This many years into adulthood, I have few holes in my wardrobe. Sufficient disposable income combined with a general parsimony in other areas of my life mean that most of my clothing needs have been satisfied, my wants fulfilled.
The one that remained was a good casual jacket for fall and winter–one that could offer at least a modest protection from the elements.
I considered a few options. The Dunoon Parka from Pierrepont Hicks caught my eye. But it wasn’t available in my size. Seattle’s Crescent Down Works seemed to have a few parkas, but those I could find online appeared also to be sold out.
Battenwear has been around since 2011. After a stint designing for Woolrich Woolen Mills, Shinya Hasegawa and his wife Carrie set out on their own to begin producing sportswear–classic pieces that are defined as much by function as they are by aesthetic.
The first item in Battenwear’s collection was the Travel Shell Parka, and it remains the backbone of Battenwear’s collection.
It is, of course, manufactured in the United States, just a few blocks from Battenwear’s Garment District Headquarters, as are nearly all of Battenwear’s products.
I had the distinct pleasure of visiting Battenwear during my visit to New York last month. Its brick and mortar shop is charmingly called the Bivouac Shop, a nod to the kind of outdoor activity that inspires much of the company’s product line.
I had originally planned to purchase one of the Travel Shell Parkas while I was there, but I was concerned that the size and color I wanted would be gone by the time I arrived. So I pulled the trigger in advance of my vacation.
Let me not mince words. It’s difficult to talk about this jacket without resorting to superlatives; if an everyday, midweight parka is on your wish list, I strongly recommend that you give this one serious consideration. Every detail (and there are many) has been exceptionally well thought out. Pockets abound, perfect for the urban explorer. And the construction appears rock solid. I can easily see this jacket lasting me well into my dotage.
One website characterized the jacket as “gear that’s as well-suited for the Appalachian Trail as it is for the streets of SoHo.”
As an avid outdoorsman, however, I have to take exception with that characterization. With its 60/40 cotton and nylon fabric, this is not the jacket you want on a serious hike. First, it’s a little too heavy for those of us immersed in the ultralight ethos. Second, its cotton composition makes it ill-suited for inclement weather in the backcountry. When wet, cotton simply does not insulate, which is why backpackers rely upon wool, polyester and nylon for warmth in rainy conditions.
This, however, is not to diminish the jacket’s charms. It’s only to suggest that the jacket is more ideally suited as an outer layer for casual urban and country pursuits.
Over time, the Battenwear product line has expanded, and a number of items would have a welcome home in a traditional wardrobe. While at the Bivouac Shop, I purchased a navy flannel shirt with raglan sleeves; we’ll talk more about that particular item in a future post.