January 09, 2008
By Dan Havlik
I don't normally review clothing in my line of work but when nature photographer Kevin Spreekmeester contacted me with news he had helped design a cold weather photographer's jacket for the venerable Canada Goose parka company, I jumped at the chance to try one out.
Though you may not have heard of the name Canada Goose before, you've likely seen this 50-year-old company's jackets at Antarctic research stations or on top of Mount Everest in movies such as National Treasure, The Day After Tomorrow, or Disney's Eight Below. For years Spreekmeester had wondered why photographer's vests weren't offered with sleeves for colder weather and when he approached Canada Goose – one of his clients – about designing a jacket specifically for photographers, they were interested.
A year and several prototypes later, a final version of the "3-in-1" Photographer's Jacket is now available exclusively through Canada Goose's website (www.canada-goose.com). Only 400 of the jackets will be sold annually and, like the original Model-T car, they come in just one color – black.
The jacket's designated a "3-in-1" model because of its modular construction – you can wear just the inner, down-filled lining; just the outer, waterproof shell; or keep the two pieces zipped together for colder weather. Though I was worried that a month-long warm spell in New York City would prevent me from really putting the jacket to the test, an arctic blast of snowy weather arrived just in time. (To prove that Mother Nature is incredibly fickle these days, however, as I post this to PDNonline today, it's warmed up to the 60s here in NYC. Go figure.)
Though the jacket keeps you toasty, it isn't one of those giant, poofy numbers that make you look like the Michelin Man. In fact, I thought I looked rather stylish, especially with the distinctive "Canada Goose Artic Program" patch on front. (Though one woman did come up to me at an ATM and asked, without sarcasm, if I had been "part of an arctic expedition." I told her no but that I had played one on TV.)
There are some definite photo-friendly touches on the jacket including reinforced Cordura shoulders with snap-closed epaulettes that keep your camera strap from sliding off. Generously sized, waterproof pockets – two of which are fleece-lined – are everywhere, providing good space for stashing spare lenses, flashes, and other assorted accessories. I was able to fit a 16-35mm f/2.8 lens in one, a Speedlite flash in another, and still have room for two spare batteries in the breast pockets.
For bigger accessories, there are even two bellowed pockets on the rear of the jacket and a large, bag-like compartment that zips shut vertically on front to protect your gear from the weather. (It's a good spot for tucking in an extra camera body.)
The sides of the jacket have zippers if you want to wear an accessory belt underneath – or if you just want to let in some air during warmer weather – while a waterproof hood is stashed inside a zippered pouch on the protective collar behind your neck. If you're out tromping around in the snow but still need to show I.D., you can slide your press badge into a plastic patch on the sleeve. Another nice touch is an interior pocket with a rubberized weatherproof media socket for sliding ear buds through if you want to listen to your iPod.
The only thing I'd like to see on a future version of this jacket is a place to stash your memory cards, maybe in an attached wallet inside one of the pockets. One other small glitch may be more cultural than anything. The zipper tab is on the left side of the jacket which drove me nuts for a couple of weeks while trying it out. According to Kevin, the whole zipper-on-the-left-side vs. zipper-on-the-right-side configuration is a "Canada/US thing" and while it's a small issue, I just couldn’t seem to get used to it. You might have a different experience, however.
The Bottom Line
Though it's designed by a photographer for photographers, this new limited edition jacket from Canada Goose is a great "3-in-1" parka for anyone who spends time in the great outdoors. Order one quick from the Canada Goose website before they all get snapped up.
Pros: A stylish and warm jacket created by a photographer for photographers; "3-in-1" design lets you wear it in a variety of weather conditions; durable, Canada-made craftsmanship
Cons: Could use specialized storage for memory cards; zipper tab is on the left side which might be awkward for U.S. users
Further information: Canada Goose Photographer's Jacket