The Flaws of Temperature Ratings

Posted on March 10 2017

The Flaws of Temperature Ratings

 I asked Brooke Walker, one of West End Kids' Assistant Managers, if there was one topic she would like to share with our readers. Immediately Brooke took the challenge and her blog will definitely educate all of us about THE FLAWS OF TEMPERATURE RATINGS when purchasing a winter product. Thanks Brooke!

When it comes to buying winter outerwear for children, parents want the warmest snow suits available to ensure their children are comfortable and warm.  Temperature ratings were once a popular method for finding the warmest products.

If you remember shopping for snowsuits with your parents, you may recall your parents checking for a temperature rating to help indicate the coldest temperature the winter jacket or snow pant could resist. So why is it that major winter outerwear companies are no longer providing temperature ratings on their winter jackets and pants?

The truth is temperature ratings are highly subjective due to a number of factors and do not always provide the most accurate information. While ratings were considered useful knowledge in the past, the winter outerwear industry has developed greatly in the past 10, even 5 years, and there are an abundance of new technologies.

To start, waterproofing with seam sealing and breathability have become important features for keeping both children and adults warm during winter activities. Companies such as SPYDER with their Pervade Jacket have sought to improve down insulation by creating seam-sealed jackets that eliminate the old problem of goose and duck down eventually absorbing moisture and becoming cold.

Columbia’s OMNI-HEAT technology, has also emerged and boasts the unique technology of reflecting the wearer’s body heat back onto them with little silver, thermo-reflective dots to retain warmth without the use of puffy, restricting insulations.

With all the new technologies and features being added to winter jackets and snow pants, and a good number of them relying on the wearer’s body temperature, it is quite difficult for manufacturers to determine temperature ratings based on insulation alone. Everyone is different and how our bodies work with the product will differ from person to person, mainly because the amount of natural body heat generated from person to person will differ.

Let’s say there is a jacket with a suggested temperature rating of -30° celsius and two different people have purchased the jacket. The first person typically has a cool body temperature and the second person has a very warm body temperature. Although the jacket is rated for -30° celsius, because the first person is already a cold person, they will start to feel the cold sooner than the second person, and may even notice it at temperatures such as -25° celsius, even -20° celsius, depending on how much heat their body generates. The person with the warmer body temperature however, may find that they can wear their jacket to temperatures colder than -30° celsius, or even that they over-heat in such an insulated jacket.  

Another factor to keep in mind is what is worn underneath the snowsuit. Of course, snow jackets and pants are designed to keep us warm but it is also important to wear layers which help retain heat and prevent sweat from cooling the body. As we’ve mentioned in our blog; The Real Truth About Winter Socks, sweat is a major cause for feeling chilled during the winter, and cotton layers are notorious for holding sweat that becomes cold and uncomfortable in chilly outdoor environments.

Finally, it’s important to be aware of the surroundings and weather patterns. Regardless of the insulation in your jacket, if you are in a cold and wet environment, and the waterproofing of your jacket is not enough to resist water absorbing into the fabrics, you will notice the cold much faster than someone with a fully waterproof, seam-sealed jacket. The wind chill also becomes a problem if the jacket fits too loosely and will cause the wearer to feel cold regardless of the jacket insulation.

Temperature ratings are no longer common practice, but that doesn’t mean shopping for winter suits needs to be difficult! At West End Kids we strive to ensure you and your children are happy with the products in our store.  Our staff are more than willing to give you a hand and answer questions regarding the warmth and technologies of the winter jackets and snow pants.

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Happy winter,


1 comment

  • Brenda A: February 15, 2015

    I SOOO get this. I have one child who is warm and one who is cool. Handing down outerwear can be challenging because it is never quite right for both kids. I do like the less bulk of the Columbia though.

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