Selecting a rain jacket for hiking can be an overwhelming process, mostly because there are just so many options that are available in the market. Here is a guide to make it easier for you to select the right rain jacket.
Important Things to Consider
Breathability and Comfort
The rain jacket you are going to buy should let your body breathe freely and have the option of venting out the excess body heat. To put it plainly, you do not want to perspire profusely or bake inside your rain jacket. Investing in a jacket with optimal breathability will allow you to feel more comfortable in your rain wear.
Waterproof or Water Resistant
If there is downpour, your rain jacket must be able to save you from getting drenched. While a waterproof jacket will prevent you from getting wet, the water resistant jacket will only delay the process. It really depends on how long you plan to be outside and what activity your are participating in.
You may not want the weight of the waterproof jacket. You also may not want to get wet using the water resistant jacket. You'll have to decide. Basically, a waterproof jacket can endure heavy rain and perspiration, but a water resistant jacket is ideal only for light rain and perspiration.
If you are a climber, day hiker or trail runner, you may want a rain jacket that gives you high level of maneuverability. Some activities like camping wont require high levels of maneuverability, so you can opt for a heavier jacket. Also, if you're a camper, you will likely be spending a longer time in the outdoors than a trail runner or day hiker.
If you are a serious climber and hiker, you may want to look for a rain jacket that provides you high durability and can be used ruggedly. This also applies to those who are general "outdoorsmen." However, if you're just looking for a jacket to take along with you when you run or day hike, than you don't have to be as worried about durability. This might help you if you have a smaller budget, but still want a decent jacket for your activity.
Weight is another important consideration while buying a rain jacket for hiking. If you are a casual hiker you may want to go light weight jacket. Those who spend a lot of time outdoors will need jackets that can be used ruggedly. These types of jackets weigh a bit more. Again, it mainly comes down to which outdoor activity you're participating in and how long you're going to be doing it for.
There is lot of disparity in the price of different types of jackets. The higher cost comes from additional layer. If you're looking to keep the cost as low as possible, then we'd recommend opting for a jacket with only two layer. However, if you have a larger budget and you plan to be outdoors quite a bit, than it might pay in the long run to exhaust your budget and get a high end jacket. Decide what you need in your rain jacket and buy accordingly.
Different Types of Rain Jackets
- Waterproof/Breathable Rain Jackets: Ideal for those who plan to do a lot of activity during hiking, this type of jackets repel water and perspiration, but are highly breathable. You can either choose from rain jackets with laminates or coatings. Though both have similar waterproof abilities, the laminate is more durable and breathable than coating. However, these jackets fall on the expensive side of the price range.
- Water Resistant/Breathable Rain Jackets: The material of these jackets is highly breathable. They do not repel water but only hold the water from seeping in for a long time. It is ideal for those who want more breathability and flexibility. These jackets are also lighter than the waterproof/breathable jackets and are less expensive.
- Waterproof/Non-breathable Rain Jackets: As the name suggests, this type of rain jackets do not allow the rain from entering inside and perspiration from escaping outside. They are the least expensive types of jackets. However, they are only ideal when you do not have to perform any activity. Also, one should buy a larger size of these types of jackets so that the heat of the body can vent out easily.
- Soft Shell or Hybrid Rain Jackets: These types of jackets provide excellent breath-ability and flexibility. They are ideal for climbers and backpackers.
Number of Layers
- Two Layers Jackets: The first layer is the face fabric to which laminate or coating is applied. The second layer is a thin liner, mostly mesh, facing the body. The liner protects the coating from abrasion. They can be a bit heavier and also less breathable.
- Two and Half Layers Jackets: The first layer is the face layer made up of low weight fabric. The second layer is either of laminate or coating and a very thin inner layer which is why it is called a two and half layers jacket. Ideal for those who want light weight and waterproof jacket at a reasonable price and are not worried much about the abrasion.
- Three Layer Jackets: These are ideal for those serious backpackers and climbers who want high performance and durability. A laminate layer is tightly secured between the first layer and the inner layer.
The Best Rain Jackets: A Buyer's Guide
The North Face Resolve Jacket
The North Face Men’s Resolve Jacket not only looks smart and stylish, it is also waterproof and comfortable. It has a nylon ripstop face layer that makes it highly durable for rugged use. The HyVent technology ensures that your rain jacket remains waterproof even in heavy rain.
Weighing only at a pound, this rain jacket is extremely lightweight and easy to carry around when you are going for hiking.
The jacket features a flap to cover the zipper which prevents the water from seeping inside. This jacket is breathable and also has proper ventilation to vent out the body heat and keep you cool.
Outdoor Research Helium II Jacket
The Outdoor Research Men’s Revel Jacket is a 2.5 layer jacket which is made of nylon. This jacket will keep you protected from the rain without compromising the breathability.
The 30D Pertex® Shield DS stretch ripstop fabric makes it waterproof and breathable. This jacket also features a fully adjustable hood and taped seams.
The hood allows you to keep your head warm in cold weather conditions. These jackets have great ventilation that allows the excess heat to escape your body and prevents from excess perspiration. This jacket also features deep pockets that are ideal for keeping things without worrying about them falling out.
Marmot Precip Jacket
If you are looking for a comfortable and waterproof jacket you should well try the Marmot Precip Jacket. It features a 100 percent nylon ripstop, and its NanoPro technology keeps you dry and relaxed when you are hiking even in heavy downpour.
The Marmot Precip Jacket is properly ventilated which keeps you comfortable even in warm weather conditions.
It also features a roll up hood that gives you extra protection from rain and also gives you head warmth during cold weather conditions. Overall, this rain jacket is excellent for hiking as it gives you protection and comfort in all weather conditions.
The North Face Apex Bionic Hoodie Soft Shell Jacket
The North Face Apex Bionic Hoodie Soft Shell jacket is made of synthetic material with an exterior that is waterproof as well as windproof. This jacket is extremely lightweight and easy to carry when you are hiking.
This jacket also has breathability factor which makes you comfortable and relaxed while hiking. The waterproof and the windproof exterior protects you from heavy rains as well has high winds.
If you are hiking in cold weather conditions, this jacket has enough room to have more protective layers beneath it. The hood helps keep your head warm during cold conditions.
Helly Hansen Loke Jacket
The Helly Hansen Loke jacket is a lightweight jacket which can be worn during all weather conditions. It is a very comfortable rain jacket if you are going for hiking.
This jacket is not only waterproof but also windproof, giving you ultimate protection from both heavy rain and windy conditions.
The 2,5 ply fabric construction not only allows protection from wind and water, it also gives this jacket a high level of breathability, making it comfortable for your use. This jacket features a fully adjustable hood for extra protection from rain and cold.