And every serious man should have a pea coat. (And even if you’re not very serious, if you have a pea coat around you can appear substantial and capable on those occasions when it’s strategically called for.) This post covers a selection of the best pea coats for men.
(Update: This post was fully updated with new pea coat reviews and links as of October 16, 2012.)
When I was a youngster, I used to know it was cold outside when my dad put on his pea coat. He had one of those genuine ones, with the anchors on the buttons. It kept him warm for decades. When you think about it, a pea coat’s ability to preserve your precious bodily warmth is to be expected — after all, sheep are not able to survive comfortably in harsh environments like the Aran Islands without applying some sophisticated biological technology. And that bio-tech is wool.
As an insulator and all-around defense against bad weather, wool is a marvel. Sailors in European navies of the 18th century found it would keep them warm in wet and windy conditions. Wool was tough, nearly impervious to fire, and felt cozy against the skin. It resisted mold and mildew (because of how water is either shed from its fibers or passes through them) and didn’t hold dirt. The pea coat had its origin in those European navies and sailors and fishermen have been wearing peacoats for over 300 years now. The pea coat is one of the oldest types of garments in continuous use, along with denim jeans, the necktie, and the kilt (though, you know, when was the last time you pulled out a kilt?).
The image at right is of a historic model of pea coat — click the image to see many contemporary versions of the pea coat available at Zappos (or click here).
The US Navy adopted the pea coat around the beginning of the 20th century. The US Navy is nobody’s fool.
Sailors tend to wear pea coats all their lives, and it didn’t take civilian men long to catch on. First, it keeps you warm in a variety of cool-to-cold conditions (especially when combined with an under-layer, such as a hoody). Second, its practical, efficient design and detailing express overt masculinity and competence. Third, it’s a versatile part of your wardrobe. The pea coat can be worn with anything from jeans to slacks, from T-shirts to a button-down shirt with a tie. It’ll look good wherever, whenever.
When wearing your pea coat, you’ll appear to be the kind of guy who can handle himself on the deck of a ship in bad weather, or handle a first date with that gorgeous blonde from the Marketing Department.
Every guy should have a pea coat. Since it’s fall, get yours now. Below are some of the best pea coats for men. I’ve included a range of coats, from inexpensive to top-of-the-line (but note that you can buy a number of them at a discount). All are well-made, all have good reviews, and all will perform as advertised. They will help you be that serious, capable, intrepid dude. And, you know, it feels good to be warm. To keep you even warmer, along with the pea coats I’ve listed accessories to complement your pea coat, such as watch caps (beanies) and scarves. This will allow you to complete your cold-weather ensemble. To make this review even more convenient, I’ve included links to the best places to get them all online, and note the coupon codes below.
Let’s begin with one of the best inexpensive pea coats that is mostly made of wool (for around $100, you’ll usually be getting a coat made with a wool blend). It’s the Tommy Hilfiger Wool Blend Pea Coat, available for a good price now from Overstock. It’s made of 70% wool, 19% polyester, and a few other things. It’s got some nice styling touches for a pea coat around $120, including button tabs at the wrists. It’s got the classic anchor buttons and the color is Navy — perfect. Check the positive customer reviews for this coat on Overstock (and elsewhere). If you’re looking for a good basic pea coat at a good price, this is it.
And by the way, if you’re looking for a good deal on a nice pea coat for under $100, check out the Chaps Wool-blend Double-breasted Pea Coat, available at Overstock by clicking here, and Kohl’s here (for a good sale price).
When it comes to blends of wool and cashmere, you can’t get much better or more functional than the Cashmere Blend Pea Coat from BGSD, which is constructed with a blend of cashmere, wool, and nylon. At a price of just $169 from Buy.com as this is written, this is one of the best men’s pea coats for a mid-range price.
It’s got a quilted, polyester-filled lining and some nice tailoring touches, such as a center vent in back. And you can’t beat the softness and warmth added by that fancy wool from the goats of Kashmir. If you like black, you’re in luck, because it comes in black. It’s pretty hip-looking (think Boondock Saints).
And if you’re a new customer at Buy.com, you can also get $10 off a purchase of $150 or more using the coupon code on this page.
Since 1904, when they began making and selling clothes to the dock workers on the New York waterfront, Spiewak has been providing clothing to working men, sailors, and firemen. And the US military. You can’t get a pea coat with more authentic heritage than one from Spiewak. The industrial aesthetic of their designs has become one of the best-kept secrets on the American fashion scene. This is street-cred from the actual trenches.
