What makes for a great raincoat? Obviously you need something that keeps you dry, something that’s breathable but also nice-looking. To find the best parkas, windbreakers, “outdoorsy” jackets, trenches, slickers, macs, and more, we spoke with eight experts, including stylists, buyers, retail specialists, hikers, and the costume designer behind iconically “rainy” films such as Blade Runner and Seven.
Best rain jackets for men
Stylist Brandon Garr says this is a great rain jacket to wear around the city, and he likes that it’s eco-friendly and made from 100 percent recycled polyester. “It’s sleek and sophisticated and the price is great,” says Garr. It’s water-resistant as opposed to waterproof, so it might not be the best choice for standing in a downpour, but it’s perfect for most rainy conditions and would work well as a windbreaker or light layer on chillier days.
Companies like REI and Patagonia make some great high-tech jackets geared toward the outdoors, and while these are extremely high-quality and functional, they can sometimes look out of place in the city. Anne Tracy, sales lead at REI Soho, says this jacket is a great option for city-dwellers: “It’s not quite as technical-looking, which some folks really appreciate.” It’s designed more for “casual use,” but it’s still fully waterproof and breathable and “definitely works on a hike, as well.”
If you want to go slightly more technical, but not fully gorpcore, Patagonia’s Torrentshell jacket would make a perfect choice. It’s Chris Black–approved, recently featured in the print edition of New York, and can frequently be spotted at the Whole Foods on the Bowery. Actor, hiker, and former outdoor outfitter Ross Cowan says it’s one of the best rain jackets out there, especially for the price. Tracy agrees. “It’s an amazing piece,” she says, and a best seller at REI Soho. She especially appreciates that it has “pit zips,” a common feature in technical performance jackets that lets you quickly cool down after working up a sweat. But according to Tracy, they’re also really useful in the city and for casual wear: “When you get onto the subway and you’re sweating, you don’t have to take off your backpack and then your coat to cool down. You can just open up the pit zips and get some fresh air.”
Best Gore-Tex rain jacket for men
“Anything made my Arc’teryx is pretty much perfect, but it’s also really expensive,” says Cowan. Arc’teryx makes professional-grade gear for hardcore outdoors-people, and while a lot of their Gore-Tex jackets are specialized for specific activities — climbing, skiing, etc. — Cowan says the Beta AR is the best option for general use: “The Beta is basically their ‘all-around, versatile line, and the AR is the most all-around and versatile within that line.” Cowan has worn it mountaineering in England, Colorado, and Pakistan. “The great thing about Arct’eryx is that it’s stylish for city wear, but also functional enough for anything you can throw at it.” (Garr recommended Arc’teryx as well, so it’s also stylist-approved).
Best yellow raincoat for men
“I wear my Gore-Tex mountaineering jacket when it rains in the city and it’s great,” says Cowan, “but something like this just looks sharper.” Some of Cowan’s friends have this jacket, and he loves the way it looks. “It’s definitely not breathable,” he says, but if you’re just walking around, you “don’t really need to vent heat,” and something less breathable will be fine.
Best waxed cotton raincoat for men
Cowan also likes Swedish brand Fjällräven for something that’s stylish but also functional. Fjällräven’s roots are in outdoor outfitting, but their fabrics are intentionally more “low-tech” than what you find at Arc’teryx or Patagonia. The Greenland jacket is probably their most iconic, and it has a vintage feel to it. According to the company, this jacket was “developed in collaboration with members of the Greenland expedition of 1966.” The fabric is essentially a type of waxed cotton, so it’s water-resistant but not the most breathable. “It’s not what I’d choose if I was going backpacking in the wilderness,” says Cowan, “but if you’re living in a city and need to go outside in the rain, this will be great and it looks good.” One benefit of the waxed cotton is that you can refresh the waterproofing at any time with a special fabric treatment. That’s one of the reasons why these jackets are known to last a long time. (You can also take your jacket to a Fjällräven store and have them handle the waxing).
Best budget raincoat for men
Tim Melideo, the writer behind men’s style blog Stay Classic, likes this lightweight hooded parka from Old Navy. The coated poplin is light and water-resistant and the jersey lining will help on cooler days. It’s not as heavy-duty as some of the others on this list in terms of water-resistance, but it would work well for light rain and make a nice layering piece.
