Last Updated on 27/08/2023
What Type of Jacket is Best for Bushcraft?
In this guide to the best bushcraft jacket, we share our thoughts on which type of coat is best for working outdoors and why you only ever need one jacket. We explain the benefits of waxed canvas and why durability is more important than waterproofing. Don’t waste your money on expensive jackets that won’t last 2 minutes in the woods instead get something built to last.
Bushcraft jackets need to be extremely durable and resistant to withstand the day-to-day wear and tear of working outdoors. They should use mostly flame-resistant fabrics as you will often be sitting around a fire every day. Water resistance is super useful, as is insulation and fit, but most of all, it is the toughness that determines how good a jacket is for outdoor use.
9 Best Bushcraft Jackets
Fjallraven Jacket No. 68
- MATERIAL: G-1000® Eco: 65% polyester, 35% cotton with reinforced patches of G-1000® HeavyDuty Eco: 65% polyester, 35% cotton
- POCKETS: 8 pockets
- HOOD: Yes – Wire rimmed with triple adjustments
- DURABILITY: 9.7/10
The Fjallraven Jacket No. 68 is the best bushcraft jacket in the world, in our opinion. It stands out as one of the toughest, most well-made, and thoughtfully designed jackets for bushcraft with every feature being one you want. They have used stitching techniques taken from their backpacks and reinforced any area that may see more wear than others.
The material is the notorious G-1000 which is known to be the most durable clothing fabric in the world. The material on the reinforced areas is a heavy-duty version of that and covers areas like the back of the arms, cuffs, shoulders, and even the bottom of the main pockets. I have owned a harbor jacket for over 20 years now, and while it is still going strong, one of the pockets has worn through on the outside (due to keeping a pair of scissors in there), but that won’t happen to this.
Speaking of pockets, they are lots of them, and you can fit a lot of different items in them. On the front, there are two chest pockets with stud closures. Then beneath that, you have the big cargo pockets. These big pockets have poppers at the base to create bellows which allow you to fit very bulky items in them. Behind that, you have your hand warmer pockets that are lined, and two unusual pockets are on the back, which actually comes in handy more than you might imagine. Inside you have a large poacher pocket which is very big, and then a chest zipper pocket on the other side to keep valuables like keys, phone, and wallet.
There is an abundance of adjustable toggles to control the hood, which is also wire-rimmed to shape it, the waistband, cuffs, and neckline. These can all be used without taking your gloves off, thanks to the natural leather toggles and heavy-duty poppers and zips. The hood is very big but can be adjusted to fit close to your head. When you have the hood and neckline fully done up, you create a kind of tunnel that keeps out rain, snow, and wind.
VERDICT: The reason Jacket Number 68. from Fjallraven is the number one bushcraft jacket is that it will outlast all the others and is perfectly designed for outdoor work. Its durability and build quality are unrivaled, and if you only ever want to buy one jacket ever again, make it this one.
Fjallraven Anorak No. 8
- MATERIAL: G-1000® Eco: 65% polyester, 35% cotton / G-1000® HeavyDuty Eco: 65% polyester, 35% cotton
- POCKETS: 2 large kangaroo pockets
- HOOD: Yes – Wire rimmed with triple adjustments
- DURABILITY: 9.8/10
The Fjallraven Anorak No. 8 is the best bushcraft shell jacket to wear over the top of more insulative layers. It is actually more of a smock or anorak than a jacket, but nevertheless, it will protect you from the elements and quite possibly last for the rest of your life. Everything about this bushcraft coat is designed to protect you and last a long time.
The design is perfect for four seasonal use and has two full-length zips on either side that go up to the pit and can be opened both ways, which is the fastest way to cool down without taking it off. Then you have the oversized neck gaiter, which is amazing in any kind of cold, windy, or wet weather and can then be opened when it warms or dries up. This is so good in winter snow storms as you can really hunker down in the jacket to stay dry and warm.
The hood is also very large and provides an almost igloo shape around your head to block any wind and rain from getting into your eyes. Pair this with a full-length wire hood rim which can be bent into whatever shape you like, and your face will always be totally protected. When the wind isn’t too bad, or you just want a smaller hood volume, you can sinch it up at the back with an elasticated toggle for horizontal tightening and a velcro strap to pull the hood back horizontally.
