My school run is somewhat of a track and field event, consisting of a car journey, halfway park up, buggy / no buggy battle, and scoot along an off road path to the school for ten minutes or so (depending on the conclusion of the aforementioned battle).
Door to door it takes an hour-ish, twice a day, five days a week. That’s 40 hours a month of all weather school run fun.
Murphys law states that if there is going to be a freak downpour, hail storm or snow flurry, it will occur between the hours of 8-9 or 2.30-3.30. And yet, with a collection of coats that frankly deserves it’s own postcode, I am majorly lacking in the appropriate all weather school run coat.
It equally states that a surprise ray of glorious afternoon sunshine will shine down on you – when you have all wrapped up in jumpers and winter coats
Getting down to the specifics, what I am lacking here can be broken down into the following features;
Waterproof – An obvious place to start. It seems that even the cute little floral rain mac I picked up in a Supermarket (by accident obvs) many years ago was sufficient for car to office dashes in a shower, but when tested out in the field, is categorically NOT WATERPROOF. Thus proven by many post 9am outfit changes.
Has a hood – Every school run Mum knows a hood is a critical hair saving feature on any school run jacket. Pushing a buggy / dragging a scooter leaves little room for carrying golf umberellas so a hood is the best thing you’re going to have to prevent the drowned rat look.
Not too thick – It’s easy to get carried away with the downy snuggle of a super thick quilted school run coat. But given the fact that in the chillier months we wear warm clothes, and the school run march has it’s own inbuilt heat radiating system (i.e. You), I have fallen foul to passing out from the heat on the way home. My winter coat of last year (which for the record has no hood and isn’t waterproof) resembled a duvet and just didn’t work at all.
Not too thin – Now this is a tricky one, because actually, right now, I would love a thin waterproof rain mac that had no warmth at all given we are in that sticky wet but hot part of the year. But, if we are spending out on an all rounder, must think ahead for those bitter mornings because they will come…
Not too constrictive – There’s nothing worse when you are laden with book bags, drinks, abandoned scooters and crying toddlers than the feeling of being unable to move your arms. Flexibility is key.
With all of this in mind I set about my mission last week to the brand spanking new GO OUTDOORS store in Tonbridge,a short peaceful cross country drive from me, to locate THE perfect school run coat.
About Go Outdoors
Go Outdoors is the UKs biggest outdoor store and it proudly boasts an impressive collection of everything you could ever imagine for your outdoorsy lifestyle under one enormous roof.
With pitched tents, riding gear, caravanning equipment, camping essentials, bicycle expertise, fishing kit as well as a comprehensive range of hiking and outdoors clothing for men, women and children, this store is well worth a visit.
Go Outdoors has a unique discount card scheme whereby after joining up and paying a £5 fee (free at Tonbridge store for a limited time) you can receive additional (10-50%) discounts on the items in store. A few pounds off a children’s jumper, a tenner off a coat, or even £50 off a tent. It’s a no brainer.
Go Outdoors prides itself on having a distinct recruitment strategy – the staff are all picked for their knowledge in their field, so if you are struggling to choose the right piece of kit, they are on hand to walk you through what you need to know.
Finding ‘The One’
Arriving at the store, I had a quick mooch around and got a few ideas for Christmas (kids bikes?!) then headed straight to where I needed to be. Women’s waterproof jackets.
Totally overwhelmed by the vast collection, I recruited a store assistant (Thanks Naomi!) to help me with my specific checklist and whittle it down to perhaps a handful.
Having agonised over the thin waterproof jackets, I left them behind in search for a warmer coat for the upcoming winter. We flicked through 3-way coats with zip in liners, parkas, long lined coats, padded coats and a variety of colours and styles.
Eventually I took three to try on – and without looking at the price tried them all on for fit, as well as a jumper to pop underneath.
What I found remarkable was that the one that felt right to me in terms of padding, comfort and style turned out to be the cheapest at just £36 compared to the higher priced coats.
So here it is – a Regatta Green Parker with black fur lining. Not too thick, not too thin, really comfy and kinda cool too. It was predictable really, this girl loves a bit of green and my old parka has seen better days (and for the record, it isn’t waterproof).
(Have to say though the Navy and white one came soooo close! It looked really smart on, but I had to remind myself of my fairly ‘relaxed’ style!).
Hide The Bags
So given the total bargain of my chosen winter coat, I had a brainwave.
Perhaps there really isn’t ‘One style fits all’ when it comes to the school run. I’d be sweltering in this little beauty at this time of year – a waterproof thin layer jacket could still be within my budget and would be perfect for today, tomorrow and even those mild winter days thrown over a sweater.
So, here it is, the in-between season school run coat. A Craghoppers Apex Jacket in Fiesta Red. More of a splurge at £70, but given my total bargain find it worked out perfectly within my original budget.
Because Dads do school runs too
Before heading home, I took a quick tour through the men’s jackets section…just to see. Again, a vast collection lay out before me and although I was entirely clueless as to what the hubby would like, I know he doesn’t own any waterproof warm weather clothing either. Given the fact that he does occasionally do the school run too, and a daily commute to London (and we have four chilly days in EuroDisney coming up) perhaps he deserves a decent jacket too.
And just look what I found – only £48 thanks to a special Regatta deal in store.
That’s ten brownie points in the bank for me 😉
For the girls
As I mentioned, the kids section is also brilliantly affordable and practical – whilst I resisted the temptation to spend out on jackets and jumpers we don’t really need, I couldn’t resist these little winter hats which were a bargain at just £4 each.
So that’s us sorted for the next few years of soggy school runs – no more damp T shirts and stress related internal temperature issues.
Do you have the perfect school run coat?
Disclosure: We were invited to Go Outdoors in Tonbridge and were gifted the three coats in exchange for an honest review.