What is a Waterproof Coat?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen
A waterproof coat is water-resistant.
A waterproof coat is water-resistant.

A waterproof coat is a protective outer garment worn over other clothes to keep a person warm and is specifically meant to prevent water from getting to the person and clothes beneath it. While a waterproof coat can be made from a material designed to be waterproof, it may also be made from a general material like nylon and then be modified to make the material waterproof. Typically, waterproof coats can come in heavy forms meant to be worn during especially cold weather, or lighter forms that are intended for use in warmer weather while still preventing water from getting through the material.

Some manufacturers produce waterproof clothing such as coats that are water-resistant at the time of purchase. These garments are typically available at most outdoor supply stores and even some larger department stores. A waterproof coat designed to be water-resistant should be properly cared for as recommended by the manufacturer, which may include yearly maintenance such as cleaning and reapplying waterproofing products.

One example of water-resistant outdoor wear is clothing made by Gore-tex®. Gore-tex® produces waterproof garments through a process that creates a patented membrane on the clothing. This membrane consists of tiny holes that are too small to allow droplets of water through, but are large enough to allow vapor and air to pass through the garment. A waterproof coat made by Gore-tex® is typically considered breathable and waterproof since it can allow evaporation of perspiration from within to escape the garment, but will not allow water to pass into the coat.

Clothing such as a coat that is not initially waterproof can be rendered water-resistant through a fairly simple process. A garment can typically be rendered waterproof by first cleaning it thoroughly as advised by the coat label, drying, and then applying a water-repellent spray. Such sprays are available commercially and should be applied in an open, well-ventilated area as there may be some fumes during drying. Once the coat is dry, usually after about 24 hours, it will then be a waterproof coat and though it may not be as breathable as other materials, it will protect from water.

Light summer coats that are water-resistant are available for use during warmer times when rain can be expected but a heavier garment is not needed. Heavier winter waterproof coats should usually be worn during cold times to help ensure that snow and rain do not get to internal clothing. Wearing of wet clothing while in extremely low temperatures can lead to hypothermia and lower a person’s resistance to illness.

Discussion Comments


@alisha-- I think you need to first decide on your priorities. There are many different kinds of waterproof coats out there and from my experience, it's hard to find one that has that many qualities.

I think your top priority as a camper would have to be staying dry when it rains, followed by warmth, durability and maybe protection from wind. For that, look for a coat that is labeled as one hundred percent waterproof and which has several layers of fabric. The best waterproof coats will have several waterproof layers so that if any water manages to get through one layer, it won't get past the other layers.

For warmth, you want to make sure it has a fabric layer inside and that it breathes. When the coat breathes, more air will circulate inside and it will keep you warm. And for durability, you can look for coats that are made of hard, synthetic materials.

Like I said, it's hard to find all of these qualities in one and if you do, the price might be higher than you can afford.


Does anyone have any recommendations for men's waterproof coat for camping? I go camping all the time and need something that will keep water and cold out, but which is also durable.

I actually had a really nice one that was completely waterproof and kept me warm, but it wasn't durable enough. While hiking, I fell and landed in some thorns which basically made little holes in the coat. It's completely ruined and is no longer "waterproof." I think I need a really heavy duty one but have no idea where to find it.


Where I live, we get rain on and off during the spring and summer seasons. It's too warm to wear an actual coat, but it's still necessary to wear something that will protect from rain.

I personally just use a thin raincoat made of polyester. I don't know if it allows ventilation or not but it doesn't allow water to go in. It also has a really thin fabric inside, so it provides some warmth but not too much. It might not be the best waterproof coat, but it keeps me dry and was really affordable, so I'm happy with it.

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    • A waterproof coat is water-resistant.
      By: Alexandra Karamyshev
      A waterproof coat is water-resistant.