And there lived a little boy, in a little house on the mountain, with his Daddy and his dog.
He was nine years old and every day of his life, it had rained and rained, all day and all night. People were always telling him that, before he was born, there had been such a thing as a sun; this was a big, round, yellow thing, which gave warmth and light to everything and everybody and it always had a smile on its big, round, yellow face.
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And to see that smile on the sun, people would look at it and smile back at it. The little boy could not seem to picture the idea of a big, round, yellow, smiling face, as he had never seen one. And he couldn't believe that people could look at it and smile, because in his little village, nobody smiled; they all looked sad. One day, the people began to comment that the skies seemed a little lighter.
It was still raining and the black clouds were still there, hanging in the skies, but it did seem lighter. The following day, people began to comment more, that it seemed to have rained less. The next day, it only rained for half the day.
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The next, it only drizzled and trickled. The result is a surprisingly soft, fitted jacket that can be worn directly over a base layer for every activity from backcountry skiing to hiking. It feels, more or less, exactly like a warm, comfortable fleece that keeps you improbably dry.
It was so astonishing to be biking in a cold December rain and not have any water penetrate the wool that I put it on and stood in a cold shower for 10 minutes. Water continued to bead on the surface until I gave up. It uses high-quality laminate waterproofing instead of the less expensive coating many cheaper rain jackets tend to rely on see below for info on laminates and layers. Rather than bonding a waterproof, breathable membrane below the shell fabric, manufacturers will save money by just coating the inner surface with a waterproof, breathable film.
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The Rainier is this year's upgrade, and it has many of the same features that I liked about the Essential and a few new ones—for example, it's made from recycled nylon and has venting pit zips. I found the Essential to be too sticky and clammy for running. For casual day hikes and traveling, the Rainier jacket is a great choice.
However, in , the company switched from the DWR treatment with a longer chemical structure, or C8 PFCs, to one with a shorter molecule that is easier to break down. The Cloud Ridge includes a stuff sack, and the hood is helmet-compatible. But it fit comfortably and kept me dry on runs and dog walks, and it looks stylish enough to wear as a casual jacket. Its casual rain jackets have plenty of nice features, work well, and cost hundreds of dollars less than many of my other picks. Trying to decipher jackets' product specs is almost as annoying as getting soaked by a sudden cloudburst on the trail.
Look for laminated layers: Most technical waterproof jackets are referred to as two- or three-layer jackets. These layers usually consist of a face fabric that has been treated with a waterproofing agent like Durable Water Repellent DWR , a thin mesh for releasing water vapor, and a protective interior lining underneath. Waterproof and breathability ratings: Manufacturers usually rate each fabric based on its waterproofing and breathability.
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For example, a rain jacket with a waterproof rating of 20, means that if you had an endlessly long 1-inch square tube, you could pour 20, millimeters of water on top of the fabric before it would start seeping through that's over 65 feet! A 20, breathability rating means that 20, grams of water vapor can pass through the fabric going the other direction. Body heat can escape a breathable jacket almost as easily as water vapor.
Fantastic fabrics: While Gore-Tex remains the gold standard in terms of waterproofing performance, new fabrics are coming out all the time.
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Nanospinning allows the North Face to create a spider-weight waterproof breathable fabric, which can be adapted for all kinds of garments—a T-shirt, a dress—but will also allow designers to create garments with far fewer seams. The fewer the seams, the fewer vulnerable points which can degrade and let water seep in.
Unfortunately, no North Face rain jackets will be available until Autumn Check the seams and zppers: If you want your rain jacket to last longer than an amusement park poncho, look at the seams. Shoulders are particularly vulnerable points, as most outdoor sports require you to wear a backpack that can rub and damage them. Other features to look for include plasticized, water-resistant zippers and protective zipper flaps.
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Care for your jacket: You can also vastly extend the life of your jacket by caring for it properly. Avoid fabric softener, bleaches, dry cleaning, or the dryer. Christopher Ryan. Lily Hay Newman. Daniel Oberhaus. Lauren Smiley. Understanding Rain Jacket Tech.