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Best waxed jackets for men and women

Breathable and water resistant, waxed fabric jackets are a traditional and stylish way to keep warm and dry on winter days outdoors. Mary Comber seeks the best

Waxed jackets are hard-wearing and weather-resistant
Published: September 7th, 2022 at 10:00 am
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Quintessentially British, the waxed jacket has long been synonymous with country life – and for good reason. Hardwearing, weatherproof and versatile, this iconic garment is a practical and sustainable choice when you’re spending time in the great outdoors.

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While the latest, high-tech outdoor jackets might be lighter, more insulating or waterproof, it’s hard to beat the all-round capabilities of densely woven, waxed cotton to keep you warm and protected while also being breathable. And, with a little TLC, a good-quality waxed jacket can last decades – saving your budget and the environment.

From slim-fitting styles for everyday wear to pocket-laden designs, ideal for birding or foraging, and quilted coats for wintery walks, there’s a waxed jacket for every outdoor occasion.

Like a classic car or vintage watch, a wax jacket does needs maintenance. Re-waxing your jacket annually will keep it supple, weatherproof and increase its lifespan. Here’s how to find the right wax jacket for you, plus some of the best buys around.


Best Men’s waxed jackets

Barbour men’s Explorer Chop Wax jacket

A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.

Our verdict: Appealing rugged retro style, robustly made, warm and water-resistant jacket for slow paced country pleasures

RRP £239
• Buy now from barbour.com

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.

The Chop jacket is a great example. The hem is quite short, roughly to the hip. The overall effect is part Canadian rancher and part vintage military motorbike messenger – in a good way. This is a really stylish piece.

The cosy quilt-lining is perhaps surprising in a product Barbour have been promoting for summer 2022 – but 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.

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The waxed cotton outer fabric is tough, wind-proof and water-resistant. There’s a bit of maintenance involved – annual reproofing with soft wax will keep the jacket looking smart and prolong its life. 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 active pursuits: hiking, for example. But it’s great for the slower kinds of rural activity: ambling on windswept beaches, birding – that kind of thing.

On the practical side, there's an inner breast pocket, and two spacious outer bellows pockets. Each conceals a discreet hip pocket in which to slip a cold hand. JP

Read about the Barbour Chop jacket in more detail

Facts at a glance...

  • Fabric: Cotton
  • Lining: Polyamide
  • Insulation: Polyester
  • Weatherproofing: Water repellent wax; wind-resistant
  • Pockets: Two bellows pockets, two hip pockets, one inner breast pocket.
  • Washable? Sponge only

Dubarry of Ireland men's Broadford Wax Jacket

A star rating of 3.5 out of 5.

Our verdict: A comfortable, hardwearing jacket for town or country.

Dubarry Broadford jacket

RRP: £349

Buy now from dubarry.com

Traditional and modern fabric technologies combine in this smart, leather-trimmed jacket. Made from sustainably sourced, dry-wax cotton stuffed with cosy, synthetic PrimaLoft, it’s rugged enough for chilly days in the countryside while sufficiently stylish to wear around town.

The leather-reinforced shoulders, elbows and pocket flaps (all water repellent) make the jacket extra hardwearing while giving a vintage look. Once on, it feels warm and comfortable without being heavy, thanks to the lightweight, quilted lining. Underarm ventilation grommets ensure you don’t get sweaty during brisker walks.

One drawback for me was the low neckline. You can tuck up the leather-trimmed collar but it didn’t completely block draughts. The boxy cut allows room for a jumper but you may want to add a scarf on chillier days.

The lower pockets with sturdy buttons offered plenty of room for dog leads and essentials. The deep, side-entry handwarmer pockets are lined with soft microfleece. Don’t worry if the fabric marks easily, it’s designed to improve with age, picking up creases with wear. The jacket is at the pricier end of the range but should last well. MC

Facts at a glance...

