Hiking: Help Me Choose a New Wind/Rain Jacket (on major sale)

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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. 

The North Face Apex Flex (The Jacket I Have, Sized Up)

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).

Needed? A new rain jacket for hiking. Backcountry has many waterproof, windproof jackets - flattering & gorg. The North Face, Columbia or Arc'Teryx?

jacket (small) | sweater (m) | jeans (26) | boots

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).

Needed? A new rain jacket for hiking. Backcountry has many waterproof, windproof jackets - flattering & gorg. The North Face, Columbia or Arc'Teryx?

jacket (small) | sweater (m) | jeans (26) | bootsbackpack

Same North Face Apex Flex (In a Color That’s 40% Off)

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.)

Needed? A new rain jacket for hiking. Backcountry has many waterproof, windproof jackets - flattering & gorg. The North Face, Columbia or Arc'Teryx?

jacket (small) | sweater (m) | jeans (26) | boots

Needed? A new rain jacket for hiking. Backcountry has many waterproof, windproof jackets - flattering & gorg. The North Face, Columbia or Arc'Teryx?

jacket (small) | sweater (m) | jeans (26) | boots | backpack

Columbia Arcadia II Jacket (Under $100) 

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.

Needed? A new rain jacket for hiking. Backcountry has many waterproof, windproof jackets - flattering & gorg. The North Face, Columbia or Arc'Teryx?

jacket (small) | sweater (m) | jeans (26) | boots

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.

Needed? A new rain jacket for hiking. Backcountry has many waterproof, windproof jackets - flattering & gorg. The North Face, Columbia or Arc'Teryx?

jacket (small) | sweater (m) | jeans (26) | boots backpack

Arc’Teryx Beta LT Jacket (In The Prettiest Shade, 40% Off)

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.

Needed? A new rain jacket for hiking. Backcountry has many waterproof, windproof jackets - flattering & gorg. The North Face, Columbia or Arc'Teryx?

jacket (small) | sweater (m) | jeans (26) | boots

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.

Needed? A new rain jacket for hiking. Backcountry has many waterproof, windproof jackets - flattering & gorg. The North Face, Columbia or Arc'Teryx?

jacket (small) | sweater (m) | jeans (26) | boots | backpack

Arc’teryx Alpha AR Jacket (Bright and Bold, 40% Off)

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.

Needed? A new rain jacket for hiking. Backcountry has many waterproof, windproof jackets - flattering & gorg. The North Face, Columbia or Arc'Teryx?

jacket (small) | sweater (m) | jeans (26) | boots

One Random (But Cute) Sleek Puffer (60% Off)

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).

Needed? A new rain jacket for hiking. Backcountry has many waterproof, windproof jackets - flattering & gorg. The North Face, Columbia or Arc'Teryx?

jacket (small) | sweater (m) | jeans (26) | boots

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.

Needed? A new rain jacket for hiking. Backcountry has many waterproof, windproof jackets - flattering & gorg. The North Face, Columbia or Arc'Teryx?

sweater (m) – 50% off | jeans (26) | boots

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?

Argh. Halp.

xo,

S

23 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve had the Arc’Teryx Beta LT jacket for YEARS-it’s still going strong and I can’t recommend it enough. It is completely waterproof and windproof and keeps me warm even when biking in the winter. It’s crazy. It also handles the washing machine just fine. When you get hot, you can just shove it in your backpack without weighing it down or taking up much room. Also, that color is gorg.

  2. I’m really into the hot orange. But the traditional black is always a good choice for matching outfits while traveling. Also, I live in New Hampshire! Idk if you are aware but you have to reserve parking and tickets to state parks in advance. A popular spot everyone loves is the flume gorge- it’s a super easy walk with stairs but pretty! Also if you’re interested in a real hike- the Francona Ridge loop is magnificent. Everyone is extremely casual in NH. Especially up north. Let me know if you have any questions about the area! Xoxo

  3. Oh, I forgot! Can’t miss: Mt. Washington Hotel. You don’t have to stay there (the rooms are just okay and SUPER expensive) BUT you must visit for a lunch or cocktail! It’s absolutely gorgeous and the only place you may see people dressed up north. And the views! We go a few times a year.

