Outerwear Fit: Adventuring in Comfort
Buying new outerwear? Five things you should consider before taking off the tags. Fit, function, activity, accessibility and beyond.

Bad news: There are a number of things to consider when purchasing new outerwear aka jackets aka shells. Good news: We’ve got an easy, quick rundown for you whether you’ll be using it for hiking, skiing or climbing. When determining how your new jacket should fit, there are a few components to keep in mind. Below are five categories you should consider when trying on your new jacket for the first time in a store or at home. The last thing you want is to discover a faulty fit on the trail or slopes. The right fit can be the difference between a wonderful day in the outdoors or a spoiled adventure. backpacker on hiking trail

Finding Mobility in Your Shell

While a jacket might feel fine when you try it on, test it out a little to get an idea of how it will fit when you move in it. Remember back to school shoe shopping? You may have said the shoe felt OK, but your mom probably still made you walk the length of the aisle anyway just to make sure. Use the same tactic when choosing new outerwear.


Lift your arms above your head and touch your fingers together. Are the sleeves long enough? During your outdoor adventuring, you’ll want a jacket long enough to follow your movements, but not long enough to get in the way.


When you checked the sleeve length, how were the cuffs? You’ll want to have the ability to push them back if you need ventilation, but they shouldn’t be so loose that they flop backward. Imagine yourself reaching for the next hold on a route, bending the elbows and holding your ski poles, or trail running in the rain. Do you feel the cuffs properly extend to cover your wrists while enabling room for gloves? The best thing you can do is envision the elements before you face them. Here are some examples of mobile jackets you may want to consider: Climbing: The North Face Apex Bionic Jacket Hiking: Arc'teryx Beta LT Hybrid Jacket Skiing: Marker Zodiac 3-in-1 GORE-TEX Jacket


You’re likely going to use your pockets out on the trail or ski slope, so make sure they feel right! Check that they’re located at a comfortable height and will be accessible if you plan to have additional gear, like a harness, on. We don’t want you to strain a muscle trying to grab a quick granola bar refuel.

Outerwear by Sport or Activity

Your outerwear fit needs will depend on what activity you plan to wear it for. If you’re running or hiking, you may want a shorter jacket with ample stretch. If you’re a climber or mountaineer, like Forest Woodward, you’ll need to ensure the jacket is not so snug that it inhibits movements or range of motion. And consider any additional gear you’ll be wearing. For example, snowboarders should consider how the jacket’s hood will fit their helmet.

Location and Weather Considerations

The activity you’ll be participating in and what region it’s located in will greatly impact what size of jacket you choose to purchase. If your outdoor adventures include cold temperatures and snow, you’ll want to likely buy a jacket the next size up to leave room for layered clothing underneath. Consider testing your new jacket with layers. It should fit comfortably without restricting any movement. Keep in mind, some brands design their products to provide a little extra space for layering, so check the description to see if that’s the case. And, be cognizant of the fact that different products may be manufactured in different countries with unique sizing parameters. If possible, visit your local outdoor store to try outerwear on firsthand.

Overall Jacket Function

In the end, if your new outerwear will be worn for a specific sport, consider purchasing a jacket designed with that activity in mind. Take the Burton [ak] 2L Blade Snowboard Jacket with GORE-TEX product technology for example. It is designed to mimic the body's natural movement for a better riding experience. For people just looking for the right everyday outdoor winter jacket, consider something like the Berghaus Frendo Jacket which is ideal for a wide range of outdoor activities and conditions. Buying outerwear is a little more complicated than it was when we were kids. But, the rewards are worth it. With the right research, testing, and knowledge, you can get the perfect jacket for your next winter adventure!

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