Branded Waterproof jackets - Worth the money?

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TeeDee

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Nov 6, 2008
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Exeter
Looking for a semi-decent lighterweight waterproof jacket for general bimbling ( so not climbing mountains ) and currently looking on line at some of the big name brands and am quite surprised but the price tags involved.

Is the price tag representative of quality over the long term?

If there is one bit of kit I guess you are going to get 'good' value out of in the UK I think a quality water proof jacket may well be it. So I am quite willing to invest a bit into getting something thats going to last a while - but does it need to be a £400 jacket? or can you get equal functionality for the long term at the £100 end of the spending pool??

I'm also a bit limited as I'm big in the chest and shoulder so I'm looking at the XXXL sizing.

Also not sure if i'm best buying online or trawling through the shops.

Any suggestions appreciated.
 

Duggie Bravo

Nomad
Jul 27, 2013
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Dewsbury
I had a Berghaus Gortex Mera Peak for the best part of 25 years, it recently reached the end of it’s life, and the cost to replace the zips and bungee cords was over £100 so I looked cheaper alternatives settling on a Lightweight Trespass, the waterproof zip isn’t and I got a wet line down the front of my t-shirt, probably a design rather than a material issue, no storm flap.
Need to sort my Barbour out and rewax it for winter, but will also look at branded coats again, when the sales start.


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Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
9,474
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McBride, BC
I'm absolutely stuck on Carhartt. What you can buy on line is identical to what's in the dealers. Yes, they are not inexpensive. My partner, believing that I was beginning to look a little "homeless," bought me a new Carhart. Windproof, shower proof and well insulated for Canadian winters.

Not a damn thing wrong with the old chore coat. A little thread bare in places but after 25 years, I've come to expect that. Maybe a dollar per month.

What I need next is a "day coat" for spring and fall. the Carhartt "Canyon" is what I will likely buy.
 
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gra_farmer

Full Member
Mar 29, 2016
934
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Kent
I really like Rohan jackets, always wait for a sale and expect to pay 40% less off the RRP.

The customer service is brilliant, had a old jacket ~7 years old, and had a fault with the material on one arm, took it in to store not expecting much, got refunded 100% of my money back, and gave me an extra 20% any replacement, even if already discounted. Bought an upgraded coat there and then, and had enough to buy 2 pairs of walking wool socks and underwear...at no additional cost out of my pocket.

I have 6 pairs of rohan trousers, that have been worn daily for the last 12 years and look like new, brilliant brand.
 

Billy-o

Native
Apr 19, 2018
1,848
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Canada
I have piles fo stuff, but one thing you might be interested in would be an Arcteryx Alpha SV. Big jacket for big people wearing insulation underneath. Indestructible and completely keeps you our of the rain and snow. Price tag is lots, but wanting one, I set about waiting and snagged one for 300CAD off the Ebay

Grit your teeth and get one good one.

Have a look at the other usual suspects Norrona Recon, Paramo Halcon. At that end of the pricing they do last forever and have good return/repair/replace policies anyway.
 
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Wander

Settler
Jan 6, 2017
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Here There & Everywhere
When it's actually raining and you need something that's rainproof rather than shower proof, I prefer a poncho to a jacket.
I find they are easy to put on and off, allow good air flow, you can fiddle in your pockets beneath the poncho, really do keep the rain out, and there's no sizing issues (it even goes over the top of your pack - keeping that dry).
It has the added bonus of being able to be used as a shelter.
Since jackets have a lot more seams they always go in one place or another eventually. Not so a poncho.
Ponchos are also a hell of a lot cheaper - for about £25 you can get one that will do a far better job than any jacket. So the price might make it worth a punt to see how you get on with one?

However, I realise the poncho look isn't to everyone's taste.
 

TeeDee

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When it's actually raining and you need something that's rainproof rather than shower proof, I prefer a poncho to a jacket.
I find they are easy to put on and off, allow good air flow, you can fiddle in your pockets beneath the poncho, really do keep the rain out, and there's no sizing issues (it even goes over the top of your pack - keeping that dry).
It has the added bonus of being able to be used as a shelter.
Since jackets have a lot more seams they always go in one place or another eventually. Not so a poncho.
Ponchos are also a hell of a lot cheaper - for about £25 you can get one that will do a far better job than any jacket. So the price might make it worth a punt to see how you get on with one?

However, I realise the poncho look isn't to everyone's taste.

