I'm going to do an erasmus in Skovde (Sweden) for 6 months, starting in August, and I'm wondering what kind of jacket would be the best. I don't know if a ski jacket would do the job or if its better a parka. If you know what's better or have any suggestions of an especific kind of jacket, or even a especific model or brand, please comment down below!
Do not worry about a jacket for winter before you go if you start in Sweden in summer.
You may take your current warmest jacket or coat if you come from a warm area, to get you started, but likely August is still nice weather for the country.
In Sweden you can buy much better suited jackets and for lower prices than in countries that are not that cold.
And if you are a student and low on money, you may even buy second hand and leave it when you return home.
I would personally not go for a parka as main/only cold weather jacket but I do not live in such a cold area. The people you meet in August will be able to help you much better, as they know what is available and how it works.
Do not worry about brands and models, see what is available when you want to buy. The best jacket is the one fits you best from what is available. What fits me best is different, and no way I can predict what is best for you.
Before I say anything else, in my experience, when the temperature is below freezing it is much more important to have warm gloves than a very warm coat. If your torso gets cold then the feeling is unpleasant, but if your hands get cold then you will be absolutely miserable. So your first priority for your jacket should be to make sure that there is enough left in your winter clothing budget for good-quality gloves.
If you already have one, then a ski jacket is fine when it ranges from quite cold to very cold, especially if you have a base layer of some kind. I am from a warm climate but live near Helsinki, which from what I can tell, is a few degrees colder than Skövde in winter. For the first couple of years, whenever the temperature was below around -12 I used a cheap ski jacket that I bought from Decathlon in France, and a thin raincoat like this above that.
However, a ski jacket is not very flexible in terms of usage: you will end incredibly hot and sweaty when you are exercising or in warmer weather when you need to protect against wind and rain at temperatures well above zero.
Lately I have been using a more traditional three-layer approach like described here. Unlike with one big heavy jacket, this lets you buy as you go, and mix-and-match so that you can be comfortable over a wide range of temperatures and exertion levels.
- On the outside I wear a hard-shell jacket (specifically, this one) that doesn't have any insulation, so that I can use it year-round. Make sure that it will actually keep sustained rain out if you expect to use it while hiking or similar.
- When it's cold (for me, below -5) I will then add an insulating mid-layer jacket (like this one; a lot of people like down jackets, but I was feeling cheap, and concerned about getting it wet).
- When it gets very cold (for me, -18 or -20) I add a base layer like this one. When hiking you should probably you should start using this layer before the mid layer, but in town it's better to be able to take everything off when you get inside.
This approach will provide you more flexibility and probably result in clothing that will be more useful for you going forward. It might also save you some money if the weather never gets very cold while you there, in which case you don't need to buy it all.
As for brands, I'm not which will provide the best value where you live. Fjällraven is Swedish and is incredibly popular here in Finland, so I suspect that it will be even more so in Sweden. Their clothes are quite expensive. Helly Hansen is also quite popular. I personally have a lot of Halti gear: it is quite a bit cheaper than Fjällraven, but they are Finnish and so may be less available and more expensive in Sweden.