on 2 November 2012
I'd been eyeing up this coat for years and last year was given a lot of vouchers for a certain outdoor clothing chain, which happened to have the parka on sale at about half price, so I finally succumbed and bought one.
Sizing: Make sure you try it on if you can, or buy a size smaller than you might normally go for, as they are on the large size. The cut is very generous, so the bottom of the coat comes down below your groin, roughly 1/3 to 1/2 way down your thighs. The outside of the material is quite thick, making it fairly stiff although I can attest to the fact that it is 100 per cent waterproof, having worn it in some atrociousness rain storms. Due the the size and the bulk, it's very hard to drive when wearing the coat, as it bunches up around your midriff. It also makes packing it down for travel quite difficult.
Warmth: This is one very warm coat indeed, in fact I'd almost say it's too warm for the British weather, unless you live in the North or on high ground. I've been out when it's been -2 Degrees Centigrade, with just a t-shirt on underneath and been too hot, when climbing a hill. However, if you are going to be standing around in the cold, you'll be very thankful for it's warmth. I wore mine on a snowy day while clay pigeon shooting and was very toasty indeed (although the coat's bulk did interfere with my aim!).
Outside Pockets: There are two pockets at the bottom with a top flap and Velcro closing, which are very deep, while two side pockets sit on the inside of these (i.e. between the main pocket and the insulation), with a zip closure. There are also two pockets on the chest, which like the side pockets below, have vertical zips. Be warned however, that pairs of zipped pockets have completely horizontal bottom edges, so if the zip is undone, it's all too easy for items to fall out, without you noticing. The chest pockets are also home to some cinch cords, to tighten the jacket around your chest. There's a pocket on the left arm, although it's deep and narrow, so I find that it's hard to get things back out of it, while you're wearing the coat.
Inside pockets: There is a zipped pocket on the left, which is the perfect size for a mobile phone, a sort of net like pocket at the bottom left, which is handy for storing your gloves or a hat and a second net-like pocket on the right, for storing a water bottle, although having tried it, I found it very uncomfortable as it dug into my chest. It's a nice idea, as it would stop your water freezing, but you'll have to try it for yourself and see how you get on with it.
The hood is huge, but is insulated, so keeps your head nice and warm. It is detachable, with press studs and a zip keeping it on the coat. The faux-fur trim is held onto the hood with press-studs and again, is removable and you'll probably end up taking it off, thanks to what I consider a serious design flaw. The fur is on a strip of material, which is folded back on itself so that the studs can connect to the hood, so when you put the hood up, the material keeps flopping forward and you end up with the fur dangling in your face, obscuring your vision. It really needs some way of keeping it in place.
The ends of the sleeve use a Velcro tab to adjust the size, rather than elasticated cuffs, so it's difficult to get a good fit and you can end up with the wind whistling up your arms. There are cinch cords at the bottom of the coat, to help stop the wind travelling up inside it.
No coat is perfect, but this is a very expensive coat and considering some of the drawbacks, you'd have to say this is more of a fashion item than something aimed at Arctic explorers, but seeing as I mostly use mine for walking the dog, I can put up with these little foibles!
Very warm, very bulky, beware of the pockets and the daft fur trim, but otherwise a coat you'll generally be very pleased with.