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Jacket Buying Guide | Tiso Blog

Scotland's leading outdoor clothing and adventure specialists since 1962.

Your outer jacket is your barrier against the elements. However, it’s easy to get confused looking at the huge range of jackets available today. With new technology, fabrics and designs emerging all the time it’s hard to keep up! The best way to choose a new jacket is to narrow down your search by deciding what climate the jacket will be used in, what you plan to use it for and your budget.

Quick Jacket Tips

What type of clothing will best suit your activity? This will narrow your choice immediately. For example, an insulated snowsports jacket will most likely be too heavy and warm for general walking and vice versa.

What are the most important features for your end use? Durability, waterproofing, breathability, light weight, vents, freedom of movement, cut or colour?

Remember that waterproof garments can be very versatile. Combined with various layers to suit changing uses and weather conditions.

What type of Jacket Should I Buy?

Lightweight waterproofs

Aimed at a more casual user who is not expected to use the jacket in an all-year round mountain environment. Advantages are that they tend to be more simple and lightweight and will pack away neatly when not in use. This type of garment is therefore ideal when you do not anticipate wearing it, but need to carry it in your pack just in case. Hood design tends to be simpler, often without visor or stiffener and won't be helmet compatible hood. They can be used for wearing around town or for general day hiking and summer backpacking.Shop Men's Shop Women's

Mountain Waterproofs

These waterproofs are set apart by their tough, high-performance fabrics and exacting design specification. Good design is just as important as how waterproof the fabric is. The fabrics tend to be harder wearing, and the garment will generally have more features but may be more expensive than lighter garments. Hoods will incorporate cheek flaps or larger volumes to allow better shelter from the weather. Stiffened hood visors resist the wind and volume adjusters allow the hood to be tailored to your requirements. Chin guards can be used to protect your face from abrasion, cold and frost. Pockets will be designed to minimise water ingress (no pockets are fully waterproof) and can sometimes double as vents. These garments may also have underarm zips to allow extra venting during high exertion activities.
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Snowsports clothing

Snowsports clothing is generally designed for the skier or snowboarder. The latter is generally looser in cut, casual in style and may not be fully waterproof. Alpine and downhill ski clothing tends to be closer fitting, while extreme skiers sometimes even opt for climbing or mountaineering clothing. Features to look out for in this clothing category include powder skirts (to keep out the snow), pass pockets (for essentials), Recco systems (for safety) and articulated elbows and knees )for greater freedom of movement).
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Soft shells

A fairly recent development building on alternatives to waterproof garments and combine elements of a mid-layer and an outer layer in one. Ideal for active users such as climbers, mountaineers, cyclists and ski-mountaineers, the majority of soft shells do not need to be fully waterproof or windproof as the fast pace of the user keeps them comfortable. They are highly wind and water resistant and the insulation they provide makes them extremely versatile. The close cut of most garments means they look as good on the street as they do on the hill..
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Down or insulated items

A good choice when all you want is maximum warmth from your clothing without the bother of layering, a down or insulated garment can be a good choice. The various designs are intended to suit the varying needs of walkers, skiers and climbers as well as alpine mountaineers. Choosing a synthetic or down jacket, smock or gilet allows you to customise your level of insulation… whether you’re stopping for lunch on the hill or belaying during cold winter months.
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The modern, breathable equivalent of the woolly jumper! Available in a variety of styles and weights. This allows you to pick a fleece to suit your activity and the weather. The general preference is towards lighter weight fleece garments, sometimes referred to as 100 or 200 weight. Fleece garments are also available in wind resistant and windproof fabrics to allow for more varied use. Match the fleece type to the amount of insulation you need for your chosen activity.
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Why is layering so important?

A good layering system is an essential, if often overlooked, element of dressing for the outdoors. Layering correctly allows the wearer to keep warm, dry and comfortable whatever the weather. With advances in fabric technology, there are a wide variety of solutions available on the market but the real key to layering is simplicity. If you follow these general principles you can tailor the system to suit your individual needs.

Wearing multiple thin layers traps heat far more efficiently than a few bulky ones. A clever and versatile solution is to aim for three layers - an outer shell worn in conjunction with a mid and base layer.

It is imperative to ensure that each layer is breathable. A cotton t-shirt will negate the benefits of a breathable shell, trapping moisture before it even hits the jacket. When you stop, the moisture on the cotton t-shirt will then cool down and cause a chill. Choose a base layer made from a performance fabric that wicks perspiration away from your skin to the mid-layer.

A fleece is an ideal choice as a mid-layer as it will continue to transport moisture away from your body to the shell while also providing insulation.

A breathable jacket will finish the layering system as it will protect you from the elements whilst also allowing the moisture from the inner layers to escape.

Once you have mastered the art of layering you can regulate your body temperature by wearing one, two or all three layers to match the weather conditions. Base and mid-layers are also available in a wide variety of weights to provide the optimum insulation, whatever your needs.

Looking after your jacket

To maintain optimum performance of your clothing it is essential that it is clean and has the DWR treatment working. For tips on how to best look after your clothing see our Care and Maintenance Guide. For more information on different types of fabric, see our Fabric Guide.

No matter where you're heading this summer, share your adventures in the great outdoors with us, by sharing your photos and stories with #MyTiso on social media. Ask our staff in store and online if you're looking for more advice to get you geared up for your next cammping adventure!

Share your adventures with #mytiso!