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There is nothing worse than being unprepared for a particular trip, whether this is into the wilderness or to a festival. The following guide is a quick reference for you to see the array of jackets available and to make sure you have the most suitable outer garment.

Type of Outer Layer

Light weight walking

Ideal for the weight conscious hiker/traveler/runner. They are really used for short trips where prolonged exposure to the elements will not be an issue. They will usually be breathable and have some of the accessories of the heavier weight jackets.

Medium weight walking

Offering more functionality than than the light weight versions, the medium weight walking jacket will be made of tougher and more durable fabric.

Heavy weight mountaineering/winter sports

These coats are the most heavy duty and are highly specialised to the task they are undertaking.


Suited best for the person who is not overly bothered about buying an expensive walking jacket. Cagoules are usually not breathable and are very basic but they fold into very small bags and are effective at stopping you from getting wet in the short term.

Waterproof rain poncho

Essentially a sheet of plastic with a hole in the middle fashioned into a hood. These are not suitable for hiking but are ideal for festivals and travelers especially when combined with a Cagoule. Good in any situation where you need to remain dry in a downpour, don’t want to take your nice walking jacket and don’t have a lot of space.


You will have some requirements that you need your jacket to fulfill, like having hidden pockets or having an extended length to enable you to sit down. There are a number of things that I always look for before buying a jacket, like having a clip for my keys within my pocket. I will attempt to list all of the best accessories so that you will know what is available before starting your search.

Underarm Vents or ‘Pit Zips’

If you are starting to overheat opening these vents will allow you to cool down.

Rescue Reflectors

Used on the high usage areas of your jacket such as the area which you may sit on, elbows etc.

Stash Pockets

Handy to have on the inside of your coat for valuables.

Taped seems

Helps to keep the water out and your jacket dry.

Roll up hood with drawstring

Will mean that your hood will be out of the way and will fit your face well.

Velcro adjustable cuffs

If you like wearing gloves or are a bit chilly. These will allow you to adjust the cuff size to accommodate different needs.

Length of coat

Some people like short coats, others long, it really depends on your preference and whichever suits the task at hand.

Breathable fabrics

Most good jackets will have breathable fabrics, though the quality of these will differ a lot. The benefits of this type of fabric are that it will allow perspiration out whilst keeping body heat in and the elements on the outside.

Fleece liners

Some coats will have zips on the inside to allow you to incorporate a fleece.

Anti-rip fabrics

If you have a small tear appear in your jacket this will mean that you can mend it before it gets to bad.