Bison are as American as it gets, and from the Great Plains comes a jacket insulated by their fur, a unique natural fiber.
The Ultimate American Jacket is a four-layer, waterproof winter parka made in the USA and insulated with fibers collected from American bison ranchers.
Bison Fiber Jackets
Called the “B100 Fill,” United By Blue’s unique bison-fiber insulation is similar to wool in that it insulates when wet and dries quickly. We tested some bison socks last year and were impressed by the soft, warm material.
The B100 Fill uses a blend of coarse, hollow bison hairs and recycled polyester insulation. This fill is different than the material used in socks, which the brand calls bison “down” and grows close to the skin of the animal. The coarser hair in the B100 Fill blend is contained inside the jacket and doesn’t contact the skin of the wearer.
The bison fibers used in the insulation are a byproduct from animals raised for meat at ranches in North Dakota.
Ultimate American Jacket
Touted for use down to -30ºF, the Ultimate American Jacket is made for full-blown winter conditions and has a four-layer, waterproof construction. It is highly insulated, including a warm hood.
The jacket starts with a two-layer waterproof and breathable nylon shell constructed with materials made in Rhode Island by a supplier that makes technical fabrics for the U.S. military. It has 14 pockets and is insulated with bison fiber.
The jacket uses high-end, water resistant YKK zippers and has a removable vest made from 100% wool fleece from North Carolina. The vest doubles as both an insulating liner in the jacket and a stand-alone piece.
It’s available in three colors in a men’s fit and a women’s fit. It is backed by a lifetime guarantee.
At $298, the jacket isn’t cheap, but it looks like a solid value. Given the 100 percent USA manufacturing and sourcing, it’s a uniquely affordable piece of American-made apparel.
Bison Snap Jacket
For those who would like to try out bison-insulated outerwear at a lower price, United By Blue made a light snap jacket (heavy shirt?) that also is insulated with B100 Fill.
At $180, the Bison Snap Jacket is water repellent and rated for use between 32ºF and 70ºF. It’s fairly pricy for a shirt, so if you’re really looking to take the plunge into bison outerwear, the Ultimate American Jacket (covered above) for just $120 more seems like a better value.
United By Blue goes through a lot of effort to make sustainable products. For every product sold, the brand removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways through company organized and hosted cleanups. Since May 2010, it has hosted 141 cleanups across the U.S. and Canada, removing 251,000 pounds of trash with the help of more than 5,000 volunteers.
The brand’s Kickstarter has taken off to initial success, raising a healthy $170,000 with lots of time remaining.
If you’re looking for a unique jacket that’s manufactured domestically, this is one worth checking out. The brand estimates delivery by Feb. 2016 — just in time to fight off winter’s strongest chill.