The four seasons bring their lot of weather variations…and one of those is rain! That’s why it’s judicious to have a good raincoat and rainwear in your arsenal to be ready to keep out the rain, especially during spring and fall. Follow our tips to pick out the right rainwear for you.
1. Criteria to consider when selecting a rain jacket.
What’s the number one thing to keep in mind during rainy days? Staying comfortable and dry no matter what. To achieve this, gear yourself up with rainwear that includes the latest technology and design.
What type of jacket do you need?
A windbreaker is not necessarily a rain jacket, just as a winter coat is not a spring coat.
To make sure that raindrops bead on the outer layer of your raincoat rather than penetrating it, it must be made of a naturally water-resistant fabric such as polyester or nylon, and made with a DWR (durable water repellent) treatment. These different materials and technologies allow for repelling water to different degrees, so it’s important to know your needs before purchasing a rain jacket. Will you be standing under the rain long? Do you need to stay 100% dry? Ask yourself these questions in order to make the right selection.
As far as the cut goes, it should also be suited to your needs. You might want a longer raincoat that covers your thighs if you’ll be doing light hiking, or you may prefer a shorter cut if you’re out running or jogging. Ponchos are also an interesting option, as they offer freedom of movement, but they won’t protect as well from the rain, especially if there is a lot of wind.
Or, perhaps you’d like to select a shell to keep the water out. But, between a hard shell and soft shell jacket, you aren’t sure which to choose. Here are some guidelines:
- On the one hand, hard shells offer integral protection against precipitation and rain – they are entirely waterproof.
- For soft shells, they are water resistant without being 100% waterproof, but they are a better choice for heavy rain or wet snow.
- If you’ll be heading out kayaking in the rain, an entirely waterproof shell is the right choice, whereas an everyday option would be a soft shell and an umbrella.
What materials should you look for in a rain jacket?
First off, it’s important to understand the difference between water resistance and a choice that is entirely waterproof.
A jacket or clothing item that is waterproof completely blocks out water and resists heavy rain. Drops of water do not penetrate through the jacket. Water resistance allows for keeping you dry in the rain for a certain amount of time, but in a rainstorm, you will become more humid or feel damp.
- Rubber and vinyl. Jackets designed from these fabrics are 100% waterproof, but don’t offer good breathability. Use these for low-intensity activities that won’t be under heavy rain.
- Nylon. This fabric has low absorption, which allows it to dry quickly. Once it has been treated with DWR, it has good breathability and resists water, but for short periods of time.
- Gore-Tex™. Several brands such as Mammut, Arc’teryx, and Marmot offer this technology in their coats and jackets. This fiber is derived from teflon. It offers excellent waterproof and breathable features.
- eVENT®. This 3-layer membrane allows not only protection from wind and water, but it is waterproof and wicks moisture. CTO gaiters are made with this technology.
- MemBrain™. This laminated membrane used by Marmot is waterproof, breathable, and water-resistant, and even operates in the harshest of weather conditions. It even reduces internal condensation.
- Omni-Tech®. This Columbia technology is waterproof and breathable, but is better-suited to light rain.
- OutDry™ Extreme. This impenetrable, waterproof membrane is also designed by Columbia. It allows humidity to move away from the body in order to keep you dry.
So what exactly is a durable water repellent (DWR) treatment?
Almost all raincoats and the majority of winter coats and mid-season jackets have been treated with a water repellent treatment. It doesn’t last forever, so it’s important to maintain your technical clothing properly in order to make it last. You can also reapply a treatment when you notice that your jacket has begun losing its waterproofing abilities. It is possible to apply while washing using a cleaning and water repellent product.
3 important features that make a difference
- An adjustable hood that covers your ears, head, and neck in case of rain.
- Waterproof seams and zipper closures that prevent water from getting in.
- Adjustable drawstrings at the wrists and at the waist to keep out cold and water.
2. Why waterproof pants are useful and how to wear them
The immense comfort that a good pair of rain pants can offer shouldn’t be underestimated. If clouds are roaming the sky, take the time to slip on your Gore-Tex™ rain pants – or other type of light and breathable pants (legs have a tendency to emit lots of heat) such as nylon with DWR, and you won’t have to fear the rain one bit. Avoid pants that are solely water repellent and opt for a waterproof mention.
It is advised to wear waterproof pants if you’ll be going biking, hiking, or climbing over several days in the rain.
Finally, think about wearing leggings, hiking pants, or a baselayer made from synthetic materials under your rain pants in order to maximize your comfort.
3. What makes a good pair of rain boots?
While certain models also use Gore-Tex™ technology to deal with unforeseen weather conditions (hiking in the rain, for example), rain boots designed for everyday life that you’ll need simply to skip out on puddles in the street are made of rubber.
When it comes to fishing boots or boots worn for use in a watercraft, they are almost always made of rubber.
Short or tall, with colourful designs or neutral, lined nor not, rain boots are your best ally to get through transition seasons. Select flexible, lightweight ones for more comfort and you’ll be all set to jump in those puddles!
Finally, should you wear rain boots with or without socks? It’s all a question of comfort, but it’s recommended to wear them with a pair of merino wool socks or socks made from synthetic materials. This way, perspiration can be evacuated easily and your socks will dry quickly. It’s even more important if you are wearing rubber boots that don’t breathe at all.
4. What to wear for walking or running in the rain
You should opt for a jacket with good breathability, especially if you intend to be in rainy conditions for longer periods of time. Don’t wear too much clothing, no more than if you were to be going jogging on a sunny day, to avoid excess sweat. Opt for layering so that you can adjust and adapt as the weather changes, and as your level of physical activity becomes more (or less) intense. Finally, make sure that your hiking boots or running shoes are also waterproof.
5. Bonuses to keep you dry
Well, that’s that. You’re dressed from head to toe with waterproof layers. Why not check out water-resistant accessories that could make your life even easier?
- A rain cover for your backpack or baby carrier. Adjustable and easy to stuff into a pocket, the cover will allow you to walk in the rain with no hurry, your laptop or your little one shielded from the elements.
- Speaking of computers, numerous electronic gadgets (watches, GPS, cameras, etc.) are now available in water-resistant models. If you often bring your gadgets outside, this could be an investment worth considering. Waterproof cases are also available.
- When it comes to waterproof accessories such as gaiters, gloves, and hats, it’s up to you to determine your needs based on the activities that you will be doing…and to your tolerance to colder, wetter conditions!