As waterproof jackets go there is an amazing amount of variety between types, styles, fits, brands and materials. So how do you choose? Not all waterproof jackets are born equal and it isn’t a case of one size fits all, the jacket you choose for skyrunning in Scotland is likely to be different to the one you choose for rock climbing in the Alps. However, I thought I would outline the process of how I chose my favourite ‘go to’ jacket.
I learnt the hard way that the jacket you carry or wear will impact the safety, enjoyment and results of your training and racing. A waterproof jacket is your first layer of defence against the elements and therefore requires some investment, both time and money! My main selection criteria are as follows.
I think I have found the perfect jacket to satisfy all the above criteria and after testing it for two years, feel I am finally ready to tell you all about it.
When it comes to how waterproof a jacket is, you can’t get much better than Goretex. They meticulously test their materials to way above and beyond others. To be classed as ‘waterproof material’ the industry standard dictates you have to be rated to 1,500mm of water resistance. Gore define their own standard for Goretext as 28,000mm of water resistance. The new Gore ‘shakedry’ Goretex material is no different and will most certainly keep you dry whilst also having a high level of breathability.
As to how fast the ‘shakedry’ material drys…this is possibly its greatest attribute. Unlike other goretex jackets the ‘shakedry’ material has the goretex membrane on the outside which is laminated. This means no water soaks into the face fabric…because there isn’t one. So no need to re-waterproof your jacket after a few weeks of use, the water will bead off like the jacket was new, indefinitely. As the name implies shaking it will remove the majority of the water, a further few minutes hung up will dry off any residue.
Having one less layer of fabric and the laminated goretex membrane on the outside has another desirable outcome in the form of increased breathability. Two layers of fabric instead of three results in increased passage of moisture out of the jacket.
Something I love about the gore ‘shakedry’ jacket is the simplicity and fit. Sporting no bells or whistles the jacket simply fits well providing you with maximum protection whilst still allowing freedom of movement. There are no fancy straps to customise the fit because these aren’t necessary. The small jacket allows me enough room for a lightly packed hydration vest underneath. If I use a thick down jacket or my hydration vest is fully equipped (with two flasks) I use a medium. Having a nicely fitting jacket which can also accommodate having a hydration vest underneath is a rarity and keeps me light and hydrated on the move.
This simple design and lightweight materials result in a jacket that weighs surprisingly little, just 160g. Which is the equivalent of four clif shot gels or two heavier liquid gels, pretty acceptable considering the protection you are packing. There have been times when I don’t bother throwing a jacket in my bag ‘just in case’ whereas with the ‘shakedry’ jacket it’s always a no brainier to take it, because its lightweight and compact.
Even being this lightweight once on the jacket has a solid feel of a far heavier article. Once donned you certainly feel cocooned from the elements and protected from the heaviest rain, snow and strongest of winds.
The only adventures I refrain from taking this jacket on is when rock climbing. If I am going to be coming into continues contact with rock, having a more durable face fabric will increase the lifespan of the jacket. Apart from this, it is perfect for all adventures from the wettest training runs to that jacket you stuff in your sack ‘just in case’.
I am hoping my continual pestering is going to speed Gore up in the release of waterproof trousers made of the same material…but until then we will have to make do with the best waterproof jacket I have ever used.
As a note Gore do sponsor me. I spent years flitting backwards and forwards between different clothing sponsors but never found one that was truly great and worth spouting about. All the clothing I use from Gore is simple, well made and performs its function flawlessly. This jacket is my favourite article they make and is the one that has given me the most advantage over my competitors and increased my safety when out training or racing.