Best slickers for men
Garr calls Stutterheim’s jacket a “universal classic” and he likes that it’s unisex and “great for sharing.” It comes in a range of muted, easy-to-wear colors, but we love how sophisticated it looks in matte black. If you’re up for something a little more adventurous that you won’t see anyone else wearing, Garr likes this yellow and black color-blocked version — he thinks the design gives it a little more edge. Like the Rains jacket, this is not going to be the most breathable, but it’s definitely waterproof.
Bloomingdale’s men’s fashion director Justin Berkowitz is also a fan of Stutterheim, and he likes this new model that just came out. “Stutterheim introduced a collection of lightweight options to their range that are just fantastic,” says Berkowitz. “I love the design details on this jacket, like the raglan sleeves and big flap pockets. The blue-gray color is the epitome of Scandinavian sophistication and also makes this jacket a standout.”
Best trench coats and macs for men
Costume designer Michael Kaplan worked on Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner — famous for its vision of a chaotic and rainy futuristic city — and designed the costumes for David Fincher’s constantly rainy and dark Seven. Kaplan has spent most of the past five years in London as costume designer for the new Star Wars trilogy. He really likes the brand Aquascutum, which has been around since 1851 and, along with Burberry, is credited with creating the trench coat. “Aquascutum has a traditional trench coat called the Bogart,” says Kaplan. “As a costume designer, I definitely appreciate that.” It’s designed after the iconic trench worn by Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. “It comes in navy and tan. I’m not big on navy. I like black or tan for a raincoat.”
Berkowitz recommends this trench from Descente Allterrain, a Japanese outerwear brand that he says “makes some of the most technologically innovative products on the market.” It’s classic and simple at first glance, but it also has some unique details like “recessed rib-knit cuffs” with thumb holes you can put your hands through. The best thing about this jacket, though, might be its unique materials, as Berkowitz explains: “The trench uses a fabric that’s a fine, water-repellant mesh, meaning that even on the most humid of rainy spring days, the ventilated fabric will you keep you both cool and dry.”
For something with a classic and sophisticated look but without the high price, Melideo recommends this convertible Uniqlo collar coat. “It’s just really sleek with clean lines and the styling and color are classic,” he says. “I also like that it has pockets, because pockets are a must for me.” This is the type of jacket that could easily be mistaken for something way more expensive.
Mackintosh is another classic brand that Kaplan likes, famous for their waterproof, rubberized fabric. “The tradition goes back to the early 1800s,” says Kaplan. “The guy who started that waterproofing method was a Scottish chemist named Charles Macintosh.” Kaplan recently saw the latest line of Mackintosh coats at the famous department store Liberty London. “They’ve revamped their styles,” says Kaplan, and he liked a lot of the newer, “more fashionable” models. Garr is also a fan of some of the newer Mackintosh coats, especially this bonded cotton field parka in a unique “rich khaki” color. The traditional Mackintosh fabric is fully waterproof and classic, but the oversized silhouette gives it a more contemporary look.
Kaplan’s personal raincoat is a trench from Todd Snyder. Unfortunately, Todd Snyder no longer appears to make the coat — Kaplan bought it a few years ago. “It’s a simple black, belted trench coat,” he says. He isn’t sure exactly what fabric they used, but he loves that it’s “thick and moldable, and the collar stays up on its own.” This one has a lot of the qualities Kaplan loves in his own trench: a slim fit, classic styling, and it’s made from “densely woven fabric.” It also has the same longer length that Kaplan thinks is a must: “I like a raincoat to come down to the knee. I just think the proportions are better and they look better.”
Permanent Style founder Simon Crompton told us about a coat he designed with Private White VC (the company that collaborated with Todd Snyder on the previously mentioned trench), but unfortunately it’s completely sold out. In some ways we actually prefer this more standard version from Private White’s main line, because it’s so simple and easy to wear. It’s made from the same English “Ventile” fabric that Crompton used on his own design. “Ventile is a British military cotton,” says Crompton. “It’s water resistant but also ages beautifully, without the rustle of synthetic material.
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