Red Ledge: How to Pick the Best Rain Jacket for Hiking
by Christopher Pete
In hiking conditions with changeable weather, it is easier than ever to pack light weight rain gear. The best rain jacket for hiking depends on your needs, but new fabrics and features will allow you to choose several features and still bring home a high quality, affordable jacket that is likely to last a lifetime.
During summer months, a light jacket is plenty for most climates and terrain. But department store windbreakers don’t always provide enough waterproofing for downpours. We recommend going for a hooded rain jacket with pockets that packs into its own bag.
The Thunderlight jacket, for example, includes breathable but waterproof fabric and taped inseams for extra waterproofing. This nylon jacket is also a windbreaker and comes in eight sizes plus an amazing array of colors. It’s possible to get a more affordable rain jacket for summer, and recommend choosing one just for this season because you can get away with a lightweight, affordable model that’s easy to toss into your day pack.
If you live in a temperate climate, you can usually get away with using your summer rain jacket in spring and autumn, but for most of us a sturdier jacket is necessary in cooler months. Since three rain jackets seems a bit obsessive (not to mention expensive), we recommend one lightweight (summer) and one shell that can use moderate to thick insulation.
In some areas, spring and fall bring rapid temperature changes, and removable insulation is the way to go. This is also a great option if you do more than hiking, and are using the jacket for mountain biking, road biking or motorcycling.
With the right jacket, you can even find multiple insulation layers – thus using one jacket for summer (no insulation), cooler temps (light insulation) and even winter (thinsulate or other high-tech insulating material).