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What should you consider when buying a Waterproof Jacket?
Decide what it is you want to do in the hills and then choose a jacket designed for that. Waterproof jackets can generally be split into 3 categories:
The jacket should be designed to work while wearing gloves and a rucksack. Ideally, you should be able to pull the cuffs down over the gloves to stop water getting in while walking. But when scrambling it is best if you can fit the gloves over the cuffs. Take your gloves into the shop and make sure you can operate all the drawcords, zips, press studs, stormflaps and pockets with them on. Look for sleeves that fit the length of your arms and won't ride up when clambering over stiles and rock steps. The cuffs should fit snugly around the wrists.
Some jackets are available in women's sizes while others are only available in men's or unisex sizes. Look for a reasonably long length with good freedom of movement, so that the jacket hem remains still and the cuffs don't ride up when you move around.
Normal zips are not waterproof, and neither are water-resistant zips. In other words, all zips leak. To keep the water out, you need a double stormflap over the top. Double flaps do make zips hard to opreate however, so a single storm flap may be fitted instead - you need to decide if the ease of opening outweighs staying dry.
Look for ventilation options in the waterproof jacket, such as a front zip and adjustable cuffs. Pit zips allow venting under the arm, while mesh pockets allow core venting across the body.
The hood should move with your head and not restict vision at all. Watch out for hood drawcords cutting into your face. Ideally the peak should be wired or stiffened so that you can shape it around your face. If you're going to be using the jacket for casual wear off the hill, then a rollaway hood may be useful. When cycling and climbing a removable or rollaway hood is also a good idea.
Check that the drawcords on the hood, hem and waist are all neatly tucked away in order to prevent them from snagging on anything or whipping you in the face.
Pockets must be accessible while wearing a rucksack, and large enough for maps and guidebooks. Some pockets extend below the waistline, making it difficult to retrieve small items from them without removing your rucksack. Mesh-lined pockets add ventilation but they allow water to pass through the jacket if left open or if you put anything wet in them. So mesh-lined pockets are desirable in multi-activity jackets, where maximum breathability is often essential, but when walking in the rain sealed pockets are a better option.
Waterproof jackets are either made from 3-layer fabric with no lining, or 2-layer fabric with a loose mesh or material lining. Loose material and mesh linings make a jacket softer and more comfortable, but they snag easily.