It’s that time of year again, when leaves fall, evening commutes darken and thoughts turn to the inevitable question: What’s the best way to beat the cold?
If you have the money — and the inclination — you can spend $1,000 on an oh-so-trendy Canada Goose parka, engineered to withstand the icy punishment of Antarctica.
But the rest of us don’t have to settle for inferior style or warmth. A few years ago, I invested in a very warm down coat from Eddie Bauer, and two years ago, my husband snagged an ultra-rugged parka from The North Face. Neither cost more than $350, and both ticked off a good many of the boxes that make Canada Goose’s coats so popular among celebrities and Northern city-dwellers.
The coats had fur-lined hoods, quality down and understated sporty style. And they were warm — really warm — especially when worn with a thin down layer underneath. They made subzero temperatures truly manageable and made a cold wimp like me feel, if not indomitable, at least well-protected.
With those coats in mind, I searched out this year’s top Canada Goose alternatives, and found options sleek and sporty, fresh and surprisingly sophisticated. The list prices range from $300 to $400, but bear in mind that sales have recently brought some down to less than $200.
All are recommended for subzero temperatures, and one — Eddie Bauer’s Lodge Down Duffle — for temperatures as low as -60 F.
The coats that most closely resemble the Canada Goose coats worn by celebrities such as Emma Stone and Drake are classics like the North Face’s Men’s McMurdo Parka III, which is waterproof and windproof, and comes in strong colors like pine, as well as British khaki.
The fur ruff on the hood is faux, not Canada Goose’s real coyote, but to some shoppers, that’s a plus. The coat gets great marks for warmth from online reviewers in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Alaska.
For women, options include the Eddie Bauer Olympia Waterproof Down Stadium Coat, particularly striking in white-ish “cement” and rated for -35 F temperatures. Waterproof, with 650-fill responsible down, it was recently on sale for $279.30.
At The North Face, they’re buzzing about the Women’s Down Sierra Parka, a traditional baffled down coat with pared-down, forward-looking design. Strikingly handsome in burgundy, it lacks the fur ruff around the collar that some parka-buyers demand but makes up for it with the brand’s highest warmth rating and effortless style suited to city streets.
The Lands’ End Women’s Expedition Waterproof Down Winter Parka is also rated for -35 F temperatures, with more conventional styling and a recent sale price of $149.97.
The L.L. Bean Maine Mountain Parka for women has similar virtues, and a great retro mountaineer look: It could be the family heirloom that you cleverly wrested from your style-conscious sister. The kelp green option with a touch of orange in the lining and big old-fashioned buttons down the front is pictured here.
For men seeking maximum cold protection, Eddie Bauer offers the Men’s Superior Down Stadium Coat, rated for -50 F, waterproof and longer than a parka by about 6 inches. The look is outdoorsy and practical, with oversize pockets and a roomy fit for layering.
While parkas are beloved for their butt-covering warmth, there are other options. The North Face is bringing back its 1996 Retro Nuptse Jacket from the 1990s, complete with a stowable hood, 700-fill goose down and the original shiny fabric. Color options include a grape purple and a dashing mustard yellow. Can’t decide on a color? Go for four in one coat.
Want something more fitted than the standard parka? Eddie Bauer has you covered with the Sun Valley Down Parka.
Or check out Lands’ End’s Women’s Insulated Plush Lined Winter Coat, with an actual waist and a touch of shimmer.
Feeling adventurous? Consider DIYing it, like a Tribune editor who layers up to three Uniqlo Men’s Ultra Light Down Jackets in different colors, depending on temperature.