Are there any things more painful than having your clothes wet? Growing up in Cornwall, UK, which has an average of 156 rainy days per year, and has a tendency to give you the four seasons all in one day, I’ve taken plenty of rainy dog walks or thru-hikes as well as bike rides. If I kept indoors every occasion that the weather was awful, then I’d never go out thus a waterproof jacket that is well-made has become one of my go-to items.

Not all waterproof jackets are created equally, and while an open-front poncho may be perfect for a rainy festival, it won’t much assist in a mountain storm. Here’s what to think about.

What’s the main difference between waterproof and water-repellent?

If you’re looking to have solid protection against the elements, you should purchase a jacket that is waterproof not only water-resistant. The gear that is water-resistant will offer protection from light showers but let water in quickly.

A waterproof coat can stand against much more severe conditions, however, if you don’t purchase one that’s breathable, you’ll end up with moisture build-up on the inside of the jacket instead. When engaging in intense exercise will leave you damp and uncomfortable. A coat that has a waterproof membrane is a great way to make sure it’s comfortable and let the moisture out.

You’ve probably heard of Gore-Tex which is the most well-known waterproof membrane that is available. It operates by using small pores that are small enough to stop drops of rain from getting inside your jacket, but big enough to let sweat evaporate. Gore-Tex isn’t even the only waterproof membrane on the market and a variety of outdoor brands now offer their own version.

If your jacket isn’t as durable as it was in the past but the good news is that you don’t need to buy a new one. A water-repellent, durable coat (DWR) has been applied to the exterior of a water-resistant or waterproof jacket. In the event that your jacket is beginning to lose its impermeability, it’s quite simple to reapply the DWR yourself. If you want to determine if the jacket requires a DWR top-up, just splash it with water to see whether the water evaporates and falls off. If it does, then you’re in good shape. If it’s leaving dark, wet patches of fabric instead, it’s the right time to buy a DWR replenishment product and then recoat your coat.

How can I tell what degree of protection a water-resistant jacket will provide me?

There’s a useful scale to use, and a lot of outlets will have the rating of waterproof on their jackets. 5 millimeters is the minimum amount of waterproofing required for a jacket for it to count as water-proof, not just water-resistant, however, this won’t hold against other than light drizzle and drizzle. 10,000mm-15,000mm is sufficient for most downpours. The range of 20,000mm upwards is ideal for very intense conditions and heavy downpours, but the jackets tend to be much heavier.

What kind of fit should I opt for?

As you’re likely to be moving around in only a bikini and a waterproof jacket, choose a coat that has enough space to layer. For hiking in three seasons, a waterproof jacket that lets you wear a base coat and a down jacket underneath should be adequate, but in winter mountaineering, it’s best to have something larger to allow you to layer up.

What other features are useful?

You should look for jackets with taped seams. A jacket with seams like that is Arcteryx Alpha SV. It will keep you dry. This indicates that the seams inside have been sealed to stop rain from entering through the tiny gaps. Storm flaps are a great extra: outer flaps to cover zips in jackets which is another area that’s porous where rain can enter. Personally, for the majority of adventures, I like wearing a raincoat with an elevated hood. It keeps the rain from your eyes. Jackets with a drawstring hood let the rain run down your face.