Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

When the hard rain falls

Durability and breathability critical in wet-weather clothing

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In a pinch, we've all grabbed a garbage bag, cut a hole for the head, and made a dash through the rain. And, yes, on that rare good hair day, when the skies open up, anything goes to protect those locks: newspapers, magazines, overdue library books, a child's homework assignment.

But when you ask the pros what should really be a hanging a quick grab away, they're likely to point to garments with names a little more fashionable than "Hefty."

Dan Simon, L.L.Bean (www.llbean.com) merchant manager for outerwear, suggests products that offer a high degree of breathability through convection, as opposed to diffusion.

"In other words, you don't have to work up a sweat to begin pushing your heat and perspiration out, which keeps you more comfortable in a wider range of weather conditions," Simon says, suggesting jackets made with the company's Polartec NeoShell technology. "These are jackets for people who are active in the rain."

He points to other waterproof jackets, like Bean's Pathfinder jackets, that offer durability and a three-layer TEK shell. These versatile jackets make it through every season, offering year-round protection, layered in the winter, or worn over a T-shirt in the summer.

A big, sturdy umbrella can sometimes suffice, but if you live in an area where heavy downpours are the norm, an investment in a quality raincoat is essential, says Bridgette Raes, president of the Bridgette Raes Style Group and author of Style Rx: Dressing the Body You Have to Create the Body You Want (www.bridgetteraes.com).

"It's important to have one raincoat tailored for your lifestyle," Raes says. Aim to find one stylish coat for evenings out on the town. "Look to Burberry (www.burberry.com) if you want to invest, as this is the gold standard of trench coats."

The label Mackage offers dressier coats for the professional, she says, adding that she's a fan of L.L.Bean for athletes and those who prefer jeans to dress slacks.

REI, which focuses on athletic wear, also offers a wide selection of jackets that will keep you looking warm and fashionable.

Laura Hauser, product line manager at REI (www.rei.com), keeps her Kyoto Jacket close by.

"As simple as it sounds, what I really love about my Kyoto Jacket is that it actually keeps me dry and looking stylish at the same time," she says. "It suits my everyday needs, and because of the great hood design, I also get the added bonus of keeping my hair from going crazy and frizzy."

April showers were mostly flurries for those regions vexed by the polar vortex, so May could bring the rain that spring can be known for.

We offer a few winning styles to keep you dry from your toes to the top of that perfect head of hair. And yes, men -- we are talking to you, too. We know you care.

 

- L.L.Bean Pathfinder Shell (US$169, llbean.com). This waterproof, three-layer ripstop features a wicking inner layer to keep the wearer dry, and an adjustable hood for a custom fit.

- Pour Osity Jacket (US$200, Columbia.com). This jacket, from one of the leaders in "dry" technology, features an Omni-Dry breathable waterproof seam sealed, and is guaranteed to stretch with you as you move. If you're wearing a helmet -- no problem. Bikers can depend on this hood to be helmet-compatible. Naturally, it's all waterproof, from the tails to the hood.

- L.L.Bean Relay Full Zip Jacket (US$109, llbean.com). This men's jacket offers waterproof and windproof panels over a breathable knit fabric. Details like thumbholes and an adjustable hem keep cold from creeping in.

- REI Chinuka Rain Jacket (US$169, REI.com). This colourful women's jacket features a waterproof, breathable "Elements" shell. For the adventurer, the bonus is the windproof jacket is made of a stretch nylon.

- Bootsi Tootsi Rain Boots (US$49.99, kohls.com). They come in an animal or quilted pattern, and are as functional as they are cute.

- L.L.Bean's NeoShell Bounder (US$299, llbean.com). A soft inner shell with a waterproof outer shell is the lightest the company has made, at about 370 grams. A quick-adjust hood and pockets that won't interfere with your pack make this perfect for hikers and climbers.

- REI Rainwall Toddler's Rain Jacket (US$49.50, REI.com). Let's not forget the little ones. REI offers sturdy waterproof, windproof jackets for active kids. Elastic cuffs and stormflaps seal out the elements.

- d.e.t.a.i.l.s Hooded Anorak Rain Jacket (US$80, kohls.com). This water-resistant coat, which comes in an array of colours, is lined to keep you warm, as well as dry on those chilly spring days.

- REI Kyoto Jacket (US$149, REI.com). This trench rain jacket is cut long for extra coverage. It's also cut to flatter.

- Columbia Sportswear Auroras Wake II Rain Jacket (US$75, kohls.com). This seasonal staple, with a drawstring hood, is lined and water-resistant. If pink isn't your shade, it comes in a pale purple, as well.

- Totes Dotted Stripes Micro Umbrella ($22, kohls.com). And for the days you need to stay dry from head to ankle, we suggest this micro-umbrella, which you can stash in your bag when you're on the go. It also comes in black, for those who aren't enthusiastic about colourful polka dots.


-- ShopAtHome.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 3, 2014 D13

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