With the right gear, a bit of rain can add to your outdoor experience.
When you are adventuring out there, you never know what the weather is going to do so it is best to be prepared.
With the right gear, a bit of rain can add to your outdoor experience. But how do you choose the best rain jacket?
The first step is to ask yourself a couple of questions:
Where am I going?
Are you going backpacking in the wet season or hiking through the Andes or just doing short trips from your car? The climates of your destination are definitely a factor.
What am I using it for?
Think about the activities you’ll use your rain jacket for.
What is my budget?
Rain jackets come in a range of styles and prices. Consider how much use the jacket will be likely get and how long you would ideally like it to last.
Next, there are a few things you should look for when it comes to rainwear:
If you are being active outdoors then you are looking for something more breathable jacket than your old yellow raincoat or a poncho. When you are hiking you generate a lot of heat. This transpires as perspiration.
If a jacket doesn’t breathe then you can become wetter from your own perspiration than from any rain or drizzle itself.
The jacket should be seam-sealed – especially if you are going to be experiencing heavy precipitation. There are some nice jackets on the market but be careful to check that they are fully seam-sealed – this helps to make the jacket fully waterproof.
If you are travelling or hiking, you probably want the jacket to be lightweight and have the ability to roll into a small size in packs or luggage.
For bigger trips where you are looking at spending longer periods in possible rain, a heavier, durable jacket would be essential to protect you from the elements.
A lightweight jacket may not be as durable as a heavier jacket, so you will need to decide if durability is more important than lightweight for your needs.
Once you have answered all these questions, you have probably narrowed the field a bit, but there are a couple more things you might want to consider to arrive at your perfect jacket:
Any kind of venting feature on rainwear improves breathability, regardless of fabric. In warm, wet climates, it's nice to be able to let sweat escape so you stay cooler and drier. Venting can be typically found under arms (pit zips), on the back, and through mesh-lined pockets.
Adjustable cuff closures, hoods, and cinch cords are ways of better sealing out rain, snow, and wind. It’s not good trying to stay dry if your wet head is causing water to run down your back.
The fit should encourage layering underneath, but shouldn't be too loose. Remember that you should be able to cinch your rainwear down so it's snug enough if the weather turns.