Horse Riding Jacket Buying Guide
Every rider would no doubt agree that a jacket is an essential part of an equestrian wardrobe. But the sheer amount of choices for riders is bewildering. Whether it's style, length, colour, or brand, how do you make a choice suitable for your type of riding?
Take waterproof jackets, for example. How do you know a jacket actually is waterproof?
And what about Softshell fabrics? Are they really worth their salt?
Our Horse Riding Jacket Buying Guide attempts to answer these questions, and more.
How This Guide Is Structured
We've split this buying guide into two main sections. To start with, get yourself up to speed with the different types of jacket there are. Once you're familiar with these, you can read our guidance on how to choose a jacket. We'll cover what you need to think about in terms of weather, style, fit and colour.
We'll be adding more information to this guide in the future, so do bookmark it and check back regularly.
How To Use This Guide
Use the links in the table of contents below to jump straight to different areas of the guide, or read it from top to bottom if you prefer. After each section, you can return here by clicking 'Back to Top'.
At the end of the guide, you'll find links to our selection of riding jackets, which includes great brands like Mark Todd, LeMieux and Mountain Horse. Simply click on Women's, Men's or Children's jackets at the end of this guide. And remember, at EQUUS you get free and fast UK delivery on all orders, regardless of how much you spend!
If there's something you'd like us to add to the guide, get in touch and let us know. That way we can give you the information you need to get the most out of your riding.
Now, on to the guide!
|TYPES OF RIDING JACKET|
|WATERPROOF RIDING JACKETS|
|LIGHTWEIGHT RIDING JACKETS|
|Softshell Riding Jackets||Fleece Riding Jackets|
|WINTER RIDING JACKETS|
|Synthetic Padded Riding Jackets||3-in-1 Riding Jackets|
|Faux Down Riding Jackets|
|HOW TO CHOOSE A RIDING JACKET|
|Consider The Weather||Select A Suitable Style|
|Check The Fit||Pick A Colour|
Types Of Riding Jacket
There are two main things to look for in a waterproof jacket. Firstly, it needs to be waterproof, obviously! Secondly, it needs to be breathable, which simply means it lets air escape. The reason why being breathable is so important is because there’s no point keeping the rain out only to overheat on the inside and end up soaked in sweat.
Key features to look for
Taped seams: As well as the waterproofing technology, a jacket must also have sealed seams to fully ensure no water enters the jacket.
Adjustable cuffs: These will help adjust the fit of the jacket and trap in warmth.
Storm flap: A key feature of a decent jacket. This ensures no water will enter through the zip.
Detachable and adjustable hood: Hoods add that extra bit of protection that can make the difference between feeling snug and dry or wet and miserable, simply by keeping your head dry.
The Busse Ayleen Jacket is fully waterproof and includes all of these important features. It's an essential that will keep you protected from spring through to autumn.
For heavier showers, you might prefer a jacket that feels more substantial. The LeMieux Team Crew Waterproof Jacket has a traditional, blouson style and is wind-resistant to keep you cosy.
If you hate getting wet and would prefer more coverage from the elements, take a look at the BR Equestrian Essential Waterproof Riding Coat. This clever coat has a removable hood and an extra high collar to keep the weather out, and features handy straps to keep your legs covered when you ride.
The jackets above are excellent for riding and yard work, but what if you're out competing and want to keep you smart competition outfit protected from the weather? HKM have two rain macs that are perfect for competitors and spectators alike, the HKM Long Transparent Rain Mac and the HKM Rain Mac. If you're showing, you might prefer the Equetech Showing Cape, designed to protect your tweed and keep you warm.
If you’ve invested in a waterproof riding jacket or you’re thinking about it, you’ll probably have a lot of questions about how to look after it. So here are some frequently asked questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: Can I wash a waterproof jacket?
A: Yes you can, just make sure you read the care label inside the jacket and follow the instructions accordingly.
Q2: What should I wash my waterproof jacket with?
