Winter is in full bloom (at least here in NYC, we’ve already hit sub-freezing temps), which puts everyone squarely in need of a real coat. The question is: what kind of winter coat? You could cocoon yourself in a teched-out cloud of synthetic down, seam-sealed zippers, and blizzard-ready Gore-Tex. Or you could veer in the all-natural direction and layer on every type of wool imaginable, turning yourself into a parfait of overcoats and cashmere scarves and merino sweaters. Or—or—you can split the difference with a jacket that’s faced the harshest conditions with its own handsome, rugged style for almost 80 years. Allow me to introduce you to the Alpha Industries N-2B “Heritage” Parka, an affordable winter hero.
Think of the $225 N-2B parka as the winterized version of the MA-1, the legend better known as the bomber jacket. Like its more illustrious military-born cousin, the N-2B was developed by Alpha Industries with the express purpose of outfitting pilots and ground-level troops who held down cold climate bases back in the 1950s. And like the MA-1, it’s been endlessly riffed on by all sorts of high-minded designer labels. But Alpha’s OG “Heritage” N-2B remains unimprovable—so packed with practical details and timeless style that it’s overqualified, and utterly perfect, for civilian life.
From a practicality perspective, the Alpha N-2B stiff-arms garbage weather and apocalyptic chill using polyfill insulation, a water-resistant nylon shell, and the ability to close it up using buttons, a zipper, or both. It’s thick, but still sleek enough that it won’t make you feel like you’re in Costanza meme territory, even when the jacket’s hiding a chunky sweater or fleece sweatshirt.
Then there’s the N-2B’s defining feature: the fur-adorned, shearling-lined hood. The faux fur blocks crosswinds from ripping at your nose, but it’s the zipper down the center of the hood that I love. When unzipped, the hood lays flat against your shoulders, which probably made wearing it inside a cockpit easier. Wartime concerns aside, the hood just looks cooler this way.
But you won’t discover my favorite N-2B details until you pull one on. The handwarmer pockets are pass-through. As in, you can slip your hands through the lining, which makes it possible to fish your phone out of your pants pocket or tuck cold digits into the cozy lining of a hoodie’s kangaroo pouch. Pass-through pockets are brilliant. If elected your president, I promise that every winter jacket will have pass-through pockets.
If you happen to live where winter gets really bad (Canada, Minnesota, Texas), you could consider Alpha Industry’s N-3B Parka, the thigh-length brother of the N-2B. You don’t get the zip-split hood, but you do get some thigh protection. For our money, though, the hip-hitting N-2B feels uniquely suited to our all-cropped-everything times. (And if you have extra money, the luxed-up WTAPS x Alpha Industries version of the N-2B is beautiful.) Whether with a hoodie, jeans, and boots, or giving some yes-sir backbone to a cashmere sweater, wool trousers, and loafers, the N-2B parka will handle any cold-weather missions. We’ll salute that.