Unexpected downpour can make your trekking difficult. You may often forget to take your rain jacket while hiking.
During my trekking in periyar tiger reserve i forget to take my rain jacket. It was not a rainy season. So rain jacket didnt came to my mind.
The sky was clear and sunny till noon. Then we stopped at a forest guard camp to have our food. While having food the sky became cloudy.
We continued our walk after spending some time near the camp. We have to reach the checkpost at 5 pm.
I have kept my cam in backpack and covered it with bag cover. During our walk the rain started.
We have to walk 2 hrs to reach the checkpost. The rain along with wind was refreshing at first. But it is difficult to walk as your clothes became wet.
Quick Comparison: Top Rain Jackets for Trekking
**Below, you'll find our expert's reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
If you were in cold regions then trekking in the rain can put you at the risk of hypothermia. A rain jacket can act as a layering and helps to keep your body warm.
So you need a rain jacket to protect and keep you warm while it's raining.
But how do you choose a rain jacket?
There are a ton of rain jacket which claims as Waterproof ,Water Resistant or watertight!
Do you know the difference between those?
If not this article is for you!
There are lot of options available to you. So choosing one will be a confusion.
The rain jacket selection guide
Waterproof vs. Water Resistant and watertight
These terms are often confusing while buying a rain jacket. The waterproof rain jacket contains a membrane lamination or coating inside the outer face fabric.
The laminate is more expense than the coating. The laminate offers better waterproofing and breathability.
While the water resistant types are the lightweight jackets and outer shells that offers water resistant at light rain, but doesn't offer much in heavy downpour.
Watertight rain jacket means there will be less chance for water to enter through your pockets, hood, and seams.
Water will try to enter your body while you were in an activity. So water tight is an important factor during outdoor activities while raining.
While buying a jacket look for one with adjustable hoods and taped seams.
It's the ability of jacket to pass moisture and hot air inside to out. Cheap and low end jackets will have less breathability.
Hiking with these jackets will make your body wet by your own sweat. Modern day jackets are lined with membranes that are breathable.
A good breathable jacket will help you to wick the moisture and hot air from inside to out.
This can be further improved with the addition of side vents and pit zips.
The rain jackets available in the market are either 2 layered, 2.5 or 3 layered.
The 2 layer jackets contain an inside layer of mesh that easily transfer the moisture and air to the outside layer.
The inside of the outer face fabric is lined with breathable membrane. This will pass the air and moisture out while keeping the water from getting inside.
The 2.5 layer jackets contain a thin lamination that is added to the inner membrane. This layer will protect the thin waterproof membrane from dust and dirt.
This jacket is lightweight and offers good water proofing.
The 3 layer jackets offers the best waterproofing and durability. These jackets are meant for activities in extreme environments. 3 layer jackets have a thick inner laminate layer, middle membrane and an outer face fabric layer.
These jackets offers the best waterproofing and durability.
There are jackets that can be folded and can fit inside its own pockets.
This can be seen as the compressibility of a jacket. Packability is an important factor for trekking. Your chance of using a jacket increases if it is smaller in size.
If the jacket can be packed into a smaller size then the chance of taking them with you increases.
You can either fold the jacket and fit into its own pocket or you can fold and place it inside the hood of the jacket. Placing in hood or pocket protects the waterproofing membrane.
One more thing to keep in your mind while you were selecting a jacket for your trekking.
Modern day lightweight jackets weight a few ounces, but they will be costly. While less expensive jackets will be heavy. So choose one that fits your pocket and your backpack.
Extreme light jackets are available in the market. But you may not need them for trekking. Ultra lightweight jackets are used for trail running. As the reduced weight will help in performance.
Light weight jackets are not recommended for trekking as they are not durable. It's easy to damage thin membrane and fabrics. But if your backpacks are light you can use them.
That's about waterproofing and breathability of the jacket. While the following features are the ones that are visible on a jacket.
Majority of rain jackets include hand pockets in either side of the jacket and may also have a chest pocket. The placing of the pockets will differ from brands.
Some performance oriented jackets will place them higher. This will keep your pockets from interfering with the hipbelt of your backpack or climbing harness.
