Look for waterproof fabric – ‘water resistant’ will only protect against light rain. Choose a 3-layer fabric: these are the most effective, breathable and durable. The compromise is weight (3-layer fabrics are often heavier than 2.5-layer types) and price – they are more expensive, but worth the investment.
As well as being waterproof your jacket must also be breathable otherwise you will get wet from the condensation caused by your own body heat. If you know you’re prone to overheating, look for venting in the form of pit zips (underarm zippable vents).
You need a well-fitting winter waterproof, but it should be large enough to go over other layers. Look for men’s and women’s specific fits. Try them on and go with what’s right for you. All jackets in this test are available in both men’s and women’s specific fits.
Cuffs are a key area where water can get in. Cuffs should fit well and have adjustable tabs, so they can secure over gloves. Try the jacket on and lift your arms above your head to make sure the cuffs don’t ride up too much. Hiking in the Alps (Dreamstime)
Look for longer jackets or those with a scooped hemline (rather than a short fit) to offer added protection for your waist and bottom. An adjustable hem is vital to help stop water getting in.
Winter waterproofs are usually heavier than other waterproofs, but developments in fabric and technology are making them lighter all the time. Lighter options are often more expensive. However, losing grams usually means losing features.
Pockets are usually rain sealed rather than mesh lined (the former stops rain getting inside the jacket if you leave the pocket open; the latter makes the pockets double as vents).Remember. anything you put inside an external pocket can get wet.
All zips leak. A water-resistant (coated) zip helps, as do external storm flaps (strips of fabric that cover the zips). Some jackets offer double storm flaps (though these add weight) and/ or internal storm flaps for extra protection.
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