April Showers Apparel, Part Three

hAs the snow continues to melt and transitions into rain, we continue our look at outdoor rainwear. We’ve explored some of the major factors to consider when making a rainwear purchase and then took a closer look at the types of waterproofing/breathability options available to you. Today, we’ll shine the spotlight on the layer options and what they mean.

The laminates and coatings that comprise rainwear can be ripped, which does nothing to keep out the rain. For this reason, however, many models incorporate several layers of material. Two-layer models tend to be the most affordable and have a membrane or coating that is applied to the face fabric to make one layer. The second layer typically consists of a mesh liner that’s stitched into the interior of the jacket. This option is popular, but some may find the liner to be a too loose and bulky. Two-layer jackets are also slightly heavier and less breathable than other designs, which makes them better-suited for day trips or urban activities.

2.5-layered models use a lightweight first layer, a polyurethane-based WP/BR laminate or coating as a second layer, and a minimal inner layer. They typically weigh 16-oz or less and are intended for ultralight wilderness travel where breathability is preferred. If abrasion-resistance is not one of your key concerns, 2.5-layer rainwear deliver high performance for a moderate price.

3-layer jackets offer more durability, but also a lightweight design. Typically, just use laminates with a membrane between the face fabric and the interior liner. These jackets offer a more athletic fit and fabrics that can stand up to some trail wear and tear, which makes them ideal for serious climbers and backpackers. With the improved durability and breathability, though, you’ll pay a higher cost.

Consider what the layer options mean for your needs and activities when considering a rain jacket, and you’ll further optimize your performance and comfort on the trail. Be sure to come back for the next part in our series!