How To Choose: Waterproof Hiking Jacket

It’s not always straightforward to choose the right jacket, especially when you’re considering how suitable it is for hiking and how waterproof it should be. When you’re hiking through the mountains or bush the weather can turn on you quite rapidly. We have a wide range of waterproof jackets, for men, women and kids. They’re lightweight, warm, some have built in ventilation and some are more waterproof than others. So here’s some advice to work out exactly what you need.

There are 3 criteria that you can base your choice of waterproof jacket on: the level of waterproofing, the outside temperature and the intensity of your exercise.

1. Waterproofing

Depending on the expected weather, you’ll have different requirements. Light rain is going to be easier to keep out than a torrential forest downpour. Our jackets are given a rating from 1-5 and a numerical measure of how much water they can withstand (measured in millimetres). These ratings are worked out through technical lab tests; the higher the rating, the more waterproof the jacket.

Rating 2 – 3 jackets can withstand about 2000 to 5000mm of rainfall. These jackets are suited to between 6 and 12 cm of rain across 1 to 2 hours (example).

Rating 4 indicates that the jacket can offer protection to about 8000mm of rain. This would be similar to a storm causing 30 cm of rainfall in 3 hours (example).

Rating 5 means that the jacket can resit 12,000mm of rain. These can take on the pressure of a thunderstorm, with 1.8 m of rainfall in 4 hours (example).

2. Temperature

Our hiking jackets come in two varieties: lightweight or warm. Lightweight jackets have little to no lining inside and are intended for warmer weather. If you’re going to wear them in colder weather, they’re best worn over another warmer layer like a jumper or another padded jacket.

Warm jackets are ideal for cold weather, with a warm inner fleece lining. For some of these jackets, the lining is detachable, so they are “3-in-1” jackets (one fleece jacket, one lightweight jacket, or one warm jacket when combined). This means that you can remove the inner layer depending on the temperature and transform it into a lightweight jacket.

3. Intensity

Lastly, you’ll need to consider just how intensely you will hike. The harder it is, the more you’ll sweat, which means you’ll want a breathable and well ventilated jacket. If our jackets use words like “mechanical ventilation” it means there’s a zip you can open to let air flow. These zippers are normally under your arms but sometimes regular pockets will be made of mesh which helps as well.

An example side pocket with breathable lining.

For even better ventilation, wear breathable clothing under your jacket and remember to keep your sleeve cuffs and jacket bottom open.

 

A useful tip from Doria Rivers, one of our hiking specialists:
“If you plan to walk for a long time in the rain, wear a poncho over your jacket, as this will ensure perfect waterproofing and protects your backpack.”

Of course, if we’ve missed anything please let us know! Otherwise, now you know what to keep an eye out for in our men’s, women’s and kid’s jackets.

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