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Thoughts on the Thunder Bay from Aero

Guppy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,286
Location
Cleveland, OH
Gear Report

I ventured outdoors to clear snow. I wore military cold weather bib overall style pants, a long sleeve heavyweight t-shirt, 14oz wool CPO shirt, the Thunder Bay jacket, my coldest weather gloves, and a thick acrylic knit hat that I've worn in temperatures as low as -20 to -30F, and a scarf wrapped around the mouton collar to pop it up and have it protect my neck and cheeks.

I was outdoors for perhaps 15-20 minutes. Outdoor temperatures of -1F according to the weather reports, and windy, with a wind chill bringing the perceived temperature down to -30F.

So how did the jacket do? I would say it did OK, but not great. Here's what I observed:

* Ultimately the limiting factor for my time outside was my exposed skin. The bottom inch of my forehead and the apples of my cheeks were exposed, and my nose. I really should have had full face coverage, including goggles. Because of this, my face started to hurt after maybe 10 minutes, but really it started hurting immediately upon facing directly into the wind. I did everything I could to face away from the wind, and was able to tolerate it better, but into the wind I wanted to get out of the wind as quickly as possible, and to avoid the wind at all costs. The wind was brutal.
* I even could feel the cold penetrating through my hat, which is a rare thing. I did not have a hood to put up over it, but this probably would have alleviated that. The knit is thick, but does allow a bit too much wind penetration.
* On to what you really want to hear about, the jacket itself...
* The collar did protect me well against the cold.
* The leather stiffened up noticeably while outside. Upon completing my work and going back inside to strip the gear off, the leather felt about as stiff as heavy 4.0 oz CXL steer that has not been broken in. It's lighter than that, probably 3 oz but maybe 2.5 oz. I expect that super heavy CXL would become so stiff as to impair movement, or at least make it tiring, in temperatures as low as this. But I was happy with my mobility in the cold with the jacket on.
* The "cold bridge" areas did not bother me, due to the bib overall overpants and having the scarf tucked into the zipper of the jacket. Still, I did perceive that there was some cold spots in the front of the jacket. I'm not sure too much about how well it kept wind out, as I avoided facing forward into the wind as much as possible due to my face. But I definitely think that a wind flap is a good idea on a jacket like this. An extra 1-1.5" wide strip of leather behind the zipper teeth would do a lot to keep wind out. Backing this area with shearling would not be a bad idea at all, either. But in practice, when bundling up appropriately for the cold, I think it was adequate.
* The body part of the jacket felt warm enough. I was deliberately not putting on as much under the jacket as I possibly could have, because I wanted to test the jacket, not the layering system, and as far as the body goes, I stayed warm for the duration I was outside. Would I have appreciated 1/2" or 3/4" shearling more? Almost certainly. But it might have left me feeling overheated, particularly if I was exerting myself or if the wind wasn't as bad as it was. So it's still a tough call -- I felt like I was OK in sub-0 degree weather, with a wind chill. And I like that the jacket is wearable in warmer weather up to 40F or even 50F. But psychologically I still feel like thicker shearling would be desirable, and wouldn't hurt the jacket's utility, although it might lead to overheating if worn in the upper temperature range between 40-50F.
* The sleeves, on the other hand, I don't think held up as well against the cold. They're only lined in corduroy, not shearling, and it's just not as well insulated. I could feel the cold in my arms noticeably more than in the body. Possibly an additional layer of wool fabric or batting between the corduroy and the leather would have helped. On the other hand this would have compromised mobility a bit more and felt bulkier. The solutions here are to be found in the layering system one chooses for under the jacket.

So what do I think of it?

I think it's a damn fine jacket. It looks great. And if you understand its limitations and how it works, and address those appropriately with your layering system, it seems to be plenty adequate against deep cold. It's not the warmest possibly thing to wear, but it's obviously not intended to be a parka. If I was going to be out trudging in the wilderness for an extended period of time, I'd prefer a parka or anorak. And I'd probably choose something made from lighter weight, modern materials.

