When watching cartoons as a kid, namely Winnie the Pooh, I (Hamish) distinctly remember a raincoat to be something along the lines of a knee length yellow PVC number worn by Christopher Robin. So why do we see so many rain jackets coming in at waist length?
Is it because in reality we don’t often wear these rain jackets in torrential downpours and in a mere shower between the car and the train station or bus stop? Is it a fashion thing or maybe it’s a functionality thing? It could also be that in Australia it is often acceptable to utilise a quality hard shell jacket for ski touring, skiing or snow shoeing in our warmer alpine climate, leading to a preference for shorter jackets.
I will be the first to put my hand up and say I am a waist length rain jacket owner. I have had several rain jackets over the years and with the exception of an issued military Goretex mid-thigh length jacket they have all been cut at the waist. Most of these jackets have seen more use on the streets than they have on the trails. I will never step off without a rain jacket of some description when I go bush for anything more than a day hike, but I have learned some lessons about which is most appropriate.
In July 2016 we ventured into mountains of Peru along the Salkantay Trek en route to Machu Picchu. I had packed, unpacked and packed again several times before departing Australia for South America. I was determined not to leave anything behind and to pack for the conditions we could expect. Working in outdoor retail at the time helped me select the appropriate gear. One thing I couldn’t overlook was a rain jacket and waterproof overpants. I invested $200 in a quality pair of Australian made overpants only weeks before the trip.
As we descended from the snowy peak of Abra Salkantay the snow turned quickly to sleet and then wind driven, horizontal freezing rain. The call was made for everyone to produce their wet weather gear (if they hadn’t already). What came next was an interesting assortment of rain jackets, wind breaker shells and even a few garbage bags fashioned into “rain skirts”! I could almost say that was a turning point for my passion to kit people out in the right gear for their adventures.
If it’s raining hard and it’s cold you most likely would want rain pants and a rain jacket, in which case the length of your jacket isn’t too much of a concern but when it comes to warmer climates or anything above say 10 degrees Celsius you may find you prefer to don the shorts rather than hiking pants. So, as the theory goes, if your rain jacket matches or surpasses the length of your shorts, they will stay dry. If you happen to be wearing pants, then the longer your rain jacket the less water will hit your pants.
So, for the sake of an extra few grams of jacket you won’t be absorbing the extra few grams of water into your shorts or pants.
At the end of the day it comes down to what you like. Ultimately if the weather is good the jacket may well stay in your pack! I like to keep mine handy in the top area of my pack with my beanie and my gloves, especially in the Alps.
To shop our rain jackets, click here. If we haven’t got the one you want let us know and we will see if we can help you find it.