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The materials that go into workwear and outerwear have evolved into a science, with new technologies improving gear all the time. Products like waterproofed down jackets with synthetic fill and battery-powered heated gloves have made braving the elements a whole lot easier, but once upon a time, there was a universal go-to that's still in use: waxed cotton.
Eighteenth-century mariners were the first to use waxed cotton, treating their ship sails with grease and fish oil because it helped repel water and wind. The British military adopted the technology in World War II, but waxed cotton really took off when motorcyclists like Steve McQueen (along with the rest of the U.S. team) wore Barbour waxed jackets at the 1964 International Six Days Trial in East Germany.
The concept of waxed fabrics hasn’t changed much in all that time—the tightly woven cotton or duck canvas is saturated in wax, resulting in a fabric that looks like distressed leather but is weather-resistant and more durable than untreated cotton or canvas. That’s why waxed jackets—whether you’re using them to stay warm in the apocalypse like Pedro Pascal in The Last of Us or to keep the morning chill at bay while you work on your car—have the functionality, durability, and flexibility required of a long-lasting piece of outerwear. Even better, they have a unique style that screams rugged.
Legacy outerwear brands like Filson and Barbour have crafted their reputations on making their own waxed fabrics. We recommend picks from both of those brands, but there are plenty of options out there to suit your style and needs. Here are the best waxed jackets, along with what to consider before you shop.
What to Consider
Waxed jackets are made with dense, tightly woven cotton (a.k.a. canvas), so they are typically mid- to heavyweight jackets. Like leather or raw denim, waxed cotton feels stiff at first and requires breaking in. It gets more flexible and comfortable the more you wear it, but the weight of the jacket determines the break-in period—the heavier the jacket, the longer it takes to wear in. As you break in your waxed coat, you’ll likely notice creases at points of motion like the elbows or shoulders—this wear pattern is unique to each wearer.
Although waxed cotton is water-resistant, it isn't waterproof. Waxed jackets hold up through some rain and snow, but don't expect them to protect you like a seamless or sealed Gore-Tex jacket does during a heavy downpour.
Like with any jacket, consider if you want a lining for added warmth. The wax finish provides some insulation, but if you're in a cold place, we recommend a jacket with lining or room for base layers. Most of the jackets below have a dense cotton lining, with a few polyester blanket lining and unlined options.
Cut and Style
The cut and style go hand-in-hand as the length that the jacket is cut to determine the style. Short jackets that end at the hip are a good option if you want to use your waxed canvas jacket for workwear. This length makes it easy to reach for your pockets or tool belt and is less cumbersome than a long coat.
The longer cuts that fall below the hip are often called chore coats. They provide extra coverage, but aren’t knee-length like a trench or duster, so you can still move and work in them—but they can be a hassle for jobs that require bending or crouching down. Chore coats are a bit sleeker, though, so they’re easier to dress up.
How We Selected
I own several waxed jackets, so I started from my own experience to pull options that suit a variety of needs and styles. We considered the various instances where waxed jackets come in handy, and considered how you’d use for working, camping, or casual wear. Noting different styles and brands recommended by our colleagues at Gear Patrol, Esquire, and Men's Journal, we made sure to select only durable, stylish, and truly work-friendly waxed cotton jackets.
Flannel-Lined Waxed Trucker Jacket
Huckberry’s in-house brand, Flint and Tinder, makes its waxed trucker in a classic silhouette that’s fitted but not constricting. The seven-ounce weight is versatile enough for year-round wear. It works over just a tee in spring or with a sweatshirt in the colder months. The fabric is waxed on both sides to bolster warmth, insulation, and weather resistance.
Flint and Tinder’s jacket is a standout because of its construction and affordability as most waxed jackets made in the U.S. run well over $400. The brand doesn’t skimp on quality, though, with a timeless silhouette and thoughtfully-considered materials. The steel shank buttons and sailcloth canvas feel durable and resilient.
I’ve personally owned this jacket, and I love that it’s rugged, yet comfortable. The blanket lining isn’t scratchy and feels good on the skin if I’m just wearing a tee, but it’s slack enough to slip my arms through when I’m wearing sweaters or fleeces. A lot of waxed jackets require a break-in period, but this one is comfortable and flexible from day one.
Waxed Canvas Trucker Jacket
This waxed jacket is the most typical trucker jacket design on our list, with dual chest pockets, hand welt pockets, and brass buttons and rivets that give it a western workwear look.
At just under 14 ounces and unlined, it’s a good year-round option that layers well with everything from T-shirts to sweaters. Reviewers suggest sizing up if you plan to wear bulky layers under this.
If you're uncertain as to whether a waxed jacket is your style, this is a good option that's built sturdy, easy to wear, and at a great price. Customers report wearing it for working outdoors as well as casually, and are happy with the quality construction and straightforward design.
Waxed Canvas Chore Coat
Dickies is a mainstay when it comes to workwear, but waxed canvas is new to its lineup, starting with one of its best known outerwear designs: the Eisenhower jacket. While that one’s almost out of stock, this chore coat has plenty of sizes left.
