Barbour Waxed Cotton Jacket: Is It Worth It?

The Barbour waxed jacket is probably one of the most iconic pieces of men’s outerwear there is. With its casual appearance, its waxed cotton shell that is water resistant, it has become a staple in the English gentleman’s wardrobe. Barbour jackets don’t just represent the British country look but they are great for any kind of outdoorsman who wants to hunt, fish, or just not afraid of the elements.

Over the years, the brand of Barbour has become synonymous with waxed cotton jackets that many just call them Barbour jackets even though Barbour produces a range of jackets that are not waxed cotton. Because Barbour has such a huge range of outdoor jackets, we picked the most classic three waxed cotton jackets and compared them to one another; those are the Barbour Beaufort, the Barbour Bedale, and the Barbour Ashby.

John Barbour
John Barbour

Barbour’s History

The company was started in 1894 by a Scotsman, John Barber, in South Shields in England and back then, he was an importer of oilcloth. During World War II, Barbour produced the waterproof suits for the British submarine service. After the war, Barbour continued to produce and market its weatherproof garments, particularly to sportsmen. It took until 1974 until his Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh, gave Barbour the first royal warrant. Basically, the Royal Warrant means that you can supply your goods to the monarch and his family. The Queen followed with a royal warrant in 1982, followed by Prince Charles in 1987.

In 1993, the Beaufort model was introduced which is probably the most well known waxed cotton jacket out of the three we have here. The company Barbour is still owned by the fifth-generation family of Barbour and interestingly, you cannot buy the jackets directly from them but just from distributors and stores. They even have a shop locator on the website and they have a very widespread dealer network so it’s very easy to find a Barbour jacket no matter where you are in the world.

Barbour Beaufort, Barbour Bedale, & Barbour Ashby

Similarities:

  • They’re all made out of a hundred percent cotton canvas that’s about six pounds heavy and it’s overall a medium weight. It is then treated with a silk oil wax that gives us it’s typical weatherproof characteristics.
  • It also provides this matte satin shiny finish that a lot of people like. Over the years, it will develop a patina that becomes very characteristic of the waxed cotton jacket.
  • All three jackets have the typical washed corduroy collar which gives it a typical country look. They all feature moleskin lined hand warmer pockets, raglan sleeves, as well as roomy bellowspockets the feature snap buttons which allows you to keep your collar together when it’s really rainy and the elements are hard on you.
Sven Raphael Wearing the Beaufort, Bedale, & Ashby
Sven Raphael wearing the Beaufort, Bedale, & Ashby
  • For all three of them, you can buy a snap-on hood for $ 49 or zip-in liner for $ 129.
  • They all feature a nice brass double zipper from YKK that is built to last.
  • All three jackets are suitable for damp, cooler, and moist climates such as England or Scotland. If you live in a very cold area, they’re probably best suited for spring or fall.
  • They say each Barbour waxed jacket is made of more than 10,000 stitches and obviously, I haven’t checked on that but overall, the construction of the jackets seems really well and made for durability.

Differences:

