L.L. Bean Baxter State Parka
Baxter State Parka
Gear Guy

Which jacket should I buy for my first Alaskan winter?

I moving to Barrow, Alaska, and want to make sure I’m prepared for the cold. I have a thermal lined Carhartt coat. Is this sufficient, or should I buy a new parka? i Ann Arbor, Michigan

L.L. Bean Baxter State Parka

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Well, it’s true that Alaska is warming up—the mean low temperature at Barrow has moved up about 5 degrees since 1950—but that doesn’t mean it has gone tropical. Expect regular lows of near zero, and that’s without wind chill. So as much as I love anything from Carhartt, the only thing they have that I think would be adequate is the Carhartt Extreme Coat ($130; carhartt.com). And that might be what you have. It does have an optional hood, which is $30. It’s quilt-lined, not fur.

L.L. Bean Baxter State Parka

L.L. Bean Baxter State Parka Baxter State Parka

If it were me, I’d get a Baxter State Parka from L.L. Bean ($199; llbean.com). This is a great piece that’s insulated with 650-fill down and has a Gore-Tex liner for waterproofing. It has lots of pockets, plus a full, removable hood with synthetic fur ruff. It’ll layer nicely over a midweight fleece jacket. Plus it looks pretty cool.

For a more traditional down parka, Marmot’s Ama Dablam ($180; marmot.com) is a good buy. It’s very light but also very warm. But it’s not very rugged if you’re doing construction or anything like that. Carhartt and L.L. Bean offer much better durability.

I’d also invest in some good long underwear. I swear by Icebreaker’s Bodyfit 260 line (icebreaker.com), a midweight merino wool base layer. The long-sleeve crew is $70, so are the leggings. Great stuff. Don’t even thank me.

What takes you to Barrow?

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