The pockets are often not seen in lightweight jackets in order to reduce weight. The inside of pockets can be made from mesh or lined material.
Mesh pockets often help to increase the breathability of the rain jacket if you keep it open. But this increases the chance of water leaking into the jacket.
Hood helps to keep water off your head and also prevents water from entering through the top of jacket.
Hood must follow your head movement. If you turn your head towards left the hood must also turn left along with head, other than stretching against face.
Hoods have strings to adjust the size and fit. This enables you to fix the hood according to your head size. This helps to keep the hood in place while there is strong winds. Some jackets may have velcro strips to adjust hoods.
Pit zips are provided under the arms. This will help to release air by opening the zip. While doing strenuous activity it will be necessary to get rid of the air and moisture inside the jacket.
Pit zips help to release the air and moisture. Jackets have different variations of pit zips.
Some extend all the way down towards hem. This when fully open can resemble a poncho. Some lightweight jackets don't have pit zips to reduce weight.
Jackets have hem cinch on both sides. This helps to provide the best seal from rain by keeping the jacket close around your body.
Again the lightweight jackets have only one or don't have hem cinch as a measure to reduce weight.
How to choose a jacket for your purpose?
You have read about the technical side of the jacket. This will help you to find a jacket the suits you.
There are different jackets that are meant for different purpose.
You have to select a jacket that suits your needs. You may not need a technical jacket for daily use. So get a jacket based on your needs, whether you need it for daily use, or travel or trekking in the himalayas.
You can refer the following to get a clear idea on selecting the best jacket.
Hiking Or Daily use
For daily use or hiking you need a jacket that is durable and packable. The jacket must fit into your backpack.
If it's small when folded then the chance of taking the jacket in you backpack increases. So in case of rain you can use it.
We recommend you to buy a 2.5 layer rain jacket. Or you can go with the 3 layer jacket, but it's more expensive. Both are breathable and choose the one with pit zips.
Review of Some of the Best Rain Jackets for Hiking
There are lot of good jackets are there. But this is the one that we recommend. It offers excellent breathability and waterproofing.
It has DWR coating,which beads off rain water. The inner membrane layer wicks off the moisture and air,thus helps to stay dry.
The jacket has pit zips that helps to clear moisture and air when open.
It has two mesh lined pockets,that helps to increase breathability when opened.
Marmot PreCip hood does an excellent job in protecting you from rain. It offers three way adjustment. It has a Velcro adjustment that controls volume of hood. Two wire adjustments that changes the size of hood opening.
Hem controls are provided that helps to protect you from cold wind. The price is also a favorable part. This is best jacket at an affordable price.
These jackets are meant for mountain climbing, rock climbing or other vertical activities. They are made of good breathable materials. The jacket will be made of 3 layer.
Review of Some of the Best Performance Rain Jackets
Gore-Tex Pro Shell
This one can be folded into its hood or pocket and will take less space than your water bottle.
Outdoor research realm is made using AscentShell and its a 3 layered jacket. It offer excellent breathability.
The hood is adjustable and the wrist has velcro cuffs. There are two large chest pockets. One is made up of AscentShel membrane and is fully waterproof. You can keep your mobile phone in it to keep it away from moisture. The other pocket is made from mesh lining, which offers breathability by opening the zip.
This jacket has a stretchable fell and it mirror your movements.
The jacket offers excellent protection from rain along with good breathability.
These are small packable jackets. They are made of thin materials and are less durable. You can use it for jogging. They won't last if you carry a heavy backpack while wearing this jacket.
Review of Some of the Best Lightweight Rain Jackets
Pertex® Shield+ 2.5L
Rain jackets Care and Cleaning:
Your rain jackets can get dirty from outside dust and elements, and with your own sweat. This dust and dirt will block the microscopic pores in your jacket. These pores helps to wick out moisture and air from your body.This will reduce the breathability of the jacket.
Your jacket will have a label regarding cleaning of the jacket. Read the instruction and follow it. As different products have different criteria.
Image credits: quechua.co.uk, outdooresearch.com,marmot.com