  • The Barbour Beaufort retails for $ 399 versus the Bedale which is just $ 379 and the Ashby is again $ 399.
  • The Beaufort and the Bedale feature a full traditional classic cut that is straight in the hips, it’s very roomy, it allows you to layer something underneath such as a cardigan, maybe a sweater, or even a tweed jacket. The function definitely dictates the form so while it may not look very attractive or modern or fashionable, it is meant to give you a great range of movement when you hunt or pursue outdoor activities. The Ashby, on the other hand, is a lot trimmer. It’s basically a modernized style of the Bedale that is just slimmer with a slightly longer sleeve and it’s more targeted towards young men who will live more of a city life. The Ashby really doesn’t allow you to have a lot of layers underneath because the sleeves are too tight and so it’s best one with maybe a shirt or a thin sweater. When you wear different jackets, you can clearly tell that the Ashby has less range of movement.
  • While both the Beaufort and the Bedale come in 10 or 11 sizes in two inch increments such as 34 or 36, 42 or 44, the Ashby just comes in six sizes ranging from small, medium, large, extra large, XXL, and triple XL.
  • The Beaufort jacket is cut longer and about two and a half inches longer than both the Bedale or the Ashby. This extra length comes in handy, for example, if you want to wear a jacket underneath that would otherwise poke out. The Beaufort is the most useful jacket for hunters because it has a zippered game pocket in the back that’s quite roomy. Both the Ashby and the Bedale don’t have a pocket like that because they’re more targeted towards the urban outdoorsmen.
  • While the Beaufort has no vents in the back and a full Barbour tartan lining, both the Bedale and the Ashby have a half tartan lining with a polyester drip strip at the bottom and side vents that have snap buttons so they give you a little extra room especially if you have a big bum. The Barbour tartan is obviously a nod to the founder’s Scottish roots. Now for the Beaufort, that lining is made of a 100% cotton just like the shell. The Bedale, on the other hand, has 100% cotton shell but a cotton poly blend out of 78 percent cotton and to 22% Poly. They have a slightly different feel, the cotton poly blend may be a little more hard-wearing but I haven’t worn them out yet so it’s hard to tell. The Ashby is different yet again in the sense that it has 100% cotton outer shell and 100% cotton half lining but the sleeves are all lined in polyester versus the Beaufort and the Bedale; they have the same tartan lining in the sleeves.
  • The Beaufort jacket has wind guards on your sleeves which come in quite handy and they have a little velcro adjuster, however, they’re not really soft and don’t feel too great on your skin but they’ll do the job and keep the windout. The Bedale jacket has ripped knitted wind guards which are much more comfortable and better than the ones on the Beaufort. The Ashby, on the other hand, has no wind guards and again, it clearly is not made to be super functional, it’s more about the looks.
  • When it comes to inside pockets, the Bedale has one on the right, the Ashby has one on the left, and the Beaufort doesn’t have one at all.
  • If you look at those jackets, they look all very quintessentially British yet when you look at the made in label, there are some differences. While the Beaufort and the Bedale are still made in England, the more modern Ashby one is made in Moldova. I guess the Ashby is not just more modern in terms of the cut but also in terms of globalization.
Barbour brand logo
Barbour brand logo

Is A Barbour Waxed Jacket Worth It?

I think the Beaufort jacket is very iconic and truly something that you could wear for decades to come. One of the few downsides is maybe that a lot of other people have this jacket so you’re hardly unique when you wear it. Another con that I’ve found is that throughout the sizes, the sleeves are all rather short. Personally, I have rather long arms so it’s always a challenge because you either have to size up which gives you a much roomier jacket that probably is too big for you just to get the sleeve length right.

Because the Bedale has these ripped sleeve guards, it probably adds another one and a half centimeters or about half an inch in length on your sleeve which is one of the reasons I prefer that one the most out of the three. If you prefer a slimmer or trimmer look, the Ashby is your only option and if you want something really functional for hunters with a game pocket then get the Beaufort. I’m not a game hunter or shooter and because of that, the Bedale really serves my purposes best.

Who’s The Barbour Waxed Jacket Made For?

I’ve seen many men wearing it in an office context and personally, I find it’s a bit too casual for that and it’s best for outdoors activities maybe getting the groceries or hanging out with the kids on the weekends. Of course, you can also wear it for more hardcore outdoor activities that we covered earlier.

If you want a casual companion for your jeans, chinos, corduroys, sweaters, and cardigans, the Barbour waxed jacket is definitely worth it. Apart from that, there are also not many other companies to produce a lot of waxed jackets and not many of them have the same commitment to quality and durability as Barbour has.

Why do I say that? Well, Barbour jackets need quite a bit of maintenance. Barbour suggests that you have your jacket rewaxed every year. In my book, that’s a little much. I’ve seen many people who haven’t rewaxed for two or three years and the jackets are still fine. I guess it all comes down to how often you wear the jacket. You can either do it yourself or just send it to Barbour and have them do it. They also offer repair services for zippers and all kinds of things so they truly have a commitment for durability in their garments.

That being said, the jacket is a little more finicky, you can not just wash it in a washing machine, you’re also not supposed to use any detergent or solvents on it because that would damage the surface. I think it’s totally worth it especially if you consider the longevity and the cost per wear. It’s one of those jackets that’s really hard wearing and we unequivocally think that it’s worth its money.

Now with a little bit of luck, you may even find them on sale. Typically, I’ve seen they’re more on sale from smaller retailers that don’t carry the entire range of Barbour but maybe just a few jackets and if the Bedale or the Beaufort is one of them and they just have limited sizes or maybe they want to discontinue it, you may find it for 150 or 200 dollars. At that point, it’s a no-brainer and you should definitely go for it. That being said, because Barbour is so popular, there are also lots of fakes out there so beware of used Goods on eBay and so forth unless you can truly authenticate it’s the real deal.

Do you own a Barbour waxed jacket? What’s your take on it? Share your thoughts below!


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