Monday, February 7, 2011

Wool Coat Review

Today in the News:  Keep your head low and your powder dry.  Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.  All photo credit today goes to L.J., the ghost photographer.

Link of the Day: .  Tell them Mike Oscar Hotel sent you.  They have no idea who I am, but they should. 

Wool Coat Review

Wool makes for a versatile and quality garment.  It is one of my favorite fibers and when fall comes, I often can't wait to pull out one (or all) of my coats.

Here are a few facts about wool (click me!).

The thing I really like about wool?  You don't have to kill the critter to get the fiber.  Now, I'm not against critter killing.  I am, however, a strong believer in practicality.  Why buy the car you throw away at 100,000 miles when you can own a '91 Nissan pickup with 240,000 miles on it and will probably see the 300k mark easily?  The sheep is the truck that keeps on rollin'.  Here on the Happy-Half-Acre, we're considering raising Angora Rabbits.  Fibers are really, really cool.  But that will be another post.  I'm going on a tangent here.  Let's return.

Pierre Cardin
I bought my first wool coat about eight years ago.  Mrs. Hotel encouraged me to buy it.  I didn't want it, but I was a very, very, very different person back then.  She told me how handsome I looked in it and I gave her the "awwww shucks" and that was that.  I've had the coat ever since.  I wore it hard for six years and now it is living in semi-retirement as my oil-change/I'm-gonna-have-to-gut-something coat.  I put it on today for the first time in about a year and I forgot how comfortable it is/was.  It was made by Pierre Cardin (not himself) and the facts are as such:  shell - 70% wool and 30% nylon.  Lining and filling - 100% polyester.  Zippered front.

 So this isn't the greatest coat in the world, but I wore it to nice dinners and when I was out in the bush.  Versatile.  Pretty warm.  Two pockets.  Not bad.  It was a great introduction to wool. 

Johnson Woolen Mills
When I was home a few years ago, Uncle Bern gave me this next coat.  It was made by Johnson Woolen Mills and I believe it to be a cape coat of some sort.  I get two reactions from this coat.  Manly men usually say, "Dude....where did you get that coat?", and then there is the other class of people that say, "Wow......that jacket is"  Once upon a time, this coat was the fashion statement of Northern Maine.  Hunters wore them until they caught on with the Game Wardens and then you had to switch to the  black/green plaid because you might just get shot wearing this color of green.  I'm joking.  Sort of......

Anyhow, I think Uncle Bern got this one in the mid to late '80s.  It fits well.  Two pockets, no liner and believe it or not, it is one of the warmest coats I own.  It says size 17 (I think it is about a suit size 40) and runs snugly on me.  It isn't thick by any means, but I tend to layer up beneath it.  I think it is so warm because of the snug fit and because it has a zippered front.  This coat is still in very regular rotation with me.  I'd say I wear it 2 to 3 times a week during the fall, winter and spring. 

Johnson Woolen Mills is still in business.  The only issue that I have (which I'm quickly getting over) is that their coats come in green, red or plaid in both. Coats on their website range from around $180 - $300.  It may seem expensive, but it is a garment you can wear hard.  Our next coat is a good example of that.

 This was my Grandfather's coat.  It is also made by Johnson Woolen Mills.  As far as I know, that's what he wore throughout the later part of his life.  You can't see it in these pictures, but it has been patched together time and time again.  The cuffs are ragged and the liner is ripped, but it is still a good strong coat.  I would wear this coat for working without a second thought.  It has a ton of sentimental value to me and it usually only comes out when I'm playing Mike Oscar Hotel.

My Grandfather's brother, Uncle Stanferd, lost his arm in a mill accident in the 1940's.  When he would return from his fishing trips people would ask him if he caught anything. He would respond, "Why, yes I did!  The fish was HUGE!" The person would usually respond with, "How big was it?"  And the picture above is what he would do - and say, "It was this big!"  Sorry.  I guess this coat makes me channel family history.

