Getting soaked by the rain is one of my least favorite things. Before I moved to New York, I lived in Seattle where it was constantly raining, but somehow, the rain was different. It was more of a mist than anything else, really. And so, I got a jacket for that weather (and not an umbrella), and was set. But in New York, when it rains, it really rains, and so the jacket I brought with me did not suffice. Let’s just say, more than once, I’ve walked into the office dripping from head to toe.
The jacket world has an abundance of conflated terms like “water-resistant,” and “water-proof” that are hard to decipher. But knowing the difference between them can help you get the appropriate jacket for the weather, and stay dry in the process, too. To help out, we’ve broken down the difference between these terms, and provided some of our favorite jacket recommendations, too.
WATER RESISTANT JACKETS
Water resistant is the lowest level of water protection out there. So in practice and on some level, any fabric will keep some amount of water from reaching your skin, making any fabric to a certain degree, water resistant. The worst fabric for resisting water is cotton, but polyester and synthetic fabrics excel at this role. A jacket like this one might have a coating over the fabric to further repel water, instead, but it will likely be a fairly light coating and won’t entirely seal it off from water. Although, yes, water resistant jackets won’t keep water entirely away from you, they work well for the winter, during light snows or drizzles, where a full on waterproof jacket isn’t entirely necessary.
Arc’teryx Atom Jacket
This jacket will keep light drizzles at bay and will keep you warm in the process. There is an ultralight insulator to add a touch of breathable warmth, and the Tyono 20 shell is not only water resistant, but wind resistant too for those breezy spring and summer nights. It’s lightweight but will still keep you warm, and marginally dry outside of especially rainy seasons.
Unlike water resistant jackets, waterproof jackets are covered in a coating that repels water. A jacket is considered waterproof when it reaches a certain (higher) level of water resistance (weird, right?). However, just because a jacket is waterproof, that doesn’t mean it is impervious to water entirely. Waterproof ratings range from IPX-0 to IPX-8, with an 8 rating being the most resistant to water. Look for something with fully sealed seams, and underarm zips so you don’t get sweaty. These jackets will keep you dry during heavy downpours, but on the flipside, are oftentimes more lightweight, and more of just a shell than water resistant jackets.
Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket
Not only will this jacket seal you off entirely from the rain and wind, it will also keep you dry on the inside too. You need a raincoat like this one that is breathable so you don’t get all hot and sticky on the inside, when walking through the rain. This has zippered armpits and a breathable membrane so you can let some air out, and packs down into its own pocket so you can be prepared at all times. Plus, it’s made of recycled fabric so you can keep your consciousness clear, even when the skies aren’t.
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