The age-old adage “history repeats itself” rings true in all areas of life, and men’s fashion is no exception. As designers endeavored to innovate on classic men’s outerwear, many found inspiration in the annals of our country’s military history. The field jacket is a prime example of history weaving itself into the zeitgeist. Its tough aesthetic, army-caliber practicality, and simple design allowed it to be the perfect punctuation mark for many mens’ wardrobes. And that’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best men’s field jackets on the market.
While modern-day field jackets aren’t geared for military use like their predecessors, they retain the rugged silhouette, durability, and functionality that made them iconic in the first place. For the most part, we are basing our criteria on what a field jacket is off of the classic M-65 field jacket, which has several outer pockets, a concealable hood, and snap buttons. Of course, some exceptions on this list deviate from the traditional M-65, but all pay homage to the legendary garment through their quality, style, and utility.
A Brief History of the Field Jacket
As its name suggests, the M-65 field jacket started out as a military-issued jacket for soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War in 1965, though military field jackets can be traced as far back as WWII with the M-41 field jacket. Much like its fashionable counterparts such as chinos, bomber jackets, and aviator glasses, the M-65 Field Jacket was forged in a crucible of practicality and efficiency. Four pockets – two on the chest and two on the hips – maximize storage for soldiers, while its durable, windproof exterior helped protect troops from the harsh Southeast Asian climate. The jacket even featured a hood that wearers could roll into the collar.
While Alpha Industries originally designed the M-65 to be a war-time, utilitarian field jacket, its popularity quickly boomed as the soldiers returned home and wore their field jackets in the streets, oftentimes to protest the war that created it. The jacket gained so much visibility from protesting veterans that it became a symbol of anti-war protests. However, its comfort, versatility, and simple rugged look made it a coveted garment for men and women alike. Nowadays, the field jacket is a staple in most wardrobes, and companies throughout the world have put their own spin on this Swiss Army knife of jackets. Below is a comprehensive list of field jackets we curated that shine as the best this market has to offer.
Carhartt Loose Fit Firm Duck Blanket-Lined Chore Coat
Carhartt is an iconic workwear brand. Their no-frills jackets are an extension of the dependability, honesty, and trust on which the company prides itself. The Chore Coat is a particular standout among the brand’s stellar line of outerwear. It has a blanket-lined interior and a wind-resistant, water-resistant exterior that will keep users warm in virtually any cold weather. The jacket is made with 100% cotton, has four outer pockets, and sports the signature corduroy collar that has remained on the brand’s jackets since the 1930s.
L.L.Bean Original Field Coat
While many people buying this jacket won’t be hunting in the Maine woods that inspired L.L.Bean’s Original Field Coat, they can take solace in knowing that its durability is suited to withstand the harshness of the wild. The Original Field Coat has a warm rating which will keep its wearer toasty down to zero degrees. It is made out of 100% cotton canvas and is both waterproof and windproof. Users will also benefit from the underarm gussets and bi-swing shoulders, which allow them to move their arms easily and freely.
Buck Mason Bunker Twill Field Jacket
This American-made jacket is a standard on any “best field jackets” list. Made of 100% cotton twill, Buck Mason’s Twill Field Jacket is a stylishly lightweight piece of outerwear that is made to last. The jacket sports a set of two chest pockets, a pen pouch, and a patch pocket on its inside. Its brass buttons and faded color palette evoke a vintage vibe that makes the Twill Field Jacket a perfect accent piece to round out your fall outfits.
Topo Designs Insulated Shirt Jacket
Topo Designs finds its roots in mountain culture, so it’s no surprise that its Insulated Shirt Jacket is ideal for any outdoorsman. This reversible jacket is the best of both worlds. One side of the coat is made from nylon ripstop-cotton blend for a more waterproof experience, while the other side is made of smooth nylon with a PrimaLoft Black Eco insulated fill for warmth. Its oversized fit gives users the ability to add on multiple layers, depending on their environment.
Banana Republic Motion Field Jacket
Banana Republic’s Motion Field Jacket is a more modern interpretation of the field jacket. As its name suggests, the jacket utilizes Motion Tech, a soft, smooth fabric that allows for greater mobility for the wearer. The fabric is also water-repellent and surprisingly durable due to its four-way stretch. Its stand collar also hides a hood, and its zip and snap front will keep the cold out, making this lightweight jacket a great pick for the cooler months.
Fjällräven Raven Lite Jacket
The Raven Lite Jacket is the lighter iteration of Fjällräven’s classic outdoor jacket from the ’70s. Made to be as light as air, the Raven Lite Jacket is made from G-1000 Air: a 65% polyester, 35% cotton blend, which is designed to keep its wearer cool in warmer/harsher environments. Its button-up front, six front pockets, and quick-drying material build on the utility that inspired the original field jacket.
Alpha Industries M-65 Field Jacket
Does the company name ring a bell? It should. Making a “best field jacket” list and not including Alpha Industries is akin to making a “best pickup truck” list and not including Ford. The Alpha Industries M-65 is the most iconic on the market for good reason. While Alpha Industries stopped designing clothes for the military some time ago, their current M-65 Field Jackets stay true to their roots. They retain all classic elements: the front pockets, the concealed hood in the collar, even their signature wire zipper. It’s practical. It’s rugged. It’s just plain awesome.