A: Use a non-biological detergent. It’s advisable not to use biological detergents or fabric softener as the chemicals in them can break down the composition of the fibres with each wash and strip the fabric of its waterproof coating. You may wish to run your washing machine on a hot wash with nothing in it to clear any residues from biological detergent or fabric softeners before washing waterproof items.
Q3: What if I have washed it incorrectly?
A: If you’ve used a biological detergent or fabric softener all may not be lost! If you’ve only done it once, the damage will probably be minimal, whereas if you’ve done it several times you’ll have to work hard to restore it to its former glory! Start by washing it again using the correct agent.
Q4: Do I need to iron my waterproof jacket?
A: No, even if you turn the jacket inside out. The heat from the iron could reduce the performance of the outer shell of the jacket, meaning that the jacket will not be as waterproof as it was.
Q5: Do I need to reproof my waterproof jacket at any stage?
A: Possibly! You’ll know if your jacket needs to be reproofed by watching what happens when water falls on the outer shell. It’s still fully waterproof, for example, when beads of rain fall off it, but when the outer shell starts to absorb them, you’ll know it needs to be reproofed.
Q6: How many times can I wash my waterproof jacket?
A: As many as you like! Do remember though, unfortunately nothing lasts forever. The more you wash it, the more it will affect its performance. So the real answer is, only wash it when you need to, don’t wash it every time you wear it.
Q7: Can I tumble dry my waterproof riding jacket?
A: Again, check the jacket’s care instructions. Look for the tumble dry symbol which is a circle inside a square. This means that you can tumble dry it. Dots inside the circle indicate temperature, i.e. one is for lower heat and two is for higher heat. If there are no dots inside the circle, tumble dry it on a low heat. If there is a cross through the symbol or care instructions don’t include this symbol, it’s probably safest not to tumble dry it.
A good jacket is an investment. Put simply the more you invest, the more you’ll gain. However, there’s no point breaking the bank if you only need a basic shell for the odd shower, but if you’re using the jacket regularly out hacking, for example, you’ll really see the benefit of the higher end products.
Lightweight Riding Jackets
Spring and autumn can be very temperamental in terms of weather! We're often subject to frosty mornings followed by bright and warm afternoons, with sporadic showers thrown in at a moments notice. So it's important to select a jacket that is versatile. You might find you need a different jacket for these seasons compared to your winter jacket. Lightweight jackets work best in spring and autumn as they can be used in conjunction with other layers, such as fleeces and Softshells. Often, they’re waterproof and, as their title suggests, they’re light in weight which makes them most suitable for mild weather only.
Waterproof or water resistant lightweight jackets are perfect for spring and autumn weather. Softshell fabric will protect you from light showers and brisk winds whilst remaining breathable to prevent you from over-heating. Something that is easy to remove, with a simple front zip, will allow you to utilise layering to your advantage whilst offering quick and easy protection. Detachable or concealable hoods are also a great addition in case the weather turns to rain.
Key features to look for
Waterproof: Or at least water resistant. This kind of jacket should be a protective shell, rather than a a layer for extra warmth.
Breathable: As lightweight jackets are best suited for mild weather when you’re inclined to warm up quickly after a bit of activity, it’s advisable to go for a breathable one, otherwise it means that perspiration will be trapped inside the jacket making you and your clothes wet.
The water resistant Equetech Hack-A-Mac Jacket packs away into it's own pocket, is as light as a feather, and features a clip so you can attach it to the saddle or your belt to keep it handy. It's ventilated too, ensuring you stay cool.
Often machine washable, but it's always best to check the care label inside the garment before washing.
A perfect outer layer for unpredictable weather, these jackets are easy to wear, and are often "packable" so they're easy to store.
Softshell Riding Jackets
If you’re looking for an spring or autumn jacket to school in, you probably want just a lightweight layer to protect you that's easy to take off once you’ve got going. The reason why Softshell jackets are perfect for riding in is because the stretchy fabric they’re made from allows a full range of movement and they offer a limited amount of weather protection.
