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Flying Jacket advice - Aero vs ALC vs British Sheepskin Company

Jonny Max

New in Town
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2
I'm in the market for my first sheepskin flying jacket and have been reading various reviews and forums online for information. I'm really after some advice if anyone is able to help!

It seems that in my price range (up to around £800 new) there are 3 good options I've found:

Aero Flying Jackets
Aviation Leathercraft Irvin jackets
British Sheepskin Company Flying jackets

Are there any other big players I should consider?

Of the 3 it seems like Aero has a lot of good reviews and votes of confidence. Has anyone had a jacket from British Sheepskin Company? The jackets look great but some of the reviews are terrible!!

I'm not really concerned by how faithful the jacket is to original designs, I just want one that is high quality, looks good and designed to last a lifetime. I also want to be able to wear it in a normal UK winter and am a fairly slim chap, so will probably look at a lightweight sheepskin as I've seen a lot of forum members recommend those!

If anyone has any input to help guide me to the right company and jacket it would be much appreciated.

Many thanks, Jonny
 

Sloan1874

I'll Lock Up
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8,401
Location
Glasgow
I haven't handled Eastman's stuff, but Aviation and British Sheepskin's jackets are very teddy bear-ish, which means you won't get masses of use from it. They also have bloody pockets, which on the Aviation is particularly rubbish given that they have right to use the Irvin name. The Aero has a thinner sheepskin, historically accurate, and is much more flexible - I'll be digging it out later this month to give it an airing ahead of November, when it'll be time to wear it again.
Can I recommend, if you're looking for a sheepskin jacket that you can get maximum use from and has pockets etc, a D-1. A great looking jacket, low-key cool, pockets and it comes in two colours!
http://www.aeroleatherclothing.com/product-detail.php?id=79
 

ProteinNerd

My Mail is Forwarded Here
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3,803
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Sydney
I’ve somehow ended up with 4 Eastman’s now (definitely wasn’t planned that way) and they really are top notch. The prices are pushing it these day but they are fantastic quality. If you don’t need to go custom, you cant go wrong.
 

Edward

Bartender
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23,743
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London, UK
I haven't handled Eastman's stuff, but Aviation and British Sheepskin's jackets are very teddy bear-ish, which means you won't get masses of use from it. They also have bloody pockets, which on the Aviation is particularly rubbish given that they have right to use the Irvin name. The Aero has a thinner sheepskin, historically accurate, and is much more flexible - I'll be digging it out later this month to give it an airing ahead of November, when it'll be time to wear it again.
Can I recommend, if you're looking for a sheepskin jacket that you can get maximum use from and has pockets etc, a D-1. A great looking jacket, low-key cool, pockets and it comes in two colours!
http://www.aeroleatherclothing.com/product-detail.php?id=79


Aviation Leathercraft do do a model with no pockets, but it still isn't an accurate repro - the colour is wrong, it's all too fluffy, and certain other things. Definitely a real pity, but then they don't ever seem to target the vintage market as such - they seem to sell more towards well-heeled folks who drive a Morgan in colder weather.
 

green papaya

One Too Many
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1,261
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California, usa
They look so heavy as to be useless the moment you step out the car!

they were designed for air crew / bomber crews, probably makes a pretty good motor bike jacket to protect from crashes and wind.

the weather doesnt get cold enough for a heavy coat where I live, I only wear light jackets
 

Edward

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London, UK
Yeah, the originals were all shorter-haired than those. Long hair on sheepskin has its place - I'd love to have a really long mouton collar on a barnstormer type jacket - but the ALC models look more of a caricature of the originals than a repop.

As to wearing one on a bike, yeesh. It was done by some rockers back in the late 50s/early 60s, when original Irvins and cheap imitations thereof were being sold off as 'surplus', but while it would certainly keep you warm, sheepskin alone would offer absolutely nothing in the way of protection from either abrasion in a slide or impact in an off. There'll be good reason why the leather bike jacket as we know it emerged the way it did.
 

Jonny Max

New in Town
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2
Thanks all for the info and replies.

Having a look at the Eastman jackets only the B-3 flying jacket (Seal Brown) caught my eye as did their prices! Could any B-3 owners comment on the fit? Is it also teddybear-ish or is it actually fairly wearable for a UK winter?

The Aero B-3 jackets also look great as do their RAF jackets (although unfortunately they don't have pockets which I would actually quite like - apologies to the traditionalists!).

