WATERPROOF JACKET BUYING GUIDE
Choosing the right waterproof jacket can be a daunting task, with so different fabrics, construction and features used within the market it can all be a bit confusing. We here at Snow + Rock have put together an easy to read waterproof jacket buying guide to help pick the best waterproof jacket that suits your needs.
The Right Jacket For You
Waterproof jackets are usually designed with an activity in mind. Some jackets designed to be lightweight and highly breathable, allowing for better heat and perspiration management, making them ideal for running or cycling in. On the other side of the spectrum, jackets designed for mountaineering are far more hardwearing, made from stiffer fabrics that can stand up to the demands of the mountains. These jackets are durable with a blend of waterproofness and breathability to protect you from all of the elements.
Most people however need a jacket that provides everyday protection that sits comfortably between the two extremes. It ultimately depends on your intended use of the jacket, which will influence your jacket selection, unless you have a specific need for the waterproof jacket, you have the freedom to select whichever one.
A jackets waterproof rating is determined by a hydrostatic head test. This is where a one-inch diameter sealed tube of water is placed on top of the fabric. The fabric is then left under the tube for 24 hours to establish how much water the fabric can withstand before it soaks through. The level of which the water soaks through the fabric is measured in millimetres, meaning a 5,000mm waterproof jacket can withstand 5,000mm of water within 24 hours.
According to British standards, 1,500mm is the minimum a fabric needs to be to be declared as waterproof. A rating between 1,500 and 5,00mm is suitable for light to average rain, waterproof ratings up to 10,000mm are suitable for moderate to heavy rain, whilst a rating between 10,000 to 20,000mm is highly waterproof and are suitable for the heaviest of rain showers.
It is important to note that fabrics such as Gore-Tex do not supply a waterproof rating but are of the highest of waterproof quality.
With wide range of different fabrics used within waterproof jackets it can get rather confusing, whilst some brands choose to produce their own fabrics, others will use third part fabrics such as Gore-Tex. Here is a breakdown of the most popular fabrics on the market.
The construction of a jacket will vary between manufacturers and its intended use, but in general a waterproof jacket is constructed of two or three layers. A face fabric, a membrane and sometimes a backing. The face fabric gives the jacket it durability, whilst the membrane acts as a waterproof barrier.
Products made with GORE-TEX® fabric are durable, waterproof, windproof and highly breathable, providing reliable weather protection and maximum comfort for a wide range of activities. Gore-Tex has long been the benchmark of performance outerwear. With a multitude of fabrics and construction methods include insulation, non-insulation, 2-Layer and 3-Layer, Gore-Tex is the go to technology for premium, reliable outerwear.
GORE- TEX® Pro is constructed of a 3-Layer fabric, making it durably waterproof, windproof and extremely breathable. The combination of comfort, durability and reliable weather protection, means you are fully protected during extended activities in extreme weather. The fabric’s construction keeps your body dry by reducing the accumulation of sweat, so you remain cool during aerobic activities and warm during cool-down.
eVent is a patented ePTFE membrane that works similar to Gore-Tex. The membrane has millions of microscopic pores which keeps water out but allows vapours to escape. It boasts a greater breathability rating than Gore-Tex, with many users agreeing with their statement. However, eVent’s ePTFE pore are prone to contamination, meaning the fabric needs to be washed more regularly to maintain performance.
Dryvent fabrics are engineered to be fully waterproof, windproof and breathable, the outerlayer is treated with a durable water repellent finish, whilst each multi-layered textile is engineered you allow water vapours to pass through form the inside out. Dryvent comes in 3 different fabric types, 2L uses a 2-layer construction which is the most versatile out of the range, 2.5L, uses a 2.5-layer construction that is designed for highly active, fast and light pursuits and 3L uses a 3-layer construction that is designed for high performance technical pieces for the most extreme users.
Pertex Shield+ is a lightweight and packable fabric, ideal for fast moving outdoor activities. By using a PU film coating the fabric offers a high waterproof rating or 20,000mm with a high level of dynamic breathability, meaning the harder you work the greater breathability the fabric has.
The waterproof rating and fabrics used are not the only aspects of a jacket that adds to its value, key features are such as the hood fit and positioning of Velcro straps are the smaller details that can make a good waterproof jacket a great waterproof jacket.
The fit of your hood is important, too big and you may find it difficult to keep it up without obstructing your view, to small and it will prevent you head from moving. A peak can be useful to direct rain away from your face, and offer more protection in bad weather.
The number and positioning of pockets usually depends on the intended use for the jacket. Hand warming pockets are standard for most jackets but if you are intending to climb in your jacket, make sure that the pockets sit above your harness height. Large chest or inside pockets are great for storing away maps and compasses when hiking.
3 IN 1 JACKETS
A 3 in 1 jacket combines a waterproof jacket with a detachable inner jacket, usually a fleece or an insulated softshell. The two layers can be worn together, or separate making them a versatile and increasingly popular jacket option.
CUFF/HOOD – PULL CORD + VELCRO
No matter how waterproof your jacket is, a good quality draw cord and Velcro hood and cuff closings are vital to keeping your dry. If a jacket cannot be effectively sealed around your head, hands and waist, then the potential for water breaches become significantly higher. It is these finer details that tend to separate the quality of waterproof jackets.
Taped seams are heat sealed seams that stops water coming through the stitching. A waterproof jacket may have a waterproof coating and a waterproof membrane but will not be 100% waterproof without taped seams. It is particularly important to invest in a jacket with taped seams if you intend to use in during heavy, prolonged rain.
A chin guard is used to protect your face from uncomfortable rubbing or catching of the zip or fabric waterproof. A soft protective cover is positioned on the inside of the jacket to prevent discomfort.