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Rain jacket Buying guide

Either you love doing outdoor activities or follow the same daily work routine in the city, the rain can sometimes become brutal and hinder all the activities. The simple solution to tackle the rain is rain jackets.

Whether it is a drizzle or raining cats and dogs, good quality rain jackets keep you safe from the water and allow you to perform your activities smoothly. While choosing one for yourself, you need to have an in-depth look at the jackets' features.

Importance of reading buying guide before selecting the best product

Rain jackets come in different styles and have different characteristics. Different fabrics have different pros and cons. To select the best one which caters to all your needs, it is crucial to have the necessary information about the jackets' characteristics.

So, we have discussed the vital features of the jackets in the guide for ease of evaluation process.

Let us stop wasting any time and dig into the comprehensive guide.

Why should you opt for a rain jacket? What are the advantages of these jackets?

Monsoons will soon befall us, and they remain a loved season. But they sure can get messy. Especially when one does not expect it, being soaked by rains is less than desirable. So what can you carry that is more protective and handier than an umbrella? Your answer lies in rain jackets.

You are short of cold rainy weather to fall ill because getting wet in the rain and remaining so can wreck your immunity. Also, your body becomes unable to maintain the desired temperature. It is crucial to opt for good quality rain jackets.

Here are some of the advantages of the jackets:

  1. They are comfortable to wear and give you full mobility. You are not restricted in movement as you might be while holding an umbrella.
  2. Rain jackets keep you reasonably dry.
  3. They are not very expensive and readily available.
  4. A variety of styles and colors flood the markets.
  5. They often come with pockets to carry your essentials without the fear of getting them wet.
  6. They are straightforward to store and take up little space. They can be folded and carried in handbags and simply unfolded and used when the need arises.

Characteristics to consider while selecting appropriate rain jackets

They are several factors that you may need to put into consideration while purchasing the rain jacket that suits your needs. But you can wipe that crease of worry off your forehead because we are here to provide you all the information to make a worthy purchase.

Categories of Rain jackets

  1. Daily Use

Living in areas that are prone to rains, a rain jacket is a necessity to get by. You may need to get out of the house for work, grocery shopping, or even a stroll in the park, and downpour might follow. In such a case, a rain jacket that is stylish and not necessarily packed with specific features can fit the purpose well. They are often inexpensive and durable.

  1. Hiking

This type of rain jacket primarily focuses on being lightweight so that your hike is not piled with heavy and challenging to manage rain apparel. They are known for high performance against heavy showers and strong winds despite their meager weight. They may, however, be compromised in the areas of durability and breathability.

  1. Trail Running

This category of rain jackets is high in their ability to remain waterproof and breathable thanks to the seam taping and research into making their structure extra light. However, their extremely light frame makes them prone to damage, and thus, they have short lives. They also are costly because of innovative engineered design allowing for layered protection and breathability along with lightweight in one package.

  1. Ultralight

Just as the name suggests, these types of rain jackets are practically weightless. It has excellent features that enable high performance, but it comes at the price of easy-tearing and damage. They remain attractive options for those hikers who may need an urgent shell against unprecedented rains.

  1. Performance Shell

Oriented towards performance against heavy showers, these rain jackets are primarily for those looking for hard shell protection. They use sturdy and resistant fabrics, more waterproof and yet treatable layers, and substantial hoods. They are an investment upfront but have long lives and are sturdy. Less likely to wear and tear with time, and resistance to extremely harsh conditions, they remain popular despite relatively high prices.

Types of Fabrics

  1. Waxed and Oiled Fabrics

These first came into being when fish oil was applied to sails of boats to keep them dry and better functioning. They were then adapted for water-resistant clothing. They are mainly waxed by soy, silicone, beeswax, or paraffin-based oils.

  • They have a long-lasting life.
  • They improve their water-resilience with age.
  • They are made with natural materials. They can easily have an extended life with repairs.
  • They are heavy and difficult to carry and manage.
  • These jackets are not waterproof, only water-resistant. Technological advances have provided better quality waterproof fabrics.
  1. Rubberized Fabrics

Harvested from the milk of rubber trees, these waterproof cotton fabrics have been used for making raincoats since times immemorial. They are in-demand and have birthed several variations, such as one layer of rubber between two layers of fabric, and rubber-plastic coating being sprayed onto fabrics.|

  • These types of fabrics are highly waterproof, way more than waxed fabrics.
  • They are bulky and uncomfortable to wear. They restrict mobility because of stiffness.
  • They are barely breathable.
  • The rubber often degrades with continuous exposure to moisture, making the jackets have short lives.
  1. Technical Fabrics

These are the latest versions of humanity's attempt at waterproof clothing. They are made with microscopic pores that do not allow penetration of water droplets and have an exterior layer that protects this delicate material. A soft inner lining was also added for the comfort of the wearer.

