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Barbour men’s Explorer Chop Wax jacket review

If you'd like a tough, no-nonsense, smart-but-practical weather-proof jacket, Barbour's Chop Jacket could suit you

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
Barbour Chop Wax RRP £239 available at Barbour.com

Our review

Appealing rugged retro-styled, robustly made, warm and water-resistant jacket for slow-paced country pleasures
Pros: Stylish
Weatherproof
Warm
Cons: Needs reproofing

Barbour’s canny designers often succeed in striking a shrewd balance – creating garments that look both smart and rugged; traditional yet (in many cases) right on trend.

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The Chop jacket is a great example. The hem is quite short, roughly to the hip, perhaps a hint at Barbour’s heritage as a clothing maker for riders – whether cantering on chestnut cobs or chugging round on four-stroke Nortons. The overall effect is part Canadian rancher and part vintage military motorbike messenger – in a good way.  This is a really stylish piece.

You might think cosily quilt-lined jacket incongruous in a product Barbour have been promoting for spring and summer 2022, but a moment’s consideration of real-world weather in the UK should change your mind.

That warm lining is actually well suited to those cool and blustery days we so often experience on Britain’s coast, mountains and moors, even in the milder months. Just the kind of thing to pull on for instant protection from the elements.

The waxed cotton outer fabric is tough, wind-proof and water-resistant, so you feel dry and draught-free. It’s all beautifully made and feels fairly bomb-proof. There’s a bit of maintenance involved – annual reproofing with soft wax will keep the jacket looking smart and prolong its life. (I rather enjoy this job but if it sounds a faff to you, note that you can send it back to Barbour for reproofing at a fairly modest price.) A substantial zip metal and a storm flap secured with chunky studs seal out the weather.

All this rather beefy protection is not ideal for any activity that requires a raised heartbeat for more than a few minutes: the obvious example being strenuous hiking. Like all wax jackets, the Chop is fairly bulky – you wouldn’t really want to take it off when you overheat, not least because you’d have to bring a capacious pack to stuff it into.

But it’s great for the slower kinds of rural activity: ambling on windswept beaches, dog-walking, strolling down to the river on a cool evening. And ideal for those pulse-slowing, sedentary immersions in nature: birding, sunset-watching, mushroom-picking – that kind of thing.

On the practical side, you can stow your wallet and phone in an inner breast pocket, and two outer bellows pockets provide space for dog leads, compact binoculars, a field guide or a novel or a notebook, whatever your penchant. Each conceals a discreet hip pocket in which to slip a cold hand.

Speaking of cold, when summer drifts into autumn and winter, you can button the collar up around your neck, and the cut is roomy at the waist, allowing plenty of room for a chunky jumper. A suitably retro drawstring cinch allows you to tighten the waist, excluding cold air; though the simple leather tab tends to slip with use, so you may find yourself repeatedly tightening it on really cold days. JP

Read our guide to the Best waxed jackets for men and women


Now pair your jacket with… 

Muck Boots Men’s Outscape Short Boots

The Outscape’s Chelsea-boot style design is a smart blend of wellie boot and trainer –  practical for the garden or short walks on the beach or in the woods, but with a sleek style that looks good in the pub, too. The uppers are more like a wetsuit than a shoe. Fully lined with neoprene, they feel super-comfortable, and while extremely light, they  offer good protection at heel and toe. Perfect if you don’t like big, heavy wellies – but want practical lightweight footwear in wet, muddy conditions. TB

Tilley LTM6 Airflo hat

Classic styling combines with smart design in this excellent hat by Canadian firm Tilley Endurables. The broad brim protects you from sun and rain, and on warmer days cool air can pass through the mesh fabric around the top to keep your head cool. When the wind picks up, a discreet cord can be tightened to keep you hat securely on your head. JP

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Reviews by Tim Bates (TB), Joe Pontin (JP)