Taylor Stitch The Lined Watts Jacket
The Lined Watts Jacket from Taylor Stitch might not have the iconic four front pockets that traditional field jackets have, but it is every bit as functional. Made from 100% dry-waxed organic cotton while sporting a herringbone texture, the Watt’s water-resistant shell is equal parts form and function. Moreover, the 12oz lining is a comfy blend of acrylic, polyester, and recycled plastics that will keep its wearer warm and cozy while also reducing their carbon footprint.
Orvis Heritage Field Coat
Orvis seeks to continue its tradition of making excellent coats with its Heritage Field Coat. The Heritage Field Coat boasts a waxed cotton exterior to handle the rigors of nature, gusseted underarm panels with grommets to provide ventilation, and adjustable button cuffs with corduroy trim to match its corduroy collar. It even sports a rear-entry lined waterproof game bag for extra storage. Despite being a heavier coat, the shooting patches on the shoulders and elbow patches allow for long-lasting mobility and durability.
J.Crew Wallace & Barnes Field Coat
J.Crew’s Wallace & Barnes Field Coat alchemizes old-school sensibilities with modern design. This fashion-forward jacket maintains its functional roots with a cotton/nylon exterior and quilted interior, however the removable microfleece-lined hood and added length provide a trendy, modern flair. Another welcomed update is its recycled PrimaLoft insulation, which provides a sustainable way to keep wearers warm and cozy. The Wallace & Barnes Field Coat is an ideal coat for those looking to balance contemporary nuances with the traditional rugged look of field jackets.
Filson 3-Layer Field Jacket
Filson is another brand that would be on the Mount Rushmore of field jacket designers. Their 3-Layer Field Jacket is a waterproof and wind-proof outerwear staple that’s also breathable to allow the hunters who wear them to withstand severe weather conditions without feeling suffocated. The three layers consist of a durable nylon shell, a laminated, breathable membrane, and a tricot backer, which warms and keeps its wearers dry. The jacket even has a two-way adjustable hood and ventilating pit-zips to keep whoever is wearing it from sweating in the cold.
Patagonia Topley Down Jacket
While Patagonia may not be the first name that comes to mind when thinking of field jackets, it’s impossible to deny the quality and utility of their Topley Down Jacket. Opting to go with three front pockets instead of the traditional four, the Topley is the M-65’s modern, environmentally conscious counterpart. It’s insulated with 700-fill-power 100% recycled down and its two-layered H2No Performance Standard shell is made of 100% recycled polyester. This jacket is a must-have for any eco-conscious field jacket lover.
Barbour Ogston Waxed Cotton Jacket
Waxed cotton-innovators Barbour upped the ante with their smart, sophisticated, and criminally stylish Ogston Waxed Cotton jacket. The designers at the British heritage brand gave the Ogston an Oban wax cotton exterior with a suede-like matte finish. Premium leather elbow patches and durable stud fastenings punctuate the masculine exterior while the interior boasts a comfortable yet elegant wool-mix lining to keep you warm. For added insulation – as well as a bit of style – Barbour integrated a quilted vest, perfectly rounding out the Ogston’s elevated, outdoorsy look.
Tom Beckbe Tensaw Jacket
The folks over at Tom Beckbe kept utility at the forefront of their minds when designing the dapper Tensaw Jacket. With the rolling Alabama hills as its muse, the Tensaw Jacket offers a red clay cotton liner that stays true to its Southern roots. Aside from the standard four front pockets, the jacket offers a hidden Napoleon pocket for extra storage. Its waxed shelter cloth shell and antique brass hardware provide an aged finish that will only get better over time.
Mission Workshop The Eiger WX
For a completely modern rendition of the M-65 field jacket, look no further than the Eiger: WX. The jacket maintains the traditional M-65 silhouette while boasting modern amenities like six outer pockets, a three-point adjustable hood with anatomic construction and an integrated visor, custom YKK weatherproof zippers, and Italian Riri snaps. Its exterior is made from Halley Stevensons’ world-renowned wax canvas, while its interior is lined with 100% cotton to keep you dry, warm, and comfortable for a lifetime.
One More For The Road
Tom Ford Slim-Fit Leather-Trimmed Suede Field Jacket
For the field jacket lovers who yearn for an ultra-premium option, look to the Tom Ford Slim-Fit Leather-Trimmed Suede Field Jacket. This field jacket is made from 100% Italian suede, which harmonizes perfectly with the all-leather trim to create a chic jacket that’s oozing with style. Tom Ford kept the iconic front pockets for their field jacket while outfitting it with a form-fitting silhouette, snap-fastening cuffs, a two-way zipper, and a near-$7K price tag to depart from tradition.
The 15 Best Commuter Jackets for Men
The field jacket is just one iteration of the many styles of jackets that are out there. With fall and its gloomy weather already here, there’s no better time to browse our list of the best commuter jackets that will keep you warm and dry on your bike ride to work.
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