For a stylish piece of classic fashion that is capable of keeping you pretty warm if work with the right stuff under it, I think it is very capable. I have lingering feelings that more insulation in the sleeves and thicker shearling in the body would have made me feel more confident and happier with the jacket in extreme cold, but balancing that out with how it would work in 30F+ weather should be considered as well. If I look at it like I want a jacket that I will wear more often, I expect I will encounter the upper range of temps more often than not, and I can adequately bundle up to wear it down to 0F and probably down as low as -15F to -20F, maybe even lower. If I really wanted something that was more appropriate to temperatures from 10F to well below zero, without consideration of wearing it in warmer cold temperatures, then I might feel justified in being a bit disappointed with the performance, and wanting it to be heavier than it is.

I need to wear it more outside in a range of conditions to fully appreciate these balancing and offsetting factors, to know what to think. I should have more opportunities in the coming days for that.
 

MrProper

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,003
Location
Europe
Gear Report

I ventured outdoors to clear snow. I wore military cold weather bib overall style pants, a long sleeve heavyweight t-shirt, 14oz wool CPO shirt, the Thunder Bay jacket, my coldest weather gloves, and a thick acrylic knit hat that I've worn in temperatures as low as -20 to -30F, and a scarf wrapped around the mouton collar to pop it up and have it protect my neck and cheeks.

I was outdoors for perhaps 15-20 minutes. Outdoor temperatures of -1F according to the weather reports, and windy, with a wind chill bringing the perceived temperature down to -30F.

So how did the jacket do? I would say it did OK, but not great. Here's what I observed:

* Ultimately the limiting factor for my time outside was my exposed skin. The bottom inch of my forehead and the apples of my cheeks were exposed, and my nose. I really should have had full face coverage, including goggles. Because of this, my face started to hurt after maybe 10 minutes, but really it started hurting immediately upon facing directly into the wind. I did everything I could to face away from the wind, and was able to tolerate it better, but into the wind I wanted to get out of the wind as quickly as possible, and to avoid the wind at all costs. The wind was brutal.
* I even could feel the cold penetrating through my hat, which is a rare thing. I did not have a hood to put up over it, but this probably would have alleviated that. The knit is thick, but does allow a bit too much wind penetration.
* On to what you really want to hear about, the jacket itself...
* The collar did protect me well against the cold.
* The leather stiffened up noticeably while outside. Upon completing my work and going back inside to strip the gear off, the leather felt about as stiff as heavy 4.0 oz CXL steer that has not been broken in. It's lighter than that, probably 3 oz but maybe 2.5 oz. I expect that super heavy CXL would become so stiff as to impair movement, or at least make it tiring, in temperatures as low as this. But I was happy with my mobility in the cold with the jacket on.
* The "cold bridge" areas did not bother me, due to the bib overall overpants and having the scarf tucked into the zipper of the jacket. Still, I did perceive that there was some cold spots in the front of the jacket. I'm not sure too much about how well it kept wind out, as I avoided facing forward into the wind as much as possible due to my face. But I definitely think that a wind flap is a good idea on a jacket like this. An extra 1-1.5" wide strip of leather behind the zipper teeth would do a lot to keep wind out. Backing this area with shearling would not be a bad idea at all, either. But in practice, when bundling up appropriately for the cold, I think it was adequate.
* The body part of the jacket felt warm enough. I was deliberately not putting on as much under the jacket as I possibly could have, because I wanted to test the jacket, not the layering system, and as far as the body goes, I stayed warm for the duration I was outside. Would I have appreciated 1/2" or 3/4" shearling more? Almost certainly. But it might have left me feeling overheated, particularly if I was exerting myself or if the wind wasn't as bad as it was. So it's still a tough call -- I felt like I was OK in sub-0 degree weather, with a wind chill. And I like that the jacket is wearable in warmer weather up to 40F or even 50F. But psychologically I still feel like thicker shearling would be desirable, and wouldn't hurt the jacket's utility, although it might lead to overheating if worn in the upper temperature range between 40-50F.
* The sleeves, on the other hand, I don't think held up as well against the cold. They're only lined in corduroy, not shearling, and it's just not as well insulated. I could feel the cold in my arms noticeably more than in the body. Possibly an additional layer of wool fabric or batting between the corduroy and the leather would have helped. On the other hand this would have compromised mobility a bit more and felt bulkier. The solutions here are to be found in the layering system one chooses for under the jacket.

So what do I think of it?