The Spiewak Wilson Coat is their updated peacoat style (who would have thought Spiewak would get so hip?). It’s a blend of 70% woolen goodness and 30% poly, with polyester insulation. It’s got two front pockets, tabbed sleeves, and a tonal logo embroidery on the left shoulder. Pictured at right, you can get it from Revolve Clothing for under $200 (though inventory is going fast). You can also get it in black, brown, and a cool grey windowpane check from Karmaloop.
Hey, if Spiewak’s clothes are good enough for cops and EMTs, they’ll be good enough for you. (BTW, when you’re shopping at Karmaloop, you can get 15% off orders over $75 using code 15FALL. Use the code at checkout when you order your coat.)
When it comes to useful, classic clothing, you’ll find it at Lands’ End. And I’m going to make it easy for my readers in the United Kingdom to pick up an authentic pea coat by including one here from Lands’ End UK (yeah, you guys in the U.S. can order one from them, too, if you want) — the Lands’ End Men’s Regular Wool Pea Coat.
Lands’ End is known for constructing clothing that lasts, with thoughtful touches and reliable performance. Their pea coat is no exception: 50% wool, 45% polyester. Fully lined. Traditional anchor buttons. It comes in 2 color choices, including True Navy (you sticklers will want the True Navy). They have women’s pea coats, too. Lands’ End is also legendary — legendary — for customer service that goes above and beyond, so you can shop there with confidence. This pea coat will last for years.
By the way, wanna know why this type of coat is called a “pea” coat? The fabric of the original coats was made of “pilot cloth,” a thick, coarse, twilled blue cloth with a nap on one side used particularly in making overcoats for sailors. After awhile, people took to referring to it as “P-cloth,” and the jackets made from it became “pea coats.” The term pilot cloth apparently had its origin in the Dutch word “pijjekker,” in which “pij” refers to “coarse cloth” and “jekker” is “jacket.” It’s thought that both the British Royal Navy and the Dutch Netherlands Royal Navy were early adopters of the pea coat in the 1700s.
No review of the best pea coats for men would be complete without a warm woolen pea coat that’s made in the USA. If that’s important to you, then get the US Navy Peacoat from the Army Navy Shop. It’s got authentic touches such as a 10-button double-breasted front with naval anchor buttons and two handwarmer pockets. Made of heavy-duty 32-ounce melton wool, in black. (In case you’re curious, melton wool is woven to be thick and dense and the nap is brushed to make it smooth. Garments made of wool melton are especially resistant to wind.)
This coat is all about function. It is a mid-priced coat that will keep you warm, period (which is the general idea, right?). It tends to run large, so take that into account when ordering. The Army Navy Shop makes returns and exchanges easy, however, so don’t worry about shopping there. They’re also offering this coat at a discount right now.
The style for many men’s pea coats now tends to be on the slimmer and less lengthy side. This trend is nicely expressed by Perry Ellis in their Wool Blend Doubled Breasted Jacket, which is basically a pea coat made more formal.
It consists of a blend of wool, polyester, and rayon, with 3 ounces of polyfill insulation in the body and 2 ounces in the sleeves. You get the echo of the pea coat’s naval origins in the epaulettes on the shoulders. (Which you can put to good use by putting the strap of your messenger bag through to keep it from slipping off your shoulder.)
This is one of the more stylish options when you’re shopping for the best pea coats. The jacket retails for $250 on the Perry Ellis site. But you can get it for less than that… Just read my post on how to get a good discount when shopping at PerryEllis.com and use the coupon mentioned there.
No reason you can’t be stylish and warm at the same time.
Here’s a pea coat with no compromises when it comes to quality: the TM Lewin Navy Peacoat. It’s made from the best wool, 100% of it. Large buttons, pockets at the hips, and a quilted lining. And a ticket pocket on the inside — handy when you attend a play, or the opera. Or a Monster Truck Jam. (That’s where you can take that blonde from Marketing.)
TM Lewin opened on Jermyn Street in London in 1898 and has been making top-of-the-line clothing for men since then. To begin, they specialized in shirts (and to this day you cannot find a better off-the-rack shirt), but have since branched out to offer a complete line of men’s clothing (and clothing for women) — including, fortunately, outwerwear. Tailoring in a pea coat does not get better than this. If this is not the best pea coat currently available for men, it’s right up there. Without a doubt, you will get compliments when wearing it. Even better, right now it’s on sale for $400 (marked down from $800).
