Barbour Beaufort jacket

2016-05-07

in The outdoors

About five years ago, soon after I moved to Toronto, I bought an olive-coloured Classic Beaufort jacket, manufactured by Barbour in the U.K. I was made aware of the brand and model by Fred Burton’s book Ghost: Confessions of a Counterterrorism Agent, in which he suggests that the jacket is a favourite among professionals who have to spend large amounts of time outside.

The jacket is excellent in a number of ways. I have worn it daily for at least half the year since getting it and have found it warm enough to cope with Toronto winter night temperatures, provided you wear an insulating layer underneath, and capable of coping with moderate rainfall. The provision of pockets is superb. There are two large exterior front pockets where I always carry both fingerless wool and leather gloves. There is a secure internal breast pocket which is insulated and ideal for an iPod. There is also a hidden pocket built into the (excessively expensive, $200) zip-in lining. Finally, there is a giant “poacher’s pocket” all along the bottom of the back of the jacket, which is large enough to carry a rabbit or a pheasant and which I have used to carry scarves, maps, photographic equipment, and so on. On the sides are two very useful open lined pockets where you can keep your hands warm.

The jacket has lots of little features that set it apart as a quality item. The zippers are of very good quality, especially the large zipper down the front. The flap around the neck is made of a quality corduroy-like material and it can be buttoned in place around your neck as a fairly effective scarf alternative.

The jacket is made of waxed cotton with a tartan internal lining. As such, even if you are careful to re-wax it every year, it eventually falls apart. Mine has started splitting at the cuffs. At the same time, holes have appeared all along the bottom of the sleeves. At the back and bottom of the jacket, where I inevitably sit on it, both the external waxed cotton and the internal lining have worn through in places. Also, in the last couple of days the small zipper on the breast pocket has broken in two different ways: the zip has come off one of the two rails, and a piece of one rail has detached from the rest of the jacket.

All told, the Beaufort is the best jacket I have owned for cool to frigid conditions and for photographic work. The one I have now remains quite functional, but is reaching the level of damage where I am considering replacing it. I know Barbour offers a well-regarded repair service, but it also seems like a jacket principally made of waxed cotton will inevitably weaken over time and that the money spent on shipping and repairs may be better invested in a whole new coat.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

. May 8, 2016 at 1:32 pm

Barbour: A Jacket for Life

Filmed on location, the story about why people are so attached to their Barbour wax jackets.

The film features the small team who expertly repair, alter and reproof approximately 14,000 jackets every year at Barbour’s South Shields factory whilst also capturing stories from customers from around the UK who have owned jackets for over 30 years. – all with a story to tell.

alena May 9, 2016 at 12:42 am

Get the new jacket–you deserve it and I am prepared to help.

Milan February 6, 2019 at 12:00 am

Stollerys, the shop on Bloor St where I bought my Beaufort, was demolished in 2015.

Hardly anywhere in Toronto still carries Barbour gear, notably Sporting Life. Unfortunately, they have terrible customer service. It required several days of attempts and hours on fruitless hold before I could confirm with a staff member that they don’t carry the Beaufort.

Between that and the way the waxed cotton progressively fell apart, I decided to replace my overcoat with a more modern garment. I did a fair bit of comparison shopping, checking MEC, North Face, Arc’teryx and others, but nobody had the number and size of pockets I wanted. Eventually, I decided on the Photojournalist Jacket from Canada Goose. It’s really just a shell with no down or other insulation, but I can put insulating layers under it. Like the Beaufort it has pocket space on the back, albeit as two top-opening pockets instead of the unique large side-opening “poacher’s pocket” on the Barbour.

By itself, the new coat isn’t as warm as the Beaufort with the zip-in vest, but it’s designed to be used with layers underneath. Canada Goose makes a down Hybridge Lite insulating layer meant to go under. All told, I think it’s an advantage to have an outer garment than can be worn alone or with light clothes under in mind conditions and then supplanted with lots of down or wool when it’s really cold.

I’ll report back on how practical the pockets prove and how the coat works out overall. It’s a treat to have a coat where the cuffs and sleeves aren’t all ripped up, and where the zippers on the pockets still work. I do miss the somewhat more demure look of the olive-coloured Beaufort, which didn’t really draw any attention. The photojournalist jacket looks a lot like a uniform for a special constable checking transit fares. Still, perhaps the high visibility reflective strips will help me out one day. I certainly expect the fabric to hold up to long-term abrasion better than Barbour’s waxed cotton, even for those who reapplied it more carefully and often than I did.

Milan February 13, 2019 at 10:56 pm

Shot of the storm collar on the Barbour Beaufort: https://www.sindark.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/DSCF4999.jpg

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