The fall and winter seasons can bring a confusing time for outerwear. It's too cold, it's just a little too warm, it's cold in the morning and warms up at lunchtime, and so on.
We view the jackets as the primary piece of outerwear and in 3 buckets: (1) above 40 degrees, (2) above 20 degrees, and (3) 'harsher conditions' that are sub-30 degrees meaning snow and wind or below 20 degrees.
When selecting a coat, there are a few elements that are important and should be considered when spending time outdoors. Given that this family has a German Shorthaired Pointer calling the shots on going outside, we don't have the luxury of avoiding harsh conditions.
In fact, the GSP's optimal performance conditions are that of sub-30 degrees. They run hot and she runs a lot when it gets cold outside to maintain her body temperature. She loves every moment of winter.
The Jackets at a Glance
As stated, there are 3 jackets that we have in our arsenal for use - two are Arc'teryx and the other is a Canada Goose. Each of these jackets is expensive. And we realize that sometimes it's not possible to invest heavily in this type of outerwear.
We encourage you to think about your jackets in the same context, that being temperature thresholds. The North Face, REI Store Brand, and many other brands make jackets that are comparable in nature.
The Proton LT is by far the most versatile jacket for conditions over 40 degrees. If this one is layered properly, you can get another 10 degrees out of the jacket. The fabric provides a healthy amount of wind and water resistance, but we'd recommend a shell like the Arc'teryx Beta AR or LT if it's wet outside.
The Cerium is going to give you good coverage with layers down into the 20s. It's a more typical puffy jacket with 850 down insulation fill. This simply means that it's a warm jacket by any stretch.
There is a reason that the Canada Goose jacket is the signature red jacket of polar expeditions. This jacket is classified as a Parka .... so it's warm, it's solid, and outperforms any jacket that I've ever owned.
If you're in harsh conditions that are sub-30 including snow and wind (not so much heavy rain), this is the jacket for you. The pockets are lined with felt, there are plenty of zips and velcro storage pockets throughout the jacket. This is our pick for sub-20 or sub-30 with conditions.
Overall: Jackets Make or Break Outdoor Enjoyment
One of the single most expensive investments that you can make. Consider viewing this as a multi-year investment at that. In fact, that Canada Goose jacket might be the last parka that you buy.
We feel that it's worth considering jackets that will last and perform well outdoors. After all, if you're not enjoying being outside because you're cold, you avoid it during the collar months when conditions are degraded.
Now get outside and enjoy the cooler temperatures! Happy hiking.