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Need Rain Gear?: How To Buy Good Rain Jackets

Updated on December 8, 2010

If you have ever been caught in the middle of a deluge, you know how important it is to have a good rain jacket. Not all rain jackets are made equally. Some may only be water resistant while others are completely waterproof. Some are more water resistant than others. There are 3 things you should look for when buying a rain jacket. The first thing is style. How does it look? The second is function. How well does it work? How good does it cover? And third is comfort. How good does it feel? Is the rain jacket comfortable? Breathable? All of these things are important in making our purchasing decision. Let's look at each in detail. 

"Today, rain jackets are subtle and stylish"

Does this rain jacket make me look fat? While the purpose of buying a rain jacket is to keep us dry, we can't deny our personal vanity in clothing. Most people will first consider a rain jacket if it looks good. If a rain jacket fits this criteria, then we will judge it on its other requirements. Traditionally, rain jackets are vinyl and bright yellow. The vinyl made it exceptionally waterproof and the bright yellow color kept us visible from traffic dangers while crossing the street. Today, rain jackets are subtle and stylish. They are available in many colors. Some colors are traditionally bright but most are subtle and darker. Despite being darker, they are still safe. Most modern rain jackets have some type of reflective fabric that is visible from all angles. These reflective fabrics work in a way that they are not shiny in regular light but become extremely reflective in bright lights. You may have seen reflective fabrics on safety vests of crossing guards and construction workers.

Arc'teryx Theta AR
Arc'teryx Theta AR

This new trend of subtle looking rain jackets attracts people because we want to be dry in the rain but we don't want to stand out like a sore thumb. This means we can still wear our rain jackets when it is not raining and not look out of place. Now that you found a good looking rain jacket, let's see if it is good enough. 

Waterproof, Water resistant?

Waterproof, weather resistant, what does this mean for you? Waterproof rain jackets are the best at keeping you dry. Unfortunately, they are also the most expensive. Water resistant will do a moderate job at keeping you dry but will start to soak water after a few minutes. Water resistant rain jackets are good for scattered showers and light rain. Waterproof rain jackets are good for downpours and monsoons. When paying top dollar for any good rain gear, make sure you look at the features. 

Stylish Rain Gear

Marmot PreCip Rain Jacket
Marmot PreCip Rain Jacket

Nearly all rain gear comes with a tag that tells you if the item is water resistant or rain proof. Some rain jackets also serve as windbreakers. Make sure to check the seams. They should have a water proof seam tape covering them. If the materials are waterproof, then water can and will leak through the seams. High quality rain jackets will have seam tape. Ever had a jacket that would blow up like a balloon in the wind? Make sure your rain jacket has a wind vent on the back to let air escape. They usually have a mesh covered vent and a roofed flap preventing rainwater from entering. 


The next thing people usually look for when buying a rain jacket is comfort. When trying on a rain jacket, is it comfortable? Can you move easily with it on? Are the materials stiff? Traditionally, the best waterproof rain jackets are vinyl but they are heavy and uncomfortable. They do an excellent job at protecting you from the water but they are also very stiff. Vinyl jackets are also uncomfortable because of sweat. If you've ever owned a vinyl rain jacket, you know that when you sweat in it, it stays with you. Because they act as a direct barrier from moisture, they also keep moisture(sweat) in. Newer rain jackets are usually made of tightly woven rip-stop nylon. The woven nylon helps to repel water and maintain breathability. After after 20 minutes of heavy rainfall, the woven nylon will eventually start to soak due to the small openings and evaporated sweat combining with the outside rain. Higher quality rain jackets will have a special barrier. Usually made of Gore Tex, this barrier is extremely water resistant while maintaining breathability. Gore Tex is also popular due to its flexibility and comfort.

Make sure to try on the rain jacket. The fit should be loose to improve mobility and comfort. Super water proof vinyl jackets are uncomfortable. They can also work against you by trapping heat and moisture. A good, comfortable rain jacket should be breathable. Make sure the jacket has good ventilation.

Consider Your Needs

If you are buying a jacket solely for the rain, then consider getting one that is compact so you can store it in your bag. If you are in the market for a winter jacket that is also good in the rain, consider all of these things and comfort at the top of your list. Thanks for reading! Stay dry!

Patagonia Torrentshell
Patagonia Torrentshell

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    • StephenSMcmillan profile image

      StephenSMcmillan 6 years ago

      Informative hub. The jackets were clearly shot and they are very nice.

    • The Smiling Man profile image

      The Smiling Man 7 years ago from USA

      Thanks for this hub. I'm getting tired of my garbage bag.