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London Fog Raincoat

How to Buy Rain Gear

Rain, rain, go away... Even the most enthusiastically recounted nursery rhyme is unlikely to keep inclement weather at bay. But with the right rain gear, you can survive the gustiest winds and hardest downpours in style.

The Basics

Step 1Top-down: A good umbrella may be all you need in a drizzle. Choose a Teflon-treated one for if you need something that will dry quickly, and look for "windproof" options if you live in a gusty area; those are less likely to turn inside out. And compact umbrellas are usually 42-44", just right for one person.
Step 2Raincoats: Waterproof, water-resistant or water-repellant? With such similar sounding lingo (add 'weatherproof' and 'weather resistant' for even more confusion), it's hard to make heads or tails of what you need to keep you dry. It's safe to say that for everyday rain protection, most people will be fine with water-resistant or water-repellant raincoats. If you spend a lot of time outdoors in inclement weather, look for something waterproof. Breathablility: Remember those rubber and plastic raincoats you had as a kid? Remember how even though they kept the rain out, you came home soaked anyway because you sweat so much while jumping in mud puddles? Those were not breathable. Fortunately, most of todays fabrics keep water out while allowing water vapor-ie, sweat-to escape. Less expensive (but often bright and fun) raincoats are sometimes still made of nonporous materials, though, so if you go this route, make sure you'll just be dashing inside from the car and not doing anything prolonged or athletic outdoors. Utility: but not utilitarian! Rainy days are gloomy days, so choosing bright, colorful rain gear is a great way to make the day a little cheerier. Rain gear comes in a huge range of colors and styles, and major companies often produce products under trendier brand names, so you don't have to sacrifice quality for style or choice.

The Lingo

Waterproof: Waterproof fabrics cannot be penetrated by water. They may be finely woven or be made from nonporous materials (like plastic or rubber), or they may be coated with a finish that makes it impossible for water to get through.
Waterproof/Breathable: These fabrics keep out water but allow water vapor (like sweat) to escape, making them excellent wearable fabrics. There are more than 200 Waterproof/Breathable fabrics on the market today.
Water repellant: Usually created with a tight weave and/or coated with a special finish, these fabrics cause water to bead up and roll off rather than soaking in. The finish can wear off over time or break down with dry cleaning. These are more impervious to water than water-resistant fabrics, but less so than waterproof fabrics. Water resistant: Like water-repellant fabrics, a tight weave or treatment with special chemicals allows these fabrics to shed water , but they'll soak through in heavy rain or when submerged. Weather resistant: This is nebulous loose term that refers to a fabric's ability to resist wind and water.

The Experts

Slate.com has said the The North Face Venture Jacket, with Hyvent fabric "Lightweight, easily packed (stuffs into its own pocket), well-constructed, no pit zips... A nice coat at a reasonable price, beating out the Pearl Izumi with superior value. And we have a winner."
Glamour Magazine has said the Nomad Footwear Rain Shoe "Desperately in want of a pair of weather-withstanding but streamlined cuties to protect your feet? Ta-da."
Slate.com has said the Sharper Image Large Windefyer Umbrella "It boasts a large coverage area and a straightforward open-and-close button. The wrist strap and the shoulder bag function nicely, and the sturdy handle and sleek button make it relatively stylish for a basic black umbrella. For a walking urbanite, this is my pick for a nonwindy day."

The Brands

GustBuster An umbrella brand specializing in large, vented umbrellas that withstand extreme winds.
Helly Hansen High-quality protective gear suitable for serious outdoor enthusiasts and people who work outdoors in rough weather conditions.
Kidorable A line of children's raincoats, rain boots, umbrellas and other outerwear that comes in bright colors and creative designs such as ladybugs, frogs, fireman, dinosaurs and princesses.
London Fog A brand of outerwear offering classic styling at reasonable prices. Known for trench-style coats and raincoats.
The North Face An activewear company with a line of waterproof and water-resistant coats, pants and shells.
The Weather Co Manufacturer of a full-size and compact umbrellas under brand names like IZOD. Totes An affordable line of umbrellas, rain boots, ponchos and hats offered in a wide variety of colors and styles

The Price

$: Totes Auto Open/Close Full-Size Umbrella $10.00
$$: Barefoot Tess Women's Rain Skimmer $27.98
$$$: Lands End SunShower Raincoat $79.50
$$$$: Compact Monogrammed Umbrella $30.00
$$$$$: Totes Plaid Rain Boots $49.99
$$$$$$: Impermeable Platinum by Weatherproof Short Double Breasted Trench $98.00
$$$$$$$: MICHAEL Michael Kors British Khaki Belted Hooded Raincoat $102.60
$$$$$$$$: Sharper Image Golf Windefyer Umbrella $60.00
$$$$$$$$$: Chooka Signature Rain Boots $59.95