I am traveling to Germany, Switzerland and Austria in May and June. I am looking for the best coat to take and am considering a water resistant down coat, but am wondering if I would better off with a waterproof and/or wind proof jacket. I have read that Eddie Bauer has some good water resistant down coats. Suggestions?
A down coat is overkill. You will be adding tremendous bulk to your luggage and you will have limited use for this. Think layers. Get a good rain jacket, sized such that you can layer it over a fleece. If you are really cold blooded you can layer a long underwear type top as a base layer. But no down coat!
What Alan said. Layers.
A lightweight zip fleece, long sleeve tshirt,mand outer layer of wind proof and waterproof breathable jacket will keep you warm for summer temps.
Eddie Bauer makes nice stuff and everything is 40% off, I think thru tomorrow.
I've taken a variety of raincoats, warm jackets, and rain jackets to Europe for trips beginning as early as mid-May and extending until mid-October. I love having just a light water-proof jacket as the outer layer, because you end up not wanting to wear that garment all day long. You'll need to either tie it around your waist (not workable with a full-length coat of any type), stuff it into a purse or tote, or carry it over your arm. The latter is a pain in the neck, as far as I'm concerned.
We traveled in Germany and Poland this past June. A light waterproof jacket and a light cardigan sweater were enough to keep me warm and dry. You may want a heavier sweater, if you'll be up in the mountains.
I bring a fleece vest and Gore-Tex shell parka (I like the LL Bean Stowaway, because it does). For mountains you might prefer a fleece jacket instead of (or added to) vest. Layers, not a heavy coat. And a wool watch cap or similar to keep 25% of your body heat from escaping out of the top.
The coat I find most versatile is a down coat. I bought it from the LLBean store in the US. I think it's called the stowaway as it tucks inside it's own pocket which is about the size of a sandwich. It has no bulk at all, weighs almost nothing. Wear two layers, and put the coat on when you get to the higher elevations and it keeps you nice and warm. When you don't need it, just tuck it back in it's pouch and put it in your bag.
While I would agree with the essence of Alan's thoughts (down is overkill and use the layering system), Alan's statement that: "You will be adding tremendous bulk to your luggage and you will have limited use for this" is not correct. The value of a down jacket/sweater is that down is one of the more light and compressible insulation materials. As an example, the Patagonia Down Sweater weighs less than 10 oz and stuffs into one of it's outside pockets.
As said, layering (wind/waterproof shell, insulation layer, base layer) is the versitile clothing system, picking insulation layer(s) to match your activities and environments. You may not need a insulation layer trekking up a mountain on a sunny day, but may want a down sweater under your wind-proof if you are sitting on a glacer for a long lunch break when the fog rolls in.
Overkill (real overkill re down) and the bulk! Space and weight. Believe it or not it ALL, honest to god, adds up.
I take a thin rain jacket and wear layers. It really helps keep all three of us happy. We also do not change that often opting rather to change undies and socks and anything that has gotten too dirty to clean.
A lightweight windbreaker and that's absolutely all I would bring (unless the short-term weather forecast indicates an unlikely cold snap). Unless you plan to sleep exposed to the elements on the mountain tops, most of the weather you will encounter will likely be quite warm. If you decide to take a mountain excursion, realize that even near the summits for the relatively short time you will remain up there, the temperatures will likely be far above freezing. Not warm but not bitingly cold either. For these brief occassions, layer a sweater underneath your jacket, pull out a scarf, gloves and tuque, and if that's still too cold... well, just go into the restaurant and get yourself a hot beverage.
The weather during these months in those countries can be damp, but soaking downpours are not common. Don't overthink this, you will likely enounter mostly pleasent weather with an occassional light rain.
Eddie Bauer is 50% off today, and this is a good deal: Women's CirrusLite Down Jacket at less than $50.
We went in September and October to the same countries. My down jacket came in very handy for the mountain excursions we took. It is easier to pack them my North Face fleece hoodie, so I wore the hoodie on the plane and packed the down and my EB lightweight rain jacket. I always bring lightweight mittens or gloves and a hat (which I lost on the top of Aiguille du Midi).
I was able to take everything I needed for 3 weeks in a carry-on.
Have a wonderful trip!
Thanks to all of you for the helpful advice!
You might want to consider checking this site: http://www.yourwearguide.com/best-jackets-for-men/
These should be able to tell you which one to get depending on your needs. Hope it helps.