Our top tips for buying plus links to individual tests
Posted: 4 September 2000
You want to keep weight and bulk to a minimum but still stay dry?
Here's our no frills guide to choosing a lightweight jacket, the sort
of thing you can just sling on your pack for summer and not notice
till it's needed, or wear all year round for fast-moving stuff like
biking or running. For links to the individual tests, as they're uploaded, scroll to the
bottom of the page.
Fit What are you using it for? A
short jacket's good for biking, but not so hot for walking
in the rain, a long jacket might restrict you when biking or
running. Bear in mind that different brands fit different
shapes and find one that suits your body shape. Try before
Hood Look for decent protection
and easy adjustment. If you're buying mainly for summer use,
you probably don't need a heavy duty wired behemoth, but if
biking, you may want a detachable or foldaway hood or none
at all. Will it fit over a helmet? Does it need to.
Finally, watch out for unsecured cords which will lash your
face painfully in wind.
Fabric PacLite is very
good, but very expensive and in any case, any serious
exertion will still have you overheating. If you're running
or biking, consider a more breathable but water-resistant
fabric instead. Watch out for fabric linings which reach
down the arms and wick water up inside the sleeve. None of
the fabrics used in lightweight kit will be as tough and
durable as more heavy materials. Bear this in
Venting At least as important as
fabric choice, a well-vented jacket will make a big
difference to your comfort. Even loosening cuffs and undoing
the main zip will help a little, but body or armpit vents
are even more effective. Think about air flow and letting
the air in and out. Finally, make sure vents which are
normally fastened by Velcro can be secured open, or they
will tend to close up in use. Some top of the range jackets
now use water-resistant or water-proof zips.
Zips To save weight, many
lightweight jackets have a single flap over the main zip.
This is adequate, but in really severe rainfall, it's a weak
point, though not the end of the world. It's nice to have a
'beard guard' at the top end of the zip to protect delicate
Packing Some jackets come with
mesh bags and some fold into their own pockets which is
neat, but not essential. If space is important, stow it down
before buying. A good un'll fit into a pint pot,
Hems Hems and, on longer jackets,
waist lines, should feature an adjustable drawcord with the
cords either concealed so they don't flap about or at the
sides. Anything flapping loose in the centre of the jacket
is potentially dangerous if used with an abseil or belay
device. The best jackets channel the cords in a seperate
channel to avoid wear on the material of the jacket
Cuffs Should be adjustable for
tightness and preferably be wide enough for ventilation up
the sleeve. If you habitually roll sleeves up, make sure
there's enough volume to allow that. Watch out for linings
or scrim which may wick water up the sleeve in wet
conditions. I prefer Velcro for ease of adjustment - press
studs can be fiddle and even freeze up.
Verdict You can spend almost 300 quid on a top of the range
lightweight jacket, but if you're after something for occasional
use, that doesn't necessarily make sense. There are plenty of budget
to mid-range tops that'll still do a pretty good job. Finally, bear
in mind that if there's one thing none of these jackets will like
it's being dragged over abrasive rock, so no thrutching up chimneys
d'ya hear. Similarly the lack of reinforcement on shoulders and elbows
means that ultimately heavy rucksack use will probably wear more
heavily on a lightweight than with a tougher piece of kit.
Discuss this story
I am going to Peru am a senior citizen and want to travel very light. I am then spending three weeks on a container ship at sea. I need a waterproof and windproof jacket which packs small and includes a hood. It needs an inside pocket as well as an outside one but doesnt need a warm lining. Its warm in Peru and if its wet at sea I will stay inside as much as possible. Any colour except black.
Can you advise please
Posted: 24/03/2007 at 12:48
Have look at the Marmot PreCip.
I've had one for 3 yrs now and it's a good bit of kit. Not sure if it has an inside pocket though.
They're on offer at GoOutdoors at the moment for £39.http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/pp/Mens/Jackets/Marmot_Precip_Jacket.html
I find it very wind and waterproof with excellent breathability. It also has pit zips so you can ventilate it. The sizes are quite large as it's from the US.
Posted: 26/03/2007 at 17:20