Jacket

A high-quality jacket is a must when heading into the bush or up a mountain.

Cheap jackets don’t breathe as you sweat – they trap the moisture you create and you’ll feel wet even though water’s not coming in. The waterproof layers in a cheap jacket can also deteriorate faster and the seam sealing may not stand up to rugged use.

Lots of layers

Good jackets are made up of two to three layers, depending on the durability of the garment. An outer membrane forms the waterproof layer; polyester or nylon fabrics are used for the bulk of the jacket; and there’s sometimes a “synthetic inner wicking layer” to help move moisture out of the fabric.

When it comes to a waterproof yet breathable membrane, Gore-Tex is the market leader. It guarantees to keep you dry. As Dave Stewart of Mountain Designs points out: "At this stage it's the only company giving a staunch backing beyond what a manufacturer offers in terms of product support."

Other jacket types

Not all jackets are designed to be waterproof. Light nylon parkas and most padded jackets are little use in wet weather.

  • Ski jackets will keep you warm and are designed to withstand a lot of abuse, but they’re not made for keeping the rain away for hours.
  • Down jackets are similar: while some might be wind resistant, their purpose is to keep you warm – not dry.

Both these types of jackets can also be bulky, making them a hassle to fit into a tramping pack.
 

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