Even as spring starts to bloom, there's still a bit of rain left in the sky. Grab a jacket that can hold up to the weather without letting you down. Here are a few things to look for in your spring shell. One of my favorite smells is the distintive scent after a rain. It's known as Petrichor and it's amazing. I have been places where that smell is overwhelming and memorable, but missed it thanks to a soaked shirt and soggy spirit. After braving a particularly fierce spring thunderstorm a few years back and coming out fully saturated I vowed to get a jacket that would hold up to the elements without slowing me down. After some research, here are the options when looking for a good shell that's easy to pack and holds up well to the world at it's worst:
1. Go for lightweight
It's no good for you if the jacket is fully waterproof but too bulky to take along on the adventure. Opt for a waterproof breathable coating with taped seams which will keep the weight down and make it small enough to take wherever the day may go. The most common coating is DWR, and it's durable enough to stay waterproof for plenty of adventures. The coating gets broken down by washing it, so try to keep it clean and never ever toss it in the dryer.
2. Quality goes a long way
When grabbing something that will hold up against that spring burst, I've never regretted a bit more quality (price). Brands like Patagonia, REI, The North Face or Arc'Teryx ($$) make excellent jackets that will be around for years and look great along the way.
3. Learn to layer
Light jackets are just that. Simple shells that fend off the elements but don't provide much in the way of insulation. Plan ahead and wear some nice layers that can be used to hold in warmth during the squall.
4. Take care of your gear
Just like only having to brush the teeth you want to keep, take care of your gear and it will treat you right for years to come. Always dry it out before storing, hand wash, and use as little soap as necessary. Re-seal seams every spring, and keep it out of the sun whenever possible.
With a bit of planning, you'll be facing the next storm like a champ, and enjoying the sweet smell of petrichor high and dry.
These aren't the cheapest jackets out there, but they're a good value for the solid materials and quality construction. I've had most of them over the years, and drooled over the rest as my friends and I hunkered down during spring thunder cells.