Standard and Winter Weight
In places like wet and windy Britain, a leaky jacket
can ruin a day out. And if you're leaking in a storm you're risking
hypothermia. Even a jacket that keeps the rain out can be annoying if
you can't see properly out of the hood, if the peak flaps madly in your
eyes, or the drawcords lash your cheeks. Pockets that aren't where you
want them or which won't hold the items you want to carry in them also
Your waterproof is the most important
item of your outdoor clothing - and finding one that has the features
you want, that fits well and feels comfortable, is worth the time spent.
Yet the choice is vast.
The fabrics of all the jackets tested by Trailwalk are waterproof. If
anything's going to let in the water it'll be design weaknesses - these
are noted in the reviews. All the fabrics are breathable, though how
much body moisture they let out varies - design and linings also affect
breathability and none of the jackets I tested stayed completely dry
inside when I was working hard. Some performed worse than others
Denise Thorn, who tested the women's jackets, doesn't produce heat and
moisture in the way I do. She can stay dry wearing two fleeces under
a waterproof when I'm sweating with half that amount on - didn't have
any problems with breathability.
All the women's jackets tested were specifically
designed to fit women, rather than being small size unisex or men's
jackets. They were tested by Denise Thorn who, at 5 feet 2 inches tall
and with a very short back, doesn't expect even jackets designed for
women to have waists in the right place.
But she does prefer sleeves that aren't too long and looks for roomy
hip pockets, pointing out that for women with more than a small bust
chest pockets are not much use. Other likes are mid-thigh-length jackets
that fasten with Velcro rather than studs and have a hood with a wired
peak and good side vision. She also prefers semi-elasticated cuffs as
these still allow for ventilation when undone without being bulky when
fastened round her narrow wrists.
Detachable hoods aren't liked, as there's no point in taking a hood
off for hill use. They're distrusted too as they could detach accidentally
- in a strong wind for example or when fumbling with studs with cold
fingers and tugging on the wrong one. Oddly five of the six women's
jackets tested have detachable hoods while they appear on only one of
the ten of the men's jackets. Why do designers think women want detachable
hoods? Denise also doesn't see the point of zips for attaching fleece
jackets for hill use.
Now there are a fair number of women's
jackets available it's probably better to refer to other jackets as
men's jackets rather than unisex ones.
Men still have a wider choice of waterproofs but the gap is narrowing.
And I've got my own preferences as to which features I like and dislike
- if yours are different you'll need to take this into account when
reading the reviews.
I prefer hoods with wired peaks and retained drawcords as they work
best in severe weather. Hoods that don't roll into the collar are best
but if they do I'd rather they didn't have front flaps to wave about
in the wind. I find chest pockets more useful than hip ones and like
them even more if they are mesh-lined so they can be used as vents and
if they are big enough for a map. Map pockets are essential, preferably
on the outside of the jacket though under the flap will do. Because
my arms heat up quickly, especially when using trekking poles, I like
wide cuffs with no elastication.