Waterproofs are the outer layer of our clothing, a hard shell that protects us from damp weather and rain. Good waterproof clothing needs to strike a balance between being watertight and providing breathability, and this balance will change depending on the type of activity you’ll need your waterproof clothing for. Knowing what to choose can be difficult, so here’s our simple guide to buying the right waterproof clothing for you.
Coated jackets are the most affordable type of waterproof jacket. The fabric has been coated with a waterproof material, preventing water from seeping into the fabric beneath. They are perfect for light, everyday activities such as walking the dog. Their downfall is that they aren’t breathable, meaning they don’t allow water vapour (sweat) to pass back through the material. This makes them unsuitable for more strenuous activities such as hiking and climbing, as you’d soon get soaked from the inside! They are however, an ideal jacket to keep around the house.
These are the most efficient types of waterproof, made from a special membrane that allows water vapour (sweat) to pass back out of the fabric, without allowing water droplets in. This makes them both water repellant and breathable, ideal for a wide range of activities. The membrane is inside the jacket rather than coated on top. The most famous membrane material is perhaps Gore-Tex, although others are available. When buying membrane jackets, you’ll notice the breathability may be different between jackets. High breathability is a bonus for high energy sports, but the more breathable the fabric, the higher the heat loss, something to consider for the weather and your activity level.
All new jackets, whether Coated or Membrane, will be covered with a durable water repellant. This stops water entering the fabric completely, causing it to fall away on contact rather than get absorbed by the material. As your jacket goes through wear and tear, you’ll find this coating gradually decreases. In order for your waterproof to keep performing well, you’ll need to re-proof the DWR at some point. This can be quickly and easily done with a DWR spray. This step is especially important for membrane jackets. If water absorbs into the fabric, the water droplets actually block the membrane, preventing water vapour from escaping. This leads to a buildup of condensation inside the jacket, meaning you’ll get wet - but from your own sweat. Spraying your jacket regularly with a DWR spray takes no longer than 1 minute, but will significantly extend the life of your waterproof.