Living on the road full-time in the van means that every item we bring along for the ride has to earn its place. We are brutal in our appraisal of stuff, quickly ejecting anything that doesn’t meet our minimalist living requirements. Last year, conversations with Bavarian clothes maker JECKYBENG about poetry and the the outdoors, led to us reviewing some of their clothes. It’s taken a while to write about these beautifully crafted organic cotton jackets (made in family-owned European factories) and classic, soft & snug, merino wool fisherman’s beanies, because we wanted to regularly test (and store) them in all weathers over a good period of time beforehand. Fast fashion isn’t for us (which is why we’ve turned down subsequent offers by other companies).
I could bang on all day about the eco-credentials of JECKYBENG because they‘re fastidious in researching environmentally friendly waterproofing while also making sure the jackets remain weatherproof in the long term. They also advocate brushing & airing instead of washing (which we love). We’ve worn these jackets exploring cities across Europe and feel smart, but they’ve also withstood epic mountain rainstorms and squally autumnal Atlantic coastline weather. Importantly for us, they also dry out easily when hung in the cab. The attention to detail on this understated everyday urban outwear is impressive: minimal-yet-hard-wearing metal press-studs; oversized zips; soft cotton linings; generous sizings mean my legs are kept dry (I turn the sleeves up on this size small – Andy is 6ft & wears a medium); and a sculpted peaked jacket hood that keeps out wind & water. The comforting weight regulates temperatures so you don’t feel like you’ll be blown away. For sub-zero weather, there’s a gloriously thick merino wool jumper to wear under the jacket, which we haven’t yet tested – this is absolutely a long-term slow-time review. Like I said in the beginning, everything has to earn its place in the van, and these jackets will be staying with us until they fall apart. Which, given the quality of craftsmanship, will be a good decade, or two, or possibly longer as I’ve just discovered they do a lifetime repair service.