When you’re shopping for Carhartt, you’ll notice that different items are labeled with different phrases to describe the degree to which it is waterproof. Carhartt’s various phrases and labels are the results of different manufacturing techniques, product features and technologies.
In a nutshell, there are two levels of water protection: waterproof and water repellent/resistant. Within the waterproof category, you need decide if you want to invest in waterproof breathable technology or not. Within the water repellent/resistant category, you need to decide if you want extra protection from wind and cold or not. Here’s a breakdown.
In Carhartt terms, waterproof really does mean that no water will get through. It means that the panels of fabric don’t leak ever, plus the seams have been taped and sealed, so there’s no way water is leaking through Carhartt waterproof gear. The seams are important because some companies will advertise waterproof fabrics, but they don’t seal the seams of their garments where sewing needles poke holes to stitch the waterproof fabric together.
When shopping for waterproof Carhartt gear, your biggest decision is whether you want to invest in breathable fabrics. If breathability is not important, but waterproof protection is, Carhartt makes some awesome slickers.
Explanation of breathable waterproof: Carhartt’s breathable waterproof coats and pants have a wide variety of exterior fabrics and coatings, but that’s not what makes them waterproof. It’s the interior lining, which they call “Storm Defender® waterproof breathable membrane.” This means that perspiration can get out, but water can’t penetrate the lining.
No matter what exterior fabric Carhartt uses on its breathable waterproof coats and pants, so far Carhartt has added its “Rain Defender® durable water-repellent finish” to the garments; again, this finish is not waterproof (it’s water resistant/repellent). While it provides good defense against a passing shower, it’s the lining that keeps water out. Ultimately, the exterior of breathable waterproof gear may get wet, but you’re dry underneath because of the lining and the lining’s taped and sealed seams. The technology is more advanced, so the price is relative.
Explanation of non-breathable waterproof: Carhartt’s non-breathable items are highly dependable and typically less expensive. Think of a yellow rain slicker with no insulation. They are amazing at keeping water out, but if you sweat, you’re going to get clammy underneath. Carhartt uses either a polyurethane fabric coating or a polyvinyl chloride fabric on certain waterproof raingear pants and coats, and those are what seal off airflow.
There is no difference between water resistant and water repellent; these two phrases are used interchangeably. There is, however, a difference between these two phrases and waterproof. If Carhartt says a coat or pants are water resistant/repellent, it means you can ultimately get wet if you are in a rain storm long enough, and the seams are not taped and sealed.
When shopping for water resistant/repellent Carhartt gear, your biggest decision is whether you want to invest in extra warmth and wind protection. If you need extra protection from wind, snow, and cold weather, then you want Carhartt Extremes.
Explanation of water resistant: The exterior of Carhartt coats and pants that are water resistant have been treated with the Rain Defender® Durable Water-Repellent Finish, but their primary purpose is not to function as rain gear. This finish is an added bonus to outerwear that might be designed for hunting, warmth, comfort, or working outdoors.
Explanation of Carhartt Extremes: The biggest difference between water resistant coats and the Extremes® is the insulation combined with the durability. Extremes® are made specifically for men working in heavy, wet snowstorms as opposed to downpours. This line is not technically waterproof because the seams aren’t taped/sealed. The fabric isn’t technically waterproof, but we’re talking about technicalities here. The exterior is made of fiercely durable nylon (which doesn’t absorb moisture, but it could maybe seep between the 1000-denier fibers) and it has the “Rain Defender® durable water-repellent finish.”
Remember, it’s made for working in wet, snowy conditions as opposed to heavy rains. Murdoch’s loves it for winter chores.