The function of a rain jacket is very simple: it is intended to protect the body from precipitation. But does 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 in light rain you are protected from moisture for a short time – or at least longer than with a normal jacket. However, if you get caught in a heavy shower, you’ll get wet after just a few minutes. So that not a single drop of water can penetrate through the rainwear, it must be labeled as “waterproof”. And that’s not the only criterion you should pay attention to when buying a new rain jacket.

HardshellThe term “hardshell jacket” (for example from Mammut) comes from the outdoor sector 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 can penetrate from the inside to the outside – i.e. body sweat in the form of water vapor. 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 model made of rubber and you quickly start to sweat. Synthetic materials that are more breathable are better suited here: such as nylon or PVC.

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 comes at a price. But you get an extremely durable and high-quality product that keeps your body dry for a long time, even in extreme rainfall. The Berghaus company, for example, offers fashionable and high-quality, although not entirely inexpensive, rain jackets with Gore-Tex technology for men and women.

Water columnAnother criterion that you should not ignore when buying a new rain jacket is waterproofness – a criterion that is not only recognized as a water column for clothing. It provides information about how much pressure (for example from strong wind or a backpack) a rain jacket can withstand without moisture being able to penetrate the fabric. The rule applies here: 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 onwards, the rain jacket (for example from Schöffel) is suitable for long hikes. From 20,000 millimeters you will always stay dry, even on demanding mountain tours with heavy luggage.

When buying new rain gear, not only price and quality play an important role, but also personal taste. But regardless of whether you choose a classic model in yellow or one with polka dots, whether you prefer a fitted rain jacket or a wide-cut model – the following criteria should be taken into account in your decision:

1. Make sure the rain jacket has a hood (like Icepeak) that you can adjust to your head. In other words: It should be adjustable so that you stay dry on your head in all wind and weather.

2. If you are looking for a rain jacket for outdoor sporting activities (such as walking, trekking, climbing) and therefore sweat more quickly under your arms, you should make sure that there is appropriate underarm ventilation.

3. A chin guard is also useful when exposed to wind and rain. Its primary purpose is to cover the closed end of the zipper to protect you from cold and wet conditions.

4. Depending on whether you need the rain gear for everyday use 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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