Fitting a rain jacket

8:03 a.m. on August 30, 2017 (EDT)
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Sorry for the noob question but I'm looking for advice on this and can't find anything from the reviews. I hope I haven't put this in the wrong section on this forum.

I was trying on some rain jackets, specifically the Columbia Watertight and the North Face Venture since I don't own any proper waterproof jackets. It took me a long while to settle on a jacket. In the end I went with the Watertight because I thought the mesh insert would help with the sweat and humid conditions I deal with locally.

The Venture 2 was nice but both L and XL felt tight around my shoulders without any movement. The older Venture seemed ok but I preferred the Watertight.

The Watertight L fit me just right, I felt a little tightness in my biceps and shoulders but I thought I was able to move around ok, until I tried to reach for the hood and could not due to the tightness.  

I decided to go for the XL which gives me more range of motion and overall better in terms of comfort. It just feels a little too large for me though. The velcro cuff adjustments help a ton with the sleeves but the overall length goes down about 2-3 inches below my waistline. It's not massively bad but compared to my windbreaker which is a totally different thing and fitted differently it feels large. 

I'm wondering if this is normal type fitting for a rain jacket as I haven't owned one since the 90's, where baggy was the thing back then. Or maybe I should look around for something that fits better? 

8:18 a.m. on August 30, 2017 (EDT)
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Welcome to TS, Jones. This being the Beginners Forum you are in the perfect place to ask questions. No apologies needed.

I am guessing that you have a well developed upper body based on your question. The Venture 2 is designed to have a somewhat loose fit to begin with so if that felt tight on you in the arms and shoulders I am not about to challenge you to wrestle :)

Can you give us some idea of your dimensions if you know them? Chest and waist at least, but shoulder and bicep would also help to know. My Venture 2 fits pretty loose through the shoulder and arm area in a size L, but my big muscles are in my legs, not my upper body.

11:06 a.m. on August 30, 2017 (EDT)
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Thanks for taking the time to read my long post. I appreciate the quick response and the warm welcome. I will definitely be posting more on here as I'm starting out with hiking after recovering from an injury.

I'm 5''8, broad shoulders as I've mentioned, with a solid chest. I don't know the size exactly. I have had issues with fitting in the past with one size being an exact fit but less comfortable than the size up which is what  I normally get. 

I was quite surprised with the venture 2 as normally TNF jackets are quite loose on me whenever I try them on (but never end up buying them).

I've always been under the impression jackets should not be baggy but maybe it's different with outdoor gear. This is after all my first proper waterproof jacket in a while, so maybe they're supposed to fit this way. 

Anyway, i suppose that's all irrelevant now, I just did a water test running the faucet under both sleeves and ended up with two damp forearms. Just my luck, the one jacket I find that I like, the last one in the size at the store, is a faulty one. 

I thought these jackets were supposed to be guaranteed to keep water out, or maybe i understood that wrong?

11:31 a.m. on August 30, 2017 (EDT)
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Being in the outdoors should not be a fashion show.

Make sure you have room to add layers under your rain jacket for temperatures like freezing rain.  If you have freedom of movement for those conditions, everything else will work fine. 

12:21 p.m. on August 30, 2017 (EDT)
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Pardon the poor picture quality but I just snapped this to use as a reference here. This is from the Venture 2 hang tag and illustrates the difference between their idea of a relaxed fit and a closer fitting active fit.

The added room not only accommodates needed layers as ppine pointed out, but should let you move more freely without the jacket inhibiting you. The active fit on the other hand is more like an outer skin that closely follows your movements. It doesn't get in the way like the excess material of a loose fit, but I find it more restrictive when I need to reach or bend with my pack on. Many other folks prefer to avoid the extra material which can flap in high winds or impede climbing. This is really a matter of personal preference and what you do while wearing the jacket.

12:34 p.m. on August 30, 2017 (EDT)
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ppine said:

Being in the outdoors should not be a fashion show.

Make sure you have room to add layers under your rain jacket for temperatures like freezing rain.  If you have freedom of movement for those conditions, everything else will work fine. 

 This. ^^^^

I always by my rain gear a size larger. I want to make sure I can layer adequately. 

1:33 p.m. on August 30, 2017 (EDT)
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In regards to hem length, I think the longer the better with rain jackets (within reason); a few more inches of coverage is a good thing.

I also only wear them when I absolutely have to.

There are many long discussions about the failings of breathable fabrics. They all wet out eventually and that doesn't make them defective per se; it's inherent in the product class.

