J. Barbour & Sons was founded in 1894 by John Barbour, a Scottish native who wanted a hard-wearing weatherproof jacket for motorcycling. Barbour has a strong heritage of equipping men for adventure and exploration, the jacket’s durability and weather resistant nature ensured that even the harshest weather could be repelled.
The waxed cotton design of a Barbour jacket provides excellent water and wind proofing whilst allowing the jacket to be breathable and malleable. The freedom of movement combined with its resilience makes the jacket ideal for anyone leading an outdoor lifestyle. In all, the Barbour is the classic weekend overcoat; relaxed, comfortable and always willing to defend you against nature’s worst.
Three styles you need to know
Barbour sells a large range of waxed jackets, leather and moleskin items, but there are three waxed jacket styles that stand out as the most popular.
Intended as an equestrian jacket, it is short in length, with the bottom of the jacket hanging to the hip. This prevents the user from sitting on the jacket while involved in outdoor pursuits that require a sitting position such as horse-riding, cycling or motorbike riding.
The Bedale is a medium weight jacket that is designed around functionality. It has studs around the collar to allow for a waterproof hood to be attached, plus it has large pockets for storing items as well as hand warmer pockets for those cold mornings.
A mid-length jacket, the Beaufort is a longer style designed for standing pursuits rather than sitting. It falls to just below the crotch, and its added length means that the tails of a jacket or suit will not be exposed to the elements.
An ideal jacket for hunting in that it gives the user room to move unimpeded and has the length to keep the wearer warm if they have to remain still for periods of time. The design has a game pocket at the rear with side zips allowing you to quickly and easily store and transport your kill.
A popular jacket with many country gentlemen, it is perfect for autumn walks, country fairs and any mild outdoor pursuits.
The longest style of the three is the Border, which comes as low as mid-thigh height, protecting you from the worst of weather conditions. A less than ideal jacket for town, it should be reserved for the countryside as the added length is designed to keep the user dry and warm while walking through long grass or horizontal rain.
The Border, like most Barbours, features interior zips which can be used to add in extra liners depending on the severity of the weather. These extra liners give the jackets flexibility that is rarely found in other overcoats.
Waxed Cotton or Sykoil?
What most people don’t realise is that Barbour Jackets come in two distinct types of fabric. Waxed cotton gives a shiny finish as the wax reflects light giving a unique sheen that can only be seen on traditional waxed cotton jackets. Waxed cotton jackets tend to be stiffer than the equivalent Sykoil styles, yet just as durable and waterproof.
Sykoil on the other hand is unshone woven cotton which is dyed and waxed, it is the oldest wax cotton method used today. It has a matt appearance that allows the rich coloured cotton to appear in the finish. The manufacturing processes Sykoil waxed cotton goes through allows the jackets to be made in different weights giving the iconic Sykoil look in a jacket suitable for all weather conditions.
Either way, both fabrics have equally impressive durability, weatherproofing and practicality, it simply comes down to a personal choice in the fabrics finish, either a reflective or matt finish.
Caring for your waxed jacket
While a Barbour jacket is a premium product it only comes with a 1 year guarantee, while this is rarely needed due to the high quality process and materials used, all waxed jackets need to be maintained to ensure their water resilience.
The waxed cotton will periodically need to have a top coat of wax applied, similar to re-waxing your leather shoes. The jacket loses its waterproofness overtime due to the wax being washed out or worn out of the jacket through movement. Pay particular attention to any areas that receive frequent movement or rub such as under the arms, these areas can get hot causing the jacket to dry out and crack. If you see dry patches appearing, you can either take the jacket to a store and have it re-waxed or do it yourself by touching up the damaged areas and having a full re-wax periodically.
Sometimes human error can cause the jacket to lose its characteristics, as hot water or detergents can flush the wax from the cotton ruining your jacket. Thus, if you do need to clean your jacket its best to use only a sponge and some cold water to remove grit or filth.
By Sam Adam Smith – A countryside #3PG