Barn and chore coats are among the best-looking, most useful jackets. Read on to find the best barn coat to wear this fall and winter, for function or style!
It’s easy to dress for extremes; performance shading and wicking fabrics for sweltering summer tasks, the big down parka for the coldest days of the year. But the in-between days can be a challenge.
In autumn, cool mornings and warm days can leave you layering. To make things even more confusing to your wardrobe, fall often means getting your hands (and your clothes) dirty. Whether you’re clearing the gutters, winterizing the tractor, or putting up hay, you’re not reaching for your cashmere overcoat.
What’s versatile, tough and stylish? Enter the barn coat.
This venerable work coat, enjoying a fashionable resurgence under the throwback ‘chore coat’ moniker, has been protecting the hard working during the equinox seasons of temperate North America for generations. The chore coat first evolved in late 19th century France, but quickly became a staple in America, commonplace in every barn, factory and workshop, where it continued to evolve and became known as the barn coat, field coat, or work coat.1
That history is not just a testament to the infinite utility of the design, it also lends the barn coat undeniable credibility everywhere, from the construction site to the runway.
What is a barn coat?
The barn coat or chore coat can take many forms, but there are a few basic qualifications. A proper barn coat has a tough, heavyweight cotton shell, lots of pockets, and a style that pays homage to the tough-as-nails generations who wrestled our modern world out of feudal agrarianism.
Barn coats have been around for centuries, but if you still don’t have one in your closet, it’s about time you get with it. You and your barn coat have a lot of work ahead, but we’ve made the job of finding the perfect one easy. Need something warmer? Check out GEARCTRL’s review of the Patagonia Nano Puff or Down Jackets, just in time for winter.
Here’s the cream of the crop- our picks for the best barn coats on the market:
Pathfinder Jacket by Outback Trading
If the rugged American west is what springs to mind when you think of the best barn coat, the Pathfinder Jacket was made for you. Built on a durable, waterproof oilskin shell, the Pathfinder sports a decidedly western style, but it’s all performance and luxury from there. A polar fleece lining delivers serious warmth, and thoughtful details like a smooth taffeta lining below the waist and leather trimmed hand warmer pockets make the Pathfinder the Cadillac of barn coats. A storm placket keeps weather out and warmth in, and a myriad of pockets inside and out pack any essentials for the trail. Whether you spend frigid mornings in the saddle or pounding the pavement, make your work luxurious with the Pathfinder. -BUY IT
Mile Marker Coat by Filson
The Mile Marker coat from filson is less of a brute force offering; refined, elegant- just as rugged as it needs to be. This coat puts mobility and flexibility in focus with a lighter weight shell. But with an extra tight weave and a waxed finish, that 6oz cotton packs in maximum durability and protection into a non-bulky package. Design details maximize performance, too; a cinch waist and inner elastic cuffs seal out drafts. The Mile Marker can also be beefed up for colder temps with two optional Filson zip-in insulating vest liners. Like a racecar, everything on this jacket fulfills its purpose without added weight. The effect is sublime- lightweight but substantial, breathable but water repellent, earthy and high tech. The Mile Marker coat becomes like a trusted friend; always ready to go and always has your back. -BUY IT
Four Pocket Barn Coat By Levi’s
If your looking for the best barn coat, why not look to a company that’s as old and storied as the design itself? Levi’s classic barn coat has all the essential features of a classic men’s work coat- a light poly fill to break a heavy chill, a blanket lining for comfort, a tough exterior with lots of handy pockets, and a corduroy collar to top off a classic look. This coat is surprisingly not denim- its shell is made from heavy cotton duck for increased durability. But you won’t be surprised that the coat is constructed with famous Levi’s riveting at key stress points for ultimate longevity. Available in black or tan, this coat demonstrates an easy style that’s at home anywhere there’s work to be done. -BUY IT
Full Swing Chore Coat by Carhartt
Carhartt is the leader when it comes to hardworking outerwear, and they’ve loaded this classic style with modern features to create a real workhorse chore jacket. It starts with the basics- classic Carhartt heavy cotton duck and triple stitched seams, heavy on pocket space, as all chore coats should be. A fleece lining, optional hood snaps, a sherpa trimmed collar, and pockets with zipper and snap closures add modern performance and flexibility. An especially useful feature of this coat is it’s Full Swing construction; gusseted shoulder and elbow joints allow full range of motion, essential when you’re on the job. In three classic colors, this coat advertises the true grit of its wearer anywhere it goes. The Carhartt chore coat is a rugged beauty- a legendary brand with its take on a legendary design. -BUY IT
Kettle Mountain StormShed Jacket by Eddie Bauer
