How To Choose The Right Waterproof Jacket For Your Hiking Adventures

Is there anything more miserable than being in a wet outfit? Growing up on the coast of Cornwall, UK, which has an average of about 156 days of rain per year, as well as a tendency to experience all four seasons in one day, I’ve been on plenty of rainy dog walks, thru-hikes, and bike rides. If I kept indoors every day that the weather was awful, then I’d never go out thus a good waterproof jacket is now one of my essentials.

The majority of insulated jackets aren’t made equal, and although an open-back poncho could be perfectly sufficient for a rainy festival it’s not going to help during a mountain storm. Here’s what you should take into consideration.

How can you tell the differences between waterproof and water-repellent?

If you want proper protection against the elements, purchase a jacket that is waterproof not only water-resistant. The gear that is water-resistant will offer protection against light showers but lets water in very quickly.

A waterproof jacket is able to stand against much more severe situations, but if don’t purchase one that’s breathable, you’ll be prone to water build-up inside of the jacket instead. While exercising vigorously, will leave you damp and uncomfortable. In search of a coat with waterproof membranes is a good way to ensure that the coat is comfortable and lets the moisture be able to escape.

You’ve probably heard about Gore-Tex, the most famous waterproof membrane that is available. It functions by using tiny pores that are tiny enough to stop drops of rain from getting inside your jacket, but large enough to allow sweat to wick out. It’s far from the only waterproof membrane available on the market these days and several outdoor brands are now offering distinct versions of the membrane.

If your jacket’s not as water-resistant as it was in the past, however, the good thing is that you don’t have to buy a new one. A durable water-repellent coating (DWR) is applied to the exterior of a water-resistant or waterproof jacket, and if your jacket is beginning to lose its impermeability, it’s a breeze to apply a DWR yourself. If you want to determine if the jacket requires a DWR top-up, splash it with water to see how the water beads or is able to slide off. If it does, it’s fine. If it’s left dry, with dark patches of fabric, it’s a good time to invest in a DWR replenishment product, and recoat your coat.

How do I know what level of protection a waterproof jacket provides me?

There’s a useful scale to use, and a lot of outlets will have an appropriate waterproof rating besides their jackets. At 5,000mm, you’ll find the minimum amount of waterproofing needed to be considered waterproof, and not only water-resistant, however, but this also won’t hold against anything more than light showers or drizzle. 10,000mm-20,000mm is the ideal range for most downpours. The range of 20,000mm up is the best for intense deluges and extreme weather but the jackets tend to be much heavier.

What kind of fit should I opt for?

Since you’re unlikely to be moving around in only the bikini and waterproof jacket, you should choose a jacket with enough space to layer. For hiking in three seasons, it’s a good idea to get a waterproof jacket that allows you to put on a base layer and an under-layer of a down jacket should be sufficient, but when you’re going to be doing winter mountaineering, you’ll require something more spacious to allow you to layer up.

What other features could be helpful?

Check for jackets with taped seams. This means that the inside seams are sealed and prevent the water from entering through the small gaps. Storm flaps can be a practical feature: flaps on the outside that cover zippers on jackets are another open area where rain could get in. Personally, for all my outdoor activities, I would prefer an outfit with a peaked hood. This keeps the rain from your eyes, whereas jackets that only have a drawstring hood let rain trickle down your face.

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