6:37 p.m. on August 30, 2017 (EDT)
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I also buy my rain gear a tad large both for layering and I like the billowing air movement to allow for sweat to move out.  Using my form fitting bicycle rain gear as hiking clothing was too warm.  I am guessing the greater air flow while cycling keeps me dryer than the slower speed of walking with a pack.

8:18 p.m. on August 30, 2017 (EDT)
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+1 on the go large for all the reasons other already state.  My jacket is sized to fit my cold weather camp side layers without compressing the loft.  I am a medium, but my rain shell is XL.

Rain jackets do not keep active people dry.  What they do is keep you warm.  You have three choices: Avoid any physical activity while in the rain and wear a jacket; this is the driest option.  Or you can wear a jacket while doing physical activity and end up soaked with sweat, but remain warm.  Or you can forego the jacket and get soaked with cold water. 

Try to wear as little under the jacket as possible, no reason you should get all of your layers wet with sweat.


11:20 p.m. on August 30, 2017 (EDT)
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Thanks guys for giving me a better understanding of how it should fit. I guess this is an ok fit compared to the smaller size. Part of why I'm worried about the look is that I intend on also using it as an urban jacket for when I'm in the city, maybe for rainy days at work and all that but it's not such an having a longer jacket, as some of you pointed out it's probably an advantage over a shorter length jacket. 

I'm in Hong Kong, it's hot and humid in the summer 27-32celsius outdoors  with 80-99% humidity in the summers. I'm used to the heat but I'm wondering if I chose right right with the mesh lining as opposed to the printed lining on the Venture. 

I've got a tendon injury so I'm limited to light hikes around the hills, 2-4 hours at most, when it rains the temp usually drops 1-2 degress so it feels a little cooler.  In the winter here it's 15-25Celcius during the day so the mesh helps.

With regard to the fabric soaking though, I did not expect this of a new jacket. Even if the DWR (I have limited understanding of this) has worn, I expected the fabric to withstand at least 20-30 seconds of faucet water running over it. Even my Uniqlo windbreaker holds up to 20 seconds of faucet water with the waterproof spray I used on it.

EDIT: Is there a chance my patting down the sleeves caused the water to seep through?

I tested the rest of the jacket briefly in the shower. Did not soak through but the fabric feels wet and damp even after 10 minutes. I don't know if this is normal? 

12:35 a.m. on August 31, 2017 (EDT)
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You jacket should not have leaked so quickly, especially new.  It may have been a knock-off of inferior quality.

Garments made from fabrics that rely on a spray or wash-in surface treatment (DWR) have limited water repellency, even when new.  I find well maintained DWR effective for only about an hour in the elements.  DWR usually relies on a compound water does not want to remain in contact with.  These compounds are said to be hydrophobic.  When they get dirty or are worn off (rain will eventually remove DWR) the garment loses its water repellency and the DWR must be reapplied.  Garments with VBL remain waterproof as long as the VBL membrane remains intact.  Coated fabrics are waterproof, too, but tend to trap sweat more so than VBL.  Both VBL and coated fabrics will lose effectiveness if the membrane or coating is compromised.  Shoulder straps of packs are notorious for damaging coated and VBL fabrics given enough hours of the clothing article being tugged around by the pack straps.

If I were concerned about being seen about town, I would not chose to wear my trail rainwear, as I would look like a baggy clothed slacker or a child wearing daddy's big coat.  Unless you live where wind causes rain to come at you horizontally, I'd get a golf (oversize) umbrella for rain in the city.  Much cheaper than good rainwear apparel, adequate protection, and superior ventilation.  But if you insist on getting a coat and want to look styling, you probably will do better having separate city and hiking rain gear.

Lastly this advise (and that thus far posted by others) assume you will be using your rain coat in cold situations, requiring it be sized to fit over several bulky layers of warm clothing.  But if you are using the jacket in warm climes with no warm layer clothing, you can get a jacket sized for city wear, and it should suffice for warm weather hiking.



9:06 a.m. on August 31, 2017 (EDT)
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there is no perfect fit, size, or length that runs across all people, in my opinion. the jacket should accomplish what you want, and if it does that, great.

