Gear Guy

What’s the best jacket to get me through my first New England winter?

Hailing from sunny California, this is my first year in college in Boston. Here's my situation: New England weather is windy, chilly, and often wet. I need a jacket that will get me through the winter but also look good around town. However, once I buy this jacket, I'll still need money to eat. What can you recommend that won't break the bank, i.e. as close to $100 as possible? Kyle Boston, Massachusetts

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UmmmBmaybe no one has told you this, but Boston can get a lot more than just windy and chilly—think Arctic. I’d say you’re going to be in a world of hurt come January, Sun-Boy. There might be a time when you won’t see above 32 degrees for several weeks running. And it’ll be mid-April before so much as a daffodil shows its face.

Anyway, $100 isn’t that much to work with. It might be time for a note to the parents, pleading that while their hard-working college boy is studying hard, he has a hard time finishing his written exams because his fingers have frozen. Then, when they spring for some dough, go to the L.L. Bean Web site and order their Maine Warden’s Parka ($269). This is a long, warm, and waterproof piece with a Primaloft fill and Gore-Tex shell. Just the thing for marching to class at eight in the morning during a freezing rainstorm. And it looks pretty stylish around town, too.

But, maybe you’ll really have to make do with that $100. If so, then hit the Lands’ End web site and find their men’s Squall Parka ($99). It’s a shelled jacket that’s remarkably warm due to a Polartec 200 liner. Better still, it’s pretty water resistant thanks to a water-shedding coating on the nylon outer fabric. It’s also long enough to keep your butt warm and comes with a hood. For the bucks, I doubt that you’ll find anything warmer, anywhere.

Study hard, so you can get a good job and buy any damned jacket you want. Or, go live in San Diego.

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