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How do I stay dry on the hills? Tips for buying a good quality waterproof Jacket

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This week has been wet in Settle. Really wet. We do get our fair share of rainy weather in North Yorkshire but this week has been particularly stormy and we’ve seen plenty of damp customers in the shop looking for ways to cope with the weather and stay comfortable…

Whether you are a hiker or runner, staying comfortable, warm and dry is always a challenge in poor weather. As a rule of thumb, the heavier the weather and the longer you are out in it determine your chances of staying dry and comfortable.

20151117_145046 Outside our shop yesterday

 

In our experience, we’d rather you get the right kit and have the right expectations from clothing and equipment we sell. If you come to see us in the shop or call us, we’ll always look to manage your expectations –  if it’s raining horizontally and blowing a gale for hours on end you may get wet regardless of what you are wearing!

 

So how can you stay dry (or as dry as possible)? If you are in the market for a new waterproof jacket, there’s plenty of things to look for that can help:

 

Buy the best you can (it’s not just a sales ploy!).  There’s an old saying that you get what you pay for and this applies to waterproof jackets. This does not mean that you have to spend hundreds of pounds if your budget or you need doesn’t require it. You do get what you pay for and the cheapest or ‘most reduced’ doesn’t always make the best waterproof jacket (although there’s always some genuine bargains because of overstocks or new models/colours coming out, it’s worth checking that the jacket is what you want first and foremost). It’s better to buy once and get it right.

 

Price isn’t everything – pay for fabric first and features second. What kind of performance do you need from a waterproof jacket? Do you need breathability first or the security of waterproof performance? What’s your budget? You don’t have to stretch to a top-end jacket if your budget is limited and whilst fabrics play a large part in the selection of a waterproof jacket we always find there’s plenty of inexpensive options that have fewer features (pockets, vents, zips, etc…) but offer decent performance. As with any waterproof jacket, the fabric plays the key role in keeping you dry and comfortable.

IMG_1176 Snowdonia on a wet day

 

Hoods are good. Top of our pick list for features on a top waterproof jacket is a good hood! Trying on a jacket is essential and making sure the hood fits your head is key. Look out for good adjustment systems – ones that grip your head in comfort (nothing worse than a hood constantly blowing off) and one that can be really tightened around the head (in weather like this week) but also can be worn with the zip undone in light/medium showers and constant rainfall (making sure it stays on when you turn your head!).

 

Breathability is key but can’t work miracles – you do get what you pay for but it’s worth limiting your expectations as conditions (like this week) don’t always conspire to allow for maximum breathability from your jacket. Long periods in rainfall (and heavy bursts too) can ‘wet your jacket out’ (water no longer beads on the surface of the jacket and the entire surface is ‘wet’). It is this 'wetting out' that can cause problems by reducing the ability of your jacket to breath properly. This is most likely  to happens during longer exposure to rain combined with periods of exertion (especially if you are a runner). Extra sweat trying to breath out of a wet surface on the jacket is not ideal.

20151117_145036 Cheapside, Settle this week

 

Vents and pit zips. These help (as per above)! There’s no substitute for air circulation around the jacket (provided you have the body heat to want/need to open vents. Again, sometimes using vents on jackets in wet conditions is less effective when the outside air is already saturated with moisture…

 

Go multi-purpose (if possible). Waterproof jacket are expensive items and our aim is always to go through a checklist of what activities you do and don’t do. We’d always advise you to spend your budget wisely on the best possible waterproof jacket that can be used for all the activities you do. This also counts for season use too – ultra lightweight waterproof jacket are ideal to carry and use in the summer and warmer months, but if you don’t have alternatives, we have some great mid-weight jackets that will work well in all seasons. The same is true for activities – if you walk a lot and run a bit there’s options to look at and specific waterproof jacket that would fit the bill for both.

 

We can help! Waterproof jackets are a key piece of kit to allow you to enjoy our Great Outdoors for longer. Whether you’re a runner, hiker, biker or trekker, getting the right jacket, a quality bit of clothing that will last and pay back your investment is critical. There’s plenty to think about – features, fit, materials, price and much more besides.  We can’t stock everything but what we can do is offer sound advice in store, on the phone or via email to help you. Being a real shop staffed with ‘outdoor’ people who are dedicate to sending you away with the right kit for you (so you come back and shop with us again!) we talk to hundreds of people just like you with specific requirements and options. We can usually get it right for you and we will save you time and money by getting the right waterproof jacket on your back.

 

Whether you are a walker, runner, trekker or biker, take a look at our extensive range of waterproof jackets and do get in touch if you want to talk over waterproof jackets and how we can help you get the right one.

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