Thursday, 11 March 2010

Choosing the right waterproof jacket

Gone are the days when outdoor clothing came in only a few sizes, a couple of dull colours and rarely guaranteed to be water and windproof. Today, there is a fantastic range of jackets, trousers, boots and all manner of essential accessories in a huge variety of sizes and splendid colours. Clothes are made to fit men, women and children and even some of the cheapest products offer great protection from the weather.

In the 21st century it's more a case of "too much choice". One of the key items for safe and warm hill walking is a waterproof jacket. And for people who do a reasonable amount of walking in Scotland's hills and mountains it's worth spending a bit of money to ensure you get exactly the right fit and weather protection.

Top of your trying-on list should be:
* Is the jacket long enough to cover the top of your waterproof trousers? Perferrably it should reach your bum.
* Is the jacket roomy enough to allow good movement of arms and shoulders?
* Is there enough space under your jacket for lots of layers?
* Is the jacket made of a good quality material, such as Goretex, and with robust seams so as to keep the rain and wind out?

You should also think about when you will wear the jacket. You may require a lighter weight jacket if you're only a summer walker, while winter walkers should choose a heavier-duty jacket.

A few details that you might not have thought of when buying on a jacket include:
*How will it work while wearing gloves - for example can you pull the cuffs over gloves when it's raining?
* Will your rucksack fit comfortably over the top?
* Will the jacket stow away neatly if you're not wearing it?
* Does the hood offer good visibility yet still protect you from the wind and rain? A wired hood is a great bonus.
* Are pockets big enough to fit your Ordnance Survey map?

And colour is important. This is not about you favourite shade
of pink, but about safety while on mountain. Mountain Rescue team always talk about their preference for walkers to wear brightly coloured jackets. This is so they can more easily spot you if you require to be rescued. So go for bright orange, bright green, red rather than black, navy blue or dark green if possible.

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