  • Fabric: Scottish mill-washed dry wax cotton
  • Lining: Water-resistant nylon and polyester
  • Insulation: PrimaLoft (70% recycled content)
  • Weatherproofing: Water repellent
  • Pockets: Two buttoned chest pockets, hand pockets with side entry, zipped interior pocket.
  • Washable? Sponge-clean only

Orvis men's Heritage Field Coat

A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.

Our verdict: A an easy-to-wear, protective jacket, ideal for outdoor work.

Orvis Heritage waxed jacket

RRP £279

Buy now from orvis.co.uk

Working outdoors? This hardwearing jacket makes a trusty companion. Orvis is famous for its field wear and the Heritage Field Coat’s dry-wax cotton shell has been an enduring design. This latest incarnation is laden with functional features that come in handy whether you’re gardening, birding or foraging.

Designed to be worn in the field, the roomy fit and bellowed, bi-swing back allow you to move unencumbered. It’s not the lightest jacket of those tested but I barely noticed I was wearing it when outside clearing scrub and the fabric stood up well to thorns. The dry-wax coating effectively repelled rain and, given its simple cotton lining, I found the coat surprisingly warm yet breathable. The collar, adjustable cuffs and button-closure storm flap are all lined with hardy corduroy which adds warmth while the gusseted underarms provide ventilation.

There are roomy, snap-close bellows pockets, cosy hand warmers at chest level and two internal, zipped pockets. A zipped, waterproof game bag in the back of the jacket is handy for stashing supplies or an extra layer. Orvis strives to use cotton responsibly sourced through Better Cotton and responsibly sourced or organic waxed finishes. MC

Facts at a glance...

  • Fabric: Dry-waxed 100% cotton canvas
  • Lining: Brushed cotton twill
  • Insulation: No
  • Weatherproofing: Water and wind resistant
  • Pockets: Bellows pockets, hand warmer pockets, two zipped interior pockets, zipped anterior game bag
  • Washable? Sponge-clean only

Fjållraven men's Øvik Wool Padded Jacket

A star rating of 5 out of 5.

Our verdict: An eco-friendly, practical investment for all seasons.

Ovik padded wool jacket

RRP £370

Buy now from fjallraven.com

Organic, recycled, fluorocarbon-free…this Swedish jacket’s eco credentials are as impressive as its technical features. The quilted, dry-wax coat is made from Fjällräven’s G-1000 Silent fabric, a hardwearing blend of organic cotton and recycled polyester with a soft, brushed feel. It’s padded with Swedish wool saved from landfill and impregnated with Greenland wax (an eco-friendly beeswax and paraffin blend).

Designed to be more breathable than traditional wax jackets, you can apply extra wax (£9 for a 90g bar) for increased weatherproofing or wash the jacket to make it more breathable for warmer weather. It feels light but kept me warm and dry during rain showers. The adjustable cuffs, two-way zip with snap-button storm flap and tuck-up collar with buttoned tab help block out draughts.

Ostensibly made for forest lifestyles, I found this jacket ideal for everyday use, walks and light outdoor work. The boxy fit allowed ample movement and the padded yoke and elbows add durability. The large bellows pockets open two ways – top for roomy storage and side for hands.

The G-1000 fabric is designed to age and re-applying Greenland wax helps increase its longevity. The jacket has a high price tag but this is a sustainable, versatile coat for life. MC

Facts at a glance...

  • Fabric: G-1000 Silent fabric with Greenland Wax
  • Lining: 100% polyamide
  • Insulation: 82% wool and 18% polylactide
  • Weatherproofing: Wind and water resistant (adjustable)
  • Pockets: Buttoned chest pocket, hand pockets with side pockets, interior zipped pocket.
  • Washable? Wool-programme machine wash

What to look for in a waxed jacket: part 1

 • Wax finish: Traditional wax jackets are treated with paraffin wax, giving a heavier, shinier finish. Dry-wax jackets, treated with a wax blend such as beeswax and paraffin, have a lighter, dry-looking finish.

Lining: A good-quality waxed jacket will have a lining made from 100% cotton (or a sustainable alternative) for insulation and comfort.