I think it's a damn fine jacket. It looks great. And if you understand its limitations and how it works, and address those appropriately with your layering system, it seems to be plenty adequate against deep cold. It's not the warmest possibly thing to wear, but it's obviously not intended to be a parka. If I was going to be out trudging in the wilderness for an extended period of time, I'd prefer a parka or anorak. And I'd probably choose something made from lighter weight, modern materials.

For a stylish piece of classic fashion that is capable of keeping you pretty warm if work with the right stuff under it, I think it is very capable. I have lingering feelings that more insulation in the sleeves and thicker shearling in the body would have made me feel more confident and happier with the jacket in extreme cold, but balancing that out with how it would work in 30F+ weather should be considered as well. If I look at it like I want a jacket that I will wear more often, I expect I will encounter the upper range of temps more often than not, and I can adequately bundle up to wear it down to 0F and probably down as low as -15F to -20F, maybe even lower. If I really wanted something that was more appropriate to temperatures from 10F to well below zero, without consideration of wearing it in warmer cold temperatures, then I might feel justified in being a bit disappointed with the performance, and wanting it to be heavier than it is.

I need to wear it more outside in a range of conditions to fully appreciate these balancing and offsetting factors, to know what to think. I should have more opportunities in the coming days for that.
I think it is a great jacket for temperatures around 30F.
At -1F I wanted the thickest B3 or Irvin I could get LOL.
 

Guppy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,286
Location
Cleveland, OH
I think it is a great jacket for temperatures around 30F.
At -1F I wanted the thickest B3 or Irvin I could get LOL.
I hear you. On the other hand, Aero"s own description of the jacket says it's one of their warmest designs, and the name Thunder Bay suggests it should be wearable in sub-zero Temps...
 

Liveinstyle33

One of the Regulars
Messages
101
Gear Report

I ventured outdoors to clear snow. I wore military cold weather bib overall style pants, a long sleeve heavyweight t-shirt, 14oz wool CPO shirt, the Thunder Bay jacket, my coldest weather gloves, and a thick acrylic knit hat that I've worn in temperatures as low as -20 to -30F, and a scarf wrapped around the mouton collar to pop it up and have it protect my neck and cheeks.

I was outdoors for perhaps 15-20 minutes. Outdoor temperatures of -1F according to the weather reports, and windy, with a wind chill bringing the perceived temperature down to -30F.

So how did the jacket do? I would say it did OK, but not great. Here's what I observed:

* Ultimately the limiting factor for my time outside was my exposed skin. The bottom inch of my forehead and the apples of my cheeks were exposed, and my nose. I really should have had full face coverage, including goggles. Because of this, my face started to hurt after maybe 10 minutes, but really it started hurting immediately upon facing directly into the wind. I did everything I could to face away from the wind, and was able to tolerate it better, but into the wind I wanted to get out of the wind as quickly as possible, and to avoid the wind at all costs. The wind was brutal.
* I even could feel the cold penetrating through my hat, which is a rare thing. I did not have a hood to put up over it, but this probably would have alleviated that. The knit is thick, but does allow a bit too much wind penetration.
* On to what you really want to hear about, the jacket itself...
* The collar did protect me well against the cold.
* The leather stiffened up noticeably while outside. Upon completing my work and going back inside to strip the gear off, the leather felt about as stiff as heavy 4.0 oz CXL steer that has not been broken in. It's lighter than that, probably 3 oz but maybe 2.5 oz. I expect that super heavy CXL would become so stiff as to impair movement, or at least make it tiring, in temperatures as low as this. But I was happy with my mobility in the cold with the jacket on.
* The "cold bridge" areas did not bother me, due to the bib overall overpants and having the scarf tucked into the zipper of the jacket. Still, I did perceive that there was some cold spots in the front of the jacket. I'm not sure too much about how well it kept wind out, as I avoided facing forward into the wind as much as possible due to my face. But I definitely think that a wind flap is a good idea on a jacket like this. An extra 1-1.5" wide strip of leather behind the zipper teeth would do a lot to keep wind out. Backing this area with shearling would not be a bad idea at all, either. But in practice, when bundling up appropriately for the cold, I think it was adequate.
* The body part of the jacket felt warm enough. I was deliberately not putting on as much under the jacket as I possibly could have, because I wanted to test the jacket, not the layering system, and as far as the body goes, I stayed warm for the duration I was outside. Would I have appreciated 1/2" or 3/4" shearling more? Almost certainly. But it might have left me feeling overheated, particularly if I was exerting myself or if the wind wasn't as bad as it was. So it's still a tough call -- I felt like I was OK in sub-0 degree weather, with a wind chill. And I like that the jacket is wearable in warmer weather up to 40F or even 50F. But psychologically I still feel like thicker shearling would be desirable, and wouldn't hurt the jacket's utility, although it might lead to overheating if worn in the upper temperature range between 40-50F.
* The sleeves, on the other hand, I don't think held up as well against the cold. They're only lined in corduroy, not shearling, and it's just not as well insulated. I could feel the cold in my arms noticeably more than in the body. Possibly an additional layer of wool fabric or batting between the corduroy and the leather would have helped. On the other hand this would have compromised mobility a bit more and felt bulkier. The solutions here are to be found in the layering system one chooses for under the jacket.

