I tore the arm of my jacket. Not completely off, but enough to render it essentially useless. I have no idea how I did it — but the tear is there. It's a tragedy, honestly. It's not an inexpensive leather box jacket and it's lifespan should have been triple the seven-ish years that it lasted. I can at least say that on the basis of cost per day of meaningful use it had a good run. I won't buy another leather jacket though. There are a number of reasons, not least of which is the effort of caring for leather that is repeatedly exposed to rain, sunlight and the cold of a British winter (or summer, for that matter).
So I was in the market for a new general use jacket. Buying new things like this is always a bit of a big deal for me. I needed something that I would feel stylistically comfortable in (but I wanted to avoid another Standard Black Garment). I wanted something light and cooler; even in the middle of winter I have a tendency to overheat. I also wanted something that I won't have to replace for a long time.
I like minimalist design, things should ideally be no more complex than is required. I don't need pockets on top of pockets, especially not dedicated pockets for things that can happily live in a perfectly ordinary, garden variety pocket. Exchangeable and reversible things are similarly over-engineered for my needs.
I found a Swedish company called Fjällräven who make pretty serious-business outdoor survival gear: tents, sleeping bags… coats and jackets. Some of their stuff is designed to protect you from the real wilderness where exposure and lack of preparation are capable of killing you. Much, though, is just high-quality, thoughtful, every-day wear. I searched around but kept coming back — I loved their material choices, their utilitarian but not entirely spartan aesthetic, and they have an excellent reputation on mainland Europe.
My initial interest was in the Greenland Jacket but it's perhaps an overly robust material with a fixed hood, and therefore not the best year-round general use jacket considering my particular propensity to generate excessive warmth. They're gorgeous though, and I may reconsider when I need a more heavy duty winter jacket.
Then however I found the Woodsman jacket.
I have to admit that part of me immediately fell in love with the large, bearded man in plaid cliché. I won't apologise. Cliché or not it's a comfortable image for me and I can wear it well. It's a fleece jacket — so warm but not too heavy, and it's breathable. It's water resistant; not waterproof but good enough for most situations. It's also constructed of largely recycled or renewable materials, which wasn't my foremost priority but is an excellent additional feature.
It's the design and quality that really sold me though; the lines and the fit, the collar. Details like the two-way front zip, and zippered pockets. The shoulders are a more hard-wearing and durable material to withstand the wear of a strap for your bag or rucksack (the same material strategically reinforces the cuffs, hem and collar as well as providing a windproof back for the front zipper). The cuffs can be pinned tighter around your wrists to keep out the wind. The craftsmanship is excellent, and it's just kinda beautiful.
Of course, since buying it the weather has been glorious so I've barely been able to wear it.