Country Innovation Kestrel Smock
I have often said to those in the outdoor clothing business that I’m not a fan of the pullover, smock style of coat. Ah. Well. I wasn’t. Until I tried out this coat from Country Innovations.
To be honest with you, for may years I’ve had a sneaking interest in this style of coat having encountered many folk working in the Arctic with the British Antarctic Survey who swore by them. More recently, I worked in the high Arctic with Inuit guides, all of whom used the smock style jacket.
So why have I been so resistant? In short, getting in an out of the thing. There is only one way, and that is of course to pull it over your head. But once on… aaaaah. Now that is what I call wind proof!
This coat is made from Ventile. It’s been a while since this fabric (a cotton weave that expands when wet keeping the water away from you) has been deployed in an outdoor jacket designed for the naturalist. I love it. Naturally breathable, very robust and thorn-proof, and very weather proof. I have been used mine exclusively during a trip to Shetland (where you definitely get some weather) and have to say, it gets a very big thumbs up! The jacket gets a little heavier when wet, but remains dry inside at all times, despite me often putting pressure on the elbows and shoulders in boggy ground and with a heavy backpack. There are two pockets in the jacket; one which doubles as a hand warmer with 2 vertical zips, one each end of a tube. As well as a hand retreat, this is great for stuffing gloves, hat and other bits and bobs away. The second pocket is an ample pouch at chest level with a single horizontal zip and weather flap. I found this ideal for stashing all manner of stuff from camera batteries and spare memory cards to maps and books. Because I was doing a lot of work with otters in Shetland, I often found myself sliding over wet grass on my belly to peak over low cliffs down to the sea. This jacket is super for this, with no front zip to snag or leak and the Ventile sliding easily over the terrain. After a month’s solid use, there was no sign of wear and all seams and zips were intact.
Wind proofing was excellent, and with a fleece for insulation, I was always as warm as toast.
The high neck can sometimes bang against your chin, but is lovely for keeping the wind and weather where it should be .. outside!