Waterproof Jackets

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What is a waterproof jacket?

When going hiking, walking or undertaking other outdoor activities, choose an appropriate waterproof jacket according to your needs. For you to make an informed decision you need to understand the waterproof capabilities of a jacket.

Waterproof jackets come in two types; water resistant/showerproof and fully waterproof.

Waterproof coating for water-resistant jackets

Water resistant jackets are made from fabric that is treated with a water repellent coating. In most cases, the water repellent coating used is a Durable Water Repellency coating (DWR). Jackets can also be treated with a PU (Polyurethane) coating. The coating prevents water from penetrating the jacket. Water resistant jackets can withstand a mild to moderate shower or splash of water.

One way to know that a jacket is treated with a water repellent coating is if water beads and runs off from the fabric. You can conduct this test if you want to confirm that the waterproofing is not worn out. The good news is that water resistant jackets are relatively cheaper than fully waterproof jackets. The only disadvantage is that these jackets are not very breathable. Also, because they are less durable these jackets need reproofing on a regular basis.

Fully Waterproof Jackets

Fully waterproof jackets, on the other hand, are made with a waterproof membrane and have waterproof seams and seals that keep the wearer completely dry in the rain. The waterproof membrane is a thin layer with very tiny pores that are big enough to let sweat escape. However, the pores cannot allow water droplets to penetrate inside. The membrane makes this jacket more breathable.

While many other outdoor manufacturers prefer to use membranes such as GORE-TEX® and eVent, Tog 24 uses Milatex. We treat our jackets with a water repellent coating and then bond Milatex to the outer fabric.

Taped Seams

It is not guaranteed that a jacket with a waterproof membrane will be fully waterproof. Only a coat with taped seams will be 100% waterproof. If you will be trekking in heavy rain, it’s advisable that you buy a waterproof jacket with taped seams because they will prevent water from coming in through the stitching.

Waterproof Rating System

The minimum British Standard for waterproofing is 1,500 mm. Companies use a Hydrostatic Head test to measure waterproof ratings in millimetres. During testing, the fabric of the jacket is pulled tight under an inch diameter sealed cylindrical tube of water. After leaving it that way for more than 24 hours, an observation is made to confirm how many millimetres of water that particular fabric can withstand before soaking through.

Light to average rain

If you want a jacket for everyday use especially around town and walking the dogs, you should choose one with a rating of 1,500 mm to 2,000 mm because it is suitable for everyday use. These jackets are also suitable for walkers and hikers who will mostly go outdoors in areas with fair weather.

Moderate to heavy rain

Jackets with a rating of 5,000 to 10,000 mm are suitable for almost all weather conditions, including for use at home. These jackets are also suitable for trekking in inclement weather. Jackets with this rating are breathable.

Heavy rain

A jacket with a rating of 10,000mm and above offers you the most protection in extremely wet conditions.

Breathability

Your chosen activity dictates the level of breathability that you will need. High aerobic activities like mountain climbing, you’ll need to use highly breathable fabrics. If you are doing less strenuous activities like lowland walking, you’ll need a less breathable fabric.

Why is breathability necessary?

Breathability allows sweat to escape, stopping you from feeling damp. Therefore, a good jacket should be able to allow perspiration to escape. Apart from a breathable membrane, there are other features such as mesh lined pockets and pit zips that can make a jacket more breathable by adding ventilation.

Moisture Vapor Transfer (MVT)

MVT measures breathability of the jacket. To find out how breathable a jacket is, companies estimate the amount of moisture that can pass through a jacket’s fabric in 24 hours and it’s displayed as 10,000 gr/m²/day, or 10,000gr. You don’t need to worry about breathability rating so much because a good waterproof membrane is highly breathable.

Types of waterproof jackets

Two Layer Waterproof Jackets:

These jackets combine two layers – an outer shell, which is fully waterproof, and an inner lining membrane made with polyester taffeta, mesh or both. The lining is protected from deteriorating by the outer lining's membrane that acts as a barrier to corrosion that might be caused by sweat or movements.

Three-layer Waterproof Jackets:

Apart from an external waterproof layer and an internal waterproof and breathable membrane, a three-layer waterproof jacket has an additional bonded protective lining. All the three layers are bonded together to make a very efficient and high quality one layer lightweight jacket. You can use these jackets in almost all weather conditions.

3 in 1 Waterproof Jackets:

Unlike a three-layer jacket, these have a waterproof outer lining with a removable inner fleece, softshell or padded jacket and therefore, they are best for use throughout the year.

Packaway:

Just as the name suggests, you can easily pack these jackets away in a bag because they are lightweight. A pack-away jacket is your perfect option if you’re a weather walker or a traveller who might want something light enough so that you can store it in your rucksacks. They are also ideal for everyday use.

The Fit

Waterproof jackets are cut differently according to gender. For women, their jackets come with shorter arms and a more fitting cut. Women who prefer looser fitting jackets can choose men’s jacket. Considering the length of the waterproof jacket is important. Choose a jacket that is long and will cover your lower back irrespective of the movement you make. If you want a shorter jacket, chances are, it will have a longer back, which means that there won’t be any gap between the trousers and the jacket if it rides up.

