I dread looking for a winter coat. There are so many factors to consider. First off, it has to be warm, obviously. Secondly, it has to be some sort of water resistant material. Water resistant to the point where my cuffs, which are grinding along the wheels as I wheel, stay dry and don't soak through. The cuffs on most shirts, sweaters, coats, are the first to go. They wear through and start to look pretty ratty when the rest of the piece is absolutely fine. If it's not water resistant, and is some sort of clothlike material, that's just asking for trouble. It gets soggy and your clothes underneath get soggy and it's just generally pretty darn ugly. And even if it's water resistant, it REALLY needs to be water resistant. Most "water resistant" labelled stuff doesn't pass the Ranter test. I am pretty hard on my sleeves, especially in winter. Sure, it may resist water for the average Joe who is just merely touching snow or rain. With my wheeling, I rub and grind it in. Pushing one's wheelchair in snow/slush can be hard work. Thirdly, the item in question cannot contain any latex. This hasn't been too much of a problem for me, but occasionally, like today, I hit a snag. I received my LL Bean catalogue and was flipping through looking for winter jackets that I could add to my Christmas list. Last year I received a jacket as a present and had to return it because it was riddled with latex! The snap covers, the zipper pull thing... even an LL Bean logo on the front was indeed latex. This year, I thought I'd be smart. I made a note of all the possible winter jackets I wanted and emailed LL Bean with the catalogue item numbers and asked if these items contained latex. Their answer was that there were so many chemicals used in the process of making their jackets, they couldn't confidently tell me if their jackets had latex or not. I've bought from LL Bean before, without questioning the latex factor. In fact my current winter jacket is LL Bean, as is my rain jacket. I have never had a problem until last year's jacket. Obviously the chemicals they use in processing their jackets do not bother me unless they have specific latex parts on them. Oh, sometimes when I wear down the cuff too much, the elastic shows through (even just a tiny pin prick) and I get little white bumps on my wrist. That happened to last year's jacket, so I went to a tailor who put leather reinforcement on the cuffs to cover the hole.
But really though, is it too much to ask companies to list the ingredients used making their clothes? Just like foods. Are not these same chemicals used in all jackets or most? I hope this current jacket lasts a few more years.