What Are the Key Points for Selecting a Water-Repellent Winter Coat for Work?

April 4, 2024

The winter season often brings with it a myriad of challenges. The bitter cold, snow, and relentless rain can make it challenging to commute to work or simply run errands. Choosing the right winter coat can make a significant difference in your comfort and, ultimately, your productivity at work. If you’re in search of a winter jacket that is both chic and practical, one important factor to consider is its ability to resist water.

Water-resistant or waterproof jackets are a godsend when the skies open up. They keep you dry, warm and prevent the discomfort that comes with soaking wet clothes. But what are the key points to consider when selecting a water-repellent winter coat for work? Let’s delve into this topic.

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Understanding the Fabric of Your Jacket

The first step in finding the perfect winter jacket lies in understanding the different fabrics used in their construction. The choice of fabric affects not only the jacket’s water-resistant properties but also its warmth, breathability, and durability.

When thinking about water-resistant jackets, what often comes to mind are synthetic fabrics like nylon or polyester. These materials are often treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) coating to make them resistant to water. But, even natural fabrics such as wool can resist water to some degree, thanks to their fibrous structures. Besides, they provide excellent insulation, which is critical in winter jackets.

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However, if you’re looking for the best of both worlds — water resistance and insulation — you might want to consider jackets with a shell made from synthetic material and a fill made from either down or synthetic fill.

The Importance of the Jacket’s Shell

The outermost layer of your jacket, known as the shell, plays a significant role in its water-resistant properties. A jacket’s shell is typically made from durable, water-repellent materials like nylon or polyester.

The shell is often treated with a DWR coating, which allows water to bead on its surface and roll off, rather than soaking into the fabric. This prevents the jacket from becoming water-logged and heavy, while also keeping you dry.

However, a jacket’s shell doesn’t just offer water resistance. It also serves as the first line of defense against wind, making it an important consideration for winter jackets.

The Role of Insulation in Providing Warmth

Insulation is another key aspect to look at when choosing a winter jacket. Insulation works by trapping body heat, keeping you warm in cold weather. Jackets can have either down or synthetic insulation.

Down insulation, made from the fluffy under feathers of ducks or geese, is renowned for its ability to provide exceptional warmth. It’s lightweight, highly compressible, and offers superior warmth-to-weight ratio compared to synthetic insulation.

Synthetic insulation, on the other hand, is made from polyester fibers. It’s not as warm or lightweight as down, but it performs better in wet conditions. Unlike down, which can lose its loft and insulating properties when wet, synthetic insulation can still provide some degree of warmth even when damp.

Breathability and Its Effect on Comfort

While keeping water out is important, a good winter jacket should also allow sweat and moisture from your body to escape. This is where breathability comes in.

Breathability refers to a jacket’s ability to allow moisture vapor to pass through it. This helps to prevent sweat buildup inside the jacket, which can make you feel clammy and uncomfortable.

Fabrics with good breathability will have a balance of being water-repellent and allowing moisture to escape. Look for jackets labeled as breathable and bear in mind that layering can also affect breathability. A breathable jacket won’t do much good if your under layers are not breathable.

Considering the Jacket’s Fit and Style

Lastly, you should consider the jacket’s fit and style. After all, you will be wearing this jacket to work, so you want to make sure it looks professional and fits well.

The fit of the jacket should be such that it allows room for layering clothes underneath. But at the same time, it shouldn’t be so loose that it lets cold air sneak in.

As for the style, that’s largely a matter of personal preference. There are plenty of stylish water-resistant jackets out there, so you’re bound to find one that suits your taste and aligns with your workplace dress code.

The Science Behind Waterproof Ratings and Fill Power

While exploring different winter coats for work, you’re likely to come across terms like ‘waterproof ratings’ and ‘fill power’. Understanding these terms can be a great help in your search for the ideal water-repellent coat.

Waterproof ratings are numerical values that give you a rough idea of how waterproof a jacket is. The higher the number, the more waterproof the jacket is considered to be. For instance, a jacket with a waterproof rating of 5000mm can withstand 5000mm of rainfall in a 24-hour period without leaking. Most winter jackets are rated between 5000mm and 20,000mm.

However, keep in mind that a higher waterproof rating doesn’t necessarily translate to better breathability. In some cases, extremely waterproof jackets can be less breathable because the waterproof membrane is denser. For best results, opt for a jacket that strikes a balance between water resistance and breathability.

As for fill power, this refers to the jacket’s insulating ability. Fill power is a measure of how much loft or fluffiness down or synthetic insulation has, which correlates to its warmth. Higher fill power means more warmth. For cold winter climates, consider a jacket with a fill power of 550 to 800.

The Crucial Role of Durable Water Repellent (DWR) Treatment

DWR treatment is an essential component of a water-repellent winter jacket. This treatment is applied to the outer fabric or shell of the jacket to enhance its water resistance. The DWR forms a protective layer that causes water to bead up and roll off the fabric rather than soaking in.

The effectiveness of the DWR treatment can wane with time and use. Factors like dirt, oil, and repeated washing can reduce the treatment’s efficiency. But, the good news is that it can be refreshed through a process of washing and reapplication.

Remember, the DWR treatment alone doesn’t make a jacket waterproof. The face fabric must have a waterproof breathable membrane, like Gore-Tex, beneath the DWR treatment to ensure water doesn’t penetrate the jacket.


Selecting a water-repellent winter coat for work is much more than just choosing a trendy design. It involves understanding the different fabrics and their properties, the role of the jacket’s shell, the importance of insulation in providing warmth, the effect of breathability on comfort, and the significance of waterproof ratings and fill power.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to consider the DWR treatment and how it contributes to the jacket’s water resistance. Lastly, the fit and style of the jacket are also important, as it should align with your workplace dress code and personal style.

In sum, a good winter jacket will keep you dry and warm, without compromising on style and comfort. So take your time, do your research, and choose carefully. After all, a well-chosen water-repellent winter jacket is a worthy investment that will serve you for many winters to come.