Aimed at:- pro and amateur workers who need tough clothing that washes well and is totally practical.
Pros: Coordinated colours, toughly made, lots of pockets. The hoodie is warm and the bomber jacket is well waterproofed.
The workwear for this review was perfectly timed in its arrival – from the twenty degree temperatures of late October to the wet, and later, frosty weeks of November. The weather proved to be a very good test of the capabilities of the workwear, and I was able to appreciate even more the old axiom that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
I’ll start with the “easy” stuff – when a work day on site felt like winter was never going to come and the clocks hadn’t yet gone back -when the day did really feel like a whole working day rather than the slow descent into murk that is currently the case. This really was “T-shirt weather” and it is amazing how warm you get when you are lifting, cutting and joining. The JCB T-shirts I wore are part of the JCB Heritage Range. Made of 65/35 Polyester cotton, they come in four colours – Olive, Graphite Grey and Sand. Each has a trendy Union Jack Flag and JCB logo printed on the front. In truth I didn’t much like the colours, but they are practical and of course they blend with the ranges of JCB trousers and shorts. JCB workwear users can look smart and coordinated because the JCB designers have done the work for them.
After several outings I began to appreciate the T-shirts for a lot of other things. They are strong – even snagging them on weldmesh didn’t seem to cause much damage. They are comfortable too and maintain their shape due to the triple stitching on the main seams and half moon yoke – that is, the reinforced semi-circle of stitching on the back under the neck stitching.
The shirts hang easily and absorb a decent amount of sweat and heat so that you feel comfortable. They are long enough to tuck in to trousers or to leave untucked, but the best bit was how easy they are to wash and care for. Since I only had three shirts to test, regular washing was necessary and I found that the formula of one being worn, one in the wash and one drying, worked well for me.
As the weather got colder, I found myself “layering up” starting with a T-shirt, then a work shirt and finally a hoodie or rain jacket, depending on the conditions. The t-shirts proved to be just as good as undershirts as they had been as outerwear.
My favourite bit of kit in this test was the Hixon Hoodie – especially when the weather got very frosty and working outside was a bit of an issue for me – I like my creature comforts! Made from 65/35 % polyester cotton of 300grams per square meter weight fabric, it felt substantial and warm, and more to the point – able to withstand the rigours of sitework. The inside of the hood and body of the garment is completely lined with a soft, thick (fake) fur lining that is reassuringly warm and comfortable. The colours of the hoodie are much more to my taste – a practical black with patches of grey stitched under the arms to enable free movement. There is a printed JCB logo on the front that manages to be subtle and understated. There are a couple of hand pockets on the front, big enough, as I discovered, for my large tape measure in one and my 10.8v compact driver in the other. As seems to be the fashion these days, the knitted cuffs have thumb grips sewn into them. This can be useful in preventing the sleeves from riding up and making you cold.
I was pleasantly surprised by the way the hood part was designed. The zip goes right up to the neck so that it holds the hood tightly to the head, keeping cold draughts out and warmth in. I really appreciated this on a couple of cold evenings because the elastic drawstrings complete the job of making a nice warm seal around the face. This is one piece of kit that will definitely find its way into my winter site wardrobe especially since it seems to be very well made and properly stitched together for a tough working life.
In my mind it is a toss up whether the cold is worse than the wet, and I am still undecided on this matter, despite the best efforts of the JCB Clayton Bomber Jacket. It is a very practical garment and it only took a few minutes to feel completely at home in it in terms of comfort and user friendliness. For example, the cuffs are adjustable - being both elasticated and using hook and loop fixings. It is such a great thing to be able to close the cuffs tight enough so that you don’t get that cold trickle of water down your arms when you are lifting or working above shoulder height. The two-way zip is strong and easy to use and the zip itself is covered by a substantial flap that is a good waterproofer – preventing rain from seeping through. The jacket is designed to be long enough to sit just on the hips with an elasticated hem to ensure a good fit. This length makes for easy working, but if you are working out in steady rain, it is essential to have a pair of waterproof trousers to ensure that your bottom half doesn’t get wet.
I also liked the fleece-lined collar and quilted lining that provides a good level of warmth, especially if you are being quite physical. I found that when I teamed it with the hoodie in the cold and wet, I was really quite snug.
I had a couple of days of constant heavy rain to test the weatherproof qualities of this bomber jacket – and on both days the rain finally won during the last half hour of the working day. Nothing drastic, it was just that the prospect of a hot shower became very inviting as we packed up our tools.
Working in the dark I did notice the usefulness of the reflective tabs on the pockets and flash on the back. There are four large patch pockets on the front of the jacket and they also include two lined hand-warmer pockets. My overall impression that this comfortable jacket just lets you get on with the job without feeling as though it is constraining your movement.
Now that winter seems to be here for the foreseeable, I will be using these garments, singly or in combination, to keep me warm and comfortable while I am working, and they are definitely worth a look for value and practicality.
For more from the JCB Workwear line, click here.
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