Waterproof jackets are an everyday essential, but they’re especially helpful for activities like running on rainy days. In such cases, you’ll need a lightweight, comfortable, and breathable waterproof jacket.
However, your waterproof jacket won’t stay waterproof forever, especially if you use it daily. The DWs coating eventually wears off, losing the jacket’s main quality. You may also face other issues as the jacket wears out over time, such as seam-tape failure and busted zippers.
It can be hard to know whether it’s finally time to retire your waterproof jacket or reproof it. So, here are five signs that say you need a new lightweight waterproof jacket for running.
5 Signs You Need a New Lightweight Waterproof Jacket
Look for these signs in your old waterproof jacket to determine if you need a new one.
Worn Out DWR
Waterproof jackets are coated in a durable water-repellent (DWR) finish, which gives the jacket its waterproof quality. Manufacturers apply this treatment to the jacket’s exterior to keep the interior dry and the wearer warm.
Unfortunately, this coating will inevitably deteriorate over time due to dirt buildup and improper laundering. Most detergents remove DWR treatments from the jacket’s exterior, especially after frequent washes.
If the situation isn’t too difficult, you may try to fix it yourself before you replace the jacket. For example, you can reproof the jacket or only wash your rain gear with gentle detergents like Nikwax TX Direct Spray-On and TX Direct Wash-In treatment. These options ensure your DWR coating doesn’t wear off in the first place.
However, if your waterproof is decades old, it won’t absorb the treatment, and the reproofing will most likely not be effective. In such cases, investing in a new, more durable waterproof jacket is best.
If you have an older waterproof jacket, you may also note delaminating layers, which cause the inside lining to separate from the waterproof membrane. This typically occurs due to a buildup of sweat, body oil, and dirt. Of course, it’s easy to prevent this issue by letting the jacket dry completely before you put it away.
Storing the jacket wet attracts fungus and other bacteria that could degrade the adhesive holding your jacket's layers together. This is why you must allow your jacket to breathe adequately to retain its main feature: waterproofing.
In addition, exposing your jacket to heat can also delaminate its layers. The longer your jacket sits in the sun, the more its membranes will peel apart due to the adhesive melting away. If the damage isn’t yet beyond repair, you may use waterproof-breathable repair tape to hold the layers together, as Gear Aid’s Tenacious Tape is a great option.
If the damage is more than just minor repairs, the entire inner lining of the jacket may be peeling off. Since the jacket will no longer protect you from water at this point, there’s no reason to laminate it. Instead, it’s time to buy a new waterproof jacket.
This is an obvious issue that can happen to any jacket. The issue is easy to spot, as the zipper snags or comes off the jacket. Zippers on waterproof jackets are more essential than normal jackets, as the whole point is to keep you warm and dry.
In addition, waterproof zippers use coils prone to failure and difficult to repair. You may replace them with simple two-toothed YKK ones, which are more durable but won’t keep out as much water. Such zippers aren’t ideal for being underwater, but waterproof zippers don’t last long.
You could also check with the jacket’s manufacturer, as they may repair your broken zipper under warranty. If they don’t, it’s not too difficult to repair at home, as long as you can sew it back on with some research.
However, the needle will inevitably breach the waterproofing quality due to stitching. The holes will allow the water inside the jacket, devaluing its main purpose. Other than that, restitching your zipper too often will lead to a jacket riddled with stitching. In this case, it’s best to retire your waterproof jacket.
Like all jackets, waterproof jackets have tiny stitch holes, which essentially breach the waterproofing quality. So, manufacturers utilize seam sealing to waterproof those tiny holes with the help of a strong adhesive.
Unfortunately, the glue can fall apart due to improper care, incorrect washing, heat, or sweat buildup. It’s important to spot seam-tape failure in its early stages when it’s still easy to repair. Then, you need to nip it in the bud with high-quality repair adhesive and iron the problem spots to reheat and seal the glue.
You may skip the ironing step, which can melt your waterproof jacket’s fabric. But if those two solutions don’t fix your seam-tape failure, it’s time for a new jacket.
