Photo by Salt Water New England

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Barbour Jackets: Bedale vs. Beaufort vs. Border

For Review, A Comparison of Size 36 Barbour Waxed Jackets in Three Styles - Photos by Salt Water New England
Barbour produces three classic styles, all extraordinary for their attention to detail and, when made in England, the quality of materials and construction.
What is so wonderful about these Barbour jackets is that they are never "wrong"... One can step from a stroll down 5th Ave out into the 'back 40', or vice versa, and still be in style. Just remember to remove any game from the pockets before hitting the City... (snowysailor, comment) 
 Many ask about the differences between the Barbour Bedale, Beaufort, and Border.

In the details:  The corduroy collar is designed to redirect rain away from the wearer's neck.


One of the best ways to organize the differences is to understand that Dame Margaret Barbour designed, in the early 1980's:
  • The Bedale (in 1980) for equestrian purposes; 
  • The Beaufort (in 1983) for shooting; and 
  • The Border for extended walks, in often inclement weather, across uneven terrain including deep undergrowth. 
These original functions result in numerous differences, both broad and subtle.  Most obviously, the Bedale has the least material of the three, while the Border is the most protective. The Border is also the best choice for many tall men, and can be sized up to wear over a suit.
Although the brand has become fashionable and targets a wider demographic I am glad they continue to produce their core range such as the Beaufort and Bedale. At school we opted for navy beaufort jackets as the longer length covered our blazers. The pockets were large enough to be practical and the wax finish helped keep the wet Irish weather from ruining our uniforms. I have just ordered my first Bedale jacket in navy and look forward to wearing it in over the winter. (darkirishtweedboy, comment)
The Bedale is the slightest.

The Beaufort can be used as a workhorse.

The Border... designed for long walks through all kinds of terrain.


All three can be used as protection in inclement weather, especially against, cool, damp weather.  They share:
  • Waxed Cotton: All are made of the same 6 oz waxed cotton (as opposed to the Classic, which is 6 oz Sylkoil)
All are made of waxed cotton (Beaufort  shown).


  • Collars: All have the corduroy collar, designed and attached so that rain is redirected away from the wearer's neck and down the front of the jacket.  

All have the corduroy collar, shown here on a Beaufort.

  • Moleskin lined handwarmer pockets: All have deep, Moleskin lined handwarmer pockets, located high enough to enable the carrying of a shotgun.
  • Liners: The same liners (available separately) fit all three.  

 The zip in liners (available separately) fit all three of the same size.

The liners add a considerable amount of warmth, but also bulk.

  • Hoods:  All have studs for optional hoods (also bought separately).  The hoods are now manufactured outside of the UK

Studs for an Optional Hood

  • Two-Way YKK Zipper and Double Storm-Flap

Two-Way YKK Zippers (Shown Here on the Border)

Differences in Length and Fit

The most obvious difference between the three is in length.  However, there are some nuances.
  • The garment chest measurements differ slightly.  At size 36, the Beaufort has a tighter chest measurement of 43.5", while Bedale and Border of 45". 
  •  A Border on a 6'3" male fits more like a Beaufort would on a male of average height. 

A Border on a 6'3" Male

  • The longer Beaufort has the cotton tartan lining to the hem.  The shorter Bedale has nylon on the bottom portion, as does the longer Border.

The longer Beaufort has the cotton tartan lining to the hem.  The shorter Bedale has nylon on the bottom third.  (Both of these jackets are a size 36.)

The inside of the Border also has drainage holes.

And when trying them on for fit, do so with any appropriate layers (sweaters, liners, suits).
  • While if a Beaufort in a 36 fits perfectly over just a shirt, a 38 or 40 may be better over a thicker sweater or jumper.  One may have Beauforts in four different sizes, say 36, 38, 40 and a 42.  All would get worn but just in different circumstances.

Barbour Over Sweaters

I have three Border jackets upstairs in the closet right now, sort of one every 12 years or so since the 1980's. I am 6'3" and do wear mine over a suit or jacket, thus I buy the size 50-52.  For the coldest weather here on Nantucket or in Boston, I wear mine over one of the Barbour quilted jackets. In Richmond, where I spend Jan-April, the basic jacket is fine. The oldest, rattiest Border is for working in the garden, the two newer ones alternate yearly for reproofing. I love to wear them for winter travel because the pockets are so big as to be like an extra carryon. As someone notes, you can wear them into any restaurant or store, and before I retired, I could fit a file folder in the game pockets if I took the liners out. (Comment)

Differences in Back of the Garment

The Bedale has two snap studded gusseted side vents to accommodate a saddle. This also makes it more flexible around hips.

The Bedale's snap studded gusseted side vents can be left unsnapped, a helpful quality in a unisex item.

The Beaufort has a rear nylon-lined game pocket (aka poacher's pocket) with zippered access on both sides. 
The game pocket in the back of the Beaufort is very handy for tucking away a book, newspaper, or small package to keep it dry while walking home in the rain. (Comment)
The Beaufort (in Navy) has a rear nylon-lined game pocket.

This can be used for game or simply to keep the post dry.

The Border has neither vents nor a rear game pocket.

Other Differences in Pockets 

The Bedale has:
  • Two bellows pockets with drainage holes.
  • An interior Velcro-fastened chest pocket.
The Bedale has this inner pocket.

The Beaufort, in addition to the poacher pocket, has:
  • Two bellows pockets with drainage holes.
  • A Zippered Wallet/Phone Pocket.
I have the Beaufort and have found it a very worthy jacket. I do not hunt but use the hunt pouch for my bird books and glasses and some lunch. It's a fantastic jacket and lasts forever! (Jane Keller)

The Beaufort has this zipped pocket.

The Border has:
  • Two very large bellows pockets with drainage holes, 
  • A Zippered Wallet/Phone Pocket, Deep and Lined
  • It has two interior game pockets with removable, washable nylon liners.
  • An Interior Velcro-Fastened Chest Pocket

Barbour Border

The Border's Wallet/Phone Zip Pocket, Deep and Lined

The Border has two interior game pockets....

...with removable, washable nylon liners.

The Border's Interior Velcro-Fastened Chest Pocket

Differences in Sleeves and Cuffs

The Bedale and Beaufort have raglan sleeves, and the Border does not.  The Border's wider arm openings make it easier to fit over a thick sweater.

The Border is the only of the three that does not have raglan sleeves.

The Border's Sleeve
The Bedale has woolen knitted inner storm cuffs, originally designed to keep the rain from running down your arms as you hold the reins.

The Bedale has woolen knitted inner storm cuffs

 The Bedale's knitted cuffs are warmer but fit less well over a thick cuff of a heavier sweater.

The Beaufort and Border have Velcro fastening nylon inner cuffs, originally designed to break away when lifting arms quickly to shoot.

Other Questions about Barbours 

A Bedale has 160 parts, including 49 cut fabric pieces, 103 trims and findings and eight items of packaging, and the jacket takes 36 people in the Barbour factory in South Shields to construct. (

1. Which Barbours are the most timeless, both in cut and color? 

Which coat would you recommend? I'm a woman but I'd like a traditional "country fit", not a "fashion fit". Will be used for walking - in the country... Hate to have to say that feel I have to clarify that it's for function not fashion.
The Bedale, Beaufort or Border (all unisex) qualify for the "country fit". 
I found that what I liked about Barbour - the knitted cuff, the double zip and the back flap (Bedale style) had been removed from the women's versions in the name of style and fashion. Barbour's are meant to be practical and are ideal for changeable Fall and Spring weather which generally requires a sweater underneath. (Melanie)
Many believe the best colors are Sage and Navy.   "Classic" Wax jackets are Olive, denoted by their unique style numbers.

2. How do you wax Barbours, and how often do you have to do it?

The conventional wisdom is every year.  Surprisingly, a new Barbour may sometimes need it after just a few months.
Wax the Barbours when they get dull (on left side).

3. When is the correct time of year to wear Barbours? How do liners work? What is the lowest temperature appropriate for a waxed cotton jacket?

Barbours are built for raw, windy, damp weather, rather than freezing temperatures.  In New England, at some point, most are going to switch to a full winter coat.

There are ways of extending the Barbour season, including by using liners and increasingly thicker sweaters. Those who have bought a Barbour with a close fit may find it hard to add layer, while those who have sized up can more comfortably accommodate some bulk.
The thing about Barbour's zip-in liners is they don't line the sleeves, so your arms will still get cold if it's below 50 or so. A wool sweater or a fleece jacket/pullover will do underneath.(Comment)
30 degrees. That is my cutoff. (Comment) 
Here's a trick! When it's "below freezing in cold conditions" go outside in your jacket. If you are cold, then no, you can't wear it. If you are not cold, then yes, you can! You're welcome ;)  (Patsy)
Mine is a 38" across the bust and I always bulk it up (till I'm fit to pop!)with fleeces and/or jumpers. Most British winters get pretty cold - as well as wet - so you do have to put the layers on in order to stay warm as well as dry. I do love my battered old jacket though. (Comment) 
The liner for the Beaufort is poorly designed. It doesn't conform neatly with the jacket. It can cause bunch ups near in the back and around the sides. Slightly annoying. However, it's surprisingly warm. Zipping in the layer will puff up the interior so it will leave you with little room for layering if you're concerned about your arms. A quick fix is wearing Patagonia Capilene under your outfit if you plan on being outdoors for an extended amount of time. So to answer your question, I think the Beaufort is ideal for temps between 40-60 degrees. You should consider wearing a wool jacket or perhaps a technical winter jacket if temps dip below 30. (Comment)
Add linings...

...or cardigans and jumpers when it gets cooler.

4. How can you tell how old a Barbour is? How have they changed?

Styles and names of styles have changed.  The Border is virtually identical to the Northumbria in style, but the Northumbria is made of heavier weight 8oz Sylkoil material. 
I have a Barbour Gamefair jacket that is probably older than you and still going strong. It has been worn everywhere from pheasant hunting in Nebraska to monthly board meetings. (G R Stokes)
Lining:  Older Barbours can have the Dress Gordon lining.  Newer ones may have the new (but not as good as the Dress Gordon) official Barbour tartan lining. Barbour uses 11 registered Tartans to line jackets.

Lining for the Navy

Royal Warrants: The number of Royal Warrants can help date a garment:
  • The first was added in 1974 from H.R.H The Duke of Edinburgh;
  • The second was added in 1982 from Her Majesty The Queen;
  • The third (and final) was added in for 'Waterproof and Protective Clothing' by H.R.H Prince Charles in 1987.

5. What about other Barbour products? 

Barbour continues to experiment with other products.  One should approach these cautiously, and as a general rule stay away from anything not made in England, which is most everything these days.

6.  Where can one buy a Barbour?