Coat for Europe in December/January

Sep 28th, 2019, 11:40 PM
Original Poster
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Coat for Europe in December/January

I know this is not the most important question ever but...

We are visiting Austria (and Prague) from mid-December to early January and I have the choice of a warm water resistant down puffer jacket or a thin but waterproof (Goretex) longer line jacket. Without trying to second guess the weather too much, should we be more concerned about rain or cold? And I can't layer these coats and get the top one done up! We're coming from Australia so unused to very cold weather. I'd prefer to not have to buy a new coat which I wouldn't wear back home as they're quite expensive and it seems a waste. Our hope is to spend more time outside than in museums, galleries, etc. although of course there will be some time doing that too. Not skiing but lots of walking would be great.

Our time in Austria will be prefaced by a couple of weeks in the south of Spain, where it will be much warmer, making the choice a bit trickier.

We would like to minimise our luggage but not if that's not sensible. A second coat will take up a chunk of space in my bag but could be done.

Any suggestions? Thank you!
dreamon is offline  
Sep 28th, 2019, 11:53 PM
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Can you layer other warm clothes under the Goretex coat? If so that is the way to go. You can have several thin layers to keep you warm and be waterproof. If you can fit a fleece under the coat even better. So a thin, non cotton vest/undergarment to wick moisture away from your body, a t-shirt of blouse or whatever on top and then a fleece or sweater and your Goretex coat, plus a hat and gloves (which you can buy on arrival if you need them) and suitable footwear and you will be fit for almost anything.
hetismij2 is offline  
Sep 29th, 2019, 12:43 AM
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Warm is better .

If it ends up raining you might manage with a cheap umbrella or get yourself one of those cheap plastic ponchos.

Something like that won't be expensive to buy. If the the weather forecast warns you of rain you can pick one up in Spain before flying to Austria. Or in the more likely case you need it in Spain.
Traveler_Nick is offline  
Sep 29th, 2019, 02:49 AM
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I would go for the water resistant down puffer jacket. A good down jacket will keep you warm because of its insulating properties. That's what you need in cold weather (and it can get quite cold in Austria in January!). A sweater (or even a T-shirt) might do in southern Spain.
MyriamC is offline  
Sep 29th, 2019, 03:35 AM
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I agree with Myriam. Layering is fine, but it gets to be a pain when all you really need is a major barrier against the cold. and a woolen turtleneck underneath. Add a hat (or earmuffs), good gloves, and a scarf, and you should be fine. A simple fleece jacket that doesn't weigh much will probably be all you need for Spain, if that.
StCirq is offline  
Sep 29th, 2019, 03:47 AM
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I thought the longer line would be better and warmer - nothing worse than cold legs and a frozen bum.
hetismij2 is offline  
Sep 29th, 2019, 04:32 AM
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Well, my bum and legs rarely get cold, maybe because I wear very thick woolen leggings, but I hear you.
StCirq is offline  
Sep 29th, 2019, 05:04 AM
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In a perfect world -- I'd go with a puffer coat. That's my go to for most winter trips to Europe. But the two choices you have aren't that.

Your puffer jacket and goretex coat each have pros and cons. Any chance you might be buying a puffer coat between now and your trip If not, I'd probably go with the Goretex and a few cashmere sweaters and a fleece vest to layer underneath.

. . . And VERY warm socks.
janisj is online now  
Sep 29th, 2019, 09:15 AM
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You can also plan for above, and below, the coat. Sturdy, water-resistant boots or shoes are a must. Damp feet are cold feet. Ditto for your head. A hat which covers your ears is essential. Also valuable, and fashionable, is a generous scarf. Both men and women wear them, in many styles of wrap. Maybe buy one on arrival as a useful souvenir.
Southam is offline  
Sep 29th, 2019, 09:16 AM
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I would never even consider the Goretex if it is thin (well, Goretex itself is just a layer, so it would be) and you really cannot layer anything under it which means it is skintight. I have some Goretex ski clothes, as do lots of folks, but the whole point of them is they are a waterproof shell, you have layers underneath. I wouldn't even buy such a thing if it is so tight you can't layer anything under it.
Christina is offline  
Sep 29th, 2019, 09:31 AM
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Puffer. The only place I wore my gortex was Italy. Further north itís cold not rainy.
marvelousmouse is offline  
Sep 29th, 2019, 11:05 AM
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" I'd prefer to not have to buy a new coat which I wouldn't wear back home as they're quite expensive and it seems a waste."