Clings to the Skin
An old and beyond-repair running jacket loses its main purpose: waterproofing. This can occur due to deteriorating DWR, holes and tears in the fabric, or the jacket simply running its course. It’s worth noting that most waterproof jackets aren’t made to last more than five years.
As a result, your jacket may feel much heavier in the rain and even cling to your skin while running. You may also find that some water seeped through and dampened your clothes. In that case, your jacket is no longer good for its intended use.
How to Reproof Your Waterproof Jacket
If your waterproof jacket isn’t in too bad of a condition, you can try reproofing it instead of replacing it. You’ll only need an in-wash waterproofer to retain its waterproofing quality with the help of the following steps.
- Run your washing machine on a hot cycle and ensure there is no detergent from previous washes.
- Zip up your waterproof jacket and wash it with Grangers Performance Wash, Nikwax Tech Wash, or pure soap.
- Wash again with Grangers Clothing Repel, Nikwax TX Direct, or a spray-on reproofer.
- Dry in a warm place or iron the jacket to bond the DWR to its exterior.
Best Lightweight Waterproof Jackets to Buy Instead
Finding out your waterproof jacket has run its course is never good news. But this is a great time to explore more durable options with better features and quality. Here are three of the best waterproof jackets to consider after throwing out your old one.
The Gamma Jacket is infused with the strongest material in the world, graphene, instantly making it our top pick. The jacket includes everything you need in lightweight waterproof gear and more. With the help of its graphene-lattice structure, the Gamma Jacket can provide uniform heat distribution for your body.
In addition, its lightweight, breathable, and all-seasonal construction makes it the ideal pick for running, keeping you warm without overheating. The exterior of this all-in-one jacket is extra-durable, scratch-resistant, waterproof, and thermoregulating. Here are some highlights of the Gamma Jacket.
- Multifunctional with a 10-pocket system
- Uniform heat distribution
- Antimicrobial and anti-odor Graphene-powered layer
- Lightweight and ultra-thin
- Breathable and moisture-wicking
Haglöfs L.I.M GTX Jacket
Known best for its highly packable, high-spec, and lightweight fabric, the Haglöfs L.I.M GTX Jacket is an exceptional jacket for running in the rain. Using 2.5-layer Gore-tex Paclite Plus waterproof fabrics, the jacket protects its membrane from internal abrasion and prevents sweat and dirt buildup in its pores.
It also utilizes the latest generation of Paclite, offering a protective dry-touch carbon print instead of the raised backer in its older version. High packability and low weight are other notable features of this jacket, not excluding the fact that it feels great against the skin.
Overall, you can expect top-level performance and excellent comfort from the Haglöfs L.I.M GTX Jacket, along with a neat and streamlined cut. Here are some highlights of the Haglöfs L.I.M GTX Jacket.
- Gore-Tex Paclite Plus waterproof shell
- Non-adjustable hood with elasticated rim
- Water-resistant zips
- Elasticated cuffs and adjustable hem
- Zippered mesh pockets and reflective details
If breathability is your priority in a waterproof jacket, look no further than the Pàramo Velez. While this jacket isn’t technically waterproof, it uses Nikwax Analogy fabric to push moisture away and allow moisture to escape from the inside.
Since the jacket features zipped vents on the arms and venting hand pockets, breathability and adjustability are two issues you’ll never face with the Pàramo Velez. The jacket’s newest update also includes new lighter fabric in certain parts, making it even more breathable. Here are some highlights of the Pàramo Velez.
- Red, blue, and black color options
- Scooped hem with draw-cord adjustment
- Adjustable and wire-molded hood
- Harness, pack, and helmet compatible
- Zipped vents throughout
Now that you know what signs to look for, you can replace or repair your jacket at the right time and keep dry while running on rainy days. Of course, if your waterproof jacket is beyond repair, there’s no better replacement than the Gamma Jacket, so visit Wear Graphene to find the best deal.