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October 4 2022

Choosing the right winter jacket: a guide to waterproofing, breathability, and sustainability

As the season approaches you might be thinking of buying a new winter jacket. We’ve put some basic tips together so you know where to start and what to look at.

DURABLE WATER REPELLENT A.K.A. DWR

This is a chemical treatment of the outer fabric used to create water repellency and avoid initial wetting of the garment. This also helps to retain its breathability capacity allowed by the membrane. However, many DWR treatments contain PFCs (chemicals that never disappear from nature causing huge damage – forever chemicals) due to their stronger ability to repel oil and water than most PFC-free versions.

The fact is that oil repellency is useful in some areas of workwear, but it is not a needed attribute for outdoor gear, especially not at the cost of sustainability.

WATERPROOFNESS & BREATHABILITY

Waterproofness is an attribute of a garment, which keeps you dry from the outside. It is a barrier to rain and snow, while breathability helps you to stay dry from the inside when you sweat. Both are crucial if you like to be comfortable being out and about no matter the weather. This is the membrane’s job.

One might think that going for the maximum on both is the best thing to go for. However, this is not possible. Why? Because they are mutually exclusive or inversely proportional. The more waterproofness, the less breathability. What’s the secret then? Find the sweet spot between both parameters that are suitable for your desired activity.

Sustainability

Not buying would be the most sustainable option: use your gear as long as you can and have weak spots repaired if possible.

If you need to buy new, check if the jacket fits your purpose in performance and consider materials along with style.

Buying recyclable mono-material garments would be the best option. Since this is still hard to find in outdoor jackets (we are pushing for it), look for PFC-free garments with the least number of different materials and the highest recycled content possible. For other types of clothing, try to go for natural fibers such as cotton or wool as they release no microplastics during their use phase.