Though presumed to have its origins as the traditional attire of the Scottish deerstalker, there are many more areas where you’ll encounter a garment referred to as a Smock. By definition, it can be classed as ‘a piece of clothing worn to protect the clothes it covers,’ for instance like an artist’s smock or an old-fashioned shepherd’s smock.
However, to trace its most likely true origins takes us right back to the 18th Century. At the beginning and during this period, there was the ‘smock-frock’ or as we now use the shortened term - smock. This was an outer garment traditionally worn at the time by rural workers, especially shepherds and waggoneers, in parts of England and Wales.
There are also many references to military snipers at the end of WWI creating their own Ghillie suits by attaching various earth-tone coloured cloth strips to a smock style garment so as to enable them to be better camouflaged and therefore concealed.
But, so as not to get too embroiled in its development which obviously can be credited to the military - today, generally the word smock refers to a loose overgarment worn to protect the wearers regular clothing.
As is the way with any outdoor clothing it’s now been refined and re-designed with comfort and even more practical usage in mind. In fact, this type of hooded over garments primary intent is to be windproof, have a generous cut (allowing it to fit over other layers of clothing more easily) and be waterproof or at the very least be highly water-resistant.
Also, whereas a traditional ‘old style’ standard jacket is closed by a full-length zipper, covered by a buttoned flap, and/or buttoned cuffs, the smock often uses Velcro to close the flap over the neck zipper and to fasten the cuffs – the latter originally being a military addition to the design. As for the large front pocket often typical of the modern hunting smock – again it’s debatable exactly where and when this was first introduced into the design but it’s most likely due to an overlarge pocket being more easily accessed by cold, wet or gloved fingers.
As for usage, when the front fastening arrangement (be that zips, poppers or buttons) of a traditional jacket weren’t or aren’t as protected as they usually are now by a storm cover/over flap. Then the closed fronted Smock was and, in some cases, still is less likely to snag or catch on undergrowth or indeed make any noise as you keep low or belly crawl to get within range of your target. Also, should the heavens open up or the weather turn inclement the generous cut and design is such that it allows you to get into and out of the garment quickly and easily.
Two By you know Who…
Jack Pyke have wisely introduced two models of Smock to their comprehensive roster of clothing. These ae the Argyll and the Galbraith.
The Argyll can be and is classed by the company as the ‘luxury model’ while the other is a more standard option for those who are looking for a traditional but still highly effective smock.
Both follow the traditional ‘head over’ design and use a similar combination of materials in the build. However, when it comes to the cut, overall layout and features this is where they differ.
To The Argyll
This very high quality and well featured garment have a tough 3-layer build that consists of a 100% polyester brushed tricot outer, with a laminated waterproof membrane plus mesh inner – the latter giving it breathable properties, so you’ll not feel damp or clammy. It’s very generous ¾ length design features an extra length baffled rainproof front neck zip with press stud down storm flap, high stand-up collar plus removable well-sized hood with toggle fasten drawstring and adjustable peak.
For stowage, it has 2x upper ‘crossover’ pockets and 2x lower angled pockets – all featuring waterproof zips. Also, the pockets are deep and like the ones above have a soft comfort-lining.
The generous cut of the garment makes it very unrestrictive, easy to put on and remove and of course operate in. Neoprene inner cuff bands or weather guards provide added comfort and provide an extra barrier from the elements. Also, adjustable outer Velcro fastening cuff straps give extra protection from water ingress at this area. To tailor the garment to your build there’s a strong drawstring with outer toggle adjustment positioned just above the waist and a bonus of the length ensures that the upper legs are also fully protected from the elements, as rain simply runs off it even when moving, kneeling or seated.
Now to the Galbraith
This is of a more medium length and more traditional basic design with an integral hood with toggle adjusters, baffled neck zip with over flap and adjustable wrist cuffs. Although it uses a similar build to its relative, it feels far lighter by way of the outer material’s thickness and therefore has fewer thermal properties. For stowage, it features a traditional large front pocket with waterproof zip and cover and although the garment’s length is more conservative it still manages to include 2x angled lower pockets all with weatherproof zips. The lower hem line also includes a toggle adjust drawstring and for those who require a garment easier to stow and carry in a pack this is the one that’ll be of most use and appeal.