Patagonia Waterproof Jackets
A Brief History of Patagonia
Patagonia was founded in 1973 by avid climber and outdoorsman Yvon Chouinard, initially as a company selling rock climbing gear under the name Chouinard Equipment. In the late 1970s, after struggling to source durable yet environmentally sound apparel for his own climbing and surfing adventures, Chouinard decided to expand into manufacturing outdoor apparel and Patagonia was born. Right from the beginning in 1973, Patagonia distinguished itself by pairing high-performance outdoor gear with responsible business and manufacturing practices like ensuring fair working conditions and wages for its employees. As the company evolved from Chouinard's small climbing gear shop into one of the most respected outdoor brands worldwide over the next several decades, Patagonia maintained its commitment to product quality, environmental conservation and upholding strong ethical values throughout its supply chain and production operations. Today in 2023, 50 years after its founding, Patagonia continues to use its business as a means to actively protect the outdoors and environment. Through pioneering material innovation, sustainable manufacturing processes, corporate activism, and grassroots environmental initiatives, Patagonia demonstrates that a successful outdoor apparel brand can also be sustainably and ethically crafted. Some of Patagonia's key environmental initiatives and responsible business practices over the past five decades include donating 1% of sales to environmental nonprofits since 1985 through their "Earth Tax" program; shifting to 100% organic cotton in 1996; launching the Common Threads Recycling Program in 2005 to keep Patagonia garments in use longer; achieving B Corp sustainability certification in 2012; and pursuing numerous advocacy campaigns to protect public lands and biodiversity. Patagonia's founder Yvon Chouinard and the company's employees truly live the brand's values through their passion for outdoor recreation and commitment to environmental stewardship. This authenticity resonates with consumers worldwide drawn to Patagonia's high-quality sustainable outdoor apparel and gear as well as its bold activism giving "a voice to the wild."
Developing H2No® Breathable Waterproof Standard
In the late 1980s, Patagonia’s designers recognised a pressing need in the outdoor apparel industry for waterproof fabrics that not only kept the elements out but also remained breathable during aerobic activity. Without adequate breathability, interior moisture buildup from sweat could soak a garment from the inside out during high-exertion pursuits like hiking, climbing, and skiing. This challenge inspired Patagonia’s research and development team to create an entirely new performance standard specifically designed to rigorously test and validate waterproof fabrics for the optimal balance of external water resistance and internal air permeability. Their solution was an innovative new standard called H2No® optimized specifically for Patagonia waterproof jackets. To achieve H2No® certification for use in Patagonia waterproof jackets, a fabric must demonstrate a minimum 20,000mm waterproof rating coupled with a minimum of 15,000 grams per square meter breathability over 24 hours. In addition to these key benchmarks, H2No® fabrics undergo extensive lab testing to confirm they maintain waterproof performance even after abrasion, repeated laundering, and long-term wear. This ensures Patagonia waterproof jackets provide reliable wet weather protection even after real-world use. When Patagonia introduced the stringent H2No® standard in the late 80s, it enabled the company to engineer lightweight yet unrelentingly weatherproof and breathable waterproof fabrics optimized specifically for athletic outdoor apparel. In the decades since, Patagonia has continued improving the standard to keep pace with fabric technology advances and rising consumer performance expectations for Patagonia waterproof jackets. Most of Patagonia waterproof jacket offerings successfully meet the latest H2No® criteria, validating their optimal wet weather protection and breathability.
Patagonia’s Lightweight Weatherproof Hard shells
Within its extensive outdoor apparel selection, Patagonia produces numerous lightweight yet fully protective waterproof-breathable hard shell jackets specifically engineered for mountain sports like alpine climbing, mountaineering, and backcountry skiing where keeping dry is absolutely critical. Unlike a lightweight rain jacket designed just to shield against moderate precipitation, a Patagonia hardshell jacket utilises an exterior waterproof-breathable membrane technology that is literally bonded to the internal fabric layers to form a completely impenetrable barrier against snow, sleet, and driving wind. Yet these membranes have microporous structures that allow internal sweat vapour to escape. Contemporary hardshells weigh under a pound yet can withstand the most brutal mountain storm conditions, from the soggy Pacific Northwest to the high Himalayas Patagonia’s hardshell jackets deploy proprietary waterproof-breathable technologies like H2No® and GORE-TEX® paired with durable yet lightweight alpine-specific face textiles. This combination provides uncompromising weather protection while enabling high-exertion activities without moisture accumulation. Strategically placed stretch fabric panels improve range of motion when wearing a Patagonia waterproof jacket while venting zippers release heat buildup caused by intense exertion. The combination of waterproof laminates and durable faces delivers uncompromising protection against the elements while enabling high-exertion mountaineering activities without drenching interior moisture accumulation. To optimise freedom of movement for activities like ice climbing or skiing, Patagonia cleverly incorporates strategically placed stretch fabric panels made from materials like flexible nylon microfiber in mobility zones that need an unimpeded range of motion. Similarly, helmet-compatible adjustable storm hoods and venting zippers under the arms provide temperature control by releasing heat buildup caused by intense exertion. Through the symbiotic integration of cutting-edge waterproof-breathable textile technologies, purposeful articulated garment construction, and field-tested alpine-centric designs, Patagonia's elite lightweight hardshell jackets deliver on the promise of true all-weather protection for athletes pushing their limits in the most challenging environments on earth.
