GearSnow Sports
Gear Guy
Q:

Should I get a ski or rain jacket for winter in Alaska?

I moving to southeast Alaska this month, and I need a relatively inexpensive, waterproof, and wind-resistant winter jacket. I need something that will keep me warm for extended periods in cold, rainy conditions. Should I buy a heavy-duty rainjacket and wear it over a Polartec fleece, or buy more of a skier's jacket? Mallory Haubstadt, Indiana

A: Lucky you! Moving to southeast Alaska in January. Well, take heart, there's almost no daylight but the rain and snow aren't entirely continuous. You'll love it.

Maine Warden's Parka


I'd get a Maine Warden's Parka from L.L. Bean. It has a Gore-Tex shell for waterproofness, Primaloft insulation for good warmth, a full hood and inside storm shirt so you can really seal things up, and a long cut for full protection. Best of all, Bean is selling out their winter stock and you can get it on sale for $200, down from the usual $279. I don't know if you think of that as "relatively inexpensive" or not, but it's mucho coat for the money. Besides, you'll soon be getting annual checks from the Alaska Permanent Fund, so you can afford it.

Other choices? Cabela's makes a piece that's very similar to the Bean offering—Gore-Tex, with Thinsulate insulation—for $210, called (creatively) the Gore-Tex Thinsulate Parka (www.cabelas.com).

Of course, you can also mix and match several pieces. Maybe start with Columbia Sportswear's Thunderscout, a good basic waterproof parka that retails for $80 (www.columbia.com). Under that, layer up with a fleece piece such as Cabela's Polartec 300 Jacket ($50). There, for $130 you've got a pretty warm, dry combo.

Read "Cold Play" from the November '04 issue of Outside for the best in expedition parkas.

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside
Filed To: Snow SportsSki GearHard Shell
Lead Photo: courtesy, L.L. Bean
More Gear