  4. I really should learn to write things all in one comment… but it’s HOT in NH. Like 90s. In the mountains it’s like 80s. Unless you run ultra super cold you probably won’t need a cashmere. You’ll need a raincoat for the peaks. And it’s really rocky so personally I prefer long hiking pants. I also really like using walking sticks for the steep rocky descents. I’ve legit seen youths hike 8 miles in flip flops and jean shorts though. I swear I’m done commenting now! Sorry!

  5. The blue on-sale North Face. Bum coverage is so key. And get that little lightweight black puffer too. I had a similar one from Uniqlo when we went to the PNW and Alaska last summer and it packs down to a ball, is decently warm and layered beautifully under my rain shell. Also, just want to say, I love Backcountry. They have great products, fair prices and good customer service.

  6. We always choose bright warm colours for hiking. Oranges, reds, pinks etc stand out and allow rescuers a fighting chance to find you if you need help. As a bonus, the colours look awesome in our pics against the backdrop of greens and blues in nature.

  7. I have the Arc’Teryx Beta jacket in another color and love it. I bought it for hiking and possibly cross country skiing (though I never got to try that this winter as there was no snow when we went to VT). The peach color looks great on you…but the orange Arcteryx jacket looks cool too.

  8. I live in MA near the NH border. These outfits are cute but it is HOT and humid here. I don’t know much about hiking but it’s exercise, right? I think you should plan on shorts and a sweat-wicking tank top.

  9. Another NH reader chiming in! I’m a long-time reader, but first-time commenter SO excited you’re visiting our beautiful state. Just a reminder, though, that NH currently has a 14-day quarantine requirement for non-new Englanders.

  10. Gwen!!! This is SO HELPFUL. You literally just saved us – we had no idea that state parks had to be reserved in advance (but it does make sense). What is – in your opinion – the best time to visit? We’re really hoping to do the Francona Ridge loop…but next week shows rain everyday except for Friday. Is this one of those mountain town things, where there’s always some rain daily, or are we better off choosing a different week altogether? I mean…if you’re like GO IN OCTOBER (or something) we might need to pause. And thank you!!!!!

  11. Former NH resident currently MA but I go to the Whites a lot. With regards to the rain- could it rain all day-possibly, could it rain for a short time- possibly, or could it be sunny and not rain at all- possibly. It’s so hard to pick based on the weather forecast. I took my son camping a few weeks ago and every other day was supposed to rain. It didn’t.

    I’ve done the Franconia Ridge or I’ve hiked Lincoln and Lafayette together; I’m not sure if that’s the same. There is nothing like walking along the ridge. It is amazing. It’s best to do now. If you don’t like being cold, I don’t either, than you’ll be miserable in October. It’s a brutal hike though. My legs were shaking on the way down.

    I would also recommend Echo Lake. It’s a fairly easy hike and there’s a lake at the top. There’s a hut with a bathroom so bring your suits. The kids will love it. The water is freezing. I’ve been many times and it’s cold every time.

  12. I’ve never known anyone to regret their Arc’Teryx. They’re pricey but will last a lifetime! I think if you were looking for a jacket to do double-duty in the city, I’d suggest the North Face since it’s both waterproof and chic, but I happen to know you have plenty of chic city jackets (hehe), so I’d suggest either of the Arc’Teryx jackets. I love the peach but the bright orange is also amazing; you really can’t go wrong. If it were me, I’d go with orange since it’s a looser fit and would therefore work with thicker layers if you ever find yourself in a pinch where it’s chilly but for whatever reason you don’t have a proper coat with you.

    I LOVE that little puffer-bomber. What a cool find!

  13. Definitely color. We keep having local news stories of hikers getting lost (and subsequently found, safe but a bit hungry and dehydrated) and why not maximize your chance of being seen? To that end the bright orange is great, but that peach really does light up your complexion.

  14. I’m so sorry, I just saw this! Honestly New England weather is a total crapshoot. It’s not predictable. If you want to get the fall foliage experience… def go the first week of October! I just found out that Omni Mt Washington Hotel works with influencers so they might hook you up. Otherwise it’s hard to book a room in October. But if you want to do hiking and don’t care about the foliage, I think it’s better in the summer. You’ll only need to pack a raincoat/ windbreaker for the peaks-
    not a down parka! Feel free to email me! Xo

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