From the Pacific Northwest to the Highlands of Scotland and the tropical forests of Southeast Asia, many popular backpacking destinations are renowned for their rainy weather. These can be monsoon-like downpours or grey clouds of drizzle. While a waterproof jacket is the best way to keep you and your essential backpacking gear dry, they can also be bulky and too heavy. Hence, tent jackets.
One of the best ways to avoid these problems is by getting your hands on a state-of-the-art tent jacket. This particular jacket can transform from a lightweight and loose-fitting rain jacket into a spacious tent. To make sure you choose the right tent jacket for your backpacking adventure, look no further. Here’s a guide to tent jackets that are revolutionizing camping.
Combining a rain poncho, an anorak, and a bivvy bag in one design is Hilleberg’s Bivanorak. Truly, one of the best multi-purpose pieces of backpacking gear available. Originally used by the Swedish Air Force in the 1980s as part of a survival kit, this jacket-cum-shelter is designed primarily with functionality in mind. As such, it is a no-frills piece of equipment that will withstand some of the worst summer weather conditions nature can throw at you. However, at the same time, it minimizes your backpack’s weight.
The Bivanorak can be worn in two different ways. You can use it as a long rain poncho. Using it this way will cover you down to your ankles and will definitely keep you dry during the heaviest of rainstorms. On the other hand, if you are only facing light rain, you can roll the Bivanorak up using cinch cords. By doing this, it then becomes a lightweight anorak that sits at waist height. Also, knowing fashion is a must, the Bivanorak comes in both green and red to suit your fashion tastes.
To transform this practical jacket into a bivy bag to spend the night in, cinch cords at the bottom hem. The sleeves and hood transform it quickly into a watertight shelter. Additionally, its oversized fit allows you to slip a full-size sleeping bag into the bivy bag for added comfort.
If all of this does not have you convinced, the renowned Backpacker magazine has named the Hilleberg Bivanorak ‘bivy bag of the year’ in 2003. The Bivanorak also has a reasonable price point of around $150. This is definitely a bargain when you consider that you are getting a tent, rain jacket, and poncho all in one!
Vessel By Justin Gargasz
An ideal multifunctional item of clothing for backpackers who like to travel lightly is Vessel. This tent jacket is designed by Justin Gargasz who specializes in wearable tent structures. While all of Gargasz’s creations are worth checking out, Vessel miraculously combines a rain jacket, backpack, and tent into one fashionable tent jacket. Coming in earthy blue and brown tones designed to reflect the outdoors ethos of backpacking, Vessel hides the tent and backpack in a cocoon in the back of the jacket. Once packed and folded, it can then be unfolded when it comes time to pitch camp.
To complete the transformation, the jacket arms are then used to tie the bottom of the tent. This ensures you are completely sheltered from the elements. The tent itself can comfortably fit one person or two at a push and, like the jacket, is rain resistant. However, the only drawback of this design is that for it to work properly, the end of the tent has to be attached to a tree branch. This is so that it has the ability to stay upright. It’s something that backpackers hiking above the treeline may not have easy access to. Similarly, if you choose to use Vessel as a backpack and a tent, you will have to unpack the bag before transforming it into a tent. This then means you have nowhere to store your backpacking gear as you set up camp.
Despite these minor drawbacks, Vessel is undoubtedly one of the most fashionable tent jackets available. Also, it would be a great addition to any backpacking kit. It saves space and reduces the weight of your pack.
Another ingenious piece of design is the JakPak. It’s one of the best-equipped tent jackets that have emerged onto the backpacking scene so far. Coming in a dark green camouflage color, the JakPak doubles as a stylish rain jacket and tent. It comes complete with a mosquito net, making this piece of gear ideal of camping in warmer climates. Additionally, the JakPak weighs less than three pounds in total, making it one of the lightest tent jackets available.
Interestingly, the JakPak is the only tent jacket where the tent, which is stored in a rear pouch, can be detached when you wear it. This then makes this item of clothing one of the most versatile on the list. Once detached, the lightweight tent can easily be stored in your backpack or attached to your waist with a keychain.
The JakPak comes in at around $200. Though it may seem expensive, the quality of the materials used and the size of the tent, which is far larger than a bivy bag, make this a price worth paying.
Adiff Trench & Bomber Jackets
Adiff was founded by a Parsons School of Design student. She wanted to create an item of clothing that could be used to raise awareness about the on-going Mediterranean refugee crisis. The result of this was a series of a colorful trench and bomber jackets. These jackets today are at the point where backpacking gear meets high fashion. Adiff’s clothing may not be the best for hiking in the winter or at high altitudes with changeable weather. However, they are ideal for the fashion conscious and ethical backpacker who wants to look good on the trail while supporting a deserving cause.
Coming in moss green and burnt orange colors, the trench jacket is an ankle-length rain jacket that comes complete with water-resistant zippers. This then ensures your base layers stay dry and mesh ventilation to aid wicking. The bomber jacket, which comes in the same colors, sits at waist height. It has elastic hems for greater comfort and ease of movement.
Although separate poles are needed to transform these spectacular pieces of gear into tents, they do end up being one of the sturdiest tent jackets available. This is all thanks to their rigid frame. Also, they become a classic three-season tent that would be comfortable in temperatures above 55 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the main drawback of this tent jacket is the price. The jacket plus poles come to near $400; one of the most expensive on the market.