What constitutes a great gift? For men, it often comes down to one thing: sheer usefulness. A present is truly valuable if your recipient can make good use of it! With that in mind, cold weather brings with it a slew of potential gift ideas that are more than just appropriate—they're downright necessary. If you're thinking about buying a jacket for the man in your life, know that there's more to this mission than merely judging the garment by its cover. The right piece of men's outerwear packs a punch! Here are some of the best styles to give.
Fleece is synonymous with cozy comfort, and it's difficult for anyone to resist its soft, gentle hand. The beauty of this versatile material isn't just its incredible texture, however—it's also in its practicality. Fleece is a natural insulant, which means that it locks in body heat and keeps the body extra warm even when it's uncomfortably brisk outside. It's naturally hydrophobic, which means that—you guessed it—it repels moisture like nothing else. That makes it a fantastic contender for the outdoorsy gentleman who doesn't mind getting caught in an unexpected drizzle or even a brief downpour. Fleece remains just as warm and protective even when it gets wet. By nature, hydrophobic properties ensure that it holds on to a mere 1% of water weight at any given time. More than that, it's a lightweight fabric that doesn't add unnecessary bulk to the frame. While a light fleece jacket on its own doesn't pass muster on the very coldest days of the year, it does make a wonderful choice for a discerning man who needs something more substantial and comfortable than the average windbreaker throughout fall. The breathable material feels just as plush as higher-end materials, yet it doesn't cause the skin to itch or lose its integrity in the washing machine. It's also destined to go with absolutely everything in his closet, from the worn men's jeans he lives in throughout the season to the trusted corduroy pants that add some much-needed warmth on chillier days.
Sometimes, the season calls for something hardier and more substantial. Enter the men's down jacket. It's a rich material that offers incredible insulation when braving winter's chill. Down coats consist of plumage from ducks or geese—not the feathers, but the fluffy, airy material underneath. Think of it as a sublayer that keeps them warm and toasty. It does the same for humans because, when fitted inside a jacket shell, it creates a lofty composition that traps body heat and prevents air from escaping. Despite this achievement, it's a highly breathable material that doesn't add excess weight to the body. In fact, that's one of the reasons down jackets are so highly regarded. They're highly protective and functional, but they don't come with the volume that one expects of a traditional cold-weather garment. For avid travelers or anyone who dislikes the feeling of wearing weighted clothes, down toppers make the perfect choice. Compress it, fold it, roll it, manhandle it any which way—a beautifully designed down coat will never lose its structure or integrity. When shopping for a gift, take into account the coat's "fill power," or the number of cubic inches filled by one ounce of down material. The higher the number, the lighter and toastier the garment.
Men's winter coats run the gamut from minimal to substantial. Depending on his climate, his style preference, and his sensitivity to cold, you can narrow down your choice to one that best meets his specific needs. In general, it should meet at least one significant need: the desire to stay continuously warm. The right coat also protects him from the threat of inclement weather, including rain, heavy winds, snowfall, and sleet. If he spends a significant amount of time on the hiking trails even in the middle of winter, then you'll make his day with a coat featuring insulation, a hook, and pockets aplenty to keep his essentials within easy reach. If he lives in a less snowy area that is still prone to low temperatures, a squall or bomber jacket makes a practical choice that he can wear throughout the season. But if he spends most of his weekends at the nearest ski resort or considers himself something of an adventurer, then a long coat or a down parka is more likely to meet his demands. Modern designs are also far more than just functional. Men's coats are stylish, too, and fit in nicely with a well-rounded wardrobe of cold-weather essentials, including everything from ski pants to tailored trousers.
There's also that tricky in-between period to consider. Making the transition from one season to the next can pose significant sartorial challenges, especially if his arsenal consists solely of a lightweight windbreaker and a heavy parka. Help him fill the gap with a vest, which fits seamlessly into the equation by providing him with an option on days that aren't quite cold enough for a coat but are still brisk enough to warrant a significant warming layer. The beauty of a vest is that it's available in a number of materials, ranging from soft fleece to plush down. The versatile garment can be worn on its own over a men's flannel shirt, or layered beneath a thicker coat to provide double the insulation on frigid or snowy days. Look for details that might be extra useful to him, like multiple pockets or packable construction so that he can easily stash it in his carry-on before boarding his flight to his annual ski getaway.
There's no reason to second guess your decision to gift him a jacket—you simply have to narrow it down to the right choice for his particular needs. With countless styles, color options, and materials available, you're sure to find a topper that he'll wear year after year.