How Many Jackets do You Actually Need?

05 May 2014

The pole in our hall cupboard looks really fed up. It’s been straining for years to hold the weight of all of our jackets and now has a deep bend in the centre that looks close to snapping . There must be 40 jackets in there, not ski jackets, they’re in the spare bedroom, and not fancy ‘nights out’ jackets they’re in the cupboard next to it – these are just our ‘outdoor’ jackets (see photo, and that's after I've tried to make it look good).

But how many outdoor jackets do you really need?

Let’s keep it simple and just do my jackets because if we start talking about the kids’ jackets that’s a minefield of colour coordination and I-don’t-like-that-anymore issues.

Let’s break them down into categories and usage.


I have four hardshells. I don't really like wearing hardshells. No matter how sophisticated the technology, as soon as I put them on I instantly feel a bit clammy.

Montane Superfly Jacket – Hardly ever used. I take it with me hiking in the winter if I think it’s going to be raining all day, but the rest of the time it’s swinging from the cupboard pole.

Montane Atomic Jacket – This is a hardshell, but it’s very light and doesn’t give me the same feeling as the Superfly. I still try not to wear it if I can help it, but it’s in my bag all the time, winter or summer.

Helly Hansen Seattle Jacket – This is strictly a dog walking around the streets type of jacket. I’ve never worn this for more than an hour and I’ve never exercised in it. It’s quite long so it keeps my bum dry.

Endura Venturi Jacket – I wear this cycling jacket from November all the way through until March. That’s a lie, my wife insists I take it off in bed. Wind and rain are meaningless concepts when you’re wearing it.

Softshell and Fleece

I am still at heart a layering type of guy. I do own a Buffalo and have tried the Montane Extreme Smock but I like the simplicity of taking something off when you get warm and putting something on when you’re cold. I’m a simple bloke, people tell me.

Montane Jaguar Jacket – the best fleece ever. When this wears out I am going to be devastated because those things are £120 each. It’s fluffy inside, no need to say anymore.

Buffalo Mountain Shirt – I wear this sometimes in the depths of winter, but still prefer the Jaguar and windshirt combination, if possible.

Montane Prism – this is great in September in those intermediate months before I’m allowed to get the gorgeous Jaguar out.

Montane Puma – when it gets too cold for the Prism jacket and I fancy a change from the Jaguar (which is never) I wear the Puma.

Helly Hansen Swift Jacket – looks fancy, so I sometimes wear it shopping (to show off) but nowhere near as insulated as the marvellous Jaguar. It’s got a hood so not bad under the Superfly to keep your lugs warm.


I also love windshirts (don’t worry Jaguar, you’re still my favourite) so it’s a miracle I only have four. They are miles more breathable than hardshells and will keep a tiny bit of rain off. The problem with them is they delay your decision to put the hardshell on when it starts raining and if you leave it too long you end up soaked.

2 x Montane Featherlite Smock – electric blue and electric blue, I like electric blue. These go everywhere with me, winter or summer. As soon as the wind gets up, get it on and you’re toasty.

2 x Montane Featherlite Velo – electric blue and flouro. One of these and a baselayers easily gets me through a summer of cycling.

You will have gathered from my list that I like Montane. Montane are part of the fast and light crowd but despite the lightness their gear still lasts. I have 13 jackets (plus about another 10 I haven't mentioned because I need to throw them out but can't), but which one’s are absolute essentials?

The Absolute Essentials

The Atomic DT – lives most of its life in the rucksack but it makes me feel reassured.

The Endura Venturi – couldn’t cycle through the winter without it.

The Jaguar – don’t know if it was obvious early but did you pick up on the fact I like my Jaguar Jacket? If not, I do.

One Velo – having only one of these is going to hurt but I can use the cycling one for hiking at a push. Although I wouldn't be able to get a thick fleece under it in winter without looking like a sausage, so maybe should have one smock as well.

If I combine these four (five) jackets with various baselayers and microfleeces it will definitely get me through a year of hiking and cycling in The Lake District. Nice to have a couple of extras though, just in case.

Thanks for reading.

Ian Young

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