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Coat or no Coat?

I leave for London tomorrow.

I am all packed with ONE exception

Do I take a coat? Not a heavy wool or down but.....The high is around 60 all week with the lows in the mid to low 50's. So not a lot of variation.

I have two options and I can take one or both

  1. Raincoat with hood, no lining etc...
  2. A light quilted jacket (not down) (Not this one but something like it )

I figure 1 is going no matter what. 2. Is the question. Do I need it? 50 -60 doesn't seem that cold. (NOTE: I live in Atlanta, where we have been in the 90s until this week so my "cold" experience is not current :) ) While I wanted to take it because "it's cute" I really think it's overkill, but I would hate to get there and be freezing.

My packing does have layers so I would have sweaters etc to wear under the rain coat.

Suggestions welcome!

Posted by
31046 posts

I don't speak fahrenheit but it is getting down into the low single figures C at night and we are expecting frost tomorrow - 60 miles north of London. I'd always have a decent jacket at this time of year.

The weather forecast will not necessarily reflect the actual weather. It can change on a dime. It's also been pretty windy recently.

I'd take a waterproof, wind-cheating layer of some description - a good raincoat, a mid weight waterproof parka, something like that. Something light that's easy to carry. Layer sweaters underneath if needed.

The quilted jacket looks ideal.

I'm in the Midlands, a little way north of London. This week I've been wearing everything from just a t-shirt & light sweater to a mid weight waterproof parka done up to the neck, with a scarf and my hood up. Today already we've had chilly high winds and lashing rain, but now it's mild and sunny. That's in the space of three hours. That's British weather for you. BE PREPARED! And weather forecasts are for guidance only.

Edited to add: and now it's clouded over and is raining again. Coat back on...

Posted by
88 posts

I think if you have a thick cardigan to wear under the rain coat that will be fine. We went in late September of last year with a similar weather forecast. I took a thick cardigan, a rain jacket and a down jacket (just in case). Never took the packable down out of the suitcase. I used the rain jacket only once as a wind break/for light drizzle on a trip to the coast and wore the thick cardigan intermittently during the days. Most of the time I was actually a little warm and had the cardigan tied around my waist. We were usually in the hotel room by nightfall totally worn out but I still don't think I would have needed a jacket.

Worse comes to worse you can always buy a new jacket on your trip as a souvenir.

Edit to add: I'm from Charlotte, North Carolina so similar weather to Atlanta, Georgia...though we are a bit colder in the winter.

Posted by
2583 posts

Thanks everyone. I am probably taking it.

I looked at our schedule and we have a lot of long outdoor days (boat ride up the Thames, walking tours etc...)

Then I took my dog for a walk in the current temp here in Atlanta and decided "better safe than sorry" The most miserable time I have ever had in Europe was on a trip where I was cold every day :) So with my "thin southern blood" it's just not worth the risk

Boat rides up the Thames can be perishing cold, especially if the wind gets up. You may need a scarf wrapped around your ears (or, you know, go downstairs into the covered area).

Posted by
88 posts

With that last bit about the boat ride then yes take it. Better safe than sorry. And yes I spent a week in Dresden, Germany once in March and was talked out of taking my big coat. I only had a knee length one. I regretted it. It's why I took the packable down jacket with me to London with on 50 - 60 forecast.

Posted by
544 posts

Carol, thanks for asking this question...I’m leaving for London soon and wondered the same thing.
And thanks everyone for posting your advice—very helpful.

Posted by
8938 posts

This is key:

The most miserable time I have ever had in Europe was on a trip where I was cold every day :) So with my "thin southern blood" it's just not worth the risk

I.E.: Knowing yourself!! And what will make YOU comfortable or not. Sounds like you've figured that out.

Have a great time. I'm headed there on Sunday myself!! I'm kind of like Emma -- I hate having too much because I get so dang hot while on the Tube, or otherwise I'm walking around like a madwoman. So I probably go lighter than what you would be comfortable with (I'm partial to my hooded thin quilted Burberry vest -- which REALLY needs to be replaced as it's so old!! -- and a scarf as Emma said).

