What does it imply when a rain jacket is described as waterproof and breathable? Normal rain and drizzle are blocked by waterproof fabric, so that’s simple enough to grasp. Breathability, on the other hand, refers to how much vapor can escape through the fabric. What is the significance of this? Try running with a garbage bag on your head. It may keep the rain out, but you’ll be soaked through and through in your own perspiration. The vapors of perspiration have nowhere to go. So, depending on your level of activity, breathability is just as important as waterproofness when it comes to staying dry.
Technologies that are both waterproof and breathable
The most well-known waterproof/breathable technology is Gore-Tex. Other technologies include System Three, which is found in some of our Eastern Mountain Sports jackets, Marmot’s PreCip and MemBrain, and The North Face’s HyVent.
Waterproof/Breathable Rain Jackets with 2 layers, 2.5 layers, and 3 layers
When you see terms like 2-layer Gore-Tex or 3-layer HyVent in a hanfu jacket description, it refers to the type of liner used to protect the waterproof/breathable technology. Waterproof/breathable laminates and membranes are prone to abrasion if left unprotected, hence a protective liner is essential.
The most frequent type of waterproof/breathable construction is two layers. The laminate or membrane is placed to the face cloth only, leaving the interior unattached—hence the 2-layer. To give protection, a loose hanging covering is used. This is a less expensive choice, but it adds a little weight to the jacket.
Like the 2-layer, the laminate or membrane is applied to the face fabric in the 2.5-layer construction. However, a sequence of laminated “dots” or a laminated grid pattern is employed on the inside of the jacket to provide abrasion resistance. 2.5-layer waterproof breathable jackets are incredibly light and compact.
3-layer jackets are the most expensive, but they are also the lightest and most durable. The waterproof/breathable laminate or membrane is placed to the outer shell cloth, just like the other construction processes. However, on the interior, a liner fabric is attached immediately, forming a three-layer sandwich.
When you need to stay cool, you can use venting. It also improves airflow. When the front zipper of the jacket is opened, for example, water vapor (perspiration) can readily escape.
Pit zips are common in shell jackets that aren’t insulated. When these underarm zippers are opened, they let extra heat to escape. When you’re hiking, skiing, or working up a sweat, it’s an easy way to manage your temperature. Core vents, like pit zips, are positioned on the sides of the jacket and provide for a modest amount of airflow.
A jacket’s rear vent, which is usually backed up by a mesh panel, is another excellent technique to stay cool. However, because the vent cannot be completely closed, this is primarily a warm-weather solution.
Hiking and Backpacking Rain Jackets
When hiking hard or carrying a big pack, you’ll definitely break a sweat, so choose a jacket with a full front zipper and underarm pit zips for maximum ventilation.
Jackets for skiing, snowshoeing, and other winter sports that aren’t insulated
A rain jacket can be worn all year, even in cold weather, providing it is sturdy and has adequate ventilation. Make sure the jacket has enough area inside for several layers, including a fleece sweater or two. Choose a non-insulated jacket with pit zips and a complete zippered front for ventilation. It is better to use a two- or three-layer architecture.
Climbing Jackets in the Rain
Climbing shells should be light and long-lasting. The ideal construction method is three layers. Pit zips, a full-zip front, and a full hood, preferably removable, are other good choices.
Runners’ Rain Jackets
Many runners prefer a soft shell jacket because of its increased breathability. If you do decide on a waterproof rain jacket, make sure it has plenty of ventilation. Pit zips, a full front zipper, and possibly a back vent are all possibilities. Choose a jacket without a hood or one with a detachable hood. The ideal option is a 2.5-layer structure, which is the lightest waterproof/breathable option available.
Soft shell fabric is water resistant (but not waterproof), wind resistant, and has a lot of stretch and movement. Soft shell jackets are perfect for climbing, running, and cross-country skiing. Typically, these jackets have a slim athletic fit.
The outside texture of a classic “hard shell” rain jacket distinguishes it from a soft shell jacket. A soft shell feels more like a tightly woven sweater than a standard rain jacket, which is smooth and shiny.
Water Resistance: An Overview
Water-resistant soft shell jackets are very breathable and usually less expensive than waterproof/breathable outerwear (remember—breathability allows water vapors to escape). They’re designed to block out a drizzle or even a light rain. Someone who is adventure racing or jogging in the rain may perspire more than a waterproof/breathable garment can handle, thus a water-resistant jacket would be preferable.
Warmth from a Soft Shell
Soft shell jackets are available in a variety of thicknesses. Spring/summer/fall versions are light and provide only a smidgeon of insulation—just enough to keep you warm on a cool morning. Soft shells in the winter are frequently lined with a thin polyester fleece layer, which keeps them warm but limits their stretchability.
Soft Shell Jackets Have a Wide Range of Applications
Soft shell jackets are suitable for highly aerobic sports like ice climbing, rock climbing, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, running, and cold-season riding because of their weather resistance and outstanding mobility.
