No, before you ask, I haven’t found the perfect jacket but have been pondering this little question on and off for some time now.
Lets start off with the obvious for the UK. It doesn’t exist. There is always a compromise somewhere. Also it depends what season and what function you want it for. For example if you do layering as a system then you probably own a windshirt, an insulation jacket or smock and a hardshell (possibly 2 for winter and summer). If you are an all in one kind of person then you will have a couple of jackets for the different seasons. Ok thats the obvious over with. What I am looking at are the features on a jacket (be it light shell, heavy shell, insulation piece or whatever) that I would ideally like. Lets look at the individual bits that make up the jacket:
I want a hood with a wired peak, windproof but not insulated. It should have a beard guard and the ability to cinch down around the face. And I am not 100% certain on this, but the ability to remove the hood would for me be an added bonus (think windy but dry days)
My ideal is probably slightly longer than the current trend of short jackets. I want something that goes over the hips but not below the groin.
Yes please, 2 of them. Actually a bug bear of mine is that several jackets I have tried on and really liked, have been a let down because of the sleeves. Firstly everyone appears to have longer arms than me! I mean every medium I try for most jackets from most manufacturers are just far too long. Not just a bit….a lot! This can be mitigated with velcro tabs on the cuffs but not always. Also velcro cuffs are a must, I really cant abide elasticated ones. The few grammes it adds to a jacket are really really worth it
Yes! Again, 2 of them! I know they add weight but I really cant understand a mountain jacket without them. Its a personal thing I know but I really really have to have somewhere to put my hands when its cold and wet. And on the subject of pockets, I really dont need a map pocket on the front. Haven’t people heard of waterproof maps? Personal choice again but 2 hand pockets make more sense than one map pocket (which is often too small for a standard map anyway!)
Desirable yes but a balance with breath-ability. Ok, this is probably reasonably easy to cover off with the current fabrics
It has to be tough in the right places, ie the shoulders and the upper back panel. I have lost jackets to rucksack wear in relatively short spaces of time. It doesn’t have to be tough all over (think trousers with reinforced knees) Ok, again there are a few jackets that claim to be along these lines.
A little bit yes but not a lot as I prefer to layer up. What I dont like is bare waterproof material with no interior lining or insulation if that makes sense. As long as its windproof, reasonably waterproof and a liner that’s as much as I need.
I really like crotch straps! One thing I cant stand is a jacket that rides up when on the move or stretching. I dont like cinching the bottom hem down so really would prefer a crotch strap, preferably a removable one. Am I alone in this requirement? Anyone?
Right, got all that? So a) do you agree b) what’s important for you in a jacket and c) does it exist??? Answers on a postcard…….