It has been a long time since Papa Wolf and I have shopped for winter coats for ourselves. You know how it goes—the kids come first! When we moved from Montreal to Calgary in the spring of 2015, we left behind a lot of our more decrepit belongings with big plans to start fresh upon settling in our new home. For example, Papa Wolf’s winter coat: purchased in Grade 11, he bought it two sizes too big because he was sure he couldn’t be done growing. Alas, stop growing he had. That coat was literally falling apart at the seams, so he bade it an emotional farewell before we moved. With our second winter in Calgary approaching and the knowledge that we would not be spending an entire month in the much milder (though damper) climate of Vancouver, it was time to shop for winter apparel. We squeezed Cub into his size 3 snowsuit last year, but being a one-piece, there was no way we were going to make it a third year in a row. As for Little Miss, she is significantly smaller than her brother was at her age, so the snowsuit I had saved for her is simply too big this season. And as for me and Papa Wolf, we were on the market for coats to last us another ten years at least … and in the correct sizes, of course!
When I showed Papa Wolf Live Out There’s website, he got very excited. “Hey! These are all the brands I like!” he exclaimed with childlike glee. Patagonia, The NorthFace, Columbia, Fjallraven … all the brands that make him drool. He usually pays little heed to what happens here on my blog, but now I had his attention. When it comes to shopping, he would rather have tonsillitis than set foot in a store. Live Out There offers no-minimum free shipping and free returns to its Canadian customers, so that means homebodies like us don’t have to face the crowds and the high-pressure salespeople to get the gear we want!
Papa Wolf received a Patagonia Bivy Down Jacket that he simply adores. Patagonia is a brand that prioritizes durability and sustainability, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him still wearing this coat while he sits on his rocking chair on our farmstead’s front porch. (I just gave you a glimpse of our retirement dream, didn’t I?) Interesting fact: the Patagonia toque upon his head is already eleven years old!
The down in the Bivy is 100% traceable: you’ll find that the birds who generously supplied their feathers were never force-fed and never live-plucked. This jacket is thin but oh my goodness is it warm! He has to take it off once we’re in the car. He doesn’t need heavy layers underneath either, but truth be told, we’re still waiting for a real cold snap to put it to the toughest test. Although fashion is nowhere near Papa Wolf’s top-ten priorities for a winter coat, his wife appreciates that this coat is trendy and tailored enough to wear to his business meetings in the winter (as you can appreciate his bedraggled, two-sizes-too-big coat of yore was not).
One of our favourite winter activities is going sledding on one of the many hills within a few minute’s drive of our house. Papa Wolf got to test-drive his Columbia Bugaboo Snow Pants when we hit the slopes for the very first time this past weekend!
The pink Columbia snowsuit Little Miss is wearing on the sled is actually not the one we received from Live Out There. However, I have Live Out There to thank for introducing me to a product called Nikwax. See, we picked up the snowsuit second hand, and the first time Little Miss wore it out in the snow, I discovered it was not longer waterproof. I thought it was destined for the trash. Who knew there was a product that restores water-repellency?! I soaked the suit in the sink according to the directions on the bottle, and eagerly awaited the next snowfall to see if it worked. Little Miss spent a lot of time sitting in the snow, and her bum was dry and warm when we got home from our sledding adventure.
The kids and I all received Columbia jackets, so let me start off with the children’s models before I get to what you’re really interested in: a rad coat for YOU.
It can be really frustrating to invest in good gear for our children when we know how fast they grow. The first thing that struck me about the kids’ Columbia jackets we received from Live Out There was the “Outgrown Internal Sleeve/Pant Grow System.” “The who in the what now?” you might be saying. Columbia clearly knows the struggle is real for parents who discover halfway through the season that their monkey’s arms have grown like the Grinch’s heart! The cuffs on these coats can be extended with the pull of a string, adding an extra inch and a half of length! Little Miss’s Toddler Buga Suit is size 24 months and is still quite big on her, so we are sure to get two seasons, if not three, out of it.The snow pants have a cozy fleece upper, and yes, the pant-legs also have the Outgrown system!Since the Nikwax restored her size 18 months snowsuit, we’re covered until later this season when she grows into her Buga suit, which is a bit baggy for now!Cub’s Boys Whirlibird Interchange Jacket is a size XS (he wears a size 4 or 5 in t-shirts), and with that extra arm length, I am confident this is at minimum his shell for the next two years. Did I say shell? Aren’t I talking about winter jackets? Well as the “Interchange” in the name implies, this jacket is THREE in one. The shell on its own is an awesome windbreaker or raincoat, also suitable on top of a leopard costume.The zip-in liner is water-repellant with Omni-Heat™ technology (more on that in a second), and it is all he’s been wearing for the past two months of chilly but not bone-chilling weather. This jacket is so thin that it is suitable for use in his car seat without having to loosen the straps, yet it is warm enough to get him from house to car without freezing. We recently had our first below zero days of the season, and he was warm enough for running errands and going to preschool. When needed, we can just throw on the shell once he’s out of his seat and be off to play in the snow. (Which is exactly what we did for our sledding adventure!) When you put these two pieces together you’ve got an insulated, waterproof winter combo with all the bells and whistles: waterproof centre front zipper, removable and adjustable storm hood, drawcord hem, powder skirt, zippered pockets galore … I cannot overstate how much I appreciate the value of this product. Our weather in Calgary changes so suddenly that we often find ourselves over or under dressed on our outdoor adventures. No longer, thanks to the Whirlibird!Last but not least, let us marvel in the glory of MY Whirlibird. Yup, Mama is in on the three-in-one jacket train and she is loving it.
I am so crazy about the colour! What’s better than hot coral to get you through those drab days of browning leaves and grey skies? Again, the value in this Interchange jacket is undeniable. Like the children’s version, it features an insulated zip-in layer that I’ve been wearing on its own since October.All three of our Columbia jackets have Omni-Heat™ technology which is like a disco ball in your coat, reflecting your body heat right back at you.As soon as I get moving, I can feel the warmth, so it’s really great to know my kids must feel cozy in their Columbias, too. Even when it’s below zero, I like to wear this coat when we are running errands because I can easily put a baby carrier on top of it without it being to bulky and without overheating. While the grey inner layer of my Whirlibird stops me from shivering in the car while being super trim, the outer layer has all the features a busy mama needs: underarm zippers to help cool you down when pulling the sled; removable hood that cinches right around your face to keep your mom-bun dry; snow skirt to allow for snow angel production; and pockets galore for Hot Wheels, Pokémon cards, granola bars, tissues and lip balm.Thanks to Live Out There, our family is now totally ready for whatever crazy weather Calgary throws at us this winter. The kids are set for at least another season thanks to the smart design of their Columbia jackets, and me and the mister know we won’t be needing to upgrade our winter outerwear for many years to come!
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