How to choose a waterproof jacket for hiking and the 8 best ones to get

Is there anything more miserable than wearing wet clothes? Growing up in Cornwall, UK, which has an average of 156 rainy days a year and a propensity to deliver all four seasons in one day, I’ve done my fair share of rainy dog ​​walks, hikes and bike rides. . If I stayed inside whenever the weather was bad, frankly, I would never go out, which means that a good waterproof jacket has become one of my basics.

Not all waterproof jackets are created equal, and while a see-through poncho might be perfectly sufficient for a rainy festival, it won’t be much help during a mountain storm. Here’s what you need to consider.

What is the difference between water repellent and waterproof?

If you want adequate protection from the elements, buy a waterproof jacket, not just water resistant. Water-resistant gear will offer some protection against light showers, but will let water in very quickly.

A waterproof jacket can withstand much tougher conditions, but if you don’t buy one that’s breathable, you’ll get moisture buildup inside the coat instead. When you engage in strenuous exercise, it will always leave you soaked and uncomfortable. Looking for a coat with a waterproof membrane is a good way to ensure that it will be breathable and allow moisture to escape. You’ve probably heard of Gore-Tex, the most well-known waterproof membrane on the market. It works by using tiny pores that are small enough to keep raindrops out of your jacket, but large enough to let your sweat escape. Gore-Tex is far from the only waterproof membrane on the market these days, and many outdoor brands now have their own versions.

If your jacket isn’t as waterproof as it used to be, the upside is that you don’t necessarily have to buy a new one. A durable water repellent (DWR) coating is applied to the outside of a water-resistant or waterproof jacket, and if your jacket starts to lose its waterproofness, it is very easy to reapply a DWR yourself. To see if your jacket needs a DWR boost, spray it with water and see if the water beads up and slides off. If so, all is well. If it leaves dark, damp fabric stains instead, it’s time to buy a DWR replenish product and recoat your coat.

How do I know how much protection a waterproof jacket will give me?

There is a useful scale for this, and many outlets will list a waterproof rating next to their jackets. 5000mm is the minimum level of waterproofing required for a coat to be considered waterproof, and not just water resistant, but this level won’t withstand much more than light showers and drizzle. 10,000mm to 15,000mm will withstand most downpours, and 20,000mm and above are for very heavy downpours and extreme conditions, but jackets are generally much heavier.

What cut should I choose?

Since you’re unlikely to run with just a bikini and a waterproof jacket, buy a jacket that gives you plenty of room to layer. For three-season hiking, a waterproof jacket that allows you to wear a base layer and a down jacket underneath should suffice, but if you’re into winter mountaineering you’ll want something roomier to allow you to layer up.

What other features are useful?

Look for jackets with taped seams. This means that the inside seams have been sealed, preventing water from entering through the small holes. Another handy extra are the storm flaps: the outer flaps that cover the jacket’s zippers, another porous area where rain can enter. Personally, for most adventures, I like a rain jacket with a pointed hood. This prevents rain from getting into your eyes, while jackets that only have a drawstring hood let the rain run off your face.

Ready for epic adventures in all weathers? Let’s dive into it.

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When trying to keep weight off while traveling, I always take my Haglofs LIM Jacket, which weighs only seven ounces and fits in my pocket. Although the material is very thin, it is made from Gore-Tex and will withstand heavy downpours with minimal leaks. The placement of the pocket is extremely convenient for hiking with a backpack. One is a vertical pocket at chest height and the other is a diagonal pocket just above the hip, meaning you can still easily access your phone even when carrying a hiking backpack with it. hip and chest straps. The reinforced visor on the hood effectively prevents water from entering your eyes.

To buy: Men’s / Women’s

The jacket is made from durable materials and even the packaging on the Passenger Latitude Recycled Rain Jacket is fully recyclable and plastic-free. A peaked hood minimizes raindrops on your face and all seams are sealed. The outside of the jacket is coated with a PFC-free water-repellent coating, which can be refilled when worn, meaning this jacket will remain waterproof for years to come.

the Arc’teryx Beta SV Jacket isn’t cheap, but it’s built for the toughest environments. It’s fully waterproof, windproof and breathable, with underarm zip ventilation to allow moisture to escape. The chin bar is brushed microsuede, so you can keep this jacket zipped up to your nose in inclement weather without the risk of chafing. There are plenty of pockets, including inside pockets to keep valuables safe and dry in a downpour. It is a jacket designed for alpine conditions.

To buy: Men’s / Women’s

the Patagonia Storm Racer Waterproof Race Jacket has two long chest zippers that unzip the jacket like a bib, making it a good choice to pair with a trail vest or hydration pack. The 3-layer waterproof shell is extremely lightweight and the whole coat can be stored in its own pocket, it’s also compact. The hood is drawstring rather than peaked, which makes the jacket packable, but means it’s a better choice for a trail run rather than a multi-day jaunt in the mountains.

To buy: Men’s / Women’s

The north face Fanorak is a good one for festivals. The color-block design and the way it converts into a fanny pack with a front zip pocket means it looks fashionable and keeps your valuables safe. The adjustable hood and elastic cuffs also provide good wind protection. It’s water-repellent rather than fully waterproof, so it’s best used in milder conditions.

To buy: Men’s / Women’s

Ninety-eight percent of BAM Longaford Waterproof Jacket is made from recycled materials and the fit is longer than most coats to further protect your body. It comes with mesh ventilation and a breathable membrane to help moisture escape, and fully taped seams and Velcro closures provide extra rain protection in areas vulnerable to water leaks. The size runs a little small, so if you are layering, consider buying a size larger than normal.

the Columbia Glennaker Lake Lined Rain Jacket is water-repellent rather than waterproof, so it’s more suited to light showers, which at this price point isn’t surprising. The polyester lining keeps wearers warm and the cut is very practical to offer protection against wind and water; the cuffs and hem are adjustable and the chin is high.

the Paramo Women’s Ventura Jacket uses a Nikwax technology (breathable, elastic and water-repellent) that evacuates 80% of collected humidity and drains it, and has numerous ventilations for temperature control. This jacket is designed for high intensity sports in extremely cold conditions where wearers sweat but quickly feel the cold when they stop moving, such as skiing, ice climbing and snowboarding. The pointed hood still slips easily under a helmet and goggles, and it’s hugely refreshing to see a women’s jacket with so many functional pockets.