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Recently I moved to NY and I am finding hard time to get accustomed with the weather. I have never experienced temperature below 15℃ back home! So, its quite a challenge. Expectedly, the winter wears that I brought from home hardly provides any protection. Given that the winter season has just started to kick in, I would like to get few suggestions about proper winter gear.

Jackets: Since temperature here gets down to -10℃ to -15℃ (14 deg F to 5 deg F) to I was looking for proper jackets to withstand this weather. I think zipped hoodie type jackets are better, as within the office its warm. So, I need to remove them again. I bought a jacket from here, a few days ago. It is not at all useful. Well, the jacket was not thick or layered. It was the best that the store could offer. Since it was still warm (in September) that time, they didn't have any stock of good jackets. So, will prefer some specific jacket links (like Amazon etc).

Edit: I will be wearing the clothes for daily life activities. Like commuting from home to office. I don't need to wear a formal attire in my office. This is also not intended for hiking or sports.

Edit 2: Removed other parts. Only recommendations about daily life jackets for -10℃ to -15℃ will be good enough. I am not looking for a formal wear. I am looking for zipped hoodies or similar things. Perhaps its not the best place to ask..

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    Please edit and describe the circumstances under which you will be wearing those clothes: location and occasion. Without that the question is too broad. – Jan Doggen Oct 15 '18 at 13:21
  • I will be wearing the clothes for daily life activities. Like commuting from home to office etc. This is not intended for hiking or sports – Sayan Oct 15 '18 at 13:24
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    Hi Sayan and welcome to TGO. This question is too broad, as e.g. the same considerations for jackets don't apply to gloves - please split them up in separate questions. Then it is not recommended to ask for specific recommendations, they tend to be opinion-based and get obsolete. Instead ask about characteristics for your intended purpose. For example you could state what kind of jacket you bought and why it is not "at all useful", then answerers can provide you with info about what to look for to make them more useful to you. – imsodin Oct 15 '18 at 13:35
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    Do you mean NY City or NY State? How long do you need to be outside for. Assuming NYC, waiting outside for a bus or an above ground subway is very different from a two block walk to an underground subway. – StrongBad Oct 15 '18 at 17:35
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    Hi Sayan thanks for your question and don’t worry about the people who don’t think it fits perfectly, I’m curious what people will answer and feel it’s a great practical application of everyone’s wilderness knowledge – mmcc Oct 15 '18 at 19:48
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You should be looking at more than jackets.

Long underwear is nice but if your office is heated you may get too hot.

Cold feet at a train stop or bus stop is miserable. I recommend some winter boots and leave a pair of shoes at the office. Wear a pair of wool socks over your office socks.

Even with a hood I recommend a stocking cap.

Gloves or mittens.

After that look for arctic jackets. They will have a hood and long enough to cover your butt. Amazon has a lot of choices and for the most part you get what you pay for. A good jacket is $200 - $300. If that is too much look for used stores. Learn the major brands like Patagonia, North Face, Arcteryx, REI, and LL Bean. Used often just give all coats the same price regardless of brand as they don't know the brands.

  • Something like Bean hunting boots for getting to the bus stop or train station through slush and snow are great. – Jon Custer Oct 15 '18 at 14:37
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Welcome! I’m sure others will have many detailed answers, but the best suggestion I have is to put all of your cotton socks away until the summer. Blends of wool and synthetic (Smartwool is the famous brand, I happen to like Darn Tough, but there are many) exist which are thin and comfortable but make a big difference in your warmth and comfort. Feet almost always sweat a little and so in cold weather, socks which keep you warm when damp make a huge difference.

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    I live in cold Canada and I find this suggestion ridiculous. Unless I'm going to be spending the entire day outside, I have never worn anything more than cotton socks for everyday life. Who would dish out $20USD per pair on Smartwool, Teko, or Darn Tough socks anyway? I'm sorry but I have to -1. – Gabriel C. Oct 15 '18 at 18:19
  • @GabrielC. honestly you might be better adapted to the cold than someone who is new to this climate – mmcc Oct 15 '18 at 19:16
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I recommend you prepare for colder than -15C/5F

I lived in southern NY for a while, and I would like to suggest from experience that you prepare for colder than -15C/5F. While that may be the typical range, it is normal to have a handful of days colder than that scattered about the winter.

