The function of a rain jacket is very simple: it should protect the body from precipitation. But will it do that even if the label says "waterproof" or "water-repellent"? The answer is: no. In fact, it only keeps the clothing underneath 100 percent dry if the material is waterproof. The other terms basically just mean that you are protected from the moisture in light rain for a short time – or at least longer than with a normal jacket. However, if you get caught in a heavy shower, you will be wet after just a few minutes. So that not a single drop of water can penetrate through the rainwear, it must be marked as "waterproof". And that's not the only criterion you should pay attention to when buying a new rain jacket.
HardshellThe term "hardshell jacket" (e.g. from The North Face) comes from the outdoor area and stands for a rain jacket that is not only waterproof, but also windproof and breathable. In other words, moisture cannot penetrate the material from the outside, but it can penetrate from the inside to the outside - namely body sweat in the form of water vapour. This is made possible by a special membrane, which is not included in every rain jacket. You will notice this at the latest when you wear a rubber model in which you quickly start to sweat. Synthetic materials that are more breathable are more suitable here: nylon or PVC, for example.
Gore-TexThis is a registered trademark that stands for microporous membranes. In plain language this means: If rainwear is equipped with the so-called Gore-Tex technology, it is windproof and waterproof - but also breathable by allowing water vapor to pass through. So an ideal combination for rain jackets, but it has its price. But you get an extremely durable and high-quality product that keeps your body dry for a long time, even in extreme rain. The Berghaus company, for example, offers fashionable and high-quality, but not exactly cheap rain jackets with Gore-Tex technology for men and women.
Water columnAnother criterion that you shouldn't ignore when buying a new rain jacket is the water resistance - a criterion that is not only recognized as a water column for clothing. It provides information about how much pressure (e.g. from strong wind or a backpack) a rain jacket can withstand without moisture being able to penetrate the fabric. The rule here is: the higher the value, the better the water resistance. According to DIN standard 343, rainwear should have a water column of at least 1,300 millimeters to be waterproof. From 10,000 millimeters, the rain jacket (e.g. from Schöffel) is suitable for long hikes. From 20,000 millimeters you always stay dry, even on demanding mountain tours with heavy luggage.
When buying new rainwear, not only price and quality play an important role, but also personal taste. Regardless of whether you choose a classic model in yellow or one with dots, prefer a fitted rain jacket or a wide-cut model - the following criteria should be included in your decision:
1. Make sure the rain jacket has a hood (like Icepeak's) that you can adjust to fit your head. In other words, it should be adjustable so that your head stays dry in all wind and weather.
2. If you are looking for a rain jacket for outdoor sports activities (such as walking, trekking, climbing) and therefore sweat more quickly under your arms, you should pay attention to appropriate underarm ventilation.
3. A chin guard (like Killtec's) is also useful when you're exposed to wind and rain. Its primary purpose is to cover the closed end of the zip to protect you from the cold and wet.
4. Depending on whether you need the rainwear in everyday life or for outdoor activities, you should pay attention to the number of pockets. They offer more storage space, but are also - depending on the brand - not always waterproof.
5. Last but not least, attention should also be paid to the zippers. There are water-repellent and waterproof models - this always depends on the quality and price of the jacket.
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