So what does “‘Softshell" mean? “Soft shell” is a term that is used to describe a new kind of outdoor wear. As its name suggests it’s primarily a ‘shell’ that combines many of the benefits of waterproof “hard shells” with more comfortable garments like fleece. Yet soft shells are neither.
“Hard shells” are those stiff, often noisy riding jackets of old that most of us have worn at some stage. Here’s a reminder of what they were like: you’d be outside in wet and/or cold, wintry conditions, working up a sweat and the moisture remained trapped inside your hard shell jacket. This left you with an unpleasant clamminess that chilled you to the bone when you stopped to rest. Besides this moisture problem, riders have just got sick of the noise from hard shell fabrics, as well as the constant zipping/unzipping, and simply wanted more comfortable jackets that you didn’t have to constantly take on and off all day. Sound familiar?
“Soft shells” are made from fabrics with a tight layered weave. They are durable, water repellent, and they shield you from the wind, rain and snow. In other words, a soft shell keeps weather out like a hard shell, but breathes like fleece. Besides great breathability, they have amazing flexibility in comparison to hard shells, fitting your body without constricting it and stretching naturally when you move.
Softshell is perfect for riders as it’s specifically designed to be used during physical exertion in conditions that do not require full wet weather protection or significant insulation. This highly versatile garment can be worn on its own or with other layers. A ‘must have’ for any rider’s wardrobe. If this hasn’t convinced you to buy one, the following will!
When comparing Softshell against soft fleece, a Softshell jacket does not:
- pill like a fleece
- look like a terry cloth rag after it’s been washed
- absorb water like a sponge in rain and snow
- allow the wind to cut through in the way that fleeces do
- And the big one – horse hair, hay, straw etc. doesn’t stick to it!
Key features to look for
Stretchy, non-crease fabric: It's important that your jacket moves as you move when you're riding.
Water resistant: Not many riders have the luxury of an indoor school, so a water resistant jacket is a must for spring/autumn.
We love the LeMieux Team Softshell Jacket, which is not only water resistant and breathable, but has handy zip pockets and a smart tailored fit.
Machine washable and often suitable to be tumble dried as well.
Softshell jackets can be worn alone or as a mid-layer, so they’re great value for money.
Fleece Riding Jackets
Fleeces have provided cosy warmth for many years, from casual designs that match your breeches to serious breathable versions aimed at riders who want technical pieces and performance. The perfect mid-layer underneath any jacket, they’re both comfortable and affordable.
Fleece jackets have a full length zip and should not be confused with fleece tops that have a much shorter zip in the neck area only.
Key features to look for
Stretch panels: Some fleeces have stretch panels on the side which are a welcome addition for those riders who like a bit of room in a fleece or who have a fuller figure.
Windproof: Some fleeces feature a windproof membrane within the inner lining. This will stop wind getting through and means that you’ll stay warmer with the use of fewer layers.
The Hy Signature Fleece Jacket is super cosy without being bulky, making it ideal to wear under another jacket. It has deep pockets too, to keep your belongings safe.
Usually easily machine washable and often suitable for the tumble dryer.
A fleece jacket is a better layer to ride in than a fleece top as it means that you can unzip the jacket and take it off if you get too hot whereas with a fleece top, you have to take your hat off to get it over your head!
Winter Riding Jackets
A winter jacket is a completely different animal to a jacket that's suitable for the rest of the year. As the weather varies so massively around the UK - and the world - it's important to consider the absolute worst weather you will face before you choose a winter riding jacket. If you're in the south, your biggest concern may be heavy rain and therefore a waterproof jacket might be best for you. Those in the north will be more susceptible to extreme cold and snow, making insulation the most important factor. Riders who live on the coast might be more concerned about strong winds and finding a jacket that keeps out the gusts and gales.
