How To Choose a Waterproof Jacket

Choosing the best waterproof jacket can be difficult. But when confronted with adverse conditions, making the right choice is crucial if you want to keep warm, dry and on the move.

Understanding which jacket you need is all about knowing the conditions you’re going to be exposed to. Each jacket is typically designed with a specific activity in mind, so knowing yours will help you find the best waterproof jacket for you.

1) Water

Not all waterproof jackets are alike. There are different types of rainwear that will be most suitable depending on the level of rain you’re going to face.

  • Waterproof and breathable jackets keep the rain off your skin while remaining breathable enough that they can be worn on the move without the worry of becoming slick with sweat. These jackets (such as a waterproof down jacket) are the perfect choice for any activity that requires you to be sweat-free, while protected from extreme rainfall.

  • Water-resistant jackets are breathable, lightweight jackets that can handle exposure to light rainfall and can be worn on the move. For the majority of conditions, a lightweight waterproof jacket like this will be fine, but in more extreme conditions, you’ll need something fully waterproof and breathable.

  • Waterproof, non-breathable jackets (such as emergency ponchos) will keep any rain out and are usually inexpensive. However, they can easily cause overheating and excess sweating if actively used for long periods of time.

Read the product description of any rain jacket to find a technical rating explaining its level of waterproofing and breathability. A rating of 20,000mm, for example, will keep you dry from almost anything the weather may throw at you, and means that the jacket can be submerged in 20 metres of water before the garment is penetrated and water begins to seep through.

2) Wind protection

Exposure to heavy wind can drain the heat and energy from your body incredibly quickly, so having a jacket that protects you from this is essential for staying warm, comfortable, and on the move.

If a jacket is waterproof, it is almost guaranteed to be windproof. This isn’t always the case in reverse, however, as some windproof materials only offer limited water-resistance. Similarly, there are wind-resistant jackets that, like their water-resistant cousins, are ultralight and will keep you protected from moderate levels of wind; but in more extreme conditions, won’t be up to the task.

3) Hood

You can’t keep your head dry without a hood, and the right one is all about fit and function. You want a hood that supports your head’s mobility and offers a snug level of comfort. Make sure that it doesn’t obstruct your eyesight and isn’t so large that it’s likely to blow off in the wind. Additional design features, such as a peak or pull cord, can help to improve fit and direct the rain away from your face – maximizing your comfort and helping you to feel fresh.

4) Construction & Features

Pay specific attention to the construction of the jacket, as there you will find important answers to the questions you may have. How many layers are there? Does the design ensure wicking? And which elements, such as the front zips, underarm vents, or pockets, can be used to reduce body heat and increase breathability and comfort?

Alongside this, many jackets come with specific features that will add enormous benefits depending on the activity you’re going to be using them for. For instance, if you’re climbing, having pockets above the height of your harness will be a great benefit. Likewise, large internal pockets make it easy to keep maps and valuables dry on wetter hiking trips.