We’re planning a little hiking trip next week. Mike and I have found, over the years, that we need proper family vacations — away from the house — in order for us to really unplug. Otherwise, our workaholic tendencies tend to get the best of us. And this year, we were supposed to be in Turkey. Like, right now. And then Greece. But instead, 2020 happened, so instead we’re going to go hiking (and potentially camping) in New Hampshire for a couple of days.
I’m really excited, actually. New Hampshire looks…jaw-droppingly gorgeous.
I’ve started trying to prep for our trip, and, true to form, one of the boys suddenly grew out of their hiking boots. Neither one could find their rain jackets (cue yelling from me about RESPONSIBILITY), Raines only has shorts that fit (“I don’t think I need pants ever anymore, Mom”) and somehow in all of this chaos I decided I had better try on my trusty North Face — the jacket I happily hiked all over Iceland in, the one I haven’t tried on in…a year?
As it turns out, the jacket does fit. Technically speaking. But either I’ve grown or it has shrunk or I’ve completely redefined the word “comfortable” since The Great No-Pants Quarantine of 2020. But there’s one thing I know: I don’t want to hike in that size XS ever again.
The Best Rain Jacket For Hiking Right Now
Since Backcountry is having its big semi-annual sale, I clicked through pages (and pages) of waterproof, windproof jackets (all on sale), and ordered a bunch to my house. I also managed to find this year’s version of my North Face Iceland jacket…which was not on sale (at least not in black). But sometimes it’s worth going with what you know.
In any case…women’s hiking jackets are getting really, really good. Not only are they technical and comfortable and high-performing….but the cuts are really flattering and the colors are gorgeous. So now? I need some help deciding.
This North Face Apex Flex jacket is the 2020 model of the one I took to Iceland. The reason I SO love this jacket is because the fabric is completely, 100% waterproof (I literally walked through waterfalls in it) yet it doesn’t feel swishy or crinkley or stiff like many other waterproof fabrics. It literally just feels like fabric. It’s also very windproof yet breathable, lightweight, and can be warm (I think Mike has used his for spring skiing, too).
This year’s model has more of a city vibe than my old one. There’s some sort of cuff detail at the hem, and the length is a bit longer than my old one. That’s good news, I think. The old one didn’t quite cover my bum, which ended up wet.
Also, the fabric is pliable enough to be comfortably worn with a backpack.
Downside? This color is NOT on sale, and the cut is rather slim (although the jacket overall is stretchy and flexible).
This is the exact same jacket as the one above, but this color is on major sale. Blues like this tend to look really pretty with skin tones…but strange with denim. (Obviously, it would look good with black leggings, though, soooo…hmmm.)
This jacket is — by far — the most affordable of the bunch. Even without the sale, it comes in under $100. Some colors are on sale, and this one — buttercup — is one of them (25% off). It’s waterproof, with taped seams, and is also packable (into the pocket). It’s soft, and has that swishy fabric. There’s a mint, peach and navy also on sale.
There’s no stretch in this jacket, and it doesn’t block the wind as well as the others. But it’s a really great, basic shell.
This Arc’Teryx jacket is impossibly light — it literally feels like you are barely wearing anything. It’s also completely, 100% waterproof, even in the zipper. The fit is a slim fit, which I’m a little concerned about, but it has “fully articulated patterning and gusseted underarms” so not to restrict range of movement. It’s also supposed to be very breathable.
The hood is helmet compatible, which means that I could also wear this for spring skiing, a pretty big plus. (My ski jackets are typically the biggest, warmest, puffiest down ski jackets I can find because I hate being cold. They’re great…until April, when we’re sometimes skiing in 60 degrees.)
And this color? SWOON.
This Arc’teryx jacket is basically almost the exact same at the one above, but with a roomier cut. Same insane levels of waterproofing, windproofing, and breathability in the most ‘POW!’ color. We stick Pax into neon orange ski gear and can literally find him ANYWHERE on the mountain, so I’m tempted to go this route. I completely forgot to snap a pic of this jacket with the backpack…but it all works. Looks great.
This is not a contender for hiking, but I wanted to try this sleek little puffer anyway. I love these jackets especially for ski season. They’re cute enough to wear around on their own, but can be layered under a shell for maximum warmth. This one is super-cute (and on crazy sale).
What I’m Wearing Underneath…
This cute little sweater (also on major sale) totally caught my eye. Love the thumbholes, and it’s warm, despite the sheer knit. Perfect for layering over a wicking cami for hiking in cooler weather.
So guys…which jacket do I keep?? Do I go with my old standby, or branch out in a color? And if color, WHICH ONE?