Key features to look for
Waterproof or water resistant: It is crucial to avoid feeling damp at the skin in the winter as it could cause you to become very cold very quickly.
Elasticated cuffs and waist: Although they might not be the most fashionable feature, they will help to keep the elements out and the warmth in.
Insulation: The level of insulation you need will depend on the worst type of weather you're going to face, as well as you as an individual - we all know someone who is cold all the time, and someone else who seems to have an internal radiator!
Detachable and adjustable hood: Hoods add an extra bit of protection that can make the difference between feeling snug and dry or wet and miserable, simply by keeping your head covered.
It is very important to follow the instructions on the care label of the jacket you choose, as the correct care is extremely important in maintaining the effectiveness of winter jackets.
Winter jackets are designed to protect you from the worst weather. But there is a wide range to cover the many different possibilities of "worst weather" variances across the country. Make sure the jacket you choose is designed for the most extreme weather you're likely to face in your area.
Synthetic Padded Riding Jackets
Whilst a synthetic padded jacket can’t match the warmth of a down jacket, it makes up for this in so many other ways. It offers a good level of warmth and is ideal for putting layers underneath that you can remove as you heat up. They offer great value compared to their down counterparts and there is often more of a range to choose from, which makes it easier to find a style that suits your budget.
Key features to look for
Tailored fit: if you want to look vaguely stylish on the yard, you’ll have more chance with a synthetic padded jacket.
Little finishing touches: often these jackets have attractive finishing touches, for example faux fur trim on the hood or fancy pullers on the zips, which give an added appearance of luxury and quality.
The HKM Ella Quilted Jacket is flattering, insulating and stylish too.
Usually, all synthetic jackets are machine washable and can go in the same wash as all your other riding clothes. Plus, many can be tumble dried too. As always, check the care label in the jacket and follow the instructions accordingly.
A good quality padded jacket should keep you snug all winter in the UK and it’ll be a bit easier to look after as well. There’s a great range available too.
3-In-1 Riding Jackets
If you need a coat for every season but only have room in the wardrobe for one, then a 3-in-1 jacket is for you. Unparalleled versatility and offering maximum protection from the elements, it’s the best all-year-round jacket.
Key features to look for
Two individual jackets or layers: Usually a waterproof, outer shell for when it’s wet and mild, and a padded or quilted jacket that’s suitable for cooler, dry days.
Combine to create a third style: The outer shell and the jacket then combine for complete winter warmth and waterproof protection.
When worn with a base layer underneath, it's also the complete layering system in one, allowing you to trap warmth between the layers and still allow moisture to escape, keeping you warm and dry. You can also add or remove the layers as the weather changes and it means that you’re fully prepared for all weathers! The Horseware 3-in-1 Super Technical Coat is a prime example of everything a 3-in-1 jacket should be.
Most 3-in-1s are actually washable but make sure you check the instructions before you buy as it’s really essential that it’s washable. Some are also suitable for the tumble dryer but this is a requirement you can probably compromise on.
On the face of it, 3-in-1 jackets seem expensive but if you spend a lot of time outdoors with horses or you live in an area with heavy rainfall and/or snow, anything less than this jacket will not be fit for purpose.
Faux Down Riding Jackets
Faux down jackets offer a light layer containing seriously warm insulation for the coldest individuals. Based on the way birds keep warm, faux down emulates the soft, powdery plumage that sits next to a bird's skin to keep it warm, trapping air in tiny "pockets". They are ideal for low-intensity activities in cold weather, like dog-walking. The moment you up the physical intensity of what you’re doing, like mucking out, you may get too hot in a faux down jacket. So think carefully about what it is you really need because you might prefer to wear cooler layers, such as fleeces, as this is more versatile and easier to adapt to the conditions as they change.
Key features to look for
High percentage of faux down: “Down” is named for the light, powdery feathers next to a bird's skin, combined with the smaller outer feathers to provide the insulating fill. This can occasionally be real, but companies are increasingly moving toward synthetic materials that mimic the qualities of real down due to ethical concerns. The higher the ratio of "down" to "feathers", the warmer the jacket will be.