So what do I think of it?

I think it's a damn fine jacket. It looks great. And if you understand its limitations and how it works, and address those appropriately with your layering system, it seems to be plenty adequate against deep cold. It's not the warmest possibly thing to wear, but it's obviously not intended to be a parka. If I was going to be out trudging in the wilderness for an extended period of time, I'd prefer a parka or anorak. And I'd probably choose something made from lighter weight, modern materials.

For a stylish piece of classic fashion that is capable of keeping you pretty warm if work with the right stuff under it, I think it is very capable. I have lingering feelings that more insulation in the sleeves and thicker shearling in the body would have made me feel more confident and happier with the jacket in extreme cold, but balancing that out with how it would work in 30F+ weather should be considered as well. If I look at it like I want a jacket that I will wear more often, I expect I will encounter the upper range of temps more often than not, and I can adequately bundle up to wear it down to 0F and probably down as low as -15F to -20F, maybe even lower. If I really wanted something that was more appropriate to temperatures from 10F to well below zero, without consideration of wearing it in warmer cold temperatures, then I might feel justified in being a bit disappointed with the performance, and wanting it to be heavier than it is.

I need to wear it more outside in a range of conditions to fully appreciate these balancing and offsetting factors, to know what to think. I should have more opportunities in the coming days for that.
Excellent analysis. You are like me and really test gear in detail! I have been in similar weather conditions recently. Here I am right now in the Thunder bay!


IMG_8426.jpg
 

dubpynchon

One Too Many
Messages
1,045
Location
Ireland
I took delivery on my latest, Aero Thunder Bay, a couple weeks ago.

I ordered as follows:

* Size 42
* Black CXLSH
* Olive stitching
* Rust mouton collar
* Left inside pocket

On unboxing, I was surprised at two things, which gave me some concern:
* the CXLSH they used is pretty lightweight.
* the shearling lining in the body isn't as long as I was expecting. It's only about 1/4".
* it's a bit oversized
* the rust mouton color is a bit lighter in person than it looked on screen. Not sure if that's just a matter of natural variation, or that digital cameras and computer screens just make it look darker and richer. It's OK though.

Otherwise the jacket is pretty much exactly what I was expecting.

I mulled over this minor nitpicks, and decided that wear testing was the only way to know how well I truly liked the jacket.

My thoughts after having worn it a few times over the last few weeks:

Leather weight:

The lighter weight steer isn't really an issue. Being thinner, it's more pliable, which maybe helps it in cold temperatures the jacket is intended to be worn in. Since CXL is so stuffed with waxes, as everyone knows it will be stiffer in cold weather. In freezing weather, it might be too stiff, but using thinner CXL likely offsets this issue, making it a non-factor. From a strength/durability standpoint, I'm not concerned about the weight. I do like the way their heavyweight CXL feels, though, so I do miss that a bit. Especially on the sleeve cuffs, where I feel thicker leather would have been good to give the cuff a bit of rigidity.

Shearling weight:

I'm undecided about the shearling thickness. I was worried that it wasn't thick enough. So far the weather here hasn't been all that cold. We're flirting with freezing temperatures, but mostly in the 40sF and 50F (2-10C) range. In those temperatures, the shearling seems adequate. I'm still doubtful that it would be enough below freezing, and especially below 0F. Based on the descriptions, I had thought that the jacket would be ideal for temps below freezing, down to below zero.

