What are waterproof jackets made from?
Today, waterproof jackets are made from a wide range of technical fabrics, which are arranged in layers. Jackets typically have 2 layers, 2.5 layers, or 3 layers. If you just want a waterproof jacket for wearing around town in light rain, a 2-layer jacket might do the trick. However, if you’re going hiking or hunting, you’ll want a 3-layer jacket for adequate protection.
Outer layer (face fabric)
The outer layer is called the “face fabric” and is usually made of nylon or polyester and a waterproof membrane or coating, such as DWR. You may get confused by the many different names given to nylon and polyester fabrics — some might be tougher, or lighter, or more silent, but they more or less do the same job.
The middle layer is the waterproof membrane, the jacket’s main protective layer. The membrane has tiny holes in it, which are too small to let water in but large enough to let vapour out. This is the innovation centre of the jacket. It’s also worth noting that the mid layer of the jacket is typically highly windproof.
A 3-layer jacket will include an inner mesh or PU film lining, which is more comfortable and prevents the waterproof layer from sitting directly against the skin. This also reduces wear and tear and improves the longevity of the jacket. A 2-layer jacket doesn’t have an inner lining whereas a 2.5-layer jacket includes a protective print on the inside, often made of silicon or carbon, to provide a barrier between your body and the waterproof membrane. The inner layer is also important for breathability as it prevents dirt and sweat from clogging up the tiny pores of the mid layer.