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High tech winter jackets: No more Michelin man

Don't Waste Your Money
Posted at 11:01 AM, Dec 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-19 08:56:35-05

Remember how bulky winter coats used to be, when Ralphie's brother in "A Christmas Story" had to be wrapped like a mummy?

Those days are  long gone, at outdoor stores like Benchmark Outfitters in Blue Ash, Ohio.

Owner Richard Kassar showed us the newest high tech winter jackets, like Patagonia jackets so light they ball up into a tiny bag for travel

"We now have  a completely synthetic, light and warm jacket by Patagonia, called the NanoPuff," he said.

Yes, down coats that make you thinner

Other warm jackets from Patagonia and North Face are designed to be slimming. Yes, you heard that right: slimming, down-filled coats.

Many women have shivered in the cold for years, because they didn't want to wear bulky down jackets.

"Not all down is created equal," Kasser explained.  "We can still get you big and we can get you puffy, but you are getting a less efficient down."

Kassar says new other brands like ArcTeryx take technology to a new level, made of thin high tech materials that keep you warm even below zero.

"It's very warm, very light, and it doesn't make you look like the Michelin man, very importantly," he said.

Even long running, mainstream brands like Columbia now sell what's called "Turbo Down," the same warmth of one of those giant Columbia coats at a fraction of the thickness.  

Some of Columbia's Titanium jackets now include a heat reflective inner layer, similar to what runners get after a marathon.

Pricier, but can be worth the extra expense

These new coats are a bit more expensive than my heavy, old 3-layer Columbia coat, many listing around $200, with some as much as $475.

No, you won't find these on the discount rack at TJ Maxx for $49.

But you get  what you pay for: more warmth on a cold day, without the weight and bulk that makes most people think of "A Christmas Story" when they think winter coats.

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