Shearling can be fake or real. While both are warm, investment-category real shearling, with lamb- or poodle-looking fur, is wind and water-resistant.
Cons of real shearling:
- Can stain and soil easily — inspect after each wearing
- Must be cleaned each season by a specialist
- Should be stored in a cool, breathable environment
Down is, ounce for ounce, the warmest and lightest material. It is also the most compressible — and one of the most durable.
- It’s more expensive than poly-fill
- It’s complicated to clean and very slow to dry
- May trigger allergies: down is not entirely hypoallergenic.
Poly-fill and “puffer” coats are easy to care for, hypoallergenic and offer a wide range of options.
- Can be bulky to wear, won’t compact like down
- Heavier than down
- Breaks down over time
Wool and cashmere can be very warm, especially if lined. Both can be treated to be water-resistant — and provide a good barrier to cold and wind — but performance is specific to each coat. Cashmere is typically lighter and offers more mobility than basic wool.
- Wool can be heavy and bulky to wear and store
- Can take on an odor when wet
- May be a problem for sensitive or allergic people