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What are Different Types of Raincoats?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

The types of raincoats available today vary widely. A cheap plastic rain poncho may be a valuable asset when camping, while an elegant trench style raincoat can be perfect for wearing to the office. Raincoats are available in many lengths, colors, styles and weights. They are a popular outerwear garment in rainy weather for both adults and children.

Children's raincoats are often brightly colored and may feature cartoon characters or animal designs. They may have snaps or a zipper fastener. Some children's rain jackets are longer with rolled up or cuffed sleeves to allow them to still be worn as a child grows a size or two. Rain wear made for adults is typically made in solid colors, but the selections may include pastels and brights as well as neutrals.

Raincoats should both be watertight and able to wick away moisture.
Raincoats should both be watertight and able to wick away moisture.

Rubber or plastic raincoats let water drip down and away from clothing, while cloth varieties are treated with a waterproofing material to keep rain from soaking into the coat. Plastic, or polyurethane, rain gear is often less expensive than fabric coats, but it often causes the body to sweat more easily. Some plastic raincoat styles have vented areas with zippers, such as mesh underarm sections. Cotton-lined plastic raincoats tend to be more comfortable than unlined varieties.

A parka is a winter coat with a waterproof finish that can be used as a raincoat.
A parka is a winter coat with a waterproof finish that can be used as a raincoat.

An anorak or parka type of raincoat is a winter-weight coat with a waterproof finish. Rain anoraks have hoods and may feature a drawstring waist. These heavy raincoats are worn in climates with colder rainy weather. Lightweight outerwear such as a trench style raincoat is suitable for milder temperatures.

The trench coat is a popular type of raincoat, as it can be worn with casual or dress wear. It's traditionally made of gabardine fabric, which is sturdy and dense. The trench coat was worn in the military before it became a fashionable outerwear style. Trench coats have a wide collar, neat-looking buttons and a self-tie belt. Both short and long versions of the trench raincoat are available in men's and women's sizes.

Longer raincoats help cover the legs when outdoors.
Longer raincoats help cover the legs when outdoors.

Shorter raincoats are usually preferred by active outdoor workers, such as people in construction, since longer coats don't typically allow as much freedom of movement. Longer raincoat styles block wind better as they cover the legs. Reversible raincoats have a different color or pattern on the outside and inside. They allow the wearer to wear either side showing outward as the fasteners are designed to work on both sides.

Discussion Comments


@bagley79 - My girls love raincoats, too. They would rather wear them as fall jackets than their denim or corduroy jackets.

My youngest girl has a light blue raincoat with dragonflies all over it. My oldest daughter has a purple one with butterflies that is the same material and style of the other one.

They are shiny and almost look as if their designs have been laminated with a clear plastic coating. I admit that these are some stunning raincoats, but I just don’t see how the girls stay warm in them in autumn. They insist that they don’t get cold without their regular jackets, though.


I saw some dog raincoats on sale at a pet store the other day, and I laughed to myself. This made me think about how far our domesticated dogs have come from their wild roots.

I still keep my dogs outside, and they are free to roam the woods and pasture, and I can tell you that even when it’s cold out, they don’t mind a little shower. When it’s warm, they love to get wet, and they might even stand out in the rain on purpose.

While I would never buy one of these raincoats for my dog, I do admit that they are a good idea for pampered house pets that are not used to getting wet and have to be walked daily, rain or shine. The coats have velcro straps. The ones for little dogs even have hoods, and the ones for bigger dogs have a couple of different sections that attach.


@andee - Those cheap dollar store ponchos are awful! I think that a garbage bag would do a better job. At least it would be thicker.

My boys wanted raincoats for school, but we didn’t have a lot of money, so I got some super thin ponchos that came in a box of two. The material was so thin that I ripped it getting it out of the box!

While this might protect them from getting wet, if they were to accidentally tear the ponchos, as boys are prone to do, then they would be out of luck. So, I made them some rain ponchos out of an old shower curtain. It will be much harder for them to rip that.


@burcinc - Thanks for the tip! I had been considering getting a white raincoat for the summer, but now, I will heed your advice and go with a darker color.

I was thinking about a short white trench coat, because it would go with a lot of my light colored summer outfits. However, I think that a black rain coat would be the best choice. I will just be taking it off once I get indoors, anyway, and I doubt people will even notice what I’m wearing in the rain!

Sometimes, it feels good to get drenched with a sudden shower in the heat. However, when I’m wearing fabric that will show major rain spots, I really do need a coat to protect me from the drops.


I have noticed there are sure a lot more raincoat choices for kids than there used to be. I even found some cute toddler raincoats that my girls love to wear even if it isn't raining outside.

These are pink raincoats that have at least one princess on them. Along with a matching umbrella, they are set for rainy weather.

I always buy raincoats a little big so they can grow into them. They don't get worn that often and it is nice to know they should still fit when the next season comes around.

