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The Best Types of Rain Jackets for Hikers and Why

A group of hikers with their trekking poles.

If you’re looking to buy a rain jacket to take on your next hiking trip, you may be wondering what the best type of jacket is. There are a few things to consider when choosing a rain jacket for hiking. The first is how waterproof the jacket is.

The second is how breathable the jacket is. And the third is how lightweight the jacket is. When it comes to waterproofing, you’ll want to make sure that the jacket has a good waterproof rating.

The higher the waterproof rating, the better. But, keep in mind that the more waterproof a jacket is, the less breathable it will be. So, if you’re planning on doing a lot of hiking in the rain, you’ll want to choose a jacket with a good waterproof rating.

Breathability is important because you don’t want to be sweating inside your jacket. If you are, you’ll end up feeling wet and cold. A good rule of thumb is to choose a jacket that has a breathability rating of at least 5,000g/m2/24h.

This will ensure that you’re able to hike in the rain without feeling too sweaty. Now that we’ve gotten the most important stuff out of the way, let’s take a deep dive into the different types of hiking jackets at your disposal!

What to look for when choosing a hiking jacket

Mid adult woman wearing a red rain jacket.

When you’re out on the trail, you need a jacket that will protect you from the elements. The best rain jackets for hikers are those that are lightweight, waterproof, and breathable. Here’s what to look for when choosing a hiking jacket:

Lightweight: A good hiking jacket should be lightweight so that it doesn’t weigh you down on the trail.

Waterproof: A waterproof jacket is essential for keeping you dry in the rain. Look for a jacket with a waterproof rating of at least 5,000mm.

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Breathable: A breathable jacket will allow your skin to breathe while you’re hiking, preventing you from getting too hot and sweaty. Look for a jacket with a breathability rating of at least 5,000g/m2/24h.

Hood: A hood is a great way to keep your head dry in the rain. Look for a jacket with a hood that can be adjusted to fit snugly around your head.

Pockets: Pockets are a great place to store your essentials while you’re hiking. Look for a jacket with pockets that are large enough to hold a map and a phone.

When choosing a rain jacket for hiking, it’s important to consider your needs. If you need a lightweight jacket that won’t weigh you down, look for one made from waterproof and breathable fabric. If you need a jacket with a hood to keep your head dry, look for one with an adjustable hood.

And if you need a jacket with pockets to store your essentials, look for one with large pockets.

How to stay warm and dry while hiking in the rain

An adult man wearing his green rain jacket.

Hiking in the rain can be a great way to get some fresh air and exercise, but it’s important to make sure you’re prepared with the right gear. A good rain jacket is essential for keeping yourself dry and comfortable, and there are a few different types to choose from depending on your needs. Hardshell jackets are made with waterproof and breathable materials that will keep you dry in even the heaviest downpours.

They’re ideal for hiking in wet weather but can be less comfortable in warmer conditions since they don’t allow much ventilation. Softer shell jackets are more lightweight and breathable, making them a better option for hikes in milder rain or when you’ll be working up a sweat. They’re not as waterproof as hardshell jackets, but they’ll still provide some protection from the elements.

Fleece jackets are another option for hikes in cool or damp weather. They’re not typically waterproof, but they will help to keep you warm and dry by wicking away moisture. Fleece is a good mid-layer to wear under a harder shell jacket in colder conditions.

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When choosing a rain jacket for hiking, it’s important to consider the type of material it’s made from, as well as the weight and fit. Waterproof and breathable materials like Gore-Tex or eVent are ideal, and you’ll want a jacket that’s lightweight and comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. Make sure the jacket is large enough to layer over other clothing, and look for features like hoods, pit zips, and adjustable cuffs to customize the fit.

How to choose the right size rain jacket

Positive girl looking for new rain jacket.

To find the right size rain jacket, you’ll need to take a few measurements. First, measure your chest circumference by wrapping a tape measure around your torso, just under your arms. Then, measure your sleeve length by holding your arm out to the side and measuring from the center of your back to your wrist.

Finally, measure your waist circumference by wrapping the tape measure around your natural waistline. Use these measurements to find a jacket that’s the right size for you. When you’re trying on rain jackets, make sure you can move freely in them and that they’re not too tight or too loose.

You should be able to layer other clothing underneath your jacket, and it should be comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. If you’re going to be hiking in cold weather, make sure the jacket is large enough to fit over any other layers you’ll be wearing. Finally, consider the type of closure on the jacket. Some jackets have zippers, while others have velcro or snaps.

Choose a closure that’s easy for you to use and that will keep the elements out.

Quick Look: The best types of jackets for different types of weather conditions

Warm weather: A softshell or fleece jacket is a good option for hiking in warm weather since they’re lightweight and breathable.

Cool-weather: A hard shell or fleece jacket is a better choice for hikes in cooler weather as they offer more warmth and protection from the elements.

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Cold weather: A hardshell jacket with a waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex or eVent material is the best option for hikes in cold weather. Look for a jacket with a hood, pit zips, and adjustable cuffs to customize the fit.

Tips for taking care of your hiking jacket

1. Waterproof your jacket before heading out. There are a number of waterproofing products on the market that can help to extend the life of your jacket and keep you dry in wet conditions. Some of these products include:

  • Nikwax TX Direct Spray-On: This is a waterproofing spray that can be used on all types of jackets, including hard shells, softshells, and fleece.
  • McNett Outdry Extreme: This is a waterproofing treatment that can be applied to hardshell jackets. It creates a durable water repellent (DWR) finish that helps to repel water and keep you dry.

2. Make sure the jacket fits properly. A well-fitting jacket will be more comfortable to wear and will provide better protection from the elements.

3. Choose a jacket with a hood for extra protection from the rain.

4. Pack a spare jacket in case your first one gets wet.

5. Clean your jacket after each hike to remove dirt and grime.

6. Store your jacket in a cool, dry place when not in use.

7. Inspect your jacket regularly for signs of wear and tear.

8. Repair or replace any damaged parts of your jacket to keep it in good condition.

Conclusion

A rain jacket is an essential piece of gear for any hiker, regardless of the weather conditions. When choosing a rain jacket, consider the type of fabric, as well as the weight and fit. Waterproof and breathable materials like Gore-Tex or eVent are ideal, and you’ll want a jacket that’s lightweight and comfortable to wear.

Make sure the jacket is the right size for you, and choose a style with a hood for extra protection from the rain. Finally, pack a spare jacket in case your first one gets wet. With these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to find the perfect rain jacket for your next hike.