If you’re squarely in the world of alpinism or traditional backpacking, you might not recognize the name Triple Aught Design. If you have even an inkling of hunter or anything remotely tactical, though, you definitely have a lot of reverence for the name. Triple Aught Design is a company that makes exceptionally high-quality tactical gear, alongside a whole slew of products that are meant to support and equip active lifestyles. My test piece for this review, the Talisman jacket, is a capable piece that embodies so much of what Triple Aught Design is about.
Triple Aught Design Talisman Jacket Features:
- Halley Stevensons waxed cotton from Dundee Scotland
- 180 grams/meter2 Ventile® cotton
- YKK metal zippers
- Mesh grommets
- Cuffs: Dual Snap Adjustable
- Front: Snap Closure with Metal Zipper
- Stowable Ventile® hood: Metal zipper
- DWR-treated 100% Cotton liner
- Fully finished
- Drop tail hem
- MSRP: $375
Your Granddaddy’s Coat:
As someone who has guided in the past and still reviews outdoor gear, I have a whole slew of waterproof jackets with varying amounts of use. It’s interesting, though, that whenever it comes down to doing actual work on rainy days – lifting, carrying, chopping – I shy away from using those sophisticated shells. The reason is, as a reviewer, I know how fragile most waterproof/breathable membranes are. They’re negatively impacted by oil, sweat and dirt. They can tear easily, especially if they’re ultralight. For all those reasons, I actively avoid using my shells while doing work in the rain.
Enter waxed cotton: an old, tough technology that dates back to the 15th century when it was used to weatherproof sales. It has many benefits that make it a distinctive and unique technology: densely-woven cotton is tough and resists tearing; the wax that is used to impregnate the fabric will change how stiff or soft it is with the temperature, becoming alternatively more breathable or more dense with the weather; the waterproofing technology is durable, and often has to be re-waxed just once a year; the jacket will actually wear in, rather than wearing out, looking better with age.
Crucially, the jacket is also lined with a softer cotton fabric for next-to-skin comfort. The waxed cotton outer is the technology that Triple Aught Design chose as the foundation of their Talisman jacket, and they partnered with the renowned Baltic Works of Dundee Scotland to use their very best Halley Stevenson waxed cotton.
It’s not a coincidence that Triple Aught Design chose such a storied supplier for the Talisman’s fabric – they intend this to be something of an heirloom jacket, something that will outlast you or at the very least last until you can’t go outside any longer. This is also evident in that the piece is cut and sewn in the US and is finished with tough, heavy brass buttons and grommets. It is built to last, in a way that is completely different than the main thrust of lightweight outdoor gear that I review and all of my friends and I use.
So with all of that as preamble, let’s jump in to the jacket itself. It’s a big, squarely-built piece whose front is dominated by four double-buttoned pockets, a deployable hood that zips into the collar, and a fairly baggy silhouette.
The pockets are a source of mixed emotions for me. I appreciate how many there are (including the inner security pockets), but I really wish that there were hand warmer pockets. Whether or not you have gloves with you, I think it’s really nice to have the easy access of hand pockets. With that said, the four front pockets are all large and you can carry a lot in them. The zippered inner security pocket is a good touch for wallets, phones or what have you.
As I said, the metal accents on the jacket are big, heavy brass buttons. You’ll find these lining the storm flap of the zipper, on each pocket and also at the cuffs of the sleeves. I do wish the Triple Aught had been able to incorporate a cinch at the waste using some buttons, but that would not work particularly well with the drop hem of the jacket. The advantage of the drop hem, of course, is that it maximizes protection from the elements on wet and windy days.
All of those big metal bits do their job very, very well. The main zipper track slides exceptionally easily and also locks into place, which is nice. It’s a world apart from the ultralight, waterproof zippers that I’m used to on my climbing and backpacking jackets. It’s burly, and also heavy and non-waterproof so the storm flap is an important component. The zipper also ends about 6″ above the hem of the jacket, which lets your legs move freely while still maximizing coverage.
Similarly utilitarian is the stow-away hood. I’ve had this out almost constantly since getting the jacket, partly because I prefer the look with the hood out and partly because I usually wear this when it’s raining. To Triple Aught Design’s credit, they did install a minimalist drawcord hood adjustment which includes the only piece of plastic in the whole darn jacket. This helps a great deal in keeping the hood in position. It’s not as good as a more technical three-point hood adjustment setup, but it’ll work unless you’re trying to ice climb in this thing. And, one last touch worth noting: they installed mesh grommets in the armpits. Do these do anything for ventilation? I can’t really tell, but the thought counts.
At this point, it’s worth talking about the overall fit of the jacket. I have to say, it’s an unusual fit. I’m 5’11” and weigh about 195 pounds. When I first got the jacket, I thought I’d chosen the wrong size: the Large that I’m testing felt much too baggy around the hips, abdomen and chest but was sized perfectly at the arms. Since I want to ride my motorcycle in this jacket, that’s an important consideration as I don’t want my sleeves to ride up. However, in talking to the designers of the jacket, I realized that the loose cut is intentional. Since the cotton foundation has no inherent stretch, the jacket is sewn in such a way as to permit freedom-of-movement.
I was fairly pleased with how the jacket moves. Once you button up the cuffs, the sleeves stay in place well and you can reach around with relative ease. I wish I could have done something uber-manly like chop firewood in this jacket. That didn’t happen. However, I did role around on the ground quite a bit working on my motorcycle and I felt like that was a decent test. Lots of reaching, grunting, getting up and down – and the jacket moved well. As mentioned above, it helps that the fabric gets a touch more supple with heat and exertion.
- It’s heavy, and it’ll last forever.
- The cotton fabric that they made it out of is absolutely awesome
- I really like that it’s stitched and sewn in the US, with Scottish fabric
- Plenty of pockets to store bits and pieces
- The brass elements are totally bulletproof
- Deployable hood works like a charm
- It’s heavy, but it’ll last forever.
- I’d still like to see hand pockets, maybe stitched in behind the lower front set
The Bottom Line: Triple Aught Design Talisman Jacket
There is no doubt that the Talisman is an extraordinary jacket. There is simply not that much on the market like it. I am a huge fan of how Triple Aught Design coupled USA-manufacturing and Scottish fabric, ensuring an ethical and high-quality supply chain. This is the type of jacket that I know I will have and use for my entire life, and I am glad to recommend it to any guy.
Buy Now: Available from Triple Aught Design