Choosing The Right Jacket
Buying a jacket is definitely up there as one of the major purchases in your outdoor life so it pays to get it right. Read our no nonsense guide and be in a better position to find the right cloth for your back!
Alongside this written guide, we've put together a great video. It's a brilliant way to uncover the main points, illustrated with some actual waterproof jackets. Just click the video to start it playing.
The guide is split in to several sections, simply click on the links below to get taken straight to them.
- What are you going to be doing?
- Some final notes
- How fabrics work
- Water Resistant / Water Proof
What are you going to be doing?
If you are walking regularly and take it seriously, it’s worth getting something you will feel comfortable in and with the ability to let that sweat out. This is particularly critical as wet clothing is a bad insulator and you can’t trap any warm air with potentially serious implications when you are out on the hill. All the waterproof jackets we have here at Webtogs are breathable and to varying degrees let sweat out. We would recommend though that you think carefully about what you need, jackets can be expensive, and if you are taking a gentle walk once a year with friends in the countryside, you may not need a top of the range jacket. Consider a jacket that does not have such a breathable fabric but that is wind, and waterproof.
If most of your activity is outside the UK in a place without much rain, it might also be worth considering something which is not completely waterproof but is very breathable. Likewise if you are doing something very aerobic or carrying heavy loads, having a fabric that is breathable / windproof more than one that is waterproof may be more important.
If you are going to be climbing, you need to ensure that your jacket is short enough to allow a harness over it and has enough flexibility in the arms to allow free movement. It’s also helpful to look for reinforced panels that will protect from abrasion when climbing (shoulders and arms). Lastly bear in mind that if you are a woman, we have lots of jackets for a female fit. Just ensure you have women's or men's selected on our gear filter.
This is the piece of fabric that covers the main Zip. You can get single or double versions and it’s usually held in place by Velcro or press studs.
Zip in fleeces can be useful in Winter to give you an all in one jacket, but you are tied in to a fleece of the same brand as your jacket and in very cold weather they can leave cold spots where they zip in. Otherwise the very least you are looking for is a Zip that opens at the bottom and the top for ventilation. Also look for a little fleecy bit at the top to stop your chin getting chafed by the zip!
This tends to be where some jackets fall down design wise so choose carefully. At the very least make sure that you can get a hat on underneath for when it is cold. If you are climbing you may wish to be able to get your helmet underneath as well. Some hoods can be detached and we would look for a hood that can be adjusted to fit snugly so that your vision isn’t compromised. Other things that help are a stiffened peak to ensure it keeps the rain away from your face.
An elasticised valance that goes around the bottom of the jacket to stop snow getting up if you are crashing around in the snow. More for Ski jackets but some high end mountain jackets will have them too
My rule of thumb is the more you have the better! Most these days have a flap covering the zip to ensure water doesn’t get in and some will be mesh lined to also act as a vent. If a coat does not have pit zips, this can be an important feature. Walkers might want to look for a central chest pocket to store a map for when out and about.
Velcro Adjustable Cuffs
One of the quickest and easiest ways of letting in air when hot yet will keep the elements out when the weather gets hairy.
The bits that keep you snug and warm, found at the hem, waist and around the hood, ideally should have a toggle to lock and a tanka to be able to be drawn single-handed.
Some Final Notes
• How Fabrics Work
There are two main types of fabric;
Membrane Fabrics: these allow vapour molecules which are smaller than water to pass through, examples of which are fabrics such as Gore-tex or eVent. They are generally more durable, have better longevity and are much more breathable than the second type of fabrics which are called coated fabrics. They are also more expensive however! Examples of Gore-Tex jackets include the Berghaus Paclite Jacket.
Coated Fabrics: are breathable in the main by allowing liquid to pass from one end of a fibre to the other. Examples include Hyvent, Drilite, Aquafoil & Triplepoint amongst others. There is no best fabric, just what is right for your activity and budget. Examples of waterproof jackets that use coated fabrics include the Berghaus Calisto Jacket.
You have bought that lovely shiny new jacket but you may as well be taking a bath if you don’t get the right stuff underneath it. If you have a cotton T shirt, it’s going to swallow any sweat you produce and keep it there, keeping you damp and losing you insulation as a result. Top tip is to make sure you have a proper base layer that wicks away sweat and that any mid layers do the same. Check out our range of base layers.
• Water Resistant / Water Proof
The two are not the same! Firstly no jacket despite any manufacturers recommendations will be 100% waterproof. Secondly water resistant means its good for coping with showers. Anything heavier and you need to be prepared to put up with a bit of leakage.
This is just our guide but we know that with the range of waterproof jackets we have, buying one can still be a daunting business. If you are still deliberating, E mail us with any questions you might have, we’ll do our darnedest to match you up a nice piece of cloth, and ensure that you have a dry days walking wherever you go.