TM Lewin is devoted to meeting the highest standards in designing and making men’s clothing. That’s why they’re able to offer a “no quibble” guarantee. You have 3 months to decide if something you buy from them meets your needs. If not, you can return it for a full refund or exchange as long as you have your receipt. On top of that, customers in the United States get free return shipping. A deal like that is exceedingly rare in this day and age. (And, if you live elsewhere, be aware that they ship to every country in the world.) What it boils down to is: when you shop at TM Lewin, you can do so with no worries.
For extra warmth and style, pair this excellent pea coat with the Wool Hat in Navy, from Need Supply. Designed by Our Legacy, this traditional ribbed watch cap is made of Italian wool. There’s some cashmere in there, too. Women will seek excuses to touch your head.
And now for something a little different… This is not your dad’s pea coat. This is not my dad’s pea coat. It is not anybody’s dad’s pea coat, because it’s new this year: The North Face Lennox Down Peacoat. There is nothing traditional about it, except for the double-breasted design. There’s not a hint of wool. Instead, you get a fully waterproof and breathable fabric called HyVent 2L. This high-performance fabric is stuffed with 550-fill-power goose down. There’s a zipper closure (the double-breasted front is a buttoned flap over the zipper). The pockets are zipped and the seams are sealed. This is probably the most technically-advanced pea coat in the world. It will keep you warm.
What it is not is particularly stylish. But does that really matter if you live where it rains frequently, where you have a good chance of running into freezing drizzle or soggy snow, where you’re going to be out in nasty weather all the time? (Just not on a sailboat, because traditional pea coats are still best for boats.) If the weather where you live (or where you’re going) is really crummy, but you’re a fan of the peacoat-look, then this is the coat for you. It is highly functional, while giving a nod to those tried-and-true pea coat touches. Hey, if The North Face had been around in the 1800s, sailors may have ended up wearing a coat like this. It reminds me of something Dean Winchester would wear on Supernatural (where the tools always have to over-perform). Functional, rugged, and made with the quality The North Face has become famous for. You can get it from Zappos here (and receive the best customer service on the Web, along with free shipping for apparel orders).
Some of you like to shop for “green” products. While wool is certainly a sustainable material (it’s been used by humans for about 10,000 years), some materials used in pea coats are less friendly to the environment than wool. So is there an “eco” pea coat? Turns out there is. It’s the Hemp HoodLamb Long P Coat — elegant, rugged, weather-resistant, and about as eco-friendly as a jacket can get.
HoodLamb is a company based in Amsterdam. They are devoted to “Industrial Organic” design. By using sustainable materials such as hemp, organic cotton, and soy, they seek to avoid and reverse some of the negative impacts resulting from conventional ways of producing clothing. In the fashion industry, they’re doing their part to promote more environmentally-friendly products while simultaneously creating innovative, functional, and stylish designs. They are known particularly for their high-quality coats, and the Long P Coat is just the latest in a line of outerwear that will protect you in a variety of cruddy weather, while at the same time looking good.
The best pea coats for men should naturally do both.
So, what is the green goodness that the Hemp HoodLamb coat’s got going for it? The shell is made of a blend of hemp and organic cotton twill. It’s treated with an organic cellulose process to make it water- and wind-resistant. The interior is lined with insulating Satifur — a super-soft, fur-like material made of hemp and recycled PET (Polyethylene terephthalate — commonly used to make products such as water bottles). There are hand-warmer pockets lined with hemp fur. Style-wise, the cut is about mid-thigh. It comes in black, gray, brown, and “Old-Skool blue”. It features the classic peacoat double-breasted front, with custom crest buttons. There’s even a secret interior document pocket. There are a lot of thoughtful touches in this uniquely modern and versatile pea coat.
The bottom line, though, is: does it work? You bet. Check the customer reviews. One enthusiastic online reviewer referred to Hemp HoodLamb’s coats in general as “Jackets of the Gods.” This outstanding pea coat will keep you warm and dry in a variety of fall and winter conditions — and with a stand-out urban aesthetic on top of that. Add a sweater underneath and you’ll be good to go in truly cold winter temps. You can get the Hemp HoodLamb Long P Coat from Dogfunk here and from Backcountry here (two outdoor gear companies with impeccable customer service). Quality-wise, it’s worth every penny, and you’ll be contributing to those green values along the way.
