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A Coat Guide for Fun and Necessary Cold-Weather Activities

A family of three wearing coats, hats, and scarves outside.

The months ahead will grant us ideal temps to get outside and do stuff. Whether you’re doing run-of-the-mill yard work, breaking a sweat, or attending a fun seasonal event, you have to make sure you’re properly suited for the activity at hand. For this reason, we rounded up the best winter coats and jackets that are perfect for your fall and winter outdoor to-dos. Check them out!

Getting Your Run On

For the regular runner, you know that layering is a must. While you can typically get away with a few layers on chilly, mildly windy days, it’s the freezing-cold temps and teeth-chattering windchill that you have to worry about. For those days, look for a slightly loose woven jacket that can accommodate inner layers. Make sure you can move in it—stretch your arms over your head, bend to the left, bend to the right, and do a pretend jog—and ensure it’s light, breathable, and has enough pockets and reflective features to suit your runs. This Smartwool Merino Sport Ultra Light Hoodie is one of the best winter coat brands. It's lightweight, compact, and provides the superior breathable warmth of 100% merino wool.

Shoveling That Snow (Again)

It might not be anyone’s favored winter maintenance task, but shoveling snow is necessary for many people. While there are plenty of snow-removal tips, what you wear when removing snow is of equal importance. You’ll want a water-resistant coat that includes a hood and fits comfortably at your waist or a few inches longer. This Carhartt insulated jacket is the best winter coat for negative temperatures. Great for keeping you protected during the task at hand, its utility will make it your go-to for other outdoor work.

Playing With the Kids

Playing with the kids involves a lot of movement—cartwheeling, climbing, chasing, you get the hint. Consider a jacket that can keep its shape, won’t ride up, and will stand the test of playground equipment. Equally critical: plenty of zippered pockets to help keep keys, small toys, a couple of band-aids, and snacks readily available. This Montane softshell jacket fits the bill with its breathable, wind-resistant shell, insulated interior, and multiple pocket options.

Men and women gathered around a campfire outside wearing hats, coats, gloves, and scarves

Sitting Around a Campfire

As fun as it is to sit around a campfire with friends and family, some of the biggest gripes are smelling like a campfire afterward and possibly ruining your clothes from flying embers. That’s why you should 100% consider a coat made of wool for any outdoor wood-burning activities. Wool is naturally fire-resistant and has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which means that it resists the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria—the smell-causing agents that require repeat washings to remove. This jacket features a wool-blend outer shell that wicks moisture, controls temperature, and resists odor.

Fun Gardening and Must-Do Yardwork

Tending to your garden and yard—though not as often—is still necessary during the cooler months. And the biggest challenge may be battling the wind and wet weather. Even though your garden may be under a canopied space, it’s still important to find a coverup with waterproof properties. Further, you’ll want a jacket that’s lightweight and not very bulky since you’ll be standing, bending, and moving as you go. This insulated jacket is intended for ice fishing, but provides all the essential features for someone working on their outdoor land. It’s not only waterproof and insulated, but also features adjustable wrist straps that allow you to wear gloves and is machine washable—ideal since things will get dirty.

Holiday Light or Leaf Peeping

Checking out the most impressive fall leaves and holiday lights in your town or city is a great way to spend an evening with the family. If you’re going to be scoping out the lights and leaves from outside, dress comfortably, plan ahead, and don’t forget to bring a coat. A parka might be your best bet. Its longer length and heavier style will keep you warmer as you enjoy the sights during what might be the coldest part of the day—nighttime. This style, from Lands’ End, features a cinched waist and sealed seams to prevent rain, snow, or sleet from sneaking in and warm, cozy air from sneaking out.

Check out "Fall Foliage: Top Places to Visit for the Best Pictures" for the top leaf-peeping excursions.

Warm Your Winter

When the temperatures dip, reaching for the best winter coat is a must. And there’s nothing better than stepping indoors after braving the winter weather and cozying up with a warm, hearty meal or snack. These slow cooker recipes are simple, delicious, and perfect to heat up the coldest of days.