What is the neckline all about? The neck gaiter (as we call it) is fairly unique but is an awesome feature that looks cool and performs well. There is a heavy-duty 1/4 length zip that opens up to reveal an interior flap of fabric secured by four nice big buttons. This can be used to improve breathability, protect you from bugs or weather, or open like any other smock.
There are just two large kangaroo-style pockets on the front. One has a zip opening from the top and another beneath this, which has two handwarmer openings on either side. These are plenty big enough to keep things like hats and gloves in one and all your valuables and map in the other.
The weatherproofing and durability of this jacket are what make it one of the champions for bushcraft. You do need to use Greenland Wax or something similar to make sure the jacket is and stays waterproof, but you could walk through any kind of thick, spikey bush without any concern about ripping it.
VERDICT: The Anorak No. 8 from Fjallraven is our number one choice of protection to wear over down jackets. We love our down clothing, but it is always so vulnerable to tears – with this survival jacket over the top, you never have to worry, and it keeps you dry. We really love this jacket, although it is pricey – good job, you’ll only ever need to buy one!
Helikon-Tex Pilgrim Anorak Jacket
- MATERIAL: DuraCanvas: 65% Polyester, 33% Cotton, 2% Elastane
- POCKETS: 5 pockets
- HOOD: Yes – Triple adjustments
- DURABILITY: 9.7/10
The Helikon-Tex Pilgrim Anorak Jacket is specifically designed for bushcraft and is made of a similar material to the two Fjallraven jackets above. This is one of the best bug-out jackets because of its extremely tough fabric and multitude of pockets. The entire jacket is lined with mesh to improve breathability and air circulation by preventing it from ever sticking to your skin.
The hood has a triple adjustment: around the rim of the hood, horizontally around your forehead, and then a velcro strap to pull it back at the top. This allows you to get the hood just how you like it, as well as adjust it to the severity of the weather. The central zip goes just past halfway to open it up, or when fully zipped up, it is stormproof.
The mesh lining helps with breathability in that all the pocket linings are mesh, so when you have the pockets open, they all act as small vents. On top of this, you also get some long pit vents under each arm, which you can open when you are hiking, gathering, or chopping firewood. There are six regular pockets dotted across the front of the jacket as well as one large kangaroo pouch that can be accessed from both sides and is the perfect hand warmer on cold days.
The jacket is not waterproof when it arrives, but much like the Fjallraven coats above, it can be impregnated with wax to make it fully weatherproof. Once a jacket is waxed, it will lose some of its breathability, but overall, it will still perform better than jackets made using a waterproof membrane. The benefit of this type of canvas material is that it is incredibly durable and would take you intentionally cutting into it actually to cause any damage.
VERDICT: The Pilgrim Anorak Jacket from Helikon-Tex is making a name for itself by giving bushcrafters exactly what they need. A highly durable jacket with lots of vents, adjustments, and pockets. Even though we would still take Anorak No. 8 over this one, the price difference between the two is enough to justify giving this one a go.
Sitka Hudson Waterproof Insulated Hunting Jacket
- MATERIAL: 3-Layer GORE-TEX®, GORE-TEX® with STRETCH Technology, PrimaLoft® Gold insulation
- POCKETS: 8 pockets
- HOOD: Yes – Single adjuster
- DURABILITY: 9.6/10
The Sitka Hudson Waterproof Insulated Hunting Jacket is a really good choice for year-round use. It is fully waterproof, and the insulation is body-mapped so that you get complete freedom of movement. As well as the clever insulation, the jacket uses GORE-TEX® with STRETCH Technology in specific areas around the shoulder so that you can pull a gun to your shoulder without any friction or bunching material.
This jacket is designed primarily for hunters, but that also means it works well for bushcraft. There are features like the water-sealing wrist cuff made from neoprene designed for fishermen and women so that they don’t get their sleeves wet – this is ideal for bushcraft when you have to wash things or forage in water. There are reinforced patches on the seat and elbows so that when you are sitting down or in position on your front, you don’t damage the main shell of the jacket.
