Bushcraft On A Budget: Improving The Swedish Army Snow Smock

posted in: Budget Bushcraft | 52
Barry Smith wearing Swedish Army Snow Smock.
The author wearing an un-modified Swedish Army Snow Smock.

The Swedish Army Snow Smock is a great windproof shell layer that I have used on trips up into the Arctic Circle.

It’s a great value smock – hard wearing, cheap and functional.

Having used this smock for some time, I thought that it could be improved.

So I set about making a few modifications to make it more user friendly.

I’ve listed out the improvements below and where appropriate I’ve explained why.

Changes To The Hood:

Drawcord. Here I have added an elasticated draw cord with wooden toggles that can be pulled when wearing gloves or mitts to tighten the hood around the face.

Hood with toggles and drawcord
Hood draw-cord and toggle improvements. Photo: Barry Smith.

Volume reducer. A strap has been installed so that the size of the hood can be adjusted to suit different sizes of head-wear.

Hood volume-reducer
Added: Hood volume-reducer. Photo: Barry Smith

Fur ruff. The ruff adds great defence against extreme cold, it creates a bubble of warm air around the face. If you choose to use real fur then you’ll find it doesn’t hold moisture and freeze up like a synthetic version will. I’ve had this ruff made so that it is held in place with Velcro and can be removed for laundering.

Snow smock with fur ruff
Added: Fur ruff. Photo: Lucy Smith.
Snow smock hood with velcro added
Added: Hood velcro. Photo: Barry Smith.
Velcro detail on hood of snow smock
The velcro allows the ruff to be easily attached/detached. Photo: Barry Smith

Changes To The Body:

Waist draw cord. I have removed and replaced the original cotton tape with an elasticated cord and sprung loaded cord lock to make adjustment easier.

Waist cord improvement to the Swedish Army Snow Smock
Waist cord improvement. Photo: Barry Smith.

Hanging tab. The hanging tab sits on the outside so that the smock can be hung up from a tree when not being used. If the tab is on the inside, like conventional jackets, the hood sits open and will fill up with falling snow.

Snow smock hanging from tree
A hanging tab on the outside of the jacket ensures no snow in the hood. Photo: Barry Smith.

Epaulettes. I have removed the epaulettes from the shoulders. They were surplus to my needs so I took them off.

Toggle buttons on the pockets. I didn’t like the original buttons so I added some horn toggles that are easier to use with gloves on.

Pocket improvements - toggle buttoms
Toggle buttons have been added to the pockets. Photo: Barry Smith.

Changes To The Cuffs:

The original cuffs closed with buttons, like on a shirt cuff, and didn’t adjust wide enough to close over hand wear, only inside it.

I wanted the option to do both so I’ve added a new lower cuff section with Velcro tabs so that they can be closed to the desired size; tight to go inside hand wear and more open to seal up around the outside of head-wear if that’s preferred.

Velcro cuff detail
Added: Velcro cuff section. Photo: Barry Smith.
Close-up of snow smock cuff
Snow smock cuffs can now seal over hand-wear. Photo: Lucy Smith.
Fitting large mittens over the sleeve cuffs
Larger hand-wear can be sealed over the sleeves. Photo: Lucy Smith.

A Final Touch:

One final touch was the addition of some edging ribbon to the hem at the waist and cuffs. It’s purely decorative and is influenced by what I have seen pictured on smocks worn by native people.

Modified Swedish Army Snow Smock
The finished item. The Swedish Army Snow Smock with multiple modifications. Photo: Lucy Smith.

Have you used the Swedish Army Snow Smock? Have you also made modifications? Or do you use a similar jacket? Let is know in the comments below.

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Barry Smith is a Scout Leader and was Frontier Bushcraft Courses Assistant from 2012 to 2013.

52 Responses

  1. jomo

    really impressed with what you have done to an obviously already brilliant piece of kit, can i ask what material its made from?? great article thanks

  2. jomo

    i was also wondering where i can get one of these in the heavy cotton canvas material and what your opinion is on waterproofing it like a wax jacket? thanks

    • Barry

      Jomo, These are Swedish Army Surplus. They aren’t as common as they used to be but there are still enough around to pick one up for a reasonable price (£20-25). Hav,e a look round online or on ebay. There are two types; an over the head smock and a button up front. I have seen both and preferred the smock type.

      As far as waxing them goes.. Yes you could. I would add a degree of water resistance but it will impact the breath-ability as you are blocking up the pores in the fabric.

      I know some people buy them, dye them and wax them for use in the UK as a cheaper alternative to Ventile and they get some good reviews. For Arctic use though we want our shell layer to be windproof and highly breathable so moisture from inside can get out and not freeze.


  3. Stephen Walker

    Improvements galore, and all for the good IMHO. Even down to the hems… very tasteful. Hmm, I’d quite like one of those. Great stuff, Barry.

    • Barry

      Hi Stephen, Glad you like it 🙂

      They are a great smock as they come, cheap and hard wearing. It’s nice to modify things to our own needs though.

      Keep well.


  4. Paul Adamson

    Nice work Barry, looks like that will work much better now.
    I’ve modified one and added two cargo pockets from some old moleskin trousers as chest pockets. Great for headtorches and the like. I dyed mine green just for mooching about in the uk, although today it would be better in the original colour : )

    • Barry

      Hi Paul,

      I like the sound of your smock, I think its great you can pick these up at such a good price and turn out a really functional bit of outdoor kit.

      Best wishes


  5. gary wale

    Excellent article – I have several dyed different colours – never though about the buttons other than button colour – really like what you did with yours!

  6. Sven riksson

    I use mine with minor conversions and oiled as a Kayak – spray – protection fastened, with rubber cord at bottom lining, to the cockpit coaming. Useful when winter hunting.

    • Barry

      Hi Sven,

      Thanks for your post. I look forward to hearing more about your hunting. Maybe you could share some pictures of how you are using your smock with the canoe?



  7. Sven riksson

    Ducks, geese, ejder and other water birds. On the West Coast of Sweden south of border to Norway. Using 12 g shotgun.

  8. Sven riksson

    My Kayak, namned Miteq, is made from spruce and ash I felled myself in the woods close to home. It is sewn together with tard hemp-cord and wooden dowels. It has a cotton cover and basic design from East-Greenland made to my measures. Building method taken from: H.C. Petersen: Skinboats of Greenland. Roskilde 1986 ISBN 87 85180 084. See Kayak clothing p. 112-115. Eng text.
    In H.C. Petersen: Den store kajakbog. Atuakkiorfik 1997 ISBN 87 558 1265 1. Riffelpose (gun-holster) p. 131. Helpels (Full cover jacket) p. 136 same as above – Danish text.

    • Paul Kirtley

      Hi Sven,

      That’s very interesting. Thank you for sharing this information.

      Does ‘Miteq’ have a special meaning?

      Warm regards,


  9. Richard

    Well, based on your modifications, I’ve gone and placed an order for one (dammit!)! I do have a couple of questions: first, where do you get the decorative tape that you’ve stitched around the hem and cuffs and second, where do you get the fur? On the latter, I rather like the colour of coyote fur but don’t know where I’ll be able to get some. Any help would be gratefully received!

    Great modifications, though. Thank you very much for sharing this – I know I’m going to have hours of fun and frustration tweaking mine!

    • Barry

      Richard, Well done for taking the leap and buying one, you wont regret it!

      I got the tape from Steger Mukluks (http://www.mukluks.com), its the same that they use to decorate their products. They

    • Barry

      Sorry, pressed submit too soon.

      …. They [Steger] may sell you some ribbon if you get in touch with them.

      With regard to the ruff you have a couple of options with fur. You can buy synthetic fur off the roll from frabric shops. If you want to use real fur then you can pick up vintage fur items on ebay that you can modify.

      Good luck


  10. Richard

    The smock has now arrived but I still cannot find any fabric tape with which to trim it. Any help or ideas would be gratefully received! Also, mine didn’t come with epaulettes and so I do not have the wherewithal to create the velcro adjustable cuffs. Any suggestions on what I might use instead would be much appreciated. Many thanks in advance!

    • Barry

      Hi again Richard.

      See my last reply regarding tape for decoration. My smock modifications did require some extra material to make up the new parts so I bought another smock when I saw them at a low price and then used that one for the spare material.

      I’ll mail you separately and arrange to send you some spare fabric as a gift from us.


  11. Jackie

    With regards the decorative tape. there’s a Uk based company who you can get lengths of. Scandinavian tape from….lots of traditional designs and good quality? I’ve purchased it to line button bands of traditional ski sweaters. Guy a nice chap, so sure he would sell shorter/custom lengths…if you are going for whole look he does scandinavian traditional buttons! including wooden ones? I’ve not tried those 🙂

    Paul/Barry! thanks for very very practical and accessible-for-all posts.

    • Paul Kirtley

      Hi Jackie,

      Thanks for this information. I’m sure other readers will find it valuable.

      Thanks also for your kind words about our articles.

      Warm regards,


  12. Mad Dave

    Snow smocks are good cheap outerwear. Mine has had the following mods:
    Fox fur ruff attached with velcro
    Hood volume adjuster
    Metal buttons replaced with wood on whole smock
    Edging tape on hem, sleeves and around neck yoke
    D rings on front to attach mitten retaining cords to.
    British flag patch on Right shoulder and BCUK patch on the left

  13. Nils

    I’m glad to see our old military snow smocks being so appreciated abroad! Sweet article, very inpiring with the pictures and i have started improving my own, and so far it’s turning out great!

    I noticed a question about where to find additional fabric: there are also some snow covers for back packs thats usually way cheaper than another jacket. Thats what i use 🙂

    • Paul Kirtley

      Hi Nils,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, they are good smocks.

      Let us know how you get on with improving your smock – what alterations are you making?

      Thanks also for the tip about old backpack covers as a source of spare fabric.

      Warm regards,


  14. Wendy

    Hi Paul,

    I’m currently in the process of gathering all the bits together to decorate my own “Nanook of the North” snow smock. I have a Samoyed and think the pair of us will look so cool here in Italy :D. Anyway, on the subject of the furry hood trim, I can’t fathom out how you velcroed it to the hood. How was the fur strip prepared beforehand and how much lies inside the hood and how much outside? How is this achieved? Is it folded in 2, sewn together, and a sort of flap left to which the velcro is sewn? Then is this velcroed to the inside of the hood? Cheers in advance.

  15. Barry


    To get the fur onto the velcro I made up a piece of material the same length as the ruff and about 10cm wide. This was double thickness and left open on one edge. Then on the other edge I sewed the hook side of the velcro on, along the full length of the piece. Lastly I folded the fur in half along its length, sandwiched it into the open side of the cloth piece and then sewed both sides through the fur to secure it on. Hopefully that makes sense. If not let me know and I will send you pictures.



  16. Wendy

    Thanks Barry! I think I get it. While I was out with the dog yesterday, I was mulling over the alternative methods and think I might have come up with an idea of my own. So far, the only thing that’s arrived for my smock ensemble is the fur trim (part of a long-haired goat pelt and simply stupendous, believe it or not!). Looking forward to getting the smock itself, the sash from Ukraine and the trim I’ve just chosen from Germany. Then it’s just a case of putting it all together :-O. Should look cool while out walking my samoyed here in Italy or snowshoeing in the Apennines 😉 . Thanks for the tips.

    • Antonio

      Hi Wendy,
      looking forward to see pictures of your finished smock. Where did you get yours?

  17. Chris McEvoy

    I’ve been using one of these smocks for about 6 months now. I like it so much that none of my other shooting coats now get any use at all. It’s great for deer stalking because it stands up to crawling really well and washes really easily.
    The only mods I’ve done to mine are to dye it green, wash it in Nikwax to add some water repellence and I’ve sewn two diagonal pleats into the back of it to reduce the volume.
    At some point in the future I’m going to add a large front “bino pocket” on the chest.

  18. jodi

    Hi all

    I like my Vindblus too 🙂 I’ve dyed them : olive green, earthy brown, black & still retain the off white original. I’ve just dyed the button front version orange.

    I get mine from Sweden or Norway. They are good for messing in the forest in the Highlands 🙂

  19. Paul Adam

    I have owned two of these smocks , one in black and one in white and both were stolen by girls after leaving from parties in Scotland during the winter for obvious reasons!
    Im really looking forward to getting my hands on one again I used mine for spray painting as the pockets are excellent for holding cans great as a top layer jacket !

    Your mods are top notch

  20. Gordon

    Hi, i thought this might interest some people.
    Its the same smock that you modified for yourself but in a more practical colour for bush crafting. I bought one that i then changed the draw cord in the hood to 5mm shock cord and toggles as i felt this kept the hood in a better shape. It is away to my seamstress now and having all the buttons changed to buffalo horn ones as i, like you did, hated the nasty little metal type ones that it comes with.



  21. Sam G

    Hi there- your smock is an inspiration! I have a gen 2 which I have played around with, but my Feb 1 smock is going to be the dazzler.

    I have removed a pocket, and also split the sides right up to the pit. After that I’ve linseed and white spirit treated it, so it’s now a fully water proof oilcloth smock. The splits are for ventilation, but with a cord round it it ties up round me to make a good rainproof seal.

    I’m testing it in the Norfolk wet this winter and I’ll report back.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  22. Alan

    What are the dimentions of the toggle buttons? I need length and width. Thanks……Alan

  23. Mike King

    Hello Barry ,
    First of all I have to say what great improvisation to make the arctic smock a little more user practical but also I like the aesthetics of the trim , horn buttons and of course the real fur hood trim that make it look more like the Sami type clothing from that part of the World . It has actually inspired me to try something simmilar to my old desert / military sand coloured hooded smock which is more in keeping with the old British WW2 style smock . I have just measured around the hood of mine and it is 62cm , so buying a racoon fur trim which are usually around 70cm should be ok leaving about 4cm over trim each side of the hood ! Can you just confirm Barry that you have the velcro tape attached to the inside of the hood edge , I thought it would have been practical to fit to the outside ? Can you tell me for whatever reason if your way is better ? I am just getting back into a bit wild camping and bushcraft after many years away from it , but having taught combat survival in the Forces you never forget the basics of the bushcraft skills , so hopefully my old smock could have a total new lease of life .
    Thanks .

  24. Michael Lessard

    Hi Barry , Well done , it’s fun also to make it more personal !!

  25. Caroline

    This is so good, thank you for sharing.
    I have just bought one of these and wonder if you wouldn’t mind sharing how you wash it (unmodified) please.
    Thanks so much.

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