With summer just around the corner, there is no doubt many of you have some sort of trip planned. Whether it be camping, backpacking, or travelling; One thing that is always on the adventurer’s mind is what to pack for the trip. In this blog, we will be talking about outer layer jackets and which options will meet the requirements you need to be properly protected from the environment.
The outer layer is one of the most important pieces of gear you will wear during your time outside. This layer is responsible for giving you the best protection to weather and wind. There are two different styles of outer jackets I will focus on today, the first is waterproof shells, and second is windbreakers.
The biggest pro to a rain shell, is the fact that its entirely waterproof and windproof. These jackets are designed to protect you from rain without sacrificing too much of their breathability. However, a rain jacket comes with its own set of cons. First, the breathability will inevitably be lower than that of a windproof jacket. Second con is that they usually weigh more than wind jackets. Those cons are due to the nature of the waterproof membrane in the jacket protecting you.
Windbreakers are usually sought after for their light weight, and packable designs. These jackets are designed to be lighter in general than their waterproof cousin, in tern makes them more delicate usually. Even though these jackets aren’t waterproof, they often come with the same durable water-resistant coating that the rain shells have. This allows them to be useful in situations where short, light rain periods are present. This jacket could be used in a pinch to help protect you from rain, and due to the lack of a waterproof membrane they are generally more breathable than rain shells. These aspects make windbreakers some of the most versatile jackets when it comes to outer shells. They do however come with their own representative cons. First is the durability, making a jacket ultra lightweight often comes with a sacrifice in durability, but with proper care they will last a long time. Second con is the lack of waterproof membrane, not allowing these jackets to protect properly in a downpour.
All in all, a rain jacket will be better suited for the person going backpacking or camping in general, they offer more protection and are a safer option for you to invest in when it comes to outdoor protection. They offer waterproof protection in cohesion with breathability, they are usually quite durable depending on the weight of face fabric and offer maybe less versatility than a windbreaker but with more fierce protection against environmental factors.
A wind breaker will be a great addition to your outerwear collection, with the ability to protect from wind, light rain, and being packed into such a light and small package. These jackets will be very useful for those running or cycling in windy conditions, or those that go for day hikes but don’t want to pack a lot. I would discourage someone bringing this as their only jacket on a camping or backpacking trip, due to the lack of waterproofing. But it could be a great addition if you have the space, allowing you to explore with minimal weight added to your person but with some extra protection. These jackets offer packability, wind/light rain protection, and more breathability than a waterproof jacket. These aspects make a windbreaker so versatile, essentially if it’s not raining heavily you will be able to wear this in pretty much any other condition or activity and find some pro to it’s use.
That’s a quick summary on the basic pros and cons of both waterproof and windproof jackets. Being that there are so many options for each. We highly recommend the guidance of outfitters to help you choose the piece of gear you need for your next adventure. Stay safe out there and lead your next adventure with confidence and a shield from mother nature.