The two large bellow pockets are designed to hold a full box of shells, but this also means you can use them for your bushcraft tools or when collecting dry tinder. These bellow pockets, along with two chest pockets, have magnetic closures and can also help keep them open with discreet magnets inside. My favorite pockets on this bushcrafters jacket are the upper hand warmer pockets, which are lined and sit in the perfect position to keep your hands when you are both standing around or sitting down.
The entire jacket is fleece lined, which is the only insulation on the sleeves. Then you have the Primaloft insulated body mapping, which is like a body warmer/gilet that is sewn into the inside to keep your torso and core warm. This means that the arms stay completely unrestricted and don’t bunch up when you lift your arms.
The hood is fairly small in comparison to most other bushcraft jackets, and that is because you don’t want a big hood getting in your way when you are hunting. You can pull the adjuster tight so that it fits close to your head, and then the hood will follow whatever direction you look without getting in the way or flapping in the wind.
The waterproofing, wind protection, and breathability are all incredible on this jacket, and GoreTex triple layer is known to be very durable. We wouldn’t describe this as a fully insulated jacket, nor is it just a shell. It is a unique waterproof coat with body-mapped Primaloft and an emphasis on the freedom to move your arms.
VERDICT: If staying dry is your main concern, but you want a little bit of insulation, then the Hudson Waterproof Insulated Hunting Jacket from Sitka. Bushcrafting often requires you to use your arms or sit in a hunched-over position for long periods of time. The combination of durability, waterproofing, warmth, and, most importantly – flexibility are what make this jacket stand out and worthy of your consideration.
Swanndri Ranger Shirt
- MATERIAL: 100% Merino Wool
- POCKETS: 2 pockets
- HOOD: No
- DURABILITY: 9.7/10
The Swanndri Ranger Shirt originated in New Zealand, is made from 100% merino wool, and is designed to be worn outdoors in all conditions. Swanndri has become known as the brand of choice for outdoorsmen like hunters, farmers, bushcrafters, miners, and gardeners in New Zealand and is slowly spreading throughout the world.
It does kind of suck there isn’t a hood, but then again, this isn’t meant to be waterproof. This is more of a sweater or shirt you can wear all year round. That doesn’t matter if you get it wet or muddy because you know it will dry and brush off. As an insulative layer, it is far superior to any other material and will keep you warm beneath an outer shell.
Because it is made from wool and is not waterproof, it is incredibly breathable, and even if you wear this in the sun, it won’t massively overheat you. That is the magic of merino wool. It keeps you warm when it’s cold but cool when it is hot. If you are wondering how the wool feels… it is incredibly soft and, at the same time, very durable.
VERDICT: The Ranger Shirt is supposedly Swanndri’s most popular product, with more of this shirt being sold than any of their other items. You don’t get many adjustments, there’s no hood, and there are just two chest pockets which mean nowhere to keep your hands warm. Still, this is designed to be worn in the harshest environment and keep you warm whether you are wet or dry (preferably dry). This is the perfect bushcraft top to wear underneath a waterproof shell.
Helikon-Tex Woodsman Anorak Jacket
- MATERIAL: DuraCanvas: 65% Polyester, 33% Cotton, 2% Elastane, StormStretch® fabric panels
- POCKETS: 2 large kangaroo pockets
- HOOD: Yes – Triple adjustments
- DURABILITY: 9.6/10
The Helikon-Tex Woodsman Anorak Jacket is another smock-style coat that is ideal for bushcraft. It is made from the rugged Duracanvas and has some stretch panels that are waterproof to keep your arms totally module even if you are hunched over. This jacket is very similar to the Fjallraven Anorak No. 8 but is much cheaper and perhaps not as high quality.
The hood is adjustable in three places to get the perfect fit around your head, and the neckline is nice and high so that you can almost completely cover your face apart from your eyes. The front zip is shorter than on the Pilgrim Anorak above, and this jacket has fewer pockets, but that doesn’t matter. The zip on the front is big enough, and there are two massive pit zips on either side that are even more effective for cooling down or getting the jacket on or off.
