Me, living in a cave, Western Scotland, 2003
Anyone who knows me, knows I like the US army M65 jacket and have done for many years (picture above was taken 11 years ago). This renowned jacket is not only a outdoor legend it is also very practical and hard wearing.
Now there are those who will sing the praises of the genuine M65 jacket, and there are those of us who look at each item in its own light. What is a genuine M65 jacket anyway? Some will say it's a Alpha Industries jacket, others one made by Propper, still others the Rothco one. Well me, I don't care, ALL I will say is that since I am pretty sure it's no longer issued and the genuine issued one's are getting rarer and rarer you might as well go with what is available.
With that in mind the above picture shows three makers models of the same jacket left to right - Alpha industries, MIL-TEC and Teestar Inc (Carterville GA) so what are the differences? What makes one better than the rest and why do I like them?
A brief history - the M1965 Field jacket was brought into service to replace the M1951 jacket which was the model to replace the classic m1943. One key feature of the M65 jacket is the button in liner which was popular with troops during the Vietnam war where the weather could fluctuate from hot humid days to freezing cold nights and this same feature is also one which I find attractive as a bushcrafter and outdoorsman.
The basic features of these jackets regardless of type is as follows -
- Concealed Hood
- Button Epaulets
- Interior Liner
- Wind/water resistant outer shell
- Brass Zip
- Press stud closure storm flap
- Press stud closure pockets
- Draw string at waist and bottom
- Velcro adjustable Cuffs
- Reinforced pockets
- Button in Quilted liner
Alpha Industries - M65 jacket - green. This is the most expense model retailing at around £100 without the liner. It is a heavy jacket but likewise very tough and robust down to its Cotton Nylon mix material outer. The lower pockets are larger on this jacket the other models I have. Zip on neck is brass as well as that on the front of the jacket. The overall weight and feel of the jacket reflects the quality of materials used and makes it a jacket that will last its owner many years.
The quilted liner is equal to the jacket being designed to button into the jacket but also so it can be worn on its own having both buttons and hand warmer pockets it is a nice addition to the jacket and the knitted elasticated cuffs round off things nicely.
The Mil-Spec M65 jacket is similar however the shade of green is more field green than the foliage green of the Alpha model. Other differences are that this jacket is made of a lighter weight cotton polyester which I find is a lot faster drying than the above model a feature that is a definite benefit in the field. The zip on the neck is a plastic type but the main zip is still brass. Lower pockets don't feel as big as other jackets I own but they serve their purpose.
The quilted liner, while OK is more basic and oddly I found the sleeves a little short and one of them thinner than the other - this was quite restrictive and uncomfortable to wear - it also lacked the buttons and pockets of its more expensive cousin too.
Price wise this jacket is half the price of the Alpha and yet I find it to be as serviceable in the field if not more so due to the polycotton it is made of.
Teestar Inc Caterville GA - this is a jacket that sits comfortably between the two above. Firstly I have to say the camouflage on this jacket is, and I use the term as I find it best to describe it, Beautiful - I am in love with this cam listed as FG. I assume it means either Forest or Foliage Green but regardless of its true definition it is a pattern I really like. As an ex soldier I usually shy away from camouflage jackets but not in this baby!!
OK so what about the jacket? Well, its polycotton (a good thing) it has a brass zip both on the neck and the front of the jacket (so a good thing too) the lower pockets are a good size (another good thing) although still not quite as big as the Alpha. The jackets overall feel is good, it is light and comfortable to wear - I can certainly get all my possibles in the pockets including a wool hat and gloves, pocket knife and folding saw as well the usual stuff, first aid kit, compass, sharpening stone, tinder pouch etc etc.
The quilted liner is also slightly better than the above one it has a reinforced pair of buttons at the collar and the sleeves are both a good length and width making it very warm and comfortable to wear. Sadly no pockets but it does at least have buttons so can be worn on its own.
Price wise this model comes in at around £15 more expensive than the above and yet is still half the price of the Alpha. So over all it is a excellent item.
All the above models tick the bushcraft boxes, they are all tough and safe around the fire (sometimes this is a over rated necessity to be honest) the liner makes for easy layering and the general cut of the jacket makes it look equally good on the street as well as in the field. The foldaway hood isn't much but it'll help cut the wind and as insulation so I'd rather have one than not and the sewn in liner means the jacket works well as a outer if worn over just a t-shirt but in hot weather I find I can happily wear the jacket on its own as both base and outer layer without worry.
So there you go dear reader a brief insight into why I like the m65 and having worn them year round in varying weather conditions for 10 or more years I think I can safely say you cant go far wrong with one.
Thanks for reading this article and following my blog - I hope you've enjoyed it and posts past and future too.