As a confirmed Globetrotting tragic, I’ve ridden in just about all weathers, from Patagonian snow to Icelandic wind, to Morrocan desert chill and the relentless pelting of Irish rain. In every destination, the weather can change – sometimes not only daily, but hourly! So of course, a good rain jacket is a must. Choosing the right jacket is like choosing the right underwear: everyone has a different opinion and only you know what works best for comfort, style and budget. That said, there are some common features that you need to look out for if you want a jacket that covers all bases and keeps you warm and dry, or even cool and dry, no matter what the elements throw at you.
Here’s where things get personal. Some people swear by a long coat that doubles to cover their legs in the wet. In that case, leg straps to prevent the coat from flapping are a must. Others, myself included, find a shorter jacket much more practical, paired with waterproof pants when needed. The shortest coats will give you plenty of freedom to move, but will leave your butt and thighs exposed. I recommend a loose-fitting mid length coat, either a straight cut or with a pull-in waist, with a ‘skirt’ or rear flaps that sit over the saddle. The extra cover keeps more of you out of the weather, and protects your saddle, too.
Check the label for the word ‘waterproof’, rather than ‘water resistant’ or ‘showerproof’. Look also for fully taped or welded seams – these methods ensure there are no stitching holes for water to sneak in through. Your new coat should be washable, but do remember that even the best coats will need re-waterproofing every now and again. To keep your trusty jacket rainproof as it ages, sprays and in-wash treatments are available from most outdoor stores.
It’s not just about the weight in the suitcase. A lightweight jacket will be less cumbersome to wear, especially if the outer is wet, but the last thing you want is to be both wet and sweating at the same time. You might want to go a little heavier when travelling to places where you know the weather is going to be really cold, but for most destinations, it’s the layers you wear underneath that will keep you snug and warm. Whichever jacket you buy, remember that if it’s heavy to wear when dry, it’ll be even heavier in a downpour.
When blazing a trail across the Andes or trekking towards a glacier in Iceland, the last thing you want is for that whistling, biting wind to ruin your day. Again, if you want the best protection, the word ‘windproof’ on the label is probably going to be a better option than ‘wind resistant’.
Best of the Rest
We all know the practicality of Velcro, but the downside can be hay and dirt catching in the loops and making it less ‘sticky’. Sealed zips work well, but they should be two-way to prevent scratching the saddle and to allow you to open the lower edge of the coat for more flexibility. There are some great coats on the market that use a combination of zips and velcro.
Adjustable wrists and waists help to keep the rain out, as does a high collar that wraps up to protect your neck. Look for a coat with lots of handy pockets for phones, snacks, tissues, and of course a tasty carrot for your trusty steed.
A couple of well-placed reflective strips for visibility won’t go astray, and it pays to check to make sure the fabric is ‘quiet’; a ‘swishy’ fabric that’s going to spook your horse when you move is not ideal. Some jackets even have a removable inner layer. Of course it will add weight and you can add your own layers, but for those of us who particularly feel the cold, the extra warmth can be a bonus.
Most importantly, look for quality. A cheaply made jacket is not necessarily easier on your hip pocket in the long run, and will definitely be a cause for regret the next time you’re caught out in a torrential downpour. Here at Globetrotting HQ we will always be working hard to ensure you have the absolute best horse riding holiday experience possible, but try as we might, we can’t control the weather!
Mountain Horse USA
This article was written by Bernadette Kelly, a loyal Globetrotter since 2010, with 16 rides under her belt spanning Africa, South America, Iceland, Europe, The UK, and Australia.