  • This fabric is exceptionally waterproof.
  • It is breathable and comfortable.
  • It is lightweight so that it can be worn for several activities without much hassle. It is easy to carry.
  • They have a short life because of their little weight, making them prone to wear and tear.
  • They are made of synthetic materials which are difficult to repair.

Weather Protection

  1. Waterproof/Breathable

They keep you dry against rains while allowing your skin to breathe and your sweat to evaporate. This type of weather protection might be required if you plan on doing activities that will cause perspiration like hiking.

  1. Waterproof/Non-breathable

If you only wish to remain dry while you are sitting or stand idly, this type of protection is suitable. It is waterproof, but it does not allow your sweat to dry off. It is relatively inexpensive.

  1. Water-Resistant

This type of gear is breathable but can work against only light rains. It is not made for complete dryness in case of extreme conditions. It will fail to perform well in case of heavy showers.

  1. Windproof

All waterproof material is windproof as well. It is because the technology that bars water from crossing the barrier does the same for wind. These work well in case of high-speed winds.

  1. Wind resistant

Just as in the case of water resistance, wind-resistant material can last for scanty winds only. It will be no good against full-fledged storms.


The number of membranes of the rain jacket determines its sturdiness and, often, performance levels in case of heavy conditions. The outermost layer is mainly designed to fight the moisture while the innermost layer is for comfort. There are three types of layerings in rain jackets.

  1. 2-Layer

This type of rain jacket consists of a coating layer applied to an outer fabric layer. It is thin and does not swish while you walk. It is mostly famous for urban rainwear as it can be styled easily and apt for idle activities.

  1. 2.5-Layer

This type of rain apparel is very lightweight because it uses lamination of the first layer as the second layer with a protective covering, which is constituted as only half a layer. They lack breathability and often have a short lifespan, but they are cheap.

  1. 3-Layer

These are the most hard-core of all raincoats because they are sturdy and have longevity in life. They are resilient to the harshest conditions, and so, they are popular for strenuous activities. The durability does not compromise breathability, but these desirous features do jack up the prices.

Weather Shell Types

The word shell means the makeup of the apparel. Different makeups constitute different protection levels, durability, breathability, and other features that one looks for in a suitable rain jacket.

  1. Hard Shell

This type of gear is very sturdy and breathable. It can withstand harsh conditions like heavy downpour or high-speed winds. As the name suggests, the fabric used is hard and stiff, which may cause mobility issues. They provide excellent weather protection, but stiffness can cause trouble for intense activity.

  1. Soft Shell

This type of rainwear makes use of a single layer to serve for water resistance as well as insulation. This makes it supple and easy to carry, but breathability suffers. The material can only withstand softer conditions like drizzles as the protection is not hard-core due to meager quality. They have admirable flexibility and take care of perspiration, so they are in demand for laborious activity purposes.

  1. Hybrid Shell

It combines the features of a hard shell and soft shell rain-gear to provide a more water-resistant and windproof material without compromising on breathability. Since it has the best of both, it is flexible and yet provides hard-core protection against harsher weather.

  1. Insulated Shell

This type of rain jacket is filled with synthetic fill to provide warmth. They are puffy and waterproof, so they protect you against cold and rain besides being breathable.


Durable Water Repellent is a coating applied to clothe fabrics to make them repel water or, in other words, waterproof. They are used on waterproof and breathable materials to prevent the outer layer from being soaked with water.

The DWR finish on rain jackets makes the water that lands on it bead up and roll off. It is a significant factor in the performance of the rain-gear and so must be maintained quite critically. If it wears off, the water-repelling capacity of the jackets wears off, making it effectively waterproof no longer.

The resistance to water may continue, but the jacket will get soaked. So, although you may not get wet underneath, the weight of the water will pile on. Further, the evaporation of sweat and the breathability of the jacket will be severely affected.

Today, the technological advances have made the DWR quite durable, and so it does not quickly wear off. However, considering that it is an essential aspect of maintaining comfort and high performance, it must be applied to extend the life and water-repelling capacity of the rain jacket from time to time.


When waterproof clothing was discovered, it only worked one way, barring water from crossing the boundaries of the fabric. It means the material will not soak the water from outside, but the water from inside, i.e., our sweat, will not evaporate. It resembled a portable sauna, and so the concept of breathability in waterproof clothing was introduced.

The breathability of rainwear works on the principle that our sweat is warm and attracted to the colder outside. Technology has advanced, and today's rainwear has improved on this transfer of sweat vapor, making the apparel more comfortable and less clammy.

A downside of this otherwise important aspect of rain-gear is that the warm sweat and warm air find an outlet and escapes. It does not let the jacket remain as warm and requires extra layers of insulation for protection from the cold that accompanies the rains.

Body Shape and Fitting

A better fitting rain jacket will perform its task of keeping you dry and warm more effectively for undeniable reasons. Jackets have different styles and fits, and you can choose what suits you best, depending on your levels of activity and body shape.

