I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect warm, sustainable, vegan-friendly, long winter coat for years. So, when Jack Wolfskin reached out to let me know they had exactly that, I jumped at the chance to give it a try.
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Our Rating: 5 / 5 (See: How Leaf Score is calculated)
- Bluesign certified, PFC-free, 100% recycled and vegan-friendly
- Windproof, water-resistant, and machine washable
- Warm and cozy even in the rain, and super lightweight too!
|Country of Origin:||USA|
|Materials:||100% recycled polyester|
|Certifications:||Bluesign, Fair Wear partner|
To keep things impartial and sustainable at LeafScore, we don’t typically solicit samples or buy boatloads of products we don’t need just to review them and then ditch them afterwards. In this case, though, with historically cold weather hitting BC, I was in dire need of a longer winter coat.
Here’s my review of the North York Coat from Jack Wolfskin, with input from my wife (who has basically commandeered it).
The North York Coat
Jack Wolfskin sent me a North York Coat in Midnight Blue in a size Medium. This fits very well and has a good amount of wiggle room without feeling overly bulky. I’m typically a small to medium, or size 4-8, depending on the brand, but I wanted to size up a little for this one. Why? Because I often have a baby strapped to me in a carrier!
My immediate impression of the North York Coat was that I loved the color and the simplicity of the design. Before I even got a chance to wear it though, my wife purloined it and declared it a hit. As she put it, “The jacket feels like a big, warm hug on a cold gray day, and its classic, basic cut makes me feel way fancier than I actually am when walking around the neighborhood.”
My wife tends to be chillier, while I run hot. So, after she found the coat warm and cozy, I was worried it would be too warm for me. Happily, the North York Coat is great at supporting thermoregulation, despite being made entirely of recycled synthetic fibers. I have mostly been wearing the coat over a merino base layer or a fairly warm sweater without overheating. If you run cold, though, there’s plenty of room to accommodate a chunkier sweater or multiple layers (or a baby!). Yup, this fits loose enough to carry a 10-15 lb. baby in a BabyBjorn inside, keeping everyone nice and cozy.
Features of the North York Coat:
- Windproof and water repellent (tested in BC’s rain and snow!)
- Made with 100% recycled materials
- Warm even when wet (tested by me down to -15 C or 5 F)
- Fairly lightweight (830 g!)
- Mid-thigh length (women’s) or long (men’s)
- Handy interior pocket (with a sideways zip, making it easy to access)
- Two fleece-lined hand pockets (which are a good size!).
You can button the adjustable hood on or off and use the toggles to make it snugger if needed. I’ve not had to adjust the toggles on the hood as it fits perfectly. For some reason, hoods always seem to be far bigger than necessary, which makes them less functional than I’d like. The North York Coat has a perfectly sized hood for my perfectly average head and neck. I also like that it’s easy to remove, leaving a stylish collar offering a little bit of neck protection.
The hood was also a hit with my wife: it is “nice and big and fits comfortably over a toque or baseball cap without falling down. It kept the weather out but still good visibility.” She also liked that “there’s nothing precious about [the North York Coat] and nothing fussy about it, which actually was more functional for me for my purposes – long walks in the drizzle and cold with a baby.”
The biggest downside of the North York Coat is that it’s synthetic. While recycled, those polyester fibers will degrade, over time, sending forth microplastics into the environment. However, if you’re careful about washing this coat in a machine that catches microplastics, this is less of a concern. And, happily, the coat could be easily recycled at end of life because it is made with 100% polyester. So, once you (or a recycling facility) removes the zips and other hardware the rest is fairly straightforward.
One other potential downside to the North York Coat is that it’s not necessarily super flattering for curvier body shapes. If you’re on the shorter side (I’m 5’6″), and/or are curvy or top heavy, the straight lines of this coat might make you look a little… tubular. That said, this style actually worked quite well for me as the Medium gave a little extra room in the torso that allowed me to zip up the coat over our (small!) baby in a carrier.
Our little rugrat has been snug as a bug in the North York Coat on the snowiest and coldest days this winter. And I love that the double zipper lets you keep the warmth in while allowing more flexible leg movement when traversing rocks and boulders on hikes and beach scrambles. (Yeah, we put this coat through its paces!)
As for my fellow reviewer, the one downside was that the cuffs got a bit soggy in drizzly weather. Though she notes that this is an issue for most jackets and is pretty minor as things go.
Sustainability features of the North York Coat
The reason I said yes to a test run of the North York Coat is its superior sustainability credentials. It’s really hard to find a vegan winter jacket that is also eco-friendly. Once you ditch down, you’re usually stuck with jackets stuffed with virgin synthetic fibers coated with nasty water repellent chemicals.
With the North York Coat, you get the best of all worlds. There’s no down or other animal products and the coat’s shell and fiberfill are made entirely with recycled polyester. This means it is fast-drying and water-repellent without the need for chemical treatments. The North York Coat is proudly PFC-free, windproof, water-repellent, and breathable.
The North York Coat is also a bluesign® product. This means that it is produced with a minimum impact on the environment and people in a way that uses resources responsibly and is free from potentially toxic chemicals.
The North York Coat has an outer layer made of Stormlock Softtouch Ecosphere. This is a recycled polyester fabric that is very light, soft, windproof and water repellent without PFAS or other chemicals. The lining is a soft recycled microfiber with subtle logo print. The fiberfill comprises two weights of Microguard Ecosphere (200 and 180 g/m²), providing extra warm insulation made of recycled polyester. This recycled material has the same weightless loft of down and just as good, if not better, high heat-retaining insulation properties, and it continues to function even when wet!
The North York Coat is also machine washable, which is a big win for anyone with a small child, mud-loving dog, or clumsy eating habits.
Jack Wolfskin’s wider sustainability mission
Jack Wolfskin is a German-engineered performance apparel, footwear, and equipment company that’s been in business since 1981. It has been a member of the Fair Wear Foundation since 2010 and a bluesign® system partner since 2011. Jack Wolfskin also offers products with the Green Button label and recently launched its Fall Winter 2022-2023 Collection to great acclaim thanks to a raft of sustainable and technological innovations.
Jack Wolfskin has been working hard to develop sustainable (including recycled) materials for use in its footwear range, despite the challenges posed when designing these hardwearing outdoor products. A spokesperson told me that the company’s goal is to completely eliminate PFCs in its footwear. Following in the footsteps of its Summer 2020 Auckland series with PFC-free water repellent finishes, it seems likely that we’ll see more exciting offerings in sustainable footwear from Jack Wolfskin in Summer 2022.
* Although the North York Coat is entirely synthetic and vegan-friendly, Jack Wolfskin does use some leather in its footwear, though not in any other products. This leather complies with the company’s Green Book requirements which strictly regulate the use of chromium and other heavy metals in leather tanning. In most cases, the leather comes from Vietnam and from “Leather Working Group” (LWG) audited tanneries, preferably with gold rating.