I did give some thought to a poncho - but I realise I dont have the panache to carry it off and being a XXXL would mean i'd be a giant tarpaulin covered blob - also difficult to blend in if I'm just walking around town on a wet n windy day.
 

TeeDee

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Nov 6, 2008
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I have piles fo stuff, but one thing you might be interested in would be an Arcteryx Alpha AR. Big jacket for big people wearing insulation underneath. Indestructible and completely keeps you our of the rain and snow. Price tag is lots, but wanting one, I set about waiting and snagged one for 300CAD off the Ebay

Grit your teeth and get one good one.

Have a look at the other usual suspects Norrona Recon, Paramo Halcon. At that end of the pricing they do last forever and have good return/repair/replace policies anyway.

So this is what i mean -WHAT is it that makes it a better jacket? is it the materials used? the why the seams are finished or just maybe the after sales ' return if it breaks' warranty?? which is worth something in itself so could justify the initial outlay.

I tend to flit from looking at the really high end stuff and drool over it , but then look at the cheaper stuff from Alpkit and think - well that would work!



Even the North Face stuff have a very cheap option but I'm not sure exactly how good it is. Just paying for a label maybe?
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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Most of our winters, the snow just brushes off like flour or sugar.

I could spray my Carhartts with some kind of silicone water repellent but I can't be bothered for the lengths of time that I am actually out in bad weather any more.

If it was a lot warmer and wetter, like I was living on the actual west coast (Vancouver etc), I'd be down to the nearest chandler's to replace my 30 year old
XXXXL boat coat. Over any regular coat. Even velcro water tight wrist closures. It has a fluorescent green hood. Because of that feature, it was classed as safety equipment and therefore, tax free.

Go to a chandlers. They outfit people who fight cold and spray all damn day long, working on the jobs at sea.
 

Tiley

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Oct 19, 2006
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WHAT is it that makes it a better jacket? is it the materials used? the why the seams are finished or just maybe the after sales ' return if it breaks' warranty?? which is worth something in itself so could justify the initial outlay.

The 'brands' invest a lot on getting the practitioners to endorse what they make and have some input to the designs. The companies also stake a lot of their reputation on the reliability of their product range and so are very keen to make sure (a) that their garments work and (b) that they last. So, they will spend more on the fabric, coatings, design and manufacture of them as a bad jacket or, worse still, a run of poorly designed and cheaply made clothing will put a massive hole in their reputation and sink their company.

Yes, you might pay more for them but, at the end of the day, the company wants you to turn to your friends and say, "Yeah, this is brilliant!" or "I've had it for years and it's still going strong". After all, the most powerful marketing tool at their disposal is word of mouth. Having invested in their product, they will - or should - work very hard to keep you happy and on side.

An unbranded, cheaper alternative does not have that vested interest in you and what you do. They price them cheaply to sell an awful lot of them and, after that, they're not that concerned about what happens to you or what you bought; after all, at that price, they are almost guaranteed to sell still more of them, purely because of the 'attractive' price.

Generally, with jackets and outdoorsy stuff, it really is a matter of 'buy cheap, buy twice'. For longer term, harder use, it's probably worth forking out for something with a name on it.
 
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Broch

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Jan 18, 2009
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I know they're not popular, especially on this forum, but I have had great service from Graghoppers jackets. Their Lorton Jacket is £120 full price but often discounted and the Hanson £150.

I currently have two; one I use on wet days in the street and the other out walking - both are over ten years old.

However, for bimbling in the wood and sitting around a camp fire in winter I use a waxed cotton jacket :)
 
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JB101

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Feb 18, 2020
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Watford
To a degree it depends upon what 'features' you want in a jacket ,how many pockets external & internal,hand warmer pockets,hood (wired or not) underarm vents (pit zips),main zip opens in from both top & bottom etc etc.

IMO expensive branded jackets you are paying a large amount for the name.

Fabric also impacts on cost ,Gore-tex probaly being the most expensive.

I have jackets such as Berghaus gore-tex which are very basic 2 waist pockets & a hood (therefore light) which I got for approx £45.00 new.To ex US army cold weather jackets (again gore-tex) with all the features mentioned above which if prurchased for the civilian market would be in excess of £350. Also a waxed jacket Barbour in the trailmaster style but that needs re waxing:)

Keep a look out in local charity shops as it's surprising what can turn up & also TX max or similar outlet stores.
 
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Billy-o

Native
Apr 19, 2018
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So this is what i mean -WHAT is it that makes it a better jacket? is it the materials used? the why the seams are finished or just maybe the after sales ' return if it breaks' warranty?? which is worth something in itself so could justify the initial outlay.