Filling: Need extra warmth? Look for quilting or a lining stuffed with a sustainable material such as wool or PrimaLoft.

Pockets: Most waxed jackets come with useful pockets. Look for roomy bellows pockets for carrying essentials, side-entry hand warmers and zipped, interior pockets for valuables.

Breathability: Planning on brisk walks or outdoor work? Ensure your jacket has under-arm ventilation.

Peregrine men's Bexley Jacket

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Our verdict: A classic-looking outer layer for casual days out in the countryside.

RRP: £220

Perfect layered over knitwear for a country weekend, this stylish jacket is effortlessly cool yet functional. Peregrine has been making 100% British clothing using sustainably sourced materials for over 220 years and the Bexley is one of its classic jackets. Made in England from antique British Millerain waxed cotton, it has a ‘lived-in’ vintage look and feels comfortable right from first wear.

The waxed cotton is pleasingly soft and supple but also durable, showerproof and windproof. It kept me warm while walking the dog, thanks to its snug, stand-up collar lined with soft brushed cotton, the sturdy, two-way zip with press-stud storm flap and the adjustable cuffs. You can warm your hands in the deep, fleecy lower pockets – roomy enough for stashing supplies or dog leads. In the lining are three more, spacious pockets.

The jacket has a fairly slim fit but there’s still room for a jumper. Adjust the waist tabs for a tailored look. The fabric is designed to distress with age so it’s a handy jacket to throw in the car when travelling. It’s good value for money too. MC

Facts at a glance...

  • Fabric: British Millerain waxed cotton
  • Lining: 100% cotton
  • Insulation: No
  • Weatherproofing: Shower and wind resistant
  • Pockets: Two handwarmer pockets, one chest pocket and three interior pockets (one zipped)
  • Washable: Sponge-clean only

Barbour Watson Wax Jacket

A star rating of 4.5 out of 5.

Our verdict: A rugged jacket that will keep you warm and dry on cold days in the field.

RRP: £249

Buy now from CountryAttire.com

Barbour is synonymous with quality and the Watson is no exception. This rugged, good-looking jacket is designed to keep you warm and dry when the temperature drops and it performed its job well.

With its tough shell, warm quilted lining and corduroy-lined collar, the jacket felt snug during chilly, winter days and rain bounced off its wax coating when I was out in a downpour. Barbour’s trademark double-rolled seams add to the jacket’s waterproof qualities. You can block out draughts with the two-way brass zip, snap storm flap and adjustable cuffs. Warm your hands in the spacious side-entry patch pockets. The fit is roomy enough for a jumper layer and you can adjust the interior drawcord waist for a more fitted look.

Inspired by workwear, the jacket has bi-swing shoulders which allowed me good range of movement. It would be a suitable option for pursuits such as birding or foraging. This is a relatively sustainable choice, too – Barbour sources its cotton through the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), and says much of its fabric comes from environmentally friendly fabric mills; it uses recycled materials for quilting. Another great-value jacket. MC

Facts at a glance...

  • Fabric: 100% waxed cotton
  • Lining: 100% polyamide
  • Insulation: 100% polyester
  • Weatherproofing: Waterproof and wind resistant
  • Pockets: Two chest pockets, two lower pockets with side entry, one interior zipped pocket
  • Washable: Sponge-clean only

What to look for in a waxed jacket: part 2

• Windproofing: To block the elements, look for a sturdy zip with storm-flap, an adjustable collar and cuffs, a detachable hood.

• Cut: The classic waxed jacket is hip length. For extra protection, opt for a longer style. A boxier fit or pleated back allows under layering and movement.

• Washing: Traditional wax jackets are sponge-clean only, to preserve the wax coating. Clean with a dry brush then sponge with cold water and leave to air dry.

• Sustainability. Increasingly, brands are using organic or sustainably sourced cotton (look for the Better Cotton Initiative logo), recycled materials (such as PrimaLoft) for linings and fillings, and natural waxes such as beeswax and olive oil.

