Are there any things more painful than being in a wet outfit? Growing up living in Cornwall, UK, which is home to an average of 156 rainy days per year, and a propensity to experience 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 was to stay in the house each time that the weather was poor, I’d never venture out thus an appropriate waterproof jacket has become one of my most-used items.
There aren’t all waterproof jackets made equally. For instance, while the poncho with a transparent design might be ideal for a rainy occasion but it’s not going to assist in a mountain storm. Here’s what you need to consider.
What is the difference between water-repellent and waterproof?
If you’re looking for proper defense against the elements, buy clothing that is waterproof and not just water-resistant. The gear that is water-resistant will offer protection from a light rain but lets water in very quickly.
A waterproof jacket is able to stand against harsher weather conditions, but if you don’t choose one that’s breathable, you’ll get moisture build-up on the inside of the coat instead. When engaging in intense exercise will leave you sweaty and uncomfortable. Looking for a coat with a waterproof membrane can help ensure that it will be comfortable and let the moisture escape. You’ve probably heard of Gore-Tex, the most well-known waterproof membrane available. It is made up of tiny pores that are tiny enough to prevent drops of rain from getting into your jacket, but big enough to let sweat wick out. It’s far from the only waterproof fabric on the market these days as many outdoor brands now offer their own versions.
If your jacket isn’t as water-resistant as it was in the past but the good news is that you don’t necessarily have to buy a new one. A water-repellent, durable coating (DWR) applies to the exterior of a waterproof or water-resistant jacket. In the event that your jacket begins to lose its impermeability, it’s a breeze to apply the DWR yourself. If you want to determine if the jacket needs to be topped up with a DWR topping-up, spray it with water and check whether the water beads up and goes away. If it does, then you’re in good shape. If it’s leaving dry, dark patches of fabric, then it’s time to get a DWR replenishment product and then recoat your coat.
What is the best way to know what degree of protection a waterproof jacket offers me?
There’s a great scale to use for this, and most retailers will indicate a waterproof rating next to their jackets. 5,000mm is the minimum level of waterproofing that is required for a coat for it to count as water-proof, and not merely water-resistant, but it won’t stand for much greater than mild showers or drizzle. 10,000mm-15,000mm is sufficient for most downpours. 20,000mm and upwards is ideal for very heavy deluges and extreme conditions but the jackets will generally be heavier.
Which one should I go for?
Given that you’re probably not walking around in bikinis and a waterproof jacket, get a jacket that allows enough room to layer. One of the best on the market is the Arcteryx Alpha SV jacket because it will keep you dry and you will have enough room for a few layers. For three-season hiking the best waterproof jacket allows you to wear a base layer as well as the down jacket beneath should suffice, however, If you’re planning to go on winter mountaineering then 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 seams have been sealed to stop water from entering through the tiny holes. Storm flaps can be a practical extra: outer flaps which cover zips on jackets Another area with a porous surface where rain can seep in. Personally, for most events, I’d recommend the rain jacket with a peaked hood. The hood keeps rain from your eyes, while jackets that only have unattached hoods let the rain fall down your face.