Down Insulation Insulated Jackets
Fill Power—Down clusters’ 3D structure provides “loft,” which traps air. The loft of the insulation determines how warm it is. The loft’s “fill power” is a measurement. This is done by calculating how many cubic inches one ounce of down displaces when expanded to its maximum capacity. An ounce of down has 500 fill power if it takes up 500 cubic inches of space; 700 cubic inches = 700 fill power; and so on.
Goose and ducks are the most common suppliers of down insulation. Goose down is loftier (greater fill power) but also more expensive than duck down. If you’re seeking for a lightweight product, goose down is the way to go. Eastern European goose down is recognized for its huge down clusters, which produce a lot of loft, occasionally up to 800 fill.
Down is often more compressible than synthetic insulations, which means it can be packed into a tiny space. If you need to stow your down jacket or sleeping bag in a backpack, this is ideal.
Warmth-to-Weight Ratio—Goose down is warmer than most synthetic insulations ounce for ounce.
Longevity—Down is extremely robust, and if properly cared for, it will retain its loft and ability to insulate for many years. This is maybe the most compelling reason to choose down.
When damp, down performs poorly because it provides little insulation. The natural oils in goose down, on the other hand, provide some water resistance. Geese and ducks, after all, swim in near-freezing water all the time and don’t seem to mind. Most down jackets’ water-resistant shell fabric will also keep snow out (you will likely be wearing only a down jacket when the temperature is below freezing).
Insulation made of synthetic materials
In most cases, synthetic insulation outperforms down insulation in damp weather. Synthetics, on the other hand, are less compressible and have a shorter lifespan than down.
PrimaLoft is the most widely used synthetic insulation. It’s incredibly hydrophobic, which means it’s difficult to wet the fibers. PrimaLoft is a good alternative if you’re skiing or mountaineering in the wilderness and can’t afford wet insulation. PrimaLoft is also incredibly lightweight and compressible when compared to other synthetics.
Jackets with three functions
A 3-in-1 jacket is made up of a shell and an insulated lining that can be removed. Because you may wear just the shell, just the insulated liner, or both together, it’s called 3-in-1. Obviously, this is a very versatile system that can be used for a variety of activities.
Jackets made of fleece
Warm, incredibly soft, quick-drying, and lightweight, fleece is a soft-napped synthetic fabric (typically polyester). Malden Mills (now Polartec, LLC) invented fleece as “Polarfleece,” and it immediately became the insulating fabric of choice for skiing, snowshoeing, climbing, and winter mountaineering. Polarfleece was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential inventions of the twentieth century.
Due to its low mass, fleece is an excellent insulator. Micro, 100, 200, and 300 are the most common thicknesses/weights of fleece, with 300 being the heaviest. A fleece sweater or jacket is worn as a midlayer, with a very thin base layer worn against the skin underneath and a weatherproof non-insulated shell jacket worn on the outside in a classic layering scheme.
Performance in Wet Conditions
Fleece is extremely hydrophobic, keeping only 1% of its weight in water. Instead, moisture is wicked through the fabric, where it can seep into an outer layer or spread out and evaporate once exposed to the air. This implies a fleece jacket won’t get wet, will dry rapidly, and will keep you warm even when wet.
Resistance to the wind
Standard fleece does not block out the wind, but it is extremely breathable, which improves your comfort when hiking, skiing, or climbing. On a windy day, though, ordinary fleece should only be worn under a shell jacket.
Wind-blocking fleece is an exception. This fleece is meant to withstand the wind and can be used as an outer layer, similar to how soft shells are worn.
Fleece of Superior Quality
Remember that not all fleece is created equal. High-quality fleece and inexpensive imitations are vastly different in terms of durability, warmth, and softness. Polartec, for example, is still the gold standard in high-performance fleece, and it can be counted on to keep its soft feel and prevent pilling even after several washes.
Ski Jackets made of Fleece
Downhill skiing entails a lot of sitting on exposed chairlifts, punctuated by short downhill runs. Choose a heavyweight fleece, such as 200 (midweight) or 300 (heavyweight). Don’t worry about the fleece being windproof; in most conditions, you’ll want to wear a waterproof/breathable shell over the insulating layer.
Nordic Skiing Fleece Jackets
Cross-country skiing is a high-intensity aerobic activity that keeps your body working hard and burning calories. In most cases, less insulation is necessary. A micro or 100 (lightweight) fleece is frequently sufficient. A wind-resistant fleece can be worn as an outer layer if it isn’t snowing.
Winter Mountaineering Fleece Jackets
In the woods, bring additional insulation. Prepare to wear many midlayers, such as a 100 layered over a 200 or perhaps a 300.
It’s best to carry a variety of fleece in your closet for everyday wear. If it’s bitterly cold outside, wear a 300; if it’s pleasant, wear a 100; and so on.