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Field Jackets

Innovations include wick-away fabrics, zip-in liners and adjustable internal cords or Velcro strips for a custom fit.

By Gibbs Milliken

Field jackets include the traditional tropical safari style, the tactical military type and the cold weather parka. This functional outerwear has been evolving for more than a century. First came jackets of light khaki-dyed cotton, then waterproof wax-impregnated poplin, and finally high-tech breathable synthetic fabrics. Many of the newest jackets are lighter weight, better insulated and convertible for variations in weather and climate.

Designed by the famous U.S. Naval Air Commander Burt Avedon, the Beretta Kalahari Safari Jacket has a traditional belted style for the tropics, with many features for hunters, naturalists, photographers and adventurers. This durable cotton twill jacket, treated with Teflon fabric protector, resists stains on the light-colored khaki. It has reinforced bellows pockets to carry extra ammunition, camera lenses and field guides. Pivot-cut sleeves and gussets allow free movement; functional epaulets on the shoulders secure the straps of binoculars and cameras during field activities. ($120, Kalahari Jacket, field tan, Beretta, 301-283-2191, www.berettausa.com)

The Cabela’s Women’s Travel Parka is a fine-quality modern version of the bush jacket. The peach-finished soft microfiber fabric is light and packs into a small stuff-bag with a carry strap. The Teflon-coated shell sheds rain and also features a two-way zippered front with snap closure, removable hood, inside security pocket, side-entry hand-warmer pockets and a belted waist tie. ($79.95, Women’s Travel Parka, herb green, Cabela’s, 800-237-4444, www.cabelas.com)

Warm, but without weight, the North Face Denali Parka is a sporty winter coat for women that can be worn as a shell or layered for bitter cold. It is perfect for daily wear, outdoor sports and travel. Made of synthetic Polartec 300 fabric, this highly breathable jacket has abrasion-reinforced shoulders and elbows, a vertical chest pocket, two hand pockets, elastic-bound cuffs and hem cinch cord. ($165, Women’s Denali Parka, oasis blue/seal gray, North Face, (866-715-3223, www.thenorthface.com)

Unmatched for features, the Bass Pro 100 MPH Rain Parka is a rugged Gore-Tex windproof/waterproof jacket that will handle the most hostile elements. It has a tuck-away or zip-off visored hood with Velcro chin cover and elastic drawcords. Special locking pulls cinch the parka around your seat, blocking out wind and rain. Also featured are a 5-inch fleece collar and full-length Velcro front storm flap sealing the exterior and interior zippers. It has two Velcro closing storm-flap bellows pockets with side-entry fleece hand-warmer pockets plus D-rings for accessories, internal zippered security pocket, contrasting reinforced elbow pads and nylon lining. Sleeves have an inner neoprene cuff with Velcro closure for dry dipping into the bait well or cold water to land a fish or downed waterfowl. ($229.95, 100 MPH Parka, red, Bass Pro Shops, 800-277-7776, www.basspro.com)

The Cabela’s Space Rain Ultra Pack Full-Zip Jacket is light, packs small and serves as an excellent breathable camo shell for wet weather hunting protection, with room for layering in a changing climate. ($64.95, Space Rain Ultra Pack Jacket, Model: #7IS-960048, Max I Open Terrain HD camo, Cabela’s)

When the cold wind’s whistling, nothing’s quite as warm as real goose down. Beretta’s Down Shooting Jacket features double-bagged 80/20 filling with a non-reflective nylon finish. Shoulders have leather-padded gun patches for the right- or left-handed shooter. Two large, easy-access bottom pockets with elastic loops keep your shells organized, while your hands find warmth in a pair of leather-trimmed chest pockets. Inside security pockets keep your valuables safe. The cuffs adjust to your arm length; the rear utility pouch has a convenient Velcro closure. When afternoons get warm, use the removable interior Beretta braces to carry your jacket hanging free. ($145, Beretta Down Shooting Jacket, earth green, McBride’s, 512-472-3532, www.mcbridesguns.com )

The modern field jacket is the outdoor enthusiast’s first and best defense against the vagaries of our constantly changing Texas weather.

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