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Rainwear

No matter the season, we in the soggy Pacific Northwest know that a durable, waterproof rain jacket
can make a world of difference on any adventure. But figuring out the different types of jackets and
technical jargon can make the process of buying a new jacket a little overwhelming, so we’ve made this
guide to help you on your way.

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Fashionable rain jackets against bad weather

Not too long ago, rain jackets were usually bright yellow, bulky, and smelled of rubber. The only advantage was to be completely waterproof. A lot has happened since then. Nowadays, water-repellent or waterproof jackets for outdoor use are made from newly developed high-tech materials, are extremely comfortable to wear and also look good. The market for so-called functional clothing is huge and this small buying guide is intended to help you find the right rain jacket for your individual needs.

Suitable for everyday use or sporty ambition?

First of all, the question arises on which occasions a rain jacket should be used. Do I need a jacket for a quick lap with the dog in dog weather or for a short walk to the bakery? Do I want to do gardening in the rain or a hike that even requires rain boots? Or do I need secure rain protection for outdoor activities of a sporting nature, such as Mountaineering, trekking, cross-country skiing or cycling? Rain jackets with the corresponding functional and quality features are offered for each of these areas. Here the choice of the right material is crucial.

Softshell or hardshell?

Both soft and hard shell are a further development of the well-known Gore-Tex. A brief product brief: In 1969, chemist Robert W. Gore developed a new processing method for polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) in the USA. A mechanical stretching of the PTFE made it possible to produce a microporous membrane, the special feature of which was the water vapor permeability. After being used in areas of industry and medicine, the Gore-Tex named after its inventor soon became an innovative material for the production of functional clothing. A drop of water (raindrop) is approx. 20,000 times larger than a pore in a Gore-Tex Membrane. Gore-Tex is therefore waterproof, but thanks to its water vapor permeability, sweat can be transported away, which can diffuse through the fabric to the outside. In 1976 the waterproof and windproof Gore-Tex clothing was launched, the special properties of which shaped the concept of breathability. Since around the turn of the millennium, functional clothing has been offered in a Gore-Tex material that has been further developed and improved in terms of breathability. Here you can roughly differentiate between so-called hard and soft shells.

 

What are the advantages of a softshell rain jacket?

As a rule, a softshell jacket consists of two to three laminated layers – the robust and water-repellent outer layer and an insulating inner lining. Softshell jackets are a combination of fleece and rain jackets. They are very light and, depending on the material used, can be air-permeable and heat-insulating, but also windproof and robust. Since they are water-repellent but not completely waterproof, they are more suitable for light rain. Her preferred field of application is activities with moderate temperatures and light precipitation. Due to the high wearing comfort and the low weight, they are preferred by outdoor athletes in particular, but are also very suitable for normal everyday use in autumn or April weather.

When should it be a hardshell rain jacket?

Hardshell jackets are characterized by very high weather resistance. They are absolutely waterproof, but remain breathable due to the materials used and thus ensure a good body climate. They usually consist of two to three laminated layers. The outer layer usually consists of robust polyamide or polyester, which is applied to an inner layer of nylon or polyester. Simple rain jackets have a sealed outer layer – which is waterproof, but not as resilient as an outer layer laminated with a membrane. This is very resistant and is suitable e.g. when carrying heavy backpacks. As a rule, the seams of a hardshell rain jacket are taped and waterproof, and the zippers are also protected against water penetration. Hardshell jackets are suitable for all outdoor activities, even under tougher conditions. You can also recognize them by the typical rustling caused by the material.

Water column and breathability

Values ​​for water column and breathability are also important purchase criteria for rain jackets. The water column is a measurement variable for determining the watertightness, especially with coated materials. It determines the pressure at which the first drops enter the tissue. According to DIN (German Institute for Standardization), a substance is waterproof from a water column of 1300 millimeters. However, since the wearer of a waterproof rain jacket usually also sweats, especially during sporty outdoor activities, high breathability is often an advantage. Breathable means the ability to let water vapor escape. It is measured in grams (g) per square meter (m²) over 24 hours.

Rain jackets – The most important purchase criteria in brief:

– Usage
– Climatic conditions
– Personal and fashionable preferences
– Used material
– water column
– breathability
– build quality

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