With winter around the corner, many customers are asking great questions about our high end waterproof jackets. People often ask “Why are Gore-Tex Jackets so expensive?” or “Is this $250 waterproof jacket the same as this $99 water resistant jacket?” Although these are not simple questions we do have a simple guideline. The cost of our weather resistant or weather-proof jackets is directly related to the jackets ability to keep you warm and dry in a variety of conditions. The more severe the conditions, the more expensive the jacket will get.
Most of the jackets we carry rely on various layers of material to keep you warm and dry. Here’s a breakdown of the different layers that make up most of our weatherproof jackets.
1. Outer Layer – The outer layer of your jacket is the part that you can see and feel. This layer can be many different materials, but the goal is to be durable and stylish. Some jackets, like Arc’teryx, are incredible durable and hard to the hand. Other jackets like Patagonia are durable, yet soft to the hand. Believe it or not, the outer layer is not what makes the garment waterproof.
2. DWR – When it rains on a waterproof jacket, you will notice small beads of water. This is because your jacket is coated with DWR or Durable Water Repellency. DWR is a coating that is added at the factory to make the fabric water-resistant. Over time the DWR can wear off so some jacket manufacturers recommend re-treating your jacket with a spray. Here is an interesting article on DWR at wikipedia.
3. Membrane – The membrane is what makes your jacket waterproof. The membrane can’t be seen because it sits inside the layers of your jacket. Gore-Tex is a popular membrane that is designed to make the garment windproof and waterproof. Gore-Tex is micro-porus, meaning each pore is 20,000 times smaller than a drop of water. Since each Gore-Tex pore is way smaller than water, the water can not pass thru the membrane. Gore-Tex is an excellent membrane, but it is expensive. You will see that our most expensive and weatherproof jackets have a Gore-Tex membrane.
4. Insulation – The insulation layer adds warmth to your jacket. We offer jackets with many different types of insulation, depending on your level of activity and need for warmth. If you need a jacket to sleep in while camping on a snowy mountain, we would suggest down since it will keep you warm with little to no movement. If you are looking for a lighter weight jacket we might recommend a jacket with synthetic insulation.
Hopefully this article helps explain why some jackets that we carry are more expensive than others.