Has anyone got any experience of how the Aero B-3 and Eastman B-3s compare? And also how the Aero flying jackets themselves compare - B-3 vs RAF?
 

bn1966

Call Me a Cab
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2,994
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UK
I tried an ELC B-3 on the other day & whilst I'd love one to bits personally I feel it would end not getting the wear it deserves. Living in the South West I even sold on my ELC Irvin type because it didn't get out enough. My answer was the purchase of a D-1, simple classic design with short enough shearling to actually get out and about in the UK on a regular basis. TBH I purchased a Monarch contract A-2 from ELC late spring & have only worn that once with the high temperatures we've had. Went out tonight for a few hours with a T shirt being the only outer wear needed :) could do with a temp drop as my jackets are going stir crazy.
 

Sloan1874

I'll Lock Up
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8,401
Location
Glasgow
Sadly, I've found the heavier fleeces just too much for me up here. Though it pained me greatly, I traded my Aero ANJ-4 for a D-1 last year as it was barely broken in two years on from buying it! Part of me just wants to go mad and buy a B-3, but realistically at some point I'll end up with a B-6 (it's also got pockets!).
The weather's definitely beginning to cool up here - we've been having 'have you got the heating on yet?' conversations in the office - I pulled on my Dust Bowl tonight and the Board Racer's been getting a run out too. Not putting the A-2 away yet, though. Too many trips south planned to do that yet!
 

Edward

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London, UK
Thanks all for the info and replies.

Having a look at the Eastman jackets only the B-3 flying jacket (Seal Brown) caught my eye as did their prices! Could any B-3 owners comment on the fit? Is it also teddybear-ish or is it actually fairly wearable for a UK winter?

In terms of what is and isn't wearable for certain temperatures, I think this will vary from individual to individual. I wouldn't say I feel the cold especially, but I can easily wear a B3 or an Irvin in London from November through February - basically any time I'd wear a Winter coat. Often zipped up, but not absolutely always. Both have been also worn in Belfast and Beijing in Winter, and proven excellent in both.

The Aero B-3 jackets also look great as do their RAF jackets (although unfortunately they don't have pockets which I would actually quite like - apologies to the traditionalists!).

Back in the days of 'Aero USA' under Mark Moyes, the Galashiels factory did produce a 'civilian B3' for the US market, which was a standard B3 with handwarmer pockets added. I'm sure they could do so again on request. The other option would be to go for a B6 or D1 (note that, as standard, the B6 has pockets more usable as handwarmers - those on the D1 are higher up and zipped).

Personally, I'm halfway tempted by the idea of a B6 in the slightly thicker B3 fleece. I'm sure it's been done, and would be less of a visual compromise on the original design. That said, in all honesty I've never missed handwarmer pockets on either my B3 or the Irvin. The B3's map pocket is great for stowing my gloves when I step inside somewhere. The only pockets I miss on these jackets are inner pockets, though I make up for that often by wearing a four-pocket waistcoat underneath. Thinking about it, I never actually use the handwarmers on any of my jackets - mostly, they're just there for show. All my jackets are of a length where I naturally reach for my trouser pocket anyhow.

Has anyone got any experience of how the Aero B-3 and Eastman B-3s compare? And also how the Aero flying jackets themselves compare - B-3 vs RAF?

Can't comment directly on the Aero offerings. I have an ELC Irvin 42 pattern and a Lost Worlds B3 (eventually I'd love to have an Aero CC Irvin, an Aero ANJ4, and an Aero Redskin B6. I'd wear them all in a London Winter). As a general rule, the B3 is a heavier jacket in terms of weight, owing to the horsehide panels on the arms. The Irvin is very light indeed - almost feels like wearing nothing, apart from the slight clumsiness when new and breaking it in - but both are ,in my experience, about equal in terms of warmth. Where I'd give the B3 the edge is that those horsehide panels make me just that little bit less afraid of tearing it. To be fair, I've worn the Irvin a lot and never had any problem or felt I had to baby it. Whichever you go for between those two would be as much a matter of aesthetic preference as anything else imo. Of course, you'll get plenty of "Biggles" and "Parked the Spitfire outside, did we?", but most folks don't mean anything by it.
 

Desperandum

New in Town
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21
I have an Eastman B-3 and a D-1.

The B-3 is a first rate jacket but, to be honest, it's a heavy jacket, because it has a lot of leather in the facings, as well as sheepskin. It'll certainly keep you warm, but it has to be very cold in East Anglia to justify it. Just right for "The Beast from the East" this year, though.

The D-1, which was a rigger/ground crew jacket, has a shorter pile, and a couple of zipped pockets, which are enough for me to carry a small iPhone,keys etc. When the weather gets cool, it's my preferred jacket, along with my cloth BR B-10.

With sheepskin jackets, it's worth paying close attention to size, as the thickness of the pile makes a lot of difference, and needs to be taken into consideration.
 

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