We have finally gotten to the ultimate piece (and my personal favorite) item of our Winter Work Armor: Mens winter work coats. Jackets too! And vests! It’s all good.
DISCLOSURE: Links in the post below may lead to my receiving compensation. Unless noted otherwise, all opinions are my own.
Most of us have heard the expression, “Clothes make the man.” Well, in the case of outerwear, features make the product!
A lot of thought goes into the fit and function of what will be our outer shell during the long months of frigid toiling. Therefore, we as CONSUMERS must put an equal amount of thought into what we are going to buy to protect our toughened hides for all that time.
Practicality matters big time, and that is the main focus of any work wear review.
But looks matter a lot too!
Consider this: For the better part of three seasons, whatever outerwear you are seen in will become your signature look.
When coworkers or the boss go looking for you, they’re going to try to pick out YOUR COAT or hat or scarf from the rest of the crowd. These items are what identify to the world when you are seen outdoors — they have become synonymous with YOU. In fact, whenever people see similar outfits, they’re going to think of you as well.
So better pick something that looks good to you and in colors you like — something that reflects your personality. Start with that.
Then examine the clothing article for features that you not only think are useful (and cool!), but ones you can actually see yourself using!
For example: I happen to think that flapped pockets look pretty darn neat, especially if they’re fastened with big, wooden buttons. Coats that have lower bellows pockets are what I am immediately drawn to.
In reality, however, they’re kind of a pain: I always need to get those flaps open and out of the way to put things into the pockets or take them back out, and using them for hand warmers just feels awkward, not to mention slightly uncomfortable. The flaps get all bunched up and look terrible, and the corner edges always flip up. In short: I look like a shlubby slob who doesn’t know what to do with his hands.
Zipper-sealed pockets with hand warmers behind them are the ticket for me, or pockets with “tuckable” flaps.
This is how practicality and rugged fashion sense go hand-in-pocket.
Like I said, clothing manufacturers have taken a lot of this into consideration when designing their garments. Lots of trades people have volunteered comments or written in or left voice mails as to what features they would like to see on any given choice of attire, particularly in the outerwear department. And the clothing makers have listened.
Just some of the features they pay a lot of attention to (and so should you!):
- Fasteners (zippers, buttons, clips, etc)
- Cuff design
- Tails and hems
- Back, shoulder, and arm mobility (such as with bi-swing backs, raglan sleeves, and so on)
- Collar design
- Hoods (or not)
- Pockets (of course!)
Let’s now take a quick look at my top choices for three different categories of winter outwear:
The Work/Chore Coat
When you’ve got a lot to do that’s either going to get you dirty, your clothes snagged to all-heck, or both… and you still want to keep warm with lots of coverage while performing your tasks, then you better find a coat made out of durable cotton duck.
It’s hard to beat brands that have been at this for a long time, like Carhartt or Dickies, but there are plenty of other brands out there that can take the punishment just as much.
For years, I wore a coat by Dri-Duck. I found at Sportsman’s Guide. It looked almost exactly like something made by Carhartt, only a little more bulked-up with insulation. Light brown with a dark brown corduroy collar. This, in fact, led to MY signature look: Tan coats with brown collars. The Dri-Duck coat held up under a lot of stress, but I always had to take it off to fit comfortably behind the wheel of my truck — something else worth considering before purchase.
Not to be overlooked is Duluth Trading Company with its line of clothes made from Fire Hose cotton. They have a chore coat that is not heavy enough for the colder days (unless you layer up, like I showed you how in my previous posts), but it sure is pretty tough! I should know since I own one, and it’s the coat I reach for whenever I’m moving lumber or carrying firewood from the shed. Not too concerned with a light rain or snow fall, nor wind for that matter. And surprisingly light and soft. Better after each wash. And the sleeves are lined with smooth material, so it’s easy to slide on over a sweater or hoodie (yet another feature to keep in mind).
Some folks have complained about the fasteners on this coat. They’re metal shank buttons — just like on your favorite jean jacket. “They’re hard to use,” wailed one dude. As I’ve said before, if you’re going to whine about button problems, then you have no business wearing something called a “chore coat.” Just sayin’.
The Shirt Jac
Like the so-called “untucked” life? I sure do.
Used to always see my belt. Not anymore, after giving away all my suits.
