Choosing the Right Rainwear Technologies for Work

Man in Rainstorm
Key Rainwear Terms

There are two types of people in the world: Those who run for cover when the sky opens up and those who run for a trusty rain jacket. That's because the hardest workers know the biggest jobs don't get rain delays, and for every wet weather forecast there's also a heavy-duty 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 used to describe weather-fighting gear.

Repellent and Resistant

Repellent and resistant are often used interchangeably to describe garments that temporarily protect you from the rain. In most cases these items are treated with a special finish that improves their functionality in wet conditions. Popular workwear brands make 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 a garment says waterproof, it truly does mean moisture will not penetrate the garment. Typically, that means a special lining or material is used to specifically keep water out, and in most cases the garment's seams have been taped and sealed.

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Water Resistant or Repellent Technology:

As noted above, the terms resistant and repellent mean a garment will temporarily protect you from moisture. Workwear brands give these features different names, but generally they all aim to accomplish the same goal — short-term protection from water.

Rain Defender® and Storm Blocker™: 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. Storm Blocker™ is CAT's version of the same technology that's applied to several jackets and other outerwear garments. While not 100% waterproof, these finishes will stand up to short periods of rain and moisture. When you see rain bead up on the outside of a jacket, for instance, that's a water-resistant finish 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.

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Waterproof Technology:

PVC/PEVR Rainwear: PVC and PEVR rainwear is 100% water and weather proof. PVC garments are made from either a polyurethane fabric coating or a polyvinyl chloride fabric, while PEVR is a polyethylene and vinyl acetate mix with a 100% polyester backing. Big words that translate to huge levels of protection in the rain. While this category of reainwear is 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 the technologies covered below. Despite that, these are highly dependable and extremely popular solutions for long days in the rain.

Storm Defender® and Storm Blocker Plus™: Garments in this category are also 100% waterproof, but there's more than what meets the eye. The magic behind Carhartt's Storm Defender® and CAT's Storm Blocker Plus™ is a waterproof, yet breathable membrane (or lining) found inside the garment. With this type of gear, water and weather are locked out, but sweat and body heat are released, keeping you comfortable and, most importantly, dry on the job. In many cases, these products 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.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Rainwear

There's a lot to think about when choosing a rain jacket or any other outdoor piece that needs 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 water-resistant and waterproof technologies?

Yes. Remember, rain resistant gear features a water-repellent finish that's applied to the exterior of a garment, while waterproof products, like those featured in Carhartt's Storm Defender® line, feature a waterproof lining, and most times fully taped and sealed seams. Carhartt, for instance, often doubles up on technologies to provide a truly rain-ready piece of apparel. One such example would be their 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 water-repellent finishes ever wear off?

The short answer is yes. But according to Carhartt, their Rain Defender® technology is super durable. It will retain 70% strength even after 20 washings.


In a nutshell, Rain Defender® and Storm Blocker™ are water-resistant finishes applied to fabrics that temporarily protects you from moisture. PVC/PEVR technology features a 100% waterproof shell, but may create moisture in the form of perspiration. Storm Defender® and Storm Blocker Plus™, on the other hand, are the best of both worlds because they're 100% waterproof, but still allow your body to breathe during long days on the job.

Whichever technology you choose, with names like CAT and Carhartt, you know you're getting rugged gear that can endure the toughest -- and wettest -- jobs you throw its way.