So, with all this rain we're having, you've decided to take the plunge and buy a raincoat. But which one do you buy? What are some of the things you need to look out for before choosing one? We've compiled this handy check list of 5 raincoat must-haves for you to use when sussing out the options.
1. Waterproof fabric
The most obvious first feature one would expect from any decent raincoat is that they have used waterproof fabric - and not just water repellent fabric/treatment.
Brands that use waterproof fabrics will generally tell you that they have used them in the manufacturing process and should tell you to what level they are waterproof. They will want to let you know they have used a high quality waterproof fabric, because it's cost them a lot more than a shower-proof or water repellent fabric would, and they want you know that this is partly why their product will cost more. Waterproof fabrics differ from water repellent fabrics - a waterproof fabric has been tested in a laboratory using the hydrostatic head or water column test which looks at how tall a column of water (measured in mm) a fabric can hold before water starts to seep through it. Water repellent fabrics will have a coating to repel water (you might see it bead off your fabric) but this will last only a few washes before it stops being effective, and will need to be re-applied. In general, a fabric is considered waterproof if it can resist 3000 mm of water from leaking through during the hydrostatic head test. Fabrics can increase in waterproof levels up to 20 000 mm however, some critics have said that anything more than 10 000 mm can then interfere with the breathability of the fabric. But more about that later... All Scribbler's coats are waterproof to 10000 mm. We don't go higher than this, as we don't want breathability to be compromised.
2. Sealed seams
You might have a coat that says it is waterproof up to 20 000 mm however, it could still leak if the seams haven't been sealed in some way. Sewn seams are an area of weakness where water will find a way to get through, leaving you wet under even a very high spec fabric. This is why sealing all seams with a special waterproof tape, internally after they have been sewn is crucial. If your raincoat isn't fully seam sealed then it is not entirely waterproof, and you could still get wet through the seams in a strong downpour. All Scribbler's lightweight coats are fully seam sealed, making them truly waterproof.
3. A good hood
So the heavens have opened and you've got your raincoat on - the next key element is a good hood to pull over your head. But what makes one hood better than another?
In a rainstorm there is generally some wind, or you might need to run for cover, so in order to stop the hood from blowing off your head - a way to adjust it is key. Toggles that you can quickly pull on to tighten the hood around your face is something you don't think about until you are in that downpour! Having a small and adjustable peak on the front is also a big plus as this shelters your eyes allowing you to see in front of you - have you ever tried running in the rain and wind before? The peak can also help protect glasses or make-up from streaming too! :) Having some adjustment at the back of the head also improves fit as not everyone's heads are the same size!
So, you've got the waterproof, seam sealed, hooded rain coat on, and you start walking fast/running to get to cover/home as soon as you can, but your raincoat is rubberised or is not breathable and now you are sweating and it feels like you are in your very own sauna! A breathable fabric is another key element that many people forget about. They know they need to keep the rain off, but they forget they also need to let the water vapour and perspiration that we all create, out! The breathability of a fabric indicates how well the fabric can absorb moisture and release it. This is measured in mvp - moisture vapour perspiration. The more breathable a fabric, the more warmth that will be lost too, so you need to decide what you will be using your raincoat for most of the time. For example, Scribbler's fleece bonded coats have a purposefully lower breathability rating of 800 mvp as these coats are built for warmth as well as being waterproof, however, our lightweight waterproof rain jackets have a much higher rating of breathability of around 5000 mvp - meaning these are perfect for layering (if you want warmth) but will be really good at moderating body temperature while you are out walking/hiking or doing other forms of mild exercise.
The length of a raincoat/rain jacket is also something to bear in mind, as wherever the raincoat covers, you will be dry but wherever it doesn't cover will get wet! A bit of a longer length at the back is always good - especially if you will be bending down, working in the garden or picking up or buckling in kids. A longer length helps with better coverage from the rain, however, too long can restrict movement and be a tripping hazard. This again, depends on what you will be using the coat for most of the time. Scribbler's ladies coats all have a longer length back for that little bit of extra coverage and we have just released our first trench coat. This coat means serious (but very beautiful) waterproof business.
These are our top 5 features to consider when buying a good, dependable waterproof raincoat or rain jacket. If you'd like to see more of Scribbler's beautifully designed rainwear, you can see more here. We even have rainwear for dogs that you can match with! We use the same fabrics and finishes on our Scribbler Pets range. See more here.