Shirt jacs provide that freedom, that feeling of not being constrained by your clothing, even if you DO like to tuck in your button-downs and tees (I, too, still keep at least the under shirt tucked).
They also bring the rugged while keeping the casual.
Produced in all manners of materials, patterns, and thicknesses of insulation — also often with features galore — the shirt jac might just be the most versatile piece of outerwear on the market:
Cotton, flannel, berber-lined, hooded, with side pockets or even inner pockets, solids and plaids, camo (!), ELBOW PATCHES… You name it, a shirt jac out there has it.
The longer shirt-tail hem is also great for keeping your bum from turning into a Christmas ham by lunch break.
Pretty much any clothing company you can think of — from Territory Ahead to Carhartt to big box stores like Walmart — has a new line of these every winter. Big and Tall guys do well with the size selection almost anywhere.
But one of my favorite places to pick up a new one of these each cold season (and have it last for many more to come) is Legendary Whitetails. As the name suggests, they offer a lot of hunting apparel (particularly for bow & arrow folks like myself). That doesn’t mean they don’t have clothing that’s perfect for regular work, or just going out on the town for that Friday Night fish fry. Most of their shirt jacs have snaps.
Open one of these babies up in one motion when it comes time to take it off, and tell me that’s not he-man cool to hear all those snaps go off at once! It’s the little things in life…
The Quilted Puffer
Not gonna lie… This is NOT my first choice of vest for the winter.
I prefer the ones with thinner insulation and high zip-up tunnel necks, usually made of cotton duck with lots of pockets.
That doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the value of the puffier insulated option, which is why I have featured it here.
Why? For one thing, if you want a vest as your outermost layer, this is the perfect choice. Lots of toasty filler in these guys! Some of them have down to keep you warm. High necks and long drop-tails (on most). In a variety of colors (mine is more Western in appearance, with darker shoulder yokes — tan and brown, natch).
The quilting not only provides a sharper look, it does well in keeping the “puffiness” under control. And with today’s fabric technology, a good number of these vests are light as a feather (even the down ones, ironically) yet still provide lots of warmth. On top of that, they are excellent for shedding snow, making them awesome for days of lifting in winter’s worst (assuming you’re wearing the right layers beneath the vest), or for getting that macho swagger on when getting into the cafeteria line back at the ski lodge.
Just like with shirt jacs, everybody has at least one or two of these that are new every year. REI has made producing these a high-tech art form, for working and recreational outdoorsmen alike. Bigger dudes should look to places like Kingsize for a halfway decent selection. Mountain Khakis has a few, as does Legendary Whitetails, where I got mine along with a couple shirt jacs.
If you want a good inner layer to your outer layer to protect your chest and throat, then get one of those cotton duck work vests that I spoke of earlier, from Carhartt or even your local Tractor Supply Company, with their equally rugged C.E. Schmidt line.
Otherwise, the shopping should be fairly easy for a quilted puffer.
Every dude needs to have at least one in his closet.
Mens Winter Work Coats: Your Best Cold Weather Friend
My job was to tell you what to look for. Now it’s your job to pick one. Got a couple reviews to help you with that.
Maybe you already have a coat that you love. That’s all right. I know you then understand how this garment can come to be your “best friend” when it comes to winter clothing.
The scrapes it has seen you through. The roughest snow storms. The sledding with the kids. The bonfires in the back yard. Your coat was there for it all. It’s not “beat up.” It has character. It is trustworthy, dependable through the worst. And now it’s comfortable as heck. You don’t even think twice about what to reach for when you step outside after the mercury takes a nose dive.
But, sadly, the day will come when you must part ways and get a new coat.
If you’ve made wise choices, then that day will be way off. Or maybe it has already been a long time.
Either way, when you have to find a new best friend in winter attire, remember Tuff Duds when it comes to decision time.
An old work (and clothes) horse like me understands a man’s relationship with his coats and jackets.
That’s why I’ve made sure that you will always find a match made in clothing heaven if you look to me for help!
Got a coat with a story to tell? I want to hear about it!
Still got questions about these wearables? That’s why I’m here!
Please be sure to speak your mind in the comments section down below before leaving. I’ll be sure to respond!
In the meantime, on to the final, FINAL piece of your winter work suit of armor: THE HELMET!