The DuraCanvas is super abrasion resistant, flame retardant, windproof, and can be impregnated with fabric wax to make it waterproof. It is one of the best fabrics for bushcraft clothing, and it is very similar to Fjallravens own blend, just a little thinner, perhaps. Untreated, the material is very breathable and also dries much faster than cotton.
VERDICT: The Woodsman Anorak Jacket from Helikon-Tex is another great choice for people who work outdoors or do a lot of camping or bushcraft activities. It is hard-wearing, like a caving suit, and looks very cool in the different color coordination. This is perhaps one of the best value bushcraft jackets out there and is perfect for protection down jackets underneath.
Barbour Sapper Wax Jacket
- MATERIAL: 6oz. waxed cotton outer, diamond-quilted lining
- POCKETS: 6 pockets
- HOOD: Yes – Zip away
- DURABILITY: 9.5/10
The Barbour Sapper Wax Jacket is a timeless classic that continues to be the coat of choice for many of the bushcraft community. The company started in 1894 in the UK and has become one of the most trusted apparel companies by farmers and hunters. The wax fabric and traditional style are what Barbour is known for, and the Sapper Jacket has everything you would expect from a coat you plan to use for bushcrafting.
The hood is a simple roll-away style that zips into the collar and provides insulation when not in use. The hood itself is not very adjustable, although it can be secured with the pull cord toggles. The collar is made from a corduroy-type material that is comfortable, warm, and hardwearing, just like the outside.
Wax jackets are not the most breathable, but they never seem to suffer from internal condensation the same way synthetic jackets do. This is 100% waterproof when it arrives and can be maintained for many years by reapplying a small amount of wax. Because the cotton is impregnated with wax, it doesn’t absorb water at all and proves to be incredibly durable over time.
VERDICT: The Sapper Jacket from Barbour is perhaps the smartest-looking outdoor jacket that you can wear in all weathers as well as not look like a backpacker. The stereotype of Barbour jacket owners is that they are worn by landowners driving Range Rovers who go hunting on a weekend, but the truth is many outdoors people have adopted them, and bushcrafters are some of those people.
SITKA Gear Duck Oven Jacket
- MATERIAL: GORE WINDSTOPPER laminate, Primaloft insulation
- POCKETS: 6 pockets
- HOOD: No
- DURABILITY: 9.4/10
The SITKA Gear Duck Oven Jacket is the type of jacket you want with you all the time. Whether it is summer or winter, this jacket can serve an important purpose in your bushcraft outfit. The material is water-resistant, not waterproof, but completely windproof, thanks to the GORE WINDSTOPPER laminate.
The top three-quarters of the jacket has a slightly glossier finish, and then the bottom section is much softer and less ‘noisy’. On the inside, you get the same thing; diamond stitch insulation at the top and a shaggy fleece on the lower sections, which is as soft as teddy bear fur. We don’t quite understand why this is the case, but it works nonetheless.
The best way to use this jacket is a mid/outer layer. This means you can wear nothing but a t-shirt or baselayer underneath, and this jacket will keep you warm most of the time. When it is really cold, or it rains hard, then you can put another layer over the top of this and have almost double the protection. It does a good job of keeping you dry from light showers and will block 100% of wind; it just needs a more waterproof shell to cover it in torrential rain.
One of our favorite features of this jacket is the upper hand warmer pockets which can be accessed even when wearing overalls or waders. These pockets are lined with the same type of teddy fur material you get inside and are amazingly warm for your hands.
VERDICT: While the Duck Oven Jacket from SITKA Gear is amazing for bushcraft, you will need some kind of waterproof shell to pair with it in bad weather. As soon as you put this bushcraft jacket on, you feel warm and ready to go. Even though it isn’t waterproof, you wouldn’t hesitate to put this on to go out in the rain or push through some thick brush while hunting.
Legendary Whitetails Outdoorsman Jacket
- MATERIAL: 60% Recycled Wool Outer Shell, 40% Acrylic Polyester Nylon Viscose
- POCKETS: 4 pockets
- HOOD: No
- DURABILITY: 9.3/10
The Legendary Whitetails Outdoorsman Jacket is a hardwearing coat that is perfect for bushcraft, survival, and bug-out bags. We were on the fence about including it in this list because many people might view this as more of a fashion brand, but the sheer amount of support it gets from the bushcraft community was enough to include it.
