According to studies, it rains for about a third of the year in the UK, which to us is surprising; surely it’s more than that?! Nevertheless, this goes a long way to explaining why we fit the stereotype that claims we love to talk about the weather. First topic of conversation when you call your family or friends from holiday? Weather. Need some small talk in the office kitchen? Weather.
A good, lined, waterproof raincoat is possibly the most essential item in a British man’s wardrobe. But getting the right one can be surprisingly difficult. Whether you’re looking for a casual black hooded jacket, a travel or hiking Gore-Tex raincoat or something full-length and formal that'll look smart over a suit, our buying guide is here to help. We've also ranked our favourite raincoats online, including faithful yet stylish brands.
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To get the ultimate raincoat, you’re going to need to consider a couple of main factors. What are you planning on doing in the jacket? How wet is it going to be? And how much are you willing to (wait for it) splash out?
Some waterproof materials will keep you drier than others, so first we’re going to look at the advantages and disadvantages of the most commonly used. We'll be referring to the outer material (in other words, the waterproof part) rather than the inner material or lining, which can be made up of a number of other fabrics like cotton or fleece for comfort and warmth.
Gore-Tex is known as the most waterproof and windproof material there is. It's a triple-layered (known as 3-layer) fabric that not only repels water, but also promotes breathability as it allows water vapour to pass from the inside out. The result? It keeps you dry from the outside and inside.
It’s the perfect material if you're going to be expending some energy in the rain, but be aware that Gore-Tex jackets tend to be an expensive initial investment compared to other ‘shell’ waterproof jackets. They will last the long haul, though.
The process of rubberising was developed in the 1800s by Charles Mackintosh (and thus the mac was born!), in which either a rubber material is sandwiched between two fabrics, or a plastic coating like PVC or PU is applied on top of a material like polyester. Their waterproofing can vary from extremely waterproof (such as in fishing raincoats), to a lighter protection found in casual macs.
They do, however, have some disadvantages. First off, they have low breathability, so you could find yourself dry on the outside but dripping on the inside. Also, the coating can degrade over time, and although it can be re-applied, it’s a rather difficult and painstaking process.
DWR stands for 'Durable Water Repellent', which may be an indication that it's not going to keep you as dry as Gore-Tex or other waterproof materials. A DWR-coated jacket will be sufficient if you’re expecting light to medium rain or snow, as it can adequately deal with this amount of downpour.
On the plus side, DWR jackets tend to be less expensive, so unless you’re taking on the elements for hours on end then they should hold up just fine. However, they are heavier and do not provide much in the way of breathability, so if you’re doing more than just walking you might end up a bit soggy inside.
The next question you need to ask yourself is, 'What am I going to be doing in this new raincoat?'. Different jackets have different capabilities – someone who's trekking Coniston won't have much luck with a thin mac. While there are numerous variations, we've dwindled it down to these 3 distinctive styles.
Technical jackets are ideal for those who are going to be spending a lot of time outdoors. These are generally made to be breathable and lightweight to facilitate outdoor activities, such as hiking or biking.
Your choice of waterproofing with these jackets tends to come down to one of two options: DWR or the more withstanding Gore-Tex. These use a layer construction that helps provide ventilation where necessary but will also keep you dry. These kinds of jackets tend to be handy to pack down, so they’re ideal if you're off on your jollies but don’t want to carry a bulky coat.
Casual jackets are what you’re going to be looking for if you need something to keep you dry between the train and the pub. In other words, a jacket that holds up well if you get caught out in a shower, but not one that’s required to be as dry as its technical brothers.
Think classic anoraks, fisherman's coats or even parkas, which are all styles that fall into this ‘casual’ mould. Rubberised cotton and synthetic fibres have long been the go-to materials for these styles, so they'll be more affordable, too (depending on the brand, of course!).
The two main styles of smart raincoat are trench coats or macs, the former being longer, double-breasted, and almost always with a waist belt to bring the coat in for a more fitted look.
Macs, on the other hand, tend to have a more minimalist look. They’re often single-breasted with a button overlap to provide a sharp and sleek aesthetic, and are a bit shorter, both of which are said to be more flattering for shorter guys.
Smarter coats favour materials like heavy-duty cotton or polyester, which can be treated with waterproof coatings. However, due to their sophistication they're regularly without hoods, so you may want to pick up a brolly. These coats look best when paired with suits or smart/casual wear, and we'd also recommend teaming them with a more fitted jacket as they can become quite boxy otherwise.
Don’t fancy carrying and shaking a brolly down every time you go in and out of a cafe or get on the bus? Make sure your coat has a hood. If you’re in the market for casual or smart wear, then hood specifications aren’t that important, just look for something firm that you can fasten and that fits your head in!
However, if you’re out in the sticks and facing more adverse conditions, you'll want to be better protected. Some things to look out for in a hood are the size – you’re going to want a deep offering if you plan to use it over a helmet for cycling or climbing. Also, you're going to want it to be adjustable, so if the weather does change you know you can tighten it up and stay dry.
Pockets are a great little addition to a rain jacket, keeping your mitts warm and your valuables safe. A decent raincoat usually offers at least two standard pockets and sometimes an inside pocket. This isn’t always the case, though, so look for a few more if you need them.
Technical raincoats designed for long walks in the outdoors will often have several other nifty pockets, which are particularly useful if you’re taking any extra gizmos or gadgets along with you like a camera or MP3 player. They could even be used as a specific dog-treat pocket for when you're walking the pooches!