Best women's waxed jackets

Barbour International women's Charade Wax Jacket

A star rating of 5 out of 5.

Our verdict: A luxuriously warm and stylish jacket for cold weather.

Barbour Charade waxed jacket

RRP: £299

Buy now from barbour.com

Proving that you can stay warm and look stylish, this sleek, belted Barbour will keep you insulated on the chilliest days. With a quilted lining, quilted side panels and luxurious fake-fur collar that hugs your neck snugly, the jacket effectively keeps the weather out. I felt cosy and protected during wintery walks and days out in the country. It’s a slim-fitting jacket but there’s room for a jumper layer if needed.

The waxed cotton outer is supple yet hardwearing and fends off rain well. The detachable, adjustable hood provides decent shelter and, combined with the snap-fasten funnel neck and fur collar, blocks draughts well. The cuffs aren’t adjustable but offer decent coverage.

There are two generous lower pockets with stud closure and side entry for your hands, plus an angled chest pocket and zipped pocket in the lining, big enough for a mobile phone. The high-quality touches you expect from Barbour are all here too: corduroy-lined collar, sturdy stud fasteners, two-way zip with storm flap, adjustable side fastening. Overall, it’s an impressively comfortable coat, well worth the price tag. MC

Facts at a glance...

  • Fabric: 100% cotton
  • Lining: 55% polyester, 45% viscose
  • Padding: 100% polyester
  • Weatherproofing: Waterproof and windproof
  • Pockets: Two bellows pockets with side openings, one chest pocket, one zipped interior pocket
  • Washable? Sponge-clean only

A long tradition  

The origins of the waxed jacket stretch back to the 15th century when Scottish fishermen waterproofed their linen sails with fish oils and made protective capes from leftover fabric. Eventually, lighter cotton sails waxed with linseed oil evolved (leading to the classic oilskins). Then, in the 1930s, came a more breathable paraffin-wax fabric which grew popular for military, country sports and motorcycling clothing.

The beauty of traditional, waxed cotton is it adjusts to the ambient temperature, becoming stiffer and more windproof in winter, softer and more breathable in summer. The waxed fabric creases with use and moulds to your shape, developing the character that wax-jacket owners love. These days, waxes come in a variety of blends, all with different qualities.

Celtic & Co women's Easy Care Waxed Cotton Parka

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Our verdict: Effectively blocks the elements, great value for money.

Celtic and Co waxed Cotton Parka

RRP: £225

Simple but beautifully crafted, this parka is designed to block out squally showers and windy days.

It’s perfect for blustery, coastal walks but is so easy to wear, it’s likely to become your go-to coat for everything from walking the dog to the school run.

The easy-care waxed cotton is supple, water-repellent and washable – you can pop the coat in a 30-degree machine wash and don’t need to rewax it. The mid-thigh length is a bonus on cold, rainy days and it’s easy to seal out the wind, thanks to the heavy-duty zip with press-stud storm flap and the adjustable cuffs. Rain didn’t bother me either in this coat; once I’d fastened the moleskine-lined, funnel collar and pulled up the deep, drawstring hood, I felt completely protected from the elements.

I liked the roomy design with pleated back – there’s plenty of room for layers and you can move freely. The fleecy hand pockets are useful when you’re standing around in the cold. The zipped, interior pocket is big enough to store valuables. MC

Facts at a glance...

  • Fabric: 100% cotton with stay wax finish
  • Lining: 100% cotton
  • Padding: No
  • Weatherproofing: Waterproof and windproof
  • Pockets: Two zipped handwarmer pockets, two interior pockets (one zipped)
  • Washable? Machine washable

Troy London women's Wax Parka

A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Our verdict: A fashionable yet practical, protective waterproof.

RRP: £350

Buy now from Wolf and Badger

As worn by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, this smart, tailored parka will take you from country stroll to lunch in town on milder winter days. Troy London garments are handmade in Britain and this jacket is created from 100% milled-in-England cotton with a dry-wax finish. It’s beautifully tailored with a cinched waist and gold touches that give it a cool, on-trend look. The high price tag reflects the jacket’s designer looks and the brand’s relatively sustainable manufacturing practices.