It's a jacket, not a coat or a parka, so I'm not necessarily expecting it to be something you'd want to wear on an arctic expedition. But I was a bit surprised that the shearling wasn't sheared to the 1" length they use in flight jackets like the B3, ANJ-4 or the Irvin. I guess those jackets are to be expected to be used at altitude in unpressurized airplanes where the temperatures can drop to -30F to -50F, which would mean that they'd have to be super warm. But is the Thunder Bay intended for those kinds of conditions? It must not be. So what temperature range is it ideally suited for? For me to get the most use out of it, in the types of winters we see around where I live, I'd want it to be suited to temperatures ranging from 0-40F... maybe -10 to +30. I'm not yet sure how it will hold up to below freezing, as we haven't really hit those temps yet. So I'm reserving judgment.

I wasn't asked, didn't think to ask, and didn't specify, but if I do a Thunder Bay 2.0, I will definitely be asking more questions about this.

Oversizing:

The jacket is pretty boxy, and loose on the body. I thought that this would be to accommodate the extra fluff of the shearling lining, but with the shearling not cut all that long, that's not really it. But the jacket also will accommodate a lot of layering. The sleeves are extra wide, and don't bind up. I went out today wearing:

* a t-shirt
* a thermal long sleeve shirt
* a boiled wool long sleeve shirt over that
* a cotton flannel over that

I would estimate this bulked my chest measurement up a good full size, easily, if not more than that. Putting the Thunder Bay on over all of that was no problem. I've also worn it over a thick shawl-collar sweater, without much binding (just a slight amount, near the armpits). Given that it's intended for winter wear, you're not going to be putting this on over just a t-shirt, and I think the design reflects this, and works well with that in mind. If you're wearing just a t-shirt and a button down flannel over that, it might be a bit loose, and the looseness might let in too much air around the hem, collar, and sleeves, which would be more of a problem.

Depending on how you dress, then, you might want to size down, and/or order yours with longer shearling.

The sleeves are lined in corduroy, not shearling. This also may be something to ask about when ordering. It makes for less bulk and still decent warmth.

Will post pics soon. I've been delinquent on photos for most of my recent acquisitions, and am finally getting to a point where I once again have a decent setup for taking photos again. So hopefully that will be changing in the very near future. Depending on how my time flies this weekend, I may get to take a lot of pictures I've been meaning to, and updating a bunch of threads here.
Great review. I just read this now so I’m a bit late. I have a Thunderbay in goat, with the same length shearling. It’s fine for an Irish winter, where the weather doesn’t really go below 4c or so. I think they size them up to accommodate the shearling, but as the shearling is 1/4 inch they can be a bit big, mine is fine with a thick sweater. Mine would benefit from a wind flap as well, leather would be enough, like in a G-1. If I ever order a Thunderbay v.2 it’ll have a wind flap and maybe hidden zips on the pockets to prevent droopy pockets (not that I’ll ever wear it enough for that to be a problem). It’s a cool jacket, the style reminds me of jackets I’d see worn by old men in Dublin when I was a kid (so they were probably, like, forty), the style seems to date from the 1950s, or it seemed like that anyway.

The sleeves are your decision though… are they so long they’re annoying, the age old question.
 
Last edited:

rmconner80

Familiar Face
Messages
64
Location
Clifton VA
I think the jacket looks great!

I may have said this recently in another thread: in my experience the 1/2” - 1” shearling is certainly warmer than the 1/4” but can be a chore to wear until it’s really broken in and tamed. Which can take a long enough time to happen that you get turned off to the jacket before reaching it. The 1/4 to maybe 3/8 is a probably a good trade off.

In terms of that zipper ‘cold bridge’ I’ve always solved that with a wool scarf that goes around the neck once then runs straight down the front of the jacket behind the zipper.
 

Guppy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,286
Location
Cleveland, OH
Went out and cleared snow again. Temperatures were again hovering around 0F, wind not as bad as yesterday, but still occasional gusts.

My outfit was basically the same as yesterday, except my layering system, which this time consisted of a thermal underwear shirt, under a boiled wool long sleeve crew neck, under a wooly pully.

With this layering system, I did not have a problem with feeling cold through the sleeves, and was not impaired with mobility or range of motion.

Again, my exposed skin on my face was the only thing that limited my comfort. I was out clearing snow for only about 20 minutes, but didn't want to be outside any longer than absolutely possible, and did everything I could to shield my face from the wind.
 

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