerwear. A peacoat will, as Greg said, get you through most days if you layer with it and wear appropriate cold weather accessories. As far as extreme cold outerwear goes, you can really go one of three ways. The first is probably the most expensive, though arguably the most stylishly appropriate. Get some kind of heavy wool hooded coat, like a thigh-length duffle coat. Wool really has some of the best properties imaginable for cold weather wear. I am constantly surprised at how warm I am in a wool jacket, even compared to my supposedly high-performance technical outerwear.

          The second option is to go the technical outerwear route. Get an insulated ski jacket of some kind from Columbia or The North Face (if you want to look like a poseur) or Mountain Hardwear, Marmot, Patagonia, or Arc'Teryx (if you want to actually be a poseur). This is not the most fashionable option but it's pretty effective and, having lived not too far from Iowa, I can promise you that you won't look out of place. The key to looking decent in this kind of apparel is to stick with simple designs in fitted cuts and conservative colors like navy, grey, or olive green. Like a piece of heavy wool outerwear, these kinds of jackets aren't necessarily super warm on their own but can be very warm with appropriate layering.

          The third option is to embrace your inner Stay Puft marshmallow man and invest in a decent quality down parka. There are technical versions of this, usually in nylon ripstop and obnoxious candy colors, as well as more traditional versions with fur or shearling ruffs. Unless you're trying to cut carrying weight for your climb to Mount Everest, there is really no benefit to the technical version. The upshot is that this kind of parka is an investment that should last you many years.

          As far as shoes go, I honestly never even owned a pair of actual winter boots until relatively recently. Unless you're standing on snow-packed ground for long periods of time, a thick pair of wool socks and a waterproof boot or shoe will be sufficient for most purposes. Big, clunky winter boots are a nice idea but not always necessary in my experience. I really only wear my winter boots for snowshoeing and other outdoor activities.

          P.S. For reference, I'm the Scandinavian-American son of native North Dakotans. I grew up in western Montana and lived in Minnesota for five years. I've got ice in my veins and I like it that way.
          Last edited by LesserBlackDog; November 29, 2012, 01:24 AM.


            I knew BenR would have something to say.


              If only I had the skill to say it more succinctly


                I grew up in CO and have had my fair share of cold. I can't speak to the fashion element that much but I can give you a few tidbits of information:

                -Invest in good thick socks--this matters as much as shoes
                -REI's house brand includes some really good stuff at competitive pricepoints.
                -I've had my best luck with Vasque and Merrell boots. I've currently got both in my closet. I'm a big fan of the merrell moab hiker w/ gore-tex...not that they get much use out here in wine country.
                -Moisture wicking synthetic fabrics really help combat the cold. Focus on those for base layers.

                Congrats on your move, Iowa's a wonderful place. The farm state cliches are puerile. There's a real pastoral beauty there, and the people are as nice as you could ask for.


                  Thanks for all of the replies fellas. I appreciate the help. I'm gonna keep an eye on all of the places mentioned for sales, so I can score this stuff before I move.
                  Countryside Man of Letters


                    I don't know where in Iowa you are moving, but if you find yourself near Des Moines, check out Badowers. It's an awesome menswear store, and has been there for 50+ years.


                      I'm in NY, right in the rust belt. Not as cold as Iowa, I'm guessing, but with the wind off the lake, pretty nasty. I'm also readjusting to the winter after spending that last few winters overseas, in a much warmer climate.

                      The things I can't live without - a wool hat, leather gloves, boots, windproof jacket, thicker socks.

                      I have a cashmere wool hat from Last Call. Great for every day use and extended use (less scratchy). I also have a much thicker LL Bean wool hat for the worst weather.

                      I have BR cashmere lined leather gloves for every day use, and Goretex LL Bean gloves for the worst weather.

                      I have an Eddie Bauer down jacket, rated 0 - 20 degrees. For work (and times I want to look nicer), an insulated Brooks Brothers wool jacket. I also have an insulated leather jacket from past years, but it doesn't fit well these days.

                      I wear boots almost every day this time of year. They make a pretty big difference. They also allow you to wear sport socks instead of dress socks. On the coldest days, I wear wool socks. Currently Red Wing Beckmans, because the rubber tread is good for the snow (although there isn't any on the ground yet). I own dedicated snow boots, but generally reserve them for walking the dog and things like that.

                      You may also want to look into a wool base layer from Icebreaker or similar, makes a huge difference, although I couldn't see myself wearing it to work all day. I will throw one on for a Saturday, though, under a sweatshirt or long sleeve T shirt. I will respectfully disagree with FraserCA's recommendation to go with synthetic moisture-wicking material. Stick with wool.

                      You may want to keep an eye on Steep and Cheap ( Since they focus on outdoor gear, you'll see some of the more technical stuff show up on there - gloves, boots, jackets, wool, etc. If you're patient, they have some really good deals.


                        For deals on very warm down jackets that actually look pretty good and come in colors that one can find in nature, check out Schott down coats on ebay. I was looking for a Schott leather jacket when I came across a down coat that I got for a shockingly low price (like, I'll spend more on lunch today). It looks good and I was all sweaty when I wore it in 30-32 degrees last weekend. Made in the USA, durable, bla bla bla.


                          @Charles- I will actually be moving to Des Moines. I will definitely have to check them out. Thanks a million guys. I will be looking into all of the suggestions.
                          Countryside Man of Letters