Question - The most practical flying jacket?

Discussion in 'General Flight Jacket Discussion' started by Smithy, May 24, 2018.

  1. Smithy

    Smithy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,495
    Location:
    Norway
    Some recent comments concerning Matt's BK ANJ-3 and Techno's recent Aero one got me thinking what do the members here consider the most practical flying jacket? I'm not asking what's your favourite one but which one from your best objective standpoint is the most practical and useful flying jacket - that's in terms of how it functions, its features, ease and comfort of wear, etc, etc. I know there'll be some who want to fine tune this down to just flying but I'm really speaking in relation to everyday living for most of the members here.

    I have a B-10 and although it's not my favourite flying jacket I have to admit that it's probably my most practical, even to the point where I use it for DIY projects and recently even a boat restoration. Never had an ANJ-3 or a M-422/G-1 but I can see with those that their functionality must be good.

    Interested to hear other opinions on what they think and why.
     
    Technonut2112 likes this.
  2. Dr H

    Dr H Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,607
    Location:
    Somerset, UK
    I'd agree - it's subjective, but the best looking flight jackets have rarely been the most practical in my experience.

    In terms of sheepskin/shearling, I love Irvins, but they are hopeless when it comes to the lack of pockets and the weight (probably even more of an issue when considering an even heavier B-3 with a tiny map pocket). I like the D-1 a lot, but have only had one ratty vintage example, I have never owned an M-444 or M-445 (or the related jackets), but I think John Lever's most recent M-445 example looks really practical as it's a thinner weight shearling for use on the ground.

    For leather, I have owned more A-1 jackets than any other style and I find buttons more useful that a zip, but the correctly sized pockets are ridiculously impractical for most objects. The several AN-J-3 jackets that I have had were much more practical than any of the fine looking A-2 jackets that I've had (both in terms of fit/ease of movement, number of pockets); I simply couldn't get on with the collar, which was too large/wide for my taste.

    In terms of cloth, the B-10 is great and I have owned many, but I found the B-15 to be more practical for walking the dog, etc. (hand warmer pockets), although I didn't like the huge collar and the offset zip so sold mine on. My 37J1 is going back to China as it's too trim, and I have one on order with John Chapman. Given the pattern and the large bellows pockets it should be practical for summer use.
     
    nkang and Smithy like this.
  3. Smithy

    Smithy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,495
    Location:
    Norway
    Excellent points Dr H.

    It is funny when you put aside subjective like and look purely at functionality how different it can be. I too love Irvins but if I'm being purely objective in terms of practicality they aren't terribly. Saying that I love mine and wouldn't part with it.

    I went through a stage with B-15s some years back, specifically C models, all (repros included) tended to be very on the short side which adversely affected their practicality. Fine no doubt if you were sat on your backside droning over Korea not the best for modern everyday life where your top half is toasty and your kidneys are freezing.

    The A-2 is a wonderfully simple design but that simplicity for me is its weakness. The lack of a bi-swing back means the jacket can be tight and restrictive in certain movements, something that obviously they were trying to overcome with the ANJ-3. I still like them and enjoy wearing mine but I also realise that it's not perfect.
     
  4. Dr H

    Dr H Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,607
    Location:
    Somerset, UK
    The most practical outerwear for me is usually not a flight jacket: in winter I find my N-1 deck jacket or my peacoat far more useful, in intermediate temperature/weather my Journeyman (car coat/chore jacket) is my go to jacket...
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2018
    Officer Dibley and Skip like this.
  5. Smithy

    Smithy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,495
    Location:
    Norway
    My Barnstormer gets a lot of use over spring and autumn here. Actually it's one of the most practical coats/jackets I own.
     
  6. Garylafortuna

    Garylafortuna Active Member

    Messages:
    204
    Smithy, I believe you have just opened Pandora's Box here. This is the kind of question where you ask ten people, you get eleven different answers. But one thing we all know for sure is that the A-2 is definitely not a practical jacket: no hand warmer pockets, no inside pockets, no inside facings, restrictive through the shoulders, etc. The only thing it has going for it is tons of charisma, exceptional good looks, poise, personality, magnetism, allure, charm, strength of character, seduction, etc., etc., etc. Somebody stop me.
     
    Flightengineer, Nickb123 and tjoenn like this.
  7. Smithy

    Smithy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,495
    Location:
    Norway
    You're probably very right Gary, everyone will have a different opinion but it's interesting to hear people's objective opinions about these things from a practical, functionality standpoint.

