Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast or just looking to stay dry on rainy days, a good waterproof jacket or coat will be your best ally.
How to find the perfect raincoat
You know what they say: when it rains, IT RATES. And no one likes to be soggy on the trails. That’s why a good waterproof coat is not only essential to keep you dry and comfortable, it is also the best defense against hypothermia.
In this article, we bring you the best waterproof coats of 2021, which we rated based on our assessment of their level of weather resistance, compressibility, breathability, and price.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST WATERPROOF COAT?
What is the difference between a waterproof and water resistant coat?
What type of rain coat to choose according to the activity you practice?
What features should you look for in a rain coat?
How do you make sure you’ve chosen the right size?
FABRICS AND TECHNICAL TERMS
Water resistant fabrics have a coating or are sprayed with a durable water repellent finish. The water will thus bead on the surface before flowing. Be careful, however, there are limits. In heavy rain, the fabric will eventually absorb moisture and you won’t be really dry. Polyester and nylon are two good examples of water resistant fabrics. To remember? From your house to your car, a water resistant coat will do just fine, but if you find yourself in a downpour, bring an umbrella instead.
“Waterproof ” means that the coat does not let any drop pass. Waterproof fabrics can cope with heavy and sustained precipitation without any problem. The most common waterproof membranes found in coats are GORE-TEX, FUTURELIGHT, eVent, Hyvent and DryQ. Different brands use different technologies .
It doesn’t matter if the product you are looking at is water resistant or waterproof, it will always contain a layer of DWR water repellency . Applied to the outside of the fabric, it serves to protect the internal membrane. The DWR will thus make the water bead so that it does not weigh down the fabric as it penetrates the pores. All without compromising the breathability of the membrane.
The GORE-TEX is not a coating or outer fabric. It is a 3-layer sandwich-like construction made up of a membrane, liner and exterior textiles. Together, these 3 layers create a durable, breathable material that is most often used for outerwear made to withstand the elements.
ACTIVITIES AND LAYERS
When shopping for a rain coat or waterproof breathable coat, it’s important to start by asking yourself when and what type of activity will you wear it for.
There are 3 different types of construction in rainwear: 2 Layer, 2.5 Layer and 3 Layer . In general, each of them includes a laminate and a water-repellent coating or a membrane to compensate for the other 2 layers. Regarding the 3 Layer, there is an additional fabric or material which thus creates the 3 layers.
Waterproofs 2 Layer
The 2 Layer is typically used in rain gear intended for urban use or for travel. These coats will generally not have an underarm zipper, and therefore are not ideal for high intensity activities. If you are looking for a very reasonably priced rain coat to walk around town or pick up the kids from school, a 2L coat is the perfect choice for you.
2.5 Layer breathable waterproofs
The 2.5 Layer coats have underarm zippers for greater ventilation. They are suitable for high intensity activities, where those who wear them may sweat more. These coats are generally lighter and compressible than the 3L . If you are an outdoor enthusiast looking for a good quality coat and on a tight budget, 2.5L rain coats are a great choice.
Rain jackets 3 layer
3 layer coats are the most robust and generally also the most expensive. These coats are also a bit heavier and more durable most of the time, as they are made to withstand the worst conditions. Usually made with the GORE-TEX membrane , some brands have their own membrane like eVent, Hyvent and DryQ . If you are an active individual who spends countless hours outdoors, looking for adrenaline in intense weather conditions, do yourself a favor and go for a 3L jacket.
Raincoat hood size
There is nothing worse than having to constantly adjust your hood while doing an activity. Whether you’re shopping for a jacket specifically for climbing, biking, or skiing, make sure the hood is helmet compatible.
A key item to check when shopping for a new rain coat is the number of pockets and their location. If you are looking for a jacket for hiking, opt for pockets at the chest. These are accessible even when wearing a backpack with a waist belt. So you have easy access to your GPS or whatever you want to keep close at hand. The more zippered pockets you will find on a coat, the more expensive it will be.
Taped seams and water-repellent zippers
Most technical coats will have taped seams and water repellent zippers to add waterproofness. Often, instead of a water-repellent zipper, you will find a flap to protect it from water that could infiltrate.
Coats with water-repellent zippers can be a bit more difficult to tie up, but be patient, as straining will only make it worse.
Cuffs and drawstrings closures
Rain coats are often made for specific activities so all technical specifications will reflect this. The closures at the cuffs and the drawstrings at the waist help block the wind or increase ventilation.
Underarm ventilation openings
Coats with underarm ventilation are ideal for moderate to heavy intensity activities. These vents allow better air circulation during intense efforts, while the body temperature rises.
Ultralight and compressible
For certain activities, there are ultralight and compressible models that will protect you when the weather is bad. Ultralight raincoats don’t compromise on your performance and their compressibility makes them attractive choices for minimalists in this world.
MAKE SURE YOUR RAINCOAT FITS YOU PERFECTLY
Wearing the right size coat can make a big difference in your performance. If you’re in the mountains and planning to multi-layer on your multi-day hike, you want to be sure you’re comfortable.
When trying on your new acquisition at home, zip it all the way up and put on the hood. How do you feel? Is the zipper easy to fit? Tilt your head forward, do you feel stuck in your neck? Better yet, give yourself a hug by touching your shoulder blades.
Then stretch your arms out as if you want to touch the ceiling, and notice how far the coat goes over your stomach. A well-cut technical coat won’t come up that much.
As for the sleeves, you don’t want them to be too long, nor too short. Sleeves that are too long will restrict your movement and those that are too short can let in the wind and let the heat escape. Position yourself in a driving position or as if you were holding your bicycle handlebars. Are you still comfortable?
THE RIGHT COAT FOR YOU
Besides the appearance, all of these aspects should be considered when purchasing a waterproof jacket. Sometimes, investing a little more allows you to have a garment with technical details specially designed for a type of activity. The bottom line is that time spent researching to find the right coat, and the money invested, is guaranteed to keep you dry.