We’re all looking for that perfect jacket that keeps us warm and dry but still makes us look stylish. If this sounds familiar, then you’ve probably thought about buying a wax jacket once or twice. But how warm are these jackets? Are wax jackets warm enough for winter cold weather?
Wax jackets are good for winter because they offer wind and water protection, but the warmth of a wax jacket is largely dependent on the type of lining used. In general, most types of wax jackets are built for mild to moderate winter conditions, however some types of wax jackets with quality lining can handle more severe conditions. These are the warmest types of linings used in wax jackets.
It should be noted, however, that even unlined wax jackets can be used in severe winter conditions. They will just need to be paired with appropriate layering underneath the jacket. In fact, some types of wax jackets are built with a relaxed fit to create sufficient space to layer underneath when needed.
In this article let’s take a closer look at what makes wax jackets warm and let’s also discuss alternative options that might be more appropriate for severe cold weather.
What Makes Wax Jackets Warm?
Wax jackets are made from an exterior layer of waxed cotton. Once treated with this protective layer, the jacket offers a higher level of warmth, durability, and water resistance. And many people love the blue-collar style of wax jackets which looks good both on and off the clock.
However, warmth can vary. Unlined, lightweight wax jackets, on their own, will not be warm enough for severe winter conditions. They should be used in mild to moderate conditions, unless you plan to layer underneath.
Warmest Wax Jacket Linings
- Wool – Wool is a popular lining option for wax jackets. Some companies may use a wool fabric blend to make the wool more comfortable against the skin.
- Fleece – Fleece is a warm lining popular for many types of jackets, including wax jackets. Usually feels softer against the skin than other options.
- Synthetic – Synthetic insulation is very popular in jackets because it is thin and non-bulky, but very good at trapping heat. Popular types of synthetic insulation for jackets are 3M Thinsulate and PrimaLoft.
- Canvas – Yes, sometimes canvas is used to layer or insulate a waxed jacket. Not only does this add warmth, it adds more durability to the jacket.
Another important issue regarding the warmth of a wax jacket is the size and type of collar used. Larger collars can be flipped up when needed to added warmth and protection to the neck.
Some wax jackets will have lined collars that not only add a unique design accent to the jacket, but also add warmth around the neck. For example, here is a moleskin-cotton lined collar on my Filson waxed jacket:
Wax Jackets vs Leather Jackets for Winter
Wax jackets are often compared with leather jackets because of their similar appearance. Yet, each has its own set of unique characteristics that sets it apart.
Both options are best used for mild to moderate winter conditions unless paired with a warm liner or other layering. In general, wax jackets usually offer a bit more wind-resistance.
Waterproof insulated jackets are important for extreme conditions.
As long as you keep your waxed jacket fully waxed, it’ll remain waterproof. This outer layer will drive away moisture from rain and snow, keeping you fully dry on the inside.
Because they lack a waxy exterior, leather jackets don’t provide much protection against moisture. Some leather jackets may be treated to make them water-resistant. Still, waxed jackets are the better option for wet conditions.
Wax jackets are resilient and strong enough to handle all types of scratches, rips, and tears.
Plus, they’re basically immune to stains. Even if it does get a small stain here or there, it can easily be wiped off with a clean cloth.
Alternatively, leather jackets pick up more stains than their waxed counterparts. They can also be easily ripped, which means they require more care and upkeep.
Even though leather jackets don’t have a waxy exterior, they need to be regularly moisturized to keep their shiny appearance. On the other hand, wax jackets need frequent re-waxing to maintain the integrity of the proofing layer.
Experts recommend you have your jacket re-waxed once or twice a year to ensure it remains weather-resistant, hard-wearing, and capable of standing up to the harshest of weather conditions. Filson sells oil finish wax for their popular water-resistant tin cloth jackets.
Similar to leather jackets, wax jackets tend to take on a musty smell after a while. This is partly because of their unique manufacturing process.
Another reason behind the musty smell is you can’t put a wax jacket in the washing machine. The detergent can strip away the protective coating.
As for wax jackets, machine washing can also damage them to a point where they can’t ever be re-waxed or reproofed again. In other words, you’ll no longer be able to rely on it to keep you warm or dry.
You also should not dry clean a wax jacket. Having a professional clean both a waxed jacket and a leather jacket is usually the best option.
Wax Jacket Alternatives for Extreme Cold Weather
Above, we compared waxed jackets to leather jackets. Here are some other alternatives to consider for winter weather:
- Wool – Wool is a unique replacement for a wax jacket because wool is also naturally water-resistant. The neat thing about wool is it is very good at insulating even when it gets damp. Many types of wool jackets are good for cold, wet conditions.
- Nylon Duck – Nylon duck jackets can be some of the warmest jacket on the market. They are often wind-resistant, water-resistant, and abrasion-resistant. These are often used as work jackets, and paired with warm synthetic insulation like 3M Thinsulate or PrimaLoft, which are non-bulky but very good at trapping heat. I personally like the Carhartt Yukon Extremes nylon duck jacket.
- Cotton Duck – Cotton duck is another good winter option. Like nylon duck we discussed above, cotton duck is durable and often wind/water-resistant. Additional waterproof treatment can be added to a cotton duck jacket if needed. They’re usually not as noisy as nylon duck jackets. My personal favorite is the Carhartt J140 jacket.
- Down Jacket – Down jackets are very popular for extreme cold weather. They are almost always warmer than a waxed jacket, and usually offer just as much (or more) protection against rain. The drawback? Down jackets are not nearly as durable as a waxed jacket.
If you are searching for a winter work jacket, and want to explore options, visit our article that discusses the best work jackets for winter.