Finding the right waterproof jacket is not easy. There are many criteria to take into account when making your purchasing decision: the price tag, the color, the materials the jacket is made of, the overall design, the impermeability level, and more.
Perhaps the most important question you should ask yourself when buying a rain jacket is this: How long will this jacket stay waterproof? After all, you’re buying one to keep you dry when it rains and the time factor should be a crucial when deciding what jacket to purchase.
Actually, for me this is the most important factor. I don’t care it my jacket is not as fancy as I would like, I need it to prevent water drops from soaking me wet and that’s what I expect it to do.
However, not all the rain jackets out there offer the same impermeability level. You need to carefully read the label to see what impermeability level each jacket has.
On average, a waterproof jacket lasts for 3-5 years, depending on how many times you wear it, under what conditions, how you clean it and so on. If you wear it frequently, you should re-proof it every time you notice it doesn’t perform as well as it used to.
If you take good care of your jacket, and you don’t wear if every day, it can last you for 5 to 10 years. Many companies also offer lifetime warranties and they’ll repair or replace your jacket for free if it fails to remain waterproof.
Of course, you should also take into account how intensely your jacket is tested against the elements. If you live in a region where heavy rains are common, then of course, your jacket will last less than indicated on the label. This means that you’ll need to re-proof it more often.
If you often wear it when you go outdoors and do rope climbing, then your jacket might lose its impermeability after a couple of months.
On the other hand, if you use it in the city and you’re a less frequent wearer, then it’s safe to assume that your waterproof jacket will last one year without any problems.
How long do Gore Tex last?
Gore Tex is perhaps the most popular waterproofing material in the world. It’s also the number one choice for many people looking for a good rain jacket.
So, if you just bought a new Gore Tex jacket, you must be wondering how long you should expect it to last.
Based on customer reports, Gore Tex should last for 3 to 5 years without any problems provided that you follow the care instructions. Keep in mind that outdoor garments usually have a lifespan of around 3 to 5 years. If you don’t wear them everyday, you can extend their lifespan to up to 10 years.
It’s the DWR that wears off
Water rolls off your waterproof jacket thanks to the outer DWR layer (durable water repellent) that’s applied to the materials.
Your problems begin when the DWR layer starts to wear away due to friction, heat, scratches and other factors. This results in your jacket absorbing water which means that it’s no longer waterproof.
In order to fix this issue, you need to reproof your jacket. This is a complex operation that we’ll write about in a future guide. Basically, you need to refresh the DWR layer and repair all the areas where the DWR wore off.
However, keep in mind that the spray-on solutions available on the market won’t be as efficient in repelling water as the original DWR coating. This means that you need to apply a thicker layer of spray-on materials or simply spray your jacket more often.
All in all, how long your waterproof jacket stays waterproof depends on how often you wear it, to what extend you test it against wind and rain and how well you take care of it (how you clean it, where you store it, etc.).
I personally had jackets that lasted only two months (I used them in the city only). However, I’ve had my Patagonia waterproof jacket for almost three year now, I re-proofed it only once and it’s as good as it was the day I bought it.
How long have your waterproof jackets lasted? Let me know in the comments below.
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Last updated in October 2021 to include updated information and additional details.