How to Choose Kids’ Winter Coats

Kids wearing warm winter coats

The seasons change as quickly as children grow, so it’s important to make sure that your child has the best kids' winter coat for everything from recess to cold-weather adventures this winter. No matter if you live in the cold climate of the Midwest or experience a more mild winter in the South, you want to make sure you choose the right winter coat for your child. Learn just how to find which winter coat is best for your child by understanding the important features to consider and how to find the right fit.

What Type of Winter Coat is Best for Kids?

Figuring out which style makes the best winter coat for kids really depends on the climate. One hard-and-fast rule of buying kids winter coats is to make sure your child is never under-protected. If you live in an area with particularly harsh winters, you will want to choose a fully-insulated kids’ coat with plenty of coverage and water resistance—kids’ 3-in-1 jackets provide this coverage and a ton of versatility for changing weather. If you experience very mild winters, consider outfitting your child with a kids’ softshell jacket or kids’ fleece jacket for lightweight warmth and layering capabilities. You can always remove layers, but it can become dangerous if your child’s coat doesn’t provide enough warmth.

two kids wearing the north face jackets

Kids’ Winter Coat Features

Once you know which type of kids’ winter coat is best for the climate you live in, it’s a good idea to pay attention to other important features in kids’ winter coats. Below are some of the top features to consider when choosing a winter coat:

  • Extendable Sizing is a perfect choice for when kids are in the midst of their growth spurt. With this feature, you can easily adjust the fit of your child’s sleeves by approximately one to two inches to allow your kid to wear their winter coat for an additional season or two.
  • Closures for kids’ winter coats come in a wide variety of styles including zippers, buttons, touch fasteners, and snaps. The most common type of closure for kids’ winter coats typically includes a sturdy zipper with a snap to help trap body heat.
  • Thumbhole Cuffs are great for making sure that there is no exposed skin between this jacket’s sleeves and their gloves. With thumbhole cuffs, the sleeves stay pulled down offering more warmth and coverage.
  • Hood Coverage is an essential part of a winter coat for kids. Most hoods feature adjustable drawcord or hook-and-loop tabs for better coverage. 
  • Reflective Detailing is a must-have safety feature for your child’s winter coat. With reflective logos and piping details, your child stays visible in low-light conditions.
  • Insulation is important, especially if you live in cold climates. You’ll find winter coats featuring down or synthetic insulation. In short, down insulation traps and retains heat better than synthetic insulation, but synthetic insulation offers better warmth in wet conditions.

How to Measure Kids’ Winter Coat Sizing

When choosing a kids’ winter coat, many parents think it’s a good idea to give their child a little extra room to grow. Should you size up in kids’ winter coats? That short answer is “no”— as much as your wallet might enjoy that idea, your kid won’t be as warm as they should be. The extra open space in the winter coat will end up letting the cold air into their coat faster than their body heat can keep up. How do you make sure your child’s new winter coat fits just right? Below are a few easy tests to run through before making your purchase or taking the tags off:

  1. The Hug Test: The purpose of this test is to make sure the winter coat isn’t too tight across their chest or in their arms. Have your child zip up the coat and give themselves a tight hug. Their arms should reach across to touch the opposite shoulder blades on either side. Are they struggling to raise their arms and reach across? Are they able to complete the test but feel tightness through the elbows and shoulders? These are both signals to try the winter coat in the next size up.
  2. The Stretch Your Arms Test: This test will determine if the sleeves of the winter coat are too long, too short, or just right. Have your child zip up the coat and reach their arms straight out. If your child’s wrists show, the sleeves are too short and will expose their arms to cold air. If you can barely see their fingers, the sleeves are too long and the coat may be uncomfortable. 
  3. The Reach for the Sky Test: This test helps you determine if the winter coat is long enough. Once the coat is zipped, have your child reach overhead towards the sky. If your kid’s tummy shows, you’ll want to look at a longer jacket.

By understanding the different types of kids’ winter coats, features, and how kids’ coats should fit, you will be able to choose the best kid’s winter coat for your child. If you have additional questions about how to choose a kids’ winter coat, contact an Expert at your nearest SCHEELS location.