Staying warm in the winter is a science, and clothes manufacturers have developed winter coats that provide warmth without bulk to satisfy consumers. When choosing a coat, consider your outdoor needs--will you be exercising, skiing or simply walking down the block? Will it be raining, snowing or dry? Manufacturers have designed the warmest winter coats to satiate a variety of needs.
Choose down if you are looking solely for warmth, as it is widely regarded as the warmest material for a winter coat, according to Colleen Mastony at the Chicago Tribune. Choose any down coat if you plan to stay dry or buy a down puffer with a waterproof exterior for rain and snow. Choose a high fill power--550 fill or more--as this signals the down is higher quality and, therefore, warmer.
Choose a wool coat if you want guaranteed insulation even when wet, as well as a sleek look, as wool coats are free from the puffy look many down jackets have. They are also built to last, making them smart investments. Choose boiled wool if you are worried about itching, as boiled wool is free of scratchiness--though boiled wool may cost you more. Even if the coat has a different fabric on the outside--which may be desirable--look for wool on the inside for warmth.
Consider the outer fabric of the jacket. Choose a hard shell coat for wet weather, as it keeps you dry while allowing your body heat to escape so you don't overheat. Choose a soft shell jacket for exercising, as it is the most breathable. For dry weather, a down jacket--without another material on the outside--is lightweight and extremely warm.
Make sure your coat is windproof and waterproof for added warmth. Check the seams to ensure they are sealed to prevent air from seeping in through loose areas. Choose a coat with wind flaps for extreme weather, as zippers alone do not block wind from rushing into your coat.
Look for extra materials in the details including fleece-lined pockets; though technically unnecessary, they provide added warmth.
Make sure your store allows returns so you can test your jacket's warmth in outdoor temperatures before committing to it.