Our expert's guide to what to look for in a waterproof jacket
When buying waterproof jackets there are a variety of things to consider and of course depending on what you will use it for plays a big part in picking the right jacket for you. If you are heading outdoors you should always have a reliable waterproof jacket with you. We always recommend reproofing and repairing old jackets because if you have a good one then it is hard to let it go. If you do need to buy one we've put together some useful advice to consider. If you need more info please feel free to contact us and we'll be glad to help.
Most waterproof jackets would also be called hardshell jackets because they have a "hard" outer layer that is impenetrable by the rain.
Typically waterproof jackets designed for harsher conditions will be heavier whilst jackets designed for running or cycling will be lighter.
A factor here is also breathability. Jackets worn for activities that are likely to generate a sweat and plenty of heat require more breathability.
High performance jackets at the premium end of the price range combine durability with low weight and exceptional breathability.
In the past these jackets have been developed for the toughest expeditions but over the last years these technologies have trickled down and now you can access a very good waterproof jacket for a fraction of the price it once would have cost.
Another important factor in choosing a jacket is the fit.
Women's jackets come in a variety of styles but it has been hard to find good looking jackets that perform well and that also fit a figure that is not that of an ultra-athlete.
Brands have finally come around to designing jackets that are shaped specifically for women rather than the old school rectangular regular cut.
Jackets should have a good length so that when your arms are raised above your head (a common pose when encountering a steeper slope or putting on a rucksack) the jacket doesn't ride up leaving a gap to your waterproof trousers and getting you wet.
Most jackets are now cut in such a way that the back slightly longer, particularly useful for cyclists whose back is lengthened by leaning forwards.
The hood is another factor that can make the difference between enjoying a day in the outdoors or it being completely miserable.
If you need a hood that allows for a helmet to be worn look out for jackets with helmet compatible hoods.
Most hill walking jackets will have this with the hood volume adjusted through a toggle at the back of the head and via elastics at the neck to shrink the opening around your face.
Hoods also may also have a slightly stiff peak to protect you from the rain. Some even have a shapeable wire in the leading edge of the peak that allows you to bend and shape it to protect you from wind driven rain.
There are some well known names in the waterproof jacket membrane market, however, there are only two basic options for waterproof membranes synthetic or the heavier waxed cotton.
When choosing a synthetic material there are now plenty of jackets made from recycled content.
This means you can benefit from a fully waterproof and breathable jacket with performance as if it was made from virgin material and know that you can recycle it again at the end of its lifetime.
Waxed cotton is also popular particularly for heavier winter jackets that are less likely to be worn for high intensity activities.
For country walks or when spending time stood still on cold wet days waxed cotton is a great option.
The last point to consider is allowing room for layering.
If you are buying a jacket for hill walking then it is highly advisable to buy a jacket that allows you to fit a mid layer or two beneath it.
On the average wet days in the UK it is reasonable to expect to wear a base layer, jumper and softshell/fleece and then your waterproof jacket as the outer.
The last thing you want is to restrict your movement or have to take layers on and off when the weather is at it's worst.
Therefore if layering is something you expect to use be prepared to go up a size.