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Berghaus have been in the outdoor game a long time, over 50 years in fact, so it's no surprise they've made our winning raincoat. The Hillwalker uses Gore-Tex – which is both the most waterproof material there is and also one of the most durable, being a non-tear, ripstop fabric.
Many reviewers have commented on how comfortable this coat is too, plus it has a brilliant hood that you just know has got you covered if the weather turns – just unroll it, fix it using the adjustable cords and you'll be safe no matter what the wind throws at you. It's even machine washable!
Guards pride themselves on using the finest materials and almost scientific attention to detail, and the 'City Raincoat' is perhaps their best invention. Claimed to be the ultimate shield against the elements, this raincoat will keep your suit bone dry whilst you make your way to the office, keeping up a cool, calm and collected look.
On top of the fine synthetic outer layer, this raincoat also comes with a removable gilet, so you'll be pleasantly snug without the bulky layers. The adaptability and functionality of this garment make it wearable year-round – all whilst looking dapper, of course.
These sleek and fundamentally stylish raincoats from Stutterheim are a delight. The story goes that the founder started making them after finding one of his Grandad's old raincoats in a barn in Stockholm, and since then they've become one of the most sought-after jackets around. And we do love a good, wholesome tale like that.
Each coat is meticulously handcrafted using only the best materials to create a functional, yet stunning garment. There's a wide array of colours too – we've gone for a neutral navy, but with the classic fisherman's yellow and a magnificent pale pink, there's a look for everyone.
We couldn't write an article about raincoats without including The North Face – that'd be like going to the chippy and getting a salad. So here we are with the Evolve II Triclimate Jacket, and it's a beast. It comes with a separate inner fleece for warmth, as well as their own waterproof tech 'Dryvent' which is waterproof, windproof and altogether element-proof.
From the sounds of it, you may think this jacket could be a bit clammy, but the Dryvent helps with its multi-layered build, stopping water from getting in but allowing vapour to get out. Additionally, it has an adjustable hood and sleeve cuffs to see that no unwanted rain can get to you.
This reliable jacket from Marmot does a lot of things well – although simple, raincoats like this one are a great thing to have in your wardrobe. It has the long-lasting Marmot EVODry technology (which runs level with DWR in terms of waterproofing) and a surprisingly comfortable interior for a shell jacket.
It also offers a superb hood that's adjustable and enables a good range of peripheral vision. On top of all this, it's made from 100% recycled materials and is PFC-free, so it's far more environmentally friendly when in production. So you can save the planet and be prepared to get in and amongst the drizzle!
We love this trench coat from Harry Brown. While they market it as such, we think it comes more under the 'mac' label, but what are rules made for if not to be broken? It's single-breasted so will look good on men of all heights, and comes in a variety of classic colours (as well as some not so classic like teal and cobalt for the more daring folk out there).
At £40 it's a total bargain too, particularly considering these styles of coat often cost hundreds if the brand is right. It doesn't have a hood, so if you want to stay fully dry you're going to need to pick up a brolly. But with the pennies you'll save, that should still see you well under budget.
Any brand that cut their teeth making mountaineering gear surely know a thing or two about keeping their customers dry. This jacket is made from 100% polyamide material that should see you through if you get caught out in the rain. Also, if we're being honest, we think it looks pretty cool, too.
It's available in several great colours that go well with most attires, and the price is reasonable for such an 'in' brand at the moment. This jacket packs down small into its own carry bag, so you won’t have to worry about saving a lot of space for it in your camping bag or hiking pack either.
Carhartt have been making sturdy, comfortable workwear since the 1890s, a mould the Nimbus certainly fits. Crafted from a good quality, durable nylon material with an adjustable hood, it should keep you and your 'fro dry. Moreover, its mesh lining earns it extra marks for keeping you toasty in bad weather.
The pullover look is bang on-trend, but bear in mind if the weather brightens you could find yourself exposing a belly roll or two trying to wriggle your way out of it. And although reviewers found it kept their body dry, there was a bit of dampness on the arms – so it may not stand up in a real downpour.
This jacket from Arc'teryx is ideal if you require a jacket to take on a business trip or city break, as it's compressible and packable. It has a DWR coating that should keep you dry long enough to get where you're going, and is light and mobile so you won't feel restricted when wearing it.
This coat is great for the odd shower or bout of sleet or snow, but if your region is known for heavy rainfall it may not save you entirely. The other small issue is the price – while it's a great jacket for what it does, you could possibly pick up something more protective for your money.
Always fancied looking like you've just come back for shore leave? This Helly Hansen number is your pick. It's a comfortable and not remotely restrictive coat, which can be the case with polyurethane.
It also comes with a rather large hood, so should the heavens open your barnet will be safe. Unfortunately, this raincoat isn't so versatile as it's strictly for the rain. So if you want a jacket of general practical use, this might not be the ideal option for you.
Looking for some other weatherproof items to assist you in the battle against British climes? Or maybe you'd just like a classy new wallet to go with your city-slicker rain mac? Either way, we'll leave some links below for more buying guides we think are worth your time!
Whether you're looking for a smart coat that will see you make it to the office in one piece, or a raincoat that you can pack down, roll up, and bung in a bag, we hope you've found our recommendations useful. We wish we could say you're probably not going to need one from here on out, but we all know that isn't going to happen – stay dry guys!
Author: Lewis Clark
No. 1: Berghaus｜Hillwalker Interactive
No. 2: Guards London｜City Raincoat
No. 3: Stutterheim｜Raincoat Stockholm
No. 4: The North Face｜Evolve II Triclimate 3-in-1 Jacket
No. 5: Marmot｜Phoenix Jacket
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