The 10 Best Waterproof Jackets For Men
10. Ubon Mountain
9. Wantdo WT0769
8. Helly Hansen Mandal
7. Gioberti JA-945
6. The North Face Resolve
5. Carhartt Rockford
4. Columbia Watertight II
3. Marmot Precip
2. Paradox 2.5 Layer
1. Arc'teryx Men's Beta AR
Understanding The Term Waterproof
To call a product waterproof, a company should comply with the strict definition of that word. Unfortunately, most of the waterproof products you encounter on the market are merely water-resistant. No consumer protection agency seems particularly concerned with this distinction, even though it could lead less savvy consumers to take expensive water-resistant electronics and attempt to go diving with them.
Waterproofing a piece of clothing is very different from waterproofing a watch or a camera. Electronic waterproofing relies on a combination of waterproofing treatments and rubber seals. A jacket on the other hand, simply has to be treated with the necessary chemicals to form a seal at every point on the exterior (and ideally the interior) of its shell.
In some cases, the fabric in question has naturally water-resistant properties that may be enough to classify it as waterproof. More often then not, companies will combine a naturally water-resistant fabric with a waterproofing treatment. As a result, when you see a jacket advertised as waterproof, it’s safe to assume that it is, in fact, waterproof. But what does that mean for the person wearing it, or for the person shopping for it?
Well, since the process of producing a waterproof jacket is both less expensive and more reliable than that of a waterproof electronic device, shoppers are actually able to trust the claims from the manufacturer. This is especially true with jackets sold by recognizable brands, as they have less reason to lie about the quality of their products than some fly-by-night company that came across a few barrels of waterproofing chemicals and dipped a bunch of jackets in it. We’d never include such a brand on our lists, but they’re definitely out there.
The reliability of waterproofing in the jackets on our list also allows shoppers to spend their time concerned with other variables in the decision-making process. Just make sure you don’t overestimate the capabilities of any of these jackets. They can effectively keep water from passing through them, but they still have openings for your head and hands through which water can easily pass. In other words, don’t expect that you can go swimming in them and stay dry.
The Best Waterproof Jacket For You
If you’re in the market for a waterproof jacket, the odds are that you’re headed to someplace wet. There are a few things to consider among the jackets on our list that will help you determine which one will suit your situation best.
The most important thing you should consider about your moist environment is the average temperature. If you’re headed somewhere that’s both wet and tropical, you’ll want a lightweight jacket that can combine waterproofing with breathability.
If a jacket on our list boasts both waterproofing and breathability, then you can rely on it to keep you both dry and cool. That’s because more advanced waterproofing methods and materials can prevent liquid water from getting through their fibers without preventing water vapor from moving in both directions. That means that, as your sweat evaporates off your body, the vapor your body gives off will have a place to vent. This will increase the airflow all around the jacket, keeping your body much more comfortable.
If, on the other hand, you’re headed to Seattle or London in the winter, you can expect all that moisture to be considerably cold. That means you’ll want a heavier jacket. In those particular places, rain often gives way to a kind of mist. If this mist gets fine enough, it can permeate that breathable barrier on lighter jackets. As such, breathability might not be your best friend in this kind of climate.
In both of the cases we’ve illustrated, you might require additional ventilation. In tropical climates, even if you’re wearing a breathable waterproof jacket, the air might just be too hot and too stagnant. In colder, mistier climates, not having a breathable layer might cause too much of your natural body heat to accumulate inside your jacket.
If you’re worried about either of these eventualities, look for a jacket that has optional vents. These will usually appear around the armpits, sleeve edges, or lower portions of the jacket, where you could afford a little exposure to moisture in the name of airflow.
A Brief History Of Waterproofing
We’ve been waterproofing for a very long time. Most archeologists agree that waterproofing — in its most basic form — developed during the First Agricultural Revolution. Farmers needed a reliable way to control water, and the channels through which they did so wouldn’t be as effective if they were prone to leaks.
As mankind became more active on the sea, ships would undergo various forms of waterproofing to shore up their hulls. Egyptian tombs also underwent a similar form of waterproofing known as bitumen emulsion as early as 3600 B.C.E. This process involved spreading thick layers of black goo among dry reed fibers laid out in cross patterns. Despite the annual flooding of the Nile River, the interior of the Great Pyramids went untouched by water for millennia.
The Inuit people of pre-colonial America also had a moisture problem on their hands, and in seeking a solution, they devised some of the first ever waterproof clothing. To be fair, they didn’t so much manufacture it as they stole it from the bodies of animals they’d killed. Seal and whale intestines proved particularly impermeable to liquid. Because the lining of these organs needed to absorb nutrients, the material proved to be rather breathable, as well.
Waxed cotton grew in popularity among seafarers in the 1800s, as the waxing process was relatively easy and inexpensive for an individual to perform on pieces of clothing they already owned. By filling the pores of the fabric with wax (and paraffin oil in hot climates), water couldn’t get through.
Eventually, in the late 1960s, Gore-Tex showed up, a lightweight, fluoropolymer membrane with the ability to repel water in liquid form and allow air and water vapor to pass through. As an added benefit, it didn’t smell like a half-digested seal pup. Chemical waterproofing treatments were not far behind, leading to the vast array of options on today's market.