To say I am a jacket snob is an understatement. You might think by looking at my closet of 20 plus jackets that I love to wear a different one every day.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, I wanted to have just one jacket that I could wear any day of the year. Given that I live in New York City, that was a tall order. Not only would the jacket have to keep me warm in the winter snow and wind, but also keep me comfortable on mild spring / fall days and dry on rainy summer nights. Over the past few years, I have been testing out jackets to find “THE ONE.”
For several years, I wore the CB Sports Brand black jacket. It was meant for the ski slopes, but I wore it since it was a firm fit and had good pockets. However, while it kept you dry, it did not feel great wearing everyday given its “rubber feel”–nor did it keep you all that warm. Probably because as a ski jacket, the manufacturer expected you to be wearing thermals underneath and this jacket would be the outer layer for dryness and pocket space.
CB Sports Brand is no longer in business. Which is ironic considering when I wore the jacket around people in the clothing industry, they would always comment on the jacket and how it was ahead of its time. They usually then followed up with something to the effect of – “I wish someone would make a jacket that was like it, not for the slopes, but everyday use”
I decided to give the Spyder jackets a shot. The Spyder brand has been popular for a while and they have a unique look. The jacket I got definitely kept me warm. However, it was puffy and ripped easily. [Mine tore one afternoon when I was trying to move it from a table]. Goose feathers flew out everywhere. Take a look at my beautiful patchwork below.
I found that this was a common complaint of people who owned Spyder jackets. They kept you warm, but outside of that, they were not very functional. Beyond the jacket ripping easily, it was a bit on the puffy side and the pockets were not optimal for today’s gadget-laden consumer.
After giving up on Spyder, I tried a Calvin Klein jacket at the recommendation of a CEO of a $100 million clothing company. These jackets seemed to be a exact clone of the CB Sports Brand Jackets! When you look at them side by side, they look identical.
I liked the Calvin Klein jacket, but again, it had almost the same drawbacks as the original CB Brands jacket – it wore well and had great pockets, but did not really keep you warm! It was a jacket meant for casual fall and spring days, not cold winters or rainy summers.
I then went to another extreme and bought a WeatherTech Jacket that promised the technical specs I was looking for. However, it seemed to be a clone of the original CB Sports brand jacket as well! It did keep you warmer than the other jackets, but that was because it had more padding and was a heavier jacket.
Given my push to be more:
- More sustainable in my clothing
- Simplify my life with fewer jackets
- Find a jacket that worked year round outside
- Find a jacket that worked in casual, social and professional settings
- Find a jacket that was really functional with pockets and easy to pack for travel…
I felt my search for the ultimate jacket was a lost cause. After trying out a few more brands, I thought I would be stuck having to exist on wearing different jackets on different weather days and for different events!
In December, on a recent trip to Soho to visit retailers, I was told about United By Blue. The company – unitedbyblue.com makes sustainable wear that’s good for you and the planet.
When I looked into the brand, it seemed to be a next generation version of REI. When I looked at their jackets, I was told the that the Bison Ultralight was the jacket to buy.
I was hesitant at first, but then when I dug deeper, a few things got me interested.
1 – The jacket weighed under one pound!
2 – The jacket could be rolled up into its own pouch to be used as a pillow! How cool is that on a long flight?
3 – 50% Wool, 50% Bison insulation – this stuff is meant to keep you very warm, even in -10 to -40 degree weather! Even better, the way the bison is “smashed into the jacket” the result is not puffy. It has a clean, slim look.
4 – The outer-shell is made of ripstop – a material used by the military for its durability, and coated in PFC free waterproof material! In simple English, this means the jacket is durable and wont rip easily like other jackets do.
5 – This jacket is sustainable. It’s made out of Bison Fiber, which is normally considered a waste product. Not only is the jacket made out of natural and sustainable materials, but it’s also the last jacket you will needs for a long time, so you can save some money and also be greener. Win-win for you and the planet.
After going back and forth for a week, I decided to buy one for myself and my wife. At under $200 per jacket, the price was reasonable given the quality put into the product.
The final thing that got me over the hump to buy the jacket was the customer reviews:
- “I am in the Chicago area and was just looking for something to get me from winter to spring- this is perfect. Going to be great for camping and fishing on chillier mornings/days too” — This shows me that the jacket can last in the tough climates. I lived in Chicago and know it’s a crazy place. Freezing in Winter and smoldering hot in Summer.
- “The details in this jacket are amazing, the cuffs, the hood, the fit. My new go to” — This showed me that the company cared about the technical details.
- “It’s very warm and will keep you warm in pretty freezing weather!!! Also have worn this in 50-60 degree temps, and since it’s so light, it’s not overwhelmingly hot!! Love this jacket.” — OK, this Jacket is a great all-in-one!
- “My husband got one, and I had to get one as well. I love it” — So, this is great for guys and gals alike!
I have worn the jacket everyday for the past two months. In the snow in Canada, in the freezing wind chills of Chicago, on rain days in NYC, on warm days in Texas, on flights, on trains, on buses, etc. I took it on a trip to North Canada as my ONLY jacket! [It survived and excelled on the icy Canadian tundras and in the the frozen shores of the North.]
There were several pleasant items I found in the jacket that I had not expected when first buying
- The inside pouch of the jacket is a great place to store valuables (passports, papers, phone). It’s bigger than most other jackets, so it gives you more room to store items. On several day trips, I did not to have to bring a backpack or small bag to hold items.
- The outside pockets all have zippers, which makes you feel safe putting valuables into them, especially if hiking, or on a busy street in Europe.
- Initially, I was not a fan that the jacket came with a hood. I always found jackets with a hood to be bulky on top. To my pleasant surprise, I could not even tell it was there unless I needed it. When I put it on during a sudden downpour in NYC, it worked liked a charm and kept me dry. It was during this downpour that I realized this really was the ALL IN ONE JACKET that I was looking for! Finally, a jacket I could wear in any weather, any place and any situation. The jacket looks good going into a business meeting, looks good going on a hike / the elements, and looks good going to a party.
This will be my everyday jacket for the next several years. I don’t want to even think of buying another one until 2030. All my old jackets–I’m donating them to the local shelter. Fine, I will probably keep one as a backup but I am looking forward to only having one jacket to put on going forward. It’s the most technically functional jacket I have worn and the design makes it good to wear in any situation. Truly an everyday winner!