It’s getting towards fall and for many of us, that means we can be expecting a lot more rain soon. Not refreshing summer showers, either – cold rain. Whether you’re hunting in the woods, getting ready for an ambush patrol, or keeping the peace as the bars empty, cold wet weather can make your life miserable. In fact it can be dangerous, too – wet clothing will rob your body heat, and wind just makes the process faster. The solution is a good waterproof coat to keep your body core and the clothing that insulates it dry.
There are various options for waterproof outer layers. The traditional one is still used with military field gear. That’s a lightweight shell that can be worn over the standard field jacket when needed, but packed away the rest of the time. This system has been in use for a long time, and there are good reasons for it. Older waterproofs weren’t breathable, so wearing them for long periods could make you sweaty. Once they were removed, you were left with damp clothing that just let heat escape even faster.
Today’s breathable materials mean waterproofs can be worn for much longer, but there are still good reasons for keeping a separate shell. Firstly, field jackets are usually more robust; wearing your waterproof layer constantly can easily end up with it getting damaged and developing leaks. Secondly, even a modern Goretex coat makes more noise than a cotton field jacket. That’s tactically a bad thing.
On the other hand many people – security personnel, law enforcement and similar – don’t have the same constraints. A coat with a waterproof shell, like the 5.11 Aggressor Parka, makes a great option here. Most modern coats have a separate shell and fleece liner that can be zipped together or work separately, so you can stay dry and at a comfortable temperature in just about any conditions.
Waterproof Field Jackets
If you’re not planning on heavy duty MOUT or crawling through the thorns, there are now some ideal options for waterproof field jackets, too. The Vertx Smock is one good example – available in Multicam (so matching most of the current field gear), it has a shell and fleece, and it’s loaded with features. It’s not as robust as an ACU jacket though, so it won’t stand up to the same level of abuse without leaking. The plus side is that you can cut the amount of clothing you carry.
The Rest of Your Body
A coat is the most important item of waterproof gear to consider, because if you can keep your torso dry, that’s most of the heat loss problem solved right away. Don’t forget the rest though. Waterproof pants annoy a lot of people, especially when moving around a lot, and they can be really loud. If you’re on guard duty they can make a big difference though, and that goes double doing sentry in the field when it’s wet. Lying for two hours with the damp soaking into your legs isn’t pleasant. Lastly, if you’re not wearing a helmet, consider a good rainproof hat; your head will thank you for it.