How to buy the best waterproof jacket

Buy waterproof jackets

Waterproof jackets repel water in different ways depending on the design of the fabric, and you’ll see a lot of waterproofing jargon on labels when shopping. Thanks to advancements in technology, however, it is now rare for waterproof fabrics to let water in, and it’s the very design of the jacket that makes all the difference when you’re caught in the rain.

A poorly designed or poorly made jacket can allow water to seep through. On the other hand, features that allow air to enter the jacket, such as vents and adjustable cuffs, can improve its breathability and comfort.

It’s best to try on a jacket before buying to ensure the best fit. If you walk with a backpack, take it to the store to see if it gets in the way of the zippers, pockets, or zippers.

Learn more: Reviews of the brand of waterproof jackets – see which brands are rated highest by members

Features of the waterproof jacket explained

While waterproof jackets aren’t as feature-rich or as technical as some other outdoor products, an understanding of key features will help you choose the right jacket for you.

When trying on a jacket, look for the following features:

Adjustable hem

Having an adjustable hem and waist allows you to use the buttons on the waterproof jacket to tighten the coat to improve fit and aid insulation. Feel where the rockers will rest against your body as they may dig in and prove uncomfortable during a long walk.

drooping tail

The drop tail of a waterproof jacket is where the back of the jacket is longer than the front. This feature gives you more coverage when leaning forward and is especially handy for cyclists.


A properly fitted balaclava should protect your face from the elements without restricting your view. A reinforced visor will help prevent the hood from bending in the wind. You should be able to adjust the hood easily, even with gloves on.

Fixed hoods will keep water from running down your neck and back, as will detachable hoods with good overlap between hood and collar. Some oversized balaclavas are designed to be worn with a climbing helmet, so they can look a little messy when fitted.

Armpit zips

Some waterproof jackets have underarm zippers. These underarm zippers are designed to aid ventilation and are more suitable for cold and dry conditions.

Wearing a backpack can make it difficult to access your jacket’s zippers and can also distort the shape of the zipper, increasing the chance of water ingress, so bring your backpack to the store to try it on with the jacket.


The pockets of your waterproof jacket should be easily accessible. Try the jacket on with a backpack so you know what effect any traction will have on their positioning. Pack a pair of gloves to see how easy it is to open the pockets while wearing them. It is best to keep items such as cell phones away from potentially leaky external pockets.


The seams of traditional waterproof jackets are taped or taped to prevent water from entering through holes created during the manufacturing process. Only when the seams are sealed can the jacket be officially classified as waterproof.

Storm flaps

A jacket’s storm flap is a piece of fabric that covers the jacket’s zippers and helps prevent water from entering the coat through pockets or other zippered openings.

Velcro cuffs

Velcro cuffs can help keep water out and allow ventilation in drier conditions. Adjustable fabric cuffs are less likely to snag when accessing pockets, compared to stiffer cuff tabs.

How do I maintain my waterproof jacket?

The high price of some waterproof jackets is worth it. Here are some tips to prolong the life of your jacket:

1. Wrinkling your jacket can stress the fabric, so fold or hang the jacket carefully to avoid damage.

2. Dirt can affect the waterproofness of the jacket, so keep it clean.

3. Coated and membrane jackets can lose their waterproofness over time. Washing your jacket with liquid soap to remove dirt, then tumble drying and/or ironing on a low setting can help. If not, try using a wash-off waterproofing product available at outdoor retailers. Avoid over-washing, as this will also reduce the water resistance of the coat more quickly.

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