Waterproof clothing not only
keeps out the rain but also prevents the wind from getting through. Wind
chill can be a major problem which makes an otherwise merely slightly cold
day potentially dangerous if you cannot get to shelter.
In still air a temperature of 0º
C feels like 0º C. If there is a wind of ten knots (which is only
classed as a gentle breeze) it will feel the same as -5º C. At 25 knots (a
fresh to strong breeze) the effect falls to -12º C. If your
clothing gets wet, the effect is worse.
Even relatively cheap
waterproofs will keep out the rain and protect you from the wind. What they
will not do is "breathe" - i.e. you will quickly become damp/wet
with perspiration which cannot escape. A person produces anything up to 0.5
litres of sweat per hour walking normally and up to 1.5 litres during
strenuous activity. So if your walking is likely to
involve much exertion because you stride out or will be ascending hills, you
really should go for breathable fabrics. GORE-TEX is probably the best known.
Bear in mind that once you put on a waterproof jacket of any type,
escape of perspiration will be reduced and the cooling effect of wind will
also be reduced. You may need to reduce layers underneath to maintain a
My personal preference is for a
shell waterproof only (i.e. unlined) as you then have the flexibility to
wear underneath whatever layers are appropriate to both temperature and
effort being expended. A permanently lined jacket reduces that flexibility
and could be too warm in summer.
Although good breathable
waterproofs will not be cheap, they should last years. After all, hopefully,
they will spend most of their time in the rucksack!
Breathable waterproofs are not a
"fit and forget" item. They do need some maintenance otherwise
they will lose their waterproofing ability and if that starts to fail, the
"breathability" does also. Trousers in particular should be washed
if they get muddy. Jackets will need less washing but should be washed
occasionally. Frequency depends on use or how quickly they get dirty -
common sense applies. However, only pure soap flakes or a cleanser
recommended for use with breathable materials should be used. Do not use
anything which is detergent based. Periodically, a re-waterproofing should
be applied. Nikwax is probably the best known proprietary brand for washing
and waterproofing agents. These can be applied in a washing machine so are
simple to use.
Finally, buy jacket and
trousers. When it rains on a jacket, the rain runs off and your legs will
get wetter more quickly than if you were not wearing it. If economising, buy
the best jacket you can and cheaper trousers.
Visit the Happy Hiker
Store to buy hiking waterproofs.
All information on
this site is given in good faith and no liability is accepted in respect
of any damage, loss or injury which might result from acting on it.