Fit & design
■ Freedom of movement is essential and the jacket needs to be long enough to protect your lower back, especially when you’re reaching forward or bending down.
■ Sleeves should be long enough and cuffs shouldn’t ride up. Check that all zips, stormflaps, drawcords, press studs and pockets can be operated with your gloves or mitts on.
■ Access to pockets shouldn’t be blocked by rucksack straps or a climbing harness.
■ Women’s-specific jackets – indicated by a (W) in the reviews – give a more feminine fit, so it’s good riddance to excess bulk, long arms and unflattering looks.
■ Can be used in the hood, waist and hem and are ideal for adjusting fit, keeping draughts at bay and trapping warm air.
■ They should be able to be neatly tucked away so they don’t dangle and snag on rocks, crampons or vegetation, etc.
■ Fitted inside the waist, a snowskirt will help stop snow from getting in. But they add weight and aren’t to everyone’s liking.
■ Cuffs should adjust to fit your wrist snugly and shouldn’t ride up when you’re scrambling and stretching.
■ Velcro fastenings will ensure a close fit and elastic is often included, too.
■ A good hood will protect you from driving wind, rain and snow without restricting your vision. Think about whether you also need it to fit over a climbing helmet.
■ Check you can tuck the drawcord out of the way, so it doesn’t flap in your face in high winds.
■ Fixed hoods – rather than detachable or roll away – usually offer better structure, shape and fit. A volume adjuster will control the size of the hood.
■ There should be an easily accessible pocket that you can fit a map in. Check that you can still reach the pockets with your rucksack on.
■ An inside secure zipped pocket is useful for keys, cash and cards etc.
■ Double stormflaps give the best protection; single stormflaps are easier to operate and allow the jacket to be lighter.
■ Chin guards or zip garages are often fitted at the top of the zip to prevent ‘zip scratch’.
■ In changeable weather, you don’t want to keep stopping to take layers on and off, so the capacity for ventilation is essential – even with breathable jackets.
■ Look for underarm pit zips, adjustable cuffs and mesh pockets to allow airflow to circulate.