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How to buy a Waterproof Breathable Jacket

If you haven’t already read our page on waterproof breathable jackets it provides a great amount of information that may help you decide what you are looking for. After that, this checklist can be tucked in your back pocket to help with any confusion while you are shopping.


Things to look for in a waterproof breathable jacket:


-Waterproofness: This might seem obvious, but make sure that it has a waterproof coating and a waterproof membrane.


-Pit zips: not necessary, but they sure can help make you more comfortable. Rain and moisture do not always mean cold, so adding ventilation to your jacket is a good thing, especially under the arms.


-Good wrist closures: check ‘em out. Make sure they stay fastened and will keep the water out.


-Pockets: if it’s raining, you probably want somewhere to store your iPod, cell phone, keys, headlamp, or any non-waterproof electronic.


-Hood: one that is big enough to go over a helmet and has an adjustable opening for when the torrential rains come. It’s nice to have a hood that can be stashed when you don’t want it. (Note to longhaired users: Velcro pieces used to tuck hoods away willdefinitely also tuck your hair away. Get one that zips).


-An adjustable waist: It’s probably wet out. Enough said.


-Fleece-lined collar: more comfortable, less chafing


-Extra room: if you think that you will ever want to wear layers underneath, try it on with them at the store. Wear a shirt with a fleece over it, and maybe even a micropuff, and see how it fits. You never want your mobility and comfort jeopardized.


Sport-specific waterproof breathable jackets

No, you do not need a different one for each sport. Yes, having a couple waterproof breathable jackets is nice if you plan to use it both for winter trail running and for mountaineering. Keep in mind that the more aerobic you plan to be, the more breathable you want the jacket to be. The wetter the weather you plan to encounter, the more waterproof you want the jacket to be. If you just don’t know, go with something in the middle.


Running and trail running


-Highly breathable

-Underarm zippers

- Pockets are less necessary


Cycling and mountain biking

A light rain can feel more like a downpour when you are riding through it at 30mph. Look for a jacket that is:

-A waterproof breathable membrane with a coating

-A hood that will fit over your helmet

- A lot of arm movement since you will be stretched forward.

-Longer in the back



-Excellent range of motion

-Pit zips (being sweaty and stuck on a wall is not fun)

-Either long enough to tuck into a harness or short enough to stay out of the way

-Minimal strings and do-dads hanging down

-Hood that fits over a climbing helmet



-Room to wear many layers underneath

-Fleece-lined hand pockets (for when it’s cold)

- A hood that stashes

-Many pockets for knickknacks

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