There are few things more mundane than a raincoat. However, if you want to be geared up to prevent yourself from getting wet in the rain, you need one. There is a variety of rainwear products to choose from and in this article we will put on the ring two popular candidates: the poncho raincoat vs rain jacket.
Battle Poncho Raincoat vs Rain Jacket
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Unlike the rain jacket, the poncho raincoat does not have sleeves. Designed on the lines of the Mexican garment the poncho, it has a hole for the head and the coat wraps around the body. There is a fastener, usually a zipper, to join the two ends. Buttons, elastic or Velcro may also form part of the fastening system.
Another interesting feature of ponchos is that the zipper is sewn backward, that is towards the inside. The zipper handle is inside the garment, which enables you to fasten up easily as your hands are also inside. The material used for making ponchos is usually polyester. However, it could be blended with other materials to create different qualities and textures.
Design-wise, there is nothing greatly fashionable about a poncho. Essentially a poncho looks like a tent covering the wearer. This is the reason why ponchos are usually unisex. However, variation in color and changes in shape can make it look a bit more appealing. If you buy a poncho, most likely, you won’t be able to make a fashion statement. But you are guaranteed adequate protection from the rain.
Other features may include loops and drawstrings for positioning your arms, hands, and fingers within the garment. Most manufacturers often provide pockets and pouches, a useful feature if you have basic items to carry. This rainwear apparel is handy while riding a bicycle due to its convenient shape. The unique shape also makes it possible to carry a backpack underneath it, keeping the wearer and backpack equally dry.
- Easy to wear
- Universal size
- Good for use while riding a bicycle
- Can carry a backpack or handbag underneath it
- Unisex design
- Not for the fashion conscious
- Somewhat restrictive in movement
There is a variety of designs, colors, and textures to choose from. However, the basic rain jacket design has not changed much since the days of its forerunner, the mackintosh. A bit of extra style has been added.
The main consideration that needs to be made about rain jackets is the waterproof factor. Unlike a poncho that tends to slope downward most of the time, a rain jacket tends to develop folds in which rainwater may accumulate. Due to this reason, rain jacket material has to be highly waterproof.
Rain Jackets are a popular form of rainwear today. These are exactly what the name suggests – jackets that can be worn in the rain. They are designed to keep the upper half of the body dry during rain.
As a rain jacket takes the shape of body contours, there is scope for creating different styles. Due to the same reason, male and female versions of rain jackets exist. Some rain jackets also serve the dual purpose of providing protection from the rain and cold.
You can find several innovative features in rain jackets as well. For instance, the pockets of some rain jackets double up as a storage bag for stuffing the jacket into. Like a poncho, this rainwear comes with a variety of pockets and pouches for storing your important stuff. That way, you don’t have to go rummaging through the pockets of the garments you wear under the jacket.
Due to the restricted size of rain jackets, they tend to be more portable and easier to carry around. You can also opt for jackets with lining so that you can use them in the cold weather to stay warm and dry.
- Compact and easier to carry around
- Different styles to choose from
- The design allows for adding a lining to offer thermal protection
- Provides adequate flexibility of movement
- Not suitable for wearing while on a two-wheeler
- Cannot carry a backpack or handbag under it
- Very size-specific – can be a challenge to get a perfect fit
History of raincoats
Raincoats were invented by a Scottish chemist named Charles Mackintosh in 1823-24. Until the invention of the raincoat, rainwear was produced by treating the fabric with oil. Mackintosh called his new patented material ‘India rubber cloth’, which he originally intended to use as a new form of tarpaulin.
Mackintosh produced his new fabric by sandwiching naphtha-softened rubber between two sheets of material. It is possible through this technique to treat hemp, wool, silk, flax, cotton, paper and leather in a similar fashion. Till this day, a raincoat in Britain is referred to as a ‘mackintosh’ or a ‘mac.’
Due to the huge popularity of Mackintosh’s new raincoats, tailors rushed to produce them. However, the needles of their sewing machines produced holes in the fabric, causing the raincoats to leak. Mackintosh had to set up his own shops to produce rainwear with waterproofed seams to protect his reputation. However, the original material offered little ventilation, making these raincoats hot and unwieldy due to the inflexible rubberized cloth. George Spill remedied this problem by providing metal islets under the armpits to provide more ventilation. This type of design in raincoats exist even today.
Thomas Burberry created a weatherproof coat for officers to wear in the trenches during World War I. These coats called trench coats were made of chemically-treated fine-twilled cotton gabardine. Although not totally waterproof, these coats were water-resistant and provided more ventilation as well of ease of movement.
Over the years, not much has changed in raincoat design except in type of material and choice of colors. Improved technology enables manufacturers to produce raincoats in a variety of different materials and colors. Today, even though people commute to work in covered vehicles, raincoats continue to occupy a prominent role in rainwear.
How to wash and maintain rainwear
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to wash your rainwear. Following this procedure can extend the life of your rainwear.
However, please bear in mind that the following steps apply only to a garment where the instructions allow machine washing. If your garment recommends an alternative method of cleaning, then you need to proceed accordingly.
- Test your garment for waterproofing by spraying water on it. If you see beading, then your garment is waterproof. If you see wet patches, then it needs maintenance.
- First, take a look at the manufacturer’s instructions and follow them carefully.
- Avoid fabric softeners and never have your garment dry cleaned.
- Give the detergent tray of your washing machine a rinse before you proceed.
- Ensure that all fasteners are closed before you put the garment in the washing machine.
- Using a small quantity of detergent, wash the garment in warm water with low spin settings.
- Rinse the garment twice to get rid of all traces of detergent.
- You can either tumble dry on medium heat or hang dry.
- Once dry, give another round of drying in the machine in ‘warm’ mode or iron the garment in medium heat.
- Now, if you do a spray test, you should be able to see beading on your garment.
- If beading occurs, it means that your garment is clean, waterproof and ready to wear.
- In case wet patches persist on spraying, you may need to re-proof your garment.
Choose your rainwear carefully
After going into the details of the two types of rainwear described here, it becomes apparent that each one has its own pros and cons. It is usual for product comparison to conclude with highlighting the best brand. However, here we will not and cannot declare what we think is the best one. The reason for this is that we are comparing two categories of a particular product without mentioning a particular brand.
Each type has its own set of pros and cons as we see in this article. We have gone to great lengths to study the various aspects of each category. Then we have summarized the main features of each product, highlighting the benefits and drawbacks of each one. We even provided a table where you can see what each product category has to offer. You can now choose when it comes to a poncho raincoat vs rain jacket, which best-suited for your needs.
We hope you have enjoyed reading this article and if so, please post your comments and feedback. We will be happy to respond.