Robust and weather-hardened, waxed jackets have been around since the 1500s and are a certified staple of the Great British outdoors. However, while the USP of the cotton wax jacket is its ability to withstand rain, slush and snow, over recent years, they’ve also become a fashion staple that works well with what we already have in our wardrobes.
We've put together a quick guide that walks you through the vital considerations and reviewed ten of the best traditional, motorcycle and modern wax jackets available today. Featuring quality British-made products from Barbour and Game Technical Apparel and some good value picks too, we're confident there's a new coat for your adventures on this list.
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Table of Contents
Although wax jackets are essentially a style unto themselves, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some subtle differences between the options available. In this section, we’ll be taking a closer look at these nuances to help you choose a piece you'll keep for years to come.
First, you’ll want to consider the length of the jacket. Generally, you'll have a choice of short or mid-length (there are much longer wax jackets, but these are quite specialist items), each of which have their own advantages aside from just how they look.
For example, shorter jackets tend to look more casual, which can be handy if you don’t want to adopt the countryman look all the time or you want something more adaptable between seasons. If you are outdoorsy, they're also ideal for cycling or horse riding, as you won’t sit on or get tangled up in the lower part.
On the other hand, if country gent is the aesthetic you want or you're looking for a coat to see you through winter, then it's wiser to opt for a mid-length jacket. These tend to fall around the upper thigh and will offer greater protection from the elements, as well as long grass or farmland if you find yourself walking through that often.
Whether you agree with it or not, one of the traditional uses of this style of coat is hunting – and because of this, you do get a few advantages from it. You see, back in the day, brands added numerous pockets, including cartridge pockets, poachers’ pockets and bellows pockets, to name a few.
Luckily, these are still a key feature, and one that will be invaluable for everyone, whether you want to use the jacket for traditional purposes and pursuits including fishing and dog walking or just for fashion.
While it's most often a case of the more pockets, the merrier, we would especially suggest looking for an inside one as the outer options may not fully close – usually, they have just a popper – which could leave valuable contents exposed if the weather turns.
Last but not least, you’ll want to think about the fastening situation. As they are built for inclement weather, you might expect a little more protection than you would from your average jacket. Thankfully, most wax coats are happy to comply with this request as they offer both a zip and a flap that fits over this, which is then sealed with press studs.
Of course, the more casual, fashion-focused jackets may stray away from these additional weatherproof fastenings and instead stick to the more classic buttons or zip. Whether you want or need the additional protection will depend on where you plan on wearing the coat, but for us, they’re always worth looking out for. After all, there’s nothing to lose from being dry!
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Ashby Waxed Field Jacket
The Modern Archetypal Wax Jacket
Nautic Waxed Jacket
You’ll Probably Never Need Another Coat Again
Game Technical Apparel
Barker Waxed Cotton Jacket
A Classic Take With a Detachable Hood
Royston Lightweight Jacket
Combining Classic Materials With a Harrington Style
Game Technical Apparel
Speedway Quilted Wax Jacket
Belted to Provide a Flattering Silhouette
John Lewis & Partners
Wax Cotton Cord Collar Jacket
Peak Performance for Everyday City Dwellers
Walker & Hawkes
Unpadded Wax Jacket
The Wax Jacket That Will Fit Everyone
Duke Waxed Cotton Jacket
A Favourite of Motorcyclists
Country Leisure Wear
British Quilted Wax Rain Jacket
The Country Gentleman Look On a Budget
Waxed Field Deck Jacket
Balancing Traditional and Modern Styles
It's fair to say that there was never really any doubt which brand would come out on top – it was simply a case of which version. This is Barbour's Ashby, a contemporary rework of their classic Beadle, otherwise known as the original wax jacket.
The jacket is constructed with their signature 6 oz Sylkoil waxed cotton and has a matte finish, which gives it a comfortable, lived-in feel. The overcoat is slightly more tailored than the original but still comes with a host of conventional features. To us, this is the modern, archetypal wax jacket.
This Nautic Waxed Jacket from Barbour is a little different than your average. The rugged, utility-style coat maintains the benefits of the material but has been updated to fit the demands of the modern world. It's constructed from hardy 8 oz waxed cotton with a comfortable, lightweight 2 oz quilted nylon lining.
Furthermore, it offers adjustable cuffs, a two-way zipper and a stud button and zip storm front as well as an array of pockets for storing your goods. It might be a little on the pricey side, but come rain or snow, chances are you'll never need another coat again. That doesn't mean you won't want one, though.
