Dickies. Not a name you’d normally pluck out of thin air at a Name The Outdoor Clothing Brand Competition.
That’s because Dickies makes work clothes – ruffty tuffty building site clobber, hard hats and steel toe-capped boots. Manclothing. Grrr.
So when Dickies offered GWA an Abbot Jacket to test as a regular outdoors jacket, I took it with the scepticism it deserved.
First off, this is a big jacket. It’s pretty much pure beefcake. Why waste hours at the gym when you can slip one of these bad boys on and gain a stone of muscle in an instant? The hood-hiding collar alone is a sight to behold when the jacket is open. It stretches out like the wings of an albatross and gives your silhouette a vampiric look as you yomp around the great outdoors. When zipped and buttoned-up it offers a toasty face-hugging love cuddle that’s the best feature of this jacket.
But it’s also a bit big in size, at least for me.
Being 6ft 1ins and fairly broad-shouldered I had the ‘large’ jacket, but although the arm length was perfect for my ludicrous monkey arms the body of the jacket was a bit on the paunchy side. Not embarrassingly-so, but it still suggested a pie too many.
Spec-wise, this is a Dickies brand jacket and doesn’t feature any particular household names in terms of materials and coatings, but it offers a removeable fleece lining, claimed waterproofness to 2000mm and along with an adjustable hood, various internal and external pockets, waterproof zips and reflective areas for added safety. All on board 190 denier material.
In actual use as a walking jacket it didn’t really feel delicate enough to be an option for anything overly ambitious. Most walking-specific jackets would certainly be less bulky and would probably be a touch lighter, making them easier to lug around on your back.
I also found the Abbot to be a little on the warm side. On its inaugural outing on an estate walk with Mrs Muz one evening when it was about 4C outside, I found the breathability to be lacking a little bit, especially around the cuffs and that whopper of a collar when I started to heat up and get a bit clammy quite rapidly. (Ed: Dickies don’t claim this to be a breathable jacket, so it should be regarded as suitable for low-intensity outdoor activity, like standing around sucking your teeth on a building site.)
One other thing that is a particular issue in terms of walking jackets, is that the external waterproof shell of the Abbot tends to pick up dirt very easily. It has a thin, almost rubbery texture that is very difficult to brush off, so as soon as my cat got anywhere near it it grew a fringe that I can’t shift. When I brushed up against a wall in it one day it resulted in a greeny hue on the shoulder from the brickwork and it has picked up various patches of muck on a regular basis since then. As a working jacket that’s fine – it even adds to the testosterone levels, but as a walking jacket… no. Sorry.
But every cloud has a silver lining, and this tale has a very happy ending.
The Abbot is now living life as it was always intended – it’s my go-to jacket on our new house renovation project and is working for its living. That’s its forte.