It is made from about 60% recycled wool and 40% polyester, which is actually a great combination for warm and durable clothing. Because it is a high wool blend, you can always count on it to keep you warm even if it gets wet. The addition of nylon polyester only improves its durability, and the tight-knit ensure you never suffer from loose strands of wool.
Other than the super-tough outer fabric, one thing that really makes this survival jacket a winner is the super-soft sherpa lining, which covers the entire torso. This keeps you so warm and toasty on winter mornings, and then the sleeves are quilt lined, which is a much smoother material so that you can get your arms in and out of the sleeves without any bunching or resistance.
This is another mid/outer layer like the SITKA Gear Duck Oven Jacket above because most of the time it is the only jacket you need, and then occasionally, it makes an amazing mid-layer. It is missing a hood and doesn’t have much neck protection other than the collar, which is very basic, but if you are more of a hat and scarf kind of person, then you won’t have a problem.
VERDICT: We really like the Outdoorsman Jacket from Legendary Whitetails because it is warm and hard-wearing without being too much. It is just the right weight to wear all year round and has the lumberjack style that is backed by its performance in the woods. You really can’t go wrong with this coat for the money, and it will last a long time.
What Makes Bushcraft Jackets Different?
Bushcraft jackets are about durability more than anything else. They need to be able to survive constant abuse for things like carrying firewood, pushing through thorn bushes, being used to sit on, surviving campfire sparks, and everything else in between. Being waterproof is a bonus, and so is insulation, but above all else, they need to be tough.
Types of Bushcraft Jackets
When trying to find the best bushcraft coats in the world, we came across a number of different styles. We have tried to include a good mix of these different types of bushcraft jackets so that you can get the one that is right for you. Maybe you already have lots of warm clothes but just need a tough winter shell – we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the most common types:
Bushcraft Shell Jacket
A shell jacket for bushcraft and survival is typically used for its waterproofing; however, if you have any lightweight down tops, then you may also be looking for some protection. While it is important for shell jackets to be waterproof, durability is just as big a priority. Goretex is always a safe bet but the most durable type of material is something like DuraCanvas or G-1000 (Fjallraven), which needs to be waxed to make it waterproof but is the most hardwearing jacket material out there.
Winter Bushcraft Jacket
Winter bushcraft Jackets are warm and insulated but still have a tough outer shell to stay protected inside. A good example of this would be the Sitka Hudson Jacket which is insulated with a triple-layer Goretex shell. If you are like us, then you may take on a layered approach to winter clothing and use something warm but not waterproof paired with a fully waterproof outer shell.
Bushcraft Smocks and Anoraks
Smocks and anoraks are basically jackets without a full-length zip. They often feature a large kangaroo pocket on the front and make excellent mid or outer layers. You can get insulated smocks or wool anoraks for warmth as well as canvas or waterproof shell smocks and anoraks to go over the top. The way the zip opens at the top makes smocks ideal to wear over the top of a hoodie or even a down jacket.
Bushcraft shirts is a broad term used to describe the lumberjack style jackets like the Legendary Whitetails Outdoorsman Jacket as well as the Swanndri smock. They are often midweight to heavyweight and are not waterproof. Wool is a common material that is used for its warmth and durability outdoors.
Guide to Bushcraft and Survival Jackets
So now that you know the different types of bushcraft coats, it’s time to learn more about what makes a jacket good for bushcraft alongside its durability. Here are some of the features we looked for when preparing this guide:
The material seemed to be the priority feature we paid attention to when choosing a jacket for camping and outdoor work. For waterproof shells, Goretex and other membranes are a fine choice, but we found that waxed canvas is the best type of fabric for bushcrafters. Duracanvas and Fjallravens G-1000 are the toughest we have seen, but here is a list of the different materials:
- Waxed Cotton
- Waxed Cotton/Polyester Blend
- Wool/Polyester Blend
Design and Fit
Most bushcraft jackets will have a slightly larger fit so that they can be worn over the top of other layers. We prefer a slightly tighter fit so we usually order a size down. It is important to consider things like sleeve length and diameter, overall length, and whether you can sit down on the back of it. Adjustments play a key role in baggy clothing, so look for plenty, and you don’t have to worry so much about getting a perfect fit.
