Carhartt Jacket Technologies Explained

There are two types of people in the world: Those who run for cover when the sky opens up and those who run for their Carhartt rain jackets. That’s because the hardest workers know the biggest jobs don’t have rain delays, and for every unsavory weather forecast there’s also a Carhartt jacket (and technology) made to battle it.

Before diving in to the technologies and what they mean, it’s important to understand a few common terms Carhartt uses to describe their weather-fighting gear.

Repellent and Resistant

Repellent and Resistant are often used interchangeably to describe garments that will temporarily protect you from the rain. In most cases these items are treated with a special finish that improves their functionality in wet conditions. Carhartt makes a variety of products that are water resistant or repellent, ranging from jackets and coats to sweatshirts, pants, boots, bibs, gloves and more. These items are not 100% waterproof if they’re exposed to wet conditions over a long period of time.


When Carhartt says waterproof, they truly do mean moisture will not penetrate the garment. For Carhartt gear, that means a special lining has been inserted to specifically keep water out and in most cases the garment’s seams have been taped and sealed.



Carhartt’s Water Resistant or Repellent Technology:

Rain Defender®: Very simply, Rain Defender® is a patented water repellent finish that Carhartt applies to the outside of popular products like jackets, coats, sweatshirts, pants, bibs and more. While not 100% waterproof, this finish will stand up to short periods of rain and moisture. When you see rain bead up on the outside of a Carhartt jacket, for instance, that’s Rain Defender® at work. While it will protect you during a pop-up shower, you will eventually get wet if you’re in the rain for an extended period of time.
rain defender

Popular Rain Defender® Gear:



Carhartt’s Waterproof Technology:

PVC Rainwear: Carhartt’s PVC rainwear is 100% water and weather proof. Made from either a polyurethane fabric coating or a polyvinyl chloride fabric, rain will roll right off of this rugged material. While this gear is probably the best option for keeping rain out, it does come with a drawback: you may get a little sweaty underneath. PVC rainwear does not have an internal breathable membrane like what you’ll find in Storm Defender® gear. Despite that, these are highly dependable and extremely popular solutions for long days in the rain.
pvc rainwear

Popular PVC Gear:

Storm Defender®: Storm Defender® gear is 100% waterproof, but this technology has nothing to do with the outer shell of a garment like Rain Defender® does. The magic behind Storm Defender® is a waterproof, yet breathable membrane (or lining) found inside popular weather-ready Carhartt jackets, pants, bibs, gloves and even boots. With Storm Defender®, water and weather are locked out, but sweat and body heat are released, keeping you comfortable and – most importantly – dry on the job. In most cases, Storm Defender® garments also feature fully taped and sealed seams, an added feature that ensures water will stay out. Taped and sealed seams are a big deal. Other manufacturers may claim their garments are waterproof, but they don’t take the extra step of sealing the tiny holes left by needles when fabrics are stitched together.  Those holes, however small, provide a path for moisture to penetrate the garment.
storm defender

Popular Storm Defender® Gear:



There’s a lot to think about when choosing your next Carhartt jacket or any other outdoor gear that will need to stand up to the elements. Below are a few frequently asked questions our customer service staff receive on the topic.

Can a garment have both Rain Defender® and Storm Defender® technologies? Yes. Remember, Rain Defender® is just a water repellent finish that’s applied to the exterior of a garment, while Storm Defender® gear features a waterproof lining, and most times fully taped and sealed seams. Carhartt will often double up on technologies to provide a truly rain-ready piece of apparel. One such example would be the Shoreline Jacket (Item #: J126).

Will any of these technologies keep me warm?

All of these technologies are designed to fight moisture, not falling temperatures. However, these technologies are often used with other features like special linings that will keep you warm on the job. For instance, Rain Defender® is applied to a wide variety of product offerings – think jackets, sweatshirts, bibs and more – that are also outfitted with Sherpa or quilted linings. A good example of a product that has it all would be Carhartt’s Insulated Shoreline Jacket (Item #: 102702). It features Rain Defender® and Storm Defender® technologies and a quilted lining.

Will the Rain Defender® durable water-repellent finish ever wear off?

According to Carhartt, the Rain Defender® technology is super durable. It will retain 70% strength even after 20 washings.




In a nutshell, Rain Defender® is a water-resistant finish applied to fabrics that temporarily protects you from moisture. PVC technology is 100% waterproof, but may create moisture in the form of perspiration while Storm Defender® is the best of both worlds because it’s 100% waterproof, but still allows your body to breathe.

If you’re looking for a quick reference, the table below compares Carhartt’s rain-fighting technologies. Whichever route you go, your forecast is sure to include durable workwear that won’t disappoint you on the job when Mother Nature takes a turn for the worse.

Comparing Carhartt Rainwear Technologies

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