Another legend in outdoor wear, Eddie Bauer has been trusted in the wilderness for decades, and pure rugged performance has earned the brand a place in high fashion too. It’s fitting that they should offer a contender for the best chore coat. The Kettle Mountain Jacket offers the best of the best- durability and breathability from a cotton shell, protection from a waxed finish, and lots of room for cargo. The Kettle Mountain is, fittingly, tailored for field use- a shooting patch, vented shoulders, and low, tuck-flap pockets make it perfect for stalking upland fields. But as always, you can trust Eddie Bauer to create something that’s just as at home walking into a board meeting as it is stepping out of a log cabin. For maximum versatility in terms of performance and style, the Kettle Mountain StormShed Jacket won’t disappoint. -BUY IT
Tin Cloth Field Coat by Filson
Another agile offering from Filson, this field coat was built specifically for upland game hunting. Made with tough water and wind repellent waxed cotton, this lightweight jacket will keep you protected when traipsing through tall switch grass or facing a northern wind. Blood-proof game bags, an integrated shooting shoulder patch, and pockets for quick access to game loads make this jacket a specialist for the hunt. However, with its futuristic styling and materials that say ‘field-refined’, there’s a lot to like about this coat as an everyday go-to. Lightweight coupled with great performance plus compatibility with Filson zip in vest liners means this jacket is ready for just about anything. Don’t forget to grab this one before your next trek in the field or mission in the concrete jungle. -BUY IT
Men’s Barn Coat by Wrangler
Wrangler’s offering in a barn coat is all performance and no frills. The Wrangler is a classic men’s chore coat. This barn coat isn’t over designed- no finicky features or design elements, the Wrangler would be very familiar to past generations of hard working men. But that doesn’t mean this barn coat isn’t a performer. With a Heatseeker insulating liner and a water resistant finish, the Wrangler is more than just a throwback for throwback’s sake- this is a strong entry for best barn coat available. Wrangler is out to be the world leader in denim and workwear- and that shouldn’t come as a surprise considering this world class offering. Look to Wrangler for the do it all, tough as nails coat that goes with you everywhere like your favorite pair of jeans. -BUY IT
Classic Barn Coat by Orvis
What would a fly fishing brand know about making the best work jacket? Well, anyone who’s crawled through miles of ten foot old-growth willow thicket just to get to that honey hole knows that fly fishing and hard work aren’t mutually exclusive. And don’t expect that paper-thin North Face down to survive something like that- that’s why Orvis put their name on a design that’s as tough as it is practical- the Classic Barn Coat. Orvis’ offering is garment washed for a broken-in feel, and just like every good barn coat (or fishing vest), it’s loaded with storage pockets for whatever you need to have on hand for your next adventure. While born with a fishing pedigree, the versatility of a classic chore coat design means this coat’s toughness and practicality are applicable to nearly any use, from work to the field, from the city to the backyard. -BUY IT
Journeyman Flannel Shirt Jacket by Legendary Whitetails
What if the best men’s chore coat was really a shirt? That’s the question Legendary Whitetails answered with the Journeyman Shirt Jacket. While the styling is clearly more insulated shirt than jacket, the Journeyman captures the spirit of the chore coat- something in between a heavy coat and a light work shirt, but also something tough and made for abuse. And that’s exactly what the Journeyman Shirt Jacket is. The Journeyman is made from tough cotton that’s been brushed to a finish that resembles suede, and it’s built tough, too. Triple needle seams, reinforced pockets and riveted buttons mean this jacket is ready for any challenge- bring on the rough tree bark, flying sparks or greasy engine. With casual shirt styling, it doesn’t look like you’re working hard to keep warm, but the flannel lining will be. For the smoothest option in a chore coat, consider the Journeyman Shirt Jacket. -BUY IT
REACTION Classic Barn Coat by Kenneth Cole
What if you need the practicality of the barn coat, but you’d rather not look like you just stepped out of a barn? The Classic Barn Coat from Kenneth Cole REACTION is the slick, fashionable, metropolitan descendant of the classic men’s chore jacket. This coat says ‘I may not be chopping wood, but there’s work to be done.’ Others will take you seriously when you sport this no-nonsense, versatile coat. This barn coat from Kenneth Cole is a testament to the versatility of the design: The austerity of hard work- from the field, to the garage, to the conference room- never goes out of style. Count yourself among the hardworking everywhere with this fashion forward tribute to the barn coat. -BUY IT
Denim Chore Coat by Dickies
Lastly, the epitome of the men’s denim chore coat: The Dickies is as classic as it gets. Looking like a chore coat right out of a 1910 catalogue, the Dickies Denim Chore Coat retains the classic form of original 19th century chore coats. But that doesn’t mean it’s less advanced, quite the contrary- with the classic look comes the versatile, tough practicality that made the chore coat a staple and spawned scores of fashion spinoffs. There’s are reasons the denim chore jacket became a classic, and the Dickies delivers the best of these: 12 oz fine weave denim, a blanket lining for warmth, four patch pockets and one interior pocket. If you’d rather skip to the granddaddy of all chore coats, the Dickies delivers the look and performance that started it all. -BUY IT