I'm 5 foot 9 and wear a 46 jacket, so I run into similar issues to you. there are a lot of brands out there, and even within brands, some jackets have a looser fit than others in the shoulders. arcteryx is a good example - any of their 'beta' shells feel tight through the shoulders for me, but their 'alpha' shells are a better fit for me. their shells also tend to be on the shorter side in terms of the hem, unless you get a skiing-oriented shell that has an intentionally longer back. I have worn Marmot shells from time to time; their XL has been a pretty good bet. some of the UK brands (I'm thinking of RAB and Montane) fit me, but I size up to XXL. Some Patagonia shells are roomy, others are probably better for a narrower person or don't allow as much layering. 

leaving room for layering depends on your need. if you are using this in Hong Kong primarily, you probably don't layer much. also, consistent with what Ed said above, whether to use a shell or not depends on the weather. in hot/humid conditions, especially if I'm working hard and sweating a lot, I would probably choose to not wear a shell, except in a really, really hard rain storm, because you are going to sweat a lot under a shell. not telling you anything you don't already know. ponchos are inexpensive and don't have the problem of being too tight, and they allow a lot of air to circulate; they aren't a good choice in high winds, and personally, I find them baggy and bulky-feeling. but I have used them for rain forest hiking.

water repellent coatings are OK, but to really keep water out, you need something that is actually waterproof. can't rely only on the coating. no, a waterproof jacket should not leak under a shower or garden hose - agree with you, the jacket you tried just wasn't waterproof. in humid weather, I would think about a jacket with large armpit zippers - getting you closer to the poncho concept. 

10:14 p.m. on August 31, 2017 (EDT)
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Thanks. I think the size is good. I tried the Venture 2 again yesterday and it was not as bad as I initially thought but more restrictive compared to the columbia I have. I'm happy with the fit and the comfort. 

As far as layering, I don't think that's much of an issue for me. In the winters here I barely need a jacket, maybe some long sleeves under a shirt occasionally but that hardly adds to the bulk. A good thing since the mesh is quite bulking already in the jacket moving around like it does. I don't suppose removing it is an option as it obviously wasn't designed that way?

I've done a re-test to make sure it wasn't water coming back in through the back of my hands. Still wet. Most of the jacket remains dry but below the elbow on the sleeves get wet. I can't see any openings in the stitching on the outer part.

I put this down to shoddy qc or the fact that this was the last one at the store having been put through some light wear form people trying it out and putting it back on the rack type of use.

I wonder if I should consider this acceptable since it's likely to keep me mostly dry under most conditions anyway. The only other option doesn't fit as well, unless I'm willing to get the green camo version of this jacket, which I'm not. 

12:37 p.m. on September 1, 2017 (EDT)
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+1 on hem length...think of it as an integrated kilt...and you'll almost never use rain pants again.

I always cut the mesh away on my light jackets...I can pack an extra base-layer with that volume which is both warmer and modular.

WPB jackets are not waterproof...its one of countless examples of puffery in the advertisement of outdoor gear (maybe the nearest to an outright lie). If you want less rain inside you can go with a non-breathable coated jacket...they tend to be considerably more durable and you will never have to worry about DWR. Personally I only go with WPB in cooler weather when the membrane actually works...which you said you rarely experience.

Unless you're climbing...I see only disadvantage to a fitted rain shell...I have long been puzzled by the incursion of climbing gear onto the trail???

You can always use outdoor gear in town...but I am not sure I would compromise my selection for this purpose (umbrellas tend to be a lot more town friendly). Also...some people (me) will chuckle a little bit if your outdoor gear looks nice on the trail...bad colors and patches are like medals!

4:01 p.m. on September 1, 2017 (EDT)
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jrenow said:

"...bad colors and patches are like medals!"

And stains!  Stains on your gear are like rings on a tree - both tell a story.  Patches are extra credit.


11:20 p.m. on September 9, 2017 (EDT)
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Thanks guys. I've decided to keep it regardless of the light leak on the forearm area. Mostly because I forgot to take it back to the store during the 7 day return period.

It's good to know the mesh can be removed without any negative effects, I might do the same as well if it doesn't prove to provide much insulating effect in the cooler months. 

With regard to reapplying DWR, I've read about a few methods and techniques for various materials like goretex and hyvent being exposed to some heat or a light cleaning reviving their DWR capabilites. I don't know if this applies to the Columbia Omni Tech materials as well. What are my other options, I have some scotchbrite waterproof spray but I don't know if  that's the same thing. 

4:14 p.m. on September 13, 2017 (EDT)
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the basic ways I have rejuvenated DWR:

1. always follow the manufacturer's instructions. if they say running the garment in a warm dryer will work, OK. That is often my first step - clean the garment with something mild like tech wash or sport wash, then partially dry the garment in a dryer.

2. spray on DWR works. it's messy. you need to line the floor with towels something equivalent.

3. wash in DWR also works. it is not as messy; follow the instructions closely re: amounts and wash instructions. if you don't do it right, it won't get absorbed into your shell as well as it could or should.

June 18, 2018
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