  1. Relaxed Fit

This type of fit is commonly found in daily wear rain jackets because they are designed for general activities. The hood on such jackets should fit for optimum protection of the head. They often come with adjusters for facilitation.

  1. Active Fit

This type of rain jacket is neither too tight nor too baggy. They, as the name suggests, provide enough mobility for activity. They provide room for wearing something warm like fleece. The hood comes with adjusters so that the face remains adequately protected.

  1. Technical Fit

This type of fit provides you with flexibility for laborious activities like hiking but remain snug enough to keep you warm. They have shorter lengths, to not interfere with leg movements. Their pockets are placed higher for easy accessibility. For climbing, you require a harness and helmet, taken into consideration in this type of fit.

Additional Features

  1. Hoods

When buying for activities like climbing, it is crucial to consider the size of the hoods and weather it comes with adjusters to accommodate helmets. Helmet-compatible hoods are large enough to be worn over them for an extra layer of protection against harsh climate.

Even when buying a rain jacket for other purposes, the hood size needs to be considered for face protection. Adjusters play a vital role in this because it ensures that the hood will not keep coming off in the face of high-speed winds.

  1. Seam Taping

The construction of rain jackets constitutes many seams, and it is essential to ensure that water does not seep through these seams. Thus they require meticulous taping for the coat to be fully waterproof.

Lack of proper seam taping can result in water leakage. It is important to note that all the seams, not just the hood but shoulders, side seams, and wrist seams are properly taped.

  1. Zippers

Rain jackets, like all other jackets, have a lot of zippers- front zippers, pocket zippers, pit zippers, etc. These can give way for the water to seep out, negating the fact that the fabric is waterproof. To prevent this, even the zippers require a coating of water-repellant.

Most zippers in rain jackets are coated with rubber or wax and additionally covered with waterproof fabric to make sure that water does not leak in.

  1. Pockets

Rain jackets required to have waterproof pockets. They are often placed so that they are easily accessible. The latest jackets have pockets with cord pots for earphone wires to keep them safe from the water and enjoy your favorite music.

  1. Waist Adjustment

Almost every rain jacket has waist adjusters to ensure an excellent seal and fit around the body. This is important because a better fitting rain jacket will keep you warm more effectively. A cord or a toggle often provides waist adjustment. They are easy to use and can make a lot of difference in how a jacket cups you.


1. Which rain jacket fabric should I buy?

While there are waxed and oiled fabrics that are long-lasting and easily repairable, they are quite heavy and less waterproof than other options available.

Also, Rubberized fabrics are super waterproof. However, they offer low breathability and become quite stiff and heavy.

Thus, the last option is left with technical fabrics only. The technical fabrics are the ultimate rain jackets with minimum cons and maximum pros. They are very lightweight and extremely waterproof with high breathability. Thus, technical fabrics become an ideal choice while buying a rain jacket fabric.

2. What are the tips to take care of your rain jackets properly?

Although every rain jacket comes with a specific instruction set for washing that is mentioned on its label, there are some general guidelines as well. We have covered all of them below:

1. Start washing your jacket by putting liquid detergent in warm water.

2. Rinse off to remove all the detergent.

3. As soon as it dries up, all you need to do is dry it up so that the DWR finish is retained.

In case the DWR finish is lost with time, you need to apply some DWR from your side to keep the finish intact.

3. Which is the best layer among 2-layer, 2.5-layer, and 3-layer rain jackets?

While the 2-layer rain jacket has excellent breathability, waterproof performance, and average durability, it has a medium weight and a moderate price. On the other hand, the 2.5-layer rain jacket comes at a budget-friendly price that makes it affordable for everyone who wants to buy a rain jacket with decent features. However, a 3-layer coat imparts the supreme quality that makes it the best among all the three options. It is said to offer the best waterproof performance, breathability and long-lasting. Even though it is expensive among all the others, we recommend you to buy this as it is a long-term purchase.

4. What should you choose Windproof or wind-resistant?

A windproof jacket is an extra-shielded jacket with a plethora of barriers to stop both rain and wind from passing through the jacket to touch you. Unlike this, a wind-resistant coat is lightweight and is less guarded against the wind. Owing to fewer layers, it is considered a good option for short trips only. We prefer choosing a windproof jacket because of its high protection.

5. Which one should I choose: Laminated or coatings?

A laminated rain jacket will offer the best degree of waterproof performance without feeling bulky at all. It comes with excellent durability and breathability, but the price is high. Coatings, on the other hand, have excellent water resistance, breathability, and durability. Moreover, it is a lightweight rain jacket with a reasonably low price. In terms of quality, you should opt for the laminated one. However, if budget is your constraint, going for coatings is not a wrong choice too.

Final Verdict

Looking for a suitable rain jacket can be a tiresome job. With so many varieties in hand, you can easily fall for the inferior quality product. To prevent this, we have provided detailed information on all the aspects of the rain jackets.

Read this comprehensive buying guide to gain an upper edge when looking for different options in the market. / - © Copyright 2020