Freedom of movement is crucial. If you are going to engage in activities where freedom of movement is important, your waterproof jacket should not be too long because it might restrict the movement of your arms and shoulders. If the jacket is too short, it will ride up during movement, exposing your back. If you are a cyclist, you will probably be bending forward, and therefore, you need a bigger length.

Hood

Consider the fit and size of your hood because in adverse conditions; you lose a lot of body heat through your head. Some jackets have hoods whose size and fit can be adjusted to allow freedom of movement and to ensure that it covers your head. Other jackets have stiffened hoods. If you are a mountaineer, you should make sure that your hood is helmet-compatible.

Cuffs

A good jacket should have long cuffs that cover the top of your hand. It prevents rain from entering and soaking your arms. Adjustable cuffs can be fastened quickly around the wrist. Most basic shell jackets have adjustable cuffs that allow you to adjust the fit of your jacket to trap in more warmth. However, mountain jackets should have bonded cuffs because they can withstand more wear and tear.

Drawcords

Ensure that all the drawcords are at the right position on your body because they’re meant to adjust to the fit of your waterproof jacket. Because people are different, drawcords are the best way of ensuring that the fit of a waterproof jacket can be made to fit you very well. To make sure that your jacket fits you perfectly, you only need to adjust these drawcords. Improving the fit will trap in more warmth and prevent your jacket from riding up when you’re wearing a backpack.

Zips

These are crucial when caught up in poor weather. A good jacket should have zips that run smoothly. They should also be either waterproof or hidden, and they should go up to the chin.

A few types of zips to look out or include:

Bonded zips:

Maintaining shells feature bonded zips because the bondings do not allow the weather to come in through the zips. Bonded zips keep weight down because they reduce the need for more fabric.

Pit zips:

Mountain trekking requires more exertion, zip vents under your armpit are imperative because they allow for more breathability. Pit zips keep you dry as you ascend to colder heights.

Zip-in

Zip-in compatibility lets you zip a fleece into your jacket to add winter warmth.

Storm Flaps

Walking Jackets have a storm flap to ensure that no water enters through the zip. You should note that pockets should storm flaps covering the zips because this will make sure that everything inside will stay dry.

Pockets

Almost all shells are going to feature front zippered pockets where you can carry your essentials or snacks. For instance, you can keep your map and compass in map pockets, which are located on the chest of jackets for easy accessibility.

Layers

It is advisable to consider the layers you will need to fit underneath when selecting a jacket. For instance, trail walking requires layers that will allow the transfer of moisture. The ideal material for this is polyester, you can start with a base layer, and when you proceed to cold areas, you should add a fleece before adding your shell jacket on top.

The primary function of the layers is to trap heat and provide insulation that keeps the body warm. A suitable material is important because it will allow moisture to escape and in that way, you’ll feel comfortable. If you choose wrong materials such as cotton, you will be drenched in your sweat, making you prone to chills when you cool down.

Type of jacket to look for

When mountaineering, you should choose a highly breathable jacket with a good hood that is helmet compatible, sturdy pockets and one that provides you with enough freedom of movement.

When going for a long tough walk in changing weather conditions, choose a jacket that will keep you dry inside and out even when you’re sweating.

For hill walking, you should go for a highly breathable jacket with a hood that has a stiffened peak and features a rear draw cord.

For lowland walking, everyday commute or light trailing, the perfect jacket should have an excellent waterproof rating and good breathability. Choose a jacket with a rating of at least 5000 mm hydrostatic.

For festivals, day trips and sporting events, look for a jacket constructed using a DRW coating instead of a lightweight polyester fabric.

How to clean your jacket

When water starts to settle on the surface of your jacket, you should know it’s time to clean it. To refresh the DWR coating and even prolong the lifetime of your jacket, you should use Grangers spray or in-wash cleaner.

Here are the steps to follow:

Use a non-detergent based solution to wash it such as Granger's Performance Wash. This brand of wash detergent does not have any damaging fragrances, only dirt, oil and residue will be removed but DRW will be protected.

Close all your jacket’s zippers and Velcro

Wash away old detergent out of the tray and then pour in the directed amount

Use a warm wash as well as rinse cycle.

In case your jacket can be tumbled dry, make sure you do it on a medium heat

How to reproof your jacket

You do not need to reproof your garment every time you are washing it but instead, wash it for 3-5 times before you re-proof it especially if you wash it regularly.

To know whether you should reproof, just spray some water on the jacket when it’s dry. If the water beads, then there is no need of re-proofing, but if it doesn’t, follow the above steps but this time, use a re-proofing detergent.

To care for your jacket, ensure you check the instructions on the label before washing it.

Granger's Performance Repel is a great option to replenish the DWR on your jacket

Close all your jacket’s zippers and Velcro

Wash away old detergent out of the tray and then pour in the directed amount

Use a warm wash as well as rinse cycle.

In case your jacket can be tumbled dry, make sure you do it on a medium heat

TOG24 offers a wide range of men's waterproof shell jackets and men's 3 in 1 waterproof jackets

Check out TOG24's women's waterproof jackets and coats and women's 3 in 1 waterproof jackets as well!