If you don’t live in a part of the world where the winters get really nasty, should you still own a pea coat? Of course. Even in Phoenix, you get some cold nights. Maybe you don’t need a full-on wool pea coat, but you will still want to enjoy that style and keep yourself warm. And, regardless of where you live — from Juneau to Tierra del Fuego — you might want a want a pea coat for chilly spring and fall days. Plus, there’s the travel aspect — a pea coat isn’t an easy thing to stuff in your carry-on bag. Is there one that still might work for the traveler who packs light? Yes. For all these uses there is the Royal Robbins Kaden Pea Coat.
It’s a blend of polyester, wool, and acrylic, with a DWR (durable water-repellant) finish so it sheds water. It’s got fleece insulation bonded to the backside of the shell for lightweight warmth. It’s got a zipped chest pocket, an interior document pocked, and two hand-warmer pockets. And a modern take on peacoat styling.
If you’re already familiar with the quality of men’s clothes from Royal Robbins, I probably don’t need to say more… You’ll simply acquire this high-tech, athletically-designed pea coat. If you aren’t familiar with Royal Robbins, you should know that they make one of the most versatile, innovative, and durable lines of clothing for men. Particularly for guys with active lifestyles. I have never owned a Royal Robbins garment that did not work well. Plus they have their own distinctive company aesthetic. Give all their stuff a try. You can find it at places like REI and Big Sky Country.
Accessories to go with your pea coat: hoodie, hat, and scarf
As I mentioned above, the colder it gets, you’ll discover you can adapt your pea coat to the conditions. For really frigid days, a classic approach is to layer your pea coat with a hoodie. But don’t wear just any hoodie, like the ones you can buy at the local sporting goods store. Wear a hoodie with some style — one that will complement your high-quality pea coat. For that, you need the Trey Pullover Hoodie from Fossil, a company where you can find cool clothing designs for men.
Not only will the Fossil Trey Pullover look good under your pea coat (I recommend the blue color, though it also comes in a grey that would add some interesting contrast), its thick cotton and superior construction will add a noticeable layer of warmth beneath your maritime wool coat. Great for wearing in the stands for winter Sunday football games, or for walking your dog around a frozen lake. Also sharp enough to wear by itself to set off your rattiest jeans or sweat pants. Layering is king, my friend, and the Trey Pullover fits the bill. Click here to check it at Fossil.
For keeping warm, wear one of the coats above (and if you want to check out a selection of good-looking, well-made pea coats for even less money than the ones I’ve reviewed, explore Kohl’s — they have some good men’s coats at reasonable prices) and then add another cold-weather option — a watch cap or beanie.
Try the Marc by Marc Jacobs Cashmere Silk Sweater Beanie from Revolve Clothing (in dark teal or red) — but only if you want perhaps the most luxurious watch cap money can buy (a silk/cashmere blend) for a good price. Or the classic A.P.C. Midnight Blue Thick Wool Knit Beanie (pictured at right) in 100% wool from ssense.
Not everybody likes wool over their ears, so if you’re one of them, try the stylish Capt’n Pollux Thick Skull Beanie by historic hat-maker Goorin Brothers in 100% cotton from Anonymous LA. Or the Columbia Watch Cap II, available in black or navy from West Marine (and what better place to get a sailing-oriented cap than West Marine?).
Another top-quality choice for keeping your head warm is the Fine Gauge Jersey Hat by Michael Kors (100% cashmere) from Zappos. Choose one of these top-of-the-line beanies in blue or black to go with your pea coat and you’ll be toasty just about anywhere short of Antarctica.
And if you do happen to find yourself on the deck of an icebreaker bound for Antarctica, you’ll want to add a high-quality scarf to your pea coat insulation ensemble. Even if you’re not on an ice-breaking ship, you’ll still want a scarf for that first date with the girl from Marketing — so she’ll have something to grab when she leans in to kiss you. (Sometimes style warms the heart as much as wool.) For that, get the Aegean Wide Panel Scarf by Goorin Brothers from Anonymous LA (pictured below, available in black, navy, or charcoal). Or, for high-performance and impressive comfort, the Boa Scarf from Icebreaker in 100% merino wool. The black or bordeaux color will make people think you know something about how to dress.
With your pea coat, watch cap, and scarf, you’ll be well-nigh impervious to the elements — and your wardrobe will be impervious to criticism. Keep warm, look good: winter’s getting-dressed motto.