 This coat is a similar style to the green coat with the cape-styled back.

Last but not least, my Filson Mackinaw Cruiser.  This is the coat to end all coats.  I bought this one last year before the Denver Filson Store went out of business.  It is a serious jacket  The wool is thicker than the old Johnson coats that I have, but that is probably because they are old and worn and this one is new.

 I have a few favorite things about this coat.  #1.) A pocket (pictured on your right, breast pocket) to hold shotgun shells.  See?  A great accessory would be a Saiga 12!
Notice something with me - buttoned front.  This lets the wind blow in a little and I'm bothered by that.  They make other coats with zippers, but it just isn't a cruiser.  Before you go thinking that I'm complaining, think about the way that the wool coat used to work.  I remember a man named Barney.  He was trapping buddy of Snuffy's and smoked about 82,000 cigarettes a day.  He was/is a cool guy.  Fought in Korea.

 I remember going to his house and what I saw was that he layered his clothing.  First the long john shirt, then the flannel shirt, then the wool vest, then the coat.  When I layer properly under this coat, it is like wearing a furnace.  The coat itself will keep you warm, but remember; it was designed around the turn of the 20th century.  We're talking old school technology.  This particular coat I bought in a size 42.  The 40 was just a little tight.

Favorite thing #2.)  You can't see it in this picture, but it has a game pocket in the back.  It is like a small back pack!

This is my every day coat in the winter.  The price is high, but it is worth it..  When I told Mrs. Hotel I wanted a Filson and what the price was, she told me to make sure it would last me 20 years.  Single Mackinaws are in the $275-$325 range.  What I can tell about this coat is that one of my boys will probably be wearing it 20 years from now.  Filson has a great policy.  If you blow an elbow (or anything else) out of the jacket, simply call customer service and ask them to repair it. 
I'm open for questions.  I plan on doing a follow up thread about Filson.  Maybe J.W.M. if I can find any history. 

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel........out.


  1. Thanks for sharring your coats!
    I have a coat very similar to your last one with the same back game pocket with the two button flaps over the kidneys. It is black and red all wool with buttons and was made sometime between the 30s-50s (before my time) at a mill in New Brunswick, Canada.

    I wonder if the price of wool is due to how few people wear it these days? I get all mine at used clothing stores and always keep an eye out for the high price brand labels.

  2. Mike, those are some nice wool coats you have there. I'm going to have to get one or have one made from some wool blankets I have.

    Thanks for showing!


  3. I love wool clothes! Back in high school I found an old woolrich shirt jacket in dad's closet. It didn't fit him anymore, so I appropriated it for my wardrobe. Shortly after that I was working for a local farmer. He had an old red/black plaid wool hunting coat he was going to turn into rags. I spent an afternoon fixing a pasture fence in exchange for that coat. I taught myself to sew on that coat. After fixing the seams that held the sleeves on and adding buckskin patches to the elbows, it was perfect. In my eyes at least. Mom donated both the coat and shirt to a church rumage sale while I was away in the army.

    about 20 years ago I was wandering my local Walmart and found a red/black plaid wool bomber style coat for about $30.00. Believe it or not, not only was it 100% wool, it was made in USA too. I pair it with a surplus British army sweater bought around the same time. I've gotten a bit bigger around the waist since then. The sweater is worn and torn and the coat while still fine rides up on me sometimes. Pelenaka just ordered me the black version of the sweater from LL bean last week. I've been looking for a cruiser style coat. LL Bean has discontinued thiers. I've been thinking about the Johnson Woolen Mills version, or the Stormy Kromer version. Both are made here in the US. I just wish I could find a dealer nearby for one of them. I have a hard time parting with most of a weeks pay for something without trying it on first.


  4. Trying it on is everything. I'm picky about clothes. I look homeless most of the time, but I'm comfy. I just stumbled across Stormy Kromer the other day. Never heard of them. I'd LOVE to try one of their jackets.