Posted by
2276 posts

You need to keep an eye on the weather - which is changeable. It was quite chilly (about 4 degrees above freezing) early yesterday but in sheltered areas in the south, got quite warm = shirt only when out of the wind. Most of Friday is going to be sunny and cool to warm. Saturday is going to be wet but with a milder night. Choose your activities according to the weather forecast. Click play arrow on this site to see projected weather for next few hours:>

Posted by
4308 posts

We've been in London since Monday, and boy am I glad I packed layering clothes. It's been cool every day, averaging around 16°C, but with quite a biting wind (which seemed to finally die down thus afternoon.) I've worn a long sleeved t shirt under a lightweight cardigan. When outside I've added an unlined rain jacket, which really helped cut the wind, and a scarf around my throat. I also have a pair of thin gloves which I needed a couple of times when we were walking late in the evening.

Posted by
11 posts

I just got back and wore layers when needed under a light rain coat with hood. Easy to remove the coat for security checks and not a pain to carry around. Also if you plan to travel by tube you will be hot in a heavy coat!

Posted by
32 posts

We are heading out to London next week (Oct 14th) and are in the same quandary. At this point, I am scouring news pictures to see how many layers, and how heavy of layers, people are wearing. Any thoughts?

I have some light weight cardigans that pack small, and are layer-able. Probably easier than bringing a heavier one both to pack and keep clean.

I am thrilled to read there is a flagship Uniqlo store near our hotel, as it is my new favorite place to shop, and we don't have one in my city. I am taking their unlined, long Block Tech coat, and hoping it is enough. Thinking my backup plan will be to get a jacket there. This sounds like what others is finding works for them.

Or, am I under estimating how cold fall is there compared to what 60 degrees F feels like in the south?

At this point, I am scouring news pictures to see how many layers, and
how heavy of layers, people are wearing. Any thoughts?

How many layers people are wearing today bears no relation to how many layers you'll need on any other day in October.

Today is pleasantly mild - maybe 15 or 16 Celsius, with hazy sunshine, light cloud and not much wind. So people are out in t-shirts and light sweaters or jackets. Yesterday was windy, very wet and chilly so people were wearing waterproof coats plus scarves. Tomorrow may be different again.

The whole point of suggesting layers for any visit to the UK - particularly during spring or autumn, but it holds true all year round - is that the weather is unpredictable even within one day, let alone a week hence.

Thin sweaters are obviously better than heavy sweaters, because they fit in a bag or sling around waist or shoulders easily. But do not rely on temperature forecasts to tell you what it might be like next week. That is a basic misunderstanding of what the weather is like on a small island surrounded by many different weather systems.

Posted by
32 posts

Thanks Jane!

Your details helped quite a bit, especially describing the extremes of the past few days.

My joke about looking at news photos probably didn't come across right - I was trying to convey the futile-ness I was feeling at trying to pack no more and no less than needed. We always go in May, and this will be my first fall trip there. So, I really appreciate your taking the time to give some examples.

Have an excellent Sunday!

Posted by
24844 posts

Don't worry about the 60-degree days, if any. Worry about the 50-degree days. That feels pretty raw when it's also humid.

As others have said, you really need to head out of your hotel room every morning either wearing or carrying layers.

Posted by
32 posts

Thank you to Emma and acraven for useful details that were exactly the kind of data points I was lacking. I think we are good now - traded out a couple of things in my standard fall travel wardrobe, and will buy a coat there if something even warmer is needed. Honestly, will buy a coat there anyway - I've had my eye on one of the Uniqlo insulated ones, but want to try it on in person. :-)

Everyone have a great Sunday!

Posted by
8938 posts

I spent the last three days in London usually with my sleeveless vest in my bag and my cardigan back in the room. I was comfortable for all but just a few minutes without either (or my scarf), just a 3/4-length sleeve t-shirt. It gets so dang hot in the Tube!!