You should be prepared to deal with the occasional -20C/-5F to -23C/-10F days. And, if you venture up into the northern parts of the state, you should be prepared for the possibility of some days even colder than that. I remember encountering occasional temperatures below -29C/-20F.

The record cold temperatures for various cities in NY reach down into the -30s and -40s. The very coldest record for NY, from a quick Google search, appears to be in the -45C/-50F area in Old Forge... of course, you are not likely to encounter -50 if you are not doing much outdoor winter activity, but it is worth noting.

What to wear

Layers work well.

Depending on how cold it feels and what the weather forecast looks like for the day, put on one or more of the following. You can even pile it all on top of each other in many layers for the worst days...

The colder, the more layers. Thermal pants or sweatpants either instead of or over top of under-pants, and then jeans or work pants on over top of that. That is 2.5 layers over the lower half.

Larger, thicker socks over top of normal socks.

T-shirt, and a thicker thermal shirt, and a sweat shirt or work shirt, and a light winter jacket. If it is very windy or the coldest of days, I'll add a hoodie in there under the light jacket, and I will either replace the light jacket with a heavy winter jacket or wear the heavy jacket over the light one.

During the colder days, at least 1 pair of gloves. During the bad days, one of the small, thin pairs of gloves that you can pick up cheap from Wal-Mart, and larger, thicker gloves over top of that, and sometimes a big pair of mittens on over top of that.

If your exposure is limited, many people bring much less.

If you are just walking a few blocks away or if you are driving in a heated vehicle, you can get away with a lot less. Many people go out to start up their car, turn on the heater, and go back inside while their car warms up. Then they go out not properly dressed for the weather, because they will only be exposed to it for a minute or less.

If you forego too much because you expect not to be exposed for long, sometimes you might get stuck in the cold and be miserably cold. Sometimes the snow dumps quick while you're in somewhere, and you come out to a pile of snow that needs to be removed from your vehicle, and that can freeze you if you came underdressed because of your car heater.

Bring more than what you think you need.

You should keep an extra shirt or two, or a blanket, or something in your vehicle. Leave it there through the winter in case you need it when you did not expect to.

Sometimes the vehicle you are driving or riding in breaks down or encounters more snow than it can drive through or it just slides off the road; in any of those situations you get stranded in the cold for a while. Maybe 5 years ago or so the state throughway received so much snow that many vehicles on that highway got stuck for a while, a few days if I recall.

Personally, I keep 1 or 2 extra sets of clothes, a snow shovel, and a cold weather sleeping back in my vehicle just to be safe. Most of it has been used in winter emergencies multiple times.

White-out

Sometimes the visibility in NY gets to zero during the really bad snow storms; NY gets white-outs. When I say zero, I really mean zero. Sometimes you cannot tell where the side of the road is, you cannot read any signs, and you cannot even see the vehicle in front of you on the road unless its lights are on and you are less than 10 feet from it.

This severity of white out is not common, but most winters we get at least 1 of them. When this happens, if you are out in it, you need to make sure you are extremely careful, and if you are driving then drive extremely slowly. If you expect these conditions, it affects the clothing you should bring; bring everything I mentioned above in case you get stuck in it.

Summary

That all might sound excessive, but the point is just to make sure you have multiple layers available, at least 1 more than you feel like you need. When you get too cold, put more on. When you get too warm, take some off.

I also suggest you keep some food available in your vehicle, and I rotate bottles of water in and out of it to keep unfrozen water available. I have had to use both when stuck in the snow while driving the worst days in NY.

The winters in NY are much worse than most people farther south are used to, but they are easily tolerated with a little bit of preparation and save travelling.

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A new jacket isn't going to solve your problems, you need to dress differently in cold climates. Living in the cold always involves a trade off between staying warm and overheating. Especially when commuting it's important to have a jacket that is easily removed or ventilated. For short periods of time the most comfortable jacket is going to be the one which blocks the wind best. Hoodies are cotton and absolutely awful at stopping air moving through them; just about any nylon windbreaker would be warmer. For all-winter wear you'll want something more like a ski jacket which combines an windproof shell with insulated lining.

Being new to cold winters there are a couple of hints that will help you adjust. The first thing to seriously consider is wearing a hat. The head really is a significant source of heat loss, and a regular knitted cap will dramatically increase your comfort. Even better it's easily removed and stuffed in a pocket when you transition through warmer areas like a train. You can even leave the house with it in pocket so it's available if you suddenly need to be outside for a while.