Layered construction: Most faux down jackets are designed to be as light as possible and are consequently made of super-light, super-thin fabrics. So you do have to look after them. A well designed layered construction prevents the filling from leaking out.
The Mark Todd Reeflan Padded Jacket contains faux down to keep you warm, but is lightweight so you don't feel weighed down. It also has a cosy hood for extra protection.
There are some disadvantages to faux down jackets that do need to be called out:
- They're not as good in wet weather - although synthetic down is often treated to make it water repellent, it will not offer the same protection as a waterproof or water resistant jacket.
- Faux down can weigh more than real down and other synthetic fillings, especially if it does become damp.
- They can be prohibitively expensive.
If you’ve invested in a faux down riding jacket or you’re thinking about it, you’ll probably have a lot of questions about how to look after it. So here are some frequently asked questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: Can I wash a faux down jacket?
A: Yes, you can, just make sure you read the care label inside the jacket and follow the instructions accordingly. You'll usually find that a lower temperature and a gentle cycle is recommended as this will reduce the chances of damage. Turn the jacket right-side out, do up any zippers and loosely connect any Velcro.
Q2: What should I wash my faux down jacket with?
A: Use a non-biological detergent. It’s advisable not to use biological detergents or fabric softener as the chemicals in them can affect the jacket’s performance. You may wish to run your washing machine on a hot wash with nothing in it to clear any residues from biological detergent or fabric softeners before washing your faux down jacket.
Q3: What if I have washed it incorrectly?
A: If you’ve used a biological detergent or fabric softener all may not be lost! If you’ve only done it once, the damage will probably be minimal compared to if you’ve done it several times. Just wash it again using the correct agent.
Q4: How do I dry my faux down riding jacket?
A: A faux down jacket is best tumble dried as this encourages the insulation to refill with air. Leaving the jacket to air dry will not only take a very long time, but there is more risk of the insulation clumping together and the jacket may start to smell if it takes a while to dry. Faux down jackets need to be tumble dried on a low heat. Even if you’re in a hurry, don’t be tempted to dry it at a higher heat as you’ll risk melting the seams and outer shell fabric of an expensive jacket. After removing from the dryer, shake your jacket to “re-loft” the faux down and air for several hours before using or storing.
Q5: Is it true that I should put a tennis ball in the tumble dryer with the jacket?
A: Yes! Adding tennis balls or similar in the tumble drier stops the insulation from clumping together and helps to “re-loft” the faux down filling.
Q6: Do I need to iron my faux down jacket?
A: No. If you iron it, you will flatten the faux down filling.
Q7: How many times can I wash my faux down jacket?
A: As many as you like! However, the more you wash it, the more it will affect its performance. So the real answer is, only wash it when you need to, don’t wash it every time you wear it.
Q8: What’s the best way to store a faux down jacket?
A: Never store a faux down jacket in a compressed state, i.e. folded up or squashed in a bag, as this will crush the air out of the filling.
Don’t be deceived by the weight of a faux down jacket - although it’s light, it will be warm! Also don’t be tempted to go up a size so that you can put extra layers underneath to keep you warm. Believe me, you’ll be warm enough with just the jacket!
How To Choose A Riding Jacket
Whether we like it or not, the weather is probably the single most important consideration for us equestrians. The weather varies massively around the UK and for that matter around the world. So consider the type of winter weather that you usually face in your area. For the best part, most horse riders want a riding jacket that is waterproof or at the very least, water resistant. Admittedly, these jackets tend to be at the upper end of the price bracket but often have a huge number of other features besides just being waterproof!
I think we all have to deal with wet weather but think about the most extreme weather conditions you’re likely to face. For bitterly cold weather and freezing winds, you need to look for other features that the jacket needs to offer. For example, although elasticated cuffs might not be the height of fashion, they do actually stop the cold from getting in. Equally a hood can protect your head from biting winds.
