Wanted: A 100% rainproof jacket that's not clammy to wear in hot weather
July 24, 2021 11:08 AM   Subscribe

Is there such a thing? Can anyone recommend a brand or fabric that satisfies both these conditions? Or must it always a compromise between the two?
posted by Paul Slade to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The whole idea of gore-tex is that it's permeable to water vapor but not liquid water.
posted by aubilenon at 11:26 AM on July 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

I would suggest a poncho, so you can get the benefit of the updraft.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:28 AM on July 24, 2021

In general, no. Gore-Tex and (and related fabrics now that the patent has expired) are designed to allow water vapor to escape while keeping out liquid rain. However, there is only so much sweat they can release. If you're exerting yourself and it's hot, the water coming from your own body is going to swamp the capacity of the fabric to breathe. I have a "waterproof breathable" jacket and never wear it because of that issue. It still gets clammy from the inside. Andrew Skurka, one of the most accomplished outdoorspersons, details why. An umbrella may well keep you more comfortable. Or a wicking base layer to keep the water off your skin.

The only combination of circumstances where it does work is when temperatures are moderate and you're not producing much sweat. Sorry.
posted by wnissen at 11:34 AM on July 24, 2021 [17 favorites]

Yup. Gore-tex would be it. I'd go with Patagonia or The North Face (though their quality has gone down somewhat as they've gotten more popular, but still make some solid stuff).
posted by speakeasy at 11:34 AM on July 24, 2021

There's a new material/coating called FutureLight that I think North Face owns that supposedly lives up to the promise of being breathable but also waterproof. I haven't tried it but I've seen reviews that suggest that they are. But they are expensive and it's not 100% clear how long the coating lasts.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 11:39 AM on July 24, 2021

Best answer: There are limits to everything obvs but pit zips definitely help, as do two-way full-length front zippers and rear shoulder yoke vents, if available
posted by toodleydoodley at 11:51 AM on July 24, 2021 [13 favorites]

Multiple jackets: base windproof layer that can breathe like Gore-Tex, plus a Sou'wester, cagoule or plastic poncho over the top. Layer up and down according to need.
posted by k3ninho at 11:55 AM on July 24, 2021

One thing to look for, that my old rain jacket from LL Bean has (which is Gore-tex) is ventilation zippers -- mine unzips roughly from my breast to my elbow. but underneath my arm, a seam along the armpit area. So ventilation isn't just about the material, it's also about the intelligent placement of zippers and ventilation in design depending on what it is you're trying to do.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:34 PM on July 24, 2021 [3 favorites]

I've had a bunch of Gore-tex stuff and in my opinion it does not work. A friend tells me it needs to be buttressed with liberal sprayings of Scotch-Gard, but that garbage gives me a severe headache.

I remember a big controversy 20 years ago or so when the last holdout British manufacturer finally switched from very tightly woven Egyptian cotton to Gore-tex -- as a merely cost saving move, critics said.

The fibers of Egyptian cotton, in the presence of enough liquid water, would swell and lock together into a state of high water repellency, but would otherwise breathe freely, according to its proponents.

Something like that might still be out there, or have been brought back, but I haven't heard of any such.
posted by jamjam at 1:34 PM on July 24, 2021

This says 'core vents' but doesn't specify where the core is so 'core' might be open to interpretation...
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:38 PM on July 24, 2021

One tip is that higher-end Gore-Tex is a triple laminate, with other materials on both the outside and inside surface. That helps keep contaminants out of the Gore-Tex layer and makes such garments breathe better than two layer ones.

The fundamental answer to your question - though - is that there will always be a trade off between keeping water from the outside out and letting sweat from inside escape. It's easy to waterproof anything that doesn't sweat (just put it in a garbage bag) but for living things that generate heat and water vapour, any impermeable garment is going to keep some of that in.

For the same reason, leather hiking boots which allow sweat to escape better will often keep your feet drier than Gore-Tex boots which keep outside water away better but don't breathe as well.
posted by sindark at 1:53 PM on July 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

Breathable fabrics aren't. Pit zips definitely help.
posted by Klipspringer at 2:27 PM on July 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

I would suggest a poncho, so you can get the benefit of the updraft.

I use a poncho and love it, but it is absolutely not 100% waterproof. I always end up with my purse and pretty much everything below my waist soaking wet. Maybe one without pockets would be at least somewhat better.
posted by FencingGal at 2:58 PM on July 24, 2021

There is not such a thing yet outside of marketer's ad copy.

Consider that it's easy to get sweaty/clammy walking around outside in hot humid weather even in a normal tshirt - any waterproof jacket you get is only going to make it worse.

For many (non windy) situations an umbrella is a great solution (even for rural adventures like thru hiking the Appalachian trail)
When an umbrella is impractical, I prefer just accepting the fact I'll get wet, and wear clothing that is comfy while wet - for me that means spandex to prevent chafing and the annoying feeling of loose wet fabric sticking to me.
posted by mrgoldenbrown at 8:21 PM on July 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Lots of useful information there - thanks, everyone. I hadn't come across the idea of pit zips before but they sound like a big part of the answer I'm looking for.
posted by Paul Slade at 10:41 PM on July 24, 2021

Walking jackets made of gore-tex are fine and good, but what makes them magical are zips under the armpits. Generally your armpits are not rained on, so you can open the zips for ventilation even when it's wet.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 10:58 PM on July 24, 2021

A poncho has been my answer and I find I don't get especially wet, but mine is a long bike poncho. so perhaps it's the length.
posted by dame at 6:30 AM on July 25, 2021

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