Slickers are out. (Were they ever in?) Today’s modern raincoats are getting more performance-driven, acting as high-tech body armor that’s waterproof, breathable, ultralightweight and—get this—actually stylish.
Topping the list for innovation is Italian brand Herno, which has been collaborating with W. L. Gore & Associates since 2012 on a series of sleek fabrics that put to shame the puffy, rubbery raincoats of the not-so-distant past. After unveiling what the label dubbed “the world’s first completely waterproof, windproof and breathable down jacket” last fall, Herno followed up this spring with the Laminar 2-Layer Gore-Tex Paclite shell. Its construction is impressively futuristic: A Teflon layer contains pores that are smaller than a drop of water, yet larger than a water-vapor molecule—so that rain can’t get in but sweat can get out. It’s then sealed with internal thermo-taping that eliminates any need for stitches, creating a waterproof seal and a nearly indestructible lightweight garment. You could walk through a storm in these jackets, which range from classic rainwear styles to more casual hooded styles ($650 to $1,195)—and none of which come in bright yellow.
For a natural-material waterproof jacket, the smart British label Private White V.C. uses Ventile, a fabric woven with extra-long cotton yarn that is specially spun to make it waterproof, breathable and super durable. It’s used in the new Ventile Parka ($700), which has fully taped internal seams, and Harrington ($505); both jackets feature the brand’s signature military-grade copper hardware.
Even Barbour—another Brit-brand known globally for its weatherproof waxed jackets—has developed styles in a new colorful range that’s softer and lighter than its waxed counterparts. Our favorite is the Camber waterproof ($349), a breathable and sporty example made with a polyurethane laminate shell and polyester lining. It can’t stop the weather from coming, but it’ll keep you dry and polished for as long as the rain falls.