Is there anything more miserable than having your clothes wet? Growing up on the coast of Cornwall, UK, which is home to an average of about 156 rainy days per year, as well as a tendency to have the four seasons all in one day, I’ve taken my fair share of dog walks in the rain through-hikes, bicycle rides. If I was to stay in the house each time the weather turned foul, frankly, I’d probably never venture out so an excellent waterproof jacket has become one of my go-to items.
There aren’t all waterproof jackets made equal, and although an open-front poncho may suffice for a rainy occasion it’s unlikely to assist in a mountain storm. Here are the things you should consider.
What’s the main difference between waterproof and water-repellent?
If you want proper protection against the elements then purchase clothing that is waterproof, not merely water-resistant. Waterproof clothing can offer protection against light rains, but it lets in water quickly.
A waterproof jacket stands against harsher weather conditions, but if you do not purchase a jacket that is breathable, you’ll be prone to sweaty areas on the interior of the jacket instead. While exercising vigorously, the jacket will be sweaty and uncomfortable.
Finding a jacket with a waterproof membrane is a great method to ensure that it is breathable and allows moisture to be able to escape. You’ve probably heard of Gore-Tex one of the most renowned waterproof membranes available. It works by using small pores that are just small enough to stop drops of rain from entering your jacket, but big enough to allow sweat to evaporate. Gore-Tex is far from the only waterproof membrane available on the market and several outdoor brands now have the option of making their own.
If your jacket isn’t as waterproof as it once was it’s good to know that you don’t necessarily have to buy a new one. We highly recommend getting an Arcteryx jacket, because they are light and perfect for every outdoor activity. A water-repellent, durable coating (DWR) has been applied to the outside of a water-resistant jacket. If your jacket starts to lose its impermeability, it’s a breeze to reapply a DWR yourself. If you want to determine if the jacket needs a DWR refill, wash it with water and check if the water beads and goes away. If it does, then you’re good. If it’s left the area wet and dark fabric, then it’s time to get a DWR replenishment product and then recoat your coat.
How can I tell what degree of protection a waterproof jacket offers me?
There’s a helpful scale for this, and most retailers will indicate the rating of waterproof on their jackets. 5,000mm is the minimum level of waterproofing required for a coat to be considered waterproof and not just water-resistant but it won’t stand against more than light showers and drizzle. 10,000mm-15,000mm should be able to withstand the most severe downpours. The range of 20,000mm upwards is ideal for very intense conditions and heavy downpours. However, jackets tend to be much heavier.
What type of fit should I look for?
Given that you’re probably not moving around in only one bikini or waterproof jacket, get a jacket that allows you to layer. For hiking in three seasons and mountaineering, a jacket with a waterproof design that lets you put on a base layer and an under-layer of a down jacket should be adequate, but in winter mountaineering, you’ll require something more spacious to allow you to layer.
What other features are useful?
Look for jackets with taped seams. This means that the seams are sealed and prevent water from getting through the tiny holes. Storm flaps can be a practical accessory: flaps that cover zippers on jackets Another area with a porous surface where rain can enter. Personally, for my most frequent adventures, I like an outfit with an open hood. It keeps the rain from your eyes. On the other hand, jackets that only have a drawstring hood let rain trickle down your face.