The surcoat is a garment that is draped over the armour. They were initially plain when first introduced but became heavily decorated with the coat of arms of the wearer. They begin to make an appearance in the 12th century but do not become popular until the 13th. They were generally sleeveless but could have long sleeves.
The length of the surcoat varied over time.
- Contemporary writings indicate that it may help to keep the armour clean.
- Historians have suggested that it may have been adopted in imitation of the robes of the Saracens that kept their armour cool.