How to Choose Rainwear,
Waterproof Boots & More
Work doesn’t stop when the rain starts. This guide helps hardworking pros choose rainwear and gear to stay dry and comfortable in wet working conditions. Plus, find top picks for rainwear, waterproof boots, waterproof gloves and even socks to wick away moisture.
3 Factors To Choose The Best Rainwear
Fabric: Breathable rainwear is made from woven fabrics (nylon, polyester, polypropylene) that keep out rain while allowing warm air and sweat vapor to escape. However, impermeable (non-breathable) fabrics (PVC, polyurethane) tend to be more durable and resist pressure leaks and driving rain better.
Construction: Constructing rainwear in (2, 2.5 or 3) layers, where the outer layer sheds water and inner layer(s) wicks sweat can help with breathability and comfort. If you need heavy-duty rainwear, but want to stay cooler, too, then look for rainwear that has things like venting in armpits and along the back to avoid overheating.
Features: If durability is your top priority or you need protection against prolonged, driving rain, look for features, like armpit and back venting to provide an element of breathability.
Fabric: Lightweight, breathable rainwear is better for light weather over short periods of time. Heavy-duty, impermeable options keep driving rain out longer and prevent pressure leaks. Choose the fabric that best fits your expected exposure.
Construction: Seam sealing is critical for protection. "Critically-taped seams" means only main seams are taped (hood, neck, shoulders). “Fully-seam-sealed” rainwear means all seams are sealed. "Welded seams" means two pieces of material are fused together. Welded seams work best since no stitch holes exist for chemicals or water to penetrate.
Features: Look for storm flaps over zippers and pockets, velcro or snap-adjustable cuffs and ankles for added protection. An extendable back/seat flap for added coverage also helps keep you dryer longer. Features like pull-cord hoods, hood brims and drawstring cords on hood, waist and other openings adds protection, too.
Fabric: Rainwear that’s abrasion- and puncture-resistant is partly a function of material. Lightweight, breathable fabrics tend to be less durable over time than heavy-duty impermeable fabrics.
Construction: Most rainwear is constructed in 2, 2.5 or 3 layers which affects durability and level of protection. The outer layer stands up to abrasion and repels rain. The inner layer guards against wear and tear and provides comfort, too.
Features: Rainwear with reinforced elbows and knees can also prove more durable.
Rainwear Features & Facts
Layers & Linings
Fabric layers and/or coatings achieve rainwear’s intended protection, durability and comfort. More layers, more better? It depends on what you need.
- 2-Layer: Most common, relatively economical, midweight, very comfortable, best for low exposure to wet conditions.
- 2.5-Layer: Lightest, most compressible, lower-priced, more breathable and water-resistant than 2-layer, good for light to moderate wet weather exposure.
- 3-Layer: Most durable, best protection for higher levels of wet weather exposure, longer lifespan, more warmth and comfort.
No matter what fabric is used, seams allow a point of entry for water due to the small gap between material pieces and holes created during stitching. Most rainwear employs some kind of seam sealing to reduce leaks.
- Critically-sealed seams: only main seams are taped (hood, neck, shoulders).
- Fully-seam-sealed: all seams are sealed.
- Welded seams: two pieces of material are fused together so no stitch holes exist for water to penetrate.
Closures & Flaps
How closures are constructed and whether there are flaps over openings helps keep the fit tight against the rain and keeps you drier, longer. For example:
- Wrist and ankle velcro or snap closures to keep fabric tight
- Drawstring or pull-cord hood, waist, wrists, ankles
- Storm flaps over front main closure or over pockets, often with velcro or snap closures
- Pants may have zippered leg openings to accommodate pulling over footwear.
Reinforced fabric or added layers of fabric is a function of durability. For example:
- Fabric on high-wear areas (knees, elbow) is reinforced
- Durable patches of fabric are added to elbows, knees or other high-wear areas.
- Rivets at high-stress areas prevent tears.
