If you plan a trip to Scotland and you think you will be fine without a very good waterproof jacket – think again. No matter what time of the year your trip is scheduled for, you can pretty much expect Scotland to surprise you with weather from all four seasons, sometimes within one day. You might think, I’ll just bring an umbrella – but in that case, you have not considered the vicious rain-wind combination so common in Scotland. Your umbrella will most likely break – if you don’t leave it under your seat of the first pub you visit.
When I first moved to Scotland I had bought a brand-new waterproof jacket from a brand I didn’t know much about and sadly it turned out that it was not as waterproof as needed in the Scottish autumn showers. A new jacket had to be purchased and this time I wanted to make sure it would last.
I ended up with a tri-climate jacket by The North Face which had an external waterproof layer and an internal padded jacket which you could zip and clip together. If you ask me – this kind of jacket is PERFECT for Scotland – read on to find out why!
2 layers: a water-resistant insulated jacket (inner) and a waterproof layer (outer)
Large pockets in both layers; fold-away, adjustable hood
The North Face’s own HyVent coating for extra durability, waterproofness and breathability
Available in different colour combinations
The Wonders of Triclimate Jackets
My own North Face tri-climate jacket (model Loreto) was exclusively sold by a UK shop called Cotswold, but there are many more models in this style available online and worldwide.
I fell in love with the colour that was on display in our local Glasgow branch – a dark turquoise, although there are several colour options available – praise be, pink was not my only option! The cut also looked great – shaped but not too tight around the waist or too short like many other women’s jackets often are.
The inner jacket
The Loreto is different than many other tri-climate jackets out there which often come with a fleece layer. I already owned a good fleece and a super-warm Icelandic wool jumper so it was important to me that my new waterproof jacket could offer me something different. The Loreto’s inner layer is a lightweight insulated jacket, very similar to a thin down jacket, serving the same purpose: to keep you warm.
I often wear the inner layer on its own and even in the Scottish summer, it is hardly ever a bad idea to keep it close to me. Because the jacket is so lightweight it folds down really small and I can easily stuff it in my bag. It hardly takes up space. The pockets are big enough to fit my smartphone (for navigation and photos when I’m on my bike) but they also keep my hands really warm when I’m walking around.
What I love most about the inner layer though is that it is actually reasonably water resistant. It won’t keep you completely dry when it’s pissing it down (see here for more Scottish words for rain) but don’t worry if you are suddenly surprised by a brief shower – it will do the job.
The waterproof layer
The waterproof outer layer of the Loreto is a brighter turquoise than the inner layer which makes you more visible when it is rainy and dark outside. It has a hood which you can fit tightly around your head – perfect for when it’s windy. There are plenty of pockets, again big enough to fit a reasonably sized smartphone, lights and/or gloves.
The North Face has actually developed its own kind of polyurethane coating called HyVent which makes the jacket extremely waterproof and durable, but also breathable. It is similar to what is often used for the soles of hiking boots, and if it keeps your feet dry it can only be good for the rest of your body. Due to all the rain Glasgow often gets a bit sticky in the summer months, so it’s good to have a breathable jacket.
Combining the Layers
The two layers are easily combined with two zippers and three press studs. Worn together they almost replace your need of a winter jacket altogether. The tri-climate version of the Loreto is so warm and waterproof you can easily wear it on top of a mountain like Mt Kilimanjaro – or Ben Nevis.
The jacket is only available at Cotswold shops and online shop. It sets you back £160 but it is definitely worth every last penny of that. I’m well impressed by the level of waterproofness of both layers, especially since I’ve had the jacket for a year now and it still keeps me dry without ever having to freshen up the waterproof layer.
These days, when it’s hot and sunny one day, and raining and windy on the next, I basically live in this jacket. I wear it when I cycle around Glasgow when I go camping or hiking in the Highlands when it’s raining heavily or it’s just a little cold, and I’ve taken it on a trip to Ecuador, Mt Kilimanjaro and the Austrian Alps. The Loreto goes where I go.
I often hear people complain about the weather in Scotland. While I understand that unspoiled sunshine makes for better views and photographs than cloudy skies and raindrops on your camera lens, a lot of these complaints come down to the wrong clothes. Obviously, when you are cold and wet, you won’t be writing raging reviews about your time here. But if you actually feel warm and comfortable even in the rain, that is a different story. A lot of your experience comes down to the clothes you are wearing to protect you, and in Scotland, it is better to come well prepared.
The Loreto goes where I go and if you are looking for a waterproof jacket to get you ready for your trip to Scotland, this is one investment worth making.
UPDATE: The Loreto is no longer available, but you can get a similar tri-climate jacket from The North Face here:
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All photos by Kathi Kamleitner.