My sister has two boys and they have some cute raincoats for them as well, but I think there are more fun choices available for the girls. The boys don't care so much about staying dry as they would rather see how wet they can get when they splash in the puddles of water.


I live in an area that gets rain quite often and I have learned to be prepared no matter what the day starts out like. I like to wear a long trench rain coat when I go to work.

This keeps most of me dry and has a belt that ties around my waist. I usually buy this raincoat in a neutral color like black or tan which will go with everything.

When I am not going to work, I like to wear raincoats that are brightly colored and are more casual. If I am out running errands and want to take a rain coat, I want something that is lighter weight and a little bit more fun to wear.


My husband and I love to ride on our motorcycle and we have raincoats and pants that we always keep with us on the motorcycle. The raincoats go down past our waist and have elastic at the sleeves and around the waist to keep the water out.

They also have hoods that you can tie around your face. This way the water stays off your head, but you can still see. The pants that go with the raincoats also have elastic at the ankles so the bottom of your legs and ankles stay dry.

These are made from a heavy material that does a good job of keeping you dry as long as the rain is not coming down too hard. Even if it looks like it might rain, we stop and put our raincoats on. It is much easier to do it before the rain starts than wait until you are already wet.


When we go camping in the mountains every year, we always make sure to pack enough rain ponchos for everyone. It usually rains at least once or twice while we are there, and we have found out it pays to be prepared.

These are cheap ponchos that I can buy at the dollar store. They fold up small and don't take up much room, and can be used again and again. These are pretty much one size fits all ponchos, and they just go down lower on kids than adults.

If we don't have any ponchos with us, we have used garbage bags before. If you cut a slit on each side for your arms, they are better than nothing at all. They only thing they don't have is a hood that helps keep your head and face dry.


@fify - I actually prefer to avoid PVC raincoats, especially for my children. PVC plastics are dangerous for the environment and not recyclable. (Even though you might see a #3 recycling symbol on them, a single item of PVC can ruin a whole batch of recycling.)

PVC plastic can leach chemicals and they can also outgas, meaning that plastics made of PVC can pollute your indoor air. It can be tricky to avoid because so many things are made out of it, like shower curtains and miniblinds. But you can find alternatives, like trench-type raincoats, fabric shower curtains, and aluminum miniblinds.


@burcinc, @ddljohn-- I personally like rukka raincoats. These were the kind of raincoats my siblings and I had during our childhood. And it's what my children are wearing now. The brand of the raincoat really isn't all that important. But I agree with @ddljohn that a combination of synthetic materials is best.

My kids' raincoats are made of polyvinylchloride and polyester. The good thing about it is that it's not stiff. It's really flexible, so they can move around and play as they like. It also has reflectors on it so that the kids can be seen more easily by cars and other people.

Both my sons have an anorak raincoat and my daughter has a cape one that sort of looks like a pancho. The only difference is that it has openings that she can put her hands through if she wants.


@burcinc-- What does the label say it's made of? If your raincoat keeps the rain out, it must be synthetic, or at least partly synthetic. Have you taken it to a dry cleaner?

Staining is not something I thought about and I'm shopping for mens raincoats now. I want my raincoat to fit me nicely and look good, but the most important thing is it needs to keep the rain out.

I know that there are many different types of fabrics being used to make raincoats nowadays. Most of them are a combination of a synthetic material and cotton. Manufacturers actually make a special thread using these materials to make the raincoat.

I've heard from friends and family that synthetics keep the rain out really well. When there is cotton mixed into it, it absorbs the rain and stays wet for a long time. That's not the kind of raincoat I want.


If anyone is shopping for a trench raincoat, I recommend selecting a dark color or special fabric that won't stain.

I bought a white trench raincoat for the rainy season last year. It's a really nice raincoat, long and formal enough to wear to work. It has a fabric lining and hood and keeps me dry and warm. But the problem is that since it's a light color, it has gotten stained from the dirt that comes with rain. I also got splashed by a car that drove too fast through rain water one time.

I've tried wiping it at home, but it doesn't work. I've stopped wearing it because it doesn't look nice anymore, it just looks dirty. I wish I had gotten a dark color, like black, dark brown or dark green. Or maybe the outer material this raincoat was made with was not good, I don't know.

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    • Raincoats should both be watertight and able to wick away moisture.
      By: Maridav
      Raincoats should both be watertight and able to wick away moisture.
    • A parka is a winter coat with a waterproof finish that can be used as a raincoat.
      By: toomler
      A parka is a winter coat with a waterproof finish that can be used as a raincoat.
    • Longer raincoats help cover the legs when outdoors.
      By: Daniel Etzold
      Longer raincoats help cover the legs when outdoors.
    • The trench coat can be worn casually, but also used as a raincoat.
      By: maryannfoto
      The trench coat can be worn casually, but also used as a raincoat.
    • Anorak styles of raincoats may be made of many different fabrics, including gabardine.
      By: Marco Antonio Fdez.
      Anorak styles of raincoats may be made of many different fabrics, including gabardine.