Those who live in snowy areas will probably need something that is waterproof and incorporates materials specifically designed to hold in body heat and keep out the cold. Weatherbeeta's Tania Technical Waterproof Jacket strikes the perfect balance between warm, waterproof, and breathable.
Select A Suitable Style
Since buying a jacket is often a significant investment, you want it to be flattering as well as functional. Even if you feel that your jacket is ‘only’ to wear at the stables, you’ll probably still want a style that presents you in your most favourable light. So consider the shape of your body when you select your jacket. We all know that fashion gurus love to pigeon-hole us (!), so the following reminder of the basic body types will help you select a jacket that will be flattering to your shape.
|Body Shape||Description||Recommended Style|
|Apple||The apple shape carries weight at the waistline||A jacket that fits snugly around the bust and is long for a slimming effect. Avoid puffed jackets as they add bulk|
|Pear||The pear shape carries weight on the hips and thighs||A jacket should come to mid-thigh for pear shapes. Fur or a large collar at the neck draws attention up toward the face|
|Strawberry||The strawberry shape has a wide chest and bust, broad shoulders, and a slender waist and legs||A jacket that hugs the rider’s upper body and is A-line will provide the necessary balance|
|Hourglass||The curvy or hourglass shape has a fairly slender waist with wider hips and a larger bust||A cropped or fitted style, possibly with a belt that accentuates the slender waist. Avoid baggy or loose fitting styles|
|Rectangle||The rectangle shape has a flatter chest, narrower hips, and a slim waist||A fitted or tailored style will complement their athletic and feminine shape|
Even if you don’t fit perfectly into one of these categories, you can probably relate to the style that we’ve recommended.
The style you choose also depends on your personal style preferences. A lot of riders love the classic style of a blouson jacket. These give a typical "equestrian" look, go with almost everything you wear, and are very often waterproof. They also often have a unisex design, which can be more comfortable for those of us who aren't as confident with our body image. The Shires Aubrion Unisex Waterproof Blouson Jacket is fully waterproof and breathable, and is a classic example of the blouson style.
If you prefer a more flattering fit, you won't be left out. There are plenty of functional riding jackets that look modern and fashionable, and look great on and off the yard. The Shires Aubrion Bayswater Light Jacket benefits from all the features of a Softshell jacket, with a tailored fit and quilting at the top for added style and warmth.
Check The Fit
Besides meeting the weather requirements, a jacket also needs to fit well. Check possible pressure points to avoid discomfort, i.e. pulling uncomfortably across the chest or across the back when the arms are moved, or even ripping, i.e. when it’s too tight at the back of the arms.
When you’re buying your jacket, remember that what you wear underneath it is likely to be much thicker and bulkier. So the jacket needs to allow room for this.
Pick A Colour
As well as all of the considerations above, choosing a colour is also important. Navy and black are hugely practical and will coordinate with most of your equestrian wardrobe. However, adding a jacket in a brighter colour can add a much needed injection of vibrancy to a conservative selection of riding attire! You’ll need to be sure though, that you’ll get enough wear out of a coloured jacket and work out which different outfits it will co-ordinate with so it doesn't go to waste in your wardrobe. The stunning LeMieux Loire Jacket comes in shades of pink and mulberry, but is available in black too if you want to keep it simple.
Theoretically, any jacket that keeps you warm and dry is fine. Lots of riders wear brands and styles of coats that were not designed specifically for riding. However, specialised equestrian riding jackets are generally much more hard-wearing than street wear, offer more comfort and have a better range of movement. Try not to be tempted by the first jacket you see in the Clearance section. It’s far better to give some careful thought before making a purchase. With some perseverance, you should be able to find a good quality jacket at a fair price that should see you through one if not the next couple of seasons.
If you look after these jackets properly, you'll get years of use.