The Best Jackets for Winter - North or South
Enjoying winter outdoors is easy with the right gear. And depending on where you are - from the more mild conditions up north, to the freezing temperatures down south, the best jackets for winter largely depend on where you are and what conditions you're likely to experience.
As a general rule, the further south you are, the colder the weather tends to be - which means you're going to need a warmer jacket - while the northern half of Australia stays relatively mild and dry.
Here are some pointers to bear in mind when shopping for jackets for the different winter conditions you're likely to experience across Australia…
If you're going to be in a really cold environment - the snowfields of southern New South Wales, north eastern Victoria and Tasmania, etc. - you'll need a jacket that insulates you and protects you against what can often be freezing or, in some cases, sub-freezing temperatures. Look for down-filled jackets that do an excellent job of keeping you snug and are also lightweight and easy to pack - an important consideration for people who love some camping and hiking action in the colder months. Down-filled jackets, like our ultra-light Cape Travelite range, which pack away easily into a convenient carry satchel, are a perfect companion for those looking to pack light.
Down jackets make an excellent jacket for winter because they are highly breathable, meaning they keep you warm by trapping body heat while simultaneously allowing moisture (i.e. sweat) to escape. Down jackets are rated by their fill power - the higher the number, the higher the quality of fill and the greater the insulation. You can find the fill power on the manufacturer's care instructions or the sales tag.
In addition to fill power, a longer length jacket will give you extra warmth. Longline jackets - like the Cederberg Ayanda Longline and the Gondwana Cattai Long duck down jackets - are popular with women for the extra length and protection they provide against the cold, whether you're in the city or colder, more remote regions.
Down jackets are also easy to keep in tip-top shape and are extremely versatile, so they're just as effective at regulating your temperature on your morning walk or commute to work as they are when you're high country camping in the depths of winter. For added comfort in particularly cold climates, we recommend layering your down-filled jacket with a mid and/or base layer.
Cold & Wet Weather
If your environment is going to be wet, as well as cold - which is often the case in locations like southern New South Wales, the southeast of South Australia, most of Victoria and Tasmania - you'll need something that not only insulates you but also keeps you dry. And whilst you can look at water-repellent down jackets that will repel light moisture whilst keeping you warm, you may need extra features to protect you against harsher elements, such as snow (down south), monsoonal rains (like that in the Top End) and general wet weather conditions.
Jackets, pants (and even hiking shoes!) made from Gore-Tex® are an excellent choice when out and about in unpredictable or wet climates and can either be used alone, or combined with a mid or base layer to increase warmth and comfort. A staple in any adventurer's wardrobe, Gore-Tex® won't just keep you dry, it's windproof and highly breathable, meaning you can stay outdoors longer in even the most extreme winter conditions.
Snow jackets can also be a great option for warmth and water proof jackets. Our 37 Degrees South clothing range, whilst not made from Gore-Tex®, offers an excellent selection of great value, affordable jackets that are not just ideal for the snowfields, but are also loved by winter camping and hiking enthusiasts due to their windproof and waterproof properties. And with a huge range available for both adults and kids, kitting out the entire family is affordable and easy no matter what you're up to in winter.
Humid & Not So Cold Weather
As you head further north in Australia during winter, the temperatures will be much milder but there's a noticeable increase in humidity levels. Where this is the case - in places like Broome, Western Australia, Northern Territory and southeast Queensland - fleece jackets and soft shell jackets are an excellent option. Likewise, if you're in colder climates but getting involved in some strenuous activities such as cross-country running, hiking or mountaineering, fleece jackets are a great choice for their moisture-wicking properties and ease of movement.
In somewhat milder climates, a fleece jacket combined with active wear, which is designed to wick moisture away from your body, will keep you warm and comfortable enough to get the most out of the day. In the colder environs, fleece jackets with high-quality polyester or merino thermals underneath will, similarly, make sure you get to enjoy your outdoor adventures to full effect.
Rain & Windy Weather
No matter where you spend your winters in Australia, rain and wind play a part in dictating conditions. Gore-Tex and softshell jackets, as well as time-honoured rain jackets, are ideal for such wet conditions. When considering the best jackets for rainy weather, think about whether the jacket provides you with good freedom of movement and whether there is a high degree of breathability.
Rain jackets often come without lining, so what you wear underneath is important. Fleece, or merino mid layers are the ideal items to wear under rain jackets. Softshell and rain jackets are versatile, durable and lightweight, which makes them ideal for getting to and from work or school, or your morning exercise, as well as on testing winter hikes in varying conditions.
In a nutshell…
Whether you're heading to the ski-fields of southern New South Wales and northeast Victoria, challenging yourself to a Dove Lake or Cradle Mountain trek in Tasmania, or exploring the Daintree rainforest of northern Queensland, there's a winter jacket that is the perfect fit for you.
Just remember to think about the elements you're likely to experience, and choose wisely.