Choosing a waterproof jacket is one of the most important decisions you will make, because as a hiker in the United Kingdom, you’re going to be using it a lot.
How to Choose Your Waterproof Jacket?
Waterproof jackets aren’t all created equal, so some thought is going to need to go into purchasing one. Of course, your clothing choices will depend on the seasonal climate, but it’s nearly always a good idea to pack a waterproof in the temperamental British weather.
Different levels of waterproof coating will provide protection for varying amounts of time. In product benefits, when a product is indicated as waterproof, the technical information below it will advise exactly how long the garment will provide waterproofing under rainfall. Choose a jacket with a level of protection appropriate to the current season’s rainfall.
Some jackets will be made using a waterproof membrane. This is a high-tech, insulated design, using microscopic holes across the surface of the garment. These holes are so small that water cannot enter, but vapour can pass through freely, allowing moisture wicking from your body heat and the sweat this produces.
Other jackets, known as coated fabrics, will be created using a PU or polyurethane coating on the inside of the fabric. These jackets will tend to have less breathability and are better used in low to mid level hikes.
As with all hiking gear, you don’t want to be getting wet from the inside out as you hike. This happens as you get too hot from your physical exertion, paired with a lack of moisture wicking material in your jacket, or a lack of ventilation.
A waterproof will often be the final layer of your outfit and thus you need to be considering breathability on your inner and mid layers first. But, many waterproofs have both moisture wicking material such as hydrophilic coating, or ventilation pockets and components to allow moisture evaporation and air flow under your outer layer.
Again, based on the current season, the type of waterproof you buy is going to change. Generally, you will have the choice between two types of jacket.
Lightweight jackets either have no lining or a very thin lining meaning they are suitable for warm weather, or between the summer and winter months on top of a mid-layer fleece or jacket. These jackets provide an outer, waterproof shell.
Warm jackets will feature a warm lining, providing considerable protection against the colder weather. This provides insulation of body heat and protection from the elements, on top of the outer, waterproof shell.
# 3-in-1 Jackets
Some warm jackets linings will be detachable, which is known as a “3-in-1” jacket. These jackets allow for a removal of the inner layer in cooler temperature. This will provide both a mid-layer fleece, a lightweight waterproof or a warm waterproof when the two are combined.
After the essential variations surrounding the level of rain and wind protection, as well as the garment’s weather appropriate design and features, finally, you’ll want to consider the final touches. This includes features listed in the product benefits such as a compact design to allow easy storage and transport, stretch fabric to allow more freedom of movement as you hike or pocket design and number. Check where pockets are located, how many there are and whether they have storm flaps to keep pocket contents waterproofed.
Your hood is going to keep your head and, or, hat dry, as well keeping in warmth. The body loses the majority of its heat through the head, as heat rises and the head is often the most exposed area as we need to breathe, see and hear. Most hoods on hiking jackets will be adjustable allowing you to allow good raincover, while keeping your view largely unrestricted.
Drawcords function the same as those on the hood, adjustment to get that perfect fit. Alongside the hood you will usually find these on the bottom and, or, the waist of the jacket. Adjust for comfort, avoiding gaps in in windy or rainy conditions, or loosening up to allow more breathability during heat.
Zips might be something you don’t take into high priority consideration, but poor quality zips can lead to getting wet or cold during your hike. Choose a jacket with a smoothly operating zip that can be fastened quickly as weather takes its often sudden turn. Many jackets will also have ventilation zips which will allow further cooling if the body or outdoor temperature begins to rise.