Once on, the parka feels as good as it looks. It’s a lightweight jacket but has all the features needed to shut out the elements – a deep, three-panel drawstring hood, decent zip with wide storm flap and a dropped back hem for extra coverage. It also boasts a waterproof lining with laminated breathable membrane which kept me dry and warm during rain showers. There are just two pockets but they are roomy with sturdy, button fasteners and side entry for hands.

If you’re in between sizes, opt for a size up to allow room for layers. The jacket is also available in a cool camouflage print or with a fluoro orange zip for a sports-luxe look. MC

Facts at a glance...

  • Fabric: 100% cotton with dry wax finish
  • Lining: 100% nylon
  • Padding: No
  • Weatherproofing: Waterproof
  • Pockets: Two hand pockets with side openings
  • Washable? Sponge-clean only

Dubarry of Ireland women's Mountrath Jacket

A star rating of 3.5 out of 5.

Our verdict: A sturdy, versatile jacket that’s ideal for everyday life in town or countryside.

RRP: £299

Buy now from dubarry.com

Looking for a practical jacket for everyday wear? The Mountrath could prove handy. Neat and slim fitting, it’s also hardwearing and warm – ideal for slipping on to walk the dog, run errands or pop into town. The leather trim on pockets, sleeves and collar gives the jacket a smart but hardy feel. The quilted lining is stuffed with PrimaLoft, providing decent insulation without adding weight. The quilting extends down the jacket’s arms, which is cosy but did slightly restrict my range of movement, so it’s worth experimenting with sizes.

For extra warmth, the cuffs and collar are lined with faux suede. The stand-up collar with stud fasteners offers decent protection from the wind, if not as much coverage as some of the other jackets tested. I found the metal hanger loop inside the collar a bit chilly on the skin.

There are two hip pockets, lined with microfleece, that make perfectly placed handwarmers. The interior, zipped pocket is big enough for a mobile phone and keys. MC

Facts at a glance...

  • Fabric: Scottish mill-washed dry wax cotton
  • Lining: Water-resistant nylon and polyester
  • Padding: PrimaLoft (70% recycled content)
  • Weatherproofing: Water repellent and windproof
  • Pockets: Two hip pockets and one zipped, interior pocket
  • Washable? Sponge-clean only

Welligogs women's Harley Wax Jacket

A star rating of 3.5 out of 5.

Our verdict: A classic waxed jacket with a stylish twist, for relaxed wear.

RRP: £315

Buy now from Atterley

With its buckled collar, zipped cuffs and contrasting moleskine panels, the Harley is a jaunty, modern take on the classic quilted jacket. Made in England from British quilted wax, it’s a stylish choice for country days out.

Quilted jackets are a good choice for winter and with its insulated tartan lining, the Harley feels warm yet light and breathable. The funnel collar, two-way zip, stud fasteners and adjustable cuffs all ensure warmth. The jacket is water-resistant and windproof and handled light showers well.

With lower pockets just big enough for your hands or a purse and phone, this is a jacket for shorter strolls or outings when you’re taking a bag with you. The zipped cuffs and side fasteners allow good range of movement. For smarter occasions, you can tighten the waist fasteners for a tailored look and turn back the cuffs to reveal a moleskin contrast.

The jacket is at the pricier end of those tested but is made by a small family business with sustainable working practices. MC

Facts at a glance...

  • Fabric: 100% British quilted waxed cotton and cotton moleskine
  • Lining: Cotton tartan
  • Padding: 100% polyester
  • Weatherproofing: Water-resistant and windproof
  • Pockets: Two front pockets, two zipped chest pockets, interior pocket.
  • Washable? Sponge-clean only

Main picture credit: Getty Images

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Reviews: Mary Comber (MC), Joe Pontin (JP)

Authors

Mary is an editor and writer specialising in health, fitness and wellbeing.

Joe PontinFeatures Editor
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