A QUICK GUIDE to Walking Jackets for Every Season

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WHY INVEST in a Walking Jacket?

So, up until now, you may just have been a fair-weather walker, preferring to walk only when conditions were sunny & dry and had thought no further about walking in inclement conditions!

Walking outdoors in all seasons in Britain isn’t always an appealing prospect I agree, but there are ways to make it so and a good place to start is by owning the perfect jacket!

It must be said, however, that the perfect jacket can be as elusive as the perfect pair of shoes – one style will not, sadly, fit all occasions!

I can say with experience that if you only walk in fair weather then you are missing out on so much – new sights, smells, sounds, and creatures that prefer to come out when conditions are damp and cool. And then there’s the landscape, of course, sprinkled with snow or painted with frost, skeletal trees void of their leaves and skies dark with rain – these are experiences not to be missed for they are quite magical!

The Mid-Layer Walking Jacket

Experts say that in cooler or inclement weather we should layer our clothes like an onion!

So, before we get to the mid-layer let’s just talk about your base layer – the item of clothing that you wear next to your skin or underwear.

This is your MOISTURE MANAGEMENT  and for walking or hiking purposes we should avoid cotton as it does not manage moisture well! It actually ABSORBS your sweat and can make you feel cold & uncomfortable very quickly and takes ages to dry out.

Choose instead NATURAL FIBRES like wool (merino and bamboo are particular favourites of mine), or synthetics like polyester.

The MID-LAYER JACKET is your INSULATOR and will retain warmth by trapping your body heat in and the cold air out. It also manages the moisture from your base layer and therefore should be breathable.

Again, cotton will retain moisture so a fleece, natural fibres or synthetics such as a down jacket or synthetic insulated jacket. A zippered jacket is a great option as it allows ventilation adjustment whilst providing warmth. More than one insulating layer will give you increased flexibility, especially important if you feel the cold.

  • FLEECE – different thicknesses available depending on activity, hooded, pull-over or vest style, breathable and lightweight
  • DOWN INSULATED – look for packable, lightweight & good warmth to weight ratio, jacket or vest style
  • SYNTHETIC INSULATED – as above but these have the added benefit of retaining heat even when wet

(I love MONTANE Protium Fleece Hoodie but there are many other brands out there of course!)

Outer-Layer Walking Jacket

Your OUTER-LAYER walking jacket sometimes called a SHELL-LAYER, is your WEATHER PROTECTION – think wind & rain!

However, this is where there can be some confusion as, whilst we need protection from the elements, we also need to allow the moisture and heat from our bodies to escape, to breathe.

Hard-Shell and Soft-Shell

The outer layer that will give the most protection from adverse weather conditions is the WATERPROOF HARD-SHELL.

These could include taped seams & weatherproof zips, a Gore-tex or DWR coating (durable water repellent).

However, a hard shell is not always breathable so do check the product specifications.

A good tip is to consider these jackets a good double-up as a light outer layer in warmer conditions!

I love Montane Meteor and Mountain Equipment Zeno – but again there are many brands out there to choose from!

Softshell jackets offer protection from cooler weather too but are water-resistant – not fully waterproof! Generally, they are stretchy, flexible & extremely comfortable to wear, are more breathable than waterproof hard shells and are amazing in providing good wind resistance.

These can also work as a great mid-layer, with a waterproof hard shell on top.

Insulated Jacket

If it’s very cold, an insulated jacket, synthetic or down, is a great choice – BUT – do make sure you pack that waterproof hard-shell just in case the heavens open, as insulated jackets do not generally stand up well in such conditions. You will need to check the product specifications to clarify its waterproofness.

So – why are those layers important?

It’s all about staying warm, comfortable & dry.

Picture this…

You’ve decided to go for a #WALX on a bright autumn day wearing just a T-shirt beneath an insulated jacket – you believe you’ll be comfortable right? But, as you warm up (remember you’re walking with purpose and swinging your arms!) you are using more energy and your body temperature increases. Now you’re too warm – but you’re only wearing a T-shirt underneath so if you remove your jacket you’ll feel too chilly!

Or, perhaps you’ve chosen to wear a long-sleeve cotton top rather than a base layer. You’ve warmed up and you’re beginning to sweat – but cotton retains moisture & you begin to feel chilly – from the inside! If you remove your jacket you will feel even colder!

The correct layers really do matter.

Don’t let our good old British weather stop you from getting out there, invest wisely and make the most of your walks in all weathers – you really will be so glad you did!

Book your next #WALX HERE and let others know more about your walking experiences by commenting & sharing this BLOG with your friends on social media.

”There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing” – Alfred Wainwright

 

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