Just when you weren’t expecting it…winter arrives? It appears that cool weather has made its way to the USA, even here on Kauai, HI. This past week we were all greeted with much cooler temperatures and windy weather (it was 62 degrees one morning in our valley). If you are like many Americans you might have realized that perhaps you have indulged in a few too many great farm to table meals this year as you tried to zip up that winter coat. Perhaps you just decided that you don’t want to look like the Michelin Man/Woman that just left the buffet at Bob’s Big Boy. Regardless of the reason, finding the right coat is always a mission and trying them on is a must.

I have been planning a long weekend trip to Seattle over the last few weeks. This is hopefully what I will need to jumpstart the holiday spirit in my heart. I do not have many winter coat options to choose from here on Hawaii like many of you in small rural towns across America. I am fortunate to have Moncler on Oahu however, though I love the fashion and technology these beautiful luxury sporty coats provide they aren’t the best financial investment for me since I will only be wearing one a few brief times a year. I have been on a quest via the Internet to find the best coat for me. Let me tell you, it has been a long month of ordering, waiting, trying on and sending back.

After trying so many of the brands we are all familiar with Patagonia, The North Face, Helly Hansen, etc., I had an epiphany. I am not having much success. Why don’t I go to our neighbors to the north – Canada? The Canadians do so many things right in their nation. Many of us only think of Roots when we think of Canadian fashion or perhaps a visit to Holt Renfrew. Canadians deal with the toughest winter weather and they definitely understand the needs. What I have discovered is Canadian companies get it and deliver the best fit and technology.

This holiday, I decided it is my responsibility to share with you the successful brands I found after trying on over fifteen winter coats in three weeks. The Canadians have won out however; I did find two American brands that have a great product as well. To be fair many of these companies due offer most coats in the +$1K price point but there are also options less than $500. Take a minute to check out these companies if you are on a coat quest. Many of these brands are available on their own websites or you can shop them at Nordstrom.com, Saks.com and NeimanMarcus.com.

• Cardinal of Canada: Founded in 1938 and inspired by the Old World charm of Montreal, this company became know for their fine tailored cashmere coats. They have now preserved the skill of tailoring and added technology with style. These beautiful coats have an elegant style and fit true to size. Definitely a must for a classic guy not looking for the “puff”. Think classic elegance. I secured the Belmont Technical Wool Coat and it is perfect. BTW: they are now offering 40% off for Black Friday plus take an additional 20% off if you provide them with your email on their website – if you decide to order from Nordstrom instead let the customer service rep know about the pricing – they match the price. I saved $250 – thanks Nordstrom.

• Moose Knuckles: “Get your mind out of the gutter.” Founded in 2007, the company was established based on the belief they would create the leanest, toughest and most luxurious sportswear. They have cultivated homegrown Canadian talent and skill, and still have factories in Winnipeg, furriers in Toronto and a design team in Montreal. This brand is definitely geared to the trendy crowd however; I fell in love with the Fullcrest Stretch down jacket. The fit was slim & more contemporary. Order up one size.

• Canada Goose: Founded in Toronto sixty years ago, with production facilities in Winnipeg they have beautiful quality parkas and coats. Known for their expedition coats and lightweight options this is a definite indulgent brand. The craftsmanship is far superior to any other brand. The fit is very slim and the sleeves are longer. They have a few traditional fits that are more generous for those of us who have a more athletic fit.

• Arc’teryx: Founded by climbers and located near the rugged coastal Canadian mountain wilderness, Arc’teryx celebrates all that is wild, within and without. Relentlessly committed to design, craftsmanship and performance, Arc’teryx creates technical gear and clothing — from harnesses and packs, to footwear and jackets — that excel in the most extreme conditions. These outerwear pieces are the most technical and provide the best value. The down products fit slim while shells and layering pieces run true to size. I am obsessed and have several pieces that I acquired while in Vancouver earlier this year.

• The North Face: For more than 50 years the California based company has an extensive line of performance apparel, equipment, and footwear. While the brand continues to shape the outdoor market through product, expedition and athlete achievements, it has launched a game changing product line – Thermoball. If you are allergic to down, the Thermoball is an amazing down alternative. I purchased the Thermoball jacket to carry in my backpack as an arrival coat for the mainland. It states that it is a slim fit but I find that this brand is a little more generous than others.

• Eddie Bauer: Based in Seattle (not too far from Canada) these folks know what water repellency is all about. To clarify, they closed a ton of their stores, their apparel is unattractive and they are always on sale at 30-50% off online (so don’t ever purchase regular price there) but, their First Ascent styles are very techno cool and the fit is great. They also offer tall and extended sizes. They bring home the award for the best buy of all the coats I tried. I successfully purchased the Men’s Downlight Stormdown Hooded Jacket for $150. FYI: It’s $299 and 50% off for their Black Friday Sale.

I hope my synopsis is enough to give you a road map to find the best coat for you or a loved one. I went from having nothing that worked to now having three coats for a four-day trip to Seattle. Oh well – the story of my life.

David Brown
Mulberry Seed Design