Waterproofing is important if you want to use your jacket as the outer shell in your layering system. Waxed canvas and cotton are surprisingly waterproof, are easily maintained, and get better with age. Goretex and other membranes or laminates will repel water very well at first but lose their effectiveness fairly quickly unless retreated often. There are exceptions to this, but most waterproof jackets cost a lot of money.
Almost all of the jackets we recommend for bushcraft in this guide are windproof, so this is not something you really need to worry about, but if you decide to look elsewhere, remember to avoid thin cotton shirts and tops with loose weave knit. Any kind of waterproof jacket or waxed canvas is going to be totally windproof.
When it comes to warmth, we like to use multiple layers, so a thin fleece lining is sufficient in most cases, but when it is cold, insulated jackets are where it is at. If you are using your jacket for hunting, then some flexibility and strategic insulation mapping will be an advantage so that when you shoulder your gun, it doesn’t get caught on the bunched-up fabric.
Bushcraft jackets are perfect for coupling with a down jacket or body warmer because they provide protection so that the down can provide warmth without getting damaged or wet. Wool is an excellent insulator and even works when wet which is one of the big reasons it is loved by outdoors people.
Breathability and Ventilation
When you are doing tasks around the camp you might be sitting still for two hours and then catching your breath gathering firewood the next. You need a jacket that doesn’t make you overheat and start sweating and instead allows you to breathe and use ventilation to cool down. Underarm vents are very effective for releasing excess heat, but a central zip or opening seems to work best most of the time.
Storm flaps on zips do two things, they block rain from getting past any zips and channel it away, and they block wind from getting through in the same way. You can get storm flaps on the outside of your jacket as well as the inside, and it is something you can easily look for. We like jackets the same way we like our bushcraft pants; designed for storms.
Pockets are quite important for bushcrafters who like to always be prepared and so often have lots of little gadgets with them. You might keep your main knife on your belt but then have a multitool and fire steel in one of your jacket pockets. In another pocket, you might have a water filter and a small water bottle. Then in your inside pocket, you can secure valuables like your phone, wallet, and keys.
Hunters may want pockets large enough to carry a round of shells, or photographers may want a large kangaroo pocket instead of smaller ones. If it gets cold where you live, you may be persuaded by fleece-lined pockets that keep your hands warm when you don’t have gloves.
Hoods and Neckline
Some people are picky about their hoods, but we feel that if you go for a jacket with an adjustable hood, then what’s the problem? We look for triple adjustments and wire rims on the hood and a nice high neckline to hunker down in.
A wired hood lets you mold it into any shape you like, and it will stay in that position for the most part. Triple adjusters start with one drawcord around the rim of the hood opening, then one that runs horizontally around your forehead, and then a final velcro strap that pulls it back vertically. If you set these right, you can have a hood that moves in the direction you are looking and never gets in the way.
Durability is the key with bushcraft jackets. If it is going to get damaged easily, then it is not a good choice. Canvas materials last the longest and can withstand the most abrasions, but wool and other fabrics are also very good. Jackets you wear for camping and working outside get dirty pretty quickly, but as long as they don’t damage easily, that is all that matters.
Why Do Bushcraft Jackets Need to Be So Tough?
To understand why your bushcraft jacket needs to be made of tough material because anything less won’t last a year. You will be carrying logs, sitting close to campfires, walking through thick brush, building things, climbing things, and occasionally crawling underneath things. All of this means constantly rubbing your jacket against things that might damage a standard coat.
Once you have a good bushcraft jacket, you will be happy to prove just how robust it is by rubbing a rock against it or a tree branch to show that it doesn’t even leave a mark. The thing to really look out for is how strong the stitching is because, in a world of durable jackets, it will be the stitching that goes first. Look for double stitching and reinforcements on hard-wearing areas.
We hope you found everything you were looking for in this guide to the best bushcraft jackets. Let us know if you think we missed one.