Versatility is what sets 3-in-1 jackets apart from the rest. They’re a valuable part of any winter wardrobe and a solid investment if you spend a fair bit of time outdoors.
However, there are quite a lot of options to choose from across various price points, so it’s a good idea to get clued up on the subject before taking the plunge.
Here’s a guide that’ll tell you everything you need to know when it comes to buying a 3-in-1 jacket.
What is a 3-in-1 Jacket?
As soon as winter starts to take hold, layering becomes absolutely vital. By wearing multiple layers of clothing you’ll be able to trap air and insulate your body.
A 3-in-1 jacket combines two key layers; a waterproof outer and an insulating mid-layer. A clever integrated zip system means you can attach and detach the mid-layer to match the weather. Both layers can be worn separately, or zipped together to form the ultimate winter shield.
At first glance, 3-in-1 jackets can appear expensive; but when you consider the various ways you can wear one, they actually offer very good value for money. A 3-in-1 coat is an all year round solution; wear all three layers together in winter, unzip the fleece for your autumn strolls, or grab the outer layer to shelter from summer showers.
If you can’t afford to buy everything at once, you can sometimes purchase fleece and jacket layers separately. These are known as ‘interactive’ or ‘IA’ jackets. Be sure to check that items are compatible, as different brands may use different zip systems.
As your first layer of defence against the elements, the shell layer of a 3-in-1 should always offer waterproof protection. There are two main ways that fabrics are made waterproof – coating and membrane construction. Coats with a membrane fabric have greater breathability, and although they come with a higher price tag, they’re much more comfortable and offer longer lasting protection.
Manufacturers of waterproof membranes tend to give the technology a specific name. You’ve probably heard of GORE-TEX, but it’s worth looking out for others too; such as eVent, Polartec Neoshell, Pertex Shield, AquaDry (Craghoppers), DryVent and Futurelight (The North Face).
For more detail on how different waterproof technologies work, head over to our comprehensive waterproof jackets guide.
Over time, the effectiveness of waterproof materials will diminish. In order to extend the lifespan of the jacket, you'll need to ‘reproof’ it. To find out more about cleaning and reproofing, take a look at our handy guide.
The inner layer of your 3-in-1 jacket is what keeps you toasty warm. It takes the form of a insulating mid-layer that can be zipped into the outer shell. More often than not, the inner layer of a 3-in-1 jacket is a fleece, but softshell jackets are also used from time to time.
Designed to replicate sheep’s wool, synthetic fleeces are lightweight and warm, making them ideal for insulating the inside your waterproof jacket.
While softshell mid-layers are also lightweight, they don’t provide the same warmth as a fleece. That said, they’re more versatile in that they offer better protection from wind and rain when used as a standalone jacket. The stretchy material also allows for more unrestricted movement, ideal if you plan on getting active.
Now that you know the ins and outs of 3-in-1 jackets, it's time to go and find the right one for you! At Millets, we have an impressive collection of both men's and women's 3-in-1 jackets, as well as smaller versions for the kids!