Review -The Barbour Linhope Featherweight Jacket
JOC tries out the latest jacket from the thoroughbred Barbour stable
My old Barbour Durham jacket has done about thirty years, and a few weeks ago I decided that the poor thing needed pensioning off. I know there are serious outdoor types who've had their Barbours for much longer, but my Durham has seen more use than you can imagine. For one season I used another coat, and the dog slept on the Durham, but I changed my mind, and spent a day cleaning and re-proofing it; more out of defence than anything else, because it was beginning to pong a bit. It was quite a difficult job to tell the Barbour jacket from the rancid dog, steaming in front of the AGA after a swim in the river. Anyway, the decision was made to replace it (the jacket, not the dog) and I went into the shop to interview all the possible candidates.
Things have moved on a bit since the old 1980's Durham. Technology has arrived, and is now respectable. I reckoned that after thirty years of faithful service, Barbour had earned my continued patronage, so after a few guilty shivers whilst scanning the opposition, I settled for a Barbour Linhope Featherweight jacket.
The first thing to say is that this is featherweight by name, and by nature. Oiled cotton devotees might wonder whether something so lightweight could possibly be wind and waterproof, but it really is. It's first test was when I was caught out miles from cover on the sea wall between Lymington and Keyhaven. I'd taken the jacket as a lightweight windproof, but two miles out the heavens opened as if it was the first day of Noah's Biblical flood. My unprotected legs and feet were soaked to the skin, but my top half remained completely dry: not just dryish, but bone dry. This jacket works.
The design is pretty standard for a country coat, with big cargo side pockets that will accommodate quite few cartridges if you're a shooting type; big boxes of flies if you're swisher; or half a loaf of bread if you're a chub man. There are very deep hand-warmer pockets lined with a sort of polartech material. Maybe it isn't polartech, but you know what I mean. The front closure has a heavyweight Barbour zip, with a snap flap to ensure rain doesn't drive through. Everything else has proper snaps too: not a sign of Velcro anywhere - thank God. There's an inside breast pocket, a velvet collar, which looks very up-market, and a snap on hood that can live in a pocket, where it won't flap around. I prefer hoods that roll up into the collar, but I must admit, they do spoil the smart appearance of the collar, and they're never quite so efficient at warding off rain and wind as the fixed or snap-on types. The little pocket on the arm top seems to be rather pointless, but I'll just not use it. I suppose it would take a mobile phone (shudder).
I think this is a spring, summer, and autumn jacket. With clever thin layering inside, I'm sure it would also serve well through the winter, but I'm guessing that when there's a serious hoar frost I'll reach for my old Goretex lined tweed jacket. We'll see.
If I had to choose one jacket for all seasons, I'd choose the Linhope. If you are thinking of treating yourself to a proper, tasteful, up-market jacket that (blissfully) doesn't have go faster stripes; doesn't advertise groundbait, a rod manufacturer, or team anything you like on the back - then this one should be high on your list of possibles.