View Full Version : Warm + Tough + Waterproof = Impossible to find in a winter jacket?

Nov. 12, 2009, 09:25 PM
My SO is a cowboy who, until we met, spent snowy winters freezing his butt off working outside in a denim jacket(!) Crazy IMO, but now I am beginning to understand why...he works on a ranch, and is always fixing barb wire, carrying hay bales, etc., and the down jackets I've bought him just don't seem to hold up to that type of work. I know canvas is a lot tougher, but IME not great for very wet weather.

So, any recommendations on a TOUGH jacket that is warm (pref. down filled) and waterproof? There MUST be something out there...

Nov. 12, 2009, 10:17 PM
Go with layers. Not sure how cold it gets where you are, but starting with him in a T-shirt, then a flannel type shirt over for moderate temps, up to about 45F. Maybe a denium vest over that. Most guys who work outside have a higher body temp, so they don't really get cold until they stand still.

Do know that flannel comes in a light, soft fuzzy material. Like the kids wear for PJ pants. Heavier winter shirts, often also called flannel, are MUCH warmer, only one layer. Available here from places like TSC, under various brands like Five Brothers. My husband does not like the lined flannel shirts, gets too hot in them. Heavier shirts are OK for cooler temps, with layers.

My husband puts on a single layer sweatshirt over his flannel shirts. As the temps continue down, he changes to the long-sleeve thermal type undershirts, along with a two-layer sweatshirt. Even colder, he will add long underwear and heavier socks, maybe a canvas jacket to break the wind.

He has to be careful, so easy to over-dress for working times, then he gets sweaty and cold. With the layers, he can take off the sweatshirt and canvas jacket, then put it back on when he slows down to drive elsewhere. A warm stocking cap to pull down, roll up, can be a huge help in body warmth. You can lose up to 90% of your body heat to an uncovered head.

Also at the TSC, Farm type stores, are the light and heavy weight canvas type jackets with hoods. They are real nice for stopping the wind, allow layers like a cloth or down vest underneath. They take more abrasion like hay gives, than a plain sweatshirt will. I have had good luck with Berndt, Schmitt, and of course wonderful Carharts. They do take a beating, hold up pretty well.

Not sure if your husband would need the canvas overalls for your area. They are protective, warm, come in both lined and unlined. Some guys pull them on over their jeans, while others wear the overalls over their long underwear only. A lot of those guys just wear the overalls with a heavy shirt, jackets are on and off as they work and get warm or cold.

Our Michigan winters are quite wet feeling, makes for a piercing cold with wind. Out west the cold is often much dryer, so clothing is different, but still layered. Snow may stick or not, getting your clothing wetted outside. Sometimes you just need to have a second coat behind the seat!

My husband had a hard time dressing correctly until we went to the layering method. Snowmobile suits, down coats, heavy coverings alone, just didn't work for his job. Clothing like the Utility workers wore worked best, they are outside in all conditions and have to function well to get the jobs done. Easy on or off with the outer layers, keeps the body temps from overheating and sweating to chill you.

I hang the canvas stuff to dry, prevents shrinking so clothes last better.

Nov. 12, 2009, 10:38 PM
Filson makes a line of jackets made of "tin cloth." It's a very tighly woven, very durable material.

The Filson website is http://www.filson.com/home/index.jsp?clickid=crumbs_home_txt

They've got a Lined Ranch Jacket on the front page.

I've got an unlined Timberline Jacket that's quite nice for the TN climate. The lined one is http://www.filson.com/home/index.jsp?clickid=crumbs_home_txt

These things are NOT cheap, but I've had mine for more than six years and it is still very serviceable.

Or, put another way, quality doesn't cost, it pays. :)


Nov. 12, 2009, 11:35 PM
Thanks for some great info goodhors & Guilherme!

Thanks for turning me on to Filson - I am hoping he approves of this http://www.filson.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2092279&cp=&sGroup=Outerwear&keywords=tin+cloth+coat&searchId=42616527123&parentPage=search as it looks like the tin cloth may just be the ticket! Some days he is out in the snow at 9,000 feet from before sunrise to after sunset, and the thought of doing that in a denim jacket, regarless of layers, makes me shiver. And of course, Guilherme, that quote will always remind me of County...

ETA: That quote certainly rings true in this case, as I've certainly spent way more than that coat costs replacing cheaper ones he's destroyed! :D and pssst - there are a LOT of them on ebay...

Go Fish
Nov. 12, 2009, 11:44 PM

Fairview Horse Center
Nov. 13, 2009, 12:54 AM
M-65 Field Jacket with a liner http://www.uswings.com/m-65.asp

Nov. 13, 2009, 01:53 AM
I'm not working as tough as him, but I do handle a lot of hay and farmwork, and I have a parka-length gore-tex shell from Land's End that is still very serviceable after many years. The jacket itself is 15 years old and it's been doing hard barn work for 5. There's some wear on the sleeves and snags here and there where some wire fence tried to eat it, but it still keeps me dry inside.

Inside I wear whatever layers are appropriate, generally nothing or polarfleece. The shell gets dirty and disgusting but the inner layers stay clean and dry. The shell is large for me, so it can accommodate plenty of layers, plus it traps warm air nicely. Because it breathes, and because it traps the air, a layer system like this is a very good solution for working hard in the cold.

Nov. 13, 2009, 02:15 AM
Carhart--enough said!

Nov. 13, 2009, 04:55 AM
Put a down VEST under his favorite jacket. And be SURE to waterproof it -- LOTS of sprays on the market.

Nov. 13, 2009, 08:02 AM
I have a down and a fleece vest. I LOVE my fleece vest, especially, and wear it pretty close to my skin.... only one or two layers out. I imagine the down vest wouldn't hold up to barbed wire... although its outer layer is a thick, tightly woven fabric that has held up to three years of hard wear. Not sure of the brand.