This jacket is cut just below the hip with what the brand calls a modern fit, but Dickies typically runs large and customer reviews corroborate that sizing down by one is a good idea.
The chest flap pocket has a pen divider and the lower patch pockets have a side entry for your hands. adjustable button cuffs can help you seal out the wind and rain. The super soft blanket lining is only on the torso so you don't overheat or feel too bulky, with the sleeves lined in quilted nylon to easily layer. The medium weight is versatile, and I wear mine as much in winter as I do in spring.
The color is listed as charcoal gray, but in person it comes off like an indigo/denim color, which is a change-up from the typical tan, olive, navy, and black you see in a lot of waxed jackets.
A waxed chore coat from a tried and true workwear brand is a steal at $200, and doesn't sacrifice classic details like a corduroy collar and storm placket.
Bedale Wax Jacket
The Bedale was introduced in 1980 and originally made for equestrians in the English countryside, but it’s now one of the most popular waxed jackets because of its functionality and style.
Its weight and relaxed fit make it a good top layer over bulky sweatshirts, and the exaggerated collar can be flipped up and closed with a button throat tab to keep your neck warm. Its has two hand-warmer pockets lined in moleskin, two snap bellow pockets at the waist, and an interior pocket at the left chest.
The rear button-snap vents open for more flexibility when sitting—or motorcycle- or horseback-riding—and the sleeves have an extended rib-knit cuff. Barbour sells a detachable hood and zip-in liner for extra protection and warmth, too. The snap-button flap over the two-way zipper—also called a storm placket—adds protection against wind and cold.
This is a personal favorite, so much so that I’ve bought two—but not because the first one gave out. I’ve owned my first Barbour jacket for 11 years, and it’s surprisingly one of the most packable warm jackets I have. It's been on almost every trip I’ve taken and especially shined in rainy cities like London and Portland.
Tin Cloth Short Lined Cruiser Jacket
Filson’s tin cloth is a sturdy duck canvas that’s tightly woven for abrasion resistance and durability. The heavy canvas construction, finished with a wax treatment, makes the Short Cruiser the most hardwearing jacket on this list.
It’s lined with the brand's unwaxed duck canvas for added insulation and has slotted pockets at the chest for holding an assortment of tools. The hip-length cut gives you easy access to pockets or tool belts and doesn't ride up when you sit down.
Adjustable cinch tabs at the waist give you a more customized fit, but I’d still recommend sizing down a size as Filson outwear runs big. Don’t fret if it feels big when you get it—it’ll give you room to layer underneath.
Filson's tin-cloth fabric is stiff and requires breaking in, but ages and patinas better than lighter waxed canvas options—this jacket looks more like a beat-up leather jacket after years of use.
A mechanic friend of mine has had one for almost a decade and says it’s withstood battery acid spills and grease stains—all it requires is some fresh wax every couple of years.
Tin Cloth Field Jacket
“Form meets function” is advertorial jargon brands love to throw around, but it’s hardly ever true—but this jacket nails the sweet spot as a piece of gear you’ll use for its function and want to use for its downright good looks.
Filson's field jacket has maximum utility: Every design detail is thought out, with features like high-set hand pockets lined in wool; a drawcord adjustable waist and hem; and bellow patch pockets that expand and divide into two separate slots.
The back of the jacket has a zippered side-entry game pocket lined with nylon, which is as good for game as it is for hats, gloves, a 32-ounce water bottle, and anything else you need.
The shoulders are a one-piece design that eliminates seams, bolstering water-resistance, and the collar is lined with wool. The sleeves have both an outer and inner adjustable cuff that you can cinch with snap buttons to protect you against the elements, and the heavy-duty waxed canvas shell and liner do an exceptional job at cutting wind.
Even when I’m biking over New York City bridges in the cold, I don’t feel any wind chill on my torso. Out of the box, this jacket feels heavy and stiff in-hand, but after about a month it has enough flex that it’s comfortable to wear. The roomy cut provides plenty of room for layers without looking oversized, but I recommend going down a whole size.
Cover Cloth Woodland Jacket
Every waxed jacket is technically a rain jacket, but this Woodland jacket from Filson reminds me of a Mackintosh raincoat with an outdoorsy edge. The length falls well below the hip, giving you extra coverage against rain or snow.
At eight ounces, it's lighter than the other Filson jackets on the list and you can feel the difference on the first wear. It's flexible out of the box and requires almost no breaking in.
The style is simple with two snap-button patch pockets that conceal side entry hand pockets and multiple hidden zip pockets. The jacket’s two-way zipper has a storm placket for added weather resistance. It's an easy jacket to dress up, with its long length and clean design—especially if you choose to take off the hood, with a cinch cord at the torso for a more tapered fit.
Rain jackets often don’t have much structure, which is why the Woodland is a standout—it’s extremely durable with reinforced forearms and a sturdy canvas shell and liner. It repels water just as you’d want a raincoat to, but it’s sturdier and more stylish.
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