I tend to flit from looking at the really high end stuff and drool over it , but then look at the cheaper stuff from Alpkit and think - well that would work!



Even the North Face stuff have a very cheap option but I'm not sure exactly how good it is. Just paying for a label maybe?
Personally, I don't rate North Face. But let me give an example. It rains here a lot, heavy and persistent and I am often out in it for long periods. I have an Outdoors Research jacket, which is good. But it doesn't have quite the detailing you need. It is cut and detailed to an OK-level and, whilst fine in that regard, if I am not careful rain will get in round the hood. Arcteryx, Norrona and Paramo jackets simply don't create that problem. They are cut better, from better materials with the details you need to control cuffs and collars and sleeves and waist cinches to get the jacket to fit right and keep the rain out. They have more input from more people who use these kinds of jackets regularly and they have a critical and demanding audience thats pays close attention.

Because of that excellence they have been able also to use that credit to add a layer of pizazz to the look of their clothes, which in some cases attracts a wealthier fashion crowd and the price goes up. Viewed another way, if you are going to be paying a lot for a technically good jacket, should you necessarily have to look as if you are wearing a brighly coloured binbag.

Also, Arcteryx (Paramo and Norrona, too) for instance have a number of ranges and, within the ranges, there are different options for a lighter version, a very light version, an allround version and a severe weather version. An Alpha SV is seriously burly, cut for wearing insulation and will take thrashing about in the brush. It is a coat that's good for people who work maintaining mountain resorts digging in wet snow and heavy weather, for example, but is likely too much coat for other conditions. Whilst a closer fitting Alpha FL maybe too light for that, it will be great for hiking uphill in a downpour. A lighter version still, like a Norvan, will be great for running uphill in a downpour.

You probably have to think about the use you'll get from one of these. From now til April it will rain heavily pretty much every second or third day here, and then there is the snow. Once that comes in November, I am in that two three times a week. Unlike Robson Valley, it is quite wet snow, especially in early Spring. When you think like that, spending the extra not to be wet and cold isn't a choice. If you have the money you do it. Otherwise you will be coming off the hill earlier than you would otherwise; or, in the end, just not going at all. If you have the right coat on, you don't even think about the weather or the suffering it brings.

You should note, though, that Arcteryx do have urban/backcountry crossover options in all their lines, as well as just straightforwardly fashionable lines. I don't think it is worth thinking that this arena is filled with numbskull fashionistas with more loot than they know what to do with, though. These top-end outdoor jackets have serious performance advantages. Also, skill in manufacture, continual improvements in design, a wide range of options and a relatively small market base, who are likely only ever going to buy a few items over a lifetime in any case; all these factors will up the price.

But, it might just be that, if it was kind of a regular-use necessity for you, you'd have bought one already. In the end, if you want a tank type jacket that will keep the elements at bay whilst you hike about the place or drag stuff through the woods but won't weigh as much as a tank, or keep getting in the way of your movements, it costs more ... though not if you are prepared to lie in wait on ebay or scan the sales.:)

Sometimes, you buy a thing that you know to use already. Sometimes you buy a thing that sort of has to teach you how to use it and introduces you to whole host of things you'd never thought of.
 
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Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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I, too, have lived for years with the wet snow of the British Columbia coast. It soaks into just about everything. That's in part why I keep recommending a visit to a chandler or two or three. They can dress you for wet and cold and the bone-chilling damp of the coast mountains. That's colder than just about anything I experience inland.

I wear a hip length rain coat (from a chandler) that's 4XL to go over anything else I might wear. One weekend was 5" rain in the 2 days and I was the only person on the open boat who stayed dry. The elastic + velcro wrist seals are a dream = no dribbles run up your arms when you reach for ropes. I can close down the hood for a sight window of maybe 1" x 5".
 
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Van-Wild

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Feb 17, 2018
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So this is what i mean -WHAT is it that makes it a better jacket? is it the materials used? the why the seams are finished or just maybe the after sales ' return if it breaks' warranty?? which is worth something in itself so could justify the initial outlay.

I tend to flit from looking at the really high end stuff and drool over it , but then look at the cheaper stuff from Alpkit and think - well that would work!



Even the North Face stuff have a very cheap option but I'm not sure exactly how good it is. Just paying for a label maybe?
What is it that makes it a better jacket? Better materials definitely. Better seams, better breathability, more robust, better fit....

For waterproof jackets, depending on what you want it for (hiking and bushcraft require different materials and fit for sure), will affect your purchase.

