We are often asked what is the difference between kids waterproof jackets, here we are going to attempt to answer this question from a parents point of view.
Firstly in terms of kids outdoor gear waterproof and water-resistant are not the same thing. In a nutshell a waterproof garment is made from a fabric that will not let water through the fabric or the seams. A water-resistant fabric will repel water (it often beads on the surface) but the water will seep through eventually.
There are many different types of waterproof fabrics. There are the classic household names like Gore-Tex and now-a-days most outdoor brands have their own in-house waterproof fabric, for example Sprayway has a fabric called Hydro/Dry. Fundamentally waterproof fabrics fall into two categories: laminates and coatings
1) Laminate, this is a membrane that is stuck to the outerwall of the fabric
2) Coating, this is applied to the outside of the fabric
The big difference customers intially notice between the two types of waterproof fabric is the cost! The Kids waterproof jackets made from laminate style fabric are more expensive; but with good reason, the jackets will be breathable, more durable, and they tend to have more features (adjustable hoods and wrist straps, draw cords and pockets). The material used in the childrens jackets is often the same material that’s used in the adult range, the Patagonia kids Torrent Shell Jacket and Sprayway Kids Hawk Jacket are good examples of this.
Kids waterproof jackets made from a coated waterproof fabric will still keep children dry but the waterproofing will wear and become less effective over time and the fabric won’t be breathable, however they are considerably cheaper. Didriksons make some great waterproofs with a PU coating.
When you are buying a waterproof jacket for you child think about what kind of weather your child is likely to be exposed to and how ofter they are going to wear the jacket. As a general rule of thumb, for toddlers and very young children breathability is not an issue and they are unlike to be exposed to prolonged rain so waterproofs with coating are great, for older children think about investing in a jacket with a laminate waterproof fabric that will last longer and be breathable so the jacket will be more comfortable to wear.