Jacket-advice (June in Iceland, world-trip afterwards)

5:45 p.m. on November 10, 2012 (EST)
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I'm sorry for using this forum out of the blue, and I hate newbies just as much as the next guys ;)... But still, I'm drowning in a sea of information, and I need some help.

- In June 2013 I will be visiting Iceland for a week. We'll do some camping and hiking. No backpacking though.
- May 2014-November 2014 I will be travelling around the world. I will carry a backpack, but most of the time I will be using a car, campervan... However, there will be a few days with quite a lot of backpack-carrying hours. We won't pass through freezing temperatures, but in the evenings, in some places it might get rather cold (60F) and rainy, however it'll also be superhot in some other areas, where it might rain as well.

With this in mind, I want to buy a decent jacket that can be used for BOTH these trips. I've been to several stores, but I just don't trust salesmen from major brands...

If you could point me in the right direction and give some good options to buy, I'd really appreciate it. I'm kind of on a budget, but I know this will cost a lot of money :).

A few questions as well

- Tri-climate jacket or layering with a fleece and a light 'rain jacket'
- waterproof membrane or coating? Gore-Tex necessary? Or Hyvent? or...?

- Should we worry about it losing waterproof quality if we wear it for example after the Iceland trip, and before the world-trip? That's a year of wearing it.
- I'm only familiar with Jack Wolfskin & The North Face. Which other brands are equally good (or better), but cost a bit less?

Thanks in advance!

6:21 p.m. on November 10, 2012 (EST)
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Why do you hate newbies? Layering is alway better in my opinion. You have more flexibility. You might not wanna listen to me, im kinda a newbie to backpacking. I have spent 30+yrs pursuing other outside activities.

6:33 p.m. on November 10, 2012 (EST)
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848 forum posts

listen to the newbie...layering would be better than a heavy jacket for that climate...expect some rain so go with a gore tex rain jacket and some fleece or maybe a down vest for the colder days. I wouldn't worry about it losing its water repellency - gore tex holds up pretty well. check out the gear reviews section on this site for some good reviews on different brands.

8:55 p.m. on November 10, 2012 (EST)
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1,339 forum posts

As TJ and hotdogman say, for a variety of climates a waterproof/breathable layer works best, backed up by various kinds of layers configured for different weather conditions. If it's going to be cold, a down sweater or vest will compress into a tiny space, and can be pulled out when needed. A fleece gives better insulation if it gets wet, so it would work better for warmth on a damp cool evening. The shell provides dead air space and protects whatever's underneath.

I was snowshoeing today at -15°C with an old Sorel shell, and a softshell fleece and hardshell synthetic hoody underneath, and I had to peel off the shell after about 5 minutes.

Gore-Tex guarantees it will keep you dry. When looking at various brands, compare the fabrics the shells are made of. The waterproof fabric in a $600 Patagonia shell made of Gore-Tex Paclite will work the same as a cheaper one made of the same fabric from Outdoor Research, Columbia/Mountain Hardware, Marmot, or even REI. The differences will be in the design and the other materials that are part of the jacket. Gore-Tex also thrives on use, and to improve performance it is suggested it be washed on a regular basis. It shouldn't wear out after a year.

For any of the name brands, you are paying for the name recognition. North Face and other big names have built their rep with solid marketing and lots of expensive sponsorships, and in Europe, Jack Wolfskin has done the same.

Look past the names, and compare materials, features, details, design and warranty. 

See this thread, also:


3:08 p.m. on November 11, 2012 (EST)
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Thanks a lot for the very good advice everyone! You really helped. 

3L gore tex with a proper fleece/sweater from any brand will be very good, no matter what.

Thanks to the link, I stumbled upon the Outdoorgearlab and they gave me a new perspective though.
They mention that if it's just for occasional use, then a decent rainshell 120-170USD should be fine too, combined with a decent fleece. It's not breathable, but from the 180 days of travelling, I'm guessing only 30-40, maybe 60 will be spent in rainy areas, of which 50% with a lot of rain, so that might be sufficient as well?
If I take that one step further, I would be back to my initial idea: a decent, yet NOT top notch tri-climate jacket in the 250-300 price range (TNF evolution?)... However, I do realise that those jackets are a lot less comfortable than the better gore-tex jackets and just not as good.

Do I make a mistake here somewhere? Or is this kind of true. Then it's just the question if I want to take the discomfort of being sweaty or not... And of course the durability.

I didn't really factor in wind, but I guess a decent fleece will do the trick. Weather conditions won't be extreme.

9:42 p.m. on November 11, 2012 (EST)
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1,902 forum posts

In the kind of weather you are talking about, I wear a light fleece jacket (Columbia) and have an REI Element rain jacket. Nothing fancy. My jacket is somewhat similar to the Marmot Precip and I have a pair of Precip pants. You can spend a lot on a Goretex or other breatheable fabric jacket, but I don't think it's necessary. Breatheable fabrics work best in cold weather, so using them in the tropics, for example, probably won't give you any advantage over non-breatheables like my jacket.

I would also take a medium weight base layer (top and bottom) just in case it gets colder than you expect. I have Patagonia Capilene, but merino wool also gets high recommendations. Capilene works well because it is easy to wash, can be worn for days without getting funky, for lack of a better word and at least for what I have, my top can be worn alone.

12:19 p.m. on November 14, 2012 (EST)
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Welcome to Trailspace burgernfries!

Your journey sounds amazing!  My personal opinion is that the most versatile combination is a slightly-too-large 3-ply waterproof/breathable shell (Pick your membrane!), with large pit zippers and/or core vents, paired with a fleece insulating shell with corresponding core and pit vents. I agree with Tom's perspective too - slightly-less-breathable coated fabrics are good too.

If you buy your shell large, you'll be able to accommodate as much, or as little, insulation underneath it as you like.

As far as brands, there are no "best" brands these days.  Different brands have different qualities that make them better for different purposes.  For your purposes, it sounds as if most major brands of outdoor activewear will work.

For a quite comprehensive list of different brands and models, see: https://www.trailspace.com/gear/hard-shell-jackets/


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