A thin pair of gloves is also essential. It doesn't sound like contact frostbite (caused by handling cold materials) is going to be an issue in your case, but things like pumping gas and walking around can be miserable with cold fingers. One of my worst outdoor experiences was actually carrying a bottle of Snapple a few blocks during a record cold streak when I'd left gloves at home.

Finally, for casual wear fleece is extremely warm and comfy provided you heed the previous warning about wind chill. It's much warmer than cotton while having the same kind of crush and toss casual vibe as a hoodie. You may want to experiment with both: a winter jacket for wind and long periods outside, and a fleece top for late autumn and in-and-out of the car or building winter days. (Generally you need to remove a ski jacket as soon as you enter a building and at least unzip it in a car. I find with fleece you can tolerate 10-15 minutes indoors or driving with the heat at a reasonable setting.)

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You will see NYU and Columbia students wearing nothing but shorts, a t-shirt, and sandals on all but the coldest days. Assuming you are talking about NYC, a typical commute probably involves no more than 10 minutes outside on pavement that is generally clear of snow and ice. Frostbite any hypothermia is generally not a concern in NYC since you can almost always get inside someplace to warm up a little and an Uber is only minutes away. The biggest issue is staying dry. A good rain jacket is a must (a cheap poncho is fine as are waterproof breathable jackets). For footwear, you are going to want either a pair of boots (hiking, snow or rain) or trail runner/sneakers that you don't mind getting wet. If you go with sneakers, having a dry pair of socks, and possibly shoes, to change into is nice once you get to your destination.

Any type of hat (from thin 100 weight fleeces up to down hoodies) or even head bands or ear muffs is nice, but not a requirement. Same goes for gloves. I suggest staying away from long underwear (especially bottoms) since once you get inside, you will be too warm.

I grew up in NH and around town, I used to be a t-shirt/shorts/sandals person regardless of the weather. I used to happily sleep in my 20F sleeping bag down to 0F, I get cold easy now and prefer my 0F sleeping bag when it gets to be 20F. For NYC winters, I am happy with a pair of long pants (typically cotton chinos), a cotton button down (picture the cover of an LL Bean catalog). I then have a 100 wt fleece beanie and gloves and an old Gore Windstopper fleece. If it is wet, I wear a rain jacket also. If it is really cold, I break out the wool sweater (as I said, picture the cover of an LL Bean catalog).

You sound like you get cold easy and have never experienced cold weather. I suggest replacing the fleece jacket with a puffy jacket and the hat and gloves with insulated versions. Just check out an LL Bean (or EMS, REI, mountain co-op) catalog (or chose a major manufacturer (e.g., Northface, Patagonia, Marmot, Mountain Hardwear) and buy whatever suits your fancy. If you are trying to save money, you can hit up a thrift store and buy similar things. Basically, any fleece, down, or synthetic insulated jacket from ultralight to heavy weight will be fine. You should avoid things like 8000m outifts.

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    I agree that people are seen like this in the winter, but in most places in NY it is far from the normal. I would be careful about suggesting to people that they under-prepare. People do occasionally die from the cold in NY from being under-prepared. It is not common, but it does happen. (I did not down-vote, just voicing concern) – Loduwijk Oct 15 '18 at 23:38
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I agree with the recommendations on jackets, so I won't repeat them, but no one so far has mentioned layering.

When hiking in very cold weather or visiting Boston in the winter, I layer a Patagonia top (they have several different weights, and I am sure other makers do too) under a down parka or fleece jacket and over a light weight top suitable for indoors. Layering will extend the season during which you can wear the jacket or parka. Layering works for hands (gloves under mittens), feet (silk or nylon socks under wool socks) and legs (wind resistant over-pants over light woolen or fleecy pants). One of the most effective items per unit weight to use in layering is panty hose. This is an obvious choice for women, but may not fit your image. :)

I also recommend a woolly or fleecy hat that covers your ears and a neck gaiter (a cylindrical tube that covers your neck.)

You will eventually acclimate to the cold, and you may even eventually become like the students @StrongBad describes and wear shorts and sandals on the coldest days, but you may not. And even if you do acclimate, you will be miserable until you do. And don't ignore the fact that in the worst weather, you may have to hike a fair distance because nothing is running, or wait a longish time for the Uber to appear.

  • I agree. Go with a first layer that is comfortable in the office like a sweater or light fleece. – paparazzo Oct 15 '18 at 22:38

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