Check out carhartt. Just don't buy him anything too thick- he'll be too warm while working and not wear it anyways! I love thin, warm layers. Silk shirts and pants are very thin and help trap warmth.

I always like my outer layer to be mostly wind and water-proofing- not much warmth. That way if I'm working hard in the rain/wind on a not-so-cold day... I can still wear it.

Nov. 13, 2009, 09:54 AM
Altho not a coat, just a layer, my upstate NY farmer father loves the "river driver" shirts from ll bean. I also got some and find that they work best right next to you and then layer on! They are long too, so don't untuck very easily and leave you with a draft.

Nov. 13, 2009, 10:05 AM
Coveralls - you can layer as much or as little as you want under them, but trap the air close to your body and keep you super warm.

Learned about them when I was working the January sales in KY - we started at 4 am when the temps were single digits and I was always snug - will never be without them again!

Nov. 13, 2009, 10:17 AM
Carhart--enough said!

This. My dad sent me one after I complained about how cold it got in the barn. :)

Nov. 13, 2009, 11:58 AM
I'd stay away from down, it's bulky and comes out if you snag your working clothes. Go to a hunting supply store or similar and buy some good, solid stuff made from light-weight modern materials (insulate, polarfleece, gore-tex, etc.).

Nov. 13, 2009, 02:24 PM
Carharts by themselves are not waterproof, though. I love mine, they do keep me warm, but they also can get soaked through.

Nov. 13, 2009, 02:40 PM
One of the advantages of the "tin cloth" (and, indeed, of some of the Carhartt products) is that its very tight weave makes it very resistant to snags (barbed wire, thorns, nails, etc.). It also can be waterproofed with a number products (beginning with ScotchGuard).

The nylon products out there are, sadly, very suceptable to snag-type damage from the sorts of things routinely found in livestock based work.

Layering is a good idea as are vests. So is a good set of "long handles." And waterproof socks (few things are as sapping of body heat as cold, wet feet).

The outer layer is very important, but it covers other layers that have their own importance.


Nov. 13, 2009, 04:17 PM
The best first layer is a technical shirt that wicks away the sweat, not cotton.
Wash daily, heh, heh, heh.

Nov. 13, 2009, 05:02 PM
I also would point out the advantage of a separate warm and waterproof hat. Hoods obscure your vision too much to be safe around livestock.

Lucky Duck
Nov. 13, 2009, 05:56 PM
My Mountain Hardware jacket (one of their 3-ply Gortex ones) is on year 13. Yes, THIRTEEN. My family has 2 others that are also 13 yrs old. It was originally my snowboard jacket (it's survived trees) and is my current barn jacket (8 yrs). It has a huge hood, huge pockets, powder skirt (no drafts), pit zips, and WARM. The jacket is in absolutely fantastic shape, especially considering how often it requires washing. Though I'm not sure how it would against barbed wire...

Nov. 14, 2009, 01:09 AM
I have a parka-length gore-tex shell from Land's End that is still very serviceable after many years. The jacket itself is 15 years old and it's been doing hard barn work for 5.

Lands' End has Squall jackets (sailing jackets) that are made of a thick, tough nylon with fleece lining. The jacket is easy to move around in, has knit sleeve cuffs and waist to keep the drafts out, and goes for 59.95 without sales (which happen regularly). They have models with more features, too. I got mine apparently almost-new at a thrift shop for 2.00 LOOOOOOVE my purple jacket!!!

Nov. 14, 2009, 12:09 PM
Carhartt makes a great waterproof jacket- I live in the Pacific Northwest, so I have had plenty of opportunity to test it. I ride in it, and it's great, because it's designed for people who move, and has plenty of logically placed pockets. It's also super durable, and the weave of the fabric makes it resistant to damage.

When it gets cold, I layer underneath it (UnderArmour, polar fleece- stay away from cotton), and have stayed warm on my visits to MT when the temp. hit -30F with a -65F wind chill.

I have two very expensive GoreTex jackets from North Face and Arcteryx, and even though I've followed the care instructions diligently, neither of them is as waterproof or as comfortable as the Carhartt jacket that I bought at the co-op for $125.00

Nov. 14, 2009, 02:49 PM
Carhart! Can't kill 'em!! I scotchgard mine every 3 years when I break down and wash it!! ;)

Nov. 14, 2009, 05:09 PM
Check here for Carhart and Berne brands; http://www.nationalworkwear.com/
Pretty cheap too !

Go Fish
Nov. 14, 2009, 08:53 PM
I'd stay away from down, it's bulky and comes out if you snag your working clothes. Go to a hunting supply store or similar and buy some good, solid stuff made from light-weight modern materials (insulate, polarfleece, gore-tex, etc.).

Disagree...goose down, pound for pound is the warmest and most lightweight insulator that you can find. There's a reason that people who climb Everest and other Himilayan peaks wear goose down. They can't be all that bulky or climbers would have a pretty difficult time getting to the top.

The shell that you choose for your goose down garment is important. Forget nylon. Poplin or some other close weave outerwear fabric ensures that no down escapes the "pockets." Additionally, closely examine the stitching and the more "pockets" in the garment, the less feathers will escape with a tear. The garment should also have a consumer tag on it that indicates the amount of feathers used in its manufacture. The higher the number, the greater the insulating properties of the garment.

Goose down insulates more effectively than duck down, but is more expensive. Goose down garments are generally not waterproof, so I toss on a GoreTex jacket over the a goose down vest in very cold weather.

I have goose down vests and coats that are at least 20 years old. Yes, there are less feathers than when they were new, but they ae still the the warmest cold weather clothing I own.