Keeping Dry: Rain Jackets and Waterproof Shells
In addition to advanced alpine hardshells, Patagonia produces a wide selection of lightweight 2-3 layer waterproof-breathable rain jackets that provide ample weather protection for activities like hiking, climbing, and everyday use where packability and versatility are key. The company also makes technical waterproof shells tailored for water sports like fishing, sailing, and paddling where heightened waterproof durability takes priority over packability. Many of Patagonia’s rain jacket offerings like the classic Torrentshell utilise heat-seamed construction with their waterproof-breathable H2No® nylon textiles. This creates an all-purpose outer layer that provides reliable wet weather protection while weighing as little as 7 ounces, enabling easy stuffing into its own self-contained pocket for compact transport. For activities like offshore fishing, paddling, or sailing where extended water submersion is likely, Patagonia produces technical waterproof shells engineered with robust 4-layer laminated textiles capable of withstanding repeated soaking while retaining warmth. These shells incorporate articulated patterning tailored specifically for dynamic paddling or casting movements. Oversize welded pockets safely stow gear while adjustable dual cuff openings seal out spray. Across this spectrum, Patagonia’s half-century of constant innovation in waterproof-breathable textiles, membrane technologies, bio-based materials and nature-inspired technical garment construction enables the company to produce outerwear capable of keeping wearers comfortably dry and protected in even the most demanding environments - from the gale-pummeled decks of fishing trawlers to windswept mountain crags. Whether equipping a weekend backpacker or an Everest expedition leader, Patagonia's advanced fabrics, meticulous construction techniques and activity-optimised designs ensure its waterproof jackets and shells rise to the challenges presented by the harshest elements on earth.
Balancing Waterproofing and Breathability
While waterproofness is essential, breathability is equally important to promote interior air circulation and ventilation. Clamminess caused by interior moisture buildup reduces comfort and temperature regulation when wearing a Patagonia waterproof jacket. Patagonia utilises various methods to achieve both water resistance and air permeability in their outerwear. These include:
Membranes - Many Patagonia waterproof jackets incorporate microporous expanded PTFE or polyurethane membranes with billions of microscopic pores per square inch. The pore size blocks liquid water while remaining 700x larger than a water vapour molecule, enabling perspiration to escape.
Coatings - Proprietary DWR (durable water-repellent) finishes create a textured surface allowing high airflow while resisting moisture absorption and penetration. This treatment enables breathability without a laminated membrane.
Moisture-wicking - Inner lining fabrics with moisture-wicking properties spread sweat across the surface where it can evaporate through the breathable outer layer of a Patagonia waterproof jacket. Mesh vent panels provide additional avenues for heat and moisture to escape.
Air Permeable Design - Zip vents, perforated pockets and air channels allow for effective convection and ventilation to occur when wearing a Patagonia waterproof jacket.
Developing Durable Yet Responsible Waterproof Fabrics
Patagonia’s research and development team is constantly pushing material boundaries to create ever-more durable waterproof textiles while minimising ecological impact. Some of their key innovations and initiatives include:
Recycled Fabrics - Many Patagonia waterproof jackets utilise post-consumer or post-industrial recycled nylon, polyester and other synthetics, transforming waste into durable waterproof textiles. The Torrentshell rain jacket incorporates 100% recycled nylon face fabric.
Rugged Face Fabrics - Outer layers utilise high-filament count textiles with ripstop patterning to resist abrasion, tearing and deterioration over years of use. These fabrics are engineered to maintain integrity long past the lifespan of lesser waterproof jackets.
Material Technologies - Premium fibres like CORDURA® high-tenacity nylon are deployed in high-wear areas alongside lightweight insulation technologies like PlumaFill® down to balance durability and packability.
PFC Reduction - Patagonia is phasing out non-essential uses of PFCs (perfluorinated chemicals), utilizing shorter-chain PFCs and innovating PFC-free DWR (durable water-repellant) finishes to reduce environmental persistence while maintaining functionality.
By pioneering material advances focused on performance, longevity and responsible manufacturing, Patagonia creates waterproof protection that endures for the long haul while minimising environmental harm.
Adventure doesn’t wait for the weather, and the rain shouldn’t stop you from getting outside to do what you love. Embracing the rain and heading out on a walk brings a number of unique joys – but the right kit is absolutely essential. Dressing for the weather and having the right things with you will make sure your walk is enjoyable and safe, too, so here’s our kit list for a rainy-day walk (a waterproof jacket goes without saying!):