There are so many outdoor jackets out there, but not every model is perfect for every kind of activity. Of course, there are some that are suitable for multiple activities, but some are clearly better than others. In the following, we’d like to provide you with a bit more detailed information on what to look out for when choosing a jacket for your activity of choice.
We love helping our customers decide what to buy, and jackets just happen to be one of those categories where we can really knock ourselves out! For there are jackets not only for mountaineering and hillwalking but also cycling and trail running!
Mountaineering – a tough jacket for demanding adventures
Mountaineering can get quite rough sometimes, so contact between the rock and the jacket is inevitable. Plus, more often than not, you’ll be carrying a (heavy) rucksack of some sort, regardless whether you’re on the approach or on the climbing route itself. That’s why it’s important for jackets that are primarily used for alpine and rock climbing to be one thing and one thing only: tough. Tough because you’ll always have to battle with relatively unpleasant weather conditions at high altitudes and on the edges of cliffs. Even if the weather is beautiful on the ground below, the temperature will decrease the higher up the mountain you go. Don’t even get me started on the cold winds. This is why hard and softshell jackets have become the go-to jackets for mountaineers.
However, it’s incredibly important for these jackets to fit well and allow you enough range of motion for demanding mountaineering activities. If the jacket in any way ends up restricting your freedom of movement, you can basically forget the rest of the day. What’s more, you should always make sure that the jacket is long enough. This is the only way you can guarantee that it will fit well underneath a climbing harness and won’t ride up over the harness. Another thing to watch out for is the position of the pockets.. They should be situated a bit higher so that they’re still accessible when you’re wearing a harness.
If the jacket comes with a hood, it should be helmet-compatible, because then and only then can the hood be worn over the climbing helmet without any restrictions.
Hillwalking – a flexible jacket for unsettled weather
Being in the great outdoors also means having to deal with unpredictable weather conditions. Thus, you need a jacket that will provide good weather protection. Whether it’s stronger winds at the summit or a heavy rainstorm that takes you by surprise along the way, you need to be prepared. A technical waterproof jacket or a good softshell is the way to go. Good breathability is also an important factor. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t make any difference if you get wet from rain or your own sweat, right? Dreadful! Lastly, always keep in mind that you may very well be carrying a heavy pack, so your jacket has to be made to withstand all of that extra weight and friction and thus reinforced at the shoulders.
An easily-adjustable hood is a no-brainer. Nothing is more annoying than when wind and rain whip at you from the front and your hood flies backwards. So, before you commit to buying a jacket, it is important to make sure that the hood can be adjusted so that it’s nice and secure. This may go without mentioning, but I’m going to mention it anyway: Don’t forget to take your own body type, head shape and general preferences into consideration as well! It’s also advisable to pick a jacket that is big enough to be worn comfortably with a warm layer of clothing underneath.
Cycling – a functional jacket for high speeds
Whether you’re on a road or mountain biking, I dare say winds can be a cyclist’s nightmare. They slow down our progress and just make life more difficult in general greater. Jackets that flap around or fill up with air are complete rubbish, so it’s particularly important that a cycling jacket fits well and relatively close-fitting. This is the only way you can avoid puffing up like a drogue parachute at higher speeds. As compared with other models, the overall cut of cycling jackets is often a little different. They often feature an extended back, which serves to provide your lower back with sufficient protection, particularly when bending forward.
Cycling jackets often come with a pocket on the back as well. This is particularly convenient not only because you can store all kinds of bits and bobs such as a sewing kit, power bar and replacement tubes, but also because they’re always within your reach. For all you night crawlers out there, the jacket should be as light as possible and equipped with reflective elements.
Trail running – a lightweight jacket for speed
Trail running is a demanding endurance sport. Mountains are climbed and rough stretches conquered in no time at all. When looking for the perfect jacket, you can’t ignore breathability. Excellent moisture management has got to be top priority. The jacket doesn’t just have to fit well – it has to fit as snugly as possible. Only then can water vapour escape with the least possible resistance.
Particularly on long runs, every gram counts. If you plan on carrying the jacket in your trail running backpack, it should be as lightweight as possible and have the smallest possible pack size. A jacket for trail running also has to provide a certain level of weather protection, that is, it should be waterproof and windproof at least to some extent, depending upon where and when you plan on wearing it. Some jackets are equipped with a hood, which is great in heavy rain and strong winds, but it also means some extra weight.
What else is there to say?
Outdoor jackets come in all sorts of variations. The question of which jacket is best for a certain activity depends not only on their features but also on your personal preferences. The hardcore mountaineer might rest at the summit in a thin windbreaker, whilst others may prefer a softshell. It’s all subjective. A jacket that irritates you for one reason or another should never be the jacket you end up buying, regardless of how great it’s supposed to be. There are indeed jackets that are better suited for particular activities, but at the end of the day, it comes down to what you want and what works for you.
If you have any further questions, our customer service team are happy to help. Hannes is our expert in outdoor jackets. You can contact him during the week on +49 (0)7121/70 12 0 or by email.