The same properties that help rainwear keep wet weather out also keeps sweat vapor in. Venting features help alleviate the sauna factor. For example:
- Armpit vents
- Back vents
- Back storm flap covering a mesh-lined back
- Double zippers allow opening the jacket from the bottom to provide venting
Rainwear for work or outdoor adventures needs to keep you, and your belongings, dry. Look for built-in storage features based on your needs:
- Pockets with storm flaps and closures to guard against leaks and to keep your stuff stowed
- Inside pockets built for cell phone, jobsite paperwork, valuables
- Pass-through pocket on rain pants so you can get at your wallet in your jeans pocket
- Packable rainwear that stuffs into itself for easy transport
Top Rainwear Picks from Gemplers
Top Breathable Rainwear Picks
Best Value for Breathable
- Fabric: Durable ripstop nylon
- Construction: Mesh-lined for comfort, fully seam-sealed
- Features: Hood rolls to form collar, pockets galore, packable
- Fabric: Ultra-tough heavy-denier polyester
- Construction: Comfort-lined with nylon taffeta, reinforced high-stress areas
- Features: Outside and inside pockets with flaps/closures, drawstring hood, waist closures
Top Breathable Rainwear Picks for Women
- Fabric: 3-layer fabric technology for exceptional performance, comfort
- Construction: Tricot-lined; micro-fleece-lined neck; welted exterior storm flaps and DWR (durable water repellent)-treated zippers
- Features: Two-way adjustable hood with laminated visor stows away neatly; zipper-garage chin guard, Self-stuffs into pocket with carabiner clip-in loop; packable; super lightweight at less than a pound
Heavy-Duty Impermeable Rainwear Top Picks
- Fabric: Nylon-lined PVC sheds water without sticking to you; lighter-weight and more flexible than traditional PVC
- Construction: Reinforced in high-wear areas
- Features: Snap-closure chest and front pockets; hood can accommodate a hard hat; hook-and-loop wrist closures; snap-fit ankles
- Fabric: Leak-proof stretch polyurethane keeps out even driving rain with no leaks
- Construction: Unlined; Soft neoprene inner wrist cuff and full-zip front with storm flap block wind and rain
- Features: Adjustable openings throughout for fit; wide legs for easy on/off with boots; pass-through back pocket to access jeans
- Fabric: Durable polyester base fabric with .35mm PVC coating is more durable, yet soft and flexible
- Construction: Patented MicroWeld™ seams create a molecular bond that’s stronger than original fabric Generous cut for greater mobility.
- Features: Snap front closures with overflap and added internal placket, plus collar snaps keep cold, wet weather out; Two front-entry pockets with storm flaps; Attached three-piece hood, plus elastic drawcords with cord locks keep the cold and rain off of your head and face; Take-up cuff snaps keep sleeves right where you want them
Top Picks for Hi-Vis Rainwear
- Fabric: Waterproof breathable Polyester/Polyurethane
- Construction: Unlined; Storm fly front with stitched and taped seams seal out wind and cold
- Features: Easy-access cargo pockets for personal items; roll-a-way hood.
- Safety: Meets ANSI/ISEA 107. Jacket meets Class 3; Rain pants meet Class E; Class 3 when paired with jacket.
- Fabric: Polyester canvas with polyurethane coating for 100% waterproof protection
- Construction: Full-vented cape back with mesh/taffeta lining keeps you cool; Excellent freedom of movement
- Features: D-ring access for fall protection; Storm fly front and elastic cuffs keep out wind and cold; Hood rolls into collar when not in use
- Safety: ANSI Class 3
- Fabric: 5.25-oz, 100% polyester three-layer twill is waterproof and breathable
- Construction: Fully-taped waterproof seams; droptail hem for added coverage; Full-length waterproof zipper and storm flap
- Features: Attached hood with drawcord adjuster; Hook-and-loop adjustable cuffs; Two zipper-secure lower pockets; Two interior drop-in pocket with hook and loop closure
- Safety: Meets ANSI / ISEA 107 standard. Meets ANSI Class 3, Type R visibility standard; 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective material 5510 trim maintains performance through 75 home launderings