The art of taking care of your wardrobe, of really curating a collection filled with essentials, is a delicate one. Except when it’s not. If you need gear that’s rugged and dependable, which you surely do, you’ve got to go the extra mile sometimes. Enter the humble and yet essential field jacket. It’s far from delicate when it comes to rough-and-tumble performance, plus iconic style. It’s just about everything you could want in a menswear essential, and then some.
To wit: The field jacket’s military origins have made it a menswear staple even as its usage in the trenches has shifted considerably over the years. Again, we go back to that rugged performance that’s won our hearts and minds (and wardrobes) over the years. Finding the right field jacket doesn’t have to be difficult. Why, the best jackets for men are but a few clicks away with our helpful guide outlined below.
But first, a few pointers. Like we said, the right field jacket isn’t exactly delicate. It was first commissioned for use by the U.S. military, who turned to Alpha Industries to outfit soldiers through the years. As with classic chinos and even the T-shirt, the field jacket eventually made its way into civilian life, in a big way. The T-shirt, for instance, was once worn mainly as undergarment before style rebels like James Dean made it into a modern staple. Same with chinos, which became accepted as off-duty wear through the years.
It only makes sense that the field jacket found a life of its own, as Alpha Industries eventually began producing them for civilians (and they still do, quite famously, to this day). Don’t worry: We’ll suggest some Alpha Industries garb sooner rather than later. After all, the right style essentials require patience and attention to detail.
You might recognize the field jacket from iconic moments on screen, like when Robert DeNiro famously wore one in Taxi Driver, but trust us when we say it’s endured beyond that through the years. Heck, you might have spotted the field jacket popping up in your travels abroad or at home. It’s as classic as can be if you want a dependable, functional jacket with more than a touch of badass style (you’ve probably got DeNiro to thank for that).
Although it’s gone through different iterations over the years, the best jackets of today are commonly made of durable waxed cotton and feature four front snap button pockets, plus an interior drawstring waist. Some even feature a hood you can stow away via zipper, in the collar. Functional style doesn’t begin to cover it. But before you can add the field jacket to your arsenal, here’s what to look for as you shop.
What You Need to Know Before Shopping for a Field Jacket
- Fit: That all-important metric as you dress for success. Your field jacket needs to fit right, plain and simple. The best-fitting field jackets out there hug the shoulders and are more trim through the body than, say a bulky parka. However, the field jacket of your dreams shouldn’t fit as tight as a denim jacket, for example. Field jackets are always going to hit well below your waist, offering extra coverage from the elements. The sleeves of your field jacket should hit where your wrist meets your hand, or slightly above that — all the better to show off a bit of shirt cuff (but not too much!) if you wear your field jacket in place of a blazer, for instance. Of course, you can also wear your durable field jacket with some stylish rubber boots for more functional pursuits, but we’ll get to tall of that in a moment.
- Material: Some jackets are going to be harder-wearing than others, either by using a thicker cotton canvas or a heavier waxing process. Some field jackets, in fact, don’t have a waxed finish at all, but rather can be waxed on your own (to protect you from the elements), if you so choose. The choice is up to you, but know that a field jacket is nearly always made of cotton canvas for extra durability. In fact, extra durability doesn’t even begin to cover it. The best field jackets are rugged and rough-and-tumble, ready for anything.
- Color: Perhaps this is an obvious tip as far as shopping for field jackets is concerned. Then again, maybe not: That’s why we’re here, after all. Keep the most versatile colorway for your wardrobe in mind. Original field jackets were army green, and aptly named, at that. Today’s field jackets run the gamut from shades of tan to tobacco and beyond. The key here is, you’re going to want a field jacket you can wear with indigo denim, or chinos, or breezy navy stretch performance pants, without missing a beat. Don’t worry: We’ve got you covered with our picks for the best field jackets.
These are just a few helpful tips to get you started as you work your way through the well-cut world of field jackets. Our favorite options for rugged layering are below. Now, layer up and get out there.
The Best Field Jackets for Men to Buy Now
Alpha Industries M-65 Heritage Field Jacket
The original and some would say, still the best as far as field jackets for men are concerned. Alpha Industries is right to give this jacket the lofty Heritage title, because that’s exactly what it is. This handsome and classic field jacket lives up to its name as far as iconic layers are concerned. In a way, you’re really wearing years of history when you put on this tough, water and wind-resistant jacket. It’s the tough nylon and cotton exterior, plus the easy-to-layer fit, that really has won us over. In fact, we’re not the only ones: We think you’ll certainly love this classic and timeless field jacket, too. A word to the wise: It fits oversized, so size down for a trimmer fit.
J. Crew Garment-Dyed M-65 Jacket
Is there anything that J. Crew can’t do? The all-American brand continues to build a name for itself as a jack-of-all-trades with a garment-dyed field jacket. We’d wager you definitely have some classic J. Crew pieces in your wardrobe already — heck, the brand’s chambray shirts, slim-fit suiting and denim are perfect for every single guy — but there’s something else about this jacket. The garment-dyed finish and trim cut pair up quite nicely with rugged staples in your rotation of J. Crew menswear (think a chambray shirt or a Wallace and Barnes henley from the brand, for starters). This is a jacket that’s light enough to work all through summer on breezy nights, and it’ll become a rugged and go-to layer come fall, too.
Marine Layer Richmond Utility Coat
Here’s a bit of a different take on the field coat. .This style is more streamlined and a little more modern than the more classically designed field jackets we’ve shared above. However, that doesn’t make it any less worthy of inclusion among our favorite field jackets. Marine Layer has a knack for making pieces that work seamlessly with one another — we love the brand’s buttery-soft T-shirts — and this durable utility coat is no different. It’s got a classic olive colorway going for it, plus side hip pockets that are a little more sleek than button patch pockets. Again, it’s no less worthy of inclusion in a well-stocked menswear rotation. Of course, when you need a rugged and lightweight jacket to carry you through breezy days and nights, this is the one to buy.
Flint and Tinder Flannel-Lined Waxed Hudson Jacket
Here we are, yet again, with a more modern and updated take on the field jacket. This Flint and Tinder jacket carries on the brand’s lineage of rugged style and tough-as-nails construction. Again, it takes a different design approach than your classic field jacket, but we love it all the same. It helps that Huckberry stocks and sells this jacket, because that’s how you know it’s more than ready for any adventure that comes its way. It’s lined with soft flannel, and the fact that the exterior features British Millerain canvas finished with weather-resistant coconut wax makes it a tough-as-heck jacket, no questions asked.
Faherty Brand Great Outdoors Trekking Jacket
If you want a modern, stylish take on the field jacket, but one that’s built with a sense of purpose, this is the one to buy. If you already know and love Faherty Brand flannel shirts and henleys — made with the softest fabric on the market — you’ll also dig this field jacket. Think of it as the lightweight, versatile piece of outerwear you need to wear on the trail or back into town, with a slim fit to match. It’s also got plenty of pockets, checking off a crucial box as far as utility is concerned. Beyond that, it should pair extremely well with the rest of your rotation of menswear classics — and hopefully, that rotation includes some Faherty chinos or a soft Faherty Brand shirt.