You must have charity shops (thrift shops) in Australia where you might find a larger coat cheaply that would allow you to layer, always the answer in my experience with changeable weather. You could then just leave it at your last stop & use the space for any purchases you might make along the may for your trip home. They aren't places I normally shop but I have found items I needed in an emergency, for instance when I was walking in the UK & needed another layer. I wore that fleece for years after. Just a thought & I sympathize with not wanting to spend money on something you won't necessarily use again.
MmePerdu is online now  
Sep 29th, 2019, 12:07 PM
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Having just about frozen our butts off in Austria last December, I'd go for the warm water resistant down puffer jacket (especially if you'll be spending any time in the Salzkammergut). And this from someone who likes the cold.

nothing worse than cold legs and a frozen bum.

A good reason to also layer your bottoms, or wear fleece lined pants.

Last edited by Melnq8; Sep 29th, 2019 at 12:10 PM.
Melnq8 is online now  
Sep 29th, 2019, 01:28 PM
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How short is the puffer jacket? Only to your waist, or a little longer? I too would worry more about cold than rain in Dec and Jan.
Sassafrass is online now  
Sep 29th, 2019, 01:30 PM
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Thank you so much for everyone's suggestions.

Christina, the goretex jack isn't tight until I try to put it over the top of the puffer jacket - which will then not zip up and looks a bit ridiculous! I could easily layer under it. MmePerdu, I have looked in a few charity shops (I shop in some of them already) but have yet to find anything of suitable quality. I really appreciate everyone's feedback and suggestions. Boots, socks, gloves and scarf already on the must-take list.

I'm really looking forward to this holiday. If we can stay warm and dry, we can be out and about to see as much as possible.
dreamon is offline  
Sep 29th, 2019, 01:40 PM
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I’d go with the puffer jacket. Being from Australia you won’ be use to really cold weather and since you can’t layer the Goretex, the puffer just makes more sense..The worse thing for most people is being cold especially if you plan to spend most your time outside. If you don’t have a light weight fleece, get one for Spain. You can probably use it during Australian winters. They come in all price ranges too, so no need to splurge. If it rains, simply purchase a cheap umbrella or better yet a rain poncho. These can easily be found and are fairly cheap.
historytraveler is online now  
Sep 29th, 2019, 01:55 PM
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I bought a longer length water-resistant down puffer coat, along with a merino wool scarf and hat, for our Dec/Jan Paris trip last year and was happy I did.
  • When the weather was warmer for a few days, I'd leave it back at the hotel. I'd just use my fleece jacket over layers with the hat and scarf.
  • When the temperature dipped dramatically and the wind was whipping tourists off the streets, I took out the puffer and was even able to sit on a park bench along the Seine in complete comfort.
The good thing about a puffer coat is that you can smoosh it at the top of the suitcase before you zip it shut and it adds no weight.

As to rain...I always carry drug store ponchos in my backpack, the one dollar type, and pack a compact umbrella.

My other packing secret is silk long underwear. Again, it takes up no room, and while it keeps the Seine wind off my body, it doesn't make me sweat inside museums.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Sep 29th, 2019, 02:14 PM
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dreamon, have you looked at Kathmandu or The North Face (both of which have shops in Australia)? Kathmandu in particular should have something useful. In days when Amazon sent things to Australia from Germany, I got a great coat from Betty Barclay (long-line padded coat), which I still use. Also we have had some luck with Land's End, which is a US store but will send to Australia.

lavandula is online now  
Sep 29th, 2019, 02:16 PM
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Hi, I'm from Melbourne Australia, and we travel every year to Europe often in Dec/Jan. We were in Austria just before NYE last year. Try Ezibuy or one of the UK websites for coats and jackets, I take one only, and its generally a lighter puffer, longline, waterproof with a hood. Uniqlo are good for these too. Its prob a bit late to buy on sale but if you decide that this trip is a success at this time of year, it might be worth looking at next years winter sales (UK or US websites), I do have 'travel gear' as such, just easy layering pieces like fine merino long sleeve jumpers I buy from ezibuy, usually for around $29.00 AUD, (they always have sales!).Enjoy your trip.
misskdonkey is offline  
Sep 29th, 2019, 02:20 PM
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Oh, oops, just read that you don't want a new coat - great shame as I wear my coat bought for European winters through Sydney winters without overkill. Hopefully my post will help someone else!

lavandula is online now  

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