These warm but lightweight coats are the way to go for winter.
The first of my batch of Lands’ End goodies has arrived – the Squall Parka and Squall Jacket.
Lands’ End Squalls are a series of outer garments. You can choose from insulated and non-insulated, different lengths (the longest being the Stadium Squall, which is a full length coat), the Snow Squall and a 3-in-1 Squall with an inner fleece that zips out.
My choices were, technically, the Classic Squall and Hooded Squall Jacket. How the Classic Squall differs from the ordinary Squall I can’t personally tell – they look exactly the same to me except that one is slightly cheaper than the other. I chose mine for the colour, as I wanted a yellow coat for walking the dog, and it cost 85 quid in the sale.
The Squall Jacket, on the other hand, was a bit of an impulse buy, being reduced from the usual £60 to under £30, and I fancied the colour, which is a nice shade of pale blue that will pretty up winter a bit.
The Squall Parka is lined with Thermacheck 300 fleece to waist level. Thermacheck is a brand name for Lands’ End, but 300 is easy enough to understand – it weighs 300 grams per square metre: in other words, it’s very warm. The DH got himself the Insulated Squall Parka to go on holiday, which has a further 200gsm lining, but this is enough to trek to the bloody Arctic in – I don’t need it for my life. I was impressed, however, by the features of his garment, and how smart it looked on him (his is navy blue).
My first impression when this garment arrived was of how lightweight it seemed. I am used to my Guy Cotten Noroit yachtsman’s jacket, which is wonderfully waterproof but weighs a ton and makes me sweat like a pig, so at first the Lands’ End felt flimsy. Having worn it, however, I feel it’s as sturdy as it needs to be. The velcro closures, for instance, are only about 1cm wide and 4cm long, dotted down the front of the garment, compared with the 2cm solid strip of the Guy Cotten, but they are more than enough to hold the front closed, with the real windcheating being done by the zip (which is plastic rather than the Guy Cotten’s metal). The same applies to the cuffs, which have an internal elasticated cuff where the Guy Cotten has 3cm velcro.
The drawstring at the waist not only stops drafts from blowing up your arras, it makes the garment more shapely, and the lower half is lined with quilted nylon, as are the sleeves. There is also a ‘Windcheck’ barrier and a Dri-off finish to make the coat more wind and watertight.
The fit is undoubtedly snug. I bought a 14-16 and it’s only just big enough when I’m often a 10-12 in coats, but this is something they warn you about in the description.
The hood, like the body of the garment, is fleece-lined, and is set quite well back on the head, so you would need a beanie or other hat to keep the front of your head dry. However, I have found this parka to be perfectly designed for its purpose – squally weather. I’ve walked in it, so far, in rain, drizzle and gusty winds, and not a thing gets through it.
I also love the colour. I wanted to be as visible as possible, so chose the Sunset Gold colourway, but it is not the colour you see in this picture at all – it’s a screaming oilseed-rape-flower yellow that really brightens up a dull day and means I can be seen from afar in fog and gloaming.
The Squall Parka offers several advantages over my old coats, especially my Barbours, which I think are now a technology of the past. Not least among these is the ease of cleaning, as these coats can go straight in the washing machine rather than having to be dry-cleaned or needing special reproofing every winter. My Barbours went mouldy over our humid summer and it’s now time to pension them off. This parka therefore replaces both the Guy Cotten and my old Barbour Border.
The Squall Jacket, which I bought to replace my mouldy Barbour Bedale, is a better length for trekking than the Parka, and a more easily chucked-in-the-car option for when you’re not sure of the weather. Like the Parka, the Jacket is fleece-lined, but all the way to the bottom rather than only to waist level, so it might even possibly be warmer. A drawstring in the bottom, with a handy closure to keep the string out of the way, fits it to the body, and it has the same pop-off hood, Thermacheck 300 lining and fleece-lined handwarmer pockets.
I am wearing this jacket far more than I ever thought I would and the bright colour gives my spirits a lift, though it’s also available in myriad other colours, including reds, burgundys, greens and black or cream.
Both garments are snug without being weighty, pretty to wear and I would give them more than a ‘five’ if my software allowed me to do so. They are available at Lands’ End, www.landsend.co.uk.