In the UK, no matter the season, you are always guaranteed of some rain. Make sure you are well protected with this handy buying guide
Along with comfortable boots, keeping dry and comfortable in all weathers is a key part of enjoying your time in the outdoors. Having an outer layer that repels water, wind, sleet & snow is a must for heading into the hills.
What's the right hood?
It's amazing how many customers don't try the hood when buying. Let's face it, when it's pouring, windy and generally unpleasant you want a hood that fits well, maintains vision and keeps the rain out.
Look for a hood that adjusts, usually with drawcords & cord lock, both around the face & at the back for volume (called volume adjuster). This allows you to move your head and allow the hood to move with you.
A stiffened peak, sometimes wired, helps with windy conditions and can keep the rain from blowing its way in. Hoods can fold in the collar, roll up & secure, detach completely or stay fixed. It's also worth checking that you have enough room for either a warm hat or a helmet if you intend to use them.
Check that any drawcord adjustments are 'captured in', which means cord are not left loose when tightened. Otherwise, on a windy day, they can blow about and get very annoying. - And catch you in the eye!
Types of Zip (There's more than one)
A 'two-way' zip on the main front zipper allows you to unzip from the bottom for increased ventilation and access to pockets etc.
Many jackets feature water-repellent or splashguard zips that give good performance without the use of external storm flap covers & can save weight.
All designs are fully tested, so you can be sure that the type of zipper on your choice will give the best protection. Many jackets feature extra 'interactive zips' that allow zipping in of insulation layers, fleece jackets etc. Such as Triclimate Jackets from The North Face.
It's best to ask what's compatible when choosing and try the combinations on. Although there is some crossover between models, different brands can vary the zip style & length.
Pockets & Cuffs
You need to assess what your pocket requirements are. Lower 'handwarmer' pockets are great for comfort but accessing them when wearing a large rucksack waist belt or climbing harness could be difficult. That's why the pockets on some styles appear higher up than perhaps you would expect.
Lots of jackets feature a 'map pocket'. Large enough for a standard folded OS map, they are usually under the storm flap to give greater protection from the weather; also useful for wallets, keys, phones etc.
The exterior pockets on waterproof jackets are not usually guaranteed waterproof because it's difficult to keep the water out when you may be opening them up etc! Pocket linings do vary, from light breathable mesh to fully sealed fabric constructions. Internal pockets vary from a large bottle or goggle pockets for mountain use to zipped security pockets.
Designed to make small adjustments that can help to keep you comfortable. Cuffs are easily sealed from the weather by tightening or left more open to increase ventilation. Drawcords are usually made of elastic bungee cord that gives many years of use and 'gives' a little when wearing.
Depending on the jacket, adjustments can be found at the waist, bottom hem & hoods allowing for fit & ventilation adjustments when wearing