Alpine Tech, £381.95
The FJÄLLRÄVEN Yupik Parka is by far and away the most expensive item of clothing I have ever bought. When I looked at the price for the first time, I was absolutely horrified. However, I genuinely think it might have been worth the money. I bought it rather anticipating that I would try it, find it wasn’t perfect, and return it. Spoiler, it’s not completely perfect, but it’s pretty good. Certainly good enough.
When I started thinking about winter wear, I initially thought that something that was warm enough for Everest would probably be warm enough for a wheelchair user in London in winter. With that in mind, I started thinking about what I might purchase. However before I did that, I decided to speak to the experts at Alpine track, and they pointed out something rather important to me. On Everest, it’s too cold for it to rain. Therefore things don’t have to be waterproof. In London, it rains.
This was the coat that they would recommend to anyone who expected to be out in very cold very wet weather. That’s why I bought it.
I know it hasn’t gotten properly cold yet, but I haven’t had a day where I haven’t been plenty warm enough without my coat on. It’s so bulky and heavy it further limits my range of motion, already enough of a challenge for me, but I knew if I wanted to be warm, this was going to be the trade I had to make and the warmth is worth it.
I don’t really use pockets, but this coat has approximately a million, give or take a few hundred thousand. I certainly haven’t found all of them yet, which means that on the odd occasion where something gets put in a pocket, finding it involves an exploratory mission similar to that hunting of diamonds in a coal mine.
It has an enormous and very warm hood, and tightens around the midriff and cuffs, if you want that.
As a parka, it’s quite long. When we can, we put it on me in bed, which allows us to roll me on and off it. If we put it on me in my chair, it still requires some rolling, which my chair is capable of. If you didn’t have a chair that reclines and tilted to flat, you could probably have someone tuck it underneath you quite effectively. I’m seriously considering paying somebody who has expertise in adjusting clothing to cut down the back of it to make it easier to tuck underneath me in my chair, but I’m worried that that will really compromise how warm it is.
Before I bought it, I looked at a lot of coats designed for disabled people, but none of them looked warm enough, and I also found that a lot of them had the problem that a lot of things designed for disabled people have, either they were too expensive for what they are or they weren’t particularly stylish. I’ll grant that this is very expensive for what it is, but it genuinely feels worth it. Crucially, it is stylish. It is smart enough to look formal, casual enough to go with almost any outfit.
I feel uncomfortable recommending this, knowing that most disabled people would not be able to afford it, and how privileged I am to have been able to. Nonetheless, here I am recommending it. I’ll update this later on in the winter, once I’ve experienced it In the worst weather we have.