There comes a point in everyone’s life when they need to grow up. When I was 26 my boss told me that I had until I turned 30 to become responsible. It took me until I was 42 to finally grow up, when I started wearing my first adult jacket.
After completing a National Outdoor Leadership School course in 2000, my passion for gear and outdoor clothing grew. I read Backpacker religiously and all of my outerwear has been from Eastern Mountain Sports or REI or The North Face. These coats always kept me dry and warm, but they looked too technical. I cannot remember ever having a coat where someone would say, “Well, that’s a handsome coat.”
Free Country solved my quagmire — they’ve been designing coats since 1990 that are equally tactical and stylish. Think Carhartt and J.Crew had a baby.
Free Country’s Trek Shirt Jacket is marvelous year-round, for those trips to the mountains or cool spring evenings in Montreal or autumn mornings in Maine. And it’s definitely cool enough to wear in the coolest city in the world. Temperature-wise, it’s ideal to be worn when it’s between 35-55 degrees – this comes from someone with low blood pressure so I’m always cold; you can probably go cooler as long as you’re properly layered. This jacket even works during summer, particularly on those cool evenings in the Pacific Northwest and New England, and in the southern hemisphere when it’s their winter.
The fleece-lined jacket is warm and has pockets, and more pockets – I love pockets – including two chest pockets that are ultra-manly. They’re meant to be overstuffed by a lumberjack, with his flip phone and pack of unfiltered smokes, perhaps a small memo notepad with his secrets on how to sharpen an axe.
This coat’s meant to be worn with a pair of authentically worn jeans, a plaid shirt and shit-kicker boots. Flowing hair rounds out the strapping, burly look. I’ve been working on getting some flowing hair.
The one thing I love more than those pockets is the hood. It zips in so you don’t have this heavy piece of fabric dangling behind your head. It’s also the first hood I’ve ever worn that actually comfortably fits my head and does not fall off with the slightest gust of wind or shifts to create blind spots with the slightest head movement.
The adjustable cuffs are large enough to wrap around any gloves that you’re wearing so none of the elements go up your sleeve. And the coat’s water resistant.
Maybe because it took me so long to grow up, the one aspect of this coat I’m trying to like is the most adult part of it, the faux-suede collar. I don’t like suede, no matter how faux, or real, it is. It just says I’m 57 years old and I should trade in the aforementioned rough-hewn outfit for a pair of high-waisted Dockers, fair isle sweater, loafers and a pinky ring. And I’m not 57.
Free Country has made a coat I’ve been looking for my entire life. It’s functional and rugged for hiking and camping, but also snazzy enough to wear when out in the city. I love you Free Country coat. I’m mature enough to admit that.