If you love being outdoors, you’re well aware that one of your biggest problems is staying warm in cold weather and dry in the rain and snow. After all, most people simply can’t enjoy their outdoor adventures when they’re shivering too hard to walk in a straight line.
While modern synthetic fabrics offer comfort to people who love going outside, no matter the season, don’t overlook the classic options. Waxed cotton is still a great choice for men and women who value comfort while participating in outdoor sports.
Learn what waxed cotton is, its history, and why it may be a great option for you.
What Is Waxed Cotton?
Cotton is a natural fiber that’s comfortable, affordable, and lightweight. However, most people avoid cotton for outerwear, since it easily absorbs and holds onto water. Generally, if you wear cotton clothing during a downpour, you can expect to get thoroughly soaked and stay wet for hours — but when you coat cotton in wax, you get the benefits of cotton without so many downsides.
Waxed cotton outerwear is coated in a paraffin-based wax mixture, which helps the cloth shed water and reflect the wind, keeping the wearer warm and dry.
Where Did Waxed Cotton Come From?
Humans have always done their best to protect themselves from the elements. Before waxed cotton was invented, many people used oilcloth, which was heavy cloth coated in linseed oil. While it was fairly effective, oilcloth was also heavy, slow-drying, and easy to crack.
In the 1800s, Scottish sailors started using waxed cotton instead, which resulted in outerwear that weighted less, was more flexible, and lasted longer. However, waxed cotton didn’t really catch on in broader markets worldwide until the 1920s.
Once manufacturers started producing waxed cotton more widely, people started using the cloth for items like tents, jackets, pants, sleeping bags, and tool cases.
Why Do People Choose Waxed Cotton?
If you’re looking for the best performance possible for your outerwear, you may find synthetic fabrics like Gore-Tex hard to beat. After all, these modern options keep out the elements while still letting any internal dampness evaporate out.
However, waxed cotton still offers reasonably good wind and water protection, while giving the wearer something that synthetic fabrics can never offer: style. A waxed cotton jacket looks classic and elegant, and it will age well, unlike modern polymers.
For example, as you use a waxed jacket, it will develop a patina, fade, and shape itself to you — each new crease and scar will only give it more character. You may even love the care that waxed cotton requires: the fabric will change every time you wear it and every time you re-wax it, which most waxed cotton requires every year. On the other hand, synthetic fabrics, though effective, will always look boringly industrial.
If you love vintage clothing and outerwear that has a classic appeal, then waxed cotton is probably the right choice for you. Don’t overlook this option when you choose your next jacket for cold and wet weather.
Humans have dealt with wet, cold weather for longer than we can remember, but how you protect yourself from the elements is up to you. If you love being outside, no matter how grim the weather, you’ll need to make smart choices about your outerwear.
Don’t overlook waxed cotton in your search. This classic fabric offers solid protection from the elements and adds character and style to your wardrobe. Though it may not be right for everyone, waxed cotton may be the perfect material for you.If you’re interested in high-quality waxed cotton jackets, take a look at Over Under’s selection. We only use the best materials and methods for our jackets to ensure you get an excellent product.