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I use a backpack to commute on foot. It has one vent channel on the back to cool the back, but the problem I think is my shell. Heat builds up on my back and I get sweaty.

As a cyclist, I have a number of cycling shells that have a wind-proof, rain resistant (soft shell) front but a breathable back to let you vent heat on a climb without the wind of moving forward freezing you. Thes are not suitable for walking, as they are cut short in the front and long at the back for being in place when hunched forward on the bike. Plus the pockets are on the back.

Anything like this around in the hiking world for people with backpacks? I need an outer layer (I think) that compensates for the insulation of my backpack a bit.

  • 1
    How about a poncho? – paparazzo May 7 '17 at 22:55
  • I have a Fjällräven Keb Jacket and I'm highly satisfied with it. – Jani Hyytiäinen May 8 '17 at 7:53
  • I was lucky to get the Millet Trilogy Dual Advance Jacket for a good price. I love this piece and it seems to be an example of what you are searching. I use it while cycling to work and while climbing and hiking. It is very comfortable and protects vs. wind from the front but still lets you breath because of the fleece parts. Another nice feature is the balaclava style hood. Sorry this has to sound like advertisement but it's simply a nice piece. But I am sure there are similar jackets from other brands out there! – Wills May 8 '17 at 14:58
  • To add one thing: I recently was on skitour in backcountry during snowstorm. I was wearing a shirt, a thin merino sweater and this jacket. I was surprised this was enough but yes, I was very active going uphill. The next day when the wind came from the side/back and I was slower (less active) I was wearing a hardshell on top. Good setup for me. – Wills May 8 '17 at 15:02
  • If you want a magic jacket that is water repellant and wicks like a mid layer, then invest in a jacket made out of Schoeller material. – ShemSeger May 8 '17 at 18:13
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A schoeller softshell would be best for breathability and wicking moisture. It doesn't seem to matter how much I sweat in my schoeller gear, it drys incredibly fast, but what you gain in breathability you often loose in weather protection. You may be interested in knowing that they do make backpacks that provide better ventilation for your back:

Ventilated Backpack:

enter image description here

If you're getting a sweaty back, you can either wear fewer layers to control your perspiration, or you can get a ventilated backpack so your wicking layers can get the moisture from your back out into the air. You may also consider wearing a poncho for your waterproof layer, this will keep you and you backpack dry, as well as give you the freedom of wearing more breathable layers under your backpack.

  • Thanks, figured in this day and age every market niche would be well covered :) – THEMike May 8 '17 at 9:52
  • @Sue, It's a graphic from Vaude. They have a plethora of ventilated backpacks. – ShemSeger May 8 '17 at 23:07
  • While "trampoline backpanels" are a great suggestion, beware of making blanket statements about such jackets not existing... – erfink May 9 '17 at 17:37
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There are jackets out there similar to what you're asking for---you do need to poke around for them a bit. Most jackets made for hiking and climbing tend to be cut from one material in order to have a more versatile piece. For a very use specific jacket, such pieces can be awesome though!

Keywords that you'll want to look for are "body mapping" or "composite construction" or "hybrid."

For example, here's a picture of the Arcteryx ProCline jacket. The large panel in the back is made from a softshell material, while the rest is made with "Gore fabric technology." (Image from arcteryx.com) Arcteryx ProCline

For a sofshell/fleece hybrid jacket example, here's the Outdoor Research Centrifuge jacket (image from outdoorresearch.com): enter image description here

As an additional suggestion, why not use similar jackets that you already have from the biking world? No need to buy the same gear twice!

  • 2
    +1, the other answers are useful but this one seems to be providing exactly what the asker was looking for. Regarding using a biking jacket for walking, OP explained in the comments on the question that the cut isn't very practical since it's designed for a cyclist's body position. – Pont May 10 '17 at 7:56
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    And now I want to buy a hybrid jacket. I especially want a fleece/softshell with monkey thunbs! – ShemSeger May 11 '17 at 1:08
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Yes there is. First, without going into specific products I can say that I've ditched the idea of shell jackets. And by shell-jackets I'm talking about jackets made out of materials like Gore-Tex. No matter what the marketing department says, such a shell jacket will only get you wet from inside. Especially in rain when the material stops breathing completely.

As my outer shell, I tend to use nowadays a jacket made out of polyester-cotton -mix that can be waxed to improve its water resistance. The same jacket should use a second, more breathable material in the areas that commonly sweat. For backpacking, these areas include the back and under the arms. While the breathable material can be sprayed to be more water repellent, I tend to leave it as it is.

In addition to materials, I require the jacket to have good ventilation zippers on the side, no pockets in the hip belt area, large chest pockets and it also should be longer in the back so that it won't reveal my back and protects my buttocks when I lean forward. I also prefer jackets that have a good hood which extends forward enough to protect my face completely from side winds.

This kind of jacket is great for pretty much any season and the warmth can be adjusted with other garments in the base- and mid-layer. It can take small rains while keeping the feeling dry and when it starts to rain even more, I just throw a poncho over my myself and my backpack and remove it as soon as it stops raining. The benefit of using a poncho is that it does protect my backpack from getting wet (and heavy) while it allows a good ventilation from underneath. For extended periods of rain, I use chaps to protect my legs.

I might add here also that I've been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism which lowers my heat tolerance and makes me sweat very easily which makes me extremely picky when it comes to clothing under physical stress.

Finally, here's a pretty good overview of my current jacket choice with aforementioned specs and some tips on its usage. The video doesn't go through the backside of the jacket but it's breathable 4-way stretch which is really nice with a backpack.

  • 2
    I'm not clear how this answers the question being asked? – user2766 May 8 '17 at 13:39
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    To be fair, neither does @ShemSeger's upvoted answer (doesn't make this right, but still...). This also provides information about the general problem and not the specific requirements stated by the OP. – imsodin May 8 '17 at 14:40
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    @Liam tbh this answers the directly asked question better than the top answer of Shem. Still of course the answer from Shem is great because it is very practical. But when it comes to jackets, this answer describes what jacket you could use. In case of rain you need a second jacket (poncho) though. There is not the perfect answer to this kind of questions. – Wills May 8 '17 at 14:41
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    @Liam I agree it's a bit ambiguous without promoting any specific product but it gives you a couple of really good pointers regarding the materials and requirements in addition to that I've looked and ditched the Gore-Tex genre completely. Now, if you go to any trekking store with the requirements I've mentioned, I'm sure the OP will find what he needs. – Jani Hyytiäinen May 8 '17 at 15:10
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    Thanks @Sue for the clarification. I added a link but kept the otherwise loyal to the original title of the question: "What type of jacket can I wear to prevent my back from getting sweaty while also wearing a backpack". – Jani Hyytiäinen May 8 '17 at 18:52
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The harsh truth is that if you are hiking long-enough distances, carrying heavy-enough packs YOUR BACK WILL SWEAT. Accept it.

Now, what can you do to REDUCE AND MANAGE IT? Some backpack designs help (e.g. external frame packs), and you can wear a "softshell" (if it's cold and not raining) over a merino/synthetic base layer.

But no matter what YOUR BACK WILL SWEAT.

So take that pack off your back often, let your back dry out, and enjoy your trip :-)

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