Here we have another option from the folks at Game Technical Apparel. The Barker is their take on the classic shape, so expect the two bellow pockets, two cartridge pockets, an inside pocket and the classic cord collar alongside inner wrist cuffs to keep the cold out.
Not only that but there's a removable hood that fits perfectly into one of the front pockets when not required. Each of the pieces has the same tartan pattern on the inside of the overcoat. This great value, British-made jacket is available in three colours of brown, navy and olive, as well as in sizes running from small to 5XL.
If you're here because you like the weatherproof qualities of waxed jackets but aren't sure about their country-esque style, then fear not. Barbour have you covered as they've expanded their range over the years, and one such answer to your quandary is the Royston Lightweight.
For all intents and purposes, this is a Harrington jacket – it has a stand-up collar and the traditional side-slit pockets. The only difference is the material, which is instead made of the classic waxed cotton. A stylish combination bringing the best of both worlds.
Here we have another take on the classic biker-style jacket. The big difference between this and our earlier option (other than the price) is that this has a belt, something that was custom in the early days. This helps provide a more flattering silhouette, which is something that benefits every bloke.
As well as being heavy-duty, this one features not just a cord collar, but the same material adorning the cuffs as well. This ensures a little more warmth as the sleeves will be protected. We've opted for the brown version here, but it's also available in black if you'd prefer something more Batman-style.
If you like the aesthetic of the wax jacket, but deep down, have no intention of walking through marshland in the soggy autumn weather, then an overcoat designed to look the part might be more sensible. Step forward this John Lewis & Partners option, which perfectly nails the time-honoured style without the cost.
It's also refreshing to see it available in a clay colour as well as navy and khaki. However, while this might look the part, it does lose out on some of the practical and protective features – the traditional buttons and lack of a zip will leave space for wind and rain to edge in. Plus, there are much fewer pockets.
While there is a lot to appreciate about this jacket from Walker & Hawkes, our favourite aspect has nothing to do with the design. What we love is that the coats are available in every size from XXS to 5XL, meaning that practically anybody will find something that fits them. Perfect.
With regards to the design, you'll see a lot of the classical features here, but there's also a removable hood and a two-way zip if more movement is required than its longer length allows. One slight issue is that the jacket is unpadded, meaning that it won't quite be as warm as others.
The Duke Waxed Jacket from Barbour International is surely one of their most divisive options. It's made from thornproof waxed cotton and continues to be a favourite of motorcyclists as it stays true to that aesthetic with the four outside bellow pockets and elbow patches.
Moreover, the fastenings supplied are classic press-stud poppers over a zip for extra protection from the elements, which will be welcome if you're wearing it while flying down the motorway. It's not going to be for everyone, but those that want something a little different are sure to appreciate this style.
This offering from Country Leisure Wear offers many of the classic wax jacket characteristics, such as bellow pockets, a cord collar and a protective length that drops to around mid-thigh. It's also available in a range of neutral colours as well as this green, including olive, brown and navy.
Reviewers are blown away by the quality-to-price ratio, costing around 80% less than your average Barbour jacket. However, many warn to make sure you measure yourself and refer to the sizing chart as they can run a bit small. If you want the country gentleman aesthetic on a budget, this is your pick.
Getting our ranking underway is Superdry's Waxed Field Deck Jacket. Workwear-inspired and with a fleece lining and spread borg collar, it's designed to include both elements of the traditional overcoat as well as touches of the fashionable side of things.
Another thing worth mentioning is the olive-brown colour, which makes it easy to match with other clothes, particularly dark denim. Its non-classic style and the fact that it is not as water-resistant as a fully waxed coat means it probably won't appeal to anyone after something conventional – but for modern dressers, it's an on-trend option.
If it's time for a coat upgrade, we've got lots more recommendations that, like wax jackets, can offer a great mix of both practical features and good looks. Take a look at our picks of this season's puffer jackets, fleeces and raincoats to keep you covered no matter what the weather throws at you.
With so many options available online, there’s bound to be a wax jacket that ticks all of your boxes and fits your style. If you follow our advice on fit and features, you'll be sure to get loads of great use out of your new wet-weather companion.
Author: Lewis Clark
No. 1: Barbour Lifestyle｜Ashby Waxed Field Jacket
No. 2: Barbour Lifestyle｜Nautic Waxed Jacket
No. 3: Game Technical Apparel｜Barker Waxed Cotton Jacket
No. 4: Barbour International｜Royston Lightweight Jacket
No. 5: Game Technical Apparel｜Speedway Quilted Wax Jacket
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