This year’s raincoats run the gamut from the ultra-packable, so you never need leave home without it, to the ultra-durable, so you know it can handle nature’s worst. Here’s how to choose a jacket that best suits your needs, plus a selection of the year’s best.
Water-resistant or protected by at least one external or internal storm flap. Zip sliders tuck into a ‘garage’ to prevent rain entering through the top of the zip.
Sleeves should hang at least to the heel of your hand. The cuff will be tightened with Velcro strips to prevent water running up the sleeve when arms are raised. A tightened cuff also helps trap warmth inside the jacket. Ensure the cuff covers your baselayers to prevent rainwater wicking upward.
While all rainwear is ‘breathable’ and will transfer perspiration through the fabric, other ventilation options are used to help keep users cool. The most obvious is the front zipper, but there are also pit-zips, side vents and mesh-lined pockets which can all be opened to help dump heat.
Expect multiple exterior and interior pockets. The ‘handwarmer’ pockets, used to shelter the hands from the wind and rain should be ‘pack-friendly’ and positioned so they can be accessed while wearing a pack or harness. They are usually quite large and at least one pocket should be able to hold a map. A chest pocket with a vertical opening can also provide unhindered access to map and compass.
Many hoods are large enough to accommodate a helmet, which is why they also come with volume adjusting drawcords or Velcro tabs. Ensure the stiffened brim does not limit visibility and once tightened, the hood moves with your head.
New nanospinning manufacturing techiques have been developed to make jackets super-breathable. In these jackets, air can move more freely between layers, thus wicking moisture at a quicker rate.
Three- or 2.5-layer
Three-layer jackets have a waterproof membrane sandwiched between a durable face fabric and a lining. They tend to be the more expensive jackets and can be heavy and bulky, but are hard-wearing and will handle the harshest conditions. Jackets with 2.5-layers include a face fabric and waterproof membrane with a protective sheen or print overlay. These jackets are less expensive and more packable than three-layer jackets, but are not as breathable or as durable.
Below-the-waist designs are heavier and take up more room in your pack,
but they provide better protection and a ‘tail’ to sit on. To-the-waist jackets are lighter and often have stretch panels in key areas to prevent the hem lifting. They take up less pack space because they can often be stuffed into their own pocket.
Rab Kangri GTX Jacket $699.95
Three-layer 70D Gore-Tex fabric, articulated sleeves, two-way YKK Aquaguard pit-zips, one-hand hem and hood adjustment, fully adjustable hood with wired and laminated peak, fleece-lined chin guard and collar, hand pockets, internal zipped pocket, longer back length hem. 525g (m), 555g (w). www.outfitters.net.nz
Outdoor Research Microgravity AscentShell $499.99
Three-layer air-permeable AscentShell fabric, underarm stretch panels, fully seam-taped, helmet-compatible hood with hood lock, YKK AquaGuard zippers, internal storm flap, two zip chest and hand pockets, stuffs into pocket, elastic drawcord hem.414g (m), 338g (w). www.bivouac.co.nz
Earth Sea Sky Hydrophobia $549
A full-length jacket with three-layer Entrant fabric, fully seam-sealed, waist drawcord, watertight double storm flap zip with domes, double-ended front zip, underarm gusset, adjustable hood with wire-stiffened visor, external map pocket, top and side entry hand pockets, made in New Zealand. 750g (m); 630g (w). www.earthseasky.co.nz
Macpac Lightweight Prophet Pertex Rain Jacket $649.99
Alpine Pertex Shield Pro waterproof shell, three-layer construction, microporous PU membrane, fully seam-sealed, DWR finish, helmet-compatible adjustable hood, high collar, internal and external chest pockets, harness compatible hand pockets, underarm lift patterning, water-resistant zips, slim fit. 480g (m), 440g (w). www.macpac.co.nz
Cactus Outdoor Mountain Jacket $599
Cactus WTF-3 320D nylon shell, seam-sealed, two external zip access chest pockets, foldaway hood domes into fleece-lined collar, Velcro hood adjustment, drawcord hem, YKK zips, made in NZ. 980g. www.cactusoutdoor.co.nz
Macpac Traverse Pertex Rain Jacket $529.99
Three-layer Pertex Shield Pro fabric, PU membrane, fully seam-sealed, DWR finish, reinforced shoulders and cuffs, adjustable hood zips into collar, water-resistant YKK AquaGuard pocket zips, regular fit. 340g (m), 300g (w). www.macpac.co.nz
The North Face Dryzzle FutureLight $400
Seam-sealed, air-permeable FutureLight fabric, three-layer shell with recycled stretch-woven face, stretch-knit backer, fully adjustable hood, laminated stormflap with snap closure, chest pocket, secure-zip hand pockets, Velcro cuff tabs, hem drawcord, slight drop-tail hem, standard fit. 340g (m), 300g (w) www.thenorthface.co.nz
Rab Arc Jacket $399.95
Stretch waterproof, Pertex Shield+ three-layer fabric, helmet-compatible hood with wired brim, pack-friendly chest pockets, YKK AquaGuard front zip with dual internal storm flap, anti-snag hook and loop adjustable cuffs, hem drawcord with cord retainers. 414g (m), 368g (w). www.outfitters.net.nz
The North Face Venture 2 $240
Seam-sealed DryVent 2.5-layer shell, fully adjustable hood, stormflap with Velcro closure, secure-zip hand pockets, pit-zip venting, Velcro cuff tabs, hem cinch-cord, packs into pocket. 330g (m), 300g (w). www.thenorthface.co.nz
Rab Downpour Jacket $239.95
Pertex Shield+ 2.5-layer fabric with Dry Touch, pit-zips, adjustable hood and cuffs, YKK front zip with external and internal storm flaps, zippered pockets with storm flaps, hem drawcord, packs into pocket. 320g (m), 281g (w). www.outfitters.net.nz
Marmot Wmn's Essence $399.95
Women's jacket with 20D NanoPro MemBrain stretch fabric, fully seam taped, helmet-compatible hood with moldable brim, chest pockets with water-resistant zips, integrated cooling vents, asymmetric cuffs, 360-degree reflectivity, drawcord hem, Angel-Wing Movement. 142g. www.marmotnz.co.nz
Macpac Dispatch Reflex Rain Jacket $249.99
Relaxed fit, 2.5-layer waterproof shell, hydrophilic membrane, fully seam-sealed, adjustable hood, soft chin lining, internal storm flap, water-resistant main zip, adjustable cuffs and hem. 340g (m), 330g (w). www.macpac.co.nz
Marmot Precip ECO $199.95
PFC-free Marmot NanoPro recycled nylon fabric with patented dry-touch finish, DriClime-lined chin guard, fully seam taped, attached adjustable roll-away hood, pit-zips, pack-friendly pockets, adjustable Velcro cuffs, drawcord hem, Angel-Wing Movement, stuffs into own pocket. 286g (m), 246g (w). www.marmotnz.co.nz