Posted in Outdoor
The North Face waterproof outdoor jacket

The variety of uses, materials, features, and styles makes choosing the perfect waterproof outdoor jacket more challenging than a 40% incline, but we have the tools to help you.

Your outdoor jacket is the outermost layer of your outdoor gear, and as such it has many responsibilities.

It must keep you warm, be an impermeable barrier against the rain, offer breathability, be rugged enough for the mountain side, and look good while doing it.

To achieve all these aims, the latest outdoor jackets are stuffed with next-generation materials and design features to keep you snug and secure even in the most testing of conditions.

But the mix of features and fabrics you’ll need will depend on the terrain, temperatures and elements you expect to face. Plus, you have a hilly region of jargon and tech to navigate to ensure you're choosing the right jacket for you. 

Outdoor jacket jargon

To bust the jargon barrier, we take a look at many of these features in detail, and explain the technical terminologies used to describe the latest waterproof jackets.

2/2.5/3 layer jackets

A 2-layer jacket has a protective inner coating bonded to a face fabric like nylon or polyester. These are often treated Durable Water Repellency (DWP) coating to encourage water to bead on the surface instead of being absorbed. A 2.5-layer jacket has the DWP coating applied to the inside the outer layer. An additional printed or sprayed-on protective layer is then applied to the outside of the garment. A 3-layer jacket, features – surprise – three layers; the outer fabric, the protective coating in the middle; and then an inner layer made of a sewn-in lining. Three layer jackets tend to be stiffer than 2 or 2.5 layer jackets.

Drop tail

A drop tail is made from extra material that is either folded or fastened away from the hem at the bottom of the jacket. It can be deployed as needed to provide extra below the waist protection, and is especially handy when the rain is falling sideways.

Gore Tex (GTX)

GORE-TEX® has been an industry defining material for years. It provides a membrane bonded to other protective fabrics to create a laminate. This membrane consists of millions of tiny pores that allow water vapour to evaporate through from inside, but are small enough not to let water through from the outside, a technology that has bridged the longstanding gap between waterproof and breathable.

Slim fit

Along with creating a tighter insulator layer, slim fit jackets also make movement easier and cut back on the amount of fabric needed, making them a little lighter in general.

Venting

Jackets designed for the active wearer often include specially located vents, particularly in the arm pits where they’ll keep out wind and rain while allowing heat to escape.

Sealed seams

The seams of waterproof jackets are sealed with material or tape preventing water from leaking through gaps in the zip or perforations along the seam. Only when the seams are sealed can the jacket be officially classified as waterproof. 

Packable

Packable outdoor jackets can be tightly rolled or stuffed into a small container, making them easier to carry if the weather turns in your favour.

Shell jackets

Softshell jackets are water repellent and highly breathable, without the bulk of a ‘hard shell’ jacket. They form part of the layering system, but can be used alone during moderate activity if weather conditions are light.

 

2018's best waterproof outdoor jackets

Take a look at some examples of jackets from Wiggle that include many of these features and more.

North Face

The Women's Apex Flex GTX Light Jacket will give you ultra-light protection for rainy and windy adventures. Its slim fit profile and 100% windproof fabric make it ideal for an up-tempo trek across exposed terrains.

Perfect for:        High winds

                           Moderate intensity activity


Columbia

Packable into a hand pocket, the Columbia Pouring Adventure II is a bulk-free, two layer waterproof jacket that provides enough breathability for active trekkers. Versatile and featuring a drop tail design with fully sealed seams, this tough jacket should see you through almost any outdoor scenario.

Perfect for:        Changeable conditions

                           Moderate intensity activity activities


Berghaus GR20 Storm Jacket

Despite its Fort Knox appearance, the Berghaus GR20 Storm Jacket is one of the most breathable jackets on the market, and packed with features such as GORE-TEX technology. Despite weighing just 299g, its waterproof protection is guaranteed. Super strong seams, an full adjustable hood, and V-Cut tailor hem make this jacket a formidable layer of protection against the elements.

Perfect for:         Heavy sustained rain

                           High intensity activity


Buffalo

The Buffalo Mountain Shirt is made for hillwalking, climbing, trekking and general outdoor activities in even the coldest conditions. It combines a lightweight Pertex outer with an AquaTherm pile lining making highly wind, water and abrasion resistant, as well as super warm.

Perfect for:        Cold conditions

                           Multi-disciplinary activity

 

Jack Wolfskin Ecosphere (Sierra Pass Jacket Women)

The Jack Wolfskin Sierra Pass Jacket is just as portable as it is protective. It provides an ultra-lightweight weatherproof shell that takes up a fraction of your pack. Made from soft, lightweight recycled fabric, it’s 100% waterproof and windproof, and extremely breathable that can double as an everyday jacket. Pit zips on the back of the arm improve the freedom of movement, adding to its versatility even in challenging weather.

Perfect for:       Changeable conditions

                          Moderate intensity activity

 

Mountain Hardwear Stretch Ozonic Jacket

Mountain Hardwear’s wet-weather backpacking shell features a four-way, all-over stretch, making it the perfect top layer for the active trekker. The Stretch Ozonic is a lightweight, high-performance 2.5-layer shell that is at home on rugged trails in difficult, wet conditions. It also boasts Dry.Q Active technology for a breathable, stretchable fabric that moves with you.

Perfect for:         Sustained rain

                           High intensity activity

About the author

Damien Whinnery
Published on: 15 Mar 2018

Fascinated by fitness, serious about sport, and joyous about the gym