Winter Necessities – The Art of Researching Consumer Goods (and Everything Else)

About 8 months ago I moved from Vancouver – a place that’s rainy for 95% of the year, but that has almost no winter to speak of – to a place that often drops to -30 during the winter months. That’s quite the difference in climates, and even worse… I had never owned a winter jacket or a decent pair of gloves in my life.

So fast forward to a month ago, when I realized that with the impending snow I would be rather screwed. It was time to start researching and developing my very own winter style – something I had never needed to do before. It was going to be a challenge, but hey, at least I had a nice warm scarf from Wings & Horns. I was half way there, right? Right?!??

My Dislike of The Stay Puff Marshmallow Man

Being a Westcoaster, I knew that I was rather ignorant of winter. I know that it gets cold, it snows… and people generally wear bulky, formless clothing. Unfortunately, that simply didn’t cut it for me. I’m already a slender fellow, and piling on a bunch of warm but ugly potato sacks was truly a no-go. If I’m going to buy a bunch of new winter clothing and gear, it had better look good, and as I quickly learned, it’s really not that complicated.

You see, I have a very simple system for researching new “stuff” – be it computer hardware, gadgets, or a brand new winter coat. So today I’m going to share my method for researching, choosing, and ultimately purchasing something new, with winter jackets being the vehicle.

Researching Consumer Goods in Four Easy Steps

1) Determine exactly what problem you’re trying to solve, and make a list of the items you *think* you need to solve said problem. In our case, the problem is that I’m going to freeze my skinny ass off. To fix that I need a warm jacket, gloves, boots, and a scarf. This is the bare minimum. While my pair of shitty Nike shoes are perfect for the summer and fall months, come winter, it’s time to go shopping for a sturdy pair of boots.

2) Pick one of those items (let’s start with the warm winter jacket) and figure out the best place to find good opinions on warm winter jackets. This is where it becomes important to start asking good questions. What type of people need to wear high performance, light weight, non-bulky jackets? Probably snowboarders, the military, or mountaineers. Where do these people discuss their craft? Well, there are probably forums for that. Start by typing “snowboarding gear forums” into your search engine of choice, and see what turns up.

If you really aren’t sure where to look, and it’s something fashion related, then start with a place like Style Forum and use their search function. It’s all about focusing your search with laser precision, until you find the best “thing” at the price point you’re willing to pay.

3) By now you’ve probably seen experts and enthusiasts talk about a few winter jackets they like, and couple have even caught your eye. Now it’s time to drill down even further and start researching these jackets individually. Since you already know where say, snowboarders like to discuss things online, you can type the name of the jacket into that discussion board’s search function and see what even more people are saying about it. You can also read independent reviews on blogs, like the very one you’re reading now. There are many blogs that only review say, high performance jackets using technical fabrics.

4) At this point, I think you know what comes next. You buy the winter jacket you want, and then you move onto the next item on your list – gloves. As an added bonus, you can give yourself a pat on the back for not being one of those suckers who just walks into a mall and buys the first thing he/she finds. That’s a lazy way to do it, and you’re smarter than that. You want a great winter jacket that’s going to last you a long time, and you know better than to pay full price for it.

Simplicity Itself

If my four easy steps seemed just a little bit too easy, then I apologize. Next time I’ll try and come up with something more complicated, but for the time being… I suggest you give them a try. Researching things for one’s self seems to be a dying art, and for the middle aged and elderly people reading this article, I often feel like it’s a skill you simply never learned. I don’t know why, but for some people computers seem to be a confusing black box of magic and mystery. In reality, they’re an incredible tool for – in our case – researching the perfect winter gear you’ve always wanted, while saving money in the process, and not having to talk to a stupid sales rep. What more could a person ask for?

[Photo by Guian Bolisay]



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I'm a co-founder and writer here at Unfinished Man. I write, manage the look and feel of the website, and make sure that nothing breaks. I also reply to the vast majority of our emails, so if you're sending one through, I suggest you be nice. Everyone says I'm the least offensive of our writers, so they gave the email jockey task to me. When I'm not improving the site, I write about fashion, video games, politics, and anything related to science and technology.

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