Comparing a quality jacket vs a cheaper one can be like night and day. For example, I've got an Arcteryx LEAF jacket and an 'at a glance' very similar jacket from a Chinese brand. The Arcteryx is better by a million miles in every way. More breathable, more robust, the material feels softer and its more stretchable. Even the velcro on the cuffs is better......

With technical materials, you definitely get what you pay for. Only my opinion of course.....

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Great egret

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Apr 17, 2017
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Netherlands
I have had multiple "goretex (pro) jackets" from different brands and all of them failed pretty fast and didn't breathe all that well. I now have a Norrøna Dovre jacket, which was expensive but in my experience perfoms way better than any goretex jacket.
 
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Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,237
1,008
Lancashire
Having bought a new paramo velez adventure light last late summer or early autumn I would say you have to try them on. Whilst brands may have a general fit but in reality they have many fits based on intended end use.

Paramo for most of their life had a reputation of being bulky and, not meaning any offence, they've been described as fat dog walker coats. In the past I tried them and to get length and arms right resulted in a body big enough to fit two of me and I'm not skinny. Or they fitted my body but the sleeves were halfway up my forearm. They simply were not well sized imho.

Now paramo have I think 3 or 4 fits across their range according to use and user. Take their two or three velez models for example. Standard is more edging towards the traditional dog walker shape. Adventure light version is very athletic but still a little big around the body. It had a near perfect shoulder fit and arm length for me. The two versions looked a similar fit but on trying both it became patently clear there's a huge designed in difference between the shoulders. Looked the same basic design but wasn't in use. One fits you the other simply doesn't in a spectacular way.

Put that across all the potential brands with a range of options and you'll see how trying in a shop is important or a good returns policy of bought online.

Other points I have include quality, size control, design, material choice/ design and input into fabric design that some high end brands have.

Imho craghoppers clothing have poor stitching quality, loose threads, thread runs, etc. If you like craghoppers look into roman.

Keela brand used to have an inconsistent sizing. I used to have a little outdoor shop who used to put aside the trousers that came in with a longer leg length for my waist size. The leg length could be 3 inches difference between two of the same size and model trousers. This could be similar with coats.

Top brands have better designs in ways that's not easily spotted but when critical could come out. Fit is a big thing that expensive items get better. Things like articulation allowing greater movement with slimmer fit on the legs, especially lower legs. Less fabric means less weight and better fit without flapping in high wind. Better hardware like zips and poppers for example.

Top end brands often have own design fabrics. For example mountain equipment have the sales, influence and reputation to get goretex to make with their own design face fabric or backing fabric which gives enhanced performance. Often very tough outer face fabric that's light and breathes so much better. Unique to them.

IME you can believe the performance claimed by bigger companies more. 30,000 MVTR is more likely with £500 jacket than £150 one.

Imho for £100-150 you get good waterproof trousers. For jackets you're talking £250-350.
 

Paul_B

Bushcrafter through and through
Jul 14, 2008
5,237
1,008
Lancashire
One last thing most waterproofs fail. In keeping you dry. Wet and warm is the best you'll get in any jacket if working hard in the hills.

Jackets leak through zips or wick up the fabric in your arms and numerous other ways. Often being wet inside isn't leaking but sweating. Failed fabrics jackets are often just in need of cleaning and reproofing but even then they'll leak at your sleeves.

I'd prefer to spend £299 than £99 or £120.
 

Robson Valley

Full Member
Nov 24, 2014
9,474
2,214
McBride, BC
Yeah! You work up a sweat and the damn shell freezes to your undercoat and you can't get out of the whole mess until you find a place to thaw out, etc. Then you learn that the freeze has screwed over the waterproofing of the shell so it's bound for the bin.

I think what bugs me the most is the design and the placement of pockets. I need map pockets with vertical zippers, horizontal is wet. The actual pull tabs are aftermarket things. I don't want to have to take my gloves/mittens off to get into a pocket and I need 1-2 liter baggy pockets in full winter here.
 

SCOMAN

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Dec 31, 2005
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I'm not going to bother reading all the above so there may be some duplication. In a word, Yes. Had cheap, have expensive named kit because it's good and works. It's not just the waterproofness it's the fit of the hood, the pockets that don't allow water in, the zip not leaking. If money is a factor I'd go the ex military route, you are mainly tied to the camouflage scheme of choice but I think the Austrian kit is quite good and reasonable. A friend recently got a cracking well put together police goretex but his pocket's pool water. Buy once, cry once.
 
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