Waterproof Coat Will Keep You Dry Everywhere You Go
If you intend to invest in a piece of outdoor clothing, make it a waterproof coat. We all know how unpredictable weather can be.
Waterproof outer layers are a lifesaver. They’ll keep you warm, dry, and allow you to stay out for as long as you like. Waterproof coats and jackets are usually designed for a male or female fit.
Waterproof jackets (or hard shells as they are also known) are the final protective layer in your layering system. This layer provides a waterproof barrier.
The main difference between waterproof layers is the fabric they are made from and the level of breathability that they provide.
The level of breathability you need is dependent on your chosen activity. High aerobic activities such as mountain climbing, hill walking necessitate the use of highly breathable fabrics.
Less intensive activities such as day to day use or walking require a less breathable garment. To call a product waterproof, a company should comply with the strict definition of that word.
Unfortunately, most of the waterproof products you encounter on the market are merely water-resistant.
How to Buy Right Waterproof Coat?
Shopping for waterproof coats and jackets can be daunting. Especially when you come face to face with all the different names that brands have for their fabrics.
The two key features are waterproofing and breathability. Waterproof jackets use a waterproofing agent to repel liquids.
You may notice a waterproof rating listed on some outdoor gear websites, represented by a number from 0 to 20,000mm.
This is the amount of water in a 1-inch-diameter vertical tube that the material can withstand without leaking. As a guide, up to 1,500mm is only water resistant, 1,500mm – 5,000mm is waterproof and good for most wet conditions.
The 10,000mm and above is highly waterproof and best for mountain conditions. These work well for snowsports also. For tackling heavy rain you’ll need a jacket with taped seams which prevents water from seeping through the stitching.
It’s best to choose a highly breathable softshell or hardshell so you don’t overheat. Underarm ventilation zips (or pit zips) are really useful for regulating your body temperature.
Other features are largely up to personal preference. Pockets are useful but check their zips if they are sealed. Otherwise, you’ll find that the contents of pocket will get wet.
Waterproof Coat – What to Look For?
No piece of outdoor gear offers total protection from outside moisture. But most of the today’s raincoats are listed as being either “water resistant” or “waterproof.”
Many light rain jackets, windbreakers, and soft shells are water resistant, meaning that they shed water but aren’t completely waterproof under extended exposure.
Weatherproof coats have a built-in laminate layer or a coating that essentially blocks outside moisture from entering. Additionally, they have waterproof taping along the seams on the interior of the jacket.
1. FABRIC LAYERS
A best waterproof coat that resists moisture from entering yet also lets sweat and hot air vent out requires a combination of fabric layers. You’ll see this referenced in every performance-oriented jacket on the market, typically seen as 2L, 2.5L or 3L.
2-Layer – These jackets are the most basic, and typically require a mesh liner to protect the jacket’s inner coating (hence the 2-layer name). They’re not very breathable and best are for casual use.
2.5-Layer – This type of layer coat attaches a very thin interior fabric to the waterproof/breathable laminate or coating.
Breathability, as well as compressibility, are increased and weight decreases with the design, making this the most popular option for hikers, backpackers, and climbers.
One downside is that the interior fabric isn’t as soft to the touch as a true 3-layer. Some consider it slippery or plasticky.
3-Layer – A true 3-layer construction incorporates three separate pieces of fabric, with the actual waterproof and breathable membrane in the middle and a more substantial fabric on the interior.
Hiking, backpacking, climbing, and other activities require a jacket that is lightweight but also can handle a sustained downpour. The differences in weight are significant. Weights are continuing to drop as fabric and membrane technologies advance.
One of the most important features in a waterproof coat is breathability. The ability for perspiration and other moisture to exit the jacket without outside water coming in.
Some cheaper jackets are barely breathable at all, but almost all of the fabrics used in today’s models are at least somewhat breathable.
The market leader has long been Gore-Tex, particularly in their high-end offerings, but other brands like eVent, NeoShell by Polartec, MemBrain by Marmot, and HyVent Alpha are becoming significant competition. Generally speaking, the more you spend the more breathable the jacket will be.
One exception is ultralight jackets, which cost more than cheap lightweight models but ventilate approximately the same. A jacket’s breathability is greatly enhanced with the inclusion of pit zips.
Waterproof Coat Final Words
In need of the best waterproof coat? Looking for something that will keep out the rain yet won’t be beaten on style? Once you own your perfect waterproof jacket, you’ll need to make sure you look after it.
If it begins to lose its ability to repel water, your best bet is to clean it with a specialized cleaning product such as Nikwax’s Tech Wash.
Some waterproof coats, such as those which use Gore-Tex’s range of waterproof fabrics, can be restored to their former glory. This can be achieved by popping them in the tumble dryer on low heat for 20-30 minutes.
This process can potentially reactivate the DWR (Durable Water Repellent) outer coating, but this won’t work forever.
After a while, you’ll need to use a spray-on or wash-in waterproofing treatment such as Nikwax’s TX-Direct to get it back to its former waterproof self.
Whatever you do, always check the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning and reproofing advice before proceeding.
How to Choose a Waterproof Jacket
The Waterproof Test
In The Waterproof Test Eva and Andrew test the waterproofness of six Mountain Warehouse jackets to see what amount of water each jacket can withstand.
How to Reproof a Waterproof Jacket
Waterproof garments can lose their water repellency as dirt and oil break down the water repellent coating. If you notice that the fabric of your jacket is absorbing ...
The fit is important for any type of clothing, and waterproof coats are no different. Some things to look for:
- Coat is large enough to fit a mid layer and baselayer underneath
- The coat shouldn’t be too short that it rides up when moving and exposes your back
- The coat shouldn’t be too long that it restricts movement
- The zip goes all the way up to your chin
Also look for coats with hood. The fit of your hood is important. In poor conditions, you lose most of your body heat through your head. The size and fit of the hood can be adjusted on most jackets, to make sure the hood covers your head but without restricting your view.
Zips can be taken for granted, but the last thing you need when you’re caught in bad weather is to have a jacket that you can’t fasten. Zips should be smooth running and, if they’re not waterproof, hidden with storm flaps to prevent water from getting in.
Zips are also a great source of ventilation for when the body gets too hot. Look for pit zips on higher end jackets as these help regulate your body heat and move moisture more efficiently.
The number of pockets depends on your needs. Pockets should have storm flaps covering the zips to make sure what goes inside, stays dry.
If you purchased or know waterproof jacket or coat which you would recommend, let me know in comments below!
If you intend to invest in piece of outdoor clothing, make it a waterproof coat. Waterproof outer layers are a lifesaver. They’ll keep you warm, dry, and allow you to stay out for as long as you like.