The Charles River Women’s Journey Parka – Why I Love it!
Every year for Christmas my husband tries to convince me that with the right gear, the cold weather in Idaho isn’t as bad as I say. I’m pretty critical of his very kind-hearted gifts simply because I just really, really don’t like the cold. This year he got me a gray parka from Charles River- here’s my very honest personal review.
My biggest challenge with winter gear is how impractical they are. I’m sure I would never be cold if I took 20 minutes everyday to layer clothing on top of each other and carried luggage with me to peel the wardrobe off when I get to my destination but who has time for that?! I’m too impatient to deal with the hassle of layers or carry around extra items and normally have my hands full -and if we’re being honest- running 15 minutes late anyways. I usually get through the cold months by hurrying from one heated venue to the next.
I didn’t expect this coat to make much of a difference (because I’m pretty stubborn) but when my kids begged me to watch them sled down the hill I didn’t want to miss out.
By the time I had layered snow pants, hats, gloves, coats, socks, boots etc on the kids they were complaining of the heat so I just grabbed this coat with boots for myself and we were out the door.
I was so impressed!
Because it didn’t feel very big and bulky I wasn’t sure how warm it could be, however the material blocked out all the wind and cold mist from every angle and has soft fleece lining around the neck/face and hood to keep you warm like a fleece scarf and hat. The material throughout the bulk of the coat is actually pretty impressive because it is made of 100% nylon so the coat slips on easily over your clothes but the nylon is quilted with a thin insulation inside that keeps it extremely warm without the bulk. The concise design makes it easy and light enough to grab for a quick outing but warm enough to use for a cold adventure.
I have learned that all the small gadgets on this coat that I didn’t think much of at first, make a world of a difference in keeping you warm. Here’s what I mean:
I really really like the sleeves. At the wrist-end of the sleeve there is a thick sweater-type extra sleeve built into the coat. It hugs your wrist to keep the coat snug around your arm while the outer layer falls further down your wrist completely covering the snug sweater and blocks out the wind and rain/snow. I love that I don’t have to wear a sweater underneath to keep my sleeves warm because it is all built-in!
The collar wraps all the way around the front of the coat to completely block out the cold from around your neck. I normally get really annoyed when a coat is zipped all the way to my face because the zipper and coat corners bother me, however, the entire collar is lined with a warm fleece all the way to the tips that keep it cozy and warm like cuddling into a scarf. There is even an additional small fleece flap at the top to make sure none of the snaps or zipper are rubbing against your face.
The fleece-lined hood has an adjustable cord to tighten the hood around your face. I am not a hat person. Not only because it’s just one more thing to keep track of, but because it always messes up my hair or doesn’t fit over my bun or gets itchy with my hair around my face and to put it bluntly, I just don’t look good in hats. For this reason my face and ears often get cold quickly. This hood solves those problems for me. I really like how I can adjust the hood around my ears to keep me warm and hold the heat in without it being so tight around my hair in the back making my hair messy or itchy.
I never would have thought that a coat that is so ideal in the snow could possibly look nice enough for me to also wear to church on Sunday but I can easily say that this coat is perfect for both. The long cut of the coat will keep you warm around the waist but is also very stylish. There is an adjustable drawstring around the waist and at the bottom of the coat to help it silhouette your figure best. The drawstring around the waist is tucked on the inside layer so it looks more smooth and naturally fitted from the outside and feels customized just how you like it. (I wish all my shirts could have this feature!) The sides have flattering curved seams that work with the adjustable waist to both look nice and be comfortable.
There is a flap over the zipped pocket so the curved seam is smooth and the style is uninterrupted by the pocket. The flap also acts as double protection to keep the cold and wet elements from the pockets. While that is all great- my favorite part about the pockets is how deep they are. Because they are deep, I am able to hold onto a lot of items without keeping track of a bag or purse for the essentials. I also like that the pocket location goes down to the bottom of the coat instead of curving in towards the zipper.
When pockets curve towards the center they are really only practical for warming your hands because when you put things in those pockets it tends to bulge awkwardly by your stomach and items fall out easily because of the angle of the pocket. With this coat, the items stay hidden and safe at my side.
Just one or two of these functional additions to a coat may not be a deal breaker but the combination of all of them on a high quality coat that is also stylish makes it a serious winner in my book! I am very excited to have found a coat for all occasions that is classy and adjustable so it can last for years.
I am actually looking forward to some snowy adventures this year without worrying about staying warm.