    And I couldn't agree more about the A-2, it's a flawed beauty but what it lacks in function it makes up tenfold in terms of what you listed above.
     
    tjoenn likes this.
  8. MikeyB-17

    MikeyB-17 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,984
    Location:
    Cornwall, UK
    Much as I love WWII flight jackets, it’s become obvious to me that technology has moved on and that jackets designed in the 30’s aren’t terribly practical any more. I loved my B-3, fully intend to buy another, but wear it out in the rain? No chance. Shearlings in general are cool as Hell, but if I’m going walking on Dartmoor it’ll be fleece and Gore-tex for me. I agree the G-1 is about as practical as it gets for leather jackets, and mine gets plenty of use, but in all honesty civilian leathers like the Highwayman or my Schott car coat are my favourites. My most used flight jackets are my CWU’s, the 45/p is great in Winter, and the 36/p is great for the other three seasons.
     
  9. johnwayne

    johnwayne Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,381
    Having never been a pilot I’m not sure I’m qualified to have a view but why any jacket needs hand warmer pockets I’ve no idea - isn’t that what gloves are for!! As to the practical aspect then if the jacket fits properly then it should do the job but I’d imagine the bi swing back of a G1 better than an A2 but if the leather is supple enough who knows!! Open cockpit vs closed vs heated etc - surely there no one size fits all?
     
  10. Smithy

    Smithy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,495
    Location:
    Norway
    As I said above I was approaching this more in relation to everyday living for most of the members here, rather than specifically flying. I know there's fellows here who use their flying jackets for what they were intended but the vast majority of members here use them for knocking around at Angels 0.

    Mikey I have to agree, modern materials have left many of these old things behind in the performance department in extreme conditions. My Canada Goose is simply unbeatable when it's stupidly cold here but if I'm honest it's got all the charm and charisma of a brick. It's merely a tool.

    It's a bit like driving from A to B in a modern Mazda 6 versus an MGA 1500. The Mazda will get you there quicker, more safely and more comfortably but the MG will have you grinning like a Cheshire cat.
     
    Flightengineer, MikeyB-17 and Skip like this.
  11. falcon_ib

    falcon_ib Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    222
    Location:
    California
    Ironically my tanker jacket is the most comfortable to fly with! High pockets are great and the whole thing has great maneuverability. During the summer I fly with a Vietnam era Shirt, Flyers', Hot Weather, Fire Resistant made of nomex. Nice cigarette pocket with pen/pencil slots, and it makes me feel better in case the plane decides to stop flying!
    I would say my B-15C (Mod.) is the most practical for everyday life, very warm with lots of pockets and the snap-down microphone wiring tabs come in handy for keeping my headphone wire out of the way. Although I can fit the most beer bottles and sandwiches in the M1950 field jacket:D
     
    Flightengineer and Smithy like this.
  12. B-Man2

    B-Man2 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,254
    When discussing flight jackets of the 30’s and 40’s you have to separate the “cool factor” from the idea of modern day “practicality “. For instance Irvin’s , B-3s , A2’s , and German flight jackets like the Hartmann........Way Cool ! However from a practical standpoint all those jackets are limited in one way or another to use in the specific environments for which they were designed to be worn. For example, aside from being cool most of the jackets we like were designed simply as a piece of survival kit to be worn for specific purposes . The A2 was,for the most part, a summer flight jacket that was put into full time service in places it was never designed to go i.e. 28,000 ft in the cockpit of a B-17. B-3s were never designed to be worn at any place other that in in an open cockpit or at 28,000 ft. With the exception of a rare few of us how often do we really get to wear a B-3 or an Irvin. A few times a year , but not really a practical jacket for our purposes. But hey... way cool!! We get far more use from lightweight A2s, G-1’s , or Hartmann’s because we can stretch the wearing cycles by adding layers or taking them off. However, now we have an issue of comfort and restricted movement. I for one will endure the limited discomfort and opt for unlimited coolness of the WWII flight jackets every time because really .. at this stage of my life ... what else do I have going for me;)
     
    Skip, falcon_ib and Smithy like this.
  13. Skip

    Skip Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,274
    Location:
    Great Southern Land
    I guess it also boils down to climate as well. It never gets cold enough hear to wear shearling for a whole day, the only time I wear my m455 is in the snow, driving the car in Winter with the roofs off, or maybe a colder than normal morning. The m455 I have is a shorter shearling and still plenty warm has 2 large front pockets for storage and a gusseted underarm which allows enough movement, but its still a tiring jacket to wear if your not in a cockpit of one kind or another.

    Love the look of A2's, and over the years I have just got used to their inherent unforgivingness, wore one yesterday driving non stop for 3 hours not a problem. have just put one through a rigorous test when I went for 2 week holiday in some of the wilder, less colder parts of Victoria. In some places I did complete day walks, carried a backpack full of camera gear/food water (12kg), in jeans, t-shirt and wool sweater and the ELC Werber, one of the closest fitting A2's I have. I thought it was going to be a bit impractical but it faired ok, no where near as comfortable as modern active/hiking gear, but it kept the wind out, kept me warm and didn't overly tire me. Albeit I wasn't rock climbing or doing callisthenics, so just walking and carrying a pack one is not moving the upper body a lot, but considering its simple, more impractical design it faired better than what I thought it would. When I got my first 'proper' repro I counldnt get over how tight the shoulders were and how much the arms rode up and generally how uncomfortable it was, wondering what the hell have I gone and done. Now, I have 3 and love each one for its slightly different characteristics.

    Navy jackets appear and feel far more comfortable and practical in their design and ability for movement. I don't like mouton collars a lot due to I find them itchy, and too warm in the less cooler months. For me, specifically talking flying jackets, the AN-J-3 wins hands down, bi-swing back, comfortable and stylish fit, decent size collar that seems bigger when up than the A2 collar, and a better fastening system, larger pockets than A2's and an internal pocket, can layer a sweater underneath without feeling the shoulders seams are going to split, and because of its design the jacket doesn't ride up in the body or the arms when you zip it completely up. I could drive, walk, chop wood all day in the AN-J-3. In the right fit you never feel restricted. The only thing missing would be hand warmer pockets.

    So for an allrounder that's comfortable, stylish, and practical in any given situation, the AN-J-3 is my go to jacket, but you already new that Tim I suspect.
     
    Smithy likes this.
  14. Garylafortuna

    Garylafortuna Active Member

    Messages:
    204
    .. at this stage of my life ... what else do I have going for me;)[/QUOTE]

    Now now Burt, we'll have none of this self deprecating kind of speak. This is a situation up with which we shall not put. Crazy talk.
     
    B-Man2 likes this.
  15. jeremiah

    jeremiah Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    695
    Location:
    Mississippi
    Skip. I just drove from Massachusetts to Mississippi wearing mine. Not non stop but we are talking 8-10 hour days of driving. Was driving a moving truck and could blast the AC for my father in law and still be comfortable myself.
     
    Skip likes this.
  16. CBI

    CBI Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,851
    Funny thread. depends what the OP means. Now that I am spending some time in the air at the controls (but by NO means a pilot......yet) I can attest to how terrible leather flight jackets are for flying. When flying, one does not want to notice/be aware of what one is wearing. All focus needs to be on the task at hand. Trim fitting leather has no practical place in the cockpit. I wear a $40 tactical fleece zip up jacket that is perfect. Actually, getting back in the air after so many years has basically killed my flight jacket enthusiasm. I always wondered why so many pilots. airshow pilots are seen wearing such crummy mall flight jackets...........they don't care, they are too focused on what flying is all about, being safe, the weather, checklists, etc. I still love the look though and somehow managed to buy 2 leather jacket recently for cheap. If someone wants leather in the cockpit, it should be on the loose side. All those WW2 pics are deceiving, pilots were issued what was available.
     
  17. Tom Bowers

    Tom Bowers Member

    Messages:
    56
    I like the CWU/45P Nomex flight jacket that has been current issue for the USAF for a long time

    fits me nicely, large pockets and a handy pen pocket.

    The one I have is rugged and looks good with Jeans or a flight suit.

    Tom Bowers
     
    LeFonque and Officer Dibley like this.
  18. Smithy

    Smithy Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,495
    Location:
    Norway
    As I wrote above...

    "I was approaching this more in relation to everyday living for most of the members here, rather than specifically flying. I know there's fellows here who use their flying jackets for what they were intended but the vast majority of members here use them for knocking around at Angels 0."

    There's even going to be a certain level of subjectivity regarding this as various people use their jackets for different activities on a day to day basis. But it was more an exercise in getting members to attempt to give an objective opinion about which of these old jackets they thought were the best or useful from a practicality angle for how they mostly use them.

    You have to wonder how many people who get a proper WWII pattern sized repro A-2 sell the thing almost straight away because of the fit and feel. It is very removed from how modern jackets feel. The first time I wore one I thought I must have the size all wrong.
     
    Skip likes this.
  19. Nickb123

    Nickb123 Member

    Messages:
    252
    L-2 IMO
     
    UBIK and Smithy like this.
  20. Greg Gale

    Greg Gale Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    784
    G-1, I think. Leather is always more durable and protective than cloth or Nylon. It's made of goatskin which is the most resistant to damage, it has the bi-swing back that's a must in a cockpit, fur collar in case it's windy. The only downside is the button pockets. Snaps would be more practical, but oh well. All this coming from a guy who chose an A-2 over a G-1...:rolleyes:
     
    Smithy and Skip like this.

Share This Page