The cape is a great traditional form that has been forgotten in recent times. Our version is upcycled from vintage Russian army poncho material, re-sewn and hand waxed, with a few additions such as a wooden toggle to easily connect the cape. It has arm slots which close with buttons, double thickness cotton over the shoulders, a large peaked hood with a drawstring. The heavily waxed close-weave cotton is stiff and extremely robust, so it creates a shelter over you rather than drape against you – in fact it doesn’t drape at all, which aids ventilation as well as the air can move in underneath the garment. it doubles as a good groundsheet when you come to take a rest from activities or shelter out of the weather.
You can leave the front open as a cape for freedom of movement, or if the weathers coming down close the front and use the arm-slots for maximum protection. The wind proof nature of the cotton, and the fact that a cape doesn’t sit directly on top of your other clothing (like a jacket does) means the level of windchill protection is very very high – it creates a complete ventilated micro-climate for your top half.
Smaller and less cumbersome to wear than a full length wet weather poncho, when not in use it rolls up to a fairly small package, and can also be used as a thick groundsheet etc. Extremely robust (make no mistake, this is ‘thorn proof’ in the extreme!), a useful addition to your foul weather gear and an unusual classic vintage piece of gear to own and use. The only modern ones we found in our research from a number of hunting stores were teflon-coated polyester(!): suffice to say we prefer this traditional ‘oilskin’ organic beeswax and flax seed oil treatment on a fine weave cotton material.
An page from an old Barbour catalogue showing a classic waxed cotton rain cape under typically threatening British upland skies:
And in similar weather conditions on one of our Land Rover Adventures, where the rain cape is always stowed ready for when you need to jump out in the rain to attach a winch rope, or clearing an obstruction from the track, without needing a full suit of rain wear: