Reviews from Alex Javor
Alex is an on-screen personality from National Geographic Television's Life Below Zero, Next Generation. Because Alex also wore and reviewed our All-Around Jacket, Double Hood and Watch Cap, I created a page that has both reviews.
The TV Show follows Alex through the winter in far Northern Alaska. Prior to the filming, Alex spent the winter alone, far from other people, in extreme conditions with temperatures dropping below -50F (-46C). In such conditions, knowledge is key, and clothing is critical.
Season 3 began airing in September of 2021, and most of the filming was completed before Alex received the AAJ and Double Hood. We don't know how much of the AAJ and Double Hood will be seen in Season 3, but we were pleasantly surprised to see these garments featured in Episode 6 on October 6th. Alex wrote me in surprise that the footage was not aired in chronological sequence.
Alex told me Season 4 begins filming in mid-October 2021, and that he intends to wear the AAJ, Double Hood and Watch Cap for the entirety of Season 4, which he expects will air in March or April of 2022.
This photo is taken from Season 3, Episode 6
Here is the text of an email sent by Alex on 17 November 2021:
Hey Ralph! Not sure if I mentioned it to you yet, but the episodes which will be shown as season 4 of LBZ:Next Generation will show me in the AAJ for all episodes except one I think.
After testing out the jacket in fall time conditions I am really impressed with the range of comfort it offers. I've stayed comfortable wearing the jacket while ice fishing in 20 mile per hour [32 kph] winds at -20 degrees F [-29C]. It is not so cold this time of year but I find fall time to actually be the coldest feeling time of year because it is always a bit damp. As expected though, the AAJ was very nice to wear while fishing, waterfowl hunting, and going for long, long hikes in the mountains.
I don't think there is another piece of clothing I've had that has such a large range of conditions that it can remain viable for. Being a hardcore minimalist, this is really attractive to me - it's like a multi-tool. One jacket that covers almost every season.
Thanks again. I am not sure when these episodes will air but when I find out I'll let you know. -- Alex Javor
Here is what Alex wrote in July of 2021 regarding the AAJ and Double Hood:
By far the best coat I've owned. Well, the best piece of clothing period that I have owned. I was wearing it out on the lake ice fishing in 0 degree [-18C] weather with 12-20 mph [19-32 kph] wind and was very comfortable with just a wool shirt and undershirt underneath. Although I don't ride snow machines much, the film crew uses them so I got to test the coat out while riding and it was very nice for that thanks to the double hood and tall collar that protects the cheeks. So it blocks wind well, but most important for me is that it breathes well too. So when I got to hike back to camp, getting sweaty wasn't a concern. It's easy to just throw on a million layers and stay warm of course, but getting just the right balance between warmth and breathability is what I think makes this coat so valuable, especially for somebody doing exercise in the extreme cold.
Besides the raw functionality of the coat, I appreciated all the little thoughtful details. Buttons being sewn on with a heavy duty strap - I doubt those will ever come off. Heavy duty zippers, extra big hood that fits over arctic hats. A tall collar that covers your cheeks. A very well thought out coat that makes a big difference in comfort and survivability in extreme cold conditions.
And last but not least, there is the fact that the coat looks beautiful. It's well fitted, the wool itself is thick and plush, it feels nice on your skin. It has a certain quality just like when you see a nice wolf ruff or other animal fur - it looks very natural and real. The Lynx pattern functions well as camouflage, but also has a real majestic beauty to it just like the animal it is named after. Everywhere I went in town people remarked about the coat, usually saying something about how nice the quality looked.
And then in September of 2021, when it was finally OK to post the review because the series had begun airing Season 3, Alex couldn't find/remember what he'd sent before, so he surprised me by sending another review:
Actually, I'll just type out a new review. I don't remember exactly what i said the first time but just in case it was kind of rambly or something, I'll make another:
I live off-grid in interior Alaska, doing most of my day-to-day work without the aid of any sort of power - gas or electric. This includes hunting, fishing, long cross country travel on skis, snowshoes, and kayak. People who live lifestyles like me have to be really frugal in how they spend their money. Some things you use - well you don't care if they last. But other things are so important, you really can't afford to have less than the best.
My lifestyle in Alaska has me in the elements almost constantly, no matter the weather. The clothes I wear are the first line of defense I have against the worst of Alaska's winters. They are among the most important "tools" that I own. I've been wearing wool almost exclusively for quite a few years because, all things considered, it's just the best fabric there is for living and working in the north. That's not something somebody told me, it's what I've confirmed through years of hard testing.
Recently I decided to move to a more remote region of Alaska - a place where I wouldn't have a cabin or any infrastructure waiting for me. I knew that I'd only be able to bring what I could fit inside a small bush plane, and I'd spend the rest of the winter living in the elements with minimal supplies. It's an extreme situation. I already had pretty good clothing, but I've never had an all-purpose winter coat that was...perfect.
I didn't think a coat that was perfect for my standards existed. I searched online for information about how I could construct my own. That's how I discovered WeatherWool, and what I learned is that they've already done the hard work for me. They've built the perfect all-purpose winter coat.
When I got my all-around jacket I was immediately impressed with it's looks. It's beautiful wool, it reminds me of wild animal fur. It is thick, soft, and strong. When I put it on the fit was perfect - I've never had a coat that fit absolutely perfectly like that. What a joy! The high collar is just the right size to hide your face behind while ice fishing on a windy lake in February. The cuffs are large enough to fit a mitten through easily, but have heavy-duty buttons to cinch out the cold. There's a hundred little details that make a big difference in both comfort and serious survival considerations, and they are all done perfectly.
The double hood - get one. It absolutely blocks wind, and the cinch straps are so well designed you can stay warm on a snowmachine. Usually only a heavy-down parka is enough for that but I took some snowmachine rides in -20 degrees [-29C] with only the all-around jacket plus a couple layers of generic wool underneath and it was perfectly comfortable.
I can go on and on...but really, if you are an active person who lives, works, or plays in the north country, you should just try it out for yourself. Ralph and his crew run their business in an old school, personal way. It's not like shopping from Amazon. They get to know you and tailor the clothing exactly to your needs.
But it is expensive, right? Technically, yes. Other wool coats do cost less. But in the long run I think you'll pay more for cheaper products that don't last. And besides that, there is the issue of day to day, moment to moment comfort. I never realized how much of a joy it is to wear fine quality, well fitted, top quality clothing. It makes situations that would normally be miserable, pleasant. I am certain that I'll be wearing my All-Around-Jacket all winter long for the next few decades at least.
Alex's Comments on the Reversible Watch Cap:
I wore that watch cap almost constantly. When it got too cold i throw on a hood, but i have a couple heavy fur hats that can fit over it. So I use it like the bottom layer. I liked it because it's a good balance between comfort, warmth, and breathability. And the slight stretchiness it has makes it adjustable and easy to fit in conjunction with other hats. I found it appropriate for -20F (-29C) weather if I am exercising. At those temperatures it keeps ears and head from feeling cold, but they don't get too warm either.
If sedentary, a hood or two over it was enough in most situations.
Originally written 10 October 2021 --- Ralph
Later updates above per date received from Alex.