Little by little winter arrives and, with it, the cold, the rain, the snow and the ice. So that this is not an impediment, we propose a selection of the best coats for trekking.
Choose your coat for trekking
How to choose a coat for trekking?
What should we consider when buying a coat?
The coat is our third layer. How well do you know if you habitually practice outdoor sports, it is advisable to wear 3 layers that allow us to adapt to the different inclement weather that we may encounter during our adventure. In a caring system, all layers are important. But the 1st and 2nd layers are of no use to us if the rain or snow soaks them. This is why the third layer is so important: because its function is especially necessary when things get uglier, and we need more protection.
In the early days of the system, third layers were limited to waterproof, breathable and windproof membrane jackets. And although it is true that, of the 3 layers, perhaps it is the one that has changed the least, it has undergone evolutions.
What does this 2'5 system consist of?
Basically the 1st layer still does its job, but in many cases, especially in athletic activities, the 3rd layer is used only in cases of rain, snow, very cold, too windy, since the 2nd layer has evolved enough to to allow us to do without the third. When the second layer performs functions of the third is when we talk about the 2 and a half layers system.
Classes of coats for mountain tours
They are the traditional waterproof, breathable and windproof jackets, with a Gore-Tex or similar membrane. They remain essential and irreplaceable when the going gets tough.
They were the first step towards opening up new possibilities of the layer system. They can be considered as a mixture between the 2nd and 3rd layer. There are some that tend towards the 2nd layer by design, and others that are hardly distinguishable from a 3rd if we don't examine their specification sheet.
The latter are very good as a third layer in cold winter conditions, in which if it precipitates it will be in a solid form, by gaining comfort, thermal protection, elasticity, and having adequate protection against snow and wind.
The parts most exposed to the elements (shoulders, etc.) are made with Hardshell, and the least exposed with Softshell. They protect in very bad conditions, but provide the comfort, breathability and resistance of softshell.
In recent years the Hybrid trend mixes ultralight hardshell parts (Goretex Paclite) with other more resistant ones.
They are waterproof and breathable. At first they were born as a complement to softshells. You were protected with your softshell, and in case of severe deterioration, you could take out the ultralight jacket and put it on top. In the backpack it took up almost no weight or space.
It is still one of its uses. But it was soon discovered that they were the perfect substitute for the plastic raincoat in summer, and an excellent garment for new very athletic activities and faster mountaineering.
In fact, today, quality 3rd layer jackets, made with Gore-Tex Pro or similar, can be designed to be almost as light as an ultralight jacket from before, adding resistance.
In the layer system, the responsible for retaining heat is the second layer. If we use third layer garments with padding (type waterproof and breathable membrane plus padding), we lose the versatility of the system by joining the protective layer with the heat layer. It is not recommended for use in the mountains, except for very extreme situations (arctic winter, etc).
HOW TO CHOOSE THE MOST SUITABLE?
It depends on the use and conditions.
The first thing to consider in a traditional waterproof and breathable third layer is its cut: there are more athletic ones, for mountaineering, designed to be worn with a harness and material (they are usually shorter and with repositioned pockets), and there are for other uses, with greater protection.
Most will opt for a multipurpose range, which can be used with a harness, but without reaching the minimalism and adaptation that the more technical ones need.
- If we are going to do alpine activities in winter, we need a waterproof and breathable jacket that can be combined with the layers underneath and that protects us.
- If our activities are going to be more athletic, such as cross-country skiing, we can opt for the combination of 2.5 layers and a light jacket.
- For off-season winter and mountaineering, a light jacket can perfectly serve us, either made of ultralight materials, or a 3-layer quality and low weight. Actually, this garment (light 3 layers, for example Goretex Pro) would be ideal: low weight for all year round and athletic activities, great protection for alpine activities.
- For occasions when we prefer resistance, some heat capacity, comfort and greater breathability, and protection against soft elements (light rain, snow, etc.), a softshell will be ideal. With an ultralight hardshell in the backpack in case things worse we will have full protection.