Do you know anything that is more painful than being in a wet outfit? Being a child in Cornwall, UK, which has an average of rainy days a year, and an ability to offer up all four seasons in one day, I’ve taken my fair share of rainy dog walks and thru-hikes. I’ve also done a few bike rides. If I kept indoors every occasion that the weather was awful, then I’d never leave therefore the right waterproof jacket is now one of my staples.
Not all waterproof jackets are designed equally. While the poncho with a transparent design might suffice for a rainy day, it won’t be much help in a mountain storm. Here’s what to think about.
What is the difference between waterproof and water-repellent?
If you want proper protection against the elements, you should purchase outerwear that is waterproof as well as water-resistant. Waterproof clothing can offer protection against showers of light but lets water in very quickly.
The waterproof jacket will stand up to much harsher situations, but if do not buy one that’s breathable, you’ll be prone to an accumulation of moisture on the inside of the jacket instead. While exercising vigorously, however, you’ll end up damp and uncomfortable. Finding a jacket with a waterproof membrane is a good way to ensure that it is breathable and allows moisture to escape. You’ve probably heard about Gore-Tex, the most famous waterproof membrane that is available. It operates by using small pores that aren’t big enough to block drops of rain from getting inside your jacket, yet large enough to let sweat wick out. It’s not the only waterproof fabric on the market today, and many outdoor brands have different versions.
If your jacket’s not as water-resistant as it used to be and you’re not sure why the good news is that you don’t necessarily have to buy a new one. A durable water-repellent coating (DWR) can be applied on the outside of a waterproof or water-resistant jacket. If the jacket begins to lose its impermeability, it’s a breeze to apply the DWR yourself. To determine if your garment requires a DWR top-up, just splash the jacket with water, and then check how the water beads or goes away. If it does, then you’re in good shape. I tried this test on Arcteryx beta ar, and it stayed dry. If water is causing dark, wet patches of fabric instead, it’s time to get a DWR replenishment product and then recoat your coat.
What do I need to know about the degree of protection a waterproof jacket will provide me?
There’s a great scale to use that can be used, and many retailers will include a waterproof rating next to their jackets. 5 millimeters is the minimum amount of waterproofing required for a jacket in order to qualify as waterproof and not just water-resistant but it won’t stand against greater than mild showers and drizzle. 10,000mm-15,000mm should be able to withstand the most severe downpours. The range of 20,000mm up is the best for severe deluges or extreme conditions however, the jackets will generally be heavier.
What is the fit that I should go for?
Since you’re unlikely to be running around in just the bikini and waterproof jacket, you should choose a jacket that allows enough room to layer. For hiking in three seasons, an outdoor jacket that allows you to put on a base layer and an overcoat underneath will suffice. However, in winter mountaineering, you’ll require something a bit more roomy to allow you to layer.
What additional features are beneficial for hiking?
Check for jackets with taped seams. This means that the inside seams are sealed to prevent rain from entering through the small holes. Storm flaps are a useful feature: flaps on the outside that cover jacket zips, another porous area where rain can seep in. For most of my occasions, I prefer the rain jacket with a peaked hood. It keeps the rain from your eyes. On the other hand, jackets with a drawstring hood let the rain fall down your face.