How to Choose a Rain Jacket for Beginner Backpackers

Okie dokie! Drum roll please!

ASCEND has been approved by one of the top dog brand affiliation programs and I literally could not be more excited from a digital writers perspective!

Actual footage of Lee and I celebrating this approval

Being accepted by Avantlink is a big deal for ASCEND for two main reasons:

A.) No one really understands what I do for work.

And that's okay -- no one really understands anything about anyone, anyways. I wanted to do this because ultimately it is taking all of my years of learning and specializing and bringing them together in a realm where I have creative freedom.

So I suppose, this accomplishment for me is kind of some sort of affirmation of my own ability (haha, hello ego my old friend)...but I mean, come one! Approximately 70% of applications are denied to this affiliate program. So...yes. This is actually such a big accomplishment and my heart is definitely singing!

B.) This is the most important point of this affiliation.

As a writer, it is critical to have direction in content and brand affiliation.

And let me be clear -- it is one thing to partner with any old brand -- affiliations are abundant in this digital world. The difference with ASCEND becoming a recognized affiliate with Avantlink is that I personally respect the quality of work that these partners put out.

Okay -- with that little introduction out of the way, I'm just going to insert my first ever merchant codes -- the word ones aren't cute but they are brand approved. I'll sneak in different stuff occasionally and big time welcome you to take advantage / shop around with any of our partners.

These are the brands that I wish my closet was full of and I intend to one day have all of my outdoor equipment made by! Baby steps, friends!

Anyhow, today the focus is on some things that needs to be accomplished.

The “Packing and Planning Guide” for all of those who are already registered for the multi-day backpacking program. Anyone who was reading earlier in the year will remember that I used to only write about mountain equipment.

That is because each of these articles are designed to support anyone who is registered for an ASCEND Hiking or Cabin Retreat receives a six to eight page program guide.

These pdf packages include every detail, from travel information, program outline, packing and gear guides (with links to resources), as well an introduction to the facilitators that you are partnered with for your program and schedules.

So, without further adieu,

How to choose a rain jacket to go hiking:

We've put together a list of things to consider before you make your investment in a rain jacket. There are a few things to think about when buying a rain coat for trail hiking.

1. Water-repellent and Waterproof Only

Say it with me, “water-proof” and “water-repellent”.

Both of these descriptors will work for you, both of these descriptors will keep you dry.

Water-resistant is not what you want. Water-resistant means that it the material you are looking at is only resistant to water. This might work when you’re in the city and you can hop on a bus, into your car, go back home etc. But when you are out on a hiking trail, it is going to be very important that your gear is waterproof / water-repellent. We do not want water getting through to your under-layers.

2. Lightweight & Compact

I know, I know, I have said it about sleeping pads, sleeping bags, backpacking backpacks... but here we go,

I'm going to say it again:

Pack your bag as lightweight as possible when you go multi-day backpacking

You might be asking yourself, how heavy is a rain jacket anyways? Do I even need an ultra-lightweight rain jacket? And to be totally honest, the answer is no. I don't use an ultra-lightweight rain jacket.

The downside to non-light weight rain gear is that they are much bulkier. They take up more space.

What you need to know about lightweight equipment:

  • Advanced Technology Rain-gear You’re going to want to become familiar with Gore-Tex, or I guess I mean, you’re not going to have a choice but to get familiar with Gore-Tex if you’re planning on embracing the outdoors. Gore-Tex is ultra lightweight and their jackets will pack down into bags about the size of a coffee mug. Oh, and they are breathable. This is basically the best part. Gore-Tex essentially dominate their niche. There is also Neoshell by Polartek. Neoshell is a comparable alternative to Gore-Tex that definitely hits a lot of the same quality features in lightweight, breathable and compatible gear. One of our affiliates, Kühl, has also developed their own advanced rain repellent fabric. So far it is getting great reviews and we're keen to learn more about this fashion friendly alternative to Gore-tex and Neoshell.

  • Where can I buy Gore-Tex and Neoshell jackets? Gore-Tex partners with many major brands. North Face, Patagonia, REI. The big ones. You can pretty well head into any major outlet or shop online and you'll find something that is Gore-Tex. Neoshell, as I understand it, is exclusive to Polartek.

  • Why would anyone buy anything but Gore-Tex or Neoshell? It is more expensive to purchase these styles of rain equipment. There is typically a minimum of a $100.00 difference between a Gore-Tex product and a more traditional fabric weave.

3. Style of Neck and Hood

First things first, you gotta look good to feel good and you gotta feel good to look good.

Second, and arguably more important than the first point, you’re going to want to be comfortable and confident in your purchase.

Come to think of it, point one and two are basically the same.

Think about it… a rain jacket that has no hood is not inherently terrible, but if you don’t have some kind of system to deflect the rain from your neck, you’ll wind up with water funnelling straight down your collar into your clothing.

Pictured on the right here is a neck and hood design that I personally love.

A tight hood on a rain jacket is perfect on the trail because it controls the stream of water flow.

This might all seem like a lot to think about in preparation for hiking -- but I guarantee you. The first time you're two days out from a roof and it